Sound Energy Policy

How to provide cheap energy and eliminate air pollution at the same time

Energy policy and environmental issues are discussed together because they affect each other.
Poor environmental policy will make good energy policy impossible.

    First lets briefly address the controversy over whether global warming is a real threat or not.

My opinion is that it doesn't really matter.  I have a solution that will allow us to reduce green house gases by 60% or more while reducing government spending on environmental projects and IMPROVING the economy.  This plan has no downsides that I am aware of.  That being so  is there a point in arguing about whether or not we need to prevent global warming?  Lets just prevent it just in case, and while we are at it we can improve air quality and the economy.

From here on out I will simply assume global warming is a real threat, and my plans will be aimed at eliminating the potential threat that air pollution and green house gasses present.

So what are the criteria of a good energy and environmental policy?
Here are some of the requirements.

    energy must be renewable (or at least capable of lasting us for several hundred years)
    energy must be clean, preferably 100% clean
    energy must be reliable and stable.  this is required because unstable power grids cause blackouts and brownouts
    energy must not consume large amounts of land.  Land spent on industrial use is taken away from natural habitats and causes species to become endangered or extinct.
    our energy solution must be exportable.  It is not possible to fix global environmental problems if we only change things here in the US.

Now lets look at some of the energy programs our government is currently wasting its money on.

    1  Bio fuels.  This is either diesel or alcohol made from a crop such as corn.  This is a renewable energy source.

The problem is it is very inefficient.  You only get about 30% more fuel out of the process than you put into it in the form of fuel used for tractors.  So for every 100 liters of bio fuel you burn, you actually burn another 70 liters of gasoline to make the 100 liters of bio fuel.   You end up burning 1.7 liters of fuel for every liter of fuel worth of actual driving.  This means that no matter how efficient your diesel or alcohol burning car is you will pollute the air much more than just using gasoline.
Bio fuels are renewable, but they are even less clean than gasoline.  This makes them unacceptable as a solution.

    2  Wind.  This is a 100% clean energy.  The problems are it is unstable, and it uses land very ineficiently.

The unpredictable nature of wind means you need to have back up generators ready to go in case the wind dies.  These back up generators tend to be inefficient due to the need to be able to turn them on quickly.  Thus to stabilize wind power you need to run dirty diesel or natural gas generators.   Some day we may have the battery or capacitor technology to use wind power without the need for backup generators.  We are not there yet.  Even when we can do that, it still does not solve the problems of how much natural habitat it destroys.

    3  Solar.  100% clean energy.  The problem here is once again stability, predictability, and land use.

I've discussed the problems of stability and predictability under wind power, so I won't do it again here.  Inefficient land use reduces natural habitats for endangered species, and can cause some species to go extinct.


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