george matthews wrote:My personal wish is that they would build a huge solar energy industry and phase out their oil, for the sake of preventing world climate damage. They could still sell energy but in the form of the products of solar energy rather than carbon emitting oil products. If they ever do convert to being a solar energy supplier they could have a network of electrically powered railways to replace their massively polluting road transport..
I know what they might do. Create synthetic-fuel plants operated by solar-energy electricity. Here is what they would do:
Pump water out of the Red Sea and/or the Persian Gulf and then electrolyze it. The resulting very salty water they would pump back into those bodies of water. Electrolysis:
H2O -> H2 + (1/2)*O2
Extract carbon dioxide from the air. That will make these synfuels carbon-neutral.
Combine them in the Fischer-Tropsch reaction to make synfuels:
CO2 + 3H2 -> (CH2) + 2H2O
where (CH2) is hydrocarbons.
The main problem with this synfuel-export strategy is that it is too easy to compete in it. Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco could just as easily make solar synfuels.
That's going rather far afield, but getting back to railroads, synfuels could be a good alternative to petroleum diesel fuel for diesel engines.