In an article in yesterday's Detroit Free Press, writer Justin Hyde expresses doubt that all the emphasis on flex-fuel and hybrid vehicles right now will have any real impact on overall energy use in the next two decades. A forecast of energy trends through 2030 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that foreign energy dependence is likely to increase despite improved efficiency. The study projects that only 200 million gallons of ethanol will be sold as E85 out a total of 14.6 billion gallons consumed. If that holds true it means that the vast majority of all those millions of flex-fuel vehicles will never see a drop of E85. Plug-in hybrids are also likely to have little impact because more electricity in that period will be generated by burning coal, thereby increasing green house gas emissions.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
If these projections turn out to be accurate, they mean that if we are to make any real progress on reducing energy imports or greenhouse gas emissions we must reduce our energy consumption more drastically, and look to other, completely different sources of energy. We need to focus more on mass transit, get away from all the trucks and SUVs, start harnessing sources like geothermal, solar, wind, tidal and other sources based on what is geographically most appropriate. There won't be any single magic bullet. We need to have energy diversity.