[saymaListserv] [earthcare] Fw: Earth Policy News - Path to Oil Independence, relevant to Friends widely expressed social and spiritual concerns

Janet Minshall jhminshall at comcast.net
Thu Oct 21 12:19:19 JEST 2004

Dear Friends, I thought many of you might be 
interested in these messages.  Any discussion 
would be most welcome.  Janet Minshall

Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 12:07:50 -0400
To: earthcare at yahoogroups.com
From: Janet  Minshall <jhminshall at comcast.net>
Subject: Re: [earthcare] Fw: Earth Policy News - Path to Oil Independence
Cc: <alconn at provide.net>,<epi at earth-policy.org>

Dear Allan Connor and Earthcare Friends,  Thanks 
so much for forwarding the message (below) from 
Lester Brown on oil independence.  I also read 
his article, an edited text of his FGC plenary 
talk, in the recent environmental issue of 
Friends Journal. I am most gratified that a 
leader in the environmental movement is 
publishing widely a speech and articles 
suggesting the further development and use of 
hybrid gas/electric engines in vehicles and wind 
energy in general to meet the energy needs of the 
world and thus make cleaner the atmosphere of the 

One other issue about which I am exceedingly 
concerned is the availability of clean water 
around the world.  It is one which can be solved, 
I believe, with either wind or solar power used 
to desalinate the ocean water.  Doing so would 
not in any way harm the environment and could be 
tied into water systems already in place.  It 
would require a significant expenditure on 
connections from ocean desalination sites to city 
and town water supplies around the world. Even 
so, it would be considerably less expensive over 
time than water supplied by the major interests 
which have been buying up global water rights 
since the 1970s.

Is there work in progress in this area?  Is 
anyone making the effort to design and build such 
wind or solar-powered desalination equipment? 
Have such efforts been supported by significant 
funding?  A response from anyone who is 
knowledgeable on this matter would be most 
			  Janet Minshall

----- Original Message -----
From: <mailto:vjimenez at earth-policy.org>Viviana Jimenez
To: <mailto:alconn at provide.net>alconn at provide.net
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 10:07 AM
Subject: Earth Policy News - Path to Oil Independence

Eco-Economy Update 2004-12
For Immediate Release
Copyright Earth Policy Institute 2004
October 13, 2004

Gas-Electric Hybrids and Wind Power Offer Winning Combination

Lester R. Brown

With the price of oil above $50 a barrel, with political instability in
the Middle East on the rise, and with little slack in the world oil
economy, we need a new energy strategy. Fortunately, the outline of a new
strategy is emerging with two new technologies.

These technologies--gas-electric hybrid engines and advanced-design wind
turbines--offer a way to wean ourselves from imported oil. If over the
next decade we convert the U.S. automobile fleet to gas-electric hybrids
with the efficiency of today's Toyota Prius, we could cut our gasoline use
in half. No change in the number of vehicles, no change in miles
driven--just doing it more efficiently.

There are now three gas-electric hybrid car models on the market: the
Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight, and the hybrid version of the Honda
Civic. The Prius--a midsize car on the cutting-edge of automotive
technology--gets an astounding 55 mpg in combined city/highway driving. No
wonder there are lists of eager buyers willing to wait six months for

Ford has just released a hybrid model of its Escape SUV. Honda is about to
release a hybrid version of its popular Accord sedan. General Motors will
offer hybrid versions of several of its cars beginning with the Saturn VUE
in 2006, followed by the Chevy Tahoe and Chevy Malibu. Beyond this, GM has
delivered 235 hybrid-powered buses to Seattle with the potential to reduce
gasoline use there by up to 60 percent. Other cities slated to get hybrid
buses are Philadelphia, Houston, and Portland. Hybrid engines are catching

With gas-electric hybrid cars now on the market, the stage is set for the
second step to reduce oil dependence, the use of wind-generated
electricity to power automobiles. If we add to the gas-electric hybrid a
plug-in capacity and a second battery to increase its electricity storage
capacity, motorists could then do their commuting, shopping, and other
short-distance travel largely with electricity, saving gasoline for the
occasional long trip. This could lop another 20 percent off gasoline use
in addition to the initial 50 percent cut from shifting to gas-electric
hybrids, for a total reduction in gasoline use of 70 percent.

The plug-in capacity gives access to the country's vast, largely untapped,
wind resources. In 1991, the U.S. Department of Energy published a
National Wind Resource Inventory in which it pointed out that three of our
50 states--Kansas, North Dakota and Texas--have enough harnessable wind
energy to satisfy national electricity needs. Many were astonished by this
news since wind power was widely considered a marginal energy source.

Yet in retrospect, we know that this was a gross underestimate simply
because it was based on the wind turbine technologies of 1991. Advances in
design since then enable turbines to operate at lower wind speeds, to
convert wind into electricity more efficiently, and to harness a much
larger wind regime.

The average turbine in 1991 was roughly 120 feet tall, whereas new ones
are 300 feet tall--the height of a 30-story building. Not only does this
more than double the harvestable wind regime, but winds at the higher
elevation are stronger and more reliable.

In Europe, which has emerged as the world leader in developing wind
energy, wind farms now satisfy the residential electricity needs of 40
million consumers. Last year, the European Wind Energy Association
projected that by 2020 this energy source would provide electricity for
195 million people--half the population of Western Europe. A 2004
assessment of Europe's offshore potential by the Garrad Hassan consulting
group concluded that if European governments move vigorously to develop
this potential, wind could supply all of the region's residential
electricity by 2020.

Wind power is growing fast because it is cheap, abundant, inexhaustible,
widely distributed, clean, and climate-benign. No other energy source has
all of these attributes.

The cost of wind-generated electricity has been in free fall over the last
two decades. The early wind farms in California, where the modern wind
industry was born in the early 1980s, generated electricity at a cost of
38 per kilowatt-hour. Now many wind farms are producing power at 4 per
kilowatt-hour, and some long-term supply contracts have recently been
signed at 3 per kilowatt-hour. And the price is still falling. (For data

Unlike the widely discussed fuel cell/hydrogen transportation model, the
gas-electric hybrid/wind model does not require a costly new
infrastructure. The network of gasoline service stations is already in
place. So, too, is the electricity grid needed to link wind farms to the
storage batteries in cars. For this new model to work most efficiently, we
would need a strong integrated national grid. Fortunately, the need for
modernizing our antiquated set of regional grids, replacing them with a
strong national grid, is now widely recognized--especially after the
blackout that darkened the U.S. northeast in 2003.

One of the few weaknesses of wind energy--its irregularity--is largely
offset with the use of plug-in gas-electric hybrids, as the batteries in
these vehicles become a part of the storage system for wind energy. Beyond
this, there is always the tank of gasoline as a backup.

Some 22 states now have commercial-scale wind farms feeding electricity
into the grid. Although there is occasionally a NIMBY problem, the PIIMBY
response ("put it in my backyard") is much more pervasive. This is not
surprising, since a single turbine can easily produce $100,000 worth of
electricity in a year.

The competition among farmers in Iowa or ranchers in Colorado for wind
farms is intense. Farmers, with no investment on their part, typically
receive $3,000 a year in royalties from the local utility for siting a
single wind turbine, which occupies a quarter-acre of land. This
quarter-acre in corn country would produce 40 bushels of corn worth $120
or in ranch country perhaps $10 worth of beef.

Communities in rural America desperately want the additional revenue from
wind farms and the jobs they bring. In addition, money spent on
electricity generated from wind farms stays in the community, creating a
ripple effect throughout the local economy. Within a matter of years,
thousands of ranchers could be earning far more from electricity sales
than from cattle sales.

Moving to the highly efficient gas-electric hybrids with a plug-in
capacity, combined with the construction of thousands of wind farms across
the country feeding electricity into a national grid, will give us the
energy security that has eluded us for three decades. It will also
rejuvenate farm and ranch communities and shrink the U.S. balance-of-trade
deficit. Even more important, it will dramatically cut carbon emissions,
making the United States a model that other countries can emulate.

# # #

Additional data and information sources at www.earth-policy.org or contact
For reprint permission contact rjkauffman(at)earth-policy.org

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