As I waited to pick up a cousin from her job at a local refinery, I noticed that maintenance men were replacing old incandescent bulbs with newer and more efficient LED bulbs.
While the gesture seemed good,
the idea was a bit ironic.
Most refineries are old and wasteful.
The last refinery built in America was in 17976 in Garyville, Louisiana. (Imagine the advances in technology since this time.)
The estimated cost of building a new refinery in 2001 was estimated to be between 2bn-4bn dollars.
Each new refinery would require about 800 permits from the EPA and state and local agencies.
But refineries waste about 15% of the net energy in the process of turning crude oil into gasoline - much of it in the form of those flares seen from the stacks at these plants.
The process of turning oil into electricity loses about 60% of the net energy in the form of heat. Power lines lose between 5-10 percent of their energy (depending on the length of transmission).
Incandescent light bulbs lose about 90% of their net energy in the form of heat.
Let's see ... 100%
From crude oil to light source and all we end up with is 4% of the gross energy with which we started?
"Drill Baby Drill"?
Wouldn't it make more sense to totally rebuild our energy generating infrastructure instead?