Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

July 7, 2006

“America is Addicted to Oil” — yeah, nice speech, buddy.

Filed under: energy — secretmojo @ 9:20 am

Every once in a while, I research a little bit more of what comprises our doolally energy policy, and what alternatives are out there. Just so, you know, I can get ticked off.

Today, I looked a little into Ethanol-85 as an alternative fuel. It’s promising, because it requires little change to already existing car designs–in fact, GM has a couple of E85 capable cars out there.

One of the issues often brought up, however, is that Ethanol requires much more energy to produce than it gives out (I’ve heard 6:1 ratio). This fact may be wrong, as some studies contradict this, and may be more wrong as the efficiency of producing it increases. In any case, even if it is a 1:1 ratio, at least it is renewable and can be homegrown, whereas petroleum definitely is not and can not.

But this is not my point, nor my main concern. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that both E85 and gas create source-dependent energy. Let alone the fact that E85 costs six energy units to create one. Let alone that petroleum will eventually be gone forever. Forcing a car to use only one (or two) kinds of fuel sources seems anti-competitive and scarcity-focused to me (and right up this administration’s alley). Even though E85 could reduce dependency on foreign oil, it will serve only to shift dependency upon, say, Indiana. And it does nothing to alleviate fuel prices when Indiana gets a drought. It is a bandage, in other words, not a solution.

Instead, creating cars (and other vehicles) that run on electricity (boy, am I gonna see this movie) or hydrogen makes much more sense. Remember, electricity and hydrogen are only delivery methods; the energy they provide can come from anywhere: corn, sugar cane, gas, coal, nuclear, kerosene, windmills, solar, waterfalls, tidal shifts, hyperactive kids…

With a diversified energy base that traditional oil-guzzlers can take advantage of, competition then plays a role in a) keeping prices down b) eliminating cartels and monopolies on energy sources, and c) reducing the effects of world events and weather on volatility. Plus, you wouldn’t need solar panels on your car to use solar energy in your car.

Now, I know this kind of idea doesn’t fascinate those already in the energy business, because it is in their own interests to keep energy scarce and one-sourced. So it’d be a tough sell to anyone who has the power to to anything.

Still, though, wouldn’t it be great if merry-go-rounds full of laughing children or a hot day at the beach eventually generated energy that could drive you to work in the morning? Sometimes I see energy everywhere: in the wind, in the humidity, in ocean waves, in moonlight, in running kids. These things are possible; it is only unmitigated greed and a paucity of imagination that stops it from happening.

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