Energy Security Requires Diversifying Fuel Mix and Supply


Enhancing America's energy security is one of our country's most pressing challenges, and U.S. policymakers are facing increased pressure to come up with solutions. Here's why:

As negotiations around the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol loom and both domestic and international economies continue to grow, worldwide energy demand is surging. Indeed, by 2025, worldwide demand for petroleum is expected to increase by 30 percent*.

Business Roundtable firmly believes that enhancing our energy security will require diversifying our fuel mix and increasing fuel supplies to meet the energy needs of the transportation sector. Investing 100 percent in renewable biofuels is not the answer. Relying on petroleum alone is not the answer. Our energy blueprint, released last year, outlined our belief that a more secure energy future requires the nation to aggressively pursue the following six parallel strategies:

  1. Continue the development and deployment of vehicle technologies that maximize fuel efficiency

  2. Increase domestic petroleum supplies

  3. Continue to build the domestic alternative fuels industry

  4. Develop non-conventional sources of hydrocarbon-based fuels, such as coal-to-liquids and oil shale

  5. Adopt government policies that slow the growth of fuel demand by reducing congestion, idling and the miles traveled per vehicle

  6. Pursue national security policies that seek to preserve the integrity of free markets, global energy trade and opportunities for robust foreign investment by the energy industry

General Motors (GM) is a real-life example of a Roundtable member company pursuing these strategies.

GM is committed to developing vehicle technologies that improve fuel efficiency and reduce overall consumption. By the end of the year, GM will offer eight hybrid models. GM's domestic strategy is to save as many gallons of fuel as possible by applying hybrid technology to high-volume and high-fuel-consuming vehicles, like mass transit buses, full-size trucks and SUVs.

Cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, P.A. and Minneapolis/St. Paul, M.N. are investing in this strategy to reduce their city's mass transit environmental impact.

And the company continues to push technological innovation. Design and development work continue on the Chevrolet Volt, introduced at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, powered by GM's E-Flex electric propulsion system. The Volt has energized consumers in the U.S. and abroad with its potential to reduce or eliminate trips to the gas station for many commuters, as well as greatly reduce CO2 emissions. The E-Flex System is an all-electric vehicle architecture consisting of a common drivetrain system that uses electricity created and stored on-board the vehicle in a variety of ways.

The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) uses electricity stored in a lithium-ion battery pack to power the wheels at all speeds. The electricity for the battery can be obtained by plugging the car into an electrical outlet to recharge the battery. Running off the battery, the vehicle operates as a battery-electric vehicle and provides 40 miles electric driving range. Because more than half of all Americans live within 20 miles of where they work (40 miles round trip), they may never use a drop of gas on their daily commute if they plug in their vehicle each night.

For longer trips, the Volt's on-board engine-generator set (range-extender) powered by gasoline or E85 generates additional electricity to power the vehicle. A commuter who lives within 30 miles of work (60 miles round trip) and charges their vehicle every night or during the day at work could conceivably get up to 150 miles per gallon.

GM's technological innovations are just one example of how Business Roundtable member companies are pushing the envelope to present innovative options to enhance our energy security.

While there is no "silver bullet" answer to achieving energy security, the pursuit of sound, steady government policies, strategic investments, and technological advancements driven by the free market will lead America on the way to a cleaner, more secure energy future.

And, in the end, isn't that what we all want?

*U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information (EIA), Annual Energy Review, July 2006.