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Energy Independence in Ten Years?

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has the broad outline of a plan for energy independence in ten years. He combines conservation, coal gasification, and biofuels to make up the gap between current domestic consumption and production.

Rich Karlgaard, writing for his Forbes blog, Digital Rules, has a nice summary of the plan. You can also get a longer treatment from this recent article in Time.

One Response to “Energy Independence in Ten Years?”

  1. Jay D Says:

    Governor Schweitzer’s got the right idea, but he should leave coal out of the mix. It’s too expensive, too dirty, and we don’t need it.

    Gov. Schweitzer says can save 1 billion barrels through conservation. Things like more efficient cars, homes and appliances.

    [This is a fraction of what is possible. Amory Lovins' estimates (in Winning the Oil Endgame) that we can halve our consumption (saving approximately 10 million barrels per day, or nearly 4 billion barrels per year, for $12 per barrel saved.]

    Gov. Schweitzer says we can produce another 1 billion barrels of bio-fuels with crops like corn, soybeans, canola and camilina.

    [Lovins, again, estimates we can displace 1/4 of our current oil consumption -- about 5 million barrels per day or just under 2 billion barrels per year -- from biofuels.]

    Gov. Schweitzer says Americans can produce 2 billion barrels a year from our enormous coal reserves to a clean-burning fuel for about $1.20 a gallon and for the next fifty years only touch a small fraction of our coal supplies.

    1. Making 2 billion barrels of CTL per year would require 1 billion tons of coal per year, or 50 billion tons over 50 years. By itself, this would double U.S. coal production. 50 billion tons is 264% of the recoverable reserves in existing mines, 18.7% of the all U.S. recoverable reserves, or 105% of Montana’s strippable coal reserves.

    2. Even with full carbon sequestration at these plants, this would double the current level of CO2 emissions from current U.S. coal use. Without carbon sequestration, we would have three times the current level of CO2 emissions from U.S. domestic coal use.

    3. At an upfront investment cost of $80,000 per daily barrel of capacity (low-end of the range of current estimates), building the plants needed to displace 2 billion barrels of oil per year with liquids from coal would cost 2 billion BPY/365 = 5.5 million BPD X $80,000 = $400 billion dollars. Lovins’ estimate of the cost of eliminating ALL oil use from the U.S. economy completely is $180 billion.

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