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By Robert Rapier on Feb 9, 2007 with no responses

Walking the Talk

As indicated in my 2007 resolutions, I am making a serious effort to reduce my fossil fuel usage this year. I have relocated to Aberdeen, Scotland, and this is giving me a chance to implement some changes I have had in mind for quite a while. It’s not like my energy usage was excessive before, but I saw some places that I could reduce. What I am really trying to do is to see how low I can go without making drastic changes (like moving into a cave). Let me first say, “It ain’t easy being green.” Well, some things are and some aren’t. For instance, take walking instead of driving. I have been doing that for almost all of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Feb 2, 2007 with no responses

My Energy Policy Recommendations

You have been made dictator of the world. Your policies are going to be implemented without question. What new energy policies do you enact? Let’s restrict this to energy, as this could really get way off topic otherwise. Here is what I do (with respect to the U.S.) I go on TV and just have a frank conversation with the public. I hit on both Global Warming and Peak Oil, explaining that we have to find other energy solutions because 1). Peak Oil is going to force us to; and 2). Global Warming is strongly suggesting that we do it ASAP. I go on to explain that there are no magic technological solutions waiting in the wings to save us…. Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 26, 2007 with no responses

In Transit to Scotland

I am flying to Aberdeen on 1/26/07. I will be back online in a week or so. In the meantime, catch up on Vinod Khosla’s latest: Vinod Khosla’s forecast for 2007: Trends and outlook Vinod Khosla responds to Terry Tamminen on ethanol He got some pretty pointed comments following his essays. This one is especially noteworthy for the Silicon Valley types who think Khosla’s golden touch ensures success, and that cellulosic ethanol will proceed along the path of Moore’s Law: “While recognized for several venture “hits”, Khosla also played a key role with several of the tech industry’s most spectacular failures, including Asera, Zambeel, Dynabook, Excite, and others.” Thanks to the reader who brought this to my attention in the… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 23, 2007 with no responses

My Reaction to the State of the Union

I think it’s great to set ambitious goals. It’s true that if you set stretch goals, but fall a bit short, you still probably did OK. But it is also important to set goals that have a reasonable chance of success, especially when the consequences of falling short are high. In President Bush’s State of the Union address tonight, he called for a 20% reduction in our gasoline consumption in the next 10 years. That’s a noble goal, and one that I fully support. For this goal, President Bush deservedly received a standing ovation. In fact, a 20% reduction would still have the U.S. using significantly more energy than the average European (we currently use about double the energy of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 21, 2007 with no responses

Key Questions on Energy Options

A question was recently posed to me: What is the most important question concerning ethanol production? That got me to thinking about important questions regarding not only ethanol, but all of our energy sources. There are a number of issues that we must carefully consider for any of our potential energy sources. In my opinion, they are: 1. Is the energy source sustainable? 2. What are the potential negative externalities of producing/using this energy source? 3. What is the EROEI? 4. Is it affordable? 5. Are there better alternatives? 6. Are there other special considerations? 7. In summary, are the advantages of the source large enough to justify any negative consequences? For the purposes of this essay, I want to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 11, 2007 with no responses

Refining 101: The Assay Essay

When a refinery purchases crude oil, the key piece of information they need to know about that crude, besides price, is what the crude oil assay looks like. There has been a lot of discussion at The Oil Drum at various times about “light sweet”, or “heavy sour”, and how these qualifiers affect the ability of a refiner to turn these crudes into products. So, I thought it would be good to devote an essay to this subject, and discuss how different types of crude can affect a refiner’s bottom line. Below are results from two different assays: Liquid Volume % Generic Light Sweet Generic Heavy Sour Gas (Initial Boiling Point to 99°F) 4.40 3.40 Straight Run (99 to 210°F)… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 10, 2007 with no responses

The $1,000 Bet on Oil Prices

After seeing a number of predictions for very high crude oil prices this year – including many from people who believe that world oil production has peaked and $100/bbl this year is a sure thing – I offered up a $1,000 bet that front month WTI would not reach $100 in 2007. Several people kept telling me what a dangerous bet this was – but none of them would pony up any money. I offered to take on 10 people at $100 each, or someone for the entire $1,000. Well, someone has accepted for the entire $1,000. We have each transferred $1,000 into a Paypal account controlled by one of the personnel at The Oil Drum. If the front month… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 8, 2007 with no responses

GM Revives the Electric Car

Years after GM killed the electric car, they are bringing it back. They introduced a new electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this weekend. Here is what the car looks like: GM’s New Chevrolet Volt The only problem is that they still haven’t invented the battery that will run it. This is expected to come in 2010 or 2012. Forbes recently wrote an article on the car. Some excerpts, explaining why this is an improvement over GM’s earlier efforts: The Chevy Volt is driven by electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries that are charged by plugging the vehicle into a standard 110-volt socket. But the vehicle has a small gasoline-powered generator on… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 4, 2007 with no responses

Distillery Demand for Grain To Fuel Cars Vastly Understated

Earth Policy InstituteEco-Economy UpdateEmbargoed for Release12 pm EST, January 4, 2007 DISTILLERY DEMAND FOR GRAIN TO FUEL CARS VASTLY UNDERSTATED World May Be Facing Highest Grain Prices in History Lester R. Brown Investment in fuel ethanol distilleries has soared since the late-2005 oil price hikes, but data collection in this fast-changing sector has fallen behind. Because of inadequate data collection on the number of new plants under construction, the quantity of grain that will be needed for fuel ethanol distilleries has been vastly understated. Farmers, feeders, food processors, ethanol investors, and grain-importing countries are basing decisions on incomplete data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects that distilleries will require only 60 million tons of corn from the 2008… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 3, 2007 with no responses

My Energy Resolutions for 2007

I will be moving to Scotland by the end of January, and as a result we will be selling our house in the U.S. (as well as both vehicles). This gives me an opportunity to make some positive changes in 2007. Here are my resolutions: 1). I resolve to get the most fuel-efficient car I can find in Scotland.2). I resolve to search for a house that allows me to take public transport or my bike to work.3). I resolve to place a very high priority on energy efficiency as I search for a new house.4). I resolve to reduce the meat in my diet (it takes much more energy to produce meat than to produce vegetables).5). I resolve to… Continue»