You may have picked this up in the press, but T Boone Pickens has publicly stepped up to the plate and is leading two initiatives aimed at securing future energy supplies and freeing the USA from dependence on the middle East in particular.
His strategy has the merit of been applicable immediately. Essentially he is building mega wind farms to produce electricity and aggressively displace natural gas from the power generation business. This is happening now.
The displaced natural gas will be diverted to supply the transportation business. His press coverage mentions both cars and trucks.
In practice, the best immediate improvement will come from converting the diesel fleet directly to LNG for which a huge global resource is in place today.
I will never be the wind power supporter that many are, only because it truly needs to be integrated with a variable energy source that can used to offset shortfalls. The best solution is a power dam with a well filled reservoir and a LNG power generator is not far behind.
In any event nanosolar panels are not too far away and that is capable of dealing with much of our power needs.
LNG however, is the only viable alternative for the long haulage business that can be rolled out immediately and fully installed within a couple of years. Biodiesel suffers from been too little too late and needs a protracted build out on the supply side. The same holds true for ethanol.
It is obvious though that the industrial aspects of all three are been tested and mastered and their availability is eminent. The strength of LNG is that ample feedstock is available now. Feedstocks for either ethanol or biodiesel are grossly insufficient and will take a fair amount of time to nurture. Ethanol, though is well on the way to been a significant part of the fuel cycle, having already reached critical mass. We are now seeing late generation supply crops hit the market, so that sector should be optimized in side of five years.
Pickens is totally correct in his strategy of supporting LNG conversion in the transport industry while diverting LNG from the power generation industry through the immediate build out of wind farms now. The important fact is that all of this can be done now without any delay as either supply is built out or technology matured.
He gives lip service to the use of LNG in the automobile industry which I see as window dressing. The real conversion must take place in the trucking industry which has both the immediate need and the resources. They do not have any option.
The auto industry is embarking on a multi pronged conversion strategy that will shake out over the next five years. On top of that, the consumer even today has options to exploit. Most can easily switch down to a smaller car or public transport fairly easily. The advent of hybrids is now accelerating that process.
The advent of ethanol fuels is at hand and is now been implemented. Supply will soon follow this demand.
Biodiesel is now a cottage industry but is also building momentum.
These are all steps that can remove our need for any use of oil in the transportation sector by themselves.
Far more importantly, $140 oil has convinced everyone in North America that any dependence on offshore oil is A Bad Thing. They will support any and all initiatives that will speed us all out of the oil business. And where we go, the rest of the world will swiftly follow particularly Europe, India and China.
The electric car will slid into the short haul niche as ample electric power is made available. Quite simply, with a nanosolar plant outside of town, it is very attractive to go pick up an inexpensive light weight town car for personal mobility.
Pickens is just getting into this massive market a step ahead of the crush.
As an aside, LNG has always been held back from full exploitation because of perceived handling problems. These seem to not be the problem that they once were but they still require active management that is easily supplied in the trucking industry. In the meantime, global resources are ample for centuries of use and ultimately are backstopped by the oceanic frozen methane reserves. It is also the cleanest burning hydrocarbon fuel and will slash the percentage of CO2 emissions.
The transport industry could switch to biodiesel and perhaps will do some of that also, however, it is better all around to switch to LNG now. It alone will slash smog in the urban environment.