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  • Green or Not So Green?

    By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

    Ecologist Kenneth Watt made that statement on the inaugural Earth Day in 1970. The “peak oil” warning has been going on long before that, but here we are ten years after Watt’s deadline and we’re globally consuming 85 million barrels of oil per day with increasing amounts of proven reserves each year. Three decades ago, proven oil reserves were 645 billion barrels; five years ago it was 1.28 trillion and in 2009 it was 1.34 trillion. Yet the push to transition to renewable, allegedly cleaner sources of energy has never been stronger. The question to ask is: why?

    A large part of the answer, and the justification for subsidies, tax credits and mandates for renewables, is that they will help cool our planet’s fever. Setting aside the debate of whether our planet is in need of any remedy, the truth is what the government selects as green energy isn’t as green they promote. Robert Bryce, author of the new book, Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, explains:

    Unfortunately, solar and wind technologies require huge amounts of land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy, disrupting natural habitats. Even an aging natural gas well producing 60,000 cubic feet per day generates more than 20 times the watts per square meter of a wind turbine. A nuclear power plant cranks out about 56 watts per square meter, eight times as much as is derived from solar photovoltaic installations. The real estate that wind and solar energy demand led the Nature Conservancy to issue a report last year critical of “energy sprawl,” including tens of thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines needed to carry electricity from wind and solar installations to distant cities.

    Nor does wind energy substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Since the wind doesn’t always blow, utilities must use gas- or coal-fired generators to offset wind’s unreliability. The result is minimal — or no — carbon dioxide reduction.”

    But it’s actually worse than that. The intermittency of wind forces coal and gas-fired plants to operate inefficiently and actually increase emissions. This has proven to be the case in Colorado and Texas, two states that have adopted a renewable portfolio standard, which mandates that wind be included in the state’s electricity supply. A new study from the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States finds that:

    Coal-fired power plants are designed to run most efficiently at stable rates and are not well-suited to accommodate the load variability imposed by the integration with wind generation. Cycling causes coal-fired power plants to operate less efficiently, and reduces the effectiveness of their environmental control equipment, which together drive up emissions. Paradoxically, using wind energy in such a way that it forces utilities to cycle their coal generation often results in greater SO2, NOX and CO2 emissions than would have occurred if less wind energy were generated and coal generation was not cycled.”

    Politicians can’t account for these unintended consequences that occur when trying to plan our nation’s energy future. And that’s reason enough not to do so.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Green or Not So Green?

    1. Billie says:

      there is nothing mankind can do to stop global warming and nothing they did to cause it. whether it's coming to take us away or not, the survival will be the fittest not a carbon tax credit.

    2. TonyfromOz Coomera Q says:

      Those green 'Friends of the Dirt' think electricity is based on the 'Hey Presto' principle.

      Generate trillions of watts in a far off desert somewhere, where it's done for 'free' by the wind and the Sun, and then magically transmit that across thousands of miles to where it is needed to be used.

      Every single one of those greenies with an agenda uses electrical power every single day of their life, in everything they do, living, working, shopping, moving around, everything dependent upon access to a constant and reliable producer of that electricity.

      Take that electricity away from them, and they will, as if by magic, be transformed into joining the screaming masses, demanding the blood of the idiots who took away their electrical power.

      It costs vast amounts of money to construct those 'free' electricity producers, they generate what is at absolute best only minimal electrical power, and they NEED to be constructed close to where that electrical power is going to be used.

      No wonder electrical engineers are tearing out their hair.

    3. Rod Campbell-Ross, S says:

      What a load of tosh. This warmed over, rehashed , neo-classical economic nonsense is always wheeled out by those who haven't a clue.

      The author needs to sit down and do some serious reading. There are no silver bullets in this game. Scale, time, the global credit system, the laws of thermodynamics and sheer stupidity weigh heavily against us. Heavy dislocation and significant difficulty is guaranteed, but we can choose our response. How we manage the next few years is up to us, but it begins with education; and articles like this shallow effort do not help.

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    5. Will Stewart, Virgin says:

      There are many misconceptions in this article;

      . The “peak oil” warning has been going on long before that, but here we are ten years after Watt’s deadline and we’re globally consuming 85 million barrels of oil per day with increasing amounts of proven reserves each year.

      Note that Nicolas said "if present trends continue". They didn't. The 1973 oil crisis happened, and consumers drastically cut their oil consumption for a decade after. Then the oil from Alaska and the North Sea started flowing briskly, prices dropped, and people forgot all about the finite nature of supplies.

      The intermittency of wind forces coal and gas-fired plants to operate inefficiently and actually increase emissions.

      This is completely incorrect about gas-fired plants, especially peaker plants, which are optimized to come online at the drop of a hat.

      Also missed in the article is the fact that many coal plants already are sitting in a standby mode or spinning reserve for other coal plants.

      The first coal plants to be taken offline are the oldest, most inefficient. They are normally only used for peak demand, and are cycled frequently. The addition of wind power can greatly reduce the need for these plants, as when wind output enters a lull, the gas turbine peaker plants can be brought online. Increasing amounts of wind, solar, gas, geothermal, hydro, etc power allow us to remove increasing numbers of coal plants.

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    7. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Just look at the history of Ken Watt and how in made a living. You will learn that

      he, and his ilk, depend on this bogus "green movement" for their political and

      economical survival. This entire movement is supported by the lie of man made

      global warming and CO2 emissions. That is a "broad brus", but it's the facts. It's all about the MONEY. The unfortunate consequence is poor, misguided fools

      that follows their leaders that use them as pawns in their continued deception.

    8. Mark Trudeau, Las Ve says:

      These truth's have been known for a very long time. The Left however, chooses to ignore what "science" actually produces. In the 1970's when known oil reserves were falling and consumption was rising, liberal environmentalists failed to recognize what science could and would do. The development of electronic fuel injection not only effectively and substantially increased the amount of crude oil reserves by reducing consumption–without negative effect on automotive performance; but it greatly improved air quality as well. Technology in in the 1980's that allowed us to find, through satelite geological science, vast new reserves of crude oil, coupled with the new ability to drill ten or more miles deep and horizontally, also greatly increased our known reserves. Improved engine design along with effective and affordable emmission controls on automobiles saw greater increases in air quality. Today we are blind to what science, innovation, and creative American know-how can produce. Instead we pursue bio-fuels which actually increase air polution sinmply becuase they are not as efficient as fossil fuels, release more toxins when burned, and we have to burn more of it to get the same level of effective out put as we do with current fossil fuel systems. And least we forget, we need something on the order of 200 gallons of fresh water to make one gallon of bio-fuel! I for one place no confidence in the doomsayers, but believe in our ability as a nation to overcome our difficult problems through the use of our god-given intellect and creative abilities. Alternative energy sources certainly have their place in the future, but they must be maket supported and used where they make sense. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. This 'feel' good policy making in Washington has to end!

    9. Tim Hurst says:


      I hope all is well. Your article raised a couple of red flags for me that I'd like to point out:

      1. Do you really need to ask "why" when we are minutes away from lighting the Gulf of Mexico on fire to try and avert what could be the biggest and most ecologically damaging oil spill in American history?

      2. You're right about coal-fired power plants running inefficiently when they cycle due to wind power variability. And I'm glad you site Colorado as an example because earlier this month the state in effect outlawed any new coal-fired power plants (by investor-owned-utilities) in favor of cleaner-burning natural gas plants which can cycle on/off more efficiently.

      The world we live in is not purely economically deterministic.

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    11. Mike Alford Californ says:

      The Global warming myth has been debunked, there are a lot of credible scientests who have challenged the science behind the myth.Now the new buz word is "climate change". The bottom line is that there are a lot of people making millions by perpatrating this fraud on the world and most of them are suspiciously silent now that the TRUTH is being told. If this is not true why will Al Gore not submit to an interview on the subject with a credible journalist?

    12. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Rod in Sydney;

      Profiting from an imagined crisis is the point of my objection. Theory vs fact is being sorted out and no one has a definitive answer on anything related to our climate – other than it gets cold for awhile then warm for awhile. I can show you data from NASA that points out the relationship bewteen solar flares and environmental temperature. I can show you data that suggests CO2 is a good thing. So, before we hasten to make changes that will adversly impact our lives and our children / grandchildrens lives I propose we slow down, place emotion aside and debate the issue without politicians or those who stand to gain financially from the discussion.

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    14. Richard Eis, England says:

      An important question to ask is, why is there suddenly such an interest in expensive, energy costly ways of going after poor quality oil shale, if we are NOT running out of the good quality (i.e. cheap) stuff.

      You are quite right, we are using 85 million barrels of oil per day of a finite resource. A resource that has steadily increased in price almost constantly in the last 10 years. So don't worry, you will be priced out of the market long before the oil is gone. Probably by the chinese.

      Climate change is real and we are responsible. Which means we CAN do something about it. Blaming it on other things or ignoring it means we CAN'T.

    15. Billie says:

      Of course climate change is real, since the beginning of time. Mankind is not the cause, read your science. Natural resources are plentiful and practical to use. Wind/solar is the least productive, dangerous, impractical, inefficient, ignorant to pursue and wasted money. This is nothing but a fear mongering, money grabbing, control freaks insult to reality and the people that live it.

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