Why Alternative Energy can’t replace fossil fuels
Book and Article list below
Introduction to alternative energy reading list
Scale. Oil is the densest form of energy on the planet next to uranium. To replace the one cubic mile of oil, which is burned world-wide every year, you’d need to build every year for 50 years: 200 Dams (10,000 total), OR 2,600 Nuclear plants (130,000 total), OR 5,200 coal plants (260,000 total), OR 1,642,000 wind turbines (82,100,000 total), OR 4,562,500,000 rooftop PV (22,812,500,000 total). Biofuels: We consume about 105 exa joules (EJ) per year in the USA. If you burned every living plant and its roots, you’d have 94 EJ of energy and we could all pretend we lived on Mars. (Patzek “The Real Biofuel Cycles,” Letter to Science, Science and “The Real Biofuel Cycles,” Online Supporting Material to Science 312, 2006). Biofuels have negative EROEI and too many other issues to list (Friedemann, “Peak Soil“).
97% of transportation runs on oil. Large vehicles like tractors and trucks can’t be electrified or run on batteries, because the battery would be too huge – even a 100% efficient battery can only store 3% of the energy that the same volume of oil would deliver.
Solar, wind, nuclear, hydrogen, biofuels, and the electric grid all depend on fossil fuels throughout their life cycle, from the mining and crushing of ore, to fabrication, delivery over bitumen and coal-power-crushed concrete highways, to maintenance and operations. No form of alternative energy produces enough energy to reproduce itself plus deliver energy to society.
In addition, all alternative energy solutions are limited by shortages of minerals.
Most sustainable or alternative energy delivers electricity. Due to deregulation, the grid is rusting and falling apart, and has lost it’s triple redundancy (triple plating) and is bare bones in most places. The energy, materials, and time to fix, let alone upgrade and expand the grid so it could handle more electricity from alternative sources is not going to happen before the energy shortages begin. More and more natural gas peaker plants need to be built to balance the intermittent energy of wind and solar — but natural gas is on the verge of declining (Powers, “Cold, Hungry, and In the Dark: Exploding the Natural Gas Supply Myth).
There are too many other challenges to list. Each kind of alternative energy has additional issues not mentioned above.
Overview of Alternative & Renewable Energy Resources
- D. Fridley. Alternative Energy Challenges. 2010.
- M. Hoffert. Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability: Energy for a
- Greenhouse Planet. Science 1 Nov 2002
- T. Trainer. Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society. 2010
- H. Hayden. The Solar Fraud: Why Solar Energy Won’t Run the World. 2005
- A. Friedemann. Energy Overview (fossil fuels and alternative energy). 2011.
- A. Friedemann. Peak Resources and the Preservation of Knowledge. 2006.
- A. Friedemann. High-Tech can’t last: Limited minerals & metals essential for wind, solar, microchips, cars, & other high-tech gadgets. 2013.
- A. Friedemann. Antecedents — too much oil needed to make wind, solar, batteries, and so on. 2013.
- A. Friedemann. Peak Soil: Why Biofuels are Not Sustainable and a Threat to America’s National Security. 2007
- A. Friedemann. Dozens of reasons why algae will never replace oil. 2011.
- Bioenergy — Chances and Limits. German National Academy of Science (Leopoldina Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften). 26 July 2012.
- D. Pimentel. Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower. 2005
Electric Grid: falling apart
- J. Makansi. Lights Out. The Electricity Crisis. 2007
- R. Munson. From Edison to Enron: The Business of Power & What It Means for the Future of Electricity. 2005.
- A. Friedemann. Batteries are made of rare, declining, and imported minerals. 2013.
- Department of Energy. Vehicle Technologies Program. Energy Storage Research & Development. Annual Progress report 2008.
- P. Prieto. Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution. The Energy Return on Investment. 2013.
- A. Friedemann. Solar Power Overview. 2011.
- A. Friedemann. Wind power will not save us. 2011.
Solar & Wind
- R. Vartabedian. Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels. Los Angeles Times. 9 Dec 2012.
- W. Alley. Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste. 2013.
- A. Friedemann. Why Nuclear Power is not an alternative to fossil fuels. 2011.
- T. Cochran. It’s time to give up on breeder reactors. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 2010.
- H. Hirsch. Nuclear reactor hazards: ongoing dangers of operating nuclear technology. 2005.
- M. Dittmar. The Future of Nuclear Energy: Facts and Fiction (4 parts). 2009.
A. Friedemann. Hydropower is temporary. Dams silt up, there are limited rivers, and they do harm. 2011.
- A. Friedemann. The Hydrogen Economy: Energy and Economic Black Hole. Skeptic Magazine. 2008.
- J. Romm. Hype About Hydrogen: Fact & Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate. 2004
- U. Bossel. Energy and the Hydrogen Economy.
- A. Friedemann. Fusion not likely to ever work out — be thankful for that. 2013.
- D. Clery. The Most Expensive Science Experiment Ever. Popular Science. June 27, 2013.
- A. Friedemann. Geothermal – can it make up for peak fossil fuels? 2013
Wind & Tidal
- A. Friedemann. Wave and Tidal Energy: limited, intermittent, destroyed by storms. 2011.
Other sources of energy cannot deliver sufficient surpluses to replace the potent portable energy we know as gasoline and diesel. It is not generally understood that poorer quality energy sources can be critically dependent upon oil for their extraction, processing and distribution. In other words, oil is the precursor for other sources of energy; gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydro, because these require oil fuel to create and maintain infrastructure. It also gives them the illusion of being “profitable”. Feral Metallurgist