News / USA

Energy Expert Questions Green Future

Wind turbine
Wind turbine

The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has intensified the effort to move away from petroleum and other fossil fuels in favor of what is often described as a "green energy future", where clean renewable sources of energy would power the electric grid as well as transportation. Even oil companies now promote wind turbines, solar arrays and bio-fuels as part of their "green energy" initiatives. But energy expert Robert Bryce says much of this is fantasy and that people need to deal realistically with demand for energy.

Repower America TV ad:

"Some people say the answer to our energy lies in the past, they want to
burn more oil, more dirty coal. Problem is, it burns carbon and it is killing God's green earth. The future is over here- wind, sun, a new energy grid."


The televised ad for the non-profit group Repower America lays out a green energy future.

It is one of many calls to embrace renewable energies and end our so-called addiction to oil and other hydrocarbons. In speeches around the country, Robert Bryce challenges that view.

"Hydrocarbons are here to stay. Nine out of 10 units of energy, nine out of 10 units of power that we consume come from hydrocarbons, they are not going away. Second, many of the myths about green energy are just that, they are myths," he said.

Bryce says there may be a larger role for such things as wind, solar and geothermal someday if big advances are made, but to replace the world's current daily use of hydrocarbons, he says, we would need the energy equivalent of more than 23 Saudi Arabias.

Robert Bryce lays out his arguments, with plenty of supporting material, in his new book Power Hungry, The Myths of Green Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. In the book, Bryce shows that fossil fuels like oil and natural gas have a high energy density. That refers to how much energy each measurable unit contains.

In a VOA interview, Bryce compared the amount of energy produced by a wind turbine and a natural gas well, based on the land each requires.

"The power density of a wind turbine is about one to 1.2 watts per square meter. That is, one watt for every square meter that you cover and with a wind turbine you get about one watt out. Compare that with a natural gas well, just a stripper well, which is considered marginal.  It produces a power density of about 28 watts per square meter, so we are talking on an order of 20 times greater power density from a gas well than what comes from a wind turbine."

Bryce also notes that wind turbines rely on rare earth elements like neodymium to generate electricity efficiently and around 90 percent of those rare metals are controlled by one country-China. He says Americans who complain about reliance on foreign oil should consider what it would be like to rely on one foreign country for the entire wind energy sector.

Robert Bryce is not against developing renewable energies; in fact he has solar panels on his own house in Austin. But he says solar is simply not economically competitive.

"I am all for solar. I have invested in the solar panels for a number of reasons, one, this is what I do, I write about the energy business, so I wanted to understand the economics myself," Bryce explained. "But we have to be realistic about what solar can do. It is intermittent and it is relatively expensive compared to conventional forms of electricity."

Bryce argues that policy makers should be looking at two forms of energy already available to power the nation over the next several decades. One is natural gas, reserves of which have grown dramatically in the past few years thanks to new drilling techniques. Natural gas produces about half the carbon of coal in electrical generation and could be used in the transportation sector as well. He also favors expansion of nuclear power.

"Natural gas and nuclear are the two energy sources that I see, moving forward, are the fuels of the future. Why? Because they can provide the scale of energy we need at a cost that we can afford," he noted.

Robert Bryce, managing editor of Energy Tribune and a Manhattan Institute fellow, welcomes debate from anyone who questions his arguments. All he asks is that they look at the facts and do the math.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid