Various news agencies reported on Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman's statements at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, that the U.S. "will need to have more imports of ethanol," if it is to meet the new mandate to cut gasoline use.
Bodman also said that he did not see a 51-cent-a-gallon subsidy to U.S. farmers remaining in place beyond 2010 or import tariff on ethanol of 54 cents a gallon beyond 2008. These remarks were made in regard to Bush's proposal outlined in Tuesday's State of the Union address in which the president said that he aims to cut gasoline use by 20 percent by 2017, mostly by replacing the fuel with ethanol, and by expected improvements in automobile fuel economy. (see previous post)
"The idea is that at some point in the future all these technologies need to stand the test of the free market," Bodman said.
Another report quoted Bodman as saying that the U.S. "must go beyond corn" to increase ethanol supplies. Corn could produce only 12 billion to 15 billion gallons of fuel a year, so the nation must develop ways to derive ethanol from plant waste.
Bodman admitted that technology currently doesn't exist to produce the needed ethanol quantities in a cost-effective manner. There is “an element of trust that U.S. companies can develop the technology to meet the target," Bodman said. He said he’s "cautiously optimistic this will happen," but that the U.S. "will need to have more imports of ethanol."
Bodman also defended Bush's drive to reduce oil consumption without higher gasoline taxes.
"The idea of taxing gasoline at an increased level, which is something that gets discussed from time to time, I view as a highly divisive matter," he said.
Bodman said nuclear power would have to play an important role in future U.S. energy planning. "I see no alternative other than nuclear power as an emissions-friendly source of electrical power," he said.
So the discussion goes on. Any way, my and many of my readers conclusion, that we could not meet Bush's goals from domestic supplies is confirmed by another source. I think his implication of how much corn ethanol we will produce is high. Or at least his use of the word could should not be interpreted as will. Of course we could, but it would be at the expense of food supplies and high prices. Where the actual number will come in is pretty much up in the air now. I have always thought that the importation of ethanol from the Caribbean, Central America and South America would be a good idea, benefiting our needs and their economies. The use of butanol and coal to liquids to supplement ethanol was not brought up however.
The need for producing these quantities of renewable and alternative fuels should not be dismissed. For reasons of national security, energy independence, the risk of inflation and a severe economic downturn and for the economic benefit of our farmers we need to develop these supplies.
I support the reduction of subsidies and tariffs on ethanol so that a free trade on ethanol can be had and our domestic producers do not indulge in price gouging as would be possible with them. The market for ethanol must be maintained however and I support ever increasing requirements for alternative and renewable fuels as required to meet the production required to assure the goals outlined in the previous paragraph.
Their certainly are other alternatives to nuclear, but are they better? I happen to think clean coal with carbon capture is better.
PS @ 11:34 pm 1/27/07
I still think we should build a few, maybe 4, nuclear reactors that are as safe as possible, and create a minimum of waste, just in case we need to have an ace in the hole. I believe we can keep the fuel & waste free from being used by terrorists and or enemy nations. In the meantime we should build as many solar trough systems in the western deserts as possible. The number should only be limited by the electrical transmission system we can build. These systems can be built with eutectic salt energy storage systems so that they can operate at least 12 hours a day year round. We should supplement these with as much wind power in the great plains as can be used, the number limited by the amount the grid can absorb due to their indeterminacy. Because the area is large the effects of indeterminacy are minimized by geographical separation. These two technologies are ready for prime time and should be able to meet all the new power needs of the western half of the US. NIMBYism is a problem, but a minimum in this part of the country.
Offshore wind and wave power are suitable for the east, but NIMBYism is great for wind and although wave power may have less NIMBism, it isn't ready for prime time. After many, many years of fighting Cape Wind now has a good chance of being approved and may set a precedent for other plants. My choice for this area for now is IGCC plants with carbon capture. Maybe not by coincidence, most of the more than 10 proposed IGCC plants, without carbon capture, but at least with mercury control, are in this area.
I think that the support of nuclear is primarily political, but also because they may be the best type of plant to produce hydrogen-which I think is a total waste. We can fuel SOFC fuel cells with natural gas until we have enough ethanol to supply them, or if, direct carbon fuel cells (DCFC) are available, for stationary applications. I hope we never see fuel cells used in vehicles, only plug-ins and all electrics by 2030. We should be getting 300-400 mile range from electrics by that time, if not sooner.