Whenever politicians and members of the chattering class talk about the “inevitable” transition from fossil fuels to renewables, do they really understand the import of what they are saying?
Much of the discourse of this “transition” is so lacking in rigorous thought that it is laughable.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, for example, talks about the death in the demand for oil.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet makes the argument that the country needs to move on from fossil fuels.
Even Alberta Premier Jason Kenney thinks we need a phased transition.
Please. It’s such nonsense.
If renewables were indeed the answer to all our woes, why are developing nations not leap-frogging the West and embracing renewable energy?
Why does renewable energy not lift those countries out of poverty within a few years?
Why do countries that have tried large scale renewable energy projects see their electricity rates skyrocket?
Why do developing countries build more and more coal plants to produce electricity?
The answer to all those questions is that renewable energy cannot and will never support a modern society.
The reason being that renewable energy sources are diffuse and intermittent.
That, of course, is not the case for hydro, but it is a special case. But it is true of wind and solar, which is what politicians such as May push.
A solar farm, for example, requires 450 times as much land to produce the same amount electricity as a nuclear plant.
A wind farm requires 700 times as much land to yield the equivalent energy of a single natural gas well.
There is simply no getting around that reality. None.
In other words, we would pretty much have to destroy the environment in order to produce the same amount of electricity that fossil fuels are producing today.
Even then the erection of millions upon millions of wind turbines and the construction of millions of acres of solar panels won’t solve the problem of intermittency.
The wind, after all, does not always blow and the sun does not always shine – particularly at night.
Every single watt of wind and solar capacity has to be backed up by fossil fuel powered plants.
Ah, but what about batteries, argue the proponents, can’t they be employed to provide power when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining?
No. There are no grid level batteries that can power a city for more than a few minutes. And unless the laws of physics change, there will be none.
Renewables are a dead end. That’s why Germany is building more coal plants. That is why the European Union changed its definition of a fossil fuel to coal and coal alone, leaving it free to employ natural gas.
It is this denial of reality that has produced some of the most insane energy policies in the past few decades.
We are cutting down entire forests to produce pellets that are burned to produce, in turn, electricity in Britain and Europe.
We are turning food into ethanol to burn in vehicles.
We are destroying forests and habitats to produce palm oil.
We are leveling mountains to lay down solar panels.
We are killing birds and bats by the hundreds of thousands to build wind turbines.
It is insanity.
We are destroying nature to save the world.
The effects of a trace gas in the atmosphere?
If politicians such as May and Blanchet want to reduce CO2 emissions and still maintain our civilizations, there is only one solution – nuclear.
Uranium is the densest source of energy and it is abundant.
Ironically, virtually every climate skeptic embraces the use of nuclear energy. If you’re going to argue that CO2 poses a threat, then nuclear energy is the only solution.
Of course, there are many of us who argue that CO2 emissions are no existential threat, that the climate is controlled by forces well beyond our control.
Yet even those diehard skeptics acknowledge that the world will face energy shortages in the coming decades as countries attempt to lift their citizens out of poverty.
That is why we need energy policies than are thoughtful and conform to cost/benefit analysis. We don’t have the luxury of pursuing approaches that yield heartache and disappointment. And when we are through dealing with the pandemic, we will not have the money to indulge the fantasies of the fanatics.
Here is some reading material for those interested in learning more about energy:
- The Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI or EROI) of any energy gathering system is a measure of that system’s efficiency.
- Entropy, Energy and Order in the Universe. The laws of thermodynamics.
- On the failure of renewables in Germany.
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