Can we do it?
Under Energy Secretary Dr Kristina Johnson recently told the Institute for International and European Affairs in Dublin that the US could have up to 100 million hybrid and electric cars on the road by 2030 thanks to policies being driven by the Obama administration.
But, is that just political hyperbole or a real world reality?
Highlighting the need to reduce America's $300 billion per year foreign oil tab Johnson stated that the first goal had to be a strict focus on efficiency. Then, “Over the next 10 years, we need to utilise all the technologies that can be developed. The government’s role in funding research and development as well as deployment will be crucial,” noted Johnson.
Nonetheless, Johnson acknowledged that getting off coal, for instance, would be hard and cited the need for carbon sequestration, again acknowledging that such a technology was a long way from reality.
On the other hand, Johnson promoted solar, geothermal, hydro, wind and nuclear power, as well as the decarbonization of energy, especially transportation energy.
A little disappointingly, however, Johnson acknowledged that there was no replacement for diesel in the transport sector. I guess as far as the Obama Administration is concerned, the Pickens Plan is dead. Apparently, natural gas is significantly more evil than foreign oil.
Ultimately, while I hope that the under secretary is correct, the real world data and projections from the people that make their money off such forecasts doesn't currently concur with the secretary's optimistic projection. Perhaps if Obama passes cap and trade, all cards are off the table, and such a forecast is plausible.
Until then, a little more honesty regarding the extreme difficulty of achieving even just foreign oil dependence would be refreshing. For decades Administrations have been touting the great changes just around the corner for the American energy paradigm, and for decades those claims have fallen fall short.
Hopefully, this time around is different because this decades long fairy tale is beginning to get old.