Monday, February 26, 2007

Energy, Energy, Energy

I'm not sure at this point what to make of the TXU buy out deal.
If the company taking them over does indeed abandon the plan to build 8 of the 11 proposed coal fired plants it will probably be beneficial environmentally in the short and possibly long run. Higher electricity prices could result as well. There are ways to produce electricity with fewer negative externalities (nuclear anyone?).

On the other hand, the prospective new company appears to be heavily influenced by environmentalists promoting renewable energy and conservation. The renewable side of things offers some interesting possibilities, but I don't buy this conservation stuff. The primary reason I don't is because "(o)nly 2% of the energy that starts out in an oil pool under the Gulf of Mexico ends up propelling 200 pounds of mom and the kids-the ultimate payload-2 miles to the game." It takes massive amounts of energy to turn raw energy into usable forms. It takes energy to make energy. Because of this I don't believe that conservation alone, or very much at all for that matter, is the answer to future energy needs, if economic growth is to continue. Here's the link to the article I pulled the quote above from. It's written by Peter Huber, no relation as far as I know. He has also coauthored a really interesting book titled The Bottomless Well.

On a related note, here's an article on the land use costs of biofuels.,05532.cfm
There is a trade off between using land to produce ethanol crops and using land to produce food or forest. The author estimates that it might require clearing an additional 50 million acres of forest to produce economically significant amounts of ethanol. This also goes against the historical trend of energy requiring a smaller and smaller footprint over time (a great insight from The Bottomless Well).

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