Beat 100 mpg, Change Urban Planning to Performance
We built it. We can build better. Current
infrastructure is the cause of Peak Oil and Global Warming. We planned
this infrastructure. Building sustainable infrastructure requires we
change what we do. Ingenuity, forging a new what, requires governments
replacing plans with performance standards. Define what we need. Allow
innovators to create it.
Approximation: Economic Growth
= Energy Growth x Efficiency
Oil based Energy Growth stopped in May
2005. Economic Growth must come from Efficiency
Growth. Lucky for us, this is easy because we are currently less
than 4% efficient in urban transport, less than 20% in all
transportation and less than 31% efficient in power generation.
Efficiency Growth, changing
the lifeblood of our economy from oil to ingenuity, has immense and
immediate return on investment potential. Oil is finite;
ingenuity has no such limit:
- Growing dependence on oil increases security risks as
we borrow to consume $700+ billion of oil per year;
- Growing dependent on ingenuity makes our economy more
nimble, adapting to necessities and opportunities.
We know 423-mpg (miles per gallon) transport is
practical. CSX’s current television commercial shows a
Prius being driven onto a rail car and notes that railroads can
“move a ton 423 miles on a gallon of fuel.”
Morgantown’s Personal Rapid Transit (built in response to the
1973 Oil Embargo) has delivered 110 million injury-free, electrically
powered, urban passenger miles. Leverage these successes.
Beat 100 mpg
Beat 100 mpg, 5 times current gas mileage standards
(CAFÉ, Corporate Average Fuel Economy). Start small;
iterate often. Set an objective for innovation and grant rights
of way to anyone willing to privately finance and build transport to
beat that standard. We know there is vastly better, cleaner and
safer transport. Obtaining it requires a free market, allowing
risks, innovators and small, non-traditional suppliers.
Governments currently plan and regulate against this.
Government central planning for transportation and power
generation infrastructure has resulted in urban transport that is less
than 4% efficient. Yes, 96% of energy is wasted driving climate
change. Mobilizing for World War I the innovations of Ford, Bell,
Edison and the Wright Bothers became monopolizes for security
reasons. After the War, infrastructure deployments were
considered “natural monopolies”. Refinements were
allowed, the “know-how,”. But innovation, the
“know-what,” was frozen in time.
Ford, Bell, Edison and the Wright Brothers would not be
allowed to apply their ingenuity today. Their businesses started
too small; their ideas were “unproven.” Issues with
permits, insurance, rights of way would have killed their
ingenuity. In a planned economy ingenuity is doomed. In a free
market, ingenuity has an improbable chance of churning into commercial
success; fortunately, there are many entrepreneurs willing to expend
their every resource in that improbable hope of getting lucky, of
forging breakthrough from insight, will and preparation. Unleash
these people by providing standards like Beat 100 mpg.
It was not until the 1984 de-monopolization of
communications infrastructure that ingenuity was allowed again, in one
sector. Once exposed to competition, the analog communications
network of 1984 radically re-tooled “know-what”. The
analog networks become digital, rotary phones gave way to touch-tone,
then cell phones, then the Internet with its compound ingenuity,
democratized knowledge and communications at prices never dreamed of at
Germany de-monopolized power generation infrastructure
with Feed-in Tariffs. Germans, free to invest private capital,
Germany, the size of two Midwestern states and about the latitude as
Winnipeg Canada, has more solar collectors than the entire United
States. A change of “know-what;” Germans are creating jobs
and economic lifeboats to weather these times of uncertain
energy. What is the payback on having a lifeboat when you need
Transport is still monopolized by urban planners.
Protected from competition we must pay to move a ton to move a person
in congested commutes. We have better cars,
“know-how.” But we are stuck with the same
“know-what.” Peak Oil and Global Warming are the
consequence of our current wasteful infrastructure. We built it;
we can build better.
De-monopolizing transport rights of way, allowing
competition to “know-what,” and within 6 years multiple
solutions will exist for on-demand personal transport that will beat
100 miles per gallon (beat100mpg.com). Most likely, there will be
no gallon; the networks will be solar powered, running on
electricity. The distributed nature of the transport network can
be used to harvest distributed natural power sources.
JPods, the company I work for, can build 200-mpg systems
for people and 400-mpg for cargo today. Similar systems are
being built at Heathrow Airport, Uppsala and the zero-carbon city of
Masdar in Abu Dhabi.
Ingenuity is the process of discovering
“know-what.” Investing in “know-what”
ideas and people is disruptive, rare events with sweeping consequences.
Allowing anyone who can produce at better than 100-mpg transport will
initiate a cascade of innovations. Current costs will be
preempted, creating jobs and profits. My personal guess is that in 30
years urban transport will be less than 25% of current costs with zero
emissions and zero congestion. It costs less to move less. Why are we
paying to move a ton to move a person?
Following is a summary of why oil can no longer build
our economic engine; why ingenuity must be allowed – and
Energy Growth stopped in May
2005. The graph at the top of the article is World Crude Oil
Production from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
There is similar data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
These governmental agencies track data on energy for policy
makers. New oil discoveries peaked in 1964. Recent
discoveries are not as large or as accessible as those oil fields on
which our economic growth developed.
There are two other measures of oil production.
Total Liquids and Total Exports.
The total liquids report includes all forms of liquid
fuels. Many of these liquids require almost as much petroleum
energy to produce as they provide. Furthermore, by focusing on
total liquids, it is possible to double-count energy that can create
economic work. Since our economy depends on work, creating and
moving things, this double counting of supply hides risks.
Total Exports, oil available to drive the world economy,
is the best measure for understanding economic growth. Reports on
Total Exports require mining data from the EIA and IEA. Following
are the recent numbers and trends. Hopefully, these agencies will
organize their data so export information is more vivid.
Oil Export are Decreasing.
Total Exports illustrate why oil prices are rising. This Wall Street
Journal article outlines by region the declining availability of
Oil Exports are decreasing from most sources.
Declining exports are caused by:
- Depleting local oil fields. Oil is a finite
- Increasing domestic consumption as exporters build
Using Total Exports from 2005, comparing subsequent
Exports clarifies why oil prices seem to be riding a rocket.
- Exports in 2005 were 46.342 mbpd (million barrels per
- Exports in 2006 were 45.838 mbpd, down 1.10%, 504
mbpd or 184 million barrels below 2005.
- Exports in 2007 were 44.832 mbpd, down 2.24%, 1,509.7
mbpd or 551 million barrels below 2005.
- Exports in 2008 are down another million barrels per
day below 2007, or about 4.5% below 2005.
- Matt Simmons' estimates future depletion at 8% per
year. Hoarding for domestic needs by exporters may accelerate
1973 Oil Embargo. In the
following graph, the oil deficits in 2006, 2007 and likely 2008 are
compared to the oil deficits from the 1973 Oil Embargo. The
deficit from the 1973 Oil Embargo is likely overstated. It is
calculated based on the worse rate of loss, 4 million barrels per day
being applied to the entire Embargo span.
Economic Work. If a
barrel of oil equals a unit of economic work, the economic loss from
the 1973 Oil Embargo is 724 million. This approximates the loss
of economic work in 2006 and 2007 of 735 million. Economic loss
in 2008 is on pace to double the losses of the 1973 Oil Embargo.
Economic losses combined for 2006, 2007 and 2008 are 3 times worse than
the 1973 Oil Embargo. A reasonable guess is that 2009 will be 5-6
Unlike 1973’s supply shock that hit everyone,
current “demand destruction” is a shortage based on the
size of your paycheck. Home foreclosures for the economically
weak are doubling nearly every year since 2005. Combining EIA
report on income verses gas prices (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/rtecs/nhts_survey/2001/)
with home foreclosures provides a clear indication of the Peak Oil
EIA stopped updating this report as of 2004. It
would be beneficial to have this report continue as a measure of
economic work. Gas prices verses disposable income and food prices
verses disposable income may be the best measure of economic health at
the worker level. The economic desperation experienced in first half of
2008 by working people is not reflected in standard models for
recession. We are like the proverbial frog in a pot of cool water set
on a burner. Worse, the economic stimulus Congress passed is like
tossing a few ice cubes in the water while tossing the dollar on the
Durability. A current
EIA report that does reflect depleting exports is the TWIP (This Week
in Petroleum, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip_crude.html)
Following is the June 4, 2008 report showing inventories are at the
bottom of their historical range. If these inventories fall below
the historical range (blue) panic buying and supply outages should be
A less obvious measure of depleting exports can be found
in the world press reports on the decrease in economic work: trucker
strikes, food shortages and other ominous indicators that
infrastructure dependent on oil is no longer functioning as it did when
oil was $3-$80 a barrel.
Oil infrastructure is complex. It depends on a
sequence of actions flowing at 80-98% efficiency. A good part of
the reason a gallon of gas last year cost about the same as a good cup
of coffee is that the petroleum industry is a marvel of what can be
accomplished by dedicated people.
Inventories, indicated by EIA’s TWIP report
(above), abort small bumps and shocks that occur in the oil supply
chain. Dropping inventories indicates diminished ability to
NOTE: Non-JPods Supply Chain Graphic: OilSupplyChain.jpg
Hurricane Katrina and imports from Mexico and Venezuela
(as reported by EIA) indicate scale. The following EIA data shows
years in colors. Red is 2005 and the large drop was caused by
Hurricane Katrina. The year 2008 is purple. The
oscillations and lower volume indicate instability.
With current low inventories, a hurricane anywhere
between Venezuela and Louisiana would likely cause food distribution
disruption. Based on Katrina, that disruption could last 10
weeks. Most homes and stores do not carry 10 weeks of food.
Without good policy and ingenuity to increase
efficiency, we now depend on luck to sustain food distribution.
Importing More Oil Is Not an Option
Supply shocks cannot be solved by any of the top 4 US
- Increasing Canadian oil imports would require
expanding the oil sands projects. These are already an
environmental disaster and have consumed all available water and labor
supplies. Increasing capacity would require years.
- It is doubtful the Saudi’s have spare
capacity. More shipments to the US would not arrive for a month,
assuming ships and oil were available to make deliveries. If more
ships had to be built we would have to wait years. The long
supply lines create a host of security risks.
- Mexico, the U S's third largest supplier, is in
depletion at super-giant Cantarell Field. Production at Cantarell
has dropped 50% from its peak in Dec 2003. Mexico's domestic use
of oil has increased, further decreasing oil available to
importers. If I were Mexico, I would immediately cut production
by 40-60% and sell only $250 barrel oil. They need to protect
their revenues and extend the life of their exports.
- Venezuela, the U S's 4th largest supplier, has
depletion issues as Mexico. To this can be added hostile politics.
Create Domestic Oil Options
It typically takes 6 years to develop and bring an oil
field to market. If your can wait 6 years between your gas tank
fillings, then this might work.
Ingenuity: Economic Growth can depend on
If not blocked by policy makers, the 423-mpg we know is
practical and possible can be developed in cities and towns.
About 4 billion of the 8 billion miles Americans drive daily can be
changed from less than 4% efficient to better than 70%. Profits
from preempting waste will drive job creation and economic growth.
GHG's will be less important as energy waste is
preempted. Home foreclosures will drop as worker commute costs
drop from about $4000 per year to $800.
Beat 100 mpg or 5X CAFE
Ingenuity is an iterative process, an exponentially
iterative process. Like the Wright Brothers, you have to get 80%
of the intellectual process in place before you get a single physical
success. Then technical success needs to be scaled to commercial
viability. Innovations start small and iterate often as concepts
are forged into reality.
The Internet did not start with megabit transfers.
It started small and grew. We need to begin the ingenuity process
immediately. Policy makers need to end central planning and allow
any transport system that can be privately funded and beat 100 mpg
efficiencies to be deployed. This is 5 times better than current
gas mileage standards, 5X CAFÉ standards.
De-monopolizing communications infrastructure in 1984
unleashed a wave of innovation that delivered lower cost and better
services than the previously protected analog infrastructure.
De-monopolizing power generation and transport infrastructure will
result in similar job and productivity gains:
- Feed-in tariffs removes regulatory barriers to power
- Beat 100 mpg grants rights of way for transport
networks capable of better than 100 mpg.
“There will be chaos without our plans” is
what elected officials and bureaucrats have been saying since the 1973
Oil Embargo. I agree there will be chaos. The creative
process is messy. Without attempts you cannot fail nor can you
find breakthroughs. Privately financing these innovations
attaches a personal and immediate penalty to weak or stupid
Unlike value restraints on private capital, centrally
planned failures are not accountable. Our current infrastructure
was planned and built at great expense. But we do not fire
Congress or city councils when an I-35 Bridge collapses, roads are in
poor repair, Peak Oil escalates gas prices or even when waste products
change the climate. Policy makers avoid responsibility.
Private investors making similar decisions would and should, lose their
Innovators in the messy ingenuity process are rewarded
for dumpster diving, for getting into and preempting waste. The
well-regulated, centrally planned process is without reward or
accountability. Our government is not acting as if is its policies
built our infrastructure, created Peak Oil, Global Warming and $4 gas.
The Soviet Union was a planned economy, so is our current
infrastructure. The Soviet Union failed, our infrastructure is failing;
measure it by gas prices and foreclosures.
Economic Growth = Energy
Growth x Efficiency Growth
Efficiency Growth can drive Economic
Growth. Unlike oil, there is no limit on
ingenuity. Unlike oil’s highly stressed supply chain, the
more dependent we become on ingenuity, the more nimble our economy can
be to adapt to necessities and opportunities.