According to the Energy Information Administration, only 3% of the U.S. electrical power is oil derived. In that year, the following power generating contributions were identified.
Nuclear 20 %
Natural Gas 16%
Other Renewables 2%
The writer proposes that since such small dependence is placed on oil for electric power, the principal reason for using more nuclear to make electricity is to reduce carbon emissions.
Business Week, November 29, 2004, p. 23
(Ed. note: Energy price interdependence is far more complex than relying on present production numbers. As oil prices escalate, there will be corresponding increases in the prices of other energy sources because ‘the rising tide floats all boats.’ While immediate supply and demand are easy to identify, secondary long term factors such as the perceived value of cleaner air, government legislation affecting pricing, technology improvements and international demands for military protection of oil producing areas, all affect the total cost of oil. As dollars to purchase oil rise, pricing pressure is provided to increase the cost of all other energy sources. Perceptions are that there is a basic cost of energy rather than a unique price for any one source. A major technology which could reduce imported oil dependence would be the hydrogen/fuel cell implementation for transportation, considered the last of all fuel cell implementations to emerge. If the quantity of nuclear power was greatly increased and tax incentives for either hydrogen or electric (battery) fueled vehicles provided dramatic reductions in the cost of travel per mile, there could be a significant reduction in the amount of oil imported. Concurrently there would be a reduction in emissions. Nuclear unfortunately carries unique complicating factors beyond dollars such as great health risk associated with meltdown, 10,000 year storage and nuclear proliferation which, if we are to believe current news reports, is a battle being lost to the rouge states of Iran and North Korea.)
At Last, a Magnetic Refrigerator?
The world’s first magnetic refrigeration device was demonstrated in October of 2001 by researchers from Astronautics Corp. and the DOE’s Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University. The principle relies on the ability of the rare earth gadolinium to concentrate heat in the presence of a magnetic field and then quickly cool when the field is removed. By mechanically rotating the gadolinium alternately, first to asbsorb heat in a magnetic field and then reject it in non magnetic space, heat is transferred. For BD readers, the milestone is important because it is projected that efficiencies to 50% will be obtained, and the process can economically liquefy natural gas from which liquid hydrogen could be obtained to power fuel cell vehicles.(04-02 BD73-13)
November 2001, pp. 21-23
U.S. Senate rejects potential legislation that would create a fuel economy mandate. The Senate also told the transportation department to develop fuel economy rules over the next two years, but did not mention specific mileage increases. The Senate voted as follows:
1. Fuel economy The vote was 68-38 to give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration time to set new fuel guidelines for U.S. vehicles. The proposal to require automakers to produce by 2015 fleets that average 35 m.p.h. was rejected.
2. An exemption for pickups The vote was 56-44 to prohibit the mileage standard for pickups from being raised above the current 20.7 m.p.g.
The House has also turned down any significant increase in auto fuel economy.
Automakers are currently required to have a fleet average of 27.5 m.p.g. for sedans and 20.7 m.p.g. for SUVs, minivans and pickups. In 2000, the average for vehicles was 24 m.p.g., approximately what it was 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, OPEC produced 25.12 million barrels a day (mil b/d) of crude in February as Iraqi volumes rose to their highest levels since November. For more information on OPEC, check “Platts Guide to OPEC” at www.platts.com/opec/index.shtml. (Bd note: Is the U.S. really serious about becoming less dependent on oil - a greater and greater percentage which is coming from foreign sources such as the Middle East? Because of the U.S. government’s position, will there really be a strong impetus or incentive to create fuel efficient vehicles such as autos, SUVs and minivans powered by fuel cells or even hybrids?)(04-02 BD73-5)