The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuel Dependency

It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. is from fossil fuels. One of the main reasons given for continuing to use this energy source is that it is much less expensive than alternatives. The true cost, however, depends on what you include in the calculation, and there are so many costs not figured in the bills we pay for energy.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

>” […] Just last week, on May 19, a pipeline rupture caused over 100,000 gallons to spill into Santa Barbara waters. The channel where the spill occurred is where warm water from the south mixes with cold water from the north, creating one of most bio-diverse habitats in the world, with over 800 species of sea creatures, from crabs and snails to sea lions and otters, and a forest of kelp and other undersea plants; it’s also a place through which 19,000 gray whales migrate this time each year. […]

Hidden Costs of Using Fossil Fuels for Energy

It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. is from fossil fuels. One of the main reasons given for continuing to use this energy source is that it is much less expensive than alternatives. The true cost, however, depends on what you include in the calculation. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are so many costs not figured in the bills we pay for energy. The following includes just some of them:

  1. Human health problems caused by environmental pollution.
  2. Damage to the food chain from toxins absorbed and passed along.
  3. Damage to miners and energy workers.
  4. Damage to the earth from coal mining and fracking.
  5. Global warming caused by greenhouse gasses.
  6. Acid rain and groundwater pollution.
  7. National security costs from protecting oil sources and from terrorism (some of which is financed by oil revenues).

Additional Costs From Continued Subsidies

That’s not all. In addition to the above costs, each and every U.S. taxpayer has been subsidizing the oil industry since 1916, when the oil depletion allowance was instituted. Government subsidies in the U.S. are estimated to be between $4 billion and $52 billion annually. The worldwide figure is pegged between $775 billion and $1 trillion. Why don’t oil and gas companies and governments around the world divert at least some of these subsidies to invest in alternative clean energy sources? Rather than invest in the depleting and damaging energy sources of the past, isn’t it time to look to the future and stop “kicking the can down the road”?

More Hidden Costs

While some call it an urban legend, others say quite emphatically that the oil industry conspired with the automobile industry and other vested interests to put streetcars out of business so that people would be forced to use automobiles and buses to get from point A to B — selling more automobiles, tires, fuel, insurance, etc. Fact or fiction, many big cities (and especially Los Angeles, where alternatives are sparse) are choking from traffic gridlock. The first study on this subject determined that traffic congestion robbed the U.S. economy of $124 billion in 2013. That’s an annual cost of $1,700 per household. This is expected to waste $2.8 trillion by 2030 if we do not take immediate measures to reverse the situation. For those who are skeptical, visit Los Angeles and try to drive around. Even with Waze, much more time and energy is wasted sitting in traffic than you could ever imagine. A commute that formerly took five to 10 minutes can now take upwards of an hour.

There Is a Solution

The solution to many of the problems related to gridlock, damage to the environment and human health includes the following:

  1. Clean energy and storage. […]
  2. More effective and efficient transportation (clean and safe mass transit […]
  3. Better marketing of, and accounting for, the true cost of the alternatives.
  4. Investment to do it.
  5. Political vision and will to transparently tell the truth and make the investment.

Doing the Right Thing Is Rarely Easy

While what is most worthwhile is rarely easy, it is necessary for the planet and living things that call it home.  […]”<

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Nonpetroleum share of transportation fuel energy at highest level since 1954

“In the United States, petroleum is by far the most-consumed transportation fuel. But recently the share of fuels other than petroleum for U.S. transportation has increased to its highest level since 1954, a time when the use of coal-fired steam locomotives was declining and automobile use was growing rapidly.”

Source: www.eia.gov

>” […] After nearly 50 years of relative stability at about 4%, the nonpetroleum share started increasing steadily in the mid-2000s, reaching 8.5% in 2014. Of the nonpetroleum fuels used for transportation, fuel ethanol has grown most rapidly in recent years, increasing by nearly one quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) between 2000 and 2014. Nearly all of the ethanol consumed was blended into gasoline in blends of 10% or less, but a small amount was used in vehicles capable of running on higher blends as the availability of those flexible-fuel vehicles grew. Consumption of biodiesel, most of it blended into diesel fuel for use in trucks and buses, grew to more than 180 trillion Btu by 2014.

In 2014, transportation use of natural gas reached a historic high of 946 trillion Btu, 3.5% of all natural gas used in the United States. Transportation natural gas is mostly used in the operation of pipelines, primarily to run compressor stations and to deliver natural gas to consumers. Natural gas used to fuel vehicles, although a much smaller amount, has more than doubled since 2000.

Electricity retail sales to the transportation sector grew more than 40% from 2000 through 2014, although sales have declined slightly since 2007. Electricity for transportation is mostly sold to railroads and railways. However, this increase does not include the consumption of electricity in electric vehicles that are not used in mass transit, because charging stations for these types of vehicles are likely associated with meters on residential, commercial, or industrial customer sites where this specific use may not be differentiated from other uses. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Why Electric Vehicles are not 100% Green

In 2013 Tesla’s [time-stock symbol=TSLA] Model S won the prestigious Motor Trend Car of the Year award. Motor Trend called it “one of the quickest American four-doors ever built.” It went on to say that the electric vehicle “drives like a sports car, eager and agile and instantly responsive.”

Source: time.com

>” […]

The secret behind Tesla’s success

While the power driving Tesla’s success might be its battery, that’s not the real secret to its success. Instead, Tesla has aluminum to thank for its superior outperformance, as the metal is up to 40% lighter than steel, according to a report from the University of Aachen, Germany. That lighter weight enables Tesla to fit enough battery power into the car to extend the range of the Model S without hurting its performance. Vehicles made with aluminum accelerate faster, brake in shorter distances, and simply handle better than cars loaded down with heavier steel.

Even better, pound-for-pound aluminum can absorb twice as much crash energy as steel. This strength is one of the reasons Tesla’s Model S also achieved the highest safety rating of any car ever tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But it’s not all good news when it comes to aluminum and cars.

Aluminum’s dirty side

[…]  Before alumina can be converted into aluminum its source needs to be mined. That source is an ore called bauxite, which is typically extracted in open-pit mines that aren’t exactly environmentally friendly. Bauxite is then processed into the fine white powder known as alumina, and from there alumina is exposed to intense heat and electricity through a process known as smelting, which transforms the material into aluminum.

Aluminum smelting is extremely energy-intense. It takes 211 gigajoules of energy to make one tonne of aluminum, while just 22.7 gigajoules of energy is required to produce one tonne of steel. In an oversimplification of the process, aluminum smelting requires temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius to melt alumina, while an electric current must also pass through the molten material so that electrolysis can reduce the aluminum ions to aluminum metals. This process requires so much energy that aluminum production is responsible for about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Carbon Trust.

There is, however, some good news: Aluminum is 100% recyclable. Moreover, recycled aluminum, or secondary production, requires far less energy to produce than primary production, as the […] chart shows. […]”<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Fossil Fuel Development in the Arctic is a Bad Investment

Source: www.earth-policy.org

>”Currently, about 10 percent of the world’s oil and one-quarter of its natural gas production come from the Arctic region, which has warmed by more than 2 degrees Celsius since the mid-1960s. Countries that border the Arctic Ocean are staking claims to expand their rights beyond the traditional 200-mile exclusive economic zone in anticipation of future oil and gas prospects. According to current estimates, the United States has the largest Arctic oil resources, both on and offshore. Russia comes in second for oil, but it has the most natural gas. Norway and Greenland are virtually tied for third largest combined oil and gas resources. Canada comes in fifth, with almost equal parts oil and natural gas.

In developing these resources, Russia is leading the pack. Production has started at almost all of the 43 large oil and natural gas fields that have been discovered in the Russian Arctic, both on land and offshore. Russia drew its first oil from an offshore rig in Arctic waters in December 2013. […]

[…] operating in the Arctic brings great risks. The shrinking Arctic sea iceallows waves to become more powerful. The remaining ice can be more easily broken up into ice floes that can collide with vessels or drilling platforms. Large icebergs can scour the ocean floor, bursting pipes or other buried infrastructure. Much of the onshore infrastructure is built on permafrost—frozen ground—that can shift as the ground thaws from regional warming, threatening pipe ruptures. Already, official Russian sources estimate that there have been more than 20,000 oil spills annually from pipelines across Russia in recent years.  Arctic operations are far away from major emergency response support. The freezing conditions make it unsafe for crews to be outside for extended periods of time. Even communication systems are less reliable at the far end of the Earth. Why take such risks to pursue these dirty fuels when alternatives to oil and gas are there for the taking?

Rather than searching for new ways to get oil, we can look for better ways to move people and goods. Bus rapid transit, light rail and high-speed rail can move more people for less energy than a car can. And for the cars that remain on the road, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—powered by a clean energy grid—are much more efficient than those with a traditional internal combustion engine. Encouraging bicycle use through bike lanes andbike-sharing programs gets people active and out of cars.

Natural gas, which is mainly used to produce electricity, can be replaced with power generated by wind, solar, and geothermal projects. Many countries are demonstrating what is possible with renewables. Denmark already gets one-third of its electricity from wind. Australia is now dotted with 1 million rooftop solar systems. Iceland generates enough geothermal power to meet close to 30 percent of its electricity needs. These are just a few examples of looking past the old familiar solution to a better cleaner one. The risky search under every rock and iceberg for oil and gas deposits is a costly distraction from investing in a clean energy future.”<

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Demand for DC Brushless Motors to increase over 50% in Transportation Sector by 2017

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Automotive systems are becoming increasingly electrically-driven and electric motor manufacturers are benefiting.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>“[…] Increasing sales of plug-in electric vehicles, which have powertrain and chassis systems that are electromechanically-driven, are expected to provide greater growth potential for brushless DC motor shipments than for brushed DC motors.

[…]

Although DC brushed motors usage is expanding with the increasing number of electromechanically-driven powertrain and chassis systems, DC brushless motor shipments for powertrain and chassis applications are expected to outpace those of DC brushed motors twofold from 2012 to 2017. The respective average annual growth of DC brushed and DC brushless motor shipments from 2012 to 2017 is expected to be 3.5 percent and 7 percent according to IMS Research. <

See on www.imsresearch.com

Unclean at Any Speed – IEEE Spectrum

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Electric cars don’t solve the automobile’s environmental problems

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Two dozen governments around the world subsidize the purchase of electric vehicles. In Canada, for example, the governments of Ontario and Quebec pay drivers up to C $8500 to drive an electric car. The United Kingdom offers a £5000 Plug-in Car Grant. And the U.S. federal government provides up to $7500 in tax credits for people who buy plug-in electric vehicles, even though many of them are affluent enough not to need such help. (The average Chevy Volt owner, for example, has an income of $170 000 per year.)

Some states offer additional tax incentives. California brings the total credit up to $10 000, and Colorado to $13 500—more than the base price of a brand new Ford Fiesta. […]

There are other perks. Ten U.S. states open the high-occupancy lanes of their highways to electric cars, even if the car carries a lone driver. Numerous stores offer VIP parking for electric vehicles—and sometimes a free fill-up of electrons. Mayor Johnson even moved to relieve electric-car owners of the burden of London’s famed congestion fee.

Alas, these carrots can’t overcome the reality that the prices of electric cars are still very high—a reflection of the substantial material and fossil-fuel costs that accrue to the companies constructing them. And some taxpayers understandably feel cheated that these subsidies tend to go to the very rich. Amid all the hype and hyperbole, it’s time to look behind the curtain. Are electric cars really so green?

It’s worth noting that this investigation was commissioned by the U.S. Congress and therefore funded entirely with public, not corporate, money.  […]

Part of the impact arises from manufacturing. Because battery packs are heavy (the battery accounts for more than a third of the weight of the Tesla Roadster, for example), […] Electric motors and batteries add to the energy of electric-car manufacture.

In addition, the magnets in the motors of some electric vehicles contain rare earth metals. […]

The materials used in batteries are no less burdensome to the environment, the MIT study noted. Compounds such as lithium, copper, and nickel must be coaxed from the earth and processed in ways that demand energy and can release toxic wastes. […]

See on spectrum.ieee.org

The Obama Administration Proposes $8 Billion in Loans for ‘Clean’ Fossil Fuel Technologies

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As part of President Obama’s new energy initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy has proposed $8 billion in loan guarantees for fossil fuel technology projects that are able to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

> […]the U.S. Department of Energy has proposed $8 billion in loan guarantees for fossil fuel technologies to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal would fund schemes such as waste heat recovery and carbon dioxide capture, however it has unsurprisingly received criticism as it would draw focus away from green technology projects such as renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Speaking about the new proposal, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stated:  “Coal and fossil fuels still provide 80% of our energy and 70% of electricity, and they will remain an important part of our future, as the president noted.”<

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