Finally a few much-needed additions and updates for the ENERGY & TRANSPORT PAGE, with a particular focus on the implications of plug-in electric cars today. Seems like a pretty quaint subject right now. I'll focus on nukes and nat gas next week.

Meanwhile, the price of oil broke below 90-per-barrel (WTI) on a pretty horrific economic outlook and apparent victory over Qaddaffi, and seems to like it there for the time being. But you know if the stock market start to churn back up, all excited about new money-making from the Fed, or perhaps about real positive economic data, the crude price will chug right back up where it was. ...And then the expensive fuel kneecaps the economy... and we're caught in a sort of spin cycle. Note also that the WTI spot price and Brent price have become completely unhinged from each other, with WTI pressured by a supposed ongoing glut at the Cushing, OK hub. Anyway, oil on the global market is still behaving like a scarce commodity, not like a popped bubble. Check out James Hamilton's piece below for some food-for-thought on oil prices:

 

FUNDAMENTALS, SPECULATION AND OIL PRICES Blog post by James Hamilton, August 28, 2011, Econbrowser. A basic, economist's argument against speculation as the main reason for rising oil prices.

TRAFFIC VOLUME TRENDS MOVING 12-MONTH TOTAL DOT graph updated through June 2011. Looks to be headed back down through June, but gas prices have since broken lower.

THE PEAK OF THE OIL AGE: ANALYZING THE WORLD OIL PRODUCTION REFERENCE SCENARIO IN WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK 2008 Abstract of article by Aleklett, Hook et al, Energy Policy, March 2010.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: A TENTATIVE ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION (pdf) 2010 paper by Prud'homme, University of Paris.

THE IMPACT OF PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLES ON DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS: A REVIEW AND OUTLOOK Abstract, Green, Wang and Alam, 2010.

POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLES ON REGIONAL POWER GENERATION Abstract, Hadley and Tsvetkova, The Electricity Journal, December 2009. Simulations of future impact.

IMPACT OF BATTERY WEIGHT AND CHARGING PATTERNS ON THE ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES Abstract, Shiau, Samaras, Hauffe and Michalek, Energy Policy, July 2009.

MODELING THE CO2 EMISSIONS FROM BATTERY ELECTRIC VEHICLES GIVEN THE POWER GENERATION MIXES OF DIFFERENT COUNTRIES Full article. Doucette, McCulloch, Energy Policy, February 2011.

 

From the Doucette and McCulloch Energy Policy article, this dark cloud: "...it was shown that for China and India, and other countries with a similarly high CO2 intensity, unless power generation becomes dramatically less CO2 intensive, BEVs will not be able to deliver a meaningful decrease in CO2 emissions and an increase in the penetration of BEVs could actually lead to higher CO2 emissions."

China is building hundreds of coal-fired power plants at this very moment. Could be a better situation.

If people insist on driving themselves around in vehicles weighing several thousand pounds -- electric or not -- we're always going to face tremendous problems with energy and pollution, and, apparently, meltdowns.