Thursday, October 23, 2008

I see what's happening here...

Gas prices are plummeting! Woo hoo! I won't go broke filling up my gas-guzzling, too-big-for-the-road SUV! I'll be able to cruise for chicks in my Hummer H1 again (now I have to remember how to navigate tight residential streets in it without destroying anything)!

Yeah, if you're rooting for alternative energies, the above will prove to be yet another collapse of the alternative energies markets.

We've seen it before.

Back in the early 1970s, during the last major oil crisis (noted in a recent post: The Energy Crisis: Old News) interest in alternative energies skyrocketed to the point where the government was insisting on them. What happened to all of that? Barely anything. There were a few alternative energies made good - such as solar, but really, in practical application, only so much as calculators and garden lighting, with a few "environmental zealots" building homes that functioned largely on solar power. E10 gasoline was made into the standard, using 10% Ethanol (which had a higher cost per gallon than gasoline at the time, but was renewable) as a supplement for gasoline, and could run in any engine.

What killed that boom and cry for alternative energies? Oil became cheap again.

Again in the early 1990s, oil prices went up again (thanks, OPEC!), and a cry for alternative fuels was heard again (though not as loudly as in the 1970s). The result was the GM EV1, an all-electric car, along with several all-electric competitors from other auto-makers, such as Toyota and Honda.

All of these cars were destroyed, literally, by the end of the 1990s. The cause was a combination of the government, the manufacturers, OPEC, and even the general consumer. Besides, gas was cheap again! Hell, it was under a dollar a gallon again - the US hadn't seen that in nearly eight years!

Now, we've been seasoned to think that anything less than three dollars a gallon is cheap (having dealt with $4+/gallon gas for a while), and with the national average sinking towards $2.50/gallon, Americans are excited. The only thing that's prevented an upswing in sales for new, high dollar, gas-guzzling cars is the economy at large.

As it turns out, with fuel prices sinking, there's apparently a reduction of interest in alternative fuels once again. Modern electric car pioneers like Tesla Motors are finding themselves in financial dire straights. Alternative energy programs for alternative energies to power the electric grid (technologies such as wind, solar, and hydro-electric) are finding themselves with financial stays or even program cancellations. There have also been talks in OPEC about cutting supply to drive prices up again - artificially - the same thing that's been the cause of the past two or more oil shortages.

Between the government and OPEC, we'll never be allowed to see alternative energies until the oil supply on the planet completely runs out, leaving the common person in the dark (literally and figuratively) until alternatives are implemented.

The time to act is now. Who cares how much oil is left? We need to be energy independent today. Oil is not going to last forever. We need alternatives today. The technologies exist today (and have for at least thirty years, and they've gotten better over the years). We just need to implement them. We need to break the American addiction to oil. We need to create viable (and likely seamless) transitions to alternative energies.

We just need to learn to support ourselves.

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