Thursday, May 27, 2010

A liberal who was mugged by the laws of thermodynamics

Selections: Going "Green, "John Stossel
"The problem is very simple," Bryce said. "It's not political will. It's simple physics. Gasoline has 80 times the energy density of the best lithium ion batteries. There's no conspiracy here of big oil or big auto. It's a conspiracy of physics.
Robert Bryce, author of "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy" says: "Nine out of 10 units of power that we consume are produced by hydrocarbons -- coal, oil and natural gas. Any transition away from those sources is going to be a decades-long, maybe even a century-long process. ... The world consumes 200 million barrels of oil equivalent in hydrocarbons per day. We would have to find the energy equivalent of 23 Saudi Arabias." Bryce used to be a left-liberal, but then: "I educated myself about math and physics.

Some other facts of physics:

The problem is that windmills cannot provide a constant source of electricity. Wind turbines only achieve 10 percent to 20 percent of their maximum capacity because sometimes the wind doesn't blow.

"That means you have to keep conventional power plants up and running. You have to ramp them up to replace the power that disappears from wind turbines and ramp them down when power reappears."

Yet the media rave about Denmark, which gets some power from wind. Bryce's book shows that Denmark uses eight times more coal and 25 times more oil than wind.

Bryce points out that energy production from every solar panel and windmill in America is less than the production from one coal mine and much less than natural gas production from Oklahoma alone.

"One nuclear power plant in Texas covers about 19 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Manhattan. To produce the same amount of power from wind turbines would require an area the size of Rhode Island. This is energy sprawl." To produce the same amount of energy with ethanol, another "green" fuel, it would take 24 Rhode Islands to grow enough corn.

There have been impressive headlines about electric cars from my brilliant colleagues in the media. The Washington Post said, "Prices on electric cars will continue to drop until they're within reach of the average family."

That was in 1915. In 1959, The New York Times said, "Electric is the car of the tomorrow." In 1979, The Washington Post said, "GM has an electric car breakthrough in batteries, now makes them commercially practical."

1 comment:

  1. Until private investors start doing research and making innovations, no progress will take place. To do that requires the allure of profits. As long as gas and coal is still profitable, energy companies have no incentive to research green energy.