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Bush Pushes Plug-In Hybrids, Cellulosic Ethanol and Hydrogen

13 October 2006

In a speech to the Renewable Energy Conference co-sponsored by the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, President Bush said that Americans have to change their energy habits “if we want to remain the economic leader of the world.”

He repeated arguments he has made in the past for the development of robust battery technology and plug-in hybrids, the use of ethanol, and the eventual transition to hydrogen, but said he worried that the current drop in gasoline prices would blunt the desire for alternatives.

My worry is, however, that a low price of gasoline will make it complacent—make us complacent about our future when it comes to energy, because I fully understand that energy is going to help determine whether or not this nation remains the economic leader in the world.

Energy is...look, let me just put it bluntly: We’re too dependent on oil....And see, low gasoline prices may mask that concern. So, first, I want to tell you that I welcome the low gasoline prices, however it’s not going to dim my enthusiasm for making sure we diversify away from oil.

The President said that the fastest way to begin to change consumer habits is the promotion of hybrid vehicles, and noted the role of tax credits.

Secondly, we’re spending money on new battery technologies. See, we envision a day in which light and powerful batteries will become available in the marketplace so that you can drive the first 40 miles on electricity, on batteries, and your car won’t have to look like a golf cart. In other words, it will be a technology that will meet consumer demand and at the same time meet a national need, which is less consumption of gasoline. These are called plug-in hybrid vehicles.

That’s not going to help rural Missouri or rural Texas, but it’s certainly going to help those who live in the cities. Most folks in the cities don’t drive more than 40 miles, so you can envision consumer habits beginning to change: You drive to work; you go home; you plug in your automobile. And you go...ride to work and go home the next—and you’re still on electricity. It’s going to change the consumption patterns. This new technology will change the consumption patterns on gasoline, which in turn will make us less dependent on crude oil, which meets a national security concern, an economic security concern, and helps us deal with an environmental concern.

The President then characterized ethanol as another technology that will change driving habits.

And in my judgment, the thing that’s preventing ethanol from becoming more widespread across the country is the lack of other types of feedstocks that are required to make ethanol—sugar works, corn works, and it seems like it makes sense to spend money, your money, on researching cellulosic ethanol, so that we could use wood chips, or switch grass, or other natural materials.

The President then characterized hydrogen as “one of the great options that’s coming down the road” but noted that its is “a longer-term project.

For the short term, he swung his focus back to exploring for oil and gas “in our own hemisphere,” and touched briefly on the need for more liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, clean coal, nuclear, wind and solar technologies for power generation.

October 13, 2006 in Cellulosic ethanol, Ethanol, Hydrogen, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (43) | TrackBack (0)

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However, why research into better battery and then go to cellulosic ethanol, and then go back to hydrogen? Why go a loooooong way just to return to the same spot?

Secondly, if USA want to control the gasoline price so people will focus on better alternatives, by all mean, just tax the fuel!

See, if we cut the hydrogen out from the equation, things could balance up easier. Now just because Mister President is saying that hydrogen is a long term project, the auto makers will always waste their resource in hydrogen research.

Rexis

I agree with your comments. The government could implement a tax on fossil fuels to encourage (research & application of ) alternative energies.

I am glad Mr. Bush is promoting the benefits of PHEVs. I just hope something comes of it. If I had a vehicle that operated on DC power for the first 40 miles, my gasoline expense would virtually disappear.

Actions speak louder than words.

The words I hear sound half way decent. The actions by this president are just the opposite.

To encourage clean energy we should have a polluter pays system as in a carbon tax. We could start with a penny a pound and see how many alternatives appear overnight.

Wind and Solar power would flourish. Coal would be used less and less every year. People would start looking looking for cleaner vehicles. Battery vehicle combined with solar panels on the parking garage is something that we could do TODAY not 20 years from now.

Kyle Dansie

I agree as well. Just start taxing the hell out of gasoline. That will a)procide the funding needed for the advancement of technologies, and b)will bring the price of petroleum high enough to compete with other form of biofuels. Look, Mr. President, just do it! OH, can you push EV's as well?

Hydrogen, ethanol, etc. -- they're all based on the continued use of an internal combustion engine. ICE's have served us well, but they only are terribly inefficient, regardless of the fuel that powers them.

No matter how you generate the fuel--through renewable means or fossil fuels--when you burn liquid fuel in an ICE only 25-30% of the energy actually makes it to powering the vehicle. The other 75% or so is lost in heat from combustion, friction, and other areas. Basically, any technology that depends upon an ICE at the end will suffer this 25% efficiency penalty.

I think that electric vehicles are the only solution that makes sense, both short- and long-term. Electric motors and batteries often have efficiencies in the 90-95% range, and there are huge opportunities out there for increased charge and power density in batteries, and even supercapacitor research that could lead to power packs we can recharge in minutes with almost perfect efficiency.

The ICE is basically pushed to its limits, so no matter how we get the power to it, we're going to run into the same problems.

Preaching to the choir (Renewable Energy Conference). You think he would give this subject lip service if the US controlled the oil fields in democratic Iraq? If this topic is so important to W, he should take it to primetime and put it in the public's face.

Um the reason they dont raise gas taxes is because the min wage and low wage and even mid level wage earners of america need thier fuel to be cheaper then it is right now.

As for why bio and plug in and then h2. Becuse in the end if we can make h2 work well directly from non polluting sources then we REALY want to swap to it and car makers realy want it in the meantime as a market segment fuel for wealthy people who want cars without emmissions issues or battery drawbacks.

Its not that we will go bio then drop bio and go h2.. we will use both.

Just before elections, or when his ratings drop, Bush has a talent for claiming support for technologies that are in the news (leading from behind).

When the Mars rover was finally successful and everyone was excited, he declared we would send a man to Mars. When hydrogen vehicles were front-page on the news magazines because the auto companies were in trouble, he seized on hydrogen as his plan -- never mind that there is 30 years of reseach already in it. Then when oil prices started to skyrocket and his ratings plunge, he finally decides we are "addicted to oil." (A phrase I heard the other night when I rented a B movie made in 1997 -- borrowed?)

Now that his military advisors are pushing for energy security and websites like this are trumpeting the merits of alternative fuels and plug-ins, he has jumped on the bandwagon to pretending to be the driver. This guy is a joke. Industry (mostly non US), technology, and the markets are decades ahead of him.

I'm thrilled that the President is supporting a plan that deals with a long term problem for the country and the world. The more encouragement we give him and other political leaders who support green technologies the sooner they will happen.

Each consumer and voter can move toward the solution without waiting for the Federal or State government to do it for them. I've noticed that there are lots of local governments and organizations that are making decisions to use hybrid buses, biofuel trucks, and electric vehicles for use in their communities. Thousands of those local decisions will add up to big changes in the energy picture.

I haven't purchased a hybrid but I keep my Honda parked more than I used to. I am using telecommuniting and trip consolidations to reduce gasoline consumption without the additional capital expenses of a new car (I'm waiting for a biofuel PHEV...).

Good news for those calling for a gasoline tax. We already have one.

Average U.S. gasoline tax is 22 cents per gallon. This is equivalent to $80 per ton of carbon (four cents a pound), higher than many proposals for a carbon tax and higher than most estimates of the negative impact of carbon on global warming.

So we're already enjoying the benefits of a substantial carbon tax in our gasoline consumption. It sure has solved the problem, hasn't it?

Ed,
Glad you mentioned the consumer in this disscussion. It is a good point.

For electricity I buy 100% wind generated power from the grid. It only costs a couple of dollars more per kwh, so my bill increased 20 dollars a month. A very good buy to know that my dollars do not go to garbage spewing coal fired power plants.

I also own 4 solar panels that I use to charge my battery electric vehicle. It is an e-max scooter. It works geat for the 8 mile ride to my office. The range is enough to do the round trip and then recharge every other day.

On days the scooter is charging I ride the mountain bike to work. When I need to travel a longer distance, I use my Toyota Prius.

The Prius replaced my 30 year old mercedes that I ran B100 biodiesel in.

There are EV's listed on ebay and austinev.org all the time. Now Ed tell me again what are you waiting for?

Kyle Dansie

So we're already enjoying the benefits of a substantial carbon tax in our gasoline consumption.

22 cents is "substantial"?

It sure has solved the problem, hasn't it?

No, because the bulk of gas taxes are used to pay for the highways that people drive down. Or were you thinking that magic fairy dust paid for roads?

KJD: I am thinking of getting a solar panel for my motorino electric motorcycle/scooter. Why do you only ride the scooter every other day? Can you not push the solar into the grid during the day and then charge at night?

We are a convinced few. I'm sure we have all taken steps to reduce energy consumption by 20% to 50% in the last 5 years.

How can we convince the other 99%.

The vast majority will not move a finger until the price of fossil derived energy goes up. How can politicians impose the required carbon tax without loosing votes.

Politicians would have to demonstrate that for every new carbon tax dollar collected something like $1.10 is re-distributed to voters who need it most. That should NOT be to dificult to do, especially if it is returned as higher income tax exemption for low income earners and subsidies for the purchase of PHEVs inversely proportional to your earnings.

Don't know why the opposition party does not come up with more vote appealing solutions.

I agree that 22 cents is NOT substantial and yes the 22 cents will be spent on keeping the existing roads useable.

A new tax of a penny per pound used for alternatives to the oil system would generate some positive change. Each gallon of gas burned generates about 19 pounds of carbon by the way.

Here in Utah we have a light rail system that run on domestic produced electricity. It is a great system and many people use it every day.

The only problem with the light rail system here is that it is only 17 miles long. We have thousands of miles of roads in this county and only 17 miles of decent mass transit.

That is the problem now lets fix it.

Kyle Dansie

yeeee hoo!

Finally the president acknowledges hydrogen is a "longer-term project"!!

I think hydrogen will never be a fuel for our cars. Its too wasteful when our primary forms of energy will be electricity from the sun & from wind.

Perhaps hydrogen for stationary energy storage from windfarms / solar farms? Of course V2G can provide some of that energy storage buffer.

Matt

The problem with additional taxation as a motivator to bio fuels is petroleum itself. Everytime gasoline goes to $3.00 big oil panics (and reaps shortterm windfall profits.) They panic because the alternatives suddenly start selling very very well.

Higher gas taxes mean faster conversion to biofuels, which means long term profit erosion for big oil. Thus the seesaw of pricing we see around political influences - stretching the window for petroleum.

Bottom line is biofuel pricing MUST compete with $2.00 gasoline OR the cost of PHEV, HEV, BEV hardware must compete with 35 mpg petro vehicles.

Oil expects to retain 90 percent of the transport fuel market in 2030 (API statements today) - expectation built upon ability to control gasoline pricing to limit alternative growth. Lower cost biofuels will successfully compete with petro growing the demand for alternative resources.

Wouldn't it be nice if energy policy were the topic of a rational debate between the political parties in the run-up for the midterm elections? While I am still sceptical about the discrepancy between Pres. Bush's fine words and GOP largesse toward the oil industry, the tone at least is quite constructive. Unfortunately, the political debate has once again degenerated into a shouting match about which party harbors more degenerates.

Fwiw, I've long argued for slowly, predictably but permanently raising US fuel taxes and, for disbursing the extra revenue equally to all income tax filers (x2 if filing jointly) by way of a credit. The objective is to incent consumers to largely wean themselves off gas guzzling vehicles over the course of the next decade or so, without getting the Treasury hooked on fuel tax receipts.

Bush makes a lot of sense here. It's important to give him credit for what he does right, otherwise why should he even try?

By developing parallel research paths into hydrogen, battery technology, biofuels, nuclear technologies, etc. you are more likely to optimize your final balance of technologies.

All of this hostility my fellow environmentalists shower on moderates and conservatives doesn't do our cause any good in the political back rooms. Win them over, don't alienate them further.

What does all this matter?Didnt Bill Clinton cure the environmental problems and put us on the road to{insert your favorite solution here}.
The president and the congress as well as the debate in general moves your way and all you can do is carp.You guys remind me of glum in the old gulliver cartoon.We'll never make it flirtatia.

Yep I'll give him encouragement! Encourgement of a Democratic House and Senate!

Congress said that 2006 would be a "year of transition"...well, we may just see if that was right real soon.

was said
"Bush makes a lot of sense here. It's important to give him credit for what he does right, otherwise why should he even try? "

The problem with Bush is that he says one thing and does something else.

He says that he supports plugin hybrids, but does the he mandate the feds purchase PHEV or even mandate they purchase hybrids. No of cource not. The least he could do is mandate all fed vehicle purchases be high mileage vehicles. Instead he gives tax breaks to Oil companies. Go figure.

As for Bill Clinton, he was in office for 8 years and NEVER raised the CAFE standard once. Dubya still has not done this either. Bush senior never raised the CAFE standard and how about Reagan? What did he do? Reagan removed the solar panels that Jimmy Carter installed on the White House. How smart was that?

Yes I give Bush credit for supporting big oil and credit for NOT finding Bin Laden and I give credit for wasting 2 billion dollars a week on IRAQ.

How many miles of light rail mass transit could we buy with 2 billion dollars a week?

Kyle Dansie

Back to the subject.

How many plug in hybrids could we buy for 2 billion dollars a week?

You Go George!!

Pug-In-Vehicles are the only way the USA and B.R.I.C. countries are going to get off our oil habit. End of story!!! Then we’ll just need to clean up the GHG emissions at a few thousand power plants. So the U.S. Gov’t and private businesses need to spend more money on battery research and low cost battery production. H2 fuel cell vehicles are a joke and bio-fuel production high enough to replace oil imports will just take way to long. So look for a car company from Japan, which is totally dependent on oil imports, to produce the first mass car volume P.I.V. within five years.

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