5 myths about 'green' energy

Robert Bryce:

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1. Solar and wind power are the greenest of them all.

Unfortunately, solar and wind technologies require huge amounts of land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy, disrupting natural habitats. Even an aging natural gas well producing 60,000 cubic feet per day generates more than 20 times the watts per square meter of a wind turbine. A nuclear power plant cranks out about 56 watts per square meter, eight times as much as is derived from solar photovoltaic installations. The real estate that wind and solar energy demand led the Nature Conservancy to issue a report last year critical of "energy sprawl," including tens of thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines needed to carry electricity from wind and solar installations to distant cities.

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2. Going green will reduce our dependence on imports from unsavory regimes.

In the new green economy, batteries are not included. Neither are many of the "rare earth" elements that are essential ingredients in most alternative energy technologies. Instead of relying on the diversity of the global oil market -- about 20 countries each produce at least 1 million barrels of crude per day -- the United States will be increasingly reliant on just one supplier, China, for elements known as lanthanides. Lanthanum, neodymium, dysprosium and other rare earth elements are used in products from high-capacity batteries and hybrid-electric vehicles to wind turbines and oil refinery catalysts.

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3. A green American economy will create green American jobs.

In a global market, American wind turbine manufacturers face the same problem as American shoe manufacturers: high domestic labor costs. If U.S. companies want to make turbines, they will have to compete with China, which not only controls the market for neodymium, a critical ingredient in turbine magnets, but has access to very cheap employees.

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4. Electric cars will substantially reduce demand for oil.

Nissan and Tesla are just two of the manufacturers that are increasing production of all-electric cars. But in the electric car's century-long history, failure tailgates failure. In 1911, the New York Times declared that the electric car "has long been recognized as the ideal" because it "is cleaner and quieter" and "much more economical" than its gasoline-fueled cousins. But the same unreliability of electric car batteries that flummoxed Thomas Edison persists today.

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5. The United States lags behind other rich countries in going green.

Over the past three decades, the United States has improved its energy efficiency as much as or more than other developed countries. According to data from the Energy Information Administration, average per capita energy consumption in the United States fell by 2.5 percent from 1980 through 2006. That reduction was greater than in any other developed country except Switzerland and Denmark, and the United States achieved it without participating in the Kyoto Protocol or creating an emissions trading system like the one employed in Europe. EIA data also show that the United States has been among the best at reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per $1 of GDP and the amount of energy consumed per $1 of GDP.

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The article is worth reading in full. Most of these problems have been noted before here.

In addition to the battery technology problem with electric cars is the fundamental problem of range. You are not going to be able to take a cross country drive in an electric auto. You can in a hybrid, but even if they have zero emissions like the new Honda CR-Z, they still do not get as good a mileage as the most efficient diesel engines. That is because the hybrids depend on braking to generate electricity for their efficiency. They do well in stop and go city driving, but on the highway their mileage is not so great.

We are finding great new supplies of natural gas. It is relatively inexpensive, very efficient and very dependable. Gas and nuclear power are the best alternative energy available right now.

Comments

  1. Hmmm... That's interesting. Where did you first hear about this? Do you have other blog posts I can take a look at?

    Justin Davis
    MK Partners
    Workplace Efficiency Experts

    ReplyDelete

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