• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Egypt and Renewable Energy

    Aiding and abetting the solar and wind energy industries in their continuing efforts to mislead the American people, Energy Secretary Steven Chu called for a shift to renewable energy to insulate us from petroleum price spikes. Recent events in Egypt are partially responsible for a recent jump in oil prices, but renewables are not the answer. A few facts will show why.

    First, according the Obama Administration’s own Energy Information Administration, petroleum accounts for less than 1 percent of electricity production. Since wind and solar produce electricity and not transportation fuel, these renewables cannot replace anything more than a negligible fraction of domestic petroleum production. Wind and solar can replace only fuels like coal and gas, which we have in abundance in the U.S.

    Second, the major biomass source of transportation fuels, corn-based ethanol, is fraught with problems—even uber-green Al Gore has called our ethanol mandates a mistake. Over 40 percent of our domestic corn consumption goes to ethanol, which provides less than 10 percent of our transportation fuel and is a factor in food-price increases. Cellulosic ethanol production (made primarily from non-food sources) is not even close to being on track to providing industrial-scale quantities of fuel. And the experience with corn ethanol raises the question of what problems we will discover with cellulosic ethanol if it ever does get up to scale.

    Third, though the recent unrest makes markets nervous about the Suez Canal (through which 2–3 percent of the world’s petroleum travels), Egypt is not a major producer of petroleum.

    Fourth, petroleum prices have been rising for months as the world economy pulls out of the recession. The price spikes of the past week are not abnormal.

    Note: Thunderhorse, a single oil production platform (with multiple wells) in the Gulf of Mexico, produces nearly 4 billion gallons of petroleum per year. Three platforms like Thunderhorse would provide an amount of petroleum equivalent to all the biofuels currently produced in the U.S.

    So if energy prices are a concern, the Obama Administration should be encouraging safe use of our own resources in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico and onshore. Instead, they are slow-walking permits, blocking access to our own reserves, and even stonewalling a pipeline that could bring a million barrels of petroleum per day from Canada. A knee-jerk call for renewables is not a serious response to rising oil prices.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Egypt and Renewable Energy

    1. Jamie, DC says:

      Mr. Kreutzer, there is a glaring omission in your first point: plug-in hybrids and the diverse fleet of electric vehicles under development and even production right now. With electrified vehicles, wind and solar can in fact displace petroleum to fuel transportation. And I'm sure you know this.

      This post makes Heritage seem much more like a "spin-tank" than a thinktank.

    2. Bobbie says:

      You're not thinking of the present and immediate ramifications, Jamie. All renewables have more problems that lead to crisis.

      Thorough research hasn't and isn't being applied, only a focus on something that will lead to more harm then good. Natural resources of what we are accustomed and knowledgeable of is practical and reasonable.

    3. David Kreutzer, Ph.D. David Kreutzer says:


      Of course I know plug-ins use electricity and you should know that they don't have to be charged up with electricity from wind and solar. In fact, given the high cost of wind and solar electricity, renewable electricity mandates will raise electric rates and slow the adoption of plug-in electric cars. If you are worried about energy security, then you should want affordable electricity not overpriced and unreliable renewable-sourced electricity.

    4. Keith, Ripley says:

      "Wind and solar can replace only fuels like coal and gas, which we have in abundance in the U.S."

      Actually, they can't even do that. Since you cannot control wind speed or when the sun shines, this form of energy needs to be paired with something that can be manipulated – coal or gas.


    5. Randy, CT says:

      You have a short term, and backwards looking view of energy policy. Without government investments now we will never get to a point were renewable fuels are economical alternatives. Your solutions are short sided and will only make the problem worse in the future.

    6. Bobbie says:


      Technically, the government has no right to involve themselves. Without government investments the free market will produce IF the INTEREST of CONSUMERS is there. Guess what? Not there!

      There is no reason America shouldn't be using the natural resources America has. The rest of the world is using ours and theirs. I'm not sure what problems you see to be made worse in the future, but it seems it will be the neglect to use our own natural resources and forcing us on renewable. Renewables are inefficient and inconsistent. The interest isn't there and either is an honest reason to dump on the people.

    7. Pingback: » Financial News Update – 02/01/11 NoisyRoom.net: The Progressive Hunter

    8. Jamie, DC says:

      I never claimed plugins were only powered by renewables, David. But you told your readers that wind and solar can't power transportation. I didn't use a public platform to misinform anyone today.

      Also, if you get the time, I would love to read your post on how an RES will slow plugin hybrid deployment.

    9. Pingback: The Effect of Obama's Energy Policies on Gas Prices | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    10. Pingback: In Pictures: Bush Vs. Obama On Gas Prices

    11. Pingback: Gas price outrage over Obama’s Energy Policies, No? Lets compare Gas Prices under Bush | Iron Mill News Service

    12. Pingback: In Pictures: Bush Vs. Obama On Gas Prices | The Conservative Papers

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.