Back to Basics: The U.S. Needs 100 Quadrillion Btus/year of Primary Energy

Each citizen needs about 315 million Btus of energy to sustain our freedom of travel and way of life


Yesterday I was a guest speaker at the “Money Talks Club” gathering in Sun City. I presented my views of Net Zero Carbon and was impressed with the interest and understanding of energy and electricity generation by the group. A fine gathering of American Patriots and I was honored to be their guest. At the same time of my talk, Santee-Cooper published their final 2023 IRP which shows the planned shut down of the 1,150 MW Winyah coal plant and plans to replace the generation largely with solar panels. Based on my experience yesterday, I thought it would be timely to attempt to explain in as short a post as possible, the importance of energy to our lives and where this primary energy can be sourced. Hint, it is not from wind and solar.

I have lived the American Dream and wish the same for my grandchildren to do so. I also pray that the U.S. politicians will wakeup and understand the energy sources to keep America strong, productive and free.

As shown above, the majority of the energy we depend on each day is sourced from traditional forms of primary energy. To me, sustainable living means that we Americans can continue to live our good lives as we have been. Doing so requires that reasonable cost, abundant forms of energy are an absolute pre-requisite. Replacing the traditional forms of energy with wind and solar is simply not possible. Attempting to do so by, shutting down, “Killing the supply chain”, demolishing and abolishing reliable forms of primary energy as shown above, is self sabotaging our quality of life. It is engineering fiction to believe that wind, solar and batteries can replace the Primary Energy sources that have served us so well for my entire life-time and I have been Blessed with many good years.

The most descriptive and simplified chart to show the forms of energy we depend on and how that energy is used, is the LLNL energy flow chart. The 2021 version is shown below.

Americans have used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus of Primary energy for over 20 years. The chart from 2021 shows a total of 97.3 Quads because 2021 was after the Covid lockdowns and reduced freedom of travel and reduced industrial production as well as other factors. The fact remains that Americans still used within +/- 3% of the decades long energy consumption, about the same amount of total Primary Energy, 100 Quads.

Electricity is Secondary Energy

The understanding of Primary and Secondary Energy should be clarified. When the government or MSM promotes “Electrify Everything” they are suggesting that electricity always will be available from some unlimited and magical source to power their EV’s, trucks, cooking, HVAC, industrial production, etc. The inference is that pollution free electricity can be provided by wind and solar to replace fossil fuels by simply spending billions of taxpayer dollars in incentives and installing millions of acres of wind farms and solar panels. My point here is to remind readers that Electricity is Secondary Energy. It must be generated using Primary energy! Batteries and hydrogen are also forms of Secondary Energy.

Let’s go back to the LLNL energy flow chart above. Note that wind and solar provided less than 5% of the total Primary energy in 2021. This is after over 30 years of incentives to force renewable wind and solar onto the Grid. Most of the other 95% Primary Energy was provided by conventional forms of energy.

How Can We Electrify Everything Without Increasing Generation From Traditional Forms of Energy?

The short answer is, we can’t. I have written other posts to explain. Donn Dears and Vaclav Smil together have written over 50 books to try to explain the importance of energy and the most likely sources for the future. I highly recommend their books to help understand the Importance of Energy and the differences between Primary and Secondary Energy..

Here is a list of the most common sources of carbon-free energy. Please refer to the LLNL Energy Flow chart above and then you decide how to replace or reduce fossil fuels by substituting those that are socially acceptable today:


I wanted to keep this post short and concise. For more details on the importance of energy in our lives, I suggest referring to other posts on my Blog and Donn Dears and Vaclav Smil’s books listed below.

The most important point of this post is to attempt to explain how keeping your quality of life depends on abundant, reasonable cost and reliable Primary Energy. Electrifying transportation and nearly everything else you use and doing so with wind and solar alone will be impossible in the near term.

Thank you for reading this.

Respectfully yours,

Dick Storm

May 16, 2023