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(in)Dependence Day 2023 - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Jul 4, 2023 at 7:00 AM
Energy Policy, Climate Change

The United States energy independence achieved in 2020 has been sacrificed on the altar of climate change, terminated with malice as part of an effort to “end fossil fuels”. This effort would ultimately make the entire US energy economy dependent upon intermittent renewable generation, some form of energy storage plus existing nuclear, hydro, geothermal, biomass generation and as yet undefined “Dispatchable Emission-Free Resources”.

The ”end fossil fuels” effort has proceeded faster on the supply side than on the demand side, causing the US Administration to go “hat in hand” to OPEC, Venezuela and even Iran seeking to arrange imports of foreign oil to fill the growing gap between domestic supply and demand. This Administration effort has not been well received by those potential suppliers. OPEC has recently announced a 1 million barrel per day reduction in production. US dependence, in this case, is amplified by sales of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve which have left the SPR dangerously depleted.

The transition to a largely renewables plus storage energy economy increases our dependence on weather, as well as on foreign supplies of key materials required for the manufacture of wind turbines, solar collectors and storage batteries. Many of these materials are rare earth minerals, most of which are not currently available in the quantities which would be required to repower the US energy economy and some of which might not ever be available in those quantities. Many of those minerals are primarily controlled by nations which are unfriendly to the US, leaving us dependent on our enemies for our future wellbeing.

The requirement for energy storage in the renewables plus storage energy economy leaves us dependent upon technology which, for the most part, does not exist today and might never exist. The large seasonal variation in wind and solar generator output creates a requirement for long-duration storage capable of storing energy over a period of months when generation is in surplus for use during months when generation is inadequate to meet grid demand. The only established technology for such storage currently in use is pumped hydro storage. However, there has been major environmentalist resistance to the construction of pumped hydro storage facilities, particularly flow of stream facilities which require damming existing waterways.

Elimination of fossil fuel use also faces major challenges in several industries for which there is no existing electric alternative process, such as the production of iron and the calcining of coal. The impact of the “end of fossil fuels” on industrial processes which rely on fossil fuels for their process chemistry, on the synthetic fertilizer industry and on the production of the thousands of products made from derivatives of oil remains uncertain.

Our growing dependence is purportedly driven by a perceived need to avoid the adverse effects of climate change resulting from the emissions of CO2 and CH4 from fossil fuel production and use. However, numerous other nations of the world are increasing their consumption of fossil fuels in the interests of economic development and energy independence. As a result, our growing dependence on weather, renewable energy and energy storage, the increasing cost of energy in our economy and the decreasing reliability and resilience of our electric grid will have no measurable effect on future climate change, but will likely result in economic de-development.

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”

H. L. Mencken