The good news yesterday was that gas prices fell for the second day in a row by a national average of three-tenths of a cent. Who knows how much longer that trend will keep up though, especially with oil climbing $5 dollars per barrel yesterday to a price of $136.68 on the heels of news of a potential strike in Nigeria. Oil troubles are America’s troubles though and so American politicians could be heard putting their two cents in on the topic.President Bush is calling for Congress to lift the ban on off-shore drilling and continuing to lobby for drilling in protected Alaskan land. Senator McCain and President Bush agree somewhat on this one as he too has called for a lift of the ban. McCain also pushed for building more nuclear plants and acquiring clean-coal technology. Senator McCain advocated the building of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030. No new reactors have been built in more than 30 years. Senator Barack Obama went the other way on the issue, saying that he wants to put $15 Billion into renewable energy each year for the next ten years. Funding for this would come from a topic which we discuss in a previous ResearchWatch entry. While opinions abound on either side of the issue, experts do say that additional drilling would only add to the current output by about 2 million barrels a day, or 20% of domestic oil production and 2% of worldwide production. They also point out that getting the offshore rigs operation would take some time.
This news comes out at the same time as a report from Clean Edge, a clean energy research firm, which states in conjunction with Co-op America that the US could potentially get up to 10% of its electricity from solar power by 2025. If the circumstances were right that is. Alliance Bernstein also chimed in on the renewable energy topic, saying that hybrid vehicles are already cheaper to own overall than the gas powered models of old. Due to a number of regulatory factors and a changing economic landscape in general in the cost of using fossil fuels, Bernstein went on to predict double digit growth for wind power in the next decade. All this adds up, in Bernstein’s opinion, to more market share for hybrids in the future.
No matter what the politicians in Washington ultimately decide to do, alternative research firms such as Clean Edge in renewables and Ross Smith Energy Group in oil (as well as many others) can definitely help to assess the impact these changes will make in the market. Integrity Research has a database of over 1700 research firms, 60 of which specialize in the energy sector. About 15 of these specialists focus on renewable energy. The debate rages as to whether increased drilling or alternative energy sources is the answer to ending America’s energy woes, but no matter what, independent research firms will have some interesting things to say.