Think back ... almost 40 years ago the US was hit by the first energy crisis as the Arab nations cut back oil production in response to the victory of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. At that time those living and working endured gas lines, a cold winter and a severe recession. Politicians trumpeted they would make America independent on foreign oil; they they would create a long term energy policy to make the US self-sufficient, and they would break our dependence on oil altogether as it was a diminishing resource.
Billions were spent by government and big business on alternative energy research in solar, wind and other new energy sources. Think tanks and policy school invested millions of hours in valuable human capital analyzing the issues, devising mechanisms to promote energy independence and a non-oil dependent culture and civilisation.
We now should recognize that all that was simply bloviation, blather and the intellectual class slurping at the public trough for high pay and little product. And wasted money. We now have nothing to show for this. Worse, we are repeating the same mistakes as made 35 years ago, wasting human and money capital on solar, wind, and other pie-in-the-sky, grass is greener fantasies.
Energy policy led by environmentalists is a one way road to serfdom, to living in a thatched hut cottage with an outhouse, gathering wood and manure to try to stay warm and cook a bit of gruel for food.
We are now 35 years closer to an Armageddon: the end of abundant oil for cheap, flexible, speedy transportation. After finding and obtaining the oil on the continental shelves in the world, where else can oil be found? Oil from those deep water wells is very expensive, too. In another 35 years, oil will be either very scare or very expensive .. or both. Oil from other yet to be discovered places is certain to be very, very expensive. The US - and the World - needs to find a transportation fuel for the future.
A knock-on problem. That solution must not drain capacity from other needed sectors, such as electric power. After all, electricity for the vaunted electric car had to come from the power grid. That's a HUGE source of demand. Where would that electricity come from? Coal, nuclear or ???
I took a graduate level course in public policy in decision theory about 35 years ago; one of the projects was energy policy. The alternatives were analysed and assessed for durability and cost. At that time, coal was thought to provide 300 years of energy, nuclear with breeder reactors could provide thousands of years; fusion power ... millions of year IF it could be made to work.
What is new now?
One item. New, abundant sources of natural gas have been found ... by private industry. Nations such as France & Japan have massive nuclear power programs. The US ... has done nothing. NOTHING for 35 years of money and effort.
Politicians still seem to not understand that price matters. The price of fantasy alternative energy matters. And I mean the total cost, not the marginal cost. Total cost includes the cost of making the equipment, installation, rent for use of land sites, transmission, storage, maintenance, etc. Sure, wind power is free. Sun power is free. But it costs hugely to get it and distribute it. And neither solar nor wind power is suitable for transportation unless the resultant electrical power is stored into batteries or other storage system. So you have to make and pay for the batteries, too.
And solar and wind power do not work all the time, at the flip of a switch. They are on & off, with the clouds, dust and wind. Thus backup power is required. That costs money, too. Huge amounts.
The simple reality based on physics and the world as it exists: solar and wind power are useful simply for non-connected, non-continuous power needs. The Dutch used windmills to pump water; there was no need for the pumps to run all the time, just part of the time. Solar power works well for remote sites with good weather. Space satellites come to mind. Or your survival cabin. Solar and wind power could pump water into up-gradient storage pools for later use in irrigation, etc.
A rational energy policy would recognize this. Any politician blathering about wind and solar is simply lying to you. His agenda, his priorities are something else, mostly likely he's a delusional greenie or a ruling class hog slurping at the public trough for green $ for consultants, etc.
Hydro power works well in places like Norway, Canada, probably Russia. But where hydro power does not exist, the primary, large source for energy in the World are coal, nuclear and natural gas (for awhile).
A workable, practical, economical energy policy would recognize this and ... do something.
Tomorrow I will several outline workable solutions over the necesary 35 year time frame when oil will run out.
Word of the Day
"Tare" noun [$10]
Tare means 1. an allowance made for the weight of the packaging or wrapping around goods; 2. the weight of a motor vehicle without its fuel or food.
Sentence: Subtract the tare from Obama and you get ... zero substance. He's all glitter and packaging and hype with no leadership or ideas.