View Single Post
Old 07-10-2019, 09:32 AM   #627
New Era
Lanny or not Lanny?
New Era's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2013

Originally Posted by Fuzz View Post
Some facts on why the energy transition is such a tough problem, and why we can't count on solar, wind, or batteries to get us out of it(baring some transformational discovery).
Interesting article, but I see quite a few problems with it. I'm sure this will just be construed as spin, but let's look at this article critically, starting with the source and author.

The Foundation for Economic Education is a libertarian think tank. The Foundation was founded by Ayn Rand devotee Leonard Read, with initial trustees from Honolulu Oil Company, General Motors, DuPont, Chrysler and Southern California Edison Company. This think tank has received funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation, Donors Trust, and Donors Capital Fund.

The author, Mark P. Mills, is a partner at Cottonwood Venture Partners, an oilfield venture fund. He was also the former chief tech strategist for Digital Power Capital, a venture fund that was an affiliate of Wexford Capital LLC.
Mills is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and writes for Forbes on the issues of energy and technology. Mills is the co-author of "The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy," a book that echos many of the same statements made in this article.

The article itself is nothing but platitudes and statements that have no support or explanation behind them. This is standard think tank pedagogy at work. Make a statement, many of which are fallacious, but do it convincingly and no one will argue against them. Use confusing unrelated issues to make a statement or an argument for/against a third concept. Some examples.

1. Hydrocarbons supply over 80 percent of world energy: If all that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and that entire line would grow by the height of the Washington Monument every week.

Wonderful imagery, but so what? This is nothing but a statement about the current state of our energy and energy use practices. This does not address nor support the point Gates was making.

6. Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.

Okay. So he's arguing against investment in this much needed infrastructure improvement project for what reason? Because it would be hard? We should be taking this on because we are meeting a demand. For example, of the seven largest hydroelectric dams in the United States only one was built after 1961. Maybe it is time we started to reinvest in America and started leveraging the hydro resources to meet demand. The last nuclear plant built in the US was in 1977. The last one licensed was in 1996 (tells you how long these things take to get operational). We need to travel down these roads regardless of how tough the go may be.

7. Eliminating hydrocarbons to make U.S. electricity (impossible soon, infeasible for decades) would leave untouched 70 percent of U.S. hydrocarbons use—America uses 16 percent of world energy.

What does that even mean??? Eliminating hydrocarbons leaves hydrocarbons untouched? Yes. It does. They stay in the ground and do not release problematic byproducts. Unrelated factoid tacked on at the end, America uses 16% of the world energy.

24. Wind and solar machines produce energy an average of 25 percent–30 percent of the time, and only when nature permits. Conventional power plants can operate nearly continuously and are available when needed.

Yup, those are limitations of the technology. They are a supplemental technology. We should be increasing capacity of sources that can meet consumption demands. This means more hydro and more nuclear. We need technology advances in both of those areas to meet needs as well.

29. If batteries scaled like digital tech, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power a jetliner to Asia. That only happens in comic books.

As Thomas Watson, CEO of IBM, famously once said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." It is hard to look into the future and understand what technology will look like, and it is hard to predict the incredible advances that humans can develop when challenged.

There are others, but the article is a collection of inflammatory and misleading statements meant to discourage support for any possible changes in our approach to energy development and use.
New Era is offline   Reply With Quote