Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Souder - Hayhurst Debate: Energy

Looks like one of my main issues has finally made the questions in a debate. What do we do about energy? Too bad neither understands what energy is. Both support ethanol, which goes to show you just how ignorant they are. The United States has 87 million acres devoted to corn. At most if 100% of this were diverted to ethanol production, it would replace 14% of gasoline supplies. The problem is the by-products produced from the ethanol production could not all be consumed or used. It would be scrapped while at the same time it would most likely put other competing feed producers out of business.

I like corn on the cob and I like a good steak. I wonder what a rice fed cow tastes like? But the other problem is pretty basic. You can get about 1.5 to 2 gallons of ethanol out of a bushel of corn. A bushel of corn is above $2.50 now. What happens to the price of ethanol when the bushel price goes to $5 a bushel? Then there is the problem of burning natural gas and coal. Natural gas is in short supply and coal is dirty.

Souder at least had his tax subsidy correct on a gallon of ethanol. We are giving away 52 cents for each gallon of ethanol produced. If ethanol is so great, let it stand on its own. End the subsidy now!


At 6:55 PM, Blogger Jeff Pruitt said...


The future of ethanol is not corn - that's what we use now but the push is for cellulose. I agree w/ you on the finances. The problem is that energy is a national security concern. If we truly want to become energy indepedent then that will probably require much more government investment and subsidies.

Also, clean coal technology needs more investment as well as wind farms...

At 6:56 PM, Blogger William Larsen said...

Jeff, I do not think any type of ethanol is worth the investment. For millennia we have been burning something to do useful work, be it wood, whale oil, peat, coal, natural gas or oil. Global warming may or may not be real. I have read a lot of different theories and in many ways it is similar to the task I was asked to help with, design a high level radioactive cask to be leak tight for 10,000 years. I passed on that one.

I worked for B&W one of the leaders in cleaning burning coal plants. It is amazing how efficient they can be, but they do not compare to wind power.

I truly believe we need to go to wind power. No more coal fired plant period. Replace coal fired plants with wind power as their useful life is consumed. Replace all those oil burning furnaces in the north with electric powered by windmills.

Wind can provide multiple times the total energy consumed in this country. Wind can be used to break the H20 molecule and create hydrogen for a compact gas for driving. Two methods: combine oxygen and hydrogen and create electricity to power a car or burn the hydrogen with zero emissions.

But, then that is my oppinon. What we need is to get incentives out of the market so the energy field is level. This means those souces that are truly cheaper will supported by consumers.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Jeff Pruitt said...

Wind power is only cost effective up to about 10-20% of the grip supply. Beyond that, it is too eratic in it's supply to be cheap. Having said that, wind currently makes up <1% of our grid. We could certainly improve on that tremendously and in a way that's cost effective when compared w/ coal.

The other 80-90% has to come from somewhere. It's not cost effective to replace all coal plants with wind power as you suggest. And while fuel cells are promising they are just not there yet.

I think one thing that could be done is to use CURRENT technology when building new homes. In many areas of the country homes could be built that are energy positive - i.e. the homeowner could actually sell energy BACK to the energy providers.

One single thing won't solve the problem in my opinion. We need conservation, higher CAFE standards, more wind, and more investment in many different sectors. I haven't given up on ethanol - yet.


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