CLEANER ISN'T GREENER
A view from AERA President Jim Rickoff
Those of you who know me, know that I’m an outdoorsman with a great respect and love of nature’s beauty. In fact, I consider myself a conservationist and would like nothing more than to have a fuel that is cleaner than fossil fuels. But, I live in the real world and understand that when the technologies aren’t advanced enough to provide true greener power, we should wait and keep developing these alternatives before we jump in. Hopefully, someday we’ll be there but we aren’t there yet.
What I do know for certain is I’m sick of hearing a bunch of lies and watching the political posturing for alternative energy, specifically the promotion of Electric Vehicles (EVs). Our congressmen and women for years have been making policy for votes and are now promoting how clean and efficient EVs will be. This really hits home to me and is simply not true. The subsidies for this less green vehicle sickens me. The EV believers will continue to promote the false beliefs of the efficiency and green advantages of wind and solar power to power the grid for the increase in electricity needed for EVs.
Let’s review some facts: Currently the maximum efficiency of Solar Power is at 33% which currently we are only achieving 26%. For Wind Power the maximum efficiency is at 60% which we are currently achieving 45%. And there is no technology in sight that can increase that efficiency. The combination of wind and solar energy only makes up 3% of the world’s energy use. To use this energy in an EV, you must store the energy in a battery.
Here are some ugly facts about the batteries needed to operate an EV: One car battery weighs about a half ton. To make one half ton battery, you need to process about 250 tons of our earth’s materials. Currently, Tesla has the world’s largest car battery manufacturing facility. It would take 500 years of manufacturing from this factory to make enough batteries to store one day of the United States’ electrical needs. This helps explain why wind and solar only provide 3% of the world’s energy. And this is after 20 years of research and billions of dollars in subsidies.
Now, let’s talk about the environment and the impact the manufacturing of wind, solar and the batteries needed to store the energy: All of these are built from nonrenewable materials. For example, a 100-megawatt wind farm will power 75,000 homes but takes 30,000 tons of Iron Ore; 50,000 tons of concrete; and 900 tons of plastic to build. To get the same power from a solar farm you would need 150% more of Steel, Cement and Glass. Now, add the rare earth metals like Lithium, Cobalt, Copper, Iridium and Dysprosium needed for batteries. The current plans would require increasing the mining of these elements by up to 2000% of current production to fit the world’s needs. The mining of these metals will take place mostly in foreign countries and it’s alarming to note that some of these countries are hostile to America. In addition, the gold rush for the mining of these elements will surely bring ugly labor issues in underdeveloped areas of the world. That’s right, child labor and unsafe working conditions for most involved. Now, factor in the amount of conventional energy it will take to increase mining and manufacturing operations to this level. Also, let’s factor in the waste of worn-out wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries because all of these have short life spans. It’s off the chart. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, by 2050, the waste from just these worn-out turbines, panels and batteries will double the amount of ALL WASTE currently in the world. That fact should scare the hell out of you!
Have we not learned from Europe who has heavily invested in wind and solar power combined with eliminating fossil fuel exploration? The lack of sunny days and less wind than predicted has led to a reduction in available power, and with no natural gas exploration allowed in many EU countries, they are reliant on Russia to keep their lights on and homes heated. The demand and shortage of supply has resulted in skyrocketing heating costs for the citizens of those countries. We are certainly headed in that direction if we continue on this path.
The lawmakers keep promoting these false beliefs for EVs along with wind and solar power. Somehow, we need to hold on and believe that intelligence will kick in. The cost to the environment for EVs and wind and solar power are immense. Our government continues promoting this technology before it’s ready and lying to us about its cleanliness. The facts are clear for hydrocarbons, that technology is making them easier and cleaner to use. Hydrocarbons are still greener overall but that doesn’t mean we should quit advancing technologies for even cleaner or alternative fuels. This is and should be a priority.
Sure, I have a vested interest in the internal combustion engine and the vast array of power it brings to many modes of transportation, agricultural needs, mining, construction, boating, recreation, stationary power, etc. Since the EVs aren’t greener, our government should quit playing politics and invest in technologies like Hydrogen that are green. It truly is green power, the best alternative for our environment and the life of the Internal Combustion Engine. But I guess that makes too much sense for a bunch of politicians.
I am an optimist and hope we can change direction before it’s too late. Our future and the future of this planet depend on it.
As always, good profitable selling!
From the April-June 2022 issue of Engine Professional magazine.
To read the entire issue, click here.
To read the entire issue, click here.