41 Responses to Why electricity is the only alternative fuel that can lead to energy independence
Plug in hybrids are the only alternative fuel vehicle that can provide genuine energy independence from steadily rising oil prices and brutal price spikes.
I have agreed to participate as a guest blogger for ScienceBlogs in a three-month project on the next generation of energy ideas. My first post is “Electric Vehicles: The Next Generation.” Longtime readers of this blog or my books know that I have been an advocate of plug ins for a number of years [see “Plug-in hybrids and electric cars — a core climate solution, nationally and globally” and “Plug in Hybrids are Green (Duh!)“].
The key point of this piece is that “Only one alternative fuel can significantly lower the annual fuel bill of U.S. consumers while at the same time significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions — electricity.”
Biofuels — whether from crops or cellulosic material — are likely to be sold at the market price for gasoline. That’s because it is extremely difficult to see how they could be produced in the kind of nearly unlimited quality you would need for them to dominate the liquid transportation fuels market for the foreseeable future. The same is true for offshore, Alaskan, or unconventional oil.
The price of electricity, however, is not linked to the price of oil.
Gasoline prices have gove up some 200% in recent years, whereas electricity prices have only gone up about one tenth as much. Gasoline prices are likely to rise 50% to 100% over the next decade. Again, electricity prices might rise another 10% or 20%. We simply have too many electricity sources for prices to rise much even if we adopt a strong carbon cap. These include rapidly expanding low carbon technologies like wind, solar photovoltaics, and concentrated solar thermal electric, which may actually see price declines as they gain market share.
Thus, only plug in hybrids (and ultimately pure electric cars) offer permanent, practical, low-polluting freedom from the misery of peak oil.
[Note: Some have criticized the Shell sponsorship of Scienceblogs. But Shell exerts no editorial control, so I’ll let others lose sleep over this. Personally, while I once admired Shell, especially their strategic planning about global warming and renewable energy, their pursuit of tar sands and, even worse, oil shale, makes clear they are simply another short-term-profit-maximizing long-term-climate-destroying oil company.]
- Peak Oil? Bring it on!
- $12 – $15 gas? Not so fast. But we’ll soon be mad for $6 – $7
- Note to media/Bush: Saudis/OPEC don’t control the price of oil any more!
- Peak-a-boo: Goldman says oil ‘likely’ to hit $150-$200 by 2010. That means $5+ gasoline.
- Note to Bush, media: Opening ANWR cuts gas prices one penny in 2025
- IEA warns of impending oil and gas supply crunch
- Thirsty oil-rich nations reduce exports
- Why I don’t agree with James Kunstler about peak oil and the “end of suburbia”