Saturday, August 9, 2008

Paradigm Shift on Natural Gas

The investment message boards are often filled with good insight and analysis. This post from
Investor Village.com caught my eye and I wanted to share it with you. You can visit the post directly by clicking here
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A Paradigm Shift in the Highest and Best Use of NG [Natural Gas]
posted by: seethefuture06

I am convinced that T Boon has it right, that the only way to wean this country off foreign oil dependency is the full scale conversion to a NG powered light transportation country.
Oil will fire heavy transportation, planes, trains, and long haul trucking.
Wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, hydroelectric, and clean coal will generate the electrical needs of the US.
Compressed natural gas will power our cars and small trucks of tomorrow.
Reasons for NG to emerge the victor among the many competing technologies:
1. Huge domestic reserves. We're finding huge NG reserves (like the 10-20 Tcf Haynesville play) at a frequency similar to the discovery rate of giant oil fields a hundred years ago. Peak oil occurred in the US in the 1970. Peak gas is many years in front of us such that as the 20th century was oil driven, the 21st century will be gas driven.
2. Natural Gas Vehicle technology is proved and available today. Many cities, counties, and state transportation programs are driven by NG because a. their vehicles are generally kept in one or a few central locations where fueling can take place, and b. they are not driven very far away from their fueling facility.
3. NGV can be retrofitted (at a cost of $1,500 to $2,000) to existing gasoline combustion engines with the added benefit that the retrofitted car can be dual fuel meaning your existing retrofitted vehicle (assuming you retain your gasoline fuel tank) will still operate perfectly well on gasoline. Someone will probably invent the detachable gasoline tank so that for a 700-800 mile non stop trip, you might fill with CNG and gasoline, and around town, run exclusively on NG with you gas tank hanging in your garage.
4. The infrastructure in already in place for home refueling. Fuelmaker makes an in-home trickle fill fueling station (called Phill) which will fill at a gasoline equivalent rate of about a half gallon per hour. A 10 hour overnight fill puts about 5 gallons gasoline equivalent (GE) in your CNG tank, which will be about 70% of a full tank. CNG tanks will hold 7-8 gallons GE. At 30 mpg that's 200-250 miles between refueling and a 10 hour Phill fueling puts about 150 miles into your tank. Fuelink takes place at night when gas and electricity consumption is at it's lowest (Phill requires 6-8 amps (check this) to compress the gas which is like running a room air conditioner.).
5. It's the cleanest of the fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is the by product. No Nox, Sox, CO. If however you were planning suicide by running your vehicle inside your garage, pack a lunch. It'll take days.
6. No, (well minimal) refining, no mining. NG is normally flows ready to use from a simple well. Compared to strip mining coal, its like athroscopic heart surgery vs open heart surgery. Plug and go. Land is repaired quickly and cheaply.
7. No other fuel source offers the potential for fast (high pressure) refueling at a commercial fueling station and low flow refueling at home with the safety of NG. Because NG flows from the meter to the compressor and into the car, there is no CNG stored anywhere in the garage except the cars tank. These tanks are very safe, on par with gasoline tanks. There is less danger of gas leakage and fire from Phill than any other NG fired appliance in your house. Risk is much higher will gas whether heater, gas stove, etc. Not som much with the Hydrogen car.
8. NG can flow from drill bit to spark plug safely without trucks (in home refueling, at least). Oil to gas obviously has the oil going from the well to pipe to refinery to truck to filling station to their tank to yours.
9. NG has a wide and localized distribution. NG is in the gulf, Texas, the midwest, the Rocky mountains, and Columbia basin and more to be found. We do not need to go to ANWAR or offshore in the foreseeable future. Adequate NG reserves can be proved up in the lower continental US for some time to come.
10. So why is there so much talk about the hydrogen economy, biofuels, ethanol, hybrids (btw, electric cars will likely be successful along side the CNG vehicles), electric vehicles? If it's so obvious (well to me anyway, so I got to be prepared for this question) why hasn't it caught on?
A. People don't understand two basic things about energy; 1, energy density and 2. energy volume. To most, a solar panel or a wind turbine and a gallon of gas are equivalent energy sources. The don't understand that the energy concentrated in that gallon jug of gas is enormous compared to the size of the alternative energy sourcing and storage infrastructure. Wind turbines, solar cells, batteries, etc are, from a power to weight and power to cost ratio, orders of magnitude apart. They also don't understand the sheer volume of energy that powers our economy. 20 million barrels of oil a day. The amount of energy, metal, and real estate, and human effort necessary to replace the incredible energy density of gasoline and its (now receding) once tremendous availability, is staggering. Doing so will place huge stresses on natural resources to simply build the new infrastructure. People just take oil based energy for granted, what a unique and irreplaceable resource it is (was). NG (along with nuclear) are the only viable, existing technologies with the energy densities and volume options to allow the transition to a post oil world.

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