Thursday, April 30, 2009

Understanding energy options post AGW dismissal

Another in a fine series of articles by Lawrence Solomon contains these wise words:
  • Yes, it's important to identify the correct problems, and the non-problems, not just on global warming but on energy policy.
  • More nuclear, wind and solar as a solution to high fuel prices and oil imports? Not a chance, at least not anytime soon.
  • First, nuclear, wind and solar cannot today substitute for oil, which primarily fuels cars and is a feedstock for plastics. Nuclear, wind and solar are primarily used to produce electricity
  • In large part, nuclear, wind and solar are uneconomic for the same reason: They are inflexible technologies that cannot be dispatched.
  • Unlike other methods of generating electricity — from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas or from falling water — nuclear, wind and solar systems cannot moderate their output to meet society's fluctuating demands for power.
  • ...the world's oil reserves have increased by 36% over the past two decades, excluding the massive unconventional reserves in Canada's tar sands and America's oil shale.
  • As for American dependence on hostile countries, this is more myth: America's only suppliers that could be considered hostile are Venezuela, which meets about 6% of U.S. needs, and Russia, which meets 2%.
  • The entire Persian Gulf meets only 12% of U.S. needs, and that 12% comes from three allies: Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.
  • ...decades of environmental pressure has led to immense improvements in coal and other fossil fuel technologies, making them no less virtuous than many renewable fuels.
Pesky things, facts.  Totally get in the way of a perfectly good ecomyth.