We need to make energy decisions based on accurate data. In many areas we don’t have quality data. Since energy is so critical to the future of the U.S. and the world, it is worthy of a special quasi government body that will continually research the subject and provide more reliable data. The oil countries/companies are controlling the information flow on energy. Most energy think tanks in Washington are financed by the oil industry. The DOE has its share of oil interests’ personnel.
The quasi-government energy research institute should be able to pay for top talent and its personnel should be vetted by the FBI to be not connected to oil and gas interests. The institute should work in collaboration with security agencies like the CIA. Below is some of the information it will supply. We need an institute that will not be controlled by oil interests. It will cost money, but it is peanuts compared to the cost of an error in our energy policy.
- Oil — The current methods of measuring oil production and flow belong in the 1970’s. We need to understand different models for the future under different scenarios and we need to know how close we are to peak oil. It is hard to get reliable information on oil from many producers. We should use international incentives and leverage to push oil countries to become more transparent.
- Natural Gas — Natural Gas can potentially peak just a few years after oil’s peak. We need better data on our domestic and import capabilities. We need to understand the entire world picture better. Natural Gas is burdened with too many “tasks” in various energy policies. It is critical that we understand the impact before we commit to a wrong direction.
- Coal — Our data on U.S. and world coal reserves is very old. We need accurate data to understand when coal will peak in different parts of the world, given the new and changing consumption scenarios. We need better understanding of production and distribution. Should we look for more coal? Coal is a critical component for the survival of our society. We need to understand how much time we have before we will have to replace coal (under various assumptions).
- Nuclear Fuel — Do we have enough? Will we have enough? Will the world have enough? When is the expected peak supply? When will we need to massively switch to “less popular” breeder reactors? If peak Uranium is close, we should start building more breeder reactors. It takes 10 years to build, so we better build the right ones.
- Geothermal — The data is extremely old. It is really based on oil geological surveys done in 1978 (using 1960’s technology). We need a well funded geothermal survey of the U.S. so we can maximize the available resources. These are easy pickings. Geothermal resources have a tremendous potential that is underutilized. Private industry will not spend on lands it doesn’t own.
- Critical materials — Certain materials are critical to our energy infrastructure. Examples are Lithium and Lanthanum. It is only available from a few sources around the world. We need to make sure that our plans for an energy battery policy do not run into a material bottleneck. The speed of implementation of electric battery based vehicles including plug-in hybrids is already running into materials bottlenecks. We may be headed for a “war of resources”. We better be ready.