Friday, March 7, 2008

GUSHER OF LIES: The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Energy Independence’

An interesting book review from the New York Times:

...In “Gusher of Lies,” Mr. Bryce, a freelance journalist specializing in energy issues, mounts a savage attack on the concept of energy independence and the most popular technologies currently being promoted to achieve it. Ethanol? A scam. Wind power? Sheer fantasy. Solar power? Think again. For the foreseeable future, which is to say the next 30 to 50 years, fossil fuels will reign supreme, as they have for the last century. Deal with it.

...With all the gusto of a hunter clubbing baby seals, Mr. Bruce goes after one cherished green belief after another, but he is an equal-opportunity smiter. Having kicked the props from under every green technology in sight, he goes after the political right....

Mr. Bryce begins coolly, then heats up and eventually approaches core meltdown. In a perspective-setting opening chapter, he reviews the history and current state of energy needs in the United States, whose situation is not nearly as desperate, he argues, as one might think.

...Detroit loves ethanol because it can use it to inflate fuel-efficiency ratings on their cars artificially. The mammoth Chevy Suburban, produced as a flex-fuel vehicle capable of burning both ethanol and gasoline, magically boosted its fuel efficiency to 29 miles per gallon from 15, since under federal rules only a vehicle’s gasoline consumption need be factored into the equation. [I'm not sure that's correct. They get a bump but I seem to recall it being smaller-ed.]

...Mr. Bryce’s pet idea, though, is something that does not exist, a superbattery capable of storing large quantities of electricity. As the magic wand to bring this “silver bullet” into existence Mr. Bryce proposes a Superbattery Prize awarded either by the Energy Department or private foundations: $1 billion, say, for a compact, affordable system that can store multiple kilowatt-hours, and $10 billion for a system that can store megawatt-hours. The hard-nosed Mr. Bryce reveals himself in the end as something of a visionary and perhaps even a revolutionary. Power to the people.