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Mideast Turmoil and the Push For Clean Energy

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-time-like-the-present dept.

Power 314

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Adam Werbach writes that in July 2008 oil prices reached $147 a barrel and suddenly energy prices and alternative energy was on everyone's agenda but soon oil prices fell as the economy faltered and people moved on to the more immediate concerns of keeping their jobs and businesses alive. Now with the possibility looming of $200 a barrel oil, the US has a robust field of clean energy technologies that are slowly coming online, from thinfilm solar to fuel cells to cellulosic ethanol — unlike 2008, when it seemed like we were starting our innovation engine from a cold start. 'In the last three years, as oil prices have softened, we've seen stumbles as companies like Applied Materials pulled back from the clean energy space because of operational and market conditions,' writes Werbach. '2012 will be a rich year for equity capitalizations, giving energy entrepreneurs the capital they need to build infrastructure. Even with the draconian austerity measures that are coming into effect across the country, this is a second opportunity for energy innovation.'"

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slashdot = stagnated (0)

MichaelKristopeit346 (1968126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394940)

hypocritically ignorant marketeering

Re:slashdot = stagnated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35394952)

Eliza's cooter has stagnated.

Nothing new here (5, Interesting)

quarkie68 (1018634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394964)

In our world there are innovators and there are also people that will vow to re-use existing suboptimal solutions with all their pros and cons until it is absolutely necessary to adopt something else. Unfortunately, the second type is the majority, even if it is completely obvious that the dependency of the West on the Middle East is one of its largest weaknesses. I wonder how many slaps does it take for some people to wake up from their deep oily sleep.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395032)

"Unfortunately, the second type is the majority,"

Wrong. "Unfortunately, the second type are the ones with all the money and the desire to keep it."

Re:Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

quarkie68 (1018634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395126)

I would agree with you but... I don't. The oil monopoly is supported by some large car driving populations. For most of this folk, it is really a big thing to get on the bike and/or use fuel efficient cars or rationalize the use of the car. This is why the US started considering fuel efficient cars only recently. If you compare the average GM/Ford/whatever gas guzzler they used to chunk out of their production lines (which was cheap for the average Joe to buy) to the average European car there was no comparison. Extrapolate this behavior to the growing middle class of India and China and you get the idea. Power is given to monopolies by people, it does not come by itself. In the absence of realizing the consequences, the majority of the people will use the more readily available and cheapest solution. And that I am afraid is petrol :-( . Not necessarily because they do not have the extra money to pay for an alternative. But because they are sold to the idea of horse power, acceleration, when the most they do on their motorway is 30-40 miles an hour just before the rush hour! :-)

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395258)

hey are sold to the idea of horse power, acceleration,

So why don't they switch to an electric engine ? the electric engine is superior the the ICE in every way.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395274)

But the energy storage isn't.

Re:Nothing new here (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395316)

Nor the price. The electric engine is cheap, but the batteries can cost more than the rest of the car put together. A lot more.

Gasoline 8.03 dollars / gallon where I live. (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395528)

Petrol not so cheap these days...

Here in the UK, my local petrol (gasoline) station petrol costs 1.30 a litre, that's 8.03 US dollars / US gallon

(3.79 litres to a US gallon, 1.63 dollars to the GB pound).

Re:Nothing new here (1, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395138)

In our world there are innovators and there are also people that will vow to re-use existing suboptimal solutions with all their pros and cons until it is absolutely necessary to adopt something else. Unfortunately, the second type is the majority, even if it is completely obvious that the dependency of the West on the Middle East is one of its largest weaknesses. I wonder how many slaps does it take for some people to wake up from their deep oily sleep. So what's the problem? You just spelled out the optimal solution. It doesn't take six billion people to innovate a replacement for petroleum-based transportation so there's proper division of labor. And society isn't going to do better than to stick with what works, until something comes along that works better (which incidentally hasn't happened yet with transportation).

Finally, what's wrong with giving good business to the Middle East? It helps everyone.

It just seems to me that you haven't really compared the status quo to the alternatives. It's the traditional conceit to assume that because the present scheme has flaws, then some alternative is better. My view is that the flaws and benefits of the alternatives to our fossil fuel burning haven't been seriously evaluated.

Re:Nothing new here (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395222)

Sorry, I really messed up my last reply with a single typo. Let's try this again.

In our world there are innovators and there are also people that will vow to re-use existing suboptimal solutions with all their pros and cons until it is absolutely necessary to adopt something else. Unfortunately, the second type is the majority, even if it is completely obvious that the dependency of the West on the Middle East is one of its largest weaknesses. I wonder how many slaps does it take for some people to wake up from their deep oily sleep.

So what's the problem? You just spelled out the optimal solution. It doesn't take six billion people to innovate a replacement for petroleum-based transportation so there's proper division of labor. And society isn't going to do better than to stick with what works, until something comes along that works better (which incidentally hasn't happened yet with transportation).

Finally, what's wrong with giving good business to the Middle East? It helps everyone.

It just seems to me that you haven't really compared the status quo to the alternatives. It's the traditional conceit to assume that because the present scheme has flaws, then some alternative is better. My view is that the flaws and benefits of the alternatives to our fossil fuel burning haven't been seriously evaluated.

Re:Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395484)

Finally, what's wrong with giving good business to the Middle East? It helps everyone.

That is a very naive view of trade. Take for example the plight of the citizens of Nauru. Although different in scale, it parallels the situation we have in the Middle East.

The Republic of Nauru is a small island nation in the Pacific which had an economy that was based almost solely on phosphate mining which was plentiful once, but not any more. In the beginning, most of the money generate from this industry went to the Australian interests who were exploiting the mines, then gradually the islanders wised up and negotiated a better deal. This money was saved up in a trust fund, but ultimately corruption set in and the trust fund lost most of its value. At the same time, mining had stopped on the island as the phosphate ran out. Now the unemployment rate is near 90% the government failed in implementing reforms to encourage a diverse economy and the establishment of alternative industries.

Trade is not always good, and in some case (such as what's happening in the middle east), it is very exploitive to the people of the lands on which we are sucking the resources from. Many times, it only benefits a few at the top and the money never trickles down to the working population. That frequently causes political instability as the leaders has the resources from the mineral or oil wealth to establish an authoritarian regime. It often causes over-dependency on the export of the natural resources within the state. Once the resources are depleted, what results is a failed state.

Re:Nothing new here (5, Insightful)

quarkie68 (1018634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395614)

There is nothing wrong with doing business in the middle east. What is wrong is to rely so much on the Middle East. This creates contention and undesirable situations, especially for Middle East folk. The very fact that most of them export their resources to oil feed the rest of the world, when very little money returns to them is indicative of most of the geopolitical problems that rose, are rising and will rise in the area.

Oil is not the only example. Manufacturing and outsourcing is another. If only 20% of the Asian manufacturers of integrated circuit/assembly lines decided to close tomorrow for whatever reason, the implications for the US and the rest of the electronic consumer's world would be at least worrying and at most catastrophic for the market.

I believe this is a general trend of globalization, which is mainly driven by us, because we want the cheapest and then someone has to produce that cheapest product by pushing outsourcing to the point where we rely on few places. Personally, if I knew that a product is REALLY only made in the US/UK/Europe etc, I would buy it, even if it was more expensive. Not because I dislike Asia or whatever distant part of the world, but because I want with my behavior to enforce resilience, the very opposite of absolute reliance.
Do you really think that the world has resilience today in terms of energy?

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395288)

Unfortunately, the US doesn't depend on mideast oil. We get most of our oil from Canada and Venezuela.

Re:Nothing new here (2)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395540)

The oil markets are global. A demand and supply of oil in any one country will affect the spot price of oil around the world.

Thorium Reactors (5, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394968)

Why is the west still concentrating on solar and wind power while the Chinese are already into Thorium reactors?

The US oil companies can stall all they want while they squeeze as much profit as they can out of fossil fuels.. but the Chinese aren't going to wait around.

Re:Thorium Reactors (5, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394988)

Sorry, forgot to include this:

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, of the British Telegraph daily, suggests that "Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium," and could put "an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years."[14]

The Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA), an educational advocacy organization, emphasizes that "there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium#Thorium_as_a_nuclear_fuel [wikipedia.org]

Re:Thorium Reactors (4, Insightful)

IHateEverybody (75727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395110)

A lot of it is due to residual fear of any kind of nuclear energy and chronic NIMBYism. Everybody wants cheap energy but no one wants a power plant anywhere near their home. Most people have no idea when thorium is or of its benefits over traditional nuclear energy. This runs into a basic human fear of change. Oil has worked for America for a hundred years and Americans have grown emotionally attached to their gas guzzlers and have rewarded oil companies with the kind of wealth and political influence that make them a force in Washington.

Add a fundamental lack of will and rampant political cowardice and you have a formula for Chinese domination of the "green" industries of the future.

Re:Thorium Reactors (3, Insightful)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395392)

> Everybody wants cheap energy
Wrong: people want, for example, warm houses. Whether that comes from pumping energy in, or insulating it to prevent energy leaving it is irrelevance. You can invest in energy saving, and not need cheap energy.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1, Troll)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395526)

Wrong: people want, for example, warm houses. They'll be plenty warm by 2050

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

i-linux123 (2003962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395432)

Who's going to build these reactors? I think they're waiting for the oil companies to come aroun an ensure a smooth transition.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395250)

Is Evans-Pritchard some sort of authority? It seems like he is a reporter and author of biographies. If so, I don't see the point of quoting him on the subject.

I'm asking this as a real question; I don't know the answer.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395376)

Firstly I confess to never having heard of Thorium as a nuclear fuel.
But if your best references are a *business* reporter for a right-wing, reactionary newspaper, a business advocacy group, and a Wikipedia page that includes a quote from an engineer: "meaning one that will produce and consume about the same amounts of fuel," then you have not convinced me, for one !!

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

ferd_farkle (208662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395532)

heh. I'm unsuccessfully scratching my head trying to remember the book, but it was classic science fiction of the good ol' space opera variety. The adolescent hero's adventure was all about striking it rich by finding huge thorium deposits on Mercury. Written in the 1950s.

Re:Thorium Reactors (-1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395112)

1. The solution isn't more energy usage. The solution is less energy usage, period. Nuclear reactors will kill us all with radioactive pollution. "People must have come not only to distrust the safety of the technology but also the authority of those who have assured them so confidently that nuclear power is safe. In this sense people distrust the entire nuclear enterprise -- not only its technology, but the public and private organizations, the political parties, and those often prestigious scientists who advocate and assist in the development of nuclear power."

2. This is because USA still stupidly has an unregulated economy that does whatever it wants. Sane countries, like China, let The Smart People plan their economic growth in accordance with scientific principles. [chinalawblog.com] An excerpt: "Promote energy saving and environmental protection.
Currently, for every 1% increase in GDP, China's energy use increases by 1% or more. If this rate continues, China will need to increase its energy consumption by 2.5 times to achieve its 2020 economic goal. To put this into perspective, this would mean increasing the current consumption of coal from the current 3.6 billion tons per year to an astronomical 7.9 billion tons a year. No one in China thinks this can be done. One major way to reduce the amount of energy required for the Chinese economy is to implement energy saving practices throughout the economy. A second way to reduce is to shift from hydrocarbon based energy to alternative energy sources. The new plan advocates an all out program in this area."

Just imagine if USA had similar policies, and could actually implement them. Ownership of General Motors to advance state economic policies was a good start, but needs to expand to more sectors of the US economy. Letting the market decide is, frankly, irresponsible and a proven recipe for disaster, time and time again. Just look at history.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395192)

1. The solution isn't more energy usage. The solution is less energy usage, period.

Less energy usage...forget that.

Mass interstellar travel, holodecks and replicators all require large amounts of energy. The rest of you can live like 20th century Hutterites, but I'll take technological advancement any day. We need to continue moving ahead on the Kardashev scale until we have holodeck porn... after that we can stop learning for all I care.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale [wikipedia.org]

Re:Thorium Reactors (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395280)

1. The solution isn't more energy usage. The solution is less energy usage, period.

Energy is cheap and there really isn't that much to be gained from energy conservation. Else we would be doing it already.

2. This is because USA still stupidly has an unregulated economy that does whatever it wants.

There are two obvious errors. First, the US economy is far from unregulated. Second, what is left that needs to be regulated? Virtually everything that people claim needs to be regulated is already regulated.

Do you know what the purpose of a "five year plan" is? Emergency toilet paper. The people implementing the plan don't have a clue. They can't make serious decisions. Second, do you know what's far better than "scientific principles" for running an economy? Markets.

Third, "scientific principles" are a case of the "appeal to authority" fallacy. Please recall that macroeconomics is unusually resistant to scientific principles precisely because of the remarkable difficulty of falsifying any hypotheses about it.

Just imagine if USA had similar policies, and could actually implement them. Ownership of General Motors to advance state economic policies was a good start, but needs to expand to more sectors of the US economy. Letting the market decide is, frankly, irresponsible and a proven recipe for disaster, time and time again. Just look at history.

The US merely had to let GM go through bankruptcy court. No action required. The Obama administration screwed that up by rescuing it at the expense of everyone but the unions, and mocking the laws of the land.

It'll be a long time before I buy another GM or Chrysler (or for that matter any banking product from one of the "too big to fail" banks) product and I know that's going to be the case for a lot of other people too. We don't like thieves.

Re:Thorium Reactors (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395338)

You're both wrong. The free market works quite well, most of the time - but it is by no means infallible. We worked that out over here in Europe, but you in the US are afraid to regulate anything for fear of somehow turning into communists.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395152)

I love the fact we have a giant pit out west with over 10000 tons of processed Thorium ore. Stuff that has been mined, concentrated, and then just dumped in a pit.

With minimal processing we'd have thousands of tons of thorium pure enough to use in reactors.

Re:Thorium Reactors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395202)

probally cant , more than likely the chinese have bought the land and mineral rights allready.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395698)

The problem with Thorium IIRC was the plans that show Thorium working are to have hundreds of "mini-reactors" like say one in every city 10,000 or better. Now that might work in China where there isn't as many crazies and they (from what I understand) have control of their borders thanks to a "we'll shoot your ass and send you to PMITA prison" policy, but try to remember we have plenty of nutballs here both from the Arab countries we've been fucking with for decades, along with our very own home grown crazies.

Now picture every city 10,000 or better having a nuke plant as a target, how will you protect them? It would take pretty much the entire military, and even then you'd be short handed. We'd have to go total police state or surround the things with automated death cannons you'd have to hope like hell didn't malfunction and pull an ED209 on you.

Let us not forget the OKC bomb was just fertilizer and diesel fuel, now imagine if he could have gotten close enough to a reactor to cause a breach? I don't know how it is in other places but I've been to the reactor in my home state and we are pretty damned good about not letting anybody close to the thing. But a reactor in every little podunk nowhere? Sounds like asking for trouble to me.

While it sounds nice in theory and may actually work for a heavily militaristic state where everyone is raised to respect the state, but I just don't think they'd be too safe around here. Hell if the Chinese keep screwing with Falun Gong they may not be too safe there either, and last I heard the people of Tibet ain't too fond of them as well. Good luck China, you'll need it.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395174)

Why is the west still concentrating on solar and wind power while the Chinese are already into Thorium reactors?

I imagine because the payback is obvious. Thorium is a long way from becoming a profitable technology. I imagine fusion research is also killing funding into thorium. After all, if you have a working fusion reactor then why deal with any sort of fission power?

Re:Thorium Reactors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395184)

Yes little grasshopper, but what you fail to understand is that large corporations like the oil companies run the US, and the government (bought and paid for by large corporations), are in the business of 1. listening to those who pay them (the corporations), and 2. keeping the corporations in business. Its an act of keeping what has been alive, at the expense of killing off what is new. Peak oil has passed, and environmental issues aside, oil will keep getting more expensive, both to produce, and to consume. Oil shale and oil sand are more monetarily expensive, environmentally expensive, energy intensive and labor intensive to produce than conventional oil. In Saudi Arabia, all you had to do is punch a hole in the ground, and out comes clean, sweet (meaning no hydrogen sulphide), and ready for shipment and refining (mostly catalytic cracking and fractional distilation) in the US. With alternative energy, you have to dig it out of the ground, and then likely finish cooking it. Geology usually does the job, but with oil shale and oil sand, its not quite oil yet, its bitumen. You have to finish cooking it. This involves heating (usually using natural gas), adding natural gas as a chemical product, and adding coke (not the drink, but powdered carbon made from coal) in a unit called a coker. The natural gas and coke mix with the hot bitumen to become oil. Excess sulphur is then removed from the proto-oil, and then its refined like regular oil. So you first dig, then transport, then cook, then refine, instead of drill, refine, transport. It costs more, because you have to do more, and the natural gas used for heat when cooking make it a double-whammy greenhouse gas emitter. Thorium reactors in the US could heavily offset the price of oil (electricity could be used for both heat and transportation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the price of oil and food (since people aren't trying to turn so much food into fuel), and also lower transportation costs. The oil lobby will have none of it. No thorium reactors! The next one who says anything about thorium reactors gets the China Syndrome shoved down their throats (and some muttering about Un-American, and 'we will Julian Assange them').

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395228)

The US oil companies sell what? Heating oil and gasoline for cars, how does a Thorium reactor power Chinese automobiles?

Natural gas is much much cheaper than nuclear, even solar is cheaper. China just has assloads of cash and a lack of energy, so they are building 1 coal power plant per week, plus nuclear, plus solar, plus hydro, and they still can't keep up. Check the Uranium prices, they already went up 10 fold in the last decade, whereas solar is the exact opposite, it keeps getting cheaper.

I'm all for putting nuclear reactors in cargo ships, but it's too expensive for electricity. I guess your argument is that we waste even more money building alternative energy projects that have no economic benefit, but actually make everyone poorer. You do know we already have insanely high subsidies for alternative energy projects.

What would work the best is to increase the tax 10fold on gasoline and natural gas, that would spur innovation in alternative energy, and also leave us broke. The market is working just fine, there are hybrids and electric cars and alternative fuels already being sold. The problem is that they are expensive and often less reliable/powerful/useable than the fossil fuel alternatives. Just give it a couple more years, and the market will pick the best new technology..... that is unless we have your way, where the government gets to pick the winners and losers, and siphons untold billions away from investment by interfering in the market.

That's not to say the government can't help, it could give some patents to the public, like the NiMH battery patent [wikipedia.org] . Those batteries effectively double the range of electric cars, but like you said, here the oil companies are colluding to keep you stuck on oil. Of course it's never talked about, even tho this could make a huge positive impact immediately without costing the taxpayer a penny. Instead the government does as you suggest, pour billions into battery research in hopes to maybe create a battery 75% as good as the one already patented....utter bullshit.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395346)

"I'm all for putting nuclear reactors in cargo ships"

Somalia.....

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395370)

lol, excellent point, I won't be recommending that anymore.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395506)

The main reason for ships to move through the "pirate zone" is to conserve/save fuel. With nuclear power the incentive to do so is reduced a lot, so they could move through the sea outside of the "pirate range" (i.e. the max distance the pirate vessels move relative to their land bases in order to make it back in the case of failure).

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395268)

I have a few questions and I'm going to use this link just because its as retarded as the premise of your post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C6Zz7L74Fs [youtube.com]

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395318)

Petrochemicals. Oil isn't just about energy, it provides the raw building blocks for modern industrial goods. You can't replace them with nuclear energy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrochemicals#Petrochemicals_products [wikipedia.org]

Re:Thorium Reactors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395636)

Petrochemicals. Oil isn't just about energy, it provides the raw building blocks for modern industrial goods. You can't replace them with nuclear energy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrochemicals#Petrochemicals_products [wikipedia.org]

Thorium plastic, thorium fertilizers, thorium packaging, thorium trucking, thorium tomatoes? Who needs industrial goods - all I want is fruit salad and a tomato.

Re:Thorium Reactors (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395694)

Yes you can. You can crack long chain polymers into shorter ones, and you can polymerise simple hydrocarbons to produce shorter ones. Crude oil just happens to have a fairly convenient mixture, allowing you to use relatively low energy reactions to produce lots of chemicals that we want. You can produce the same chemicals from any hydrocarbon source - such as plant oil - but you need more energy, making it not cost effective to do. If you have cheap and abundant energy, then these economies change.

Re:Thorium Reactors (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395672)

Steven Chu is trying to get small, prefabbed modular nuclear reactors going:
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0330/Nuclear-power-Obama-team-touts-mini-nukes-to-fight-global-warming [csmonitor.com]
The problem with Thorium reactors is that they are not ready yet. Yes they sound good but they are years away.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35394972)

Now where can I buy these new technologies at? My wallet's at the ready. No really, I'm serious. Just give me a website and a price list with your available products. Guys? Hello?

Re:Great! (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395088)

Now where can I buy these new technologies at? My wallet's at the ready. No really, I'm serious. Just give me a website and a price list with your available products. Guys? Hello?

I guess there's more (easier) money in R&D than there is in retail sales.

The enemy is still present (-1, Flamebait)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394974)

and of course Republicans, in a desperate attempt to defend their oil buddies to the bitter end, will do their best to cut funding for promising projects and make laws to kill the ones that are left over. Why any sane rational person would ever vote Republican is beyond me.

Unless you have an economically viable solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395030)

you're just spewing hot air.

Please to note, "economically viable" != "taxing everyone else to make up for the deficiencies of my proposals".

Re:Unless you have an economically viable solution (-1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395074)

Like the man child's war to avenge daddy. We all know that the man child was perfect at paying for....oh wait.....

Re:The enemy is still present (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395130)

I absolutely hate both Republicans and Democrats equally when it comes down to financial responsibility. Perhaps hate the Republicans just a little bit more because they are pro Oil and pro War.
While the Democrats are pro alternate energy, they waste a ton of money on all kinds of things.
Nuclear energy in general is a sane, efficient solution as long as the nuclear waste is reprocessed like its done in France.
Wait, even the Germans aren't pro nuclear as well. Let's not focus on one party. The target needs to be the energy lobby.
If green peace and other eco organizations focused 100% of their energies on this alone, but no, they also are anti nuclear. Idiots too.
Its a huge mess.
Need to invest heavily on nuclear and wind power. With the latest and greatest huge 10MW wind turbines, wind power need perhaps just a 50% drop in turbine prices to become 100% economically viable, for places that are abundant in wind.
For instance, the entire northern Brazilian sea shore gets a ton of wind, with peak right at the drought season that limits hydro power. Perfect solution for us.

Re:The enemy is still present (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395204)

will do their best to cut funding for promising projects and make laws to kill the ones that are left over.

If these projects can't stand on their own merits without requiring a ton of public funding, then they aren't "promising".

Why any sane rational person would ever vote Republican is beyond me.

Currently, US voters are to a considerable degree worried about the level of spending at the federal and state levels. When Democrats, such as Bill Clinton were serious about cutting spending, they got considerable support. Currently, the only serious impetus to cutting spending is among the Republicans. If that were to change, then the Democrats would get more support.

Re:The enemy is still present (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395372)

The problem with this approach is that, while all the voters are in favor of cutting spending in general, it's hard to find anything significent to cut that the voters don't actually want. Even the porkiest projects have a lot of supporters in their local area. We're having that situation here in the UK right now - our government is actually cutting spending, and heavily too, but that doesn't stop people moaning very loudly when they realise that there are fewer police on the street, the NHS is losing staff and even the road-cleaners will be coming around less often.

Question (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35394980)

What will the middle east be like once we run our stuff on unicorn dust or some other thing that cuts them out? That's when you'll see the turmoil.

Re:Question (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395132)

Look at Dubai. They tried planning for that day by creating a tourist economy. With over 60% vacancy rates though, I don't think its working out that great for them.

Re:Question (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395654)

The turmoil will come to other places first: When the oil countries reduce their oil exports because they need it for domestic energy.

Iceland (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394982)

Maybe they can pipe some of that lava over to the UK

Domestic oil is an alternative (2, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394994)

The cheapest and most obvious alternative to mideast oil is domestic oil. We have lots of it. It's being produced in North Dakota in increasing quantities. It's available under the Alaskan wasteland. It pollutes the Santa Barbara beaches from natural oil seeps -- pollution that would be prevented by oil drilling. And it's available in vast quantities in the Gulf of Mexico.

And in Canada, the oil from tar sands will be available to use in mass quantities. But environmentalists are trying to prevent the construction of a midwest oil pipeline to bring the oil from the oil fields to the people who would use it.

There are also vast new natural gas reserves available.

If people want to invest in "clean" energy, they're welcome to do that. But "clean" energy shouldn't be the only energy. We need affordable energy to escape the recession.

We need clean energy jobs and also traditional energy jobs. And every other kind of jobs.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (0)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395036)

... domestic oil. We have lots of it. It's being produced in North Dakota in increasing quantities. It's available under the Alaskan wasteland... and in Canada, the oil from tar sands will be available to use in mass quantities...

Stand up and start kicking as hard as you can... you might be able to free yourself from your box if you try hard enough.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (5, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395076)

America has plenty of shale oil, which is more expensive to produce than the oil in the tar sands of Alberta, which is more expensive to produce than the oil in the Middle East. Environmentalism has nothing to do with failure to develop North American oilfields; the cost of a barrel of oil simply isn't high enough to start thoroughly exploiting local deposits.

Oil has to be around $70/barrel for the tar sands to be worthwhile, and no one knows the floor price to make shale oil extraction profitable because that's a field of engineering only now being developed. As for the Gulf of Mexico, the reason BP was drilling 5,000 feet down was because all the shallow fields have been sucked dry.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

Gutboy (587531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395516)

... and no one knows the floor price to make shale oil extraction profitable because that's a field of engineering only now being developed.

Say what? Shale oil extraction has been around since the 10th century, lots of development went on in the 1980s
. Kiviter process facilities have been operated continuously in Estonia since the 1920s [wikipedia.org]

It's obviously cheap enough as some people have been doing it for nearly a century.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395632)

The main problem with shale oil is that its EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) is only about 3, i.e. to produce one barrel of oil you need the energy equivalent of 1/3rd barrel. And that's with the easily extracted stuff. Once the EROEI gets close to one it doesn't matter how much you have and what the oil price is.
http://theoildrum.com/ [theoildrum.com] is *the* resource for this kind of info.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395094)

And it's available in vast quantities in the Gulf of Mexico.

No shit, Sherlock [wikipedia.org] .

All you need is a rowboat and a bucket.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395170)

No its not. Oil pollutes. The earth can't handle the current load of CO2. We need a huge investment in Nuclear and Wind electricity NOW.
Coal is a LOT worse, and people aren't talking about constructing a lot of Coal power plants to produce electricity for the upcoming rise in electricity power for electric cars.
The US needs to rethink its long commute way of living. Nowhere else you see people driving 100 miles to work everyday. Plenty of companies could have some departments 90% working via telecommuting but don't do it for stupid reasons, many employees would gladly give back to their employer some of their time saved by not having to drive to work.
Perhaps that would be a lot more useful a government policy, a small tax break for companies that have at least 1/3 of their total working hours done by telecommuting, with a greater tax break for 50% telecommuting. Nothing huge, perhaps 3-5% tax break.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395538)

CO2 is easy to offset. Just have a garden. Methane is by far the more insidious GHG. For that you need to get off beef and dairy.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395570)

How large a garden do you need to offset driving 100 miles a day ? Think more like a little forest.
Specially if you live in high latitudes where the sun doesn't shine all that much.
Methane production per gallon of milk isn't bad. Bad is Methane production for pound of beef.
It takes a lot of milk to make a pound of Cheese, so its quite bad there as well.
The American model of living and the Chinese coal mad dash are destroying the world. No cheap words can negate that.
I lived in the US for 7 years. My commute was 30 miles each way. However I drove a fuel efficient almost compact car, 25mpg.
And saw all those idiots driving gas guzzling SUVs and trucks.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

burni2 (1643061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395172)

Well you might think, that affordable energy is the best way to escape the current recession of the US you might be right on a short term. But as economy rises in the US it will fuel the economy in some directly affected countries (example: China) the need for oil in consequence will increase so will the prices. And China has over the last decade also secured oil longterm import contracts from some african countries.

So the midterm effects of such an affordable energy strategy, come out as where we are now. Because the US had since the oil price "crash" very cheap energy at it's hand, and was even on the verge of leaving recession behind. But since energy prices rise this is not for sure anymore.

This is also a very interesting system when US economy boosts -> energy consumption will -> higher prices, China's economy boosts -> energy consumption will -> higher prices.

It's history repeating itself, and the lesser the US will lower their dependency on forreign or restricted energy sources the greater their economic dependency on the energy prices or availability will be.

Even if you have "vast" energy reserves availible, you will get into an economic problem, tar sands are expensive to extract, at the moment it is a small loss or a zero benefit situation for the companies. Using natural gas you need the right amount of power plants to produce enough energy with them, and even vast reserves are going to be depleted when they are vastly used. Not thinking about planning and construction times for those plants

conclusion: insulate & devellop alternatives & make it fast because the next economic downturn is on the rise.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395350)

Plenty of oil is the wrong term when you have a limited resource and constant growth of demand.

Watch this video [youtube.com] , it's insightful.

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395414)

Domestic oil is somewhat expensive. It's there, yes, but it's pricy - deep down deposits in the golf, and sands that take intensive processing. That's why so much of it is imported. The shallow deposits of the middle east are so easy to get to, it's cheaper to get it over there - even with the OPEC cartel.

Oil prices have, in recent times, gone up high enough to make even oil shale profitable. But there is no guarantee they will stay that high. Why would any company spend hundreds of millions to build a processing facility that's viable right now if there is a chance that in five years the price of oil will have dropped again?

Re:Domestic oil is an alternative (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395598)

US oil consumption: ~22 million bbl/day.
Proven US oil reserves (including Alaska, Gulf of Mexico and the continental shelves): ~21 billion bbl.
You call that lots?

Beware the lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35394998)

We can see the putative 'energy crisis' currently when we buy gas. It gets majorly more expensive by the day. It is apparently caused by concerns about the Middle East. This is rubbish though. The gas we buy now was bought nine months ago on futures contracts. What we are seeing at the gas pump is an excuse for the oil companies to make more money. With business ethics like this, it is no surprise that renewable energy will never have much of a chance. The more interesting question though is why we are so stupid as to permit this. I'd recommend the peddle cycle as the best way of promoting sustainable ways of living and a way to let the greedy types know that their game is understood and rejected.

What do you mean by 'Clean' (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395022)

Most of the 'clean' energy projects are not for replacing oil (as a transport fuel) but are for replacing fossil fuels like coal and natural gas in electricity production.
Until we get a big breakthrough in battery technology we are not going to be able to run our cars on wind and solar power.

Re:What do you mean by 'Clean' (5, Informative)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395058)

Most of the 'clean' energy projects are not for replacing oil (as a transport fuel) but are for replacing fossil fuels like coal and natural gas in electricity production.
Until we get a big breakthrough in battery technology we are not going to be able to run our cars on wind and solar power.

Transportation only accounts for 27% of US energy consumption. You can still make a large impact even if you left cars to run on fossil fuels.

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:VQZGOdC8BrMJ:www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/IntInfo/ConsI.pdf+automobiles+percentage+energy&hl=en&gl=ca&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiuc1DbXndHxR3juwumi8zfv8PraBjI9Q6rRJddCRo2TVVM2d6ar8e-9lofdg138GPS-jCQAA5o0F6wbGk4kC51MYiOK_-rw0y7XWluvhzo-JBVPyZpTJAxeMZYQaAvcMJE3eha&sig=AHIEtbTo2UW2PHXen6_KMZpEnGeuEAj4vQ [google.com]

Re:What do you mean by 'Clean' (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395168)

True but of the 3 types of fossil fuels petroleum, the one most used for transportation, is the one that's going to be in short supply soonest.

Re:What do you mean by 'Clean' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395424)

Most of those cars can run on "Biobutanol" with no modification at all, or on ethanol/methanol with some modification.
Diesel trucks/cars can run on vegetable oil and biodiesel.

But you USoAians always fucks things up. corn corn corn....

2 flippin words (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395050)

Two words....

PEAK OIL. Its all price climbs here on out, How about $500/bbl? $700/bbl?

i really dont care, just drop oil prices already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395060)

Thanks to the left-wing party, the lack of drilling is causing the oil prices to be substantial. Allow drilling, and allow unclean energy to exist while the discovery of alternative energy is being researched and mass-produced. At the moment, not many people can afford the high-cost of energy in this dying economy and there are too many liberals thinking that we'll all die in 50 years if we don't immediately switch over, which is ironic being that many of these alternative energy sources often require energy that they claim to hate to build them.

You have a left wing part in the USA? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395508)

I didn't realise you have a left wing party of any substance in the USA, similar to socialist or labour parties in Europe. I thought your mapping was Democrat = centre-right and Republican= conservative right. For example, mainstream right wing parties in Europe are in favour of public education, and public health care like I think the Obama administration has just fought for.

Maybe we have a differing terminology, what would you describe as a left wing party, a centre party, and a right wing party? Do you have examples of all three in the USA? In the UK, Labour = left wing, Liberal Democrat = centre party, Conservative = right wing.

Basic economics (2)

l2718 (514756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395068)

As a product becomes more expensive, developing alternative means of production becomes more profitable. For example, extracting oil from the shale in Alberta (Canada) is more expensive than the bare costs of extracting it from wells in the middle east. If political risks make middle-eastern oil more expensive, it will now be profitable to extract oil in Alberta. But oil prices could also come down if the political situation becomes more stable, so it's difficult to tell if the investment in alternatives is worth it. It depends on the ability of the market to deal with the volatility coming from the political instability (if it can, then the fluctuations in prices don't mean much in the long run).

If you view the product more generally (energy) then again more expensive oil would make alternative energy solutions more profitable. For example, shifting from gasoline-powered to electric-powered cars tends to reduce the volatility in the cost of driving the car, since electricity can be produced by many means.

What I don't see is why the so-called "clean" alternatives to oil would be cheaper than the "non-clean" ones. Given the terrible experience with wind power in Spain and Germany, the disaster that corn-based ethanol is in the US etc, it is simply not believable that such technologies would be cheaper than, say, natural gas.

Then there's fusion reactors, a proven clean energy source that seems to always be left out of the discussion. At current oil prices building nuclear reactors should be more profitable, but given the possibility that oil prices will eventually come down, I don't think short-term savings will be enough to counter the public's irrational fears of nuclear reactors.

Re:Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395232)

> fusion reactors, a proven clean energy source

Fusion? Really?

And wind is working pretty damn good here in Texas, and the Chinese are doing well with it too. Failures in Germany and Spain (citation needed, BTW) do not imply failure everywhere.

Re:Basic economics (1)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395234)

I think you meant to say fission reactors. AFAIK, fusion reactors that generate more power than they require to sustain a fusion reaction are still science fiction.

However, I do agree with your statement. Nuclear reactors [in combination with hydro and off-shore wind] would make for excellent base-load generation. The efficiency and safety of fission reactors has come a long way since the 1970s, which is the age of many reactors in the US.

The problem with nuclear is mostly image. People think of Chernobyl, which was an unsafe design even for its time. Thing is, you'd never have gotten a permit to build a Soviet RBMK turbine in the US, even in 1970 (the US required full containment and prohibited positive void coefficients). It is like suggesting that all cars today should be banned because somebody who didn't know how to drive got into a horrific crash in a '72 Yugo back in '86.

The other issue, waste disposal, is mostly an issue of NIMBYism. Vitrification does a fairly good job of making high-level waste stable for long-term storage. The bulk of our waste (90+%) is low-level crap like gloves, suits and the like - you probably get more radiation emissions from the radon escaping your granite counter-tops or seeping up through your basement. Even if the stuff leaks into the groundwater, we have strains of bacteria that we can pump into the water table that neutralizes it; it is being used at Hanford today.

Peak uranium isn't really an issue, either. The Japanese have found that you can extract uranium from seawater for about 2× the current cost of yellow cake on the commodities market. There is enough in the oceans to fuel us for 10,000 years. And remember that fuel is one of the smallest of costs of running a nuke plant. Then there is thorium, which is even more plentiful.

Re:Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395254)

Fission reactors are much more expensive than coal, but they are perfect for cargo ships.

The problem is mostly with the cost, also since we don't have a fleet of electric cars, we can't use them to power our auto industry.

Once solar is cheap, and batteries are cheap, then of course they will be cheaper than their gas alternatives.
Think of it this way, gasolines prices continue to go up, and will continue until we switch away from it. Supply is not increasing, and will eventually decrease, yet demand is skyrocketing, it's really that simple.

Batteries and solar on the other hand continually go down in price, therefore at some point in the future they will become much cheaper, primarily since the sun doesn't charge us anything.

Re:Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395298)

Nuclear cargo ships? Not happening. Way too expensive.

Also, security risks add to the cost - imagine how tempting a target a nuclear-powered ship would be to Somali pirates.

The US military only has a few nuclear-powered hulls, since even they think it's too expensive for general use (that should tell you something).

Re:Basic economics (1)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395332)

I disagree. Coal is cheaper because we don't force mining companies to clean their sites to a state of zero impact. We don't force generators to scrub their exhaust of 100% of all fly ash generated, to catalyze all nitrogen oxides or capture all carbon output. We don't force them to bury their fly ash, bottom ash and sludge a mile deep under a mountain.

If we did that, the cost of coal would go way up. Instead, what fly ash doesn't get expelled out the smoke stack is sold for use as filler in concrete, gypsum and fertilizers. Bottom ash also gets used as an aggregate. All this, even though such ash contains arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, molybdenum, radium, selenium, thorium, uranium and vanadium.

Re:Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395248)

What fusion reactors? Where they be? Proven to be clean? Yes. Proven as a technology? Absolutely not.

Wind, bio-ethanol, tidal, geothermal, all proven technology, that works to differing degrees depending on the circumstances. Fusion however, has been tried repeatedly and the outcome was always the same, Fail!

However, if you meant fission reactors, i vote that you eat the first barrel of waste.

Re:Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395266)

Basic economics also has something called an "externality" Generally, it's a cost that gets pushed on to some one else, so you don't have to worry about it.

The energy market is rife with externalities that need to be part of the debate ... pollution and waste disposal, defense costs for protecting fields and shipping lanes, trade imbalances, tax codes, etc.

If you could find a way to mix those costs into the costs fo various energy forms, the clean(*) alternatives would look a lot better (and corn ethanol would look a lot worse - that one's a pure disaster).

(*) Why the scare quotes on clean in your post?

Re:Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395278)

As a product becomes more expensive, developing alternative means of production becomes more profitable.

Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean the price comes down, just that there is still oil on the market and someone is making money from it.

For example, extracting oil from the shale in Alberta (Canada) is more expensive than the bare costs of extracting it from wells in the middle east. If political risks make middle-eastern oil more expensive, it will now be profitable to extract oil in Alberta.

I don't think you understand...the price of oil is based on how much energy it produces vs. how much energy it takes to get it out of the ground. We've already taken the easy to get oil out of the ground everywhere except the Middle East because they have so much of it. Turning shale to oil is even more energy intense than drilling a well in the deep ocean. None of these things will make the oil price go down.

But oil prices could also come down if the political situation becomes more stable, so it's difficult to tell if the investment in alternatives is worth it.

Short term, you are absolutely right. Long term, no way.

Fossil fuels are made from old dead plants. That's why they are called fossil fuels. We would need another billion years of dead plants in order to have more oil, and we don't have that kind of time. The global demand for oil continues to increase while the supply continues to dwindle. Of course the price will go up over time. It has for the last 100 years, and there is no reason for it to stop.

What I don't see is why the so-called "clean" alternatives to oil would be cheaper than the "non-clean" ones.

Good question. The answer is that it is only a matter of time (price of oil will go up), technology (new battery chemistries with higher energy density), and mass production (batteries, windmills, etc. go down in price when everybody is using them). The point is to be prepared to switch to the new technologies as soon as possible to avoid the kind of fluctuations we are seeing now as well as to keep the jobs and money domestically, or at least to not send money to volatile regions like the Middle East.

Given the terrible experience with wind power in Spain and Germany

What what WHAT?!?!?! Do you have any idea what you are saying?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Germany
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Spain

Nations around the world are getting a greater percentage of their energy from wind because it is cost effective. This is only true because the Danes subsidized the industry like mad in the 1990's and thus funded new technologies to bring the costs down. In many places, wind is more cost effective than coal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power

As far as solar is concerned, Germany last year reduced subsidies for it because it was TOO profitable. Panel growth was outstripping the grids ability to handle the regional ups and downs of so many panels. We are talking about Germany, a country that gets far less sun, than, well, just about any place in the US.

Then there's fusion reactors, a proven clean energy source that seems to always be left out of the discussion.

That's the problem: They aren't a proven clean energy source. Billions have been spent on research to make them cost competitive, but the amount of energy put in to start the reaction and contain it is always more than the amount that comes out. To be commercially viable (worth building such a plant) the amount of energy to come out needs to be an order of magnitude higher. We should continue to fund research in the hopes that we get there, but fusion is currently not an option.

At current oil prices building nuclear reactors should be more profitable, but given the possibility that oil prices will eventually come down, I don't think short-term savings will be enough to counter the public's irrational fears of nuclear reactors.

Regardless of whether the public's fears are irrational or not, current designs of nuclear reactors produce power at relatively high cost when compared to wind or coal. Building a plant is extremely expensive, as are the safety/security measures that are needed, not to mention the storage of the waste. Even so, waste storage is almost never calculated as a cost as it won't need to be worried about for 30 years and the government will pick up the tab when you abandon the plant.

Of course there is also the rising cost of uranium as more plants are produced:
http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/02/news/uranium_nuclear_energy.fortune/index.htm

This may be offset a bit by the US/Russian START treaty, and, for all we know, may be WHY there is such a treaty.

And, lastly, we aren't using electric cars yet, so high oil prices do not spur people to build nuclear power plants. High oil prices should spur people on to make cars that don't run on oil.

I personally believe wind, solar, and nuclear (in that order) are the ways we should get our power with solar and nuclear eventually being our main sources. You can't burn coal on the moon.

John

Re:Basic economics (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395282)

Corn-based ethanol was an idiotic idea from the start, born only of lobbying by the corn industry so farmers wouldn't have to actually change their crops. Corn is and always has been a terrible source for ethanol. The problem is it is politically impossible in the US to stop subsidizing inefficient farming practices, despite most farms being owned by mega-corps anyway.

I don't know what you're getting about wind power in Spain and Germany though. Their biggest problem is that they can't let it grow to be too large a fraction of the power grid without some type of storage technology, but when the wind blows it works just fine to let them shut down coal generators.

The biggest problem any of these places face is subsidy's to specific technologies. Without a general price on CO2 emissions, most of these technologies end up being a net inefficient way to reduce CO2 emissions, often at the expense of other technologies (like tidal power, nuclear, hydro, geothermal).

The free market works wonderfully when externalities are correctly priced in, but so long as CO2 is not, then direct action plans are much more expensive then a CO2 price (and subsequent cost-of-living increase) subsidies are.

Re:Basic economics (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395494)

I suspect that for ANY field being used to grow corn ethanol ANYWHERE in the US, you could find something else to grow on that same field that produces better biofuel outcomes.

Re:Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395296)

When it comes to corn-based ethanol, that is just a mistake from start to finish. Not only are there other grains and cereals where you get a significantly higher amount of ethanol for less acreage and input energy, the only reason corn is cheap enough to even consider making fuel from it is because of subsidies to production in the US. The obvious counterexample is sugarcane ethanol in e.g. Brazil.

Re:Basic economics (1)

Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395644)

Then there's fusion reactors, a proven clean energy source that seems to always be left out of the discussion.

You probably mean fission, unless you know something we don't [wikipedia.org] . Or are you talking about the biggest power source within eight light minutes of us [wikipedia.org] ?

The Kings Fault (2)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395120)

When oil got that high, the Saudi King decided that if it got any higher people would really start looking at alternatives. So Saudi Arabia overinflated oil reserve and production estimates, and upped production as high as possible. By flooding the market with more oil they lowered prices a bit. Along with the banks fiasco, oil went "cheap" again.

Now the Saudis production is slowing down the fields are going dry.

I put on my tin foil hat and robes. (2)

Palmsie (1550787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395148)

If the wave of manufactured democracy has any foundation from the US government, bravo sirs. We have been trying to artificial create democracy in the middle east for quite some time. Right before Obama is beginning the Afghan pull out, democracy not only appears, but thrives. Massive propaganda success? Maybe. Who cares. Mission accomplished. I, for one, hope that the strain on oil continues. I'm in CA atm and we're up to $4.10 for regular but the long term goal is that this forces us to reconsider alternatives: serious alternatives, seriously.

It is only when gas gets so ridiculously high that average citizens actually change their behavior that we as a nation can change. It forces us. And, as previous posters have noted, this will not solve the entire energy problem but it will allow for an ecosystem to grow in society where you can have a broad range of thoughts: robber barons, genuine captains of industry, small fixes, big fixes, fixes for cars, fixes for electricity. It allows for what Don Campbell called an 'experimenting society'. Rather, a society where everyone can (through science) solve the woes of humanity. Building that kind of society is the first step but it isn't the last.

Thrives? Where exactly? (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395630)

The rebellions in the Middle East have shaken things up but no lasting changes have yet been made. Figure heads can easily be replaced by the next dictator.

Things are happening but to say Democracy is thriving... lets wait for the first free and open elections to be held at least eh? Some of us old stick in the muds think that they are a fairly important element of democracy. Silly I know but humor us.

When not only a government has been fairly elected but ALSO one freely elected government has been freely and openly replaced by another fairly elected government can democracy be said to thrive.

Overthowing a dictator is NOT democracy. Forced free elections is not freedom either. A ruling government respecting election results that go against it. THAT is democracy.

A tree fell down in the Mideast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395178)

..let us talk about clean energy for 5min.

Natural gas is cheaper than water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395276)

Well, almost cheaper than water:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/ngw/ngupdate.asp

So there is really no problem. All the world needs to do is drill for shale gas and build more gas turbines for electricity production and that is exactly what is happening.

Not much research is being done (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395386)

Some of us are working on alternatives to oil and have remained doing so since 2008. However, there is still relatively very little research being done in these areas. When one pulls patents in some of the alternative energy areas, the results are very thin.

Its funny... the US is spending about $100 million dollars A DAY (12 million barrels x $80) on oil and I doubt that there is that much investment in RAW SCIENCE for alternative energy in a year. Nobody is doing it. Lots of people talk about it and there is lots of press, but when you go look at various areas you can count the number of companies working on things on one hand.

I am very fearful that China is going to lock up a lot of the IP on batteries and, of course, the manufacturing.

 

All According To Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395400)

Obama, when he was interviewed about his cap-and-trade plan, stated that "Under my cap-and-trade plan, energy costs would necessarily skyrocket."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlTxGHn4sH4 [youtube.com]

That's how they plan on making alternate energy cost-feasible...by blocking/impeding oil, natural gas, nuclear, and coal resource development domestically through regulation while simultaneously making all of it so expensive that alternate energy looks viable.

Never mind that this will cause needless hardships, deaths, and a massive drop in the standard of living. The ends justify the means to those on the left.

An All-American "Cultural Revolution" in the sense that untold numbers will likely die with the survivors living in poverty and starvation. Hungry poor people are easy to control.

Sort of like the targeted famines used by the former USSR and Mao's China, only with energy instead of food, and targeted at the whole population instead of specific geographical areas and/or ethnicitys. Of course, increased energy prices will also dramatically raise food costs as well.

All this combined with a failing US dollar resulting from our insane fiscal policies will make buying food resemble the hyperinflation in the former Weimar Republic where people were using wheelbarrows to haul enough cash for a single loaf.

The problem is FAR more complex (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395452)

It isn't about electric cars. It isn't about the middle east.

It is about infrastructure, long term planning, economy, the status quo and vested interests.

Oil is not just oil. Not all oil is equal for one. One of the problem with Libya is that its oil is very clean (low sulfur) and can be easily turned into petrol. Other oils especially those from the US are very poor. They are dirty and take a lot of processing to turn in to petrol.

But petrol is not all. We could survive without petrol far easier then we could survive without plastics. Most gas engines can be converted cheaply to run on gas or alcohol. Try making a pencil out of wind electricity or biomass. What about syringes? Our modern medicine needs a LOT of plastic. Made from oil. Lots of stuff is made from oil and there are no easy replacements available. When the last drop of oil is sucked out of the ground, nobody will mourn their car. They will be to busy mourning the collapse of chemical industry.

That is why there is a push to just keep drilling for more oil. The petrol companies got little to do with this. They can always switch. Far bigger concerns are all the industries that use oil not for burning but as an ingredient.

Another concern is that switching changes the status quo. The way things are done. What use is Englands good relation with Arab dictatorships if oil from the region doesn't matter as much anymore? Forget about the oil barons, the public service is heavily tied to the region. See where Gadaffi (or whatever he is called) son went to school. Who was in the class with him? Us knows us.

Turning over this multi-layered structure with its tentacles spread widely is insanely difficult. Good luck getting an oil free car. Oh, it might not RUN on oil, but it will have been build with it.

In the meantime, peoples limited understanding of the world means that getting them to accept new things is very difficult. One of the most complex concepts is to get people to understand FUEL is nothing more then a battery, an energy carrier. Hydrogen is an alternative. So is electricity. Wait, electricity is an energy carrier itself? Yes. If I generate electricity at say a windmill I am storing energry produced by motion and transport it via a wire to say a car where it is turned into motion again.

Lots of people claim of electric cars that generating the electricity is often polluting as well. Could be BUT an electric car can be fueled by electricity produced from a coal plant, a hand crank, solar energy and indeed a internal combustion engine running on petrol.

A fleet of electric cars will NOT solve our problem of needing fasts amount of energy but it WILL make it easier to SWITCH energy sources. No need for a conversion kit to make your Prius run on nuclear power instead of coal power. If we can replace petrol cars with electric cars we can THEN worry about new ways to produce electric power. Else it will remain a catch 22 forever. No investment in alternative energy production because there is not enough demand for it.

We have had oil crisisses before and frankly it seems a silly way to run an economy. of course to fix it, we actually have to start RUNNING the economy instead of letting speculators run rampant. Because the Libyan crisis should have no effect. It produces only a fraction of the world demand and other regions have already agreed to step up production. the price rices are just speculators hoping to strike it rich. Kill off wallstreet and there would be no oil price rice.

Now there is a way to make the world a better place. Make peace, kill a speculator.

A coupe things (1)

djlemma (1053860) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395480)

I have a couple questions and comments about this stuff...

First, doesn't the US import most of its oil from South America? Maybe I'm remembering outdated information, but I could have sworn that was true..

Second, aren't oil prices sort of artificially controlled by OPEC? I mean, if the Middle East wanted prices to go down, they could just produce more oil. So it seems like they're trying to get to that sweet sport where prices are high enough that they make lots of money, but low enough that it seems expensive to extract shale oil or invest in alternative energy..

Personally I'm all for some alternatives. Heck, I wish there was a ton more public transit in the USA- I'm living in NYC now and I don't know how I lived without the subway system...

Oil is too cheap (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35395500)

Not too expensive. It's too cheap!

You will not see any investment in alternative energies or more efficient engines as long as it's cheaper to just use more oil. Do you think people would care about getting 10 or 30 miles to the gallon if we still had the gas prices of the 70s? Especially if that 10 mpg car would cost quite a bit more since more R&D is necessary? Efficiency is never free, someone has to come up with a way to save fuel.

And as much as it will hurt, only with higher prices for gas other, more expensive, forms of energy will become popular. Electric and H2 cars will instantly be a hit when gas prices double.

And also, let's not forget that local production becomes quite a bit more interesting if the transport of crap from China gets more expensive...

babys et al; newclear power available now (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35395684)

the need to 'push' ourselves away from much of what we've been told, is what's keeping US in the dark/decline. there's reports that the 'bible' may have been plagiarized from common sense, edited (+obfuscated) for Fear/control) effect, then released as a non-fiction manual for life. & we force it on folks who already believe what they want to, & are doing no harm/are not crusaders for jesus et al?

we also have issues with the need to 'boil down' noted 'progress' in history, always attaching to an individual or object(s). there's nothing could be further from describing what really happens when WE decide it will. check YOUR dna. catch your breath. we'll see you at the play-dates etc... photon sharing can be done at home, so if the 'weather' does not permit, we can still do it.

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