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The Crisis in Energy Policy (The Godkin Lectures on the Essentials of Free Government and the Duties of the Citizen) Hardcover – October 5, 2011
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John Deutch's new book is good on explaining technical issues of energy policy and on policy analysis and recommendations. It has the best discussion of carbon capture and sequestration technology that I've seen. (Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Laureate in Economics)
Only a person with Deutch's extraordinary mix of deep technical expertise and broad government experience could have written such an insightful book on the challenges confronting those who would affect the energy policy of this country. (Linda G. Stuntz, Partner, Stuntz, Davis & Staffier, P.C., Washington, D.C., and former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy)
About the Author
John M. Deutch is Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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In this short review I'll try to link several topics -- oil imports, nuclear energy, and the funding of quality demonstration plants, with the construction of demonstration plants being a perennial weakness of US energy policy.
Turning to oil imports, the author describes the Annual Energy Outlook (AEO 2010) estimate for 2035. Notably, oil is estimated to cost two hundred and twenty four dollars ($224) per barrel then (p. 72, 73). While this estimate is affected by new shale oil production in North Dakota and Texas, the broad estimate of increasing demand by the 2030s is still valid. The author lists scenarios, including an aspirational one for a reduction of oil imports to twenty percent (20%) of US oil consumption. A variety of efficiency and alternate fuel sources are needed to reach this scenario, as shown in a table on p. 75. Among these approaches is a major expansion of electric cars.
As an additional comment to the highly detailed nature of this book, I suggest that the sections on nuclear energy directly relate to this goal of moderating oil imports and usage. The reason is that large number of new power stations will be needed for electric cars and expanded passenger rail, along with the need to free up natural gas production for the compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles such as tractor-trailers and buses.
Since the author supports nuclear energy for the US and its allies (p. 97-109), and recognizes reactor safety is the major concern in the US, Europe, and Japan (p. 96), it follows that a revolutionary level of effort needs to be expended on the success of the demonstration plant of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). Again, the demonstration phase is one of the weaknesses of US energy policy and development ("one of the recurring weaknesses in federal RD&D is the demonstration phase" p. 144).
The level of NGNP funding is still being determined. Only through adequate, multi-year funding can the potential of an NGNP demonstration plant be discovered, and its goal of superior reliability at lower cost be known ("acceptable cost" needed for advanced nuclear power, p. 98; a national "five-year program plan of energy and environmental activities" will be essential).
While energy security is one of many aspects in this book, which also focuses on clean and sustainable energy (p. 36, 37, 42, 58 especially), I think that attention to oil imports will continue to be a high priority for US energy policy. More on this topic can be found in Prof. Jeff Eerkens "The Nuclear Imperative", "The Restoration of the Earth" by Ted Taylor, and on the website FuelFreedom.org.