Saturday, January 26, 2008

 

Energy Reality Check

Energy gurus and the people who desperately want to continue our extravagant way of life are pandering to the public by telling us how we’re going to free ourselves from fossil fuels with nuclear, renewables, and whatnot. Sorry to say, freeing ourselves from fossil fuels and continuing this extravagant way of life is nothing but a chimera.

Here’s the deal: Nuclear power would not exist were it not for the underpinning of fossil fuels. People who imagine a glorious nuclear future never stop to think about how nuclear fuel comes to be, how a nuclear power plant is constructed, operated, maintained, and dismantled, or what’s done with the deadly nuclear waste.

Same with renewables. Energy gurus paint a picture of a pollution-free and energy-rich future with wind farms, acres of PV panel arrays, and other hardware, but they don’t appear to bother themselves with the thought that fossil fuels are needed to manufacture, deploy, and maintain that infrastructure. They don’t see the huge amount of fossil fuel energy embodied in a hydroelectric dam.

And the car culture? Energy gurus in their infinite wisdom fail to focus on anything but the energy needed to power vehicles. We never hear talk about the energy needed to manufacture motor vehicles, build and tool manufacturing and assembly plants, or build and maintain roads and bridges. Or do they think this can be done with ethanol and electricity?

Oh yea, and speaking of ethanol, where does everybody think biofuels come from? Take away the fossil fuels that make the fertilizer, power the farm machinery, fuel trucks, and run biofuel facilities, and what have you got? Nothing, that’s what. Power your biofuel operations on biofuels and see how far you get. Your operation will be on the skids so fast your head will spin.

So as you can see, all the ideas for “freeing ourselves from fossil fuels” are totally unrealistic. What we need to do is power down and husband fossil fuel resources because they provide the underpinning for renewables.



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