The election is over and now is the time for the country to work together. We need to add well-paying jobs and we must use energy and other resources wisely. Yeah better jobs and smaller hybrid cars are going to be in our future. These hybrids will be micro-hybrids as well as standard hybrids. We will also have more people carpooling, taking public transportation, or even riding bicycles to get around.
I feel really confident that energy consumption in the US transportation sector will continue to drop by at 1% each year over the next two decades. I am certain that in four years President Obama will be able to claim real success in reducing the quantity of gasoline used to move Americans around. In 2007 the US used 9.3 million barrels a day of gasoline. Year to date in 2012 we are averaging 8.6 million barrels of gasoline a day. I predict that by 2030 we will use approximately 7 million barrels a day of gasoline.
I also think that purely electric vehicles will remain a small niche market and that the real savings in transportation fuel usage will come from improved vehicles with internal combustion engines with or without hybrid assist. I also think that advanced bio fuels will fizzle out and that the quantity of ethanol and other fuels made from biomass will remain pretty level with the peak reached in 2011 when corn ethanol peaked.
There is going to be a period of several years of drought with a warm Atlantic and a cold Pacific. Corn based ethanol will be limited by the availability of sufficient corn. Bio diesel might reach a production limit of 100,000 barrels a day. It too diminishes the availability of edible vegetable oils. Bio diesel and bio butanol from genetically modified algae and bacteria will pretty much be dead end technologies with only a very limited amount of these fuels ever produced. Cellulosic liquid fuels are simply dead on arrival.
The real winner in the coming two decades will be domestic production of shale oil and shale natural gas and the US must exploit the shale bonanza for the good of us all. I pray that President Obama will not kill this goose that is laying the golden egg. The shale gas will also have widespread usage in the supply chain for producing high value added chemicals as well as steel.
Nucor the leading US steel company announced a massive deal to buy working interests in shale gas reserves in the US in partnership with Encana. Nucor uses natural gas to convert iron ore to direct reduced iron (DRI) that is then converted into steel. Between the investment in shale gas and the DRI facilities Nucor is investing over $5 billion in the USA during the next decade. President Obama should take note of this project and should now come out in full support of projects like this. Nucor’s carbon footprint in steel making will be half that of the Chinese mills. Nucor you make me proud.
Over the next few weeks we will see if President Obama sticks with Steven Chu for energy secretary. I pray he does not and I hope that the President fills this post with someone much more capable than Chu. Chu’s predecessor Sam Bodman who was President Bush’s choice for Energy Secretary was equally incompetent as Dr. Chu. The President should let me interview the next Secretary of Energy so we do not get a third thermodynamic stooge in a row filling that very important job.