Welcome to the Energy Blog

  • The Energy Blog is where all topics relating to The Energy Revolution are presented. Increasingly, expensive oil, coal and global warming are causing an energy revolution by requiring fossil fuels to be supplemented by alternative energy sources and by requiring changes in lifestyle. Please contact me with your comments and questions. Further Information about me can be found HERE.



After Gutenberg

Clean Break

The Oil Drum


Blog powered by Typepad

« Who Need Wires? | Main | GM Selects Compact Power and Continental Automotive Systems to Develop Volt Batteries »

June 09, 2007



A vehicle dependent upon a fuel like gasoline or E85 has a rather high floor under its direct per-mile carbon emissions, let alone its indirect emissions.  The PHEV can potentially head toward zero, if the batteries can be upgraded (e.g. start with Firefly Energy carbon-foam lead-acid cells, move to Li-ion when they get cheap enough).  On top of this, the lifespan of the vehicles we'll produce while waiting for PHEV's is much smaller than the engineering life of a CTL plant.

The only reason we're not ready for PHEV's is because of Detroit's foot-dragging (and complicity in the termination of the PNGV).  It's time to push on.

Richard Wilson

We don't have to worry about Detroit's foot dragging. I don't drive a Detroit made car today and I will likely drive a non-Detroit made PHEV.


Unfortunately, the foot-draggers in Detroit have powerful political protection.  Dingell's capabilities include throwing up roadblocks in front of other companies.


The real flex-fuel is Electricity. When will they realize this. CO2 emissions go to zero on motive side and electric generation can migrate to wind, solar or whatever without increasing emissions. Think of all the reduced emissions without having trucks hauling fuel! Off peak nearly 30% of our generated electricity is run to ground. PHEV's are a stop gap, true electric drive vehicles are the answer.


I urge anyone that views California's tailpipe emission regulations positively to write to their representative asking them to oppose proposed ammendments to the clean air act that would prohibit EPA waivers to states that are intended to reduce GHG emissions.

See: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/06/federal_legisla.html

david foster

Another interesting comparison would be coal-to-liquids vs ethanol...and it would be a more direct one, since the energy storage of ethanol is more comparable with gasoline than is the energy storage of batteries.


What is left out of the calculations? Something that is very important to Dingel's constituents.

The cost of driving. with gas going well over 3 bucks will CTL be cheaper? Nope, it will be more expensive.

Electricity in a plugin like the gM Volt will cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon. But Dingel will serve automakers, not voters. Automakers that Dingel serves favor internal combustion as usual, not plugins like the Volt.

The Volt could help save GM and the US economy and the uS manufacturing base and the human friendly climate of planet earth. But Dingel's campaign "contributions' come from big oil and big auto that favors big oil. So he will favor CTL. So it goes.

We are Rome. Governance for sale to the oiliest bidder.

since the energy storage of ethanol is more comparable with gasoline than is the energy storage of batteries.

Not neccisarily.

You can charge a battery in 1 minute and drive about a hundred miles on it.



Ah here's a more specific reference to the 1 minute charge.


Not to be obtuse, but isn't it also somewhat helpful to fuel the fueled portion of PHEVs with CTL fuel?


Ah yes, here's another report which claims basically the same thing.

In it's findings it compares a conventional Prius to a Plugin Prius.

It finds that even on the dirtiest coal grid electricity availible, the two vehicles are virtually idential in CO2 emmisions.

Emmisions like a Prius for driving on Coal?
Thats not such a bad worst-case-scenario for electric vehicles.

Not to be obtuse, but isn't it also somewhat helpful to fuel the fueled portion of PHEVs with CTL fuel?

Depends what "helpful" means.

Helpful at reducing a speck of our oil usage from Saudi Arabia.
I guess.

Helpful at reducing net CO2 emmisions.
Compared to Oil? No
Compared to BioFuels that cause rainforrests to be destroyed? Maybe
(Lesser evil?)

You have to realize CCS, which is carbon capture and sequestration, is a completely unproven (and dangerous) technology.

And the real kicker, even with CCS, while it decreases CO2 for gasoline by 11%, it increases CO2 from diesel by 20%.

And frankly this chart is being kind to the red bar. Others peg it as a 109% increase in CO2 emmisions without CCS.


Whups, wrong link on the CCS


People are fools to think green energy can produce the power demanded by the world. For example, it takes 100 wind turbines to produce 250 MegaWatts of power. 250 MW is a small power source. It takes an square mile of mirror fields to fire a 100 MW solar boiler. People need to understand all other green technologies are literally smoke and mirrors. They are nowhere commercially feasible or in the case of ethanol and hydrogen they consume more energy than they produce. Fossil fuels (coal) or nuclear energy are the only two fuels which can meet the world's energy demands for years to come. Since everyone is so hyper over green house gasees this leaves only nuclear power. I personally do not like nuclear power but it is the only technology which can meet the world's energy demands.


Then how about geothermal.

Has all the benefits of nuclear, without the downsides.

Raser Technologies has perfected some iron-core AC motors with dramatic torque for drilling motors.

They plan to get into the geothermal business and create a buildup schedule comprable to building a nuclear power plants.


However I don't see how we're running short on raw landmass anytime soon.

Particularly roofs and deserts, which are largely unusable for other utilities.

Certainly we have enough land to spare for solar or wind.


It is a simple mind, or poorly informed individual, who thinks all of our power will come from one source.

My favorite WIND link:
http://www.upi.com/Energy/view.php?StoryID=20070108-042749-8563r (BP acquires Orion & total potential 15 GW wind power)
“…gain the opportunity to develop almost 100 projects with a total potential generating capacity of about 15,000 megawatts.”
This is a large oil company developing lots of wind power. Wind is very cost competitive now, is likely to become more so, and will generate a more significant portion of our power in the future. (A mere 100 wind mills?)

SOLAR will drop in price and will also contribute. Cost to produce raw Si was $35/kg in 2004. It can now be produce for half this and is selling for $85/kg (up to $200/kg on spot market): http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/2006/12/how_long_will_t.html http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=20157
Raw Si comes from sand and increased raw Si is coming on line at a staggering rate.

In spite of this, prices are dropping due to larger, more cost effective, production techniques. There is enough roof top area to generate most of the power needed in the USA using solar PV. Add some large plants in the desert or bad lands, or wind, or nuclear, or clean coal... Solar will also be producing a larger share.

WAVES: This is a large, low impact, source of power that is now being developed at several sites along USA western sea board and off western Europe/Britain. At least one reference states cost will be lower than wind. Look up Finavera Renewables, Ocean Power Technologies, and Ocean Power Delivery Ltd.

TIDAL: I'm not sure of environmental impacts here, but there is enough tidal energy in Puget Sound, SanJuan Islands, and the Straits of Fuan de Fuca to power all of western WA state. Alaska is probably similar. Britain has some potential here and maybe a lead on the technology.

Lastly GreyFlyn is correct GEOTHERMAL could supply most (all?) of our power needs 24/7 if developed more fully AND this is happening without much help from our government. (I think with nothing from the Federal government. Gee coal and oil don't have that problem.)

Sure we will still have coal (hopefully clean coal) and nuclear (hopefully more and better plants), but you are very wrong.

It is more a question of cost and green energy is increasingly closing the gap.


BTW There have been several studies showing that ethanol production is a net positive. I'm not a fan of using food sources for this, but cellulosic ethanol is now being produced and huge strides are being made here.


I'm not as apposed to CTL as some of the rest of you. We may need this supply of oil during our transition to PHEVs, and then to EVs, for fully electric transportation. This has already started, but will take some time. 20 years? In the mean time a secure supply of oil may forestall economic recession. This is the only thing that can really slow down the PHEV/EV revolution. (my opinion) Sure there's some risk the oily empire will continue unabated, but maybe a compromise is in order here. I think the risk may be low because PHEV/EV technology has now advance far enough and an economic advantage will begin to become very apparent within the next few years ...even with CTL. Gasoline from CTL will still be expensive. The greed of some players in the oil empire is already their undoing.


Plug-ins are only "fine". Californians forget that the rest of the world doesn't think like them. This post is interesting as it follows another post about MIT developing a cordless electrical broadcast to recharge small electronic devices. People don't like to plug things in. They just won't turn out in numbers to drive it - the same thing that happened to the EV1. Not to mention that the electrical grid is still relatively unstable and electricity prices are going up. Increasing demand on the dirtiest environmental polluter doesn't sound like a good deal to me. Electric vehicles and plug-ins (for whoever is nerdy enough to want one) are fine. Chemical storage is still more efficient and user friendly. Maybe we can find a way where we can power a car and not need either.

We got that in spades, we just need to go out and grab it. http://greyfalcon.net/energy.png


There have been several studies showing that ethanol production is a net positive.
And there's some studies that show that the CO2 produced from biofuels makes the last centuries worth of coal CO2 look tiny in comparison. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1909827.ece

Even China things CTL and grain Ethanol are dumb ideas.


Ironically, one of the best ways to reduce Oil consumption is to use Oil.
Diesel offers a pretty solid alternative to hybrids.

Kit P

As is my custom, I read the base report before forming an opinion. What we have is a LCA comparing proven technology (CTL) to unproven and unworkable technology. In any case, the study is so poorly done as to be useless.

Again, PHEVs are DOA.


And once again, you have Kit P not offering even the slightest effort to cover his ass with a single citation or reason as to why his statement might be true.

i.e. A kindergartener could form a stronger arguement.


I think Kit P is one of the paid trolls, doing the dirty work of defending the oil companies by attacking any idea which threatens their interests.

Oil companies have plenty of experience with chemical engineering, so CTL will be their bitch.  But they'll never dominate the electric industry, and the total revenue at under $1/gallon equivalent would mean a drastic shrinkage of their profits (and influence).  So they'll fight it all the way, including with trolls like Kit P.

Kit P

Actually it did take some effort to read the study. It was wasted effort because the study was so worthless. Some advocates like to be spoon fed by journalist and call it a citation.

Since I do not work in the oil industry or use very much of their product I do not really care about their products. I do care a lot about the profits of the electricity generating industry. I think PHEV and EV are a swell ideal. Renewable energy is cool too.

However, liking something does not make it practical or a good idea. I can not prove a negative. There is a complete lack of citations documenting that PHEV and EV work and that renewable energy can be a source of power for them.

Craig Bolon

Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in polluter

September 29, 2007

If the Chevrolet Volt were driven 10,000 miles per year (about 40 miles per workday), powering it from the electrical grid instead of the gasoline pump would save about $200 per year in energy costs but emit about 925 pounds more carbon dioxide. The vehicle is estimated to cost about $5,000 to $10,000 more than a conventional gasoline powered vehicle, so the cost recovery time from using household electricity would be at least 25 years. See details at http://ergament.blogspot.com/2007/09/chevrolet-volt-plug-in-polluter.html

Powering the Chevrolet Volt from the power grid is mainly burning coal instead of gasoline. The gasoline efficiency estimated for the vehicle is more than a match for the efficiency of electrical power generation, transmission and conversion. The energy cost difference comes mainly from not paying taxes on gasoline and instead burning largely untaxed coal. When powered from the electrical grid, the Chevrolet Volt becomes a small energy cost saver and a net polluter.

Steam Coal

The use of sophisticated software systems for coal mining (thermal coal, steam coal and metallurgical coal) that is mostly burnt for power generation and steel production and adds to the greenhouse effect is valid for western countries who may allocate resources and funds to alternative and more greener sources of power. Some of the alternatives may be "safer" than the traditional mines. Unfortunately, coal reports and coal statistics show developing economies are more likely to increase their use of thermal coal & metallurgical coal in coming years because of its affordability and to meet increasing demands for electricity and steel. Whether they will embrace and utilise sophisticated software systems that no doubt add to the cost of production is yet to be seen. Cherry of www.coalportal.com

The comments to this entry are closed.

. .

Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles