Chasing Utopian Energy: How I Wasted 20 Years of My Life

royboy

Well-Known Member
Nov 9, 2001
46,637
31,766
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Lewisville, NC
An honest piece from a disillusioned environmentalist.


Utopian energy is an imagined form of energy that’s abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and also clean, renewable, and life-sustaining. But utopian energy is as much a fantasy as a utopian society. Seeking the fount of perfect energy allows us to pretend there aren’t real-world tradeoffs between, say, banning fossil fuels and helping people in impoverished nations or between using solar and wind power and conserving natural habitats...

I started to realize that I had accepted as true certain claims about energy and our environment. Now I began to see those claims were false. For example:

  • I used to think solar and wind power were the best ways to reduce CO2 emissions. But the biggest reduction in CO2 emissions during the past 15 years (over 60%) has come from switching from coal to natural gas.
  • I used to think that the world was transitioning to solar, wind, and batteries. This, too, was false. Trillions of dollars were spent on wind and solar projects over the last 20 years, yet the world’s dependence on fossil fuels declined only 3 percentage points, from 87% to 84%.
  • I used to believe nuclear energy was dangerous and nuclear waste was a big problem. In fact, nuclear is the safest and most reliable way to generate low-emission electricity, and it provides the best chance of reducing CO2 emissions.
It’s now clear I was chasing utopian energy. I was using green energy myths as moral camouflage, and I was able to believe those myths as long as I remained ignorant about the real costs and benefits of different energy sources.
 

royboy

Well-Known Member
Nov 9, 2001
46,637
31,766
1
Lewisville, NC
From the above linked essay, some guidelines for serious evaluation of energy sources.

Here are eight principles that can help us evaluate energy options that will give us the best chance to bring about successful energy reform that protects both people and the planet.

1. Security: Does an energy source enable a country to maintain its autonomy? Controlling access to critical minerals and natural resources to make affordable, reliable energy is a precondition for liberty and self-determination. Relying on energy imports or minerals from other countries puts a nation at risk.

2. Reliability: Can people and businesses reliably access energy when they need it? A reliable energy system provides power 24/7/365.

3. Affordability: Is the energy source easily affordable for households and businesses? The cost of energy affects the cost of everything else. If energy is not affordable, businesses can’t make the products we want, and people will freeze to death in their own homes.


4. Versatility: How many different kinds of machines can the energy source power? We need energy to power machines that mine, drill, pave, fly, cut, pump, filter, transport, compact, excavate, grade, and lift.

5. Scalability: How many people can use the energy source across how many places? Wind, solar, and water resources are often located far away from where people live and work, making it difficult and expensive to transport the energy to where it is needed.

6. Emissions: What are the energy source’s effects on air pollution, GHG emissions, and water quality? Sources of emissions include mining, transportation, and electricity production.

7. Land use: What are the energy source’s effects on wildlife, habitat, farmland, viewsheds, and coastlines? For example, a typical 1,000-megawatt US nuclear power plant needs little more than 1 square mile to operate. Solar farms need 75 times more land to produce the same amount of energy. Wind farms need 360 times more.

8. Lifespan: How long will a source produce energy? Nuclear plants can operate for over 80 years and run for 100 years if they are well-maintained. By contrast, solar panels and wind turbines last only about 20 years.
 

ForesterGump

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Jul 21, 2012
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One thing rarely mentioned in this country is hydrogen. It seems that in other areas of the world, hydrogen is being developed. Toyota, Hyundai and Honda already have hydrogen fuel cell cars on the market. Volvo has a big rig truck and Tevva (UK) has developed a delivery truck. They're also developing hydrogen for trains and ships.

The US seems to be ignoring hydrogen while trying to hang on to electricity via an already overtaxed delivery system. I can't see how we'll get to converting a gas fleet over to electric cars without some serious upgrades to the grid, and to generation capacity. I don't think that solar and/or wind can pick up the load. Hydrogen does have the problem of distribution, but so does electric charging stations.

Another area of electric generation that is seemingly ignored is the wave power machines that are currently under development, especially in Europe. These seem to be more environmentally friendly and more aesthetic than the wind generators they're putting in the oceans. Maybe a bit more money invested in this type of "green" energy would yield better bang for the buck.
 
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bourbon n blues

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Nov 20, 2019
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One thing rarely mentioned in this country is hydrogen. It seems that in other areas of the world, hydrogen is being developed. Toyota, Hyundai and Honda already have hydrogen fuel cell cars on the market. Volvo has a big rig truck and Tevva (UK) has developed a delivery truck. They're also developing hydrogen for trains and ships.

The US seems to be ignoring hydrogen while trying to hang on to electricity via an already overtaxed delivery system. I can't see how we'll get to converting a gas fleet over to electric cars without some serious upgrades to the grid, and to generation capacity. I don't think that solar and/or wind can pick up the load. Hydrogen does have the problem of distribution, but so does electric charging stations.

Another area of electric generation that is seemingly ignored is the wave power machines that are currently under development, especially in Europe. These seem to be more environmentally friendly and more aesthetic than the wind generators they're putting in the oceans. Maybe a bit more money invested in this type of "green" energy would yield better bang for the buck.
The only thing green about their green energy is “green” as in green backs. We should be pushing nuclear energy and looking into what you’ve mentioned.
 
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m.knox

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Gold Member
Aug 20, 2003
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I saw that one too. As long as there are humans on Earth, we will consume resources. Vast amounts of resources. Only the lunatic left seems to believe we won't. They believe they can SAVE PLANET EARTH with their awesome morality......
 
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