Thursday, September 29, 2005


Hurricane Katrina and Rita's destruction of oil refineries and the resulting rising gas prices have got me thinking about energy policy again, and in particular the specter of peak oil. Some are saying that we have already reached peak oil and that supply will decrease by 3% a year from now on, and that for all practical purposes it will dwindle to zero by 2035. Indeed, if this was our only good source of energy then many of the resulting doomsday scenarios would be valid, but there is still plenty of energy to be had. As Hubbert himself noted, the most promising candidate is nuclear energy, as we have an almost limitless supply of fuel, particularly if we use breeder reactors.

It wouldn't be a bad idea at all to start building new nuclear reactors right now - but something like 6 dollar a gallon gas in 2007 would no doubt provide the necessary impetus. 6 dollar a gallon gas would also further spur the development of hybrid cars. The ideal hybrid would have enough battery power so that the internal combustion engine wouldn't even be needed as long as the car was driven less than 30-50 miles a day. We already have battery technology that can achieve this, and this would allow for probably 90% of the energy used by the car to come from a plug in the garage as it charges overnight. You'd need to use gasoline if you were going to the mountains for the weekend, but even at 10 dollars a gallon this wouldn't be that big a deal - a 500 mile round trip in your 50 mpg hybrid would come out to 100$ - still less than hotel and food. And what do you know, after a bit of mid-blog googling, I find that they are already at work on such things: Plug-in Hybrid.

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