Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Alternative Energy

On a recent tour of WWI and WWII battlfields, memorials and museums in France, Belgium, Luxemberg and Germany, I couldn't help noting the stark contrast between the past and the present. Where once great battles were fought now stand numerous wind power generators and nuclear power plants. Nearly 70% of all electricity generated in France, for example, is nuclear. Along side the nuclear plants wind power generators are beginning to appear.

T. Boone Pickens, a very wealthy oilman, has proposed that we go on an all out program to install wind power generators across a wide area starting at the Texas-Mexico border runnung north up to Canada. Adjacent to that path, Pickens proposes we install solar energy panels throughout the southwest starting in Texas and taking in parts or all of New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California, Nevada and Utah. Technology must be developed to transfer the electricity to where it's needed. While the Pickens proposals are pursued we must also continue developing new sources of crude oil to allow continued interim use of existing ground transportation and to manufacture all of the many petroleum products the world has come to rely on. We hear very little about the many non-fuel products that are made from petroleum when politicians and environmental activists talk about oil, so let's review the list:

  • Cosmetics. Made from white oils and petrolatum.Hydraulic Oils. Hydraulic systems abound in industry, heavy equipment, aircraft, and ships.
  • Lubricants. Industrial machinery, aircraft, automobiles, and ships couldn't run without them.Metalworking Oils. Sheetmetals would be difficult to make without them.
  • Paraffin Wax. No more candles without it.
  • Pharmaceuticals. Many lifesaving drugs and other medicines depend on white oils.
  • Plastics. Essential in modern-day packaging and other convenience applications.
  • Solvents. Critical in many cleaning and thinning applications.
  • Transformer Oils. Needed in electricity transmission.
  • Turbine Oils. Essential in jet engines and steam turbines.
  • Synthetic Rubber. Not enough natural rubber for the world's tires
Considering the foregoing list and the many other materials that are made from petroleum it's obvious that we must continue the search for and produce oil for years to come. Those politicians who preach alternatives to the total exclusion of more crude production simply don't know what they are talking about.


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