Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The T. Boone Pickens a few bricks short of a full load

Texas Oil Billionaire T. Boone Pickens has come up with a really bad energy plan. I have to wonder if Pickens has had too many of his little gray cells die lately. Pickens is big on wind, something his oil business competition has known for a long time. Pickens is now investing in government subsidies. Excuse me, did i say that. I'm so sorry. It must have been a slip pf my fingers on the keyboard. Pickens is investing in wind farms through which he expects to receive billions of dollars in government subsidies. See there, I made it all better.

Pickens has an energy ideas that is as substantial as a tumbleweed in a West Texas Wind. Pickens idea is to replace the use of natural gas in electrical generation with wind generated electricity. The natural gas could then be diverted to powering cars. Natural gas could thus replace foreign oil in our energy economy. Well what is wrong with Pickens plan?

First, how much natural gas would we really save by building massive wind generating facilities? The answer is not very much. Natural gas is used in electrical generation primarily to produce peak electricity. My readers will perhaps recall, that I have pointed out at least 100 times, that there is an inverse relationship between Texas winds, and peak electrical demands. Thus the more Texas consumers want electricity, the less the wind will blow. Peak electricity is mainly generated in Texas by burning natural gas. How much natural gas will Pickens windmills' save? Very little. Pickens does not know this? Pickens does not have any advisors who have looked wind's pathetically poor peak demand performance? Don't any of Pickens retainers have any analytic skills at all? What do the guys who are suppose to provide the smarts of the Pickens organization do all day long? Drink and play cards?

Secondly, Pickens gets all the problems wrong. We don't just need to replace imported oil, we need to replace all fossil fuels. Even if we had no reason to worry about global warming, which we do, there are plenty of reasons to not depend long term of fossil fuels. And Pickens is not going to sell Congress on his take on Global Warming. He might put it over on his Facebook "friends," but not on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

It seems that while Pickens failed to provide money in his plan budget to hire first rate energy thinkers, He has budgeted a lot of money for a slick advertising campaign. There is a Facebook page devoted to Pickens and his plan. You can see T; Boone talking about his plan on YouTube. The Pickens Plan has its own internet social network. Llke the River Platt of Nebraska, Pickens appears to be an inch deep, and a mile wide at the mouth.

Needless to say, Pickens has not provided us with "a judicious determination of the facts." Pickens is taking a post modern approach. As long as you have a good story, and get it before the public, facts don't matter.

So what Is Pickens up too? Well Pickens would make a killing with his scheme. First he would be assured a long term government subsidy for his wind investment, and then he would turn right around and ask the government for a big fat oilman's welfare check, when he drills for natural gas. Is T. Boone really that cynical? Would a guy who is already worth three billion dollars come up with such an absurd plan. Did Pickens watch The Honeymooners in his youth, and now thinks he is channeling Ralph Kramden?

4 comments:

Warren Heath said...

I agree with you that the Mega-Wind idea is inferior to other options, and requires NG generators to operate in parallel with the Wind Generators.

However, there are good reasons to convert NG to methanol, to burn in vehicle engines. The process only costs 8 cents per litre and is 78% efficient, with the high grade waste heat well suited for other processes, like heating Arctic Communities. There are huge Arctic Reserves of NG just sitting there, for 30 years now, waiting for a contentious >$20 billion pipeline to be built. Makes much more sense to convert the NG to methanol, ship it easily by tankers, about the safest fuel to transport, dissipates harmlessly in the environment, worth about $1.25 per US gal and burn it in extreme efficiency engines, in particular as generators for series hybrid vehicles. It makes no sense to deal with the major hassles, hazards, and headaches of gaseous fuels, when you have a clean burning, safe, efficient, environmentally friendly, liquid fuel, like methanol which can be produced from NG, Biomass, and electricity, water plus biomass, flue gas or atmospheric CO2.

EPA tested a converted VW 90hp TDI diesel, with a 19.5:1 compression ratio, burning methanol & ethanol. The high octane of methanol allows it to be burned in a high compression engine.

The engine was actually simpler than the VW diesel, as only port fuel injection was used, and spark ignition with a much more effective simpler catalytic converter for the small amount of formaldehyde produced by methanol combustion.

The engine easily met the tough new tier II new low emission vehicle standards, unlike the diesel.
The peak efficiency of the engine was 43% vs 41% for the diesel, and peak hp was 112 hp vs 106 hp for the diesel. Most importantly the engine had a much wider high efficiency island, than the diesel. Whereas the 90 hp diesel driving a typical Sedan @ 60 mph on flat highway would use about 13 hp at an engine efficiency of 32%, the methanol version of the engine would have a 40% efficiency at the same output, a 25% improvement in fuel economy. The numbers are even better for lower speeds. A series HEV SUV with this type of engine can be expected to have the gasoline equivalent of 60-70 mpg or 30-35 mpg of methanol.
See:

The 43% efficient, extremely low emissions, Methanol engine, with a extraordinarily wide island of high efficiency.

The most stupid thing to do, is converting our precious, clean burning NG into heavy crude, for use in 25% peak efficiency, 10% average efficiency, automobile engines, which is being done in the Athabasca Tar Sands. The only legitimate way to process Oil Sands or Oil Shale, is with Nuclear generated steam. It is expected that Canada’s entire Arctic Reserves of NG, will be utilized in the Athabasca Tar Sands, just to produce dirty, inefficient, high GHG emissions, vehicle fuels. Due to the proportionality clause of the NAFTA treaty, that NG will come directly out of Canada’s domestic NG allocation.

Left Atomics said...

The primary emphasis here for TBP is using nat gas as a fuel in cars. There are fleets of utility vehicles that do in fact burn gas, but with the rise in prices for gas, despite what he argues, the popularity has actually sunk.

Piekens is going after subsidies, that's it, plain and simply. On the back end he gets to sell, he thinks, NG. He is shilling for his own profits.

David

Soylent said...

David Case: "What happens if Congress doesn't extend the $20-per-megawatt-hour Production Tax Credit for wind -- set to expire December 31? On a project this size, that's an $80,000 deduction every hour at full capacity."

Pickens: "Then you've got a dead duck. It would be hard to go without a subsidy. But they'll probably pass it."

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/126/a-mighty-wind.html

Scotty said...

There is a public discussion forum about Pickens Energy Plan Called :
www.pickensenergyplan.com
Cheers !

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