Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Coal To Liquids article in NYT

King Coal? Search for New Oil Sources Leads to Processed Coal, says Matt Wald in NYT. Not only in Coal to Liquids (CTL) an expensive way to produce liquid fuels, it is also a very carbon intensive process as illustrated by the accompanying graphic. The Annual Energy Outlook from EIA does not forsee significant contribution from CTL until 2020 in the high oil price scenario.

The real question we should be asking is whether it is possible to avoid going CTL route altogether. The answer obviously has to do with changing out behavior: reducing our use of vehicles, purchasing less fuel consuming vehicles, driving them as few miles as possible, and using less carbon intensive fuels. Sounds easy, right?

No, then we have more dirty sources of oil for you! There is pleanty to be obtained from the tar sands in Canada, the heavy oil in Venezuala, and the master of them all: Shale Oil right here in America!

In short, if you want Energy Security you could get there by two paths. One path is conservation, energy efficiency, and higher fuel prices. The other path is shameless exploitation of dirty sources of nonconventional oil right here in America at relatively modest fuel prices even if that means ruining any chances we may have to save ourselves from disastrous climate change.

Yogi Berra once said, When you come to the fork in the road, take it! We have come to the fork in the road, and we must take it!


Blogger Kiran said...

"One path is conservation, energy efficiency, and higher fuel prices."

Yup, all three go hand-in-hand. A rise in fuel prices encourages efficiency. If efficiency cannot keep up with the rising fuel prices, then that leads to conservation. But the price is the key.

Thats where the renewables jut in. The price of carbon-based fuel should be kept high enough at all times to keep renewables competitive (within limits that do not harm the economy as a whole - which would be counter-productive).

Eventually once we reach a stage where production and consumption of energy has a zero footprint on the ecology, we can go back to a market economy for all fuels.

8:16 AM  

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