Introduction excerpt from Energy PowerShift: Benefiting from Today's New Technologies
There is a myth being perpetuated that transitioning from our current fossil fuel and nuclear based economy to one based entirely on clean, renewable energy would be "too costly" and "impractical." This book was written to dispel that myth.
The fact of the matter is that the U.S. has five times more clean energy than it needs to deliver all energy services. New technologies that were not available only a few years ago are either now ready to be put into use or are very close to commercialization.
A renewable energy based economy would save the U.S. $750 billion per year plus create over six million new jobs which would revitalize local communities all across the country. A renewable energy based economy would reduce the federal trade deficit, enhance national security and essentially solve a staggering array of environmental problems. A renewable energy based economy would require LESS government, less taxation, less spending, less welfare and less regulation fostering an atmosphere that allows a free market economy to flourish.
Two new patented processes now make it possible to transform sewage, plastics, used tires, forestry waste, agricultural waste, animal carcasses and biomass into oil. That's right…oil, the stuff we go half way around the world and dedicate a huge percentage of our national resources to secure. We have enough waste and available biomass in the U.S. to make one hundred billion gallons of oil per year. That is enough oil for all of our transportation needs and more.
This oil, now made in local communities all across the country, can also be used to fire high temperature fuel cells. Newly developed "thin film solid oxide" fuel cells operate quietly, cleanly, efficiently and inexpensively generating both electricity and heat on site where it will be used. There is no longer a need for an electrical grid or a utility company for that matter.
A new breed of SUV-sized diesel hybrid electric vehicles, utilizing new battery technologies coupled with small diesel engines, hydraulic drives and powerful electric motors now part of the wheel itself, run the entire year on seventy gallons of the oil…single-handedly eliminating the federal trade deficit for foreign oil. The U.S. transportation fuel demand will be cut from 140 billion gallons per year to 10 billion gallons of clean non-fossil oil.
New technologies now make it possible to tap into the tremendous kinetic energy of the Gulf Stream to make electricity or to harness the energy of ocean waves -- energy there for the taking by those with enough imagination and entrepreneurial spirit to capture it and sell it.
Nanotechnology, a whole new world of devices created on a molecular scale, is finding its way into energy applications with dye sensitized solar collectors on thin films of flexible plastic that make electricity directly from the sun. These continuous sheets of energy producing plastic film can be used as roofing or applied directly to the building skin; it can even be made into clothing or built into the rooftop of hybrid vehicles.
This is the "new way" of acquiring energy contrasted with the "old way"…the way it is done now with an economy that runs on very dirty coal, oil from half way around the world and a nuclear industry that must rely on the taxpayer to pay for their potential liabilities because there is no insurance company that will do it. While this old way of doing things may work just fine for a handful of politically connected utilities and some multinational oil companies, it is not working so well for the average American, nor does it bode well for future generations.
The renewable energy approach carries with it some distinct economic advantages…in fact they add up to over $750 billion per year. The primary energy is free, for the most part, in the form of waste, biomass, wind, sun and ocean movement. In addition to the primary energy being free, it is converted to useful energy with much greater efficiency and with much less waste than with current methods. Electricity now costs more to deliver than to generate, and it is only generated at a 35% efficiency. With renewable energy, there are no clean up costs…no surface mine reclamation, no toxic piles of contaminated ore next to pristine rivers and no mercury emissions into the air. There will be no more need to subsidize mature, highly profitable, polluting industries which now cost the taxpayer billions of dollars a year. With renewable energy, the trade deficit would be reduced by a third, overnight, by eliminating the $200 billion a year we currently send overseas for oil alone. With renewable energy, there is no need for military involvement in the acquisition of oil and the protection for corporations to have access to oil at a cost of over $100 billion in taxpayer expense.
The renewable energy approach carries with it some distinct social benefits as well. Millions of new, high paying jobs that cannot be shipped overseas would be created, contributing to the revitalization of communities all across the country. The renewable energy approach provides for greater national security eliminating vulnerable targets. Consider not having to worry about 1000 foot long LNG tankers sitting in ports, each one with the equivalent concentrated energy of forty Hiroshima atomic bombs and knowing that a couple of bazooka rounds could set it off. Consider our already trouble prone electrical grid that depends on thousands of computer interfaced control points that could be hacked into by a terrorist group…bringing the system to its knees. Consider the hundreds of thousands of exposed oil and gas pipelines where two people on a weekend in the right places in Louisiana could shut off the gas to the entire Eastern seaboard. Consider, too, the hundred or so nuclear plants with their vulnerabilities to sabotage, their record of accidents and the lackluster oversight of their operation and safety.
Probably the most significant social benefit that a renewable approach would bring is relative to the environment. From global warming to acid rain and nuclear waste, a whole host of environmental nightmares would be eliminated at their source.
A renewable energy economy should not be confused with the much touted “hydrogen economy.” A renewable energy economy is ready to go...now.
The choice is really quite simple, we can choose to purchase our energy from Saudi princes....or North Dakota farmers.
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