Renewable energy incapable of replacing fossil fuels

Kathleen Harnett White:
Conspicuously missing from public chatter about the climate issue is recognition of the staggering costs and likely insurmountable engineering challenges of these grand plans to decarbonize human society within several decades.

Policymakers intent on imposing a swift end to the era of fossil fuels, such as President Obama and Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are either unaware or indifferent to the colossal scale, futility and economic risks of a forced transition from energy-dense fossil fuels to the relatively diluted renewable energy sources (wind, solar and biomass).
The U.N. pact sealed in Paris, as well as the climate goals of the EU, California and the White House, assume that carbon dioxide emissions — a ubiquitous byproduct of human activity — can be reduced 95 percent by 2050.

For a dose of reality, consider master energy number-cruncher Vaclav Smil's estimate of a cost approaching $2.5 trillion to build enough new wind and solar facilities in the United States to replace the 1,100 gigawatt (GW) generating capacity of our fossil-fueled electric system. And couple that colossal sum with another $2 trillion in capital assets now imbedded in fossil-fueled generating hardware and related infrastructure. With a national debt of $19 trillion that is increasing $2 trillion a year, an anemic economy and a shrinking middle class, how can taxpayers afford to subsidize such wasteful projects?

The viability of plans to power our energy-intensive society exclusively with renewables is defied by simple arithmetic and basic physical laws. Yet, policies to avoid dangerous global warming all assume that a mass deployment of renewable energies can replace fossil fuels and still provide abundant, affordable and diverse energy services on which modern societies are utterly dependent. The climate scientists and policy wonks who developed these energy plans remain oblivious to what is increasingly obvious to the engineers who make such things work. As the engineers tasked by Google to develop a realistic, affordable plan to decarbonize concluded: Renewables are a false hope that simply won't work.

Michael Kelly, Prince Philip Professor of Engineering at Cambridge University and member of Britain's Royal Society, notes: "If the climate scientist community was to learn that engineering will not be able to 80% mitigate CO2 emissions by 2050 without inflicting massive harm on the global economy and mankind in general, it might improve the quality of the public debate." Renewable energy from wind, sunshine and biomass are inherently ill-suited to replace the energy service now handily delivered by coal, natural gas, oil and uranium. Renewables are inherently diffuse and uncontrollable in energy content and power density, while fossil fuels are highly concentrated, reliable and versatile.
You can not create an electric car without fossil fuels.  To create a car you need certain basic commodities like aluminum, steel plastic and rubber.  You need fossil fuels to create all of them.  Fossil fuels are also used to create the heel and soles of shoes if you are planning on walking everywhere.  In fact, there is no viable alternative to the petrochemical business, that not only creates plastics but also creates fertilizer fro growing food.  You also need fossil fuel to run heavy farm equipment.  Alternative energy has produced no viable alternative to fossil fuel for airplane travel.

Wind and solar also require heavy investment in transmission lines to get electricity to consumers.  Many solar projects are still not viable despite heavy investment by the government.


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