Each American that lives an above average life-style in our country uses about a million Btu’s per day. So, if the government wishes to outlaw fossil fuels through ever increasing regulations, then what are we prepared to give up? Politicians are continuing the war on carbon which began under the Clinton Administration in 1993. What freedoms are you and I willing to give up? As for me, and my family, I say none! As this is written, it is Memorial Day weekend and many fine Americans gave all so that we can enjoy our lives. The 2020 election created serious consequences for Americans to continue to live the American Dream.
Freedom & Sustainability
Joe Biden and the Democrats are doing their best to outlaw fossil fuels. This is un-American and in fact, anti-American sustainability. Sustainability to me, means to sustain our high quality of life and for our children and grandchildren to have an ever increasing quality of life. That is the way my God gifted life has gone, each year in general, became better with more manual work performed by energy. Some examples, modern electric appliances, power tools and yard tools. We depend on energy to replace muscle more than any time in history. Our quality of life is a result of using more energy and less muscle power. About a million Btus per day, per person. So, if Fossil Fuels are providing the majority of the energy we depend on (see 2021 LLNL chart below), then the Democrats must want us to scale back our quality of life? Because abundant, reasonable cost and reliable Energy is required to power our good lives. This includes the supply chain, fertilizer and food production, manufacturing, jobs, transportation and just about everything that makes living the American Dream possible. Fossil Fuels currently provide about 79% of our energy.
The illustrations above and below are copied from a presentation I gave to the Annual Meeting of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) in 2011. This was following the Financial crisis of 2008. Remember that? The energy consumption of the U.S. in 2009 actually dropped from about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s per year to about 94.6 Quadrillion Btu’s/year. The point is, that energy does in fact provide for economic prosperity and our high quality of life. Freedom too!
In 2009 about 50% of America’s electricity was being generated by coal. That was before the Shale Gas Revolution. After the recovery from the 2008 Financial crisis, life became very good again. Actually, we Americans have been Blessed with very good lives for many decades. I have had the gift of living for seven decades of a wonderful life reaching all the goals I could have wished for as a child. Energy has played a big part of America’s rise during the last 100 years. Now each of us uses about a million Btu’s of energy each day.
A Million Btu’s per Day per Person
I would like to show the progression of America’s energy mix from 2008 to the present. A steady 94-102 Quadrillion Btu’s of “Total Primary Energy” have been used. This is important. Our lives (and the American Economy) have been powered by about the same quantity of energy at a fairly flat level since 2001. I will confine this discussion to energy use since 2008.
Coal fuel produced about 50% of America’s electric power up to about 2012 when the Shale Gas Revolution took over and natural gas became so abundant that fuel prices for gas dropped below coal. The graph below shows the trend of natural gas prices from 2006-2012. When natural gas dropped to about $2.00/million Btu it became very competitive with coal and in fact in certain areas of the U.S., a less expensive fuel than coal for power generation.
Economic Dispatch of Generating Units
The lower cost gas became the preferred fuel of choice for most electric utilities. The fuel mix change from 2004 to 2019 is illustrated below. Keep in mind, the Total Primary Energy use of the US remained fairly steady at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s (+/- 6 quads). By the way, Electricity production currently uses about 37% of the primary energy consumed in the U.S. Switching transportation to EV’s or Hydrogen is not practical in the near term, however, if it was, then I suggest that America will continue to annually require at least 100 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy.
One more point. The sub heading above uses the word “Dispatch” Yes, about 90% of America’s Power was from Dispatchable Fuels. Solar and Wind are not Dispatchable. Renewable power comes onto the Grid as nature provides. Government subsidies and regulations allow it to be forced onto the Grid making it tough for Thermal power plants to back down or pick up load as fickle nature varies the output of wind and solar.
From Dick Storm OLLI Course , Energy Production Part 1, January 2021
Total Primary Energy Flows
Shown above is the Sankey Energy Flow Diagram for the year 2009. Below is the latest version of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Energy Flow Diagram for the year 2021. If you compare 2009 with 2021 Total Energy Flows, they are very close at 94.58 and 97.3 Quadrillion Btu’s. In 2019 America used right at 100.2 Quadrillion Btus. The economy was improving and 2019 was the year before the Covid Pandemic. So, as the economy improves, more energy is used. When the economy shrinks, less energy is used. This is TOTAL ENERGY which includes energy from all sources, including renewables. It also included electricity generation (about 37%) and Transportation (about 27%). Keep in mind that if we maintain or sustain our current freedoms of travel and lifestyles, likely the total energy use will remain rght at 100 Quadrillion Btus. Population increase and reshoring manufacturing will increase energy use above 100 Quad’s.
Can EV’s for Transportation Substitute Electricity for Petroleum?
There are about 280 million light trucks and cars on our highways today. All but about 11 million of these vehicles are fueled with gasoline and Diesel fuel. Heavy trucks for commerce are mostly Diesel powered and of course, airlines are fueled with Jet Fuel. These comprise fuel for transportation, which is about 28% of the Total Primary Energy used in the U.S. If these were all electrified then the electric power generation would need to vastly increase to use about 65% of the total primary energy. Of course, the about 8-10% of petroleum that is used for Jet Fuel will still be needed even if all other vehicles were replaced with EV’s. This is not practical any time soon. Check the excellent research that Donn Dears has done on this.(3)
Hydrogen as Fuel
Replacing petroleum with hydrogen fuel has been talked about for decades. Yes, it is feasible to use Electrolyzers to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules from water and thus produce “GreenHydrogen”. However, it takes about 2.5 to 3 times more electricity to produce a unit of hydrogen than what that unit of energy will produce in electric power.
- America uses about 100 Quadrillion btus each year. Over 79% of these energy units are provided by Fossil Fuels. Replacing them with renewables in the near term is at the very least, impractical. In my view it is impossible during my lifetime or the lifetime of my children.
- Net Zero Carbon Policies are not driven by science or protection of the planet. They are politically driven for the benefit of politicians to wield power over the people.
- Climate Policies are being formulated by politicians and non-science trained individuals.
- Energy and Economic Prosperity are linked together. As shown in the Energy Flow diagrams above, when there was a recession in 2008-2009 America’s energy use declined. Likelwise during the 2020 Pandemic. As the Economy thrives, we use more energy. Energy is vital for a thriving economy.
- America will continue to use 100 Quadrillion Btu’s per year and more when our economy is performing at it’s best. As population grows and hopefully, more manufacturing is reshored, energy use will rise. Solar and wind power cannot meet this increase.
- America should keep the Dispatchable and Balanced Generation Portfolio of Coal, Nuclear and Natural Gas plants. Older coal units in my view, should be replaced with new modern, clean and efficient coal plants.(6)
- New Nuclear plants are needed to keep a Balanced Electric Generation Portfolio(7,8,9)
- By not keeping a Balanced Electric Generation Portfolio, America risks energy shortages and Blackouts(10)
- All Developed Countries depend on reliable, affordable energy. In my opinion, a significant portion of the 100 Quadrillion Btu’s America has been using for decades, should continue to be supplied by coal fuel.(6, 22)
- The Transportation fuels of gasoline and Diesel cannot be replaced in the short term with EV’s or Hydrogen.
- If America continues on the Net-Zero Carbon Path, then it will lead to a reduction in our freedoms to live sustainable lives as we have been accustomed to. (11)
- Energy is important not only to power our high quality of lives, but reasonable cost, abundant energy is also important to the supply chain and food production(17)
Dick Storm, May 30, 2022
References for Further Reading and Research
- Donn Dears Five Part Series, “Net Zero Reality Check” https://ddears.com/donns-articles/
- Dr. Judith Curry Slides and Presentation to IPCC and New Jersey Group, 2021: https://judithcurry.com/2021/10/22/challenges-of-the-clean-energy-transition/
- Donn Dears Blog article on EV’s: https://ddears.com/2022/01/06/achilles-heal-of-battery-powered-vehicles-part-1/
- Dr. Richard Lindzen articles: https://www.heartland.org/about-us/who-we-are/richard-lindzen
- Wijngaarden & William Happer, WUWT Latest on GHE Effect, Sept. 2021, Science, Wijngaarden & Happer: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/09/21/the-greenhouse-effect-a-summary-of-wijngaarden-and happer/
- Dick Storm Presentation to the 2011 ASME Annual Meeting “The Importance of Coal Plants” https://www.linkedin.com/posts/richard-storm-00557810_why-coal-is-important-circa-2011-activity-6934545548276363264-W_S_/?utm_source=linkedin_share&utm_medium=member_desktop_web
- World Nuclear Organization. June 2021: https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/world-energy-needs-and-nuclear-power.aspx
- Nuclear Power Future for Sustainable Living and improved “Human Development Index” for the world: https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/nuclear-energy-and-sustainable-development.aspx
- Energy Dept. Nuclear Research into SMR’s: https://www.energy.gov/ne/advanced-small-modular-reactors-smrs
- WSJ article, May 27, 2022: https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-summer-of-rolling-blackouts-green-energy-grid-north-american-electric-reliability-corporation-11653683348
- Donn Dears book, “Net-Zero Carbon, The Climate Policy Destroying America” Available on Amazon or Donn Dears website.
- 100 Ways Biden is Making Energy Crisis worse: https://www.americanenergyalliance.org/2022/05/100-ways-biden-and-the-democrats-have-made-it-harder-to-produce-oil-gas/
- CEI Cooler Heads publication May 24, 2022: https://go.cei.org/webmail/287682/872576332/68e507be334cf34c7d54b4b2a348b50f1d373ec69c94d0d629001f91129c1e7d
- FT Presentation on Moral Investing by Kirk Stuart of HSBC May 2022: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfNamRmje-s
- More Green Energy Planned than Grid can handle, Canary Media April 2022: https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/transmission/the-us-has-more-clean-energy-projects-planned-than-the-grid-can-handle?utm_medium=email
- Summer Blackouts by Failed US Energy policy Manhatten Institute: https://www.city-journal.org/energy-policy-failures-may-lead-to-summer-blackouts
- H. Sterling Burnett, Climate Change Policies put Policy before Food and lifting people from poverty: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2022/04/25/climate-misanthropes-say-fighting-climate-change-is-more-important-than-food-reliable-energy-and-peace/
- IEA Coal Forecast to 2024 April 2022: https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/f1d724d4-a753-4336-9f6e-64679fa23bbf/Coal2021.pdf
- Dick Storm Blog, History of Energy Pt 4, China goes All In for All Fuels are Important: https://wordpress.com/post/dickstormprobizblog.org/1430
- Dick Storm Newsletter of 2012, “Yes, There is a War on Coal, But Somebody needs to keep the Lights on”: https://www.stormeng.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/2012.06-Yes-There-is-a-War-on-Coal.pdf
- Four Fears by Ken Haapala, SEPP (Science and Environmental Policy Project):
22. 93.5% of our energy is used in heat engines and 80% is from Fossil Fuels by Dick Storm: