41 Inconvenient Truths on the “New Energy Economy”

Greta Fee | James Alexander Michie

Image Credit: Anders Hellberg [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Energy economics is a subclass of the economy that focuses on its relations with energy as the basis of all other relationships. Thus, it is established as a subclass of the ecological economy insofar as it assumes that the food chain in ecology has a direct analogy to the energy supply chain for human activities.

Now, it should be noted that a week does not pass without a mayor, a governor, a politician or an expert joining in a hurry to demand or predict an energy future that is based entirely on wind / solar energy and batteries, released from the “ cargo “of hydrocarbons that have fed societies for centuries. Regardless of the opinion about whether an energy “transformation” is required or why energy is required, the physics and energy economy combined with the realities of the scale makes it clear that there is no possibility that something resembles radically a “ new energy economy” in the foreseeable future.

Math before the problem

It should be noted that Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding the energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem”. In this way, one could say that without a doubt, he is correct.

Thus, there are some realities about the scale of energy demand. Among them we could mention:

  • Hydrocarbons supply more than 80 percent of the world’s energy: if all of that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles, and that entire line would grow up to the Washington Monument every week.
  • The small decrease of two percentage points in the share of hydrocarbons in world energy use accounted for more than $ 2 billion in cumulative global expenditure on alternatives during that period.
  • A 100-fold increase in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on highways by 2040 would displace five percent of global oil demand.
  • Renewable energy would have to expand 90 times to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades.
  • Replace hydrocarbon-based electricity generation in the USA over the next 30 years, it would require a construction program that builds the network at a rate 14 times higher than at any other time in history.

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Source: Foundation for Economic Education

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