Thursday, January 05, 2012

A Natural Solution To Energy Needs


I've written in the past about the potential for natural gas as an economical and abundant source of fuel for transportation.  What has been missing is, of course, sufficient local distribution... fueling stations.

First, why NG is so economically appealing:

The oil gas ratio hit a new record high today with gas trading at $3.11/mmBtu and WTI going for $101.25/bbl yielding an energy ratio of 5.61. In simple terms this means gas is trading at the equivalent of $18.05/bbl crude.  SOURCE
With gasoline somewhere around $3.30 per gallon, that's equivalent to roughly $0.60 per gallon presuming equivalent conversion and transportation costs.  Imagine what that could do for the cost of ownership.

A former colleague of mine said that he heard the CEO of an automotive company [we'll keep this anonymous] speaking in December and he mentioned that future automotive plans could include big-time expansion of CNG-powered vehicles [Compressed Natural Gas].  The idea and the vehicles are nothing new, of course.  Most likely, it is larger vehicles that would most benefit from this fuel because smaller vehicles present a challenge of fitting the CNG tank into a small space.  Taxi fleets have used them for decades.  And, recently, Ford Motor Company has has large success selling CNG-powered commercial Transit vans
A Transit Connect Taxi powered by compressed natural gas is fueled up at one of Chicago's first CNG stations.

What will be needed for private-use vehicles, as mentioned earlier, is broader NG distribution... probably CNG lanes at gas stations... or dedicated stations like the one above in Chicago.  NG already has the distributive infrastructure because millions of homes and businesses are already paying for the pipelines carrying that fuel.  It's simply the new distributive points that have to be built.  Of course, there is always the political process which may be a bigger obstacle than the technological ones.

Still, when it comes to supply, it looks as if there is an anticipation of surging supply ... despite or because of relative low prices and higher demand.
October was another record-setting month for the world's largest natural gas producer, as the U.S. produced all-time record amounts of both gross withdrawals and dry production (consumer-grade gas), according to new data released today by the Energy Information Administration.  SOURCE
Perhaps more people simply have the same attitude that I do:

When it comes to natural gas, I'm a big fan... and purchaser... personally.  Besides heating our home with a high efficiency NG furnace, we have an NG fireplace capable of heating our home [at about the same efficiency of 1980s furnaces] as an emergeny backup, plus an NG whole-house generator should there be power outages [our edge-of-the-suburban-area has lots of trees and overhead wires that tangle with each other during storms].

I think that Honda also may have had a good idea... just too far ahead of its time.
SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2009The Natural Gas Fuel Alternative For Trucks

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)