The Energy Debate

 

June 1, 2021 | 12:51 AM

The Energy Debate

The Energy Debate

The world has been powered by a select few energy systems over the past few hundred years. These systems have evolved over time with additions of new sources of fuel. Our civilizations have evolved directly with the availability of low price energy systems.

Coal, oil, nuclear, natural gas, and renewables have kept the globe moving and empowered those in control of the sources with wealth and influence beyond compare. Beginning in the late 50’s, the population has been under attack with various forms of climate doomsday scenarios being drawn back to how we power society. While there is no question that pollution is never desirable and has been an issue with some of the sources, the political and monetary punishments involved have made those technologies “clean up” their act. The remaining polluters on the planet have less to do with the energy source that powers them than investment to upgrade plants and factories to prevent or eliminate waste into the atmosphere.

The reality is that carbon emissions are greening the planet. Doubt it? Listen to my episode on Green By Any Means https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/131075/green-by-any-means Does that means we allow unchecked carbon emissions without Mother Nature’s natural filters – no. However, the drumbeat from the media and government apostles looking to change global energy sources (and who controls it) without disclosing actual costs, availability, and consequences are deceptive in their practice. With governments across the globe scaring people on climate change, a well powered fear locomotive has left the station and is powering across the global tracks of “privilege guilt” and other assorted tactics to enable the masses to escheat over rights for new world climate change regulations.

So, let’s examine some facts since the media won’t.

The Paris Acord –
Here’s the first question we should be asking here in the States – is this a treaty and if so why has it not come before the US Senate for approval as per the Constitution? This “agreement” is not a trade agreement, which the President can do with Congressional approval. It is an agreement to restrict and reduce the US’s current way of powering itself and cedes away US rights. That appears to be a treaty and requires US Senate majority approval. Even if you want to skip around calling it a treaty, it is an international agreement and that requires simple majority approval from both chambers of Congress. The Republicans in Congress should have slapped Obama in 2015 and the current Senate should have been all over Biden for re-entering the Acord and not coming before the Senate. This is NOT a legal agreement.

Coal as a Power Source
Coal has been powering the world for quite some time. It currently represents roughly 20% of US power production, down from 39% in 2014. Globally, it’s about 40%. The number of coal fired plants has actually increased globally from 66 to 80. Why? It’s relatively cheap to produce, its plentiful, and it is reliable. Also a little advertised secret is that captured coal emissions make some of the best feed sources for algae based bio fuel systems….

The US has roughly 254 million tons of coal, making it the number one coal reserve nation. US reserves are about 22% of the known global reserves.  The US has proven reserves of 347 times its annual consumption. The reality is the world has plenty of coal to power it into this century and the next and can continue to improve efficiencies in acquisition and emissions.

So why kill the coal sector?

Politically, coal has issues with the sources of mining in terms of environmental issues. Funny – cobalt mining for EV batteries is worse for the environment, but no one wants to talk about that. Pollution is the other issue with coal and while the emissions from coal plants have improved, the climate nuts have sold coal as a climate threat. So well, in fact, that now major insurance companies around the globe will no longer insure or reinsure new coal projects and the remaining ones that do are slated to non-renew those plants by 2035. Add to that fact the finance sector has now made it next to impossible to fund a new coal fired plant and you leave coal power in the hands of small number of players willing to continue to take the political risk anymore.

So, why not focus on trapping the coal emissions and work in tandem with bio fuel production? It’s out there. Instead, the mining jobs in the US that once were a huge source of employment, albeit with a high degree of risk for the workers, are systematically being eliminated as is a source of American energy independence.

Natural Gas as a Power Source
Natural Gas is a by-product of drilling for oil. When you hit oil, you also hit natural gas. The past few decades as the oil wells were going dry, new techniques were being developed to re-tap the wells and other methods to extract more natural gas. In the 2000’s, a new bonanza in natural gas production began that led the way for the US to be energy independent again. Natural gas has been replacing coals production in the US as it has been seen and promoted as a clean energy source.

From a source standpoint, the US has over 494 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves that could continue to power the nation at least another 80 years, assuming no new production. That ranks the US 5th in the world on production and about 5% of known global reserves.

We have more than we need, because we export it to other nations and bring in loads of taxable revenue.

Natural gas not only fuels power plants, it powers vehicles and even wind turbines. That’s right – the big 1 MW wind turbines are actually powered by natural gas as a backup when the actual wind is insufficient to power those monsters. Oil for motors is being produced with natural gas now as well.

So, why isn’t natural gas being hailed as the savior for the US and the world for energy supply?

Until a few years ago, it was. However, after a new group of communists were elected to the US House (AOC plus 3 to start) and the proposal of a Green New Deal that vilified anything that comes from the ground (such as natural gas) is now considered “dirty”. In short – political agendas are targeting any form of fossil fuel, regardless of how beneficial they can be for energy independence, revenue, and jobs for the American people.

Renewable Energy –
As the push to eliminate fossil fuels comes up, the term “green energy” keeps coming up again and again. What defines green energy? Essentially any power source that is not fossil fuel in terms of using products taken from the earth such as oil, gas, or coal. Challenge is that all of the components uses to make renewable energy features are made usually with a chemical that is oil based…. So, what are the key renewable systems that make up these systems? So you don’t think I am a quack, here is one of the sources I am using – https://www.worldenergydata.org/world-total-final-consumption/ .

  • Hydro/Tidal electric – this is power generated from rivers, oceans, dams. Globally, it’s the leading providing of renewable energy. In the US, it’s slightly behind wind power. While most large dams and rivers are already producing hydro power, it is highly unlikely that hydro and tidal could be the leading provider in global energy. There simply are not enough ways to capture the water power needed to rely on this source.
  • Wind – Wind is the leading provider of US renewable energy in producing about 8.4% of US power. Globally however, it’s just over 5% of energy produced. These applications are heavily reliant on land for the application as well as wind to power and produce energy. Some areas have great wind and some do not and those that do are not always readily available for the land needed to expand wind power. This is not a reliable global source of energy.
  • Solar – for all of the hoopla about solar, the world production for solar energy as of 2020 is around 2.7% of world electricity produced. The US is around 2.3%. That stinks. This has the same land application issues as wind and if the sun is not shining, power production drops off the scale. Like wind, this is not a reliable global source of energy.
  • Geo/biomass/other – globally around 2.4% and in the US 1.4%.

If you are buying the bull that renewables will fuel the future anytime soon, lay off the peyote.

Nuclear Energy –
Is nuclear the wild card in the equation? Technically the amount of plants producing power is directly proportional to investment from the nations that want this power. No one nation has a “natural edge” over another. Traditionally the issue has been cost, waste, water usage for cooling, and safety. Globally, around 10% of energy comes from nuclear reactors. In the US, we are close to 20% of our production from nukes.

Now aside from some major issues in 1979 with Three Mile Island and 1986 with Chernobyl, nuclear has been as safe as it comes. Safe enough to use to power ships and subs as well. Now I know in 2011 we have the issue with Fukashima, but that was related to a tsunami and had nothing to do with the safety and operational use of the facility.

Now, there is new tech coming along in nukes in micro reactors where they can be more mobile and deployable. That means they can be built in dramatically less time. I have read where they produce more power with less water for cooling and can even use the waste of older reactors for fuel. That’s a plus if true. Otherwise, the uranium needed to power these reactors will have to be sourced. Does the US have the source? Colorado is the US’s best source for this mineral. Is it enough to produce enough fissionable material to make nuclear the go to energy source? Doubtful. So, if we have to source out our uranium needs, where would it come from?

  • Canada has 21% of the global supply
  • Kazakhstan has 18%
  • Australia – 18%
  • Russia – 15%
  • Uzbekistan – 9%
  • Namibia – 5%
  • Niger – 2%

Hmm…

You will start to see the re-defining of energy sources as either “Carbon Free” or Fossil Fuel and guess who’s getting a marketing facelift?

That would be nuclear and look for it to be at the heart of the Green New Deal.

Before I get behind it to wipe out the oil & gas sector, we need to know total number of plants needed to replace coal and gas production, time for deployment, cost to build, and conversion of oil & gas jobs that would be lost. I also want to know who is funding this. The private market or taxpayer money?

So now what?
The US and the world have sufficient power sources to keep all our toys spinning for a long, long time. Why should the US get rid of coal and gas when we lead the globe in reserves? Is nuclear going to be the Green New Deal savior because its carbon free? Maybe – but we need more facts. Can renewables replace fossil fuels? Not just no, but hell no.

While there is no clear conclusions here, one thing is certain – the push to eliminate the fossil fuel sector is not driven by science. The reserves are there and can be produced cheaply and can be done without the environmental scare going on at the moment.

So the real debate needs to be why certain people want to change the global energy landscape away from the reliable to the not so reliable.

I think you and I know the answer.

It’s time to start asking the question.