A high school student emailed us and asked if we’d be open to being interviewed for a research report. Her questions were thought provoking and we thought that you would enjoy hearing our answers and learning more about our perspective on the current state (and future) of alt fuels. Read on for all 18 questions and answers.
- Do you think that there is a realistic alternative fuel source?
Well, we don't believe that there is just one alternative fuel source that is THE answer. Alternative fuels come in a variety of types (biodiesel, ethanol, methanol, natural gas, propane, electricity and hydrogen). The beauty here is that the array of choices is so vast, we're not dependent upon one particular feedstock. Each alt fuel has its own "strong suit." We think that variety of choices and the ability to select which characteristics of fuel energy suits what characteristics of need makes the cornucopia of alternatives so unique and well suited for success.
- Where do you think the future of oil is headed?
The future of oil (petroleum based) is almost certainly headed in exactly the direction forecasted by the majority of scientists who study world oil supply and demand. According to a presentation by Dr. Peter R.A. Wells at the 2008 Toyota presentation Sustainable Mobility: "Taking into account exploration for new reserves and technologies for enhanced oil recovery leaves an estimated world potential for crude oil at 3 trillion total barrels, of which one trillion has already been used. Beyond the remaining 2 trillion barrels, we’re left with whatever non-liquid alternative fuels now exist or will be developed in the future."
- Do you see our country completely breaking its dependence from oil?
In light of the findings from statement #2 above, we think we don't have much of a choice about whether or not we "break" our dependence on petroleum oil.
- How far in the future do you estimate that people will completely change to an alternative fuel source?
The answer to that question is little more than conjecture, but we'd guess that within the next 25 to 50 years, petroleum oil will be as precious as today's diamonds. To imagine folks continuing to burn petroleum oil for fuel far into the future ... that would seem preposterous.
- Is the transition possible or is it just an unobtainable goal?
Absolutely, the transition is possible. It's happening as we write this answer.
- How do you think that the change will affect the economy?
We believe the change will affect the economy in a positive way. Lots of jobs (and potential spending) exist in a transition from conventional fuels to alternative fuels. Building an infrastructure is the key, and an integrated structure of supply systems will need to be deployed.
- Do you see any side affects that might occur in any of the fuel sources?
Of course side effects will occur. Conventional "tried and true" methodologies (from development to distribution) will be offset by new conventions of, how shall we say, asset management. Jobs and industries will be lost, but they will be replaced, and there is tremendous potential for more and better (and sustainable) processes and occupations to be discovered.
- Do you think that Americans would be willing to make the change?
Americans are already willing to change. Just look at the run-up in hybrid sales after the summer of 2008's fuel price spikes. Waiting lists for ordered hybrids went months into the future.
- Do you think that we are wasting time on finding an alternative fuel source?
No, absolutely not! Petroleum oil will NOT last forever. New sources of and methods for creating fuel must be found ASAP. The strongest economies of tomorrow will be borne of progressive thinking.
- Do you think we are spending too much of the national budget on this?
Actually, probably not enough. A good deal of the money spent in the "War in Iraq" was for preserving the flow of oil to the U.S. (even though our government doesn't want to admit it). Yes, we need that oil to continue our business-as-usual. But the costs of that war should bring to light our overarching "need" for foreign petroleum oil. The importance of development of other sources of fuel should be highlighted by the costs the United States has endured to keep the foreign crude flowing.
- What would you say to the skeptics who believe that the switch is not possible?
Of course the switch is possible. It's happening at this very moment. All over the world private companies and national governments are developing and perfecting alternative fuel sources each and every day.
- Do you think that the big oil companies are willing to make the change?
Big oil companies have no choice. It's either hang on to a dying resource (and technology), or compete with the progressive futurists who see a new and different tomorrow.
- Who will the changes benefit?
The changes will benefit everybody who plays along and changes and grows with an evolving world. Think back over history—no one who has held on to dying technology has prevailed. Clipper ships made way for airliners, horses and buggies (except for the Amish) have made way for the automobile. Petroleum based fuels will make way for alternative fuels.
- Do you think that this has been an issue for a while and that people have been putting it aside?
Yes, people have been "in denial" for some time. Shortages and price spikes have a way of "waking up the sleeping." Despite the recent healthy drop in fuel prices (brought about largely by a stagnant U.S. economy) the trend for fuel cost is on a continued upward slope, not a prolonged downturn.
- What do you think it will take to make people to change their perspectives on oil?
Cost, pure and simple cost. No one reacts quicker to a situation than when they can no longer afford what was always easily (and cheaply) available. Again, look at how folks reacted to the summer of 2008 fuel price spikes.
- Do you think that alternative fuel will be as costly as oil?
In the short term, alternative costs might be higher. That has a lot to do with development costs and economies of scale. Over the long run though, as petroleum prices keep ratcheting up, alternatives will continue to look better and better.