The Private Sector is Investing in Natural Gas because there’s a Real Market for it unlike Solar and Wind

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 1st, 2012

Week in Review

The environmentalists have finally got something they wanted.  Private businesses choosing a cleaner fuel because they want to.  Not because they were forced to.  Or because they were bribed to.  But because these greedy little bastards can make more money by going green.  They hate the profit motive.  But at least these profits come with a cleaner environment.  You’d think they’d be happy.  But, of course, they’re not.  Because for this cleaner world they’d have to accept something they just hate too much (see Natural-Gas Vehicles Will Run Best Without Subsidies by the Editors posted 3/29/2012 on Bloomberg).

Few areas of American governance have been as incoherent in recent decades as energy policy, which is saying something. But lately, we keep seeing reasons for optimism.

Almost miraculously, the U.S. is both reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions and becoming increasingly energy independent. As Bloomberg News recently reported, the share of U.S. energy demand met by domestic sources increased to 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011 — the highest level in 20 years — and emissions are expected to decline 12 percent by 2020.

A major factor in both trends is increased use of natural gas, a cleaner-burning fossil fuel now being extracted in abundance across the country. Hydraulic fracturing, a new production technology also known as fracking, has helped push prices for the fuel to a decade low, and has created plenty of jobs in the process…

Natural gas has many advantages — which is exactly why the industry doesn’t need more government help.

Proponents of federal aid argue that the costs of switching to natural gas on a large scale are prohibitive for trucking companies and consumers. But as Bloomberg News has reported, trucking companies are already buying more long-haul natural-gas trucks simply because the fuel is so cheap. Annual savings over diesel can add up to $20,000 for a single truck — so a company can recoup the extra cost of the new technology in about two years…

To meet increased demand, companies are building infrastructure on their own: Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which provides natural gas fuel for transportation, plans to build 70 liquefied natural-gas stations by the end of the year. General Electric Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. have formed an alliance to help make compressed natural gas available at more filling stations. Honda plans to install fueling stations at some of its dealerships. Fleets of taxis, trucks and buses across the country are using the fuel in growing numbers.

In other words, market forces are working. It’s not yet clear what will be the most efficient means to get natural gas to power vehicles — many options are on the table — but the private sector is the best place to experiment. Billions of dollars in government subsidies will only further distort the energy sector, threaten to create another industry reliant on Washington’s largesse and drive up prices by artificially boosting demand.

No trucking firms are buying any electric long-haul trucks and installing recharging stations across the country.  For that would be too costly.  And waste too much time.  But time is money for a trucker.  They don’t have time to wait for a battery to recharge every time they need to’re-fuel’.  That’s why they stick to fossil fuels.  Even the change to a cleaner and cheaper fuel is still a change to fossil fuel.  Because there’s no other fuel source outside of science fiction that can do what fossil fuels can do.

Because there is a market for natural gas-powered trucks the private sector is providing the infrastructure for it.  Without any ‘Solyndra’ subsidies or loan guarantees.  There’s money to make so private capital is flowing to where it needs to be to make this a reality.  Without any help from the government.  The way it should be in a free market economy.

This is everything the Obama administration could ask for.  Less fuel emissions.  Less dependence on foreign oil.  And they don’t have to use the power of government to make anyone adopt this technology.  There’s no downside.  Except, of course, the environmentalists.  Who hate hydraulic fracturing.  AKA fracking.  (And basically any fossil fuel in general.)  They say it contaminates the ground water.  So they don’t want it.  Just as they don’t want oil.  Or coal.  Or nuclear.  Or hydroelectric power.  Which basically leaves out every way to generate electricity except solar and wind.  Which can’t come close to producing the amount of electricity the other sources of electricity-generation can.  Which will be a big problem for the environmentalists.  Who want everyone to drive an emissions-free electric car.  Cars that will be very difficult to charge if the environmentalists don’t let us produce any electricity.  And the only things that’ll let us do this are the fossil fuels.  Or hydroelectric power.

There’s no pleasing some people.  Unless we all go back to the horse and buggy days.  Maybe that would make the environmentalists happy.  Having the air thick with horse manure.  With our streets covered in horse poop, pee and swarms of flies.  Maybe that would make them happy.  As it would all be natural.  Then again, this may be a problem with PETA.  Who would rather have the pollution if the alternative meant violating animal rights.  Which we would be violating if we enslaved horses to work for us.

You know who’s not having silly debates like this?  Brazil.  Russia.  India.  China.  And South Africa.  The BRICS emerging economies.  And the reason why they’re emerging and we’re wallowing in recession is that they don’t let their environmentalists sit at the big table with the grownups. 

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