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Page added on April 9, 2012

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Terrified by peak oil, FedEx turns to biofuels, efficiency

Grist has a look at FedEx’s efforts to reduce the company’s exposure to oil prices and availability – Terrified by peak oil, FedEx turns to biofuels, efficiency.

FedEx owns 700 planes and tens of thousands of trucks, which is why CEO Fred Smith is crazy for energy efficiency, reports NPR.

Shortly after Smith founded Federal Express, the 1973 Arab oil embargo almost killed it. The experience imprinted Smith with a keen interest in the price and availability of oil.

FedEx’s forthcoming all-electric pickup and delivery vans will cost one-quarter as much to operate per mile as their gasoline equivalents, says Smith. He also predicts that electric vehicles will be in wide commercial use in about six years.

In the future, he sees his jets being powered by algae-based fuels, and his long-haul trucks running on natural gas. Smith is a staunch Republican, by the way, and a perfect example of how energy efficiency is a no-brainer that cuts across political lines.

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6 Comments on "Terrified by peak oil, FedEx turns to biofuels, efficiency"

  1. Gale Whitaker on Tue, 10th Apr 2012 1:14 am 

    Are you kidding? There are NO republicans that give any credence to peak oil. Inhofe believes that god is in charge of the climate and I assume he has a similar view of future oil supplies. Algae based fuels are an incredibly stupid joke. It will be 50 years before algae based fuels are cheaper than oil. Smith is peeing into the wind and it’s going to make him look like a dope. Kunstler says bullet trains are a loser (I agree) but Smith should hang his hat the fast trains, that makes a lot more sense the little green bugs.

  2. BillT on Tue, 10th Apr 2012 1:21 am 

    FedEx, like ALL corporations are in for a grand shock as fossil fuels grow in price and dwindle in availability. NO amount of ‘biofuels’ will ever power all those planes and trucks all over the world everyday. The petro party is almost over. And it will leave a huge mess to be cleaned up over the next centuries.

    You will NOT be shipping stuff across the world in 48 hours. You will be shipping it by train across country, and then by boat to foreign lands, where it may be picked up by a horse or ox drawn cart and eventually delivered, if you are lucky.

    The current system may last another decade, but not much longer. If a world war breaks out in the Middle East, it is game over for most of today’s conveniences.

  3. James on Tue, 10th Apr 2012 1:34 am 

    Mr. Smith is obviously on drugs. There is no way we will be able to grow that much algae fast enough, to make fuel for his planes and trucks to operate like they do now. Any kind of biological fuel will take time to grow to the amount that will be economically viable. He can forget his planes in this mix. Maybe trains for long hauls with trucks waiting at each stop to deliver the goods to their local destination. Just like they did it back in the 50s. This could also provide more jobs for the unemployed since it will take a lot of people to handle the cargo, and maintain the trains and their infra-structure. We never should have let the rail system go to pot like we did.

  4. Kenjamkov on Tue, 10th Apr 2012 4:19 am 

    There is a reason why the richest people in the world are buying up railroads like it’s “Monopoly”.

  5. DC on Tue, 10th Apr 2012 10:23 am 

    For electric trucks to make ‘sense’ two existeing considtions must be met.

    The cities in which they operate need to be designed form the get-go, to operate in an enviroment that plays to the EV strengths, not those of the spawly cities designed for gas-burners. While a few cities may be EV-friendly right now, they would be a tiny fraction of fraction. So fed-ex can forget electric delievery in cities built for gas-burners, espeically in North Amerika.

    Secondly, the time to have implenmented such change was decades ago. Had society not just fed-ex, begun 40 years ago, now we would be ready. Now that that we realize there is a huge problem looming, its too little too late to rebuild the mess we have made of ….everything. Besides, there wont be a market for delivering DVDs to your door 24 hours after you order them on ebay for much longer anyhow. Micro-deliveries were a luxury of the cheap FF party. Well need to go back to bulk delivery via train and short-haul trucking powered with whatever works. Not global networks of tiny trucks delivering plastic salad shooters to amerikans door.

    Bio-fools for planes…seriously? Bio-fools cant even power the amerikas ugly in-efficent quasi-converted gas-burners. It gets mixed 1:9 with go ole regular gas. Its just used to water normal gas down to make it look like there is more gas out there than there really is. A gallon of bio-fools takes one gallon of fossil-fuel to make. Smith should do the math on that equation.

  6. Kenz300 on Wed, 11th Apr 2012 12:45 am 

    Quote — ” FedEx’s forthcoming all-electric pickup and delivery vans will cost one-quarter as much to operate per mile as their gasoline equivalents, says Smith. He also predicts that electric vehicles will be in wide commercial use in about six years.

    In the future, he sees his jets being powered by algae-based fuels, and his long-haul trucks running on natural gas.”
    ———————–

    One of the few business men developing a plan to deal with higher energy costs and less supplies.

    Individuals, business and politicians all need to develop a plan to deal with higher energy costs. Energy efficiency, CNG and electric vehicles will all be part of the solution. Some people are starting to adjust to higher prices. Most people will wait until higher prices force them to adjust.