30 percent cheaper natural gas: Can hybrids and EVs survive?
And even greater natural gas supplies seem inevitable
While discussing some successful new demonstrations of extracting natural gas from methane hydrates, Energy Secretary Steven Chu claimed that Energy Department investments made in the ’70s and ’80s would decrease natural gas costs 30 percent by 2025. And that apparently doesn’t even include the potential of this new methane hydrate breakthrough.
Can hybrid and plug-in cars survive this natural gas revolution?
“While this is just the beginning, this research could potentially yield significant new supplies of natural gas,” claimed Chu regarding this new gas hydrate production technology using a CO2-methane exchange structure. For more check out Natural gas 30 percent cheaper by 2025, as supplies explode, reports DOE.
If true, how will this impact the development of hybrid cars and plug-in vehicles?
A few months ago I heard an energy analyst claim that natural gas then was at a $1.60 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, although it’s hard to know whether that price included taxes, for instance. While I doubt a big move to natural gas would leave natural gas prices at $1.60 per gallon, I’m guessing the price would still be less than today’s gasoline prices, especially with 30 percent price reduction forecasts on the table.
Certainly, cheaper natural gas could also make charging electric cars cheaper, but it can’t help electric cars overcome the battery-powered premium, nor range anxiety. Battery prices would still have to come down, significantly.
On the other hand, hybrid cars like the Toyota FT-Bh aren’t just supposed to usher in a new era of cheap hybrid cars, but the FT-Bh concept is also supposed to be fuel friendly, meaning the same production system can churn out either natural gas or gasoline powered hybrid cars. That could be significant, assuming the hybrid premium drops significantly, as promised by Toyota’s new hybrid concept.
Still, just how cheap would natural gas be?
Recently, I was following some coverage of the Maxwell Technologies stock decline. A manager of a green investment fund, that I unfortunately cannot recall, suggested the undeniably growing potential of natural gas was partly to blame. Coupled with Chu’s statement, fossil fuel-powered doom might not be as close as has been suggested.
While that could delay mainstream adoption of hybrid and electric cars, I think concepts like the FT-Bh hybrid and the potential of dirt cheap electric car charging ensure that batteries will still be a significant part of the new energy revolution, but an even more long term role than today.