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Open Forum: Renewable energy cannot replace fossil fuel | Winchester Star

In the late 1700s, three Revolutions evolved concurrently:

1. The Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) was an energy revolution.

2. The American Revolution (1775-1789) was a political revolution, an experiment in self-governance through a constitutional republic (not democracy) based on individual liberty.

3. Capitalism (1776), an economic revolution based upon Adam Smith’s three natural laws of Economics:

· Self-interest — people will work for own good.

· Competition — produce better product at lower price.

· Supply and demand — enough goods will be produced at lowest price to meet demand.

The energy revolution raised academic concerns portending serious repercussions. Malthus, 1798, predicted massive famine as exploding population outgrew food supply. William Stanley Jevons, 1865, finite energy supplies (coal), once exhausted, would be followed by economic collapse and return to poverty.

Although neither of these predictions occurred, both were perpetuated by progressives. Paul Erlich’s “Population Bomb,” 1968, predicted imminent mass starvation, and Strong’s Principle of Sustainability, 1987, reiterated the concept of finite energy supplies. Conservation must replace consumption to avoid exhausting supplies.

The Biden administration has absurdly and dangerously demanded that fossil fuels be eliminated by 2050, with no alternative offered except renewables to replace the 80% of world energy presently supplied by fossil fuels. This planned demolition of capitalism immediately produced the present energy crisis, economic crisis (recession), and alarming inflation. If these ill-advised policies are not reversed quickly, this economic graveyard spiral will accelerate, become irreversible, and end with inevitable disastrous world impact.

One must comprehend and appreciate current energy concepts. Contrary to what you have been told, energy supplies are not finite, they are unlimited. The more we recover, the more we discover. The more efficient we become, the more we consume. (Increased efficiency does not decrease consumption.) Energy can be transformed from one form to another. All human economic development has come from efficient conversion of energy from one form to another. Behind every single unit of economic output is a unit of energy. Feynman noted “It is the order of energy that matters.” The energy economy has become electrified — electricity is the fastest (speed of light) form of power and is used to produce highly ordered energy.

Energy is the ability to do work. Power equals work divided by time. Power density may be expressed as watts/m2. All energy sources have limits that cannot be exceeded. Here are some comparative Power densities in watts/m2:

· Wood: 0.6

· Solar: 4.0-9.0

· Wind: 1.0-6.0

· Coal: 1,000

· Mobile gas turbine: 15,000

· Stationary gas turbine: 5,000

There is another concept: EROEI, or ratio of energy returned on energy invested. That includes:

· Oil, 20:1 (one unit of energy invested in recovery and production rewarded with 20 units of energy when used)

· Wind, 7:1

· Solar, 4:1

Renewables are incapable of replacing fossil fuels to run the grid. Historically, there has never been an example of an energy source with inferior EROEI (renewables) displacing a source of higher EROEI (fossil fuels). Absent fossil fuels, hydroelectric and nuclear are the only current options; both are being blocked by environmental groups. James Hansen, the “Father of Global Warming,” now advocates nuclear over renewables.

Bernard Swope is a resident of Winchester.

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