Ending America’s Energy Insecurity: How Electric Vehicles Can Drive The Solution To Energy Independence
Today’s post was written by Fred Stein. It is based on his recently completed homeland security master’s degree thesis.
Fred’s central conclusion — a surprising one to me — is the U.S. would basically become energy independent if we stopped using gasoline to power our automobiles.
Information about obtaining the complete thesis (including the evidence supporting his argument) can be found at the end of this post.
Fred’s analysis begins with a look at some common perceptions about this country’s dependence on foreign oil.
|America is heavily dependent on foreign countries for oil.||True||Net oil imports are 50% of America’s use.|
|America is dependent on oil because it does not produce much oil.||False||America is the world’s third largest producer of oil.|
|America’s dependence on oil is undesirable because it supports our enemies.||True||Military experts decry that we are actually funding both sides of the war on terror.|
|There is no immediate threat from America’s dependence on foreign oil.||False||Oil prices could triple overnight and oil supplies would be inadequate to meet the most basic needs of the U.S.|
|Increasing production of energy from wind, solar, hydro-electric, nuclear, coal, etc. can end America’s energy dependence.||False||Only about 2% of the oil consumed in the U.S. is used for producing electricity. Until there is a mechanism that transfers the energy produced from those sources to a form usable for transportation and the other uses of oil, increased electricity production will not affect U.S. energy dependency.|
|Plug-in electric vehicles use electricity generated from the above named sources.||True|
|Electric vehicles require significant technical innovation before they are capable of providing transport equivalent to internal combustion vehicles.||False||The Tesla roadster has a range of about 300 miles on a single charge. Though it is expensive, the driving experience is equivalent to an internal combustion vehicle.|
Dependence on foreign oil is the Achilles heal of the United States’ security.
While the direct economic costs are staggering with an oil trade deficit of $1 billion per day, the security threat posed by that dependence is an even greater disaster waiting to happen.
Hugo Chavez has threatened to cut supplies of oil to the United States. Al Qaeda and other Islamic radicals have identified the world oil supply as a prime target. As Iran proceeds inexorably towards nuclear weapons, U.S. and European policy makers must temper their responses to counter this threat for fear of driving up oil prices. Iran has the ability, and espouses rhetoric about its desire, to close the straits of Hormuz to interrupt the supply of oil in certain circumstances.
Every U.S. President since Richard Nixon has denounced America’s dependence on foreign oil. Discussions abound regarding increasing U.S. oil production or efficiencies, but no real measures have been seriously considered that would truly end America’s dependence on foreign oil by simply eliminating the need for that oil.
Though the consequences of energy dependence are complex, the solution is simple. The amount of oil used by the U.S. for motor gasoline, about 50% of total oil consumption, is the same as the net amount of oil imported by the U.S., about 50% of total oil consumption.
If the U.S. stopped using gasoline to power its automobiles, it would essentially become energy independent.
Adding nuclear or clean coal facilities, building wind farms, installing solar panel fields, etc., would do little to foster energy independence. Those technologies increase the generation of electricity, but not in a manner that can currently be utilized by most of the transportation sector that depends almost exclusively on the combustion of oil.
Electric vehicles (EVs) bridge that gap. The price of EVs and the lack of a recharge infrastructure is all that stands in the way of their full integration into the automobile market.
It has been demonstrated before that as the price of gasoline increases, consumers respond in large part by purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles. A detailed analysis of historical gasoline prices, car prices, car sales, and other factors, allows for creation of a model that predicts the EV car sales as it relates to the price of gasoline.
A model developed here, predicts the rapid growth of EV sales if an excise tax on gasoline of $2/gallon, incrementally rising to $5/gallon were to be imposed on the retail sale of gasoline, and simultaneously a $15,000 rebate on the sale of new EVs were to be introduced. The results are illustrated graphically below.
An excise tax of that magnitude would raise sufficient funds to provide for the EV tax rebate, to mitigate the effects from the regressive nature of the tax, and to provide monetary incentive for the development of a nation wide recharge infrastructure. The funds that would be collected under such a scenario are described in the table below.
There is a cost to achieving energy independence. That cost is two to five dollars on each gallon of retail gasoline sold, paid by drivers continue using internal combustion vehicles. With conviction and determination, the United States can achieve energy independence in a few short years.
For a copy of Fred Stein’s thesis providing in-depth analysis of the ideas expressed in this paper, go to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security in February 2012. You can also contact Fred Stein at chdsstein[at]gmail.com