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Category — Energy Technology

“Nothing is more fungible than a good idea” (U.S. as global high-tech oil/gas leader)

In 2008, Candidate Obama campaigned against Republican-era high gasoline prices. Now that pump prices are high with a presidential election looming, President Obama disclaims responsibility. “We cannot drill our way to lower gas prices,” he says.

Crude oil is a fungible commodity, the argument goes. So why should we Drill, Baby, Drill when any domestic supply we might add is a relative drop in the bucket? Nice argument, except that it could be used against having any new production. (And U.S. CO2 emissions at the margin are a drop in the bucket, right Mr. President? ) And as the economic revolution of the 1870s taught, economic value and thus prices are set at the margin.

Marginal Economics

The United States is the world’s #3 oil producer. Domestic policy decisions in the U.S. can impact the global supply/demand picture, which in reality is quite narrowly balanced.

Every barrel of domestic production clearly benefits energy security, but lately the debate has shifted to whether U.S. drilling can impact the globally set price.

But whether or not our incremental production can move the market, the U.S. is the world leader in petroleum technology. We have incubated and nurtured new and innovative drilling and production methods that are used worldwide. We are one big petroleum laboratory: new ideas often get their first test in our oil fields. Our technology advances unlock reserves worldwide. [Read more →]

June 19, 2012   3 Comments

Fifteen Bad Things with Windpower–and Three Reasons Why

[Note: This article has been updated to Twenty Bad Things about Windpower — go here.]

Trying to pin down the arguments of wind promoters is a bit like trying to grab a greased balloon. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, it squirts away. Let’s take a quick highlight review of how things have evolved.

1 – Wind energy was abandoned well over a hundred years ago, as it was totally inconsistent with our burgeoning more modern needs of power, even in the late 1800s. When we throw the switch, we expect that the lights will go on — 100% of the time. It’s not possible for wind energy, by itself, to ever do this, which is one of the main reasons it was relegated to the dust bin of antiquated technologies (along with such other inadequate sources like horse power).

2 – Fast forward to several years ago. With politicians being convinced by lobbyists that Anthropological Global Warming (AGW) was an imminent threat, a campaign was begun to favor all things that would purportedly reduce CO2. Wind energy was thus resurrected, as its marketers pushed the fact that wind turbines did not produce CO2 in their generation of electricity.

3 – Of course, just that by itself is not significant, so the original wind development lobbyists then made the case for a quantum leap: that by adding wind turbines to the grid we could significantly reduce CO2 from fossil fuel electrical sources (especially coal). This argument became the basis for many states’ implementing a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) — which mandated that their utilities use an increased amount of wind energy.

4 – Why was a mandate necessary? Simply because the real world reality of integrating wind energy made it a very expensive option. As such, no utility company would likely do this on their own. They had to be forced to. [Read more →]

September 20, 2010   40 Comments