The Wind, Solar and Biofuel Alternatives Should be Carefully Studied before Large Committments are Made. Their Use may Prove to be Inappropriate.
To replace carbon-based fuel, the US Government, many other agencies, major corporations and countless individuals all seem to be counting on alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and biofuel. But alternatives such as these cannot reasonably be expected to replace more than half of the energy from carbon-based fuel:
More than 6.7 million big new wind turbines, totaling more than 23 trillion dollars (not including batteries) would be required to replace just one-sixth of the energy now supplied by carbon-based fuel. The turbines must be installed where the wind blows at least some of the time, and they must be near to big electrical transmission lines that can carry electricity to where people actually live. If the turbines were located on all the coastlines of the planet, there would be 30 wind turbines per mile, along every shoreline everywhere on the entire planet. Think about this.
3.2 billion sun-facing roofs would each need to be covered with 24 solar collector panels, at a cost of $12,500 dollars per roof, for a total cost of 40 trillion dollars (not including batteries or solar trackers) to replace only one-sixth of the energy now supplied by carbon-based fuel. The solar collectors need to be installed where the sun shines at least some of the time. Are there 3.2 billion roofs on the whole planet? Think about this. Also consider: how many of these roof owners can actually afford the panels?
The prospect of finding 63 trillion dollars in funding plus another 37 trillion for batteries seems highly unlikely. (I am not kidding about the batteries!) That 100 trillion total would be about one hundred times the total cost of the US war in Afghanistan and Iraq - since 2001. (Remember, just that puny little one trillion bucks has already threatened to break the US Bank! - let's get real about this, folks!) And don't forget, because they are so intermittent and undependable, contributions from solar and wind should each be limited to a maximum replacement fraction of only one-sixth of the energy now supplied by carbon-based fuel.
I don't know about you, but MY electric bill is already going up because of these shockingly expensive alternative energy sources! Everybody needs to think -really hard- about this!
The total world-wide potential for tidal energy is 1 terawatt, about 7 percent of the world's total energy need. That 1 terawatt could probably be fully developed at a cost of roughly $6.5 trillion dollars - considerably more reasonable than the cost of solar. (But, because of its periodic nature, a tidal power system might need batteries as well.)
The total world-wide potential for geothermal energy may be as much as 2 terawatts, about 13 percent of the world's total energy need. The 2 terawatts could probably be fully developed at a cost of roughly $11 trillion dollars - still somewhat more reasonable than the cost of solar.
Biofuels? Here's what's wrong with biofuels: First, the energy cost of making corn ethanol is roughly equal to the energy produced by that fuel. (You are correct: it makes no sense!) If it weren't for federal monetary incentives, the production of corn ethanol wouldn't make sense to the farmers either, and corn ethanol would not be produced. Second, the clearing and burning of tropical rain forest releases many times the carbon dioxide that is released by just using the biofuel produced by that same cleared area over tens of years. Plus, those tropical rain forest ecosystems are totally destroyed along with countless plant and animal species, and native human jungle cultures. Third: the corn, sugar cane, and palm oil plants take up agricultural space that would otherwise be used to grow food, driving up the price of food, and increasing starvation in poor countries. Fourth: when biofuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, in the same way that the burning of carbon-based fuels releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. However, it is also true that the biofuel plants remove an equal amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - so in the long term, this fourth point is not a valid objection.
The "green" claim of ecological responsibility in the production of biofuels is a lie to the whole world, and should be prosecuted as a crime against humanity. (After all, biofuel promoters really are killing poor people!)
Most biofuels should be outlawed, and it should be obvious that energy produced from wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal can only -at best- be part of the answer for replacing carbon-based fuels. More viable alternatives such as the polywell must be properly funded and developed. Starting yesterday!