By Amoryl Lovins, L. Hunter
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Extra info for Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security
Dollar-denominated oil prices rose. S. then needed even more foreign exchange to pay for the oil. It earned this in three main ways: by depleting domestic stocks of commodities (which was inflationary, left the forests looking moth-eaten, and left holes in the ground where orebodies used to be); by exporting weapons (which was inflationary, destabilizing, and of controversial morality); and by exporting wheat and soybeans (which inverted Midwestern real-estate markets and probably raised domestic food prices).
A standard gasoline pump (pumping at about thirteen gallons per minutes) delivers fuel energy at the remarkable rate of twenty-nine million watts. 2 Most fuels are, by intent, highly flammable or explosive. The amounts of fuel present even in the most dispersed stages of distribution, such as tank trucks, are sizable hazards. A nine-thousand-gallon tank truck of number two fuel oil contains the energy equivalent of a small nuclear explosion—threetenths of a kiloton. Even though the two would not behave the same (the oil fire would release its energy not as prompt radiation or blast but as radiant heat), the heat from a tank-truck fire would suffice to melt nearby cars.
This is not to say that storage of fuels is free from risk: on the contrary, oil and gas stocks are prone to fire and nuclear stocks to potential theft. The point is rather that at least technically and economically, all fuels can be readily stored in bulk. But for electricity, such storage is uniquely awkward and expensive. Thus Chapter Four: What Makes the Energy System Vulnerable? 39 the central supply of electricity requires a continuous, direct connection from source to user. Interruptions of central electric supply, having no buffer storage, are instantaneously disruptive.
Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security by Amoryl Lovins, L. Hunter