Daily Archives: August 17, 2008

The Pickens Plan for Energy Sustainability

Courtesy of AJ Sweatt on the MFGX blog, I was alerted to this site which, in AJ’s words, has a great energy plan that is clearly enunciated, easy to understand, the right thing to do, and – what really caught my eye – a potential boon to manufacturing.

America is addicted to foreign oil. This wouldn’t be a bad thing, as every country these days relies on another for something, if it wasn’t for the fact that the addiction is becoming all encompassing. As noted in the plan, America’s dependence on foreign oil has increased from 24% to 70%+ in the last 38 years, with no end in site. It’s unsustainable — and there’s no excuse for it! As I’ve pointed out in many previous posts, there are affordable clean-energy alternatives — and with the exception of transportation (and air and sea travel in particular), there’s no excuse not to be consuming clean energy.

Not only is the current North American dependence on oil unsustainable, it’s scary. As the Pickens Plan notes, at current oil prices, we will send $700 billion dollars out of the country this year alone – that’s four times the annual cost of the Iraq war. Furthermore, projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion – it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind. Wealth that America needs if it is to maintain its standing in the global marketplace. And, moreover, it’s sufficient wealth to build wind facilities that would produce 20% of the annual electricity requirement of the US, with $9 trillion to spare! In other words, for what the US is spending on oil in one year, it could build facilities that would produce 20% of its power needs over the next half-century!

As the article notes, the United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power. Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains States are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world — by far. The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America’s electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country. Imagine if the US capitalized on this power … and then capitalized on all the water power available off of both coasts (through tidal turbiness) … and then capitalized on all of the solar power available in the southwest semi-deserts. The US could easily meet two thirds, if not three quarters, of its non-transportation energy needs without breaking a sweat. And that’s with today’s technology. Solar and tidal power technologies are still improving, as well as getting more economical to deploy, and it stands to reason that future improvements will make the technology even more energy efficient and economical.

In addition, instead of touting bio-fuel as the alternative to oil for transportation needs, it’s proposing natural gas, with greenhouse gas emissions that are 23% lower than diesel and 30% lower than gasoline. Given that natural gas is a domestic energy source, and that bio-fuel, which decreases global food production (which is already at a record low), is not the answer, this is a very well thought out suggestion. It’s probably not a permanent solution, but it’s a long term solution, and by the time we reached a point where natural gas supply was a problem, fuel cell technology, or even more modern energy sources, should be ready to take its place.

So, as AJ recommends, take a minute and read The Pickens Plan. If only the politicians were so clear thinking.