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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid