Posts tagged “infrastructure”
The Electric Highway
The New York Times reporter John Broder recently published his account of an East Coast road trip he took with the Tesla Model S electric vehicle (EV). It marked an important development: Tesla has opened two new public “supercharging” stations some 200 miles apart in Delaware and Connecticut that can fully replenish the Model S battery in an hour and potentially provide consumers the ability to drive the well-traveled Interstate 95 corridor at near-zero carbon emissions. Unfortunately, Broder’s test results came up short, showing the limitations of existing EV technology, the need for more innovation, and the division of opinions on how the United States should decarbonize transportation.
The set-up was simple: Broder was to travel from Washington D.C. to Milford, Connecticut in the souped-up Model S. But according to Broder, he faced a host of inconveniences as the Model S fell short of its projected 300 mile range, resulting in the car losing charge mid-drive and the need to re-route to find additional charging stations. Since then, he and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have traded accusatory statements, (Musk, Broder, Musk, Broder), with even the New York Times Public Editor chiming in with an investigation.
The back and forth ignited a mini-Internet firestorm. The Atlantic Wire, for example, heavily scrutinized Musk’s rebuttal while Chelsea Sexton at Wired defended Tesla by characterizing EVs as being different from gas cars and thus deserving of different expectations. “The day-to-day experience EVs offer is so much better than gas cars for 95% of driving. Long-distance road trips are among the last 5% of usage scenarios,” Sexton writes, before concluding that “it’s ridiculous to expect EVs to deliver the same experience as the incumbent product.”
We all saw last week the largest blackouts in history, as first 300 million people in India, then 600 million lost electricity. While power is back up, it was a huge embarrassment to the government that exposed major difficulties in the power sector.
There are many problems with the Indian economy, like corruption, lack of long-term planning, and investment restrictions that hold it back from its potential. It has been difficult to remove the layers of bureaucracy that thwart investors. Corruption has remained pervasive at all levels. Political populism has led the government to impose strict price controls on many goods – this has hampered investment. The remnants of India’s post-war anti-import government policies have slowed the ability of foreign companies to directly invest in the country.
The secretary of Russia’s National Security Council is now warning that militants have joined forces with pirates to carry out attacks on key maritime oil transport hubs like the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal. According to the EIA, the Strait of Hormuz “is the world’s most important oil chokepoint due to its daily oil flow of 16.5-17 million barrels (first half 2008E), which is roughly 40 percent of all seaborne traded oil (or 20 percent of oil traded worldwide).” The following is the final segment of this week’s three-part series (Links to: Part I and Part II) on oil infrastructure and terrorism. Regularly scheduled programming will follow shortly. The report was written by Donald J. Evans, a Senior… Continue»
Yesterday’s New York Times contained a story that depicts the vulnerability of the U.S. military’s fuel supply chain: U.S. Military Orders Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels In Iraq and Afghanistan, the huge truck convoys that haul fuel to bases have been sitting ducks for enemy fighters — in the latest attack, oil tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan were set on fire in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, early Monday. In Iraq and Afghanistan, one Army study found, for every 24 fuel convoys that set out, one soldier or civilian engaged in fuel transport was killed. In the past three months, six Marines have been wounded guarding fuel runs in Afghanistan. Also, as an update to the link I posted leading… Continue»
In light of the recent attacks by militants on tankers carrying oil for NATO and U.S. troops, the series that I am posting this week is especially timely. When we consider the dependence of the U.S. and the western world on the Middle East, the potential for terrorism on oil infrastructure looms as a large risk hanging over our economies. This week’s three-part report (for Part II of the series, click here) asks a specific question: Given the strategic importance of Middle East oil to the West and its economic and technological dependence on oil: Why have pipelines in that part of the globe not been primary targets of international terrorism to date? The report was written by Donald J…. Continue»