Archive for the ‘plug in hybrids’ Category

Plug in hybrid tax break pass the Senate

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Plug in hybrid consumer tax credits (along with a few other important but more technical transportation electrification related tax provisions) made it through the Senate last evening as part of the renewable energy tax extenders package. (This is the same plug in tax credit provision that made it through the Finance Committee last winter but together with the rest of the energy tax package, failed on the floor because of the congressional offset wars.)

Still need to get through the House, but so far so good.

Caroline Glick: the West has to get its act together

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Caroline Glick calls on the West to break its dependence on foreign oil:

On a macroeconomic level, as people like R. James Woolsey, Gal Luft, Robert Zubrin, Frank Gaffney, Anne Korin and others have explained convincingly over the past several years, the West needs to end its addiction to foreign oil as quickly as possible. Energy security is a paramount issue.[...] The best course is to seek other means of fuelling cars, trains and airplanes. The key to everything as far as I can see is for all cars to have the capacity to run on fuels other than gasoline – what are called “flex fuel cars” and to have the capacity to run on electricity – what are called “plug-in cars.” What is needed is not so much one solution – but the ability to use many other fuels at once.

Once cars are able to run on methanol and ethanol and electricity as well as gasoline, then you have a lot of options for action. It makes sense to increase the supply of oil as much as possible by drilling in as many places as possible and increasing refining capacities. It also makes sense to start developing massive quantities of methanol that you can produce from just about anything. It makes sense to develop clean coal, increase nuclear energy supplies.

It makes sense to put a floor on the price of imported oil at $60/barrel to ensure that alternative energy sources that are now being developed can be competitive. It would prevent the Arabs from prolonging our dependence on them by flooding the US with cheap oil and pushing all alternatives off the market.

Making oil just another commodity

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

The Philadelphia Bulletin notes:

The Set America Free Coalition offers another perspective on America’s dependence on oil imports. The goal of Set America Free is to strip oil of its strategic value for OPEC by providing Americans with greater transportation fuel choices, including plug-in hybrid cars and flexible fuel vehicles. The plug-in hybrids are like other hybrids except they have bigger batteries and can drive 20 miles on a single charge. Flexible fuel vehicles, which are widely used in Brazil allow cars to run a variety of fuel types, giving consumers a choice at the pump between gas and alcohol. “We’re always going to need oil…we need to make oil just another commodity” Anne Korin, Set America Free Chair said.

H is for Hooey

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Joe Romm says it so we don’t have to:

[N]obody should get terribly excited when a car company rolls out its wildly impractical next-generation hydrogen car. Too many miracles are required for it to be a marketplace winner.[...] Who, exactly, is going to buy a car that can’t easily find fuel? On the other hand, who is going to build tens of thousands of fuelling stations – price tag $2m apiece or more – until the cars are wildly successful? That is the so-called chicken-and-egg problem, which is especially acute for hydrogen. [..]And yet the media can’t get enough of these hi-tech Edsels. The New York Times, of all places, writes:

Fuel cells have an advantage over electric cars, whose batteries take hours to recharge and use electricity, which, in the case of the United States, China and many other countries, is often produced by coal-burning power plants.

Is the Times unaware that electricity is pretty much available everywhere, whereas hydrogen is essentially available nowhere? Is the Times unaware that the per-mile fuel cost of an electric car is probably one-quarter that of a hydrogen fuel-cell car? Is the Times unaware that electric-car manufacturers are working on “exchangeable batteries”, which would make a battery swap about as fast as it takes to refuel a car with hydrogen?

Most egregious: Where, exactly, does the Times think hydrogen comes from? Santa Claus? [...]

If you build it, the media will come, but don’t hold your breath waiting for mass-market hydrogen-car buyers. In two years, GM and Toyota have promised to deliver plug-in hybrids. That will be a real step closer to a future free of petroleum.

Go Joe!

Support from the Kansas City Star

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

E. Thomas McClanahan in the Kansas City Star:

A group called Set America Free, with backing from both sides of the political spectrum, has put together a list of suggestions, which seems a good starting point for debate.

Supporters of the group include both Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

To me, the group’s key point is that we should make greater use of technologies that exist today, rather than do nothing while we wait for those that require further development.

That means, among other things, we should make more cars that can run on ethanol. A flexible-fuel vehicle capable of running on either gasoline or ethanol or different ratios of both requires only a different fuel-control chip and different fittings in the fuel line to accommodate ethanol. Additional cost: About $100.

I know. Ethanol is in bad political odor right now, but I’m not necessarily talking about corn ethanol. If we’re serious about energy diversification, we should drop the tariff on imported sugar ethanol.

Today, up to two-thirds of Brazil’s autos run on ethanol, primarily made from sugar. When the next energy crisis hits, a flexible-fuel vehicle fleet would be a nice ace in the hole.

We also need more hybrids, powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity, as well as what might be termed super-flexible cars: flexible-fuel, plug-in hybrids.

These would run on gasoline or ethanol, as well as electricity produced by the car’s generator and captured braking energy. At night, its batteries could be recharged with the plug-in feature.

Powering more of our vehicle fleet with electricity would shift more transportation uses away from exclusive dependence on oil. Electricity can be provided by a range of sources, including coal and nuclear, and, yes, wind — although it’s still not clear how much difference wind power will make.

Symposium: Energy Independence and the War on Radical Islam

Monday, May 5th, 2008

What is the best way for us to achieve energy independence? What is the urgency for us to do so in terms of our conflict with Islamo-Fascism? Click through to read the Frontpage Symposium.

Get it straight Reps. Blunt and Markey!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

See if you can spot the mistake in the following statements (hint -it’s the same mistake):

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), House Republican Whip: “clearing the way for clean alternatives such as nuclear energy to take root [...] would have a downward impact on our [oil] dependence, and a stabilizing effect on price.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming: “said alternative sources such as wind, energy and solar were the only long-term solution to get around soaring oil prices.”

Bigger hint:
Electricity generation by energy source

Even bigger hint:

Oil demand by sector

Memo to Reps. Blunt and Markey – we use very little oil to generate electricity, and conversely only a tiny fraction of our electricity is generated from oil. So you may have all sorts of reasons to favor solar, wind, and nuclear power, but please get your facts straight — increasing their use will do nothing to reduce U.S. oil dependence. And please note that the Department of Energy has reported that even today’s grid has sufficient reserve off peak power generation capacity to fuel over 70% of the US vehicle fleet should we have a massive shift to plug-in hybrid vehicles. You may have various reasons to wish to further diversify what electricity is generated from, but let’s keep the facts straight — it’s 98% not oil.

UPDATE: More pols making the same error:

New Jersey Republican candidates] for U.S. Senate used the record price of oil as a backdrop for all that is wrong with the U.S. economy.

During their first debate, the candidates — Dick Zimmer of Hunterdon County, Joseph Pennacchio of Montville and Murray Sabrin of Fort Lee — invoked Ronald Reagan’s free-market philosophy, saying that private enterprise got America through tough times before and it must do the job again, with oil at $119 a barrel.

“When our backs were against the wall, Americans were able to split the atom,” said Joseph Pennacchio, a dentist and state senator. He suggested that the country put the same fervor into nuclear, wind and solar power research.

Dick Zimmer, the former congressman and state legislator, suggested easing some regulations on the nuclear industry and taking other steps to lessen dependence on foreign oil.

[...]Murray Sabrin, a Ramapo College professor, decried what he called “anti-nuclear hysteria.”

“Of course we need nuclear energy,” he said.

Like we said – lots of reasons to support a variety of sources of electricity – but since we essentially no longer generate electricity from oil, reducing oil dependence isn’t one of them.

Have other examples of politicians or columnists making this same mistake? Add them to the comments.

China’s race to alternative fuels

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Last Thursday, Set America Free held an educational briefing in the House of Representatives on China’s very rapid progress on alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technology.

Greg Dolan of the Methanol Institute spoke about China’s progress on massive expansion of production and use of the alcohol fuel methanol

Dr. Paul Werbos of the NSF spoke about China, Japan, and Korea’s advances in battery technology and plug ins.

The bottom line: the Chinese are moving much more rapidly than the U.S. Alternative fuels and advanced vehicles are a top priority for the Chinese government.

Batteries for plug in hybrids are cheaper in China by factors of two, three, and more than comparable batteries in the U.S., and Chinese firms are expecting to have plug in hybrids ready for the mass market this year and next.

Electric world

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Plug in for America:

Norwegian electric-car company Think Global plans to bring its five-seat crossover concept vehicle, called the Think Ox, to the U.S. market as early as 2010, said Don Cochrane, the company’s U.K. sales and marketing director.

The car, which will have a top speed of about 85 mph and will be able to drive for about 125 miles on one charge, has been designed specifically with the United States in mind, but will also be sold internationally, he said.

Think Global is also considering making a plug in hybrid:

Cochrane added that the company also is considering adding a serial hybrid powertrain, which would pair the electric motor with an engine that uses fuel to give the vehicle unlimited range.

Remember: hardly any US electricity is generated from oil, so driving on electricity, whether in a pure electric vehicle or a plug in hybrid means not driving on oil. And the best of all worlds is a flex fuel plug in hybrid. Bring it on, automakers!

electric power generation by energy source

Setting the record straight

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Fred Thompson’s otherwise excellent comments re the president begging the Saudis for oil repeated a factual error many of the candidates are making. Thompson is quoted as saying: “It’s not in the United States’ long-term interest to go hat in hand begging people to do things that in the end we know they’re not going to do…What we need to concentrate on is diversifying our own energy sources here in this country and opening up what oil reserves that we have here … using nuclear more, using clean coal technology more and all the other things that we can do.”

Here’s the error: unlike in the 1970s, today the US hardly generates any electricity at all from oil. To be precise, a mere 2% of our electricity is generated from oil (and conversely only about 2% of our oil demand is due to electricity generation.) Therefore nuclear power, while a valuable technology, has nothing to do with reducing our oil demand; we’ve already diversified our power sector away from oil. The key source of oil demand, and the source of oil’s strategic value, is the transportation sector.

If we want to stop kowtowing to the Saudis and their ilk, our focus must be on stripping oil of its strategic value, making it just another commodity We can do this through fuel choice in the transportation sector – through flex fuel vehicles and plug in hybrids which provide a platform on which fuels can compete and open up the transportation fuel market to competition. Salt, after all, was once a strategic commodity too; with the advent of electricity and refrigeration salt lost its strategic value and power to determine world affairs.