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Wind and Solar Energy Cannot Lift Humanity into Prosperity

A recent article in the New York Post nicely encapsulates the latest developments in the ongoing debate over climate and energy. In his article entitled “If the Ukraine war hasn’t scared the West straight on energy, nothing will,” author Rich Lowry reminds us “The world hasn’t embraced fossil fuels out of hatred of the planet but because they are so incredibly useful.” He goes on to accurately observe that fossil fuels are used to produce 84 percent of global energy.

If there is only an alleged consensus on the potentially catastrophic threat represented by fossil fuel, there is widespread agreement on the direct connection between energy and prosperity. With that in mind, and to make clear how critical it is to produce more energy worldwide, much more, here’s an immutable fact, courtesy of data in the 2021 edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy: For everyone on earth to have access to half the energy, per capita, that Americans consume, global energy production will have to double.

Meanwhile, according to BP, wind and solar power accounted for 5.0 percent of global energy production in 2020. Five percent. And yet, unless you are a climate contrarian, also derisively referred to as a “denier,” wind and solar are not merely the favored solutions to global energy challenges, they’re the only solutions. But what’s wrong with this picture? Go wind. Go solar. Why not?

To appreciate what it’s going to take to create a global economy powered by nothing […] Read More

Fossil Fuel Reality

Over the weekend, the traditional Harvard versus Yale football game was interrupted during halftime by about 150 student activists, spontaneously joined by hundreds of fans, to protest climate change. Occupying the area around the 500-yard line, the protesters chanted “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Fossil fuel has got to go!” The game resumed after about 30 students were arrested and the rest left.

It would be reasonable to suppose that people who manage to gain admission to Harvard and Yale are among the most gifted students in America. But when it comes to swiftly eliminating the usage of fossil fuel, have they done their homework?

Around the world, billions of people are now convinced that catastrophic climate change is inevitable if humanity continues to rely on fossil fuel. Most developed Western nations, along with the United Nations and other supranational organizations, are promoting aggressive policies to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy. While a scientific debate remains, especially with respect to the severity of the predicted climate change, it is the economic challenges relating to rapid elimination of fossil fuel that require urgent examination.

The reason for this is simple: At this time, there is no feasible economic scenario whereby worldwide fossil fuel use does not increase steadily for the next several decades. To dispute this assertion, several indisputable facts would have to be ignored. For starters, shown below is a chart illustrating just how large a percentage of global energy remained dependent on fossil fuel over the past […] Read More

What Would it Cost for the U.S. to “Go Solar”?

Proponents of renewable energy claim that wind and solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels. According to USA Today, “Renewables close in on fossil fuels, challenging on price.” A Forbes headline agrees: “Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels.” The “expert” websites agree: “Renewable Electricity Levelized Cost Of Energy Already Cheaper,” asserts “energyinnovation.org.”

They’re all wrong. Renewable energy is getting cheaper every year, but it is a long way from competing with natural gas, coal, or even nuclear power, if nuclear power weren’t drowning in lawsuits and regulatory obstructions.

With both wind and solar energy, the cost not only of the solar panels and wind turbines has to be accounted for, but also of inverters, grid upgrades, and storage assets necessary to balance out the intermittent power.

Taking all variables into account, what might it cost for the entire U.S. to get 100 percent of its energy from solar energy?

Speaking the Language of Energy and Electricity

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States in 2017 consumed 97.7 quadrillion BTUs of energy. BTUs, or British Thermal Units, are often used by economists to measure energy. One BTU is the energy required to heat one pound of water by one degree fahrenheit.

If we’re going understand what it takes to go solar, and usher in the great all-electric age where our heating and our vehicles are all part of the great green grid, then we have to convert BTUs into […] Read More