Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Worse Than The Spill Itself

Peter Schiff on Obama's Gulf of Mexico Speech last night:

"What we've learned from this spill is the unintended consequences of government policy,'' Schiff said. Drilling closer to shore is politically problematic because beachgoers don't want to see oil derricks, Schiff said. That has forced oil companies to drill in deeper water, a far more risky endeavor.

"We'd be better off drilling closer to shore,'' he said. "And why are we even drilling in water? Look at all the oil that's up in [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] in Alaska."

For such a 'Green' President, Obama hasn't done much for the Gulf area. Aside from photo opportunities.

Anyway, the worse this disaster gets, the better Obama likes it. It gives him the political capital to help push through Cap and Trade throw Congress. Never let a crisis go to waste.

As for people who say we need to get off of oil, wind and solar isn't going to cut it.

The production of corn ethanol is a loser for many reasons. Just a quick glance at corn ethanol's power density--just 0.05 W/m2--shows why the fuel makes no sense from a physics standpoint. Corn ethanol's low power density is inherent in all biomass, which leads us to the second of the Four Imperatives. Energy density refers to the quantity of energy that can be contained in a given unit of volume, area, or mass. And the low energy density of biomass--corn, switchgrass, wood, etc.--makes it difficult to produce sufficient amounts of energy without occupying huge swaths of land.

Now let's consider the power density of wind energy, which is about 1.2 W/m2, and solar photovoltaic, which can produce about 6.7 W/m2. Both sources are superior to corn ethanol (nearly everything is), but they are incurably intermittent, which makes them of marginal value in a world that demands always-available power. Nor can they compare to the power density of sources like natural gas, oil and nuclear. For instance, a marginal natural gas well, producing 60,000 cubic feet per day, has a power density of about 28 W/m2. An oil well, producing 10 barrels per day, has a power density of about 27 W/m2. Meanwhile, a nuclear power plant like the South Texas Project--even if you include the entire 19 square-mile tract upon which the project is sited--produces about 56 W/m2.

Yeah, there is math involved but the extent of it is "Greater Than" and "Less Than". Nothing on the market can replace oil as the best source of energy today.

Keep drilling, baby.

Related enough: Where are the environmental groups at exactly?

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