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Is Green Energy a Realistic Idea? – Wim Vincken

Is Green Energy a Realistic Idea?

The cost of replacing 100 million internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is non-trivial, as is building the green  energy infrastructure needed to power all these vehicles. The true costs of green energy have been fudged by not counting external costs or replacement costs; the full lifecycle costs of “replaceable” energy are much higher than promoters are claiming. All the plastic in the world is still derived from oil, not electricity. Each electric vehicle contains hundreds of pounds of plastic. Energy, not money, is the foundation of the global economy. Without energy, we’re all stranded in the desert and all our “money” is worthless because it can no longer buy what we need to live.

Central banks can print infinite amounts of currency but they can’t print energy, and so all central banks can do is add zeroes to the currency. They can’t make energy more affordable, or guarantee that a day’s labor will buy more than a fraction of the energy that labor can buy today. The global financial system has played a game in which “money” is either printed or borrowed into existence, on the theory that energy will be more abundant and more affordable in the future. If this theory turns out to be incorrect, the “money” used in the future to pay back debts incurred today will have near-zero value.

Reality Check

1. All “renewable” energy is actually “replaceable” energy, analyst Nate Hagens points out. Every 15-25 years (or less) much or all of the alt-energy systems and structures have to be replaced, and little of the necessary mining, manufacturing and transport can be performed with the “renewable” electricity these sources generate. Virtually all the heavy lifting of these processes require hydrocarbons and especially oil.

2. Wind and solar “renewable” energy is intermittent and therefore requires changes in behavior (no clothes dryers or electric ovens used after dark, etc.) or battery storage on a scale that isn’t practical in terms of the materials required.

3. Batteries are also “replaceable” and don’t last very long. The percentage of lithium-ion batteries being recycled globally is near-zero, so all batteries end up as costly, toxic landfill.

4. Battery technologies are limited by the physics of energy storage and materials. Moving whiz-bang exotic technologies from the lab to global scales of production is non-trivial.

5. The material and energy resources required to build alt-energy sources that replace hydrocarbon energy and replace all the alt-energy which has broken down or reached the end of its life exceeds the affordable reserves of materials and energy available on the planet.

6. Externalized costs of alt-energy are not being included in the cost. Nobody’s adding the immense cost of the environmental damage caused by lithium mines to the price of the lithium batteries. Once the full external costs are included, the cost is no longer as affordable as promoters claim.

7. None of the so-called “green” “replaceable” energy has actually replaced hydrocarbons; all the alt-energy has done is increase total energy consumption. This is what’s called Jevons Paradox: every increase in efficiency or energy production only increases consumption.

Here’s a real-world example: Building another freeway doesn’t actually reduce congestion in the old freeway; it simply encourages people to drive more, so both freeways are soon congested.

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