Friday, January 24, 2014

The Energy Roadmap - The Edison of our Age: Stan Ovshinsky and the Future of Energy [Video Interview Part 1]

The Energy Roadmap - The Edison of our Age: Stan Ovshinsky and the Future of Energy [Video Interview Part 1]:

Ovshinsky is compared to Edison as a prolific inventor... He hold patents on NiMH batteries. His solar cells power the MIR space station.

Good question on Cobasys and the restrictions on next-gen batteries by the patents held within the company.!:-) The batteries that have become so critical in the next generation of batteries, electric cars, etc. are subject to patents by Ovshinsky (and the Cobasys company).

Cobasys is a 50/50 joint venture with Chevron/Texico and Ovonics. Ovonics has the Stan Ovshinsky inventions and GM now has a big ownership stake in that company.

So let's see, a BIG oil and a BIG auto have a BIG stake in the very batteries that make an electric car viable.

Look at "Patent encumbrances" at Wikipedia. The discussion on "Who Killed the Electric Car?" seem far truer than I ever imagined. This whole topic requires a lot more reading. But before picking up the thread again, I want to watch the movie.

Anybody out there have big ideas (substantiated by facts, I hope) on the issue.

Keywords: electric car, EV, oil, auto, battery, patent, patent encumbrances, inventor,

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China Pollution Is Blanketing America's West Coast - Business Insider

China Pollution Is Blanketing America's West Coast - Business Insider:

Oh boy.

We export raw materials and coal to China so they can make finished goods and export them back to us in the West/USA. They don't have the safety worries that we do... Some of the externalities affect only China, but many affect us all, especially those countries and environments closer to the mainland of China.

"Cities like Los Angeles received at least an extra day of smog a year from nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide from China's export-dependent factories, it said.

"We've outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us," co-author Steve Davis, a scientist at University of California Irvine, said."

Yuk! :-(

A good economist would argue that  products (say coal, especially the really dirty, high sulfur stuff) that produce negative externalities should be assessed a tax that roughly matches the costs of the externality. Using this logic, we would tax coal (especially high sulfur coal) that goes to a developing country, and tax them even more if they intend to burn the coal without scrubbers and such. This might not stop them from burning coal, but it would make other options more attractive that are cleaner (less negative externalities).

Unfortunately, China has a LOT of coal in the country. They now burn more than half the world's coal each year, so they do have to import it as well.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Reduce Oil Dependence Costs

Reduce Oil Dependence Costs: "Nearly 40% of the oil we use is imported, costing us roughly $300 billion annually. Increased domestic oil production from shale formations and improved fuel economy standards have decreased oil imports over the past few years, but the U.S. Department of Energy projects that we will continue to rely on imports for 35% to 40% of our petroleum needs in the future."

This is interesting. The rate of oil imports is dropping like lead. We are down dramatically form 13m Barrels per day in August 2006 before the Great Recession to only about 6m in 2013. See stats here:

Several oil Execs have commented that we should be North-America energy independent about the end of this decade. US independence should probably happen within 10 years, (Assuming that the US gov let's us start exporting.)

How did the Department of Energy get this so very wrong?

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The Energy Quiz | ExxonMobil

The Energy Quiz | ExxonMobil:

Try the energy Quiz from ExxonMobil:
It has 4 categories related to energy: people, sources, uses and savings. There are 5 questions in each section.

Interesting that the actual quiz lives here:
Under the advertising campaign.

I didn't do well on the quiz. And you probably won't either. I do take issue with at least one of the 5 questions in each category. I don't like how they state projections as fact. (Make sure not to over think it.)

BUT this is a very cool quiz and provides very nice information for people to think about.

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A Shrinking U.S. Trade Deficit—Brought to You by Fracking - Businessweek

A Shrinking U.S. Trade Deficit—Brought to You by Fracking - Businessweek:

US trade deficit is shrinking. Rapidly.

The reason is the import of oil is a very expensive commodity. By the end of this decade, North America should be trade neutral on energy and then move to a surplus thereafter. At peak, the US trade deficit was about 6% of GDP. That is, our GDP would be reduced by the oil that is not produced domestically, but produced afar.

For a country such as Saudi Arabia, with only about $30 to $40 costs associated with producing a barrel of oil, that leaves about $60 of profits. All of that money per barrel leaves the US and goes to foreign governments and foreign companies (or Multi-national companies).

With all the new found oil at home, the GDP jumps by a couple percent. The trade deficit -- as it pertains to energy -- will shift form a percent or two deficit to  becoming a surplus within 10 years.

Economically, this is a beautiful think. If the US were a developing country this would be called economic development utilizing import substitution. Here is a blog on US Energy  that discusses the US Energy Outlook Report for 2013. Want to look at forecasts of the future, go to US Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook 2013.

As we drop from 10M barrels per day of oil-type imports to zero we will drop more than $300B in trade deficits (more than 2% of GDP). (See

National security improves.

Of course there is one small caveat. Oil, gas, coal and Nat Gas are non-renewable resources. That means that they must be phased out, sooner or later.

Beautiful thing economically, but with a few clouds surrounding it.

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Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade by Adam Minter — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade by Adam Minter — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists: "Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade
by Adam Minter"

This is an interesting book on the story of Junk. Not to be confused with Lenard's book on "The Story of Stuff".

Has anyone read this book and what do you think?

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