In which I reveal my ignorance, part one


I will shamelessly reveal my ignorance here, because everyone is ignorant about different things, yes? First, I want to link to Oil spill crisis as opportunity, a rather detailed post that covers a lot of ground, including a much friendlier analysis of Obama’s “War on the Oil Spill” speech than my own, a clip of Rahm Emmanuel that I can’t watch, and a really awesome graph (I mean REALLY AWESOME) that shows what our energy sources are and what they go to.

But I want to comment on this:

Someday when battery technologies improve, the fuel and power worlds will blend in the U.S., and there will be strong and direct economic relationships between the production of electric power and the use of oil.

His point is that Obama is using the oil spill (caused by the extraction of a fossil fuel used mainly for transportation) as a basis to regulate coal and natural gas, too, which are used for very different purposes.

And this is something I’ve thought a lot about, too. Once we have a sensible (unlike, say, flywheels) way to store a lot of energy inside a moving vehicle, people will be able to charge their vehicles at home/work, and we’ll be powering our transportation sector (or at least, large portions of it) off the grid.

The grid, of course, can get energy from hydro power, solar, wind, tides, whatever. It doesn’t have to be coal, for instance.

However, my understanding is that the real problem here is the battery (makes sad face). There is no great new battery tech breakthroughs, are there? Most of the advances (to take one prominent example) made in powering portable devices is in LEDs and other ways to reduce power usage, not storage.

But maybe I’m wrong. Have there been big advances in battery technology? As far as I can tell, the barium-titanate powders never panned out. Am I missing something or is this a pipe dream?

But be sure to check out that graph.