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Billonaire T. Boone Pickens is pulling out of the 4 GW Texas wind farm he planned to pour $10B USD into. A death-blow to the project happened when the deal to build high-power transmission lines fell through.  (Source: foxtwo)

T. Boone Pickens is instead returning his attention to natural gas, though remaining optimistic on wind power. He claims that natural gas is our nation's "only option".  (Source: Horn River News)
Billionaire says he will turn to natural gas instead

Oil baron T. Boone Pickens made headlines when he announced that he would be making a massive investment in wind power.  He had made plans for a 4 GW wind farm in Pampa, Texas a town along U.S. Highway 60 northeast of Amarillo.  The site was set to become the largest wind farm in the U.S.

However, a mere 667 turbines into the construction (likely about a sixth of the total planned turbines) Mr. Pickens is pulling out of the "green gold" project of which he has contributed $10B USD.  A deciding factor was the difficulties in securing heavy transmission lines need to link the generators to the nation's power grid.   Mr. Pickens tried to get financing for the lines, but the deal fell through.

Now he is pulling out of the project, mostly.  He states, "The capital markets have dealt us all a setback.  I am committed to 667 wind turbines and I am going to find projects for them.  I expect to continue development of the Pampa project, but not at the pace that I originally expected."

Mr. Pickens made a fortune off his venture oil and gas firm Mesa Petroleum that after initial success began gobbling up oil and natural gas companies in the 1980s.  Now it appears that Mr. Pickens is returning to his roots.  He comments that natural gas is "the only option at this point" and continues, "There's no other, there's nothing else to replace it. It's the one and only resource in America that today can replace foreign oil. It is a cleaner, abundant fuel."

Still he remains optimistic on wind power, stating, "We've got more wind than anybody else in the world, just like they have more oil.  I think that's the future of this country.  We'll get there."

President Obama's alternative energy efforts have pleased Mr. Pickens, as does a new bill which will offer tax credits for the production of alternative fuels vehicles, including cars that can run on natural gas.  In addition to introduce new tax credits the bill will require 50 percent of all new vehicles purchased or placed in service by the U.S. government by Dec. 31, 2014, to be capable of operating on compressed or liquefied natural gas.

Cheers Mr. Pickens, "We're going to now use natural gas in place of foreign oil."

Major wind and solar installations continue to gain traction in America, but the death of the Pickens project in Texas showcases the problems with America's power infrastructure.  America is suffering from a decrepit and poorly maintained power grid which not only lowers efficiencies (raising power costs) and contributes to brownouts, but also hinders alternative energy projects.  As America has expanded, the grid hasn't expanded quickly enough with it, as this project showcases.



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By Hiawa23 on 7/9/2009 11:11:36 AM , Rating: 4
Here's a hint: since Obama took office, everything is paid for with taxpayer subsidies.

This mess isn't Obabma's fault. I am still baflled why a country supposedly as great as the US has to depend so much on foreign oil to begin with, & for so long. This is many decades in the making & no one has any short term answer or relief for the masses who continue to get hosed at the pump & on their energy bills. Many say the housing market brought down the economy, but also outragious fuel prices. Most only seem to be at the mercy of Oil companies, & foreign countries. At this point I am for any & every possibility which includes more drilling, nuclear, whatever. There must be an answer out there, or maybe not. Why haven't we found an answer to this problem?


RE: Why don't people research before they do things?
By Fanon on 7/9/2009 11:24:31 AM , Rating: 5
We know what the solution is, and has been, for years:

Drill more
Build more refineries
Build more nuclear plants

The problem is people on the left side of the aisle won't listen or allow any of it because it doesn't give them control, money, and/or power.


By Hiawa23 on 7/9/2009 12:15:01 PM , Rating: 2
Drill more
Build more refineries
Build more nuclear plants

The problem is people on the left side of the aisle won't listen or allow any of it because it doesn't give them control, money, and/or power.


great info, so in other words, we are screwed cause they probably haven't built any refineries since the 70s, or nuclear plants, & I have to figure that it just can't be the people on the left side of the isle cause it has been decades, & we are more dependent now than we were back in the 70s 80s..


By rudolphna on 7/9/2009 12:31:29 PM , Rating: 5
They are actually in the process of starting construction on several Nuclear power stations across the US. Many applications for new reactors are still in progess or have been approved by the NRC.


By Solandri on 7/9/2009 2:34:08 PM , Rating: 4
Oil is mostly used in transportation (also for heating in the Northeast U.S.), and accounts for a bit less than half of the energy consumption of the U.S. Roughly half of that oil is used by passenger cars, and the other half by commercial trucks. The other half of the energy used by the U.S. is mostly electricity, which primarily comes from coal plants (nuclear and hydro are the other big sources).

The U.S. is self-sufficient when it comes to electricity. It and China have the world's greatest coal deposits. The problem, as we're seeing with the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, is that electricity is really difficult to store. That makes it a poor choice for transportation relative to oil (with our current technology). The low population density of the U.S. also leads to greater transportation needs compared to places like Europe and East Asia. So even though the U.S. could by all measures be energy independent, it's just cheaper for us to buy foreign oil to power our transportation industry.


By mcnabney on 7/9/2009 5:36:27 PM , Rating: 2
The storage problem of electricity is a non-issue. Only big nuclear and coal plants have difficulty turning on and off. Natural gas is like a light switch and solar, hydro, and wind can be throttled to lower levels of output in seconds if needed. We just need to build the capacity.
Once electricity enters oversupply and batteries mature it should be a no brainer switching auto engines into electric motors.
Oh, and for the whiners that think electric cars will be stodgy, slow, and difficult to maintain - think again. Electric motors have amazing torgue and the use of electric motors eliminate the need for most of the modern car's engine/transmission woes since the number of moving parts that can wear will plumet. Reliability will be astounding.


By Eris23007 on 7/9/2009 8:34:54 PM , Rating: 2
Explain how throttling solar and wind power works please? This is contrary to my understanding of the issue.


By Alexvrb on 7/9/2009 9:07:04 PM , Rating: 3
It is NOT a non-issue. He was referring to storage in terms of automotive usage. Not power plants, and not future storage solutions. Batteries will improve, yes, but right now we can't switch all our cars to electricity. Even if we did, charging a battery and then using said battery to power a motor isn't exactly super efficient either. I mean you're going Power Source (Coal, Nuclear, etc) -> Transmission (lines and infrastructure) -> Battery (AC/DC conversion required) -> Electric motors. It's still probably better than an ICE, but to what degree, especially with more efficient ICE designs in the pipeline (like HCCI).

As far as electric cars lacking an engine and transmission, this is only true for pure electrics. E-REVs like the Volt still have an engine, although it is only used to extend range and is not coupled to a transmission or the wheels. Not to mention traditional hybrids like the Prius and Insight, which have both an engine and a transmission. Both traditional hybrids and the Volt are designs which bridge the gap between gasoline cars and electrics.

On top of that, electric cars won't eliminate the need for repairs. It will reduce them, and will reduce required maintenence significantly. But there are lots of other things on a car to replace, chassis parts, climate control, tires, brakes, suspension. If your electric motor(s) or batteries do eventually fail, it will be costly to replace them, the industry will make sure of that.

Not to mention that in order to get better performance, some electrics will use a more traditional drivetrain (electric motor coupled to a gearbox). Tesla does this, heck they even tried a 2 gear transmission, but they couldn't secure one that could handle the abuse in time. So they settled for a strong one-gear fixed ratio transmission by Borg Warner that could handle the abuse (the ones with the early trans were locked permanently in second gear which reduced performance, and promised to replace them with the final trans later). I'm sure someone will try 2+ gears again.


By Jeffk464 on 7/10/2009 10:11:50 AM , Rating: 3
Not sure you want to tap into our oil for the purpose of transportation. You never know when you are going to need that oil for national defense. Our high tech war-machine requires massive amounts of oil. One of the big things that stopped the German war-machine in WW2 was being cut off from oil


By karkas on 7/12/2009 6:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely true. I wish these facts were mentioned more often.


RE: Why don't people research before they do things?
By Spuke on 7/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why don't people research before they do things?
By Regs on 7/9/2009 12:39:45 PM , Rating: 1
It's not just money, its opportunity. Lets say Country A can build 10 cars and 6 tanks for each full working day at full employment/productivity. Country B can build 8 tanks and 4 cars for each working day because they're more geared towards building tanks.

Country A will have to give up 4 cars to make the additional 2 tanks. So what do they do? They buy the two extra tanks from Country B and then Country B uses the money to do whatever the hell they want with it.

It makes perfect economic sense for a country to buy what they are less efficient at making, and to sell what they are more efficient at making for a better profit.


By mcnabney on 7/9/2009 5:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
And besides banking, software, movies, and jet planes - just what is it that America will be selling in exchange for another countries production efficiency?

/oh, we will be selling our children's future some more. Got it ;-)


By Regs on 7/10/2009 8:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
No, it means your children will be hopefully doing something that progresses human knowledge, improving quality of life, and our race itself, without having to worry about redundant processes.

We don't have unlimited resources to maintain our quality of life and current progression and goals, while pretending to be captain planet. Until our way of life is attacked will we understand how the economy works, and make the changes necessary to economically fix the problem.

You can sit there and try to protect our jobs all you want, but we will lose the competitive advantage sooner or later. Try to think of our nation in terms of globalization as one big giant corporation. If we lose our efficiency and competitive advantages, we are dead in the water. We have to think of new ways to create and maintain a competitive advantage and selling cars or planes at prices no one is willing to pay is not the answer.


By MrBlastman on 7/9/2009 1:18:22 PM , Rating: 4
Spend it on NG? Hmm, I think the cash would have been better spent on a top secret genetic engineering program that promotes lactose intolerance in all humans. You could have the doctors, or at least, a nurse on the take in every hospital secretly administer the genetic payload to each newborn. In a few years - viola! A natural gas farm!

Why on earth bother drilling for it when you can pump it into your own home. Infrastructure? What infrastructure? It is already in place and leads straight to your local grocery store.

Perhaps they should call it Bush's plan - Bush's baked beans to be exact. 100% Natural, full of protein and most importantly completely portable and a limitless supply.

Just ask my wife, I nearly gassed her out the other night. It was a rumbling thunderstorm and it wasn't in the skies above. It was a roaring torrent of wind that came gushing through the room like a devilish twister of odor just aiming to reach out. Why let it diffuse itself in the atmosphere when you can capture it and detonate it?

Yes, the plan is simple:

a. Modify genetics
b. Milk Cows
c. Ship milk and beans to grocery store
d. Eat milk and beans
e. Hook hose up to rectum

Profit!

Sure, we'll all look like fools walking around with hoses up our behinds but you'll hear joyous crys from children with wonderful phrases such as: "Mommy, look, you have a tail!," and "Are those ducks I hear?"

Natural Gas, being served up at a grocery store near you!


By ZmaxDP on 7/9/2009 2:33:57 PM , Rating: 2
LOL,

Not quite as goos as eating babies, but not bad. Personally, I prefer barking spiders to ducks, and I have a dog with gas to put mine to shame so I usually blame mine on him. (I get a semi-playful slap, he gets a pat on the head and baby talk. I figure he doesn't mind.)


By Farfignewton on 7/9/2009 3:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The US could very easily be self sufficient in our use of oil.


I'm sure it COULD be done, we apparently came close in the late 80's, but very easily? If you have a mystical being in a lamp, wishing for oil independence will likely go as bad as asking for world peace. ;)


By arazok on 7/9/2009 5:05:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The US could very easily be self sufficient in our use of oil.


And it would come at the expense of your current standard of living. Why would you do that? So you can pat yourself on the back for being self sufficient?


By FITCamaro on 7/9/2009 5:18:33 PM , Rating: 1
Uh..no....

If we started drilling for oil offshore, taking advantage of the known resources in Alaska, and processing oil shale into oil, we could produce all the oil we need for over a hundred years at current consumption levels. And we haven't even looked in parts of the Arctic that are now accessible.


By sinful on 7/9/2009 9:41:39 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Uh..no....

If we started drilling for oil offshore, taking advantage of the known resources in Alaska, and processing oil shale into oil, we could produce all the oil we need for over a hundred years at current consumption levels. And we haven't even looked in parts of the Arctic that are now accessible.


The problem is, even if we started all that tomorrow, it'd be 10+ years before a drop reached actual production.
Refinery capacity+drilling setup time is pretty substantial.

Second, the cost to produce the amount we need AS FAST as we need it is basically impossible. Yes, we could drill in Alaska... but unless we start 500 projects all at the same time, self-suffiency wouldn't happen for 100 years.... so, maybe if we threw a few trillion at it, it'd be doable...

Third, unless you NATIONALIZE the oil industry, all you're doing is putting that oil into the global market, which means it'll go to the highest bidder - not necessary stay in the US.
In other words, if Chinese are willing to pay $5/gallon for gas, well then, all that work you've done is for naught - the free market is going to be shipping that oil out of the US and to China.

The idea that we can drill for oil and become self-sufficient is pretty far fetched -- even more so than wind & solar power.


By Indianapolis on 7/10/2009 1:12:12 AM , Rating: 3
How many years has it been since people started making the "10 years" argument? How short sighted have we become?


By Spuke on 7/10/2009 6:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Third, unless you NATIONALIZE the oil industry, all you're doing is putting that oil into the global market, which means it'll go to the highest bidder - not necessary stay in the US.
Damn. I didn't realize that. Since oil is a commodity, drilling our own wouldn't make much difference. Although, I think if we could rival OPEC's output, we might force them to compete which might drive prices down.


By Starcub on 7/10/2009 11:09:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am still baflled why a country supposedly as great as the US has to depend so much on foreign oil to begin with, & for so long.

Because oil is very cheap for the US. A few taxpayer dollars in the pocket of the right power brokers and we get nice sweetheart deals with foreign resource providers. Why change under such an arrangement? If we can hoard oil now while production is at its peak, we can sell it to developing nations when it becomes more expensive. They'll have no other option so long as we can keep the price of alternatives high, and/or determine who has the right to benefit from them.


By captainpierce on 7/10/2009 2:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am still baffled why a country supposedly as great as the US has to depend so much on foreign oil to begin with, & for so long. This is many decades in the making & no one has any short term answer or relief for the masses who continue to get hosed at the pump & on their energy bills.


We have the largest economy on the planet, which means we need a lot of oil to make it run. Oil is a worldwide commodity and it doesn't matter where it comes from. We're going to pay the same price as everybody else.

Boone Pickens is very misleading when he talks about "foreign oil". Most people probably think he means the Middle East. In actuality, we buy a lot more oil from Mexico, Canada and Venezuela than the Middle East.

Also, he calls this a transfer of wealth. That is absolutely false. It's an exchange. We give them dollars, they give us oil. A transfer of wealth would be more like an inheritance.

His NG idea may have promise but if his plan is so good, why would he need government subsidies? For an oil man you would think he would understand some of this stuff. The Pickens plan sounds like another energy ripoff being peddled by an aging snake oil salesman.


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