Picking on Pickens

August 13, 2008 at 11:54 am | Posted in Economics, Technology | 5 Comments

I’ve been mulling the latest Solution to the Energy Crisis over in my mind ever since I first heard about it a few weeks ago.  Texan oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens has been criss-crossing the country shilling for his new program to remake America’s energy infrastructure and eliminate dependence on foreign oil

The Pickens’ Plan itself is rather simple, which translates to feasible, unlike other wacky ideas.  It doesn’t rely on biofuels, which are economically troubling and possibly a net energy loser.  Nor does it count on pie-in-the-sky “alternative energy” technology, which simply does not exist.  No, it’s actually a rather clever shifting of resources that might actually work.

To put it simply, Mr Pickens wants to build a zillion windmills in South Central United States to generate electricity.  This extra electrical generation capacity will be used to replace power from natural gas fired generators, which will be scaled back.  The extra natural gas will be used to fuel cars and trucks, thus reducing the amount of oil the US needs to consume.  The balance of America’s oil needs then would be met with the domestic supply.

It sounds reasonable, on the face of it.  The workability of the plan breaks down to three major questions:  Can wind powered generators replace natural gas fired generators?  And, can natural gas replace gasoline as the major fuel source for automobiles?  Lastly, is the amount of gasoline saved enough to eliminate foreign imports?  This is quite a lot to chew on, so I think I’ll breakit down to a series of posts.  If there’s enough interest, I might even get to taking a look at the third question someday….



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  1. I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

  2. It certainly would be of interest to me, for one, to see you tackle this. It’s something I’ve been wondering about.

  3. No need for all this my friend. Two words: Shale Oil.

    We are sitting on the largest deposit in the world. More oil than has been consumed worldwide since the advent of the combustion engine.

  4. But is shale oil good for the environment, meaning good for us?

  5. Anastasia,

    As long as we are running on oil, might as well use our own resources, instead of sending our precious money, by the boat load (and then some) to the Middle East (oh yes and Venezuela too). We all know what they are up to. Not good for us in other words.

    Consider the alternatives.

    Consider the scenario of 500 million electric cars on the road, that is a whole lot of nasty toxic chemicals lead/acid/lithium in them their batteries. Besides, where is all that electricity coming from? Gas and coal fired power plants. This is not even considering the high amount of energy required to create the batteries (an oft overlooked fact).

    Ethanol/Bio Diesel – carbon based fuels not any better (perhaps worse) to the environment than oil.

    Hydrogen – explosive, and takes large amount of electricity to produce (which required gas and coal).

    So while alternatives are developed, shale oil ain’t looking too bad, after all.

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