Hogan's Alley

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Alternative Fuels - The Lowdown

There is almost universal agreement that the future of a petroleum-based world is not pretty. The massively increasing demand from China and India will make the competition for available oil resources the central factor in international affairs for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the cost, as demand approaches 100% of supply, will continue to move higher and higher.

Nearly everyone who has thought about this issue, from the President to the environmentalists has touted alternative fuels as the means of weaning ourselves from our dependence on oil. But which alternative fuel should we focus on? There seems to be no clear single alternative.

Popular Mechanics has an excellent summary of the pros and cons of each altfuel option. It is a veritable primer on the subject and is must-see reading for anyone interested in the topic.

Their bottom line:

Today, many families have several cars--often more cars than they have drivers. So before we see our national fleet running on hydrogen, we believe that many households might have an electric or plug-in hybrid for short trips, an E85/electric hybrid sedan, SUV or minivan to squire the whole team, and a diesel pickup fueled by B30 or B50 to haul most anything else. All will reduce greenhouse gases and use renewable resources that come from inside our borders. By pursuing these multiple pathways, we can reduce our dependence on any single energy source--something we haven't achieved with petroleum.