Friday, July 24, 2015

Question Of The Month: What Factors Affect Fuel Prices?

There are four factors that have the most significance influence: the cost of crude oil, refining costs and profits, distribution and marketing costs, and fuel taxes.

"As of May, approximately 51% of the cost of gasoline was related to the price of crude oil. The fluctuation in crude oil price is the biggest factor in the volatility of the price of gasoline."

"With the exception of electricity and natural gas, alternative fuel prices can also be impacted by the price of crude oil and the price and demand for petroleum products."

"In May, federal, state, and local taxes accounted for 17% of the average retail price of a gallon of gasoline."

"In May, refinery costs and profits represented about 22% of the cost of a gallon of gasoline."

"Middle East Oil – Terrorism’s Fuel of Choice"

T. Boone Pickens recently spoke with Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America. You can listen to the podcast here.

The five takeaways:
  1. Middle East oil funds terrorism. It's that simple.
    No one denies that ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, and other terrorist organizations sell oil, steal oil, and get paid off in petrodollars. The only question is how many millions they take in each month.
  2. Today's War on Terrorism is a much different battle.
    Terrorist organizations such as ISIS produce TV shows. They use social media to lure recruits. They've even hacked into the Pentagon. This requires time, training, and a lot of money. Want to guess where they get it?
  3. America's dependence on OPEC oil is part of the problem.
    The CIA has long known that OPEC producers buy off terrorists by funneling money to terrorist organizations. Think about that the next time you fill up your tank.
  4. Americans can't change the Middle East.
    U.S. troops spent a decade fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. What did we get? Thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars added to the national debt. And they're still fighting each other just as they were before we arrived.
  5. But we can change ourselves.
    Over the last decade, we've cut our dependency on Middle East oil in half. Let's end this dangerous addiction by converting the remaining 50 percent to American fuels such as domestic natural gas.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Energy Sector Shifting To New Natural Gas Projects

"[The] global energy sector is in the midst of a [tectonic] plate shift, a change in emphasis from oil to natural gas and alternative power." For example, in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, a 1,000 MW natural gas fueled power project. "In the 2014 fourth quarter, market data firm SNL Financial announced 29 coal plants in 10 states had switched to natural gas or biomass over the past four years" while 54 more are expected to convert in the next nine years.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Southern California Gas and California Trucking Association Team Up For NG

"Southern California Gas Co., the USA's largest natural gas distribution utility, is teaming up with the California Trucking Association to help expand awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas and alternative fuels for heavy-duty trucking and goods movement." "

"SoCalGas is hosting a series of free natural gas trucking workshops through November at locations inLos Angeles and San Diego. Fleet operators who have already transitioned to natural gas-powered trucks will be at the workshops to share their first-hand experiences."

Information on specific workshops can be found here. The first workshop is on July 14. Another will be in September, followed by one in October.

Fuels Fix - Summer 2015 Edition

In this edition:
  • Big Cypress National Preserve Could Have Been an International Airport, but...
  • Buying a Car? This Free Webinar Could Help
  • Want to Save $$ While Driving This Summer?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Natural Gas is the Key to Winning the War on Terror

Pickens Plan Army:

It's past time for America to diversify its transportation demand beyond oil. That's my message to TIME magazine readers on the seventh anniversary of the Pickens Plan. The truth is we're funding both sides in the War Against Terrorism, and ISIS is taking full advantage of this.

ISIS is now funding a considerable amount of its activities - perhaps as much as $3 million per day - by illegally selling oil captured in Iraq and Syria on the world markets.

I've always said I'm for everything American, and America has made some big gains since I launched the Pickens Plan in 2008. Our production of oil and gas in the U.S. has skyrocketed. So has the efficiency of our vehicles. And if we can expand the market for affordable battery-powered cars, I think we should do that, too.

But our elected officials have yet to take advantage of our trump card: moving our heavy-duty trucks from diesel to natural gas. As the 2016 election approaches, that needs to be our top priority.

We need national leadership, and every candidate for federal office - from Congress to the U.S. Senate and certainly for the presidency - should be prepared to offer a clear, complete, and workable national energy plan. This has to be a key element of the 2016 election cycle. Americans can ill afford being lulled into a false sense of energy security because of temporarily cheaper gasoline prices at the pump.

- Boone

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Updates On Hydrogen And Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment

Question of the Month: What are the latest updates on hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicle deployment?

Answer: Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have been around for a while, mostly in limited quantities and locations through demonstration projects. But these vehicles, with their potential to significantly cut petroleum consumption and reduce emissions, are starting to make their way into dealerships and onto roads across the country. Though the market for FCEVs is still in its infancy, many government organizations and private companies are working on research and deployment efforts to make hydrogen a widespread, viable, affordable, and safe alternative vehicle fuel.

Below are some of the recent activities related to FCEV commercialization:

Vehicle Availability
FCEVs are beginning to enter the consumer market in certain regions in the United States and around the world. Hyundai introduced the 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell in California last year for lease, and Toyota Motor Company announced they will release the 2016 Mirai for sale this October at eight California dealerships that were specially selected for their experience with alternative fuels and their proximity to existing hydrogen fueling stations. Vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes/Daimler, Nissan, and Volkswagen are expecting to launch FCEV production vehicles in select regions of the country in the coming years. Other automakers continue to introduce their FCEVs through demonstration projects. The FCEV market is also growing for buses, ground support equipment, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, back-up power, prime power applications, and continues to be strong for forklifts.

While OEMs are offering affordable lease options, some of which include the cost of fuel, FCEVs are still expensive. However, production costs have decreased significantly in recent years and FCEVs are expected to be cost-competitive with conventional vehicles in the coming years.

Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure
As the FCEV market expands, hydrogen fueling infrastructure will need to grow to match demand. Most of the hydrogen stations available today have been built to support OEM FCEV demonstration projects. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) Alternative Fueling Station Locator, there are 12 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in the United States, with many more in the planning stages. According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, there are 49 more stations in development in California that will be publically available. Development efforts are also underway in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Like the vehicles, the high cost of fueling equipment remains a key challenge. Hydrogen station costs can vary significantly based on hydrogen feedstock, station capacity, utilization, proximity to production, and available incentives. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Hydrogen Station Cost Calculator estimates that stations can cost between $2 and $5 million. However, like FCEVs, as the demand grows, the cost of hydrogen fueling equipment will decrease and the number of stations will increase.

Codes, Standards, and Incentives
The widespread deployment of FCEVs and the associated network of hydrogen fueling stations requires the development, maintenance, and harmonization of codes, standards, and regulations to keep up with the technology. These efforts are ongoing and are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as well as domestic and international organizations.

Incentives will also continue to be important to promote and maintain a market for hydrogen and FCEVs. California is leading in the number of relevant state incentives. For instance, to meet the objectives of California's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program, the California Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program is allocating $20 million annually for the construction of at least 100 public hydrogen stations in California by January 1, 2024. In addition, California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project offers up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of approved FCEVs. Nine other states (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have also adopted California's ZEV mandate to increase the number of ZEVs, including FCEVs, on the roads.

Ongoing Research and Development
Significant research and development efforts by DOE, the national laboratories, and other H2USA partners have brought the hydrogen industry to where it is today (http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/accomplishments-and-progress). Through their Fuel Cell Technologies Office, DOE continues to support research in the areas of hydrogen production, delivery, and storage, as well as technology validation, manufacturing, and market transformation.

Additional Resources