I guess most of you think I do nothing but slam alt energy because, after all, I am an oilman and everyone knows oilmen are sinister folk, doing all sorts of nefarious things to preserve the primacy of king god hydrocarbons. Even to the point of melting babies. Vivoleum, a set of wacky anti oil Alalskan radicals called this in a past post I referenced.
However, we oilmen know that we don't have to really DO anything to promote hydrocarbons. Incredibly efficient and easily transportable, energy in the form of oil and gas wins hands down against other sources of energy from an objective point of view... you know, like physics and chemistry. Of course, when faced with objectivity, bigots and politicians resort to "subjectivity", like philosophy and political science that always lead to a Big Idea. TAXES and REGULATIONS designed to knock the stuffing out of the pure objective excellence that is hydrocarbons in favor of far less efficient sources of energy. That is the Way of the Subjective... first, lets hobble the excellent, so that the poor may shine. Public education is another example of this mantra.
By the way, although I have mentioned this a million times before, did you know that Exxon paid more than its earnings in taxes and excise fees last quarter and every quarter in recent history? Government made more than Exxon for the efforts that Exxon undertook. Seems unfair, really. In any case, with enough penalties attached to the excellent, I guess natural shorts like wind and ethanol can even look good. I always though that the Punk movement was a conspiracy by fat ugly girls to talk good looking girsls into dressing like crap and chopping off all their hair. An analogy of sorts.
However, I have written extensively on the boondoggles of ethanol in this blog (read ArcherDanielMidland) and wind (read GE) and the billions, maybe trillions, they are extracting from taxpayers like you and me through very effective lobbyists. Family farmer indeed.
Al Gore is set to make billions (I heard he made 600 mil on his Google options already) on his cap and trade system infrastructure investments that he set up as he sets out to create a mandated market via propganda and Kleiner Perkins, the Sand Hill Road VC firm was so impressed at Al's masterful manipulation of government to mandate markets that he was heavily invested in that it made him a partner. So the ol' saw that Big money does drive bad energy policy is true, just not from whom you might expect it ... Syriana indeed.
"But, but... all we need is a little push by the government forcing people to buy alt energy, and it will take off and become efficienct once everyone is buying it".
Well, yes and no. Maybe. People don't elect to spend $200 per month to heat their house when they can do so at $50. The political/money agenda, then, is to tax the fuel that does heat the house at $50 per month to make it $100 per month, and use the the $50 tax and other tax dollars (the stuff you pay but don't know you pay because it is "withheld") to subsidize the $200 per month fuel so you think that "by golly, these are the same dang price!"
Now, the government HOPES that the alternative CAN someday equal the artifiial $100 price it set, basically because it gets to keep your tax money for other things, like studying the sex life of chickens or some such. The money won't EVER come back or cease to be NOT taxed! If it doesn't ever become economic, oh well, it still subsidizes the inefficienct crap everywhere else, all on your nickle. OR $50 dollars. The lesson? Government never saves money, makes anything mroe efficient, and never loses. It feeds on you, the taxpayer, and it is never satisfied. There is always some other crisis around it can make much worse.
What are Alt Energies that look good on their own merits? I think algae-based biodiesel looks interesting... grown in brackish water environments, it looks to yield 5000 barrels per acre rather than the 5o barrels per acre that corn produces, all without the problems of food or fuel land use and water use questions that are proving intractable. http://www.oilgae.com/algae/oil/yield/yield.html
The other technology focus I like? It sounds like a con job, and probably is, but I like it anyway. It harkens back to Tesla and his fascination with resonant frequencies... energies amplified by constructive waveform interference... the thing that causes glass to break when the opera singers hits the right note... in the realm of "microwave" energy. Breaking chemical bonds with tuned electromagnetic frequencies. The claims are that they can break long chain hydrocarbon bonds using microwave rather than thermal "cracking". If so, then it has particular use in heavy oil. Also, this may be the technique referred by a reader in a previous post claiming that "ultrasonics" were used to break hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water molecules to create non hydrocarbon-derived hydrogen for fuel cells with very low energy requirements.
One proviso about this, though. Although the claim (and black box) exist, the bond lengths for hydrocarbons are in the soft to hard X-ray range (106 to 140 angstroms), way out of the microwave range. Perhaps they focus on resonance along the chain length and not bond length, but I am pretty sure that this is not in microwave territory either. Maybe it is not resonant frequencies at all, but induced thermal cracking via microwaves, somehow deriving additional energies from the molecules being acted upon, keeping it "non-magic"... ie following the laws of thermodynamics. Of course, I am crappy at organic chemistry. When I found out that steam and a nickle catalyst was a real method of cracking hydrocarbons, I bowed out of trying to really figure out the process approach. Thus, you wouldn't be wrong to say I don't understand how this works at all. But I like it. It sounds cool. But I bet Al Gore knows.