February 24, 2011
Volvo Diesel Pluggable Hybrid

Occasionally someone brings up in the comments that a hybrid diesel would offer extreme fuel efficiency. But since diesel and hybrid both add costs the combination hasn't yet shown up in a car on the market. But now Volvo has build a V60 that lets you either cruise 30 miles on pure electric or 745 miles in diesel hybrid mode. In this new era of Arab oil producer revolutions this car offers obvious advantages. See the Wired article for more details.

In “Pure” mode, it’s a commuter car with a 70-horsepower electric motor driving the rear wheels. The 12-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack offers a 30-mile range and can recharge fully in under three hours at a 16-amp outlet. Switch the selector to “Hybrid” and banish range anxiety with an astounding 125-mpg equivalent rating and a 745-mile range — enough to get from Luleå to Malmö on one tank of diesel.

Volvo hasn't yet committed to a release in the USA.

Even if this car makes it across the Atlantic will it make sense? The incremental cost of the diesel engine has to be weighed against spending on a bigger battery for more pure electric range. But if do a lot of long range driving the diesel would pay itself back better than a bigger battery would. One wonders whether Volvo will also bring out a non-pluggable diesel hybrid.

I know a couple of guys with Jetta diesels who gush about the fuel economy. They both drive serious miles on road trips. The diesels just keep on going.

One consideration: Diesel prices sometimes go up more during oil price spikes. That's partly because diesel demand drops off more in recessions since industrial diesel fuel usage declines more than consumer gasoline fuel use in recessions. See the US Energy Information Administration page on US gasoline fuel prices for the last couple of years. As of February 21, 2011 gasoline is up 53 cents over the last year whereas diesel is up 74 cents. Though diesel is only 12% more than gasoline.

Update: Smart shows how not to price an electric car.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 February 24 09:12 PM  Energy Transportation


Comments
jb said at February 25, 2011 6:25 AM:

I'm actually slightly intrigued by this car, it sounds like more fun and less obnoxiously smug than most hybrids. Although, realistically, it will be expensive and owned exclusively by upper class euro-phile twits.

JCee said at February 25, 2011 8:13 AM:

Diesel may go up during an oil spike but synthetic diesel may be made from coal at ~ $0.9 to $1.5. If you use high temperature nuclear power plants for the energy to reform it into synthetic diesel is should come out to about equal to gasoline from oil in C02 due to the much higher fuel efficiency of diesel motors. Bonus synthetic diesel/jet fuel is several orders of magnitude cleaner than even the current US ultra clean diesel fuel.

Bruce said at February 25, 2011 1:12 PM:

Put a small NG tank in the car and a dual fuel diesel/NG kit and fill up at home for 1$ a GGE.

john personna said at February 25, 2011 2:41 PM:

Don't forget that crazy Volkswagen. You covered that they recently said they could do production anytime, right?

john personna said at February 25, 2011 2:43 PM:

"less obnoxiously smug"

lolz. we're heading toward $4 gas here in California. i think you meant "prescient and far sighted."

Engineer-Poet said at February 25, 2011 10:59 PM:

If Americans (or our government) were smart, we'd be pricing motor fuels at upwards of $5/gallon at the pump (which is actually less than they cost us).

The Chevy Volt and the Volvo pluggable diesel are the Model T and Model A of plug-in hybrids.  What I think is sad is that we were moving in this direction, but politics in the MENA may suddenly bring us to a supply situation that we might have been read for in 2020.  The combination of George W. Bush the oil man and Barack Obama the empty suit have left us rudderless in this critical time.

Bruce said at February 25, 2011 11:28 PM:

EP, I think Obama has deliberately damaged the economy enough that deliberate 5$/gallon gas would be unnecessary overkill. On the other hand, it might be possible that he deliberately left Mubarak adrift to drive a stake thru what little heart the economy has left.

EP, you "solutions" are costly and useless and you deliberately downplay NG in order to push some fantasy solutions that will never occur.

Randall Parker said at February 26, 2011 12:38 PM:

Regular gasoline is now $3.76 at a Shell station a few hundred yards from where I'm typing this. They are selling diesel for $4.10. So diesel costs 9% extra.

What I'd like to know: Take a gasoline engine and trick it out with direct injection, variable valve timing, and dual turbo and how close does it come to diesel in fuel efficiency?

So few car companies sell both gasoline and diesel on the same model in the USA that it is hard to compare best-of-breed gasoline engines with diesel engines. So it is not clear to me how much of an advantage diesel offers in the long run.

Nick G said at February 26, 2011 2:22 PM:

I think that in a world of perfect economic equilibrium that a gallon of diesel would cost 15% more than gasoline. Diesel has 15% more "stuff": BTUs and carbon.

The EPA MPG regulations are based on CO2 emissions, so a diesel engine will have to do 15% better just to pull even with gasoline.

Engineer-Poet said at February 26, 2011 11:20 PM:

Quoth Obtuse:

I think Obama has deliberately damaged the economy enough that deliberate 5$/gallon gas would be unnecessary overkill.
You think that preventing money (= claims on productive capacity) from leaving the US economy and going to oil producers is DAMAGE?  (The greater the taxes on petroleum, the less the oil producers benefit.)  The Obama administration hasn't done squat to cut US demand for imported oil (agreed), but you are otherwise clueless about what's desirable and why.
you [sic] "solutions" are costly and useless and you deliberately downplay NG in order to push some fantasy solutions that will never occur.
Let me explain this in small words, so simple minds like yours might understand:
  • NG doesn't exist in a vacuum.
  • NG can't be produced for free.
  • The current "cheap" NG is the result of a number of factors, including the current recession, speculative investment in shale-gas plays, and LNG cargoes coming to the USA because LNG producers have profitable markets for natural-gas liquids (NGLs) and will dispose of the LNG at breakeven just to move it.
  • These conditions will not last.
  • The costs of freight transport by truck are severely distorted by government policy.
  • Heavy-truck fuel taxes in particular are completely inadequate to recover the cost of road damage caused by those trucks.
  • As a consequence, Federal and state highway road-repair funds are running dry (especially if they are slated for asphalt road surfaces, which have risen in cost along with oil).
  • Steel rail is much cheaper to build and maintain per ton-mile than concrete or asphalt paving.
  • Steel rail and its support and drainage system can be maintained using hand labor and draft animals; concrete and asphalt require heavy equipment and considerable amounts of fuel.
  • It follows that concrete/asphalt freeways are the fantasy that's disappearing as oil becomes uneconomic, and a return to steel wheels on steel rail is our future.
The vehicles riding on steel wheels can be trucks as well as trains, but Obtuse isn't smart enough to grasp that.  He'll ramble on cluelessly for some time, asserting nonsense that's already been refuted because it's not part of his script.

Engineer-Poet said at February 26, 2011 11:21 PM:

Quoth Nick:

I think that in a world of perfect economic equilibrium that a gallon of diesel would cost 15% more than gasoline.
On an energy basis, perhaps.  Charging more for it just because it has more carbon would tend to discount its energy, which isn't efficient; otherwise, refineries would convert distillates and even asphalt to methane just because the product has less carbon (forget the efficiency of conversion and emissions in the process).

Bruce said at February 27, 2011 8:16 AM:

"The greater the taxes on petroleum, the less the oil producers benefit"

Moron. The producers get the going price no matter what ADDITIONAL taxes are imposed on the poor. The extra taxes would have direct costs and then all the indirect costs in the supply chain making everything that moves by truck,rail and air even more expensive, just so Obama can pay off his union cronies. The US economy is fragile. Add more fuel taxes and it will be the 1930s again.

Most of your arguments are assinine, but the LNG one is EXTRA stupid. The US imports almost no LNG as of today. 90% of its NG imports come from Canada via pipeline. Long term contracts at good prices. Canada is also the source of 2 million barrels a day of oil.

As for rail ... if it was cheaper, shippers would use it. Trucks are cheaper and more flexible.

NG for vehicles is the only hope for US. But Obama is the shirker in chief. He'd rather party than make any tough decisions.

"•Heavy-truck fuel taxes in particular are completely inadequate to recover the cost of road damage caused by those trucks."

Bull****.

You keep repeating that crap, without understanding that instead of maintaining an interestate highway system properly, the feds and the state have squandered trillions on the great green con and on public sector fat cat union pensions.

China and India have a future. With your kind of idiotic thinking, the USA has no future.

The world has hundreds of years of NG ... but go ahead moron. Leave it in the ground and keep importing massive amounts of oil.

Don't pay 1$ a gge for NG ... pay 5$ a gallon for your oil burning car. Ship most of your goods and services on trucks burning 5$ a gallon diesel instead of 1$ a gge of NG. Suck in those diesel fumes. Coat the country in soot from diesel engines.


Why not start a religion for morons EP. It would suit you.

Nick G said at February 27, 2011 12:03 PM:

Bruce,

The producers get the going price no matter what ADDITIONAL taxes are imposed on the poor.

Sure, but taxes reduce consumption, which reduces the market price. Europeans use only 18% as much fuel per capita for personal transportation. Even with 100% tax they spend much less.

The extra taxes would have direct costs and then all the indirect costs in the supply chain making everything that moves by truck,rail and air even more expensive

Think in terms of user fees. If 1,000,000 people use a park which costs $10,000,000 to operate, we should charge $10/visitor, right? If we spend $500B to safeguard 150B gallons of imported oil, we should charge $3per gallon, right? It's just good accounting and proper cost allocation.

The US economy is fragile. Add more fuel taxes and it will be the 1930s again.

Just reduce other taxes, or rebate the revenue.

Bruce said at February 27, 2011 7:49 PM:

"Europeans use only 18% as much fuel per capita for personal transportation"

1) The US population density is half of Europe. People are spread farther apart.

2) The US uses 68 barrels of oil per day per 1000 people. Luxembourg 126. Belgium 60. Iceland 70. Netherlands 59.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con_percap-energy-oil-consumption-per-capita

3) Considering where Alaska and Hawaii are .... and how huge the US is, oil consumption is quite reasonable.

However, I understand the green/socialist agenda is to destroy the US economy.

Your other arguments are just as stupid as EPs. And just as cruel to people trying to get by.

The best economic solution of course would be to nuke the OPEC countries and take their oil.

In the long run, despite the dead, it would be the best for the US.

JCee said at February 27, 2011 8:19 PM:

Nick G said at February 27, 2011 12:03 PM:

Bruce,

The producers get the going price no matter what ADDITIONAL taxes are imposed on the poor.

Sure, but taxes reduce consumption, which reduces the market price. Europeans use only 18% as much fuel per capita for personal transportation. Even with 100% tax they spend much less.

Nick G you are comparing Apples to Oranges.
Europe is ~3.9 million square miles the US is ~3.7 million square miles with ~2.4X the US population. Of course Europeans use less fuel than Americans their population density alone accounts for most of these saving of of course population alone only bring their per capita usage down to ~42% of US usage. Ultra high fuel taxes may be reducing usage to 18% but I believe the majority is better explained by 3 items.
1)Most Europeans live in high concentrated urban areas reducing distances they need to travel.
2)European countries are small reducing the distance you can travel without leaving each country thus reducing travel.
3)Europeans use diesels for ~50% of personal transportation (gaining ~30% better mileage over a similar gasoline engine)

JCee said at February 27, 2011 8:33 PM:

Synthetic Diesel from Coal would greatly lower our fuel cost and would stop sending our money to dictators and theocrats but it is still on the banned list from when the Democrats controlled congress and I DOUBT Obama will sign a repeal even if the the Democrat Senate were to vote for a repeal (I'll be looking for the Flying Pigs if either happens).
Also still no new Gulf drilling permits. If gas gets over $4 gallon in the US and stays there odds of President Obama getting booted from office during the next election go up to >90% IMO.

Engineer-Poet said at February 28, 2011 8:30 AM:

Heh, Obtuse is pwned by everyone and still talks trash.  He epitomises the old saw "talk sense to a fool, and he calls you foolish."

Quoth JCee:

Synthetic Diesel from Coal would greatly lower our fuel cost and would stop sending our money to dictators and theocrats
The latter, but not the former.  CTL is very expensive and even South Africa's Sasol is getting out of the business and going GTL instead.
but it is still on the banned list from when the Democrats controlled congress
Conspiracy theories run up against realities like Rentech's two US CTL plants, one operating and one under construction.  Their combined capacity is about 45,000 barrels/day (less than 0.2% of US diesel fuel consumption).  The major buyer for their product is the US Department of Defense, which is using the CTL product for long-term reserves (the synthetic product can be stored for years, while petroleum distillate has a shelf-life of months).

If the average US vehicle had the economy of a Prius instead of a truck, we'd be importing about half as much oil as we are.  If everything was built as a PHEV, we'd get that down quite a bit more.

Nick G said at February 28, 2011 9:31 AM:

Bruce,

1) The US population density is half of Europe. People are spread farther apart.

True, but that doesn't account for a big % of the difference. Roughly 80% of US population lives in high density areas, just like Europeans. About 50% of US travel is commuting to work, which is very local. Roughly 80% of US miles travelled are in trips of less than 40 miles. Differences in geography might account for say, 15% of the difference.

Now, there are other differences: much of European housing and street infrastructure was built before ICE vehicles came along. On the other hand, a large percentage of European housing and road infrastructure was built post WWII, just as in the US. So, policies like fuel prices in the last 60 years were very, very important factors in how those were built.

Australians drive less than US'ers. That's another datapoint in support of the ideas that population density isn't the most important factor.

2) The US uses 68 barrels of oil per day per 1000 people. Luxembourg 126. Belgium 60. Iceland 70. Netherlands 59.

First, you have to look at the overall average. Some countries stats are distorted by local things. IIRC, Luxembourg has a large port that uses a lot of fuel.

2nd, if you look back at my post you'll notice I was talking about personal transporation. European oil consumption overall isn't as low, because long-haul trucking is dominant in freight, due to the history of Europe.

3) Considering where Alaska and Hawaii are .... and how huge the US is, oil consumption is quite reasonable.

Alaska and Hawaii have a very small % of the US population.

the green/socialist agenda is to destroy the US economy.

Any time you start thinking in terms of large categories like this you hurt your ability to see things realistically. Thinking in terms of "us" (good) vs them (bad) automatically hurts your ability to see details and nuances. Ask yourself: "what would I think of this policy proposal if it was proposed by a leader of my group?". Substitute the leader of the party you identify with, or whatever. Even better, try not to think of yourself as a member of a party - it just degrades your thinking.

Your other arguments are just as stupid as EPs.

Stuff like that just hurts readers perceptions of you. I admit I don't like it, too, but you have a self-interested motive to not do it: it makes you look bad. And, yes, when E-P does it, it makes him look bad too.

And just as cruel to people trying to get by.

Fuel is used mostly by the middle class and wealthy, so subsidies go mostly to them. Targeted benefits to the poor would help them much, much more than low gas prices.

The best economic solution of course would be to nuke the OPEC countries and take their oil. In the long run, despite the dead, it would be the best for the US.

This suggests that you're not really being serious here. No one could be this cruel. Not to mention that it's highly unrealistic: the US could commit genocide, but it wouldn't be able to hold the land on the ground, or maintain the oil production and infrastructure in the face of the opposition it would unleash from the rest of the world.

Someone might take you seriously, so I wouldn't joke about it.

JCee said at February 28, 2011 1:20 PM:

"Engineer-Poet said at February 28, 2011 8:30 AM:

Quoth JCee:

Synthetic Diesel from Coal would greatly lower our fuel cost and would stop sending our money to dictators and theocrats

The latter, but not the former. CTL is very expensive and even South Africa's Sasol is getting out of the business and going GTL instead.

but it is still on the banned list from when the Democrats controlled congress

Conspiracy theories run up against realities like Rentech's two US CTL plants, one operating and one under construction. Their combined capacity is about 45,000 barrels/day (less than 0.2% of US diesel fuel consumption). The major buyer for their product is the US Department of Defense, which is using the CTL product for long-term reserves (the synthetic product can be stored for years, while petroleum distillate has a shelf-life of months)."

Synthetic fuel from Coal ban is an indirect ban not a full out ban . The Armed Forces are forbidden from buying or using fuel that makes more CO2 than currently from oil. ( http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/04/ban-on-alternat/ ) Until fossil fuels are eliminated from electric generation synthetic fuel from coal will make more CO2 than fuel from oil unless set up near a nuclear or hydroelectric plant. Most Coal to Synthetic fuel full scale production plants have been canceled because of this and the fears it will expand to an outright ban. The Rentech Inc you site above utilizes a carbon capture technique to get around the Ban but this increases the cost of the synthetic fuel. Without the carbon capture and with full scale production prices could fall to ~$0.9-1.50 a gallon range. There have been several key improvements to the Fischer–Tropsch process in the last decade the should push the efficiency of conversion up to ~70% from ~40%. Some of these improvements are I believe unfortunately patented and I'm uncertain if everybody is allowing their use at reasonable rates.

Engineer-Poet said at February 28, 2011 5:41 PM:

JCee, you need to learn to use HTML.  Quotes should be italicized with <i>, bolded with <b>, <blockquote>'ed, or otherwise distinguished from what you're adding.  Don't forget to close your tags (the same tag name but with a slash, e.g. </i>).

Synthetic fuel from Coal ban is an indirect ban not a full out ban
Which is not what you claimed earlier.  Besides, captured CO2 has a ready market as a solvent in many oil fields for enhanced oil recovery.  If you really want to do something about dependence on oil imports, you should DEMAND that this CO2 be used to help us (and CO2 from corn ethanol production wouldn't hurt either); allowing it to be dumped into the atmosphere throws that resource away, like flaring gas.
There have been several key improvements to the Fischer–Tropsch process in the last decade the should push the efficiency of conversion up to ~70% from ~40%.
We really don't need Fischer-Tropsch.  Methanol is an excellent fuel for spark-ignition engines, and can be converted to dimethyl ether which makes excellent fuel for compression-ignition engines (with on-board catalysts).  Methanol is more efficient to make than hydrocarbons and lends itself to smaller engines with more power.  It can be carbureted into diesel engine intake air without modifying the engine, and it burns cleaner.

Methanol is also easier to make from biomass than hydrocarbons; the one energy source that's disadvantaged by a move to methanol is petroleum.

Bruce said at March 1, 2011 11:35 AM:

Nick: "No one could be this cruel"

Except you and EP are willing to be cruel to struggling citizens of the US by increasing their costs of fuel, food and everything else transported by truck, rail and/or made out of oil. People will die if they can't afford oil and food. Not as quickly. Not a visually. But they will die.

I think I made a good point. You have more concern for the dictatorships of the middle east than you do you for the USA.

Nick G said at March 1, 2011 5:17 PM:

People will die if they can't afford oil and food.

Thousands of poor people are being killed in oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Hundreds of thousands of being disabled, some for life. The costs of oil are enormous, and much of that cost is paid by poor people. The benefits of cheap oil, on the other hand, mostly accrue to the middle class, who use much more fuel than the poor.

You have more concern for the dictatorships of the middle east than you do you for the USA.

I'm sure that if you really think about it, you'll agree that dropping atomic bombs on the ME would hurt a lot more average people who live there than it would members of the elite class, and that killing millions of people in the Middle East really isn't worth avoiding inconvenience* for people in the US.

*inconvenience like buying a Prius, or a plug-in Prius (for perhaps 3$k more which would pay for itself in fuel savings).

Nick G said at March 1, 2011 5:27 PM:

Bruce,

One last thought: the sensible thing is to raise the cost of oil, and funnel some or all of those revenues back to the poor. If you funneled even 50% of the revenues back to the poor, they'd have much more money than they do now, because most fuel is used by the middle class, not the poor.

Engineer-Poet said at March 1, 2011 5:36 PM:

Obtuse argues (indirectly and thus dishonestly) for subsidizing fuel for everyone instead of targeting benefits to the poor.  If he's thought about it, he must realize that this amounts to a redistribution of wealth to fuel producers at the expense of efficient users.

I'm sure he can point to some nation where subsidized fuel has made everyone better off than, say, Germany.  Venezuela?  Indonesia?  Mexico, maybe?  Well, keep going, I'm sure there's one somewhere.

Bruce said at March 1, 2011 7:52 PM:

Nick, EP. You are two are pathetic. You and your fellow green terrorists have squandered trillions on amazingly stupid projects like wind farms that need backup generators. Green jobs are job killers. Raising energy prices artificially are killers of actual humans. And they have shipped millions of jobs off to China.

There are very few energy subisidies for oil in the west. You two are cruel idiots who want the poor to suffer.

"it is well known that among the nations offering massive subsidies, most are for consumption. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India and China rank 1-2-3-4-5 as the nations offering the largest subsidies in billions of dollars. Measured as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the ranking resorts somewhat, with Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia ranking as the five biggest subsidizers.

The U.S. offers few energy subsidies, despite being a major oil-producing nation like all the nations ranked by the IEA as the most profligate subsidizers of energy. As a percentage of GDP, U.S. subsidies are miniscule. Even when measured in dollars, a type of ranking that would be expected to push the U.S. up when compared to less wealthy nations, fuel subsidies in the U.S. do not rank in the IEA's top 25."

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/26851.html


Stop green terrorism. Lower energy costs for the poor and middle class. Kill all green subsidies. Burn lots of NG and coal. Save the USA.

Engineer-Poet said at March 3, 2011 8:48 AM:

Quoth Obtuse:

You and your fellow green terrorists...
I'm a green terrorist now?  That's a step up from my membership in al-Gebra, using weapons of math instruction to terrify entire class sections of remedial students.
... have squandered trillions on amazingly stupid projects like wind farms that need backup generators.
As opposed to, you know, nuclear power plants which also need backup generators (aka "spinning reserve")?

I'm pro-nuclear too, that must compound my wickedness.

There are very few energy subisidies for oil in the west.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are ultimately about oil and the political power of oil money.  Cost:  about $2 trillion so far.  That's about $1.50/gallon over the last 10 years just for the military side of it.
You two are cruel idiots who want the poor to suffer.
As opposed to you, the cruel idiot who wants the poor to have these great job opportunities in fighting units where they get chances to have their limbs blown off and brains scrambled while meeting tribesmen from exotic cultures and killing them.  The quality of life during and afterward is something you want them to aspire to.

All I want to do is render the Afghans, and their Saudi financiers, toothless by depriving them of money and the resources and access it buys.  I guess they'd also suffer in the desert once they run out of money to operate their oil-fired distillation plants.  Ah, well, nature isn't kind to anything which overpopulates its support systems.

Burn lots of NG and coal. Save the USA.
Thus generating a lot more air pollution, which disproportionately kills and debilitates the poor.

You're the epitome of moral inversion, Bruce.

JCee said at March 3, 2011 12:59 PM:

Engineer-Poet

I'm pro-nuclear for power and coal for synthetic fuel. But I have to comment on this and it's not just you.

Burn lots of NG and coal. Save the USA.

Thus generating a lot more air pollution, which disproportionately kills and debilitates the poor.

I'm tired of these and the other very bad death rates I see out there ALL the time. I work in Bio Research and see a lot of JUNK SCIENCE and see it often (examples deaths from air pollution in the US, 2nd and 3rd Hand smoking, radiation etc). People(Researchers)take a toxic level and draw a linear line to ultra low levels and extrapolate the number of deaths. This is GARBAGE the dose makes a poison. The Classic example is ionizing radiation the US Government says there is no safe level when empirically they are WRONG. They take high level exposures and draw a line down to zero and thus conclude X number of deaths is caused by low level exposure except ALL of the empirical data shows a reduction of deaths from exposure. The reason for this is unknown (thought to possibly because of stimulation to the immune system)but ignored. These extrapolations to ultra low levels have little to no basis in the real world but they do help get your grant funded. I do however admit the levels seen in the US pre ~1980 were potentially harmfully and even supported the new(~mid 2000's)ultra clean diesel standards but I think we are clean enough and up against hard levels of diminishing returns. Remember China has NO standards and is more than willing to take any jobs we drive out with unnecessary excessive regulations and cost. Just say yes to Nukes!

Engineer-Poet said at March 3, 2011 3:45 PM:

Read the comments on the NBF post, because Brian Wang posted a long note about the methodology of the pollution study and why the "linear no threshold" critique is ridiculous (hint:  epidemiological evidence).

Congrats on learning some HTML.  Don't be afraid to fine-tune (preview, edit, preview again) until it looks right.

th said at March 3, 2011 6:43 PM:

Sayeth he who once mentioned nuclear-powered planes,

"As opposed to, you know, nuclear power plants which also need backup generators (aka "spinning reserve")?"

Spinning reserves aren't specifically meant for any source of power, are they? However, in the case of wind that may change, the erratic nature of wind has spawned a new industry, wind firming, unless you are one of those who thinks spinning reserves should now be used to smooth out the wind power's frequent abortions. Fueled turbine makers love the tangled web wind creates...more money for everybody, new green jobs.....spinning reserves on a plane on the way down?

Engineer-Poet said at March 3, 2011 9:41 PM:

Wind power is supplying about 14% of the electricity in Iowa.  It could easily be more if they used the many process-heat loads in the state as dump loads in lieu of gas.  Cedar Rapids is home to cereal plants, to give just one possibility.  It's soon to be home to a CAES project, equalizing the supply/demand imbalance in yet another way.

Wind power reduces the need for gas.  People are saying we don't need to worry, we have a hundred years or more of gas in the ground... they said that about oil too.  The one absolutely sure thing is nuclear, and that's moving too damn slowly to have no backup plans.  Wind is a backup plan.

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