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Hector Said:

Why gulf countries charge abnormally for crude oil ?

We Answered:

They have a tremendous amount of crude oil, but they do not have the capacity to refine it. So the high price that you see is the result of the oil being shipped overseas, refined, and then shipped back.

Barry Said:

Why don't we build new nuclear power plants?

We Answered:

I agree that nuclear power is the way to go for mass energy production. However, 'environmentalists' would rather we burn coal and strip-mine the landscape to generate electricity than use nuclear. They make a lot of noise and Congress listens.

I am also a big fan of Bush's progress on hydrogen and geothermal energy. Geothermal is practically unlimited. He has been fighting 'environmentalists' who prefer we burn coal over harnessing the Earth's abundant heat.

Cheryl Said:

How do you get money from big firms that want to offset carbon emission?

We Answered:

Carbon offset schemes are a scam.

Do not expect any honest person or corporation to pay you money for that.

Charlie Said:

Alternative to coal fired electricity power?

We Answered:

Coal fired power is attractive because North America is the "Saudi Arabia of coal". However, the whole CO2 debate is causing everybody to take an extremely hard look at coal fired power.

I'm an industry insider, so I'll just tell you what my company is doing and where we're trying to go:

Nuclear is the absolute lowest cost fuel available. What's nice about nuclear is that there is maybe 20,000 years of nuclear fuel available. The same can't be said for coal, natural gas or oil (the fossil fuels). What else is nice about nuclear is that there are no pollutants given off in the nuclear process. What's not so nice about nuclear is the extreme amount of bureaucratic oversight. It's necessary in some respects, but ridiculous in other respects. There's also the matter of nuclear waste. Unfortunately, that is more of a political situation than a real, technical problem. The politicians (thank you, Jimmy Carter) decided to classify spent fuel rods as "nuclear waste" instead of allowing us to reconstitute the fuel. That's like using 10% of your gasoline tank, and throwing away the remaining 90% and classifying it as "hazardous waste".

What else we're doing in a big way is renewable power. Unfortunately, this also causes a lot of headaches. We have about 10% of our capacity coming from wind turbines. The problem is the the wind is very variable, and we have to dispatch power steadily to match the load. So we've nearly "maxed out" our ability to use wind power. We're also getting a small amount of power from landfill gas, burning it in some large diesel generators.

We're looking at doing a big solar installation, but the cost is extravagantly high. We're pretty much doing this for political reasons, of course... the nice thing about solar is that the sun shines at its max fairly close to the time when the city's load (unlike the wind, which blows when it darn well pleases).

What's on the horizon, in my estimation, are two other technologies. One is compressed air. The idea is to use the wind power to compress air into a geological formation as "storage". Then when the wind stops blowing, we let the air out of the formation through an air turbine and make electricity. The other concept that's really exciting is algae. It looks like algae can be grown at an astounding rate, and we can make oil from the algae, and then either make fuel with it (for transportation) or for power generation. What's so exciting about this is that they estimate that it would take about 1/10 of the land in Arizona to grow 100% of the algae needed for the ENTIRE U.S. transportation sector.

Janet Said:

Years ago we sailed millions of tons with wind energy, so why can't we use wind & solar power?

We Answered:

There were a heck of a lot fewer people alive in the days of the clipper ships, and people didn't live as long. Sailboats won't transport oil, iron ore, phosphate rock, etc, in any kind of meaningful quantity.

The average American has the equivalent of 300 people working for him by using oil and coal. The amount of personal effort thus replaced is REALLY significant. Most people today would have heart attacks if they had to walk, bike, sail, or carry as much as they ordinarily do in their cars.

Most First Worlders would consider such a world as a great step backwards. They will fight it tooth and nail.


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