Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

Cop turned into a flop – what’s next?

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

With the Copenhagen climate summit’s failure to achieve a binding agreement to resuce greenhouse gas emissions Gal Luft proposes a new approach – oil first.

“Now that delegates to the U.N. climate summit are back from Copenhagen with no more than a non binding, hollow declaration of intent to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it is clear that the main reason “Cop” turned into a flop is the deep divide between the world’s rich and poor — between those who watch the world on plasma screens and those who are forced to sell their plasma to survive another day.

The platitudes and inspirational speeches on how we must all come together to “save ourselves from ourselves” could not mask an inescapable reality: For poor people, while often being the main casualties of an unstable climate, planetary-scale environmental concerns are a distant second to basic human needs — access to electricity, food, and shelter. They are therefore unwilling to put their economic growth on hold until the world comes up with economically competitive alternatives to coal-fired electricity. In India alone, 150 million people have no access to basic lighting. In the face of such grinding poverty, it’s no wonder that the rich countries’ attempts to thwart the expansion of fossil fuels were perceived by many in the developing world as a new form of imperialism.

This pushback by the developing world begs for a unified, yet politically feasible, agenda that can be embraced by rich and poor countries alike. One area where such an agenda can emerge is oil. Whereas reaching consensus about significant cuts in the use of fossil fuels in power generation seems to be unlikely, focusing on reducing the use of oil, which powers 95 percent of the global transportation sector, is a goal that offers a real chance of global acceptance.”

Here is the full article

First PHEV coming from China

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

A Chinese company, BYD Auto, did what the big auto companies failed to do so far: introduce the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid, the F3 DM. BYD’s new car, with a $22,000 price tag, can run for up to 60 miles on a battery charged from an ordinary electricity outlet. The Dragon is at Detroit’s gate.

Iran and Brazil Can Do It. So Can We.

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Set America Free Coalition member Gal Luft in the Washington Post:

When the founding fathers declared our independence, they could not have imagined that, 232 years later, the United States would be so spectacularly dependent on foreign countries. It would be roughly
eight more decades before oil gushed from a well in Titusville, Pa., marking the beginning of the global
oil economy; it took eight decades more for the United States to become a net oil importer. But the
republic’s disastrous dependence on foreign oil has increased by leaps and bounds ever since.
In 1973, when OPEC imposed its oil embargo, U.S. oil imports composed 30 percent of our needs;
today, they make up more than 60 percent, with a growing proportion of that crude coming from the
world’s least stable regions. At around $145 a barrel, the United States, by my calculations, will spend
more on imported oil this year than it will spend on its own defense budget, and much of that money
will flow into the coffers of those who wish us ill.

Read the whole thing.

Oil, China, and the Middle East

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Investor’s Business Daily reports:

Mideast investors relish the fact that China doesn’t raise ideological issues like human rights
with its trading partners — unlike America. They also aren’t keen on big U.S. investments
since Congress blocked a Dubai-owned firm from taking over major U.S. port facilities in
Anne Korin, the director of policy and strategic planning at the Institute for the Analysis of
Global Security, sees a darker side to Chinese ties with the Middle East.
“The Chinese align their development aid and foreign policy with their energy needs,” Korin
She cites China’s willingness to use its veto in the U.N. Security Council to shield Sudan and
Iran from sanctions. Korin also warns that political factors could weigh more heavily than
market ones in future oil shipments.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is shipping generous supplies of crude to Cuba to
tweak the U.S. Back in the 1970s, the Arab oil embargo to protest U.S. support for Israel also
was about politics.
Given such precedents, she says it’s possible that oil could be used as a political weapon in
the future.
“As U.S. relations with the Muslim world continue to deteriorate and we continue to see
tightness of supply, we’re heading for a situation in a couple of decades where five or six
nations in the Middle East control the economic health of the world,” Korin said. “China
wants to make sure it has strong bilateral relationships with these countries.”

Stay focused

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Set America Free Coalition member Bud McFarlane writes in the Wall Street Journal:

By far the greatest contributor to higher food prices has been the run-up in the price of oil, which impacts every stage of food production.
The same sustained growth in China’s and India’s economies that is contributing to the rise of food prices is matched by a corresponding increased demand for oil, which promises to keep oil prices high for the foreseeable future. Given the tightness of supply – with very little excess production capacity anywhere in the world – if oil flows from the Persian Gulf were disrupted (as al Qaeda has promised, and which could easily happen), we would see oil at more than $200 per barrel overnight. And it would stay at that level until the damage is repaired – a period of up to a year – during which time the global economy would likely fall into deep depression.

He calls for action on four fronts:

- Accelerate the introduction of second-generation biofuels (e.g. cellulosic ethanol and methanol) which don’t rely on any food crop as feedstock, and should not require any government subsidy.

- Establish an Open Fuel Standard. That is, require that any automobile sold in the U.S. be a flexible fuel vehicle capable of burning gasoline, methanol, ethanol or any combination of the three – a feature that costs just $100 per vehicle.

- Accelerate the production of plug-in hybrid-electric cars and trucks.

- Introduce the use of lighter, stronger carbon composite materials, as Boeing is doing in the new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, into the production of cars and trucks. A Pentagon study a few years ago concluded that this step alone could reduce our oil imports by 48%.

The most important of these measures is the enactment of an Open Fuel Standard, so that the consumer has a choice at the fuel pump. Unfortunately, without a predictable market, such as would be provided by mandatory flexible-fuel cars and trucks, there is a strong disincentive among investors to risk the capital needed for second-generation alternative fuels like cellulosic ethanol to take off. But without such a mandate, we are keeping ourselves tied exclusively to oil, with all the risks that involves.

Some say that these mandates are contrary to free-market principles. But one could say the same thing about seat belts, air-bags and even the FM radios mandated during the Cold War to assure the government’s ability to broadcast nuclear alerts.

No one argues seriously that these things have not been in our interest. And just imagine how valuable it would be to reduce the $460 billion we will spend on foreign oil this year, or the threat to our economy that its disruption would represent.

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.

This is more like it: cars we want to drive

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Two very sexy cars that may just have what it takes to captivate the American driver’s imagination and desire to own a next gen, fuel choice enabling vehicle:

1. Fisker Karma plug in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Popular Mechanics has video. Bottom line: Fisker’s Four-Door Karma Hybrid Hits 50 Miles on Li-Ion—at 125 MPH. Have we mentioned we’d love to drive this car? (hat tip: Instapundit, whose been on a roll about new vehicle technology and especially about fuel choice.)

2. Ferrari 430 Spider Biofuel

Several other exciting announcements about plug in hybrids at the Detroit autoshow, indicating a race to market by automakers. Here’s a roundup:

Saturn’s PHEV Vue: “Version 2 comes late this year using the more common nickel-metal hydride type battery packs in combination with the General’s direct-injected 3.6L V-6 to give a reported 50% boost in fuel economy. Version 3 comes late 2009 at the earliest and swaps the nickel battery for a lithium-ion unit. Those batteries will come with a plug that allows the owner to get a full grid charge in about 4-5 hours.”

Interview with several GM execs about progress on getting a GM flex fuel plug in hybrid on the road. Their target date is November 2010. test drove a plug in hybrid Toyota Prius. Note that this PHEV was made by Toyota, not converted by others like the ones Set America Free and CalCars brought to Capitol Hill – this in and of itself is progress. Toyota intends “to offer plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2010 on a lease basis to fleet customers, such as government agencies and corporations.”

Meanwhile, leaping ahead of the pack, a Chinese automaker called BYD Auto, a newcomer to the exhibition unveiled its F6 Dual Model plug-in hybrid, announcing it intends to produce the car in the second half of this year. This announcement is a strong warning of shape up or ship out to the rest of the field, along the lines of Gal Luft’s Chinese Sputnik oped.

One reporter actually got to test drive BYD’s hybrid with its chairman on the floor of the convention center: “I’m now completely taken with my good luck at getting a real test drive from the Chairman, looking back at the BYD booth now 100 feet away. I was convinced that this was the end of the trip and the car would be backed up to the booth. And then the car sped up to about 10 mph, which is an uncomfortable speed in the middle of a convention center. There was only one obstacle in the way: a press conference. Little did the ALMS people know the Chinese were on their way The American Le Mans Series was holding a press conference to discuss the environmental innovations they were making in their racing (including the introduction of E85 ethanol to the racing series). It was fitting then that the chairman of the small chinese automaker, that sells annually in China what Honda sells in a month in the US, was pointing his answer to the environmental question right at them.
“…And how was the car? I have to admit, besides it’s “heavily borrowed” styling, the F6DM was quite smooth and with a level of fit and finish that was superior to many of the other full production cars on display from China. And that electric motor? Quiet as a mouse. And though we didn’t get the high-speed tour, the car drove smoothly and easily around the floor. Is this the future? I can’t be sure. But there’s no doubt that the company’s Chairman is dedicated to proving his car works. Conventions and convention center staff be damned.”

If you will be in the market for a car in the next few years, now is the time to let your auto dealer know that you are waiting for a flex fuel plug in hybrid — automakers need to hear from you that the demand is out there, and if they want to sell you a car, they need to offer you fuel choice. Let’s get these cars on the road! As Michael Ledeen would put it, Faster Please!

UPDATE: Thanks Instapundit!

IEA: Oil Crunch around the corner

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

In its starkest warning yet on the world’s fuel outlook, the International Energy Agency said the world is facing an oil supply “crunch” within five years that will force up prices to record levels and increase the west’s dependence on oil cartel Opec. “oil looks extremely tight in five years time” and there are “prospects of even tighter natural gas markets at the turn of the decade,” said the agency’s Medium-Term Oil Market Report, which is published every six months. “Low OPEC spare capacity and slow non-OPEC production growth are of significant concern.” Global oil demand is forecast to expand by 2.2 percent a year on average, reaching 95.8 million barrels a day by 2012. The fastest growth will occur in Asia.

The report also showed that Chinese oil demand will reach almost 10 million barrels a day in 2012, compared with its domestic production that year of about 3.9 million barrels a day.

China gearing for crisis

Friday, June 15th, 2007

“There will be an oil crisis worldwide after 2020, and China’s annual oil needs will reach 450 million to 610 million tons at that time. China should speed up the development of alternative energy, especially coal-based fuel and bio-materials-based fuel,” said a draft of a report by the China’s National Development and Reform Commission and several government ministries. According to the draft, more than 50 percent of oil processed in China is used as transportation fuel. Currently, imported crude oil accounts for over 45 percent of China’s total demand for fuels.

The report recommends the use of methanol as an alternative to fossil fuels in the country’s auto industry, stating that methanol can be used in the automobile industry, and “will not cause great harm to people’s health if used in the correct way”.

West’s energy security ever-more at the mercy of foreign governments

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Set America Free Coalition member Frank Gaffney writes in the Washington Times:

As the Communist Chinese and fascistic Russian regimes move to forge close relations with energy-rich nations like Iran, Libya, Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Saudi Arabia, and as the Kremlin consolidates its control over Russia’s own vast resources, America and her allies will find themselves increasingly imperiled by their dependency on such sources for oil products and/or natural gas.
As a result, President Bush needs to make increased U.S. energy security a central part of the overhauled war-fighting strategy that he is set to announce next month. To do so, he must clearly go beyond the lip service that he paid to our “addiction to oil” in last year’s State of the Union speech by taking steps that will make a difference.
Done properly, energy security could be one of the most promising areas for cooperation between the Bush Administration and Democrats in Congress. By concentrating on areas where considerable progress is possible (rather than on such neuralgic issues as drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or increased CAFE fuel-efficiency standards), America — and in particular its gas-guzzling transportation sector — could be made significantly less reliant on oil supplied by unstable or hostile regimes.
Such a course of action has been laid out in a blueprint produced by the Set America Free Coalition — a group spanning the political spectrum — that forms the basis for the bipartisan, bicameral Vehicle & Fuel Choices for American Security Act (introduced in the last session of Congress as S.2025 in the Senate and H.R. 4409 in the House). It entails two principal steps: (1) ensuring all cars sold in America will be Flexible Fuel Vehicles, capable of burning not just gasoline but ethanol and methanol (or some combination thereof); and (2) assuring the availability of substantially increased quantities of such alternative fuels.
This legislation would also help make electricity a true transportation fuel, by promoting the manufacture of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Since scarcely any electricity is generated in America by burning oil, the widespread use of such vehicles could greatly reduce our dependence on foreign sources of petroleum. To realize the full potential of this option, however, President Bush and the Congress will need to join forces on one other important initiative: assuring large-scale U.S. production of advanced lithium ion batteries, an essential ingredient for our future energy — and national — security and the competitiveness of our auto industry.