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Old 25 Apr 2010, 01:56 pm   #1 (permalink)
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Default OKAY, SUCKERS! The GREEN ENERGY MYTH Is Just That! Uh, Don't WaitFor Your ELECTRIC CAR ...

"The electric car is the next big thing -- and it always will be."

Might "green energy" nudge global-warming aside as "The Biggest


"Five myths about green energy"

By Robert Bryce
Sunday, April 25, 2010; B04

AMERICANS ARE BEING INUNDATED with claims about renewable and
alternative energy. Advocates for these technologies say that if we
jettison fossil fuels, we'll breathe easier, stop global warming and
revolutionize our economy. Yes, "green" energy has great emotional and
political appeal. But before we wrap all our hopes -- and subsidies --
in it, let's take a hard look at some common misconceptions about what
"green" means.

1. Solar and wind power are the greenest of them all.

Unfortunately, solar and wind technologies require huge amounts of
land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy, disrupting natural
habitats. Even an aging natural gas well producing 60,000 cubic feet
per day generates more than 20 times the watts per square meter of a
wind turbine. A nuclear power plant cranks out about 56 watts per
square meter, eight times as much as is derived from solar
photovoltaic installations. The real estate that wind and solar energy
demand led the Nature Conservancy to issue a report last year critical
of "energy sprawl," including tens of thousands of miles of high-
voltage transmission lines needed to carry electricity from wind and
solar installations to distant cities.

Nor does wind energy substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Since the
wind doesn't always blow, utilities must use gas- or coal-fired
generators to offset wind's unreliability. The result is minimal -- or
no -- carbon dioxide reduction.

Denmark, the poster child for wind energy boosters, more than doubled
its production of wind energy between 1999 and 2007. Yet data from
Energinet.dk, the operator of Denmark's natural gas and electricity
grids, show that carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation
in 2007 were at about the same level as they were back in 1990, before
the country began its frenzied construction of turbines. Denmark has
done a good job of keeping its overall carbon dioxide emissions flat,
but that is in large part because of near-zero population growth and
exorbitant energy taxes, not wind energy. And through 2017, the Danes
foresee no decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity

2. Going green will reduce our dependence on imports from unsavory

In the new green economy, batteries are not included. Neither are many
of the "rare earth" elements that are essential ingredients in most
alternative energy technologies. Instead of relying on the diversity
of the global oil market -- about 20 countries each produce at least 1
million barrels of crude per day -- the United States will be
increasingly reliant on just one supplier, China, for elements known
as lanthanides. Lanthanum, neodymium, dysprosium and other rare earth
elements are used in products from high-capacity batteries and hybrid-
electric vehicles to wind turbines and oil refinery catalysts.

China controls between 95 and 100 percent of the global market in
these elements. And the Chinese government is reducing its exports of
lanthanides to ensure an adequate supply for its domestic
manufacturers. Politicians love to demonize oil-exporting countries
such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, but adopting the technologies needed to
drastically cut U.S. oil consumption will dramatically increase
America's dependence on China.

3. A green American economy will create green American jobs.

In a global market, American wind turbine manufacturers face the same
problem as American shoe manufacturers: high domestic labor costs. If
U.S. companies want to make turbines, they will have to compete with
China, which not only controls the market for neodymium, a critical
ingredient in turbine magnets, but has access to very cheap employees.

The Chinese have also signaled their willingness to lose money on
solar panels in order to gain market share. China's share of the
world's solar module business has grown from about 7 percent in 2005
to about 25 percent in 2009.

Meanwhile, the very concept of a green job is not well defined. Is a
job still green if it's created not by the market, but by subsidy or
mandate? Consider the claims being made by the subsidy-dependent corn
ethanol industry. Growth Energy, an industry lobby group, says
increasing the percentage of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline
supply would create 136,000 jobs. But an analysis by the Environmental
Working Group found that no more than 27,000 jobs would be created,
and each one could cost taxpayers as much as $446,000 per year. Sure,
the government can create more green jobs. But at what cost?

4. Electric cars will substantially reduce demand for oil.

Nissan and Tesla are just two of the manufacturers that are increasing
production of all-electric cars. But in the electric car's century-
long history, failure tailgates failure. In 1911, the New York Times
declared that the electric car "has long been recognized as the ideal"
because it "is cleaner and quieter" and "much more economical" than
its gasoline-fueled cousins. But the same unreliability of electric
car batteries that flummoxed Thomas Edison persists today.

Those who believe that Detroit unplugged the electric car are
mistaken. Electric cars haven't been sidelined by a cabal to sell
internal combustion engines or a lack of political will, but by
physics and math. Gasoline contains about 80 times as much energy, by
weight, as the best lithium-ion battery. Sure, the electric motor is
more efficient than the internal combustion engine, but can we depend
on batteries that are notoriously finicky, short-lived and take hours
to recharge? Speaking of recharging, last June, the Government
Accountability Office reported that about 40 percent of consumers do
not have access to an outlet near their vehicle at home. The electric
car is the next big thing -- and it always will be.

5. The United States lags behind other rich countries in going green.

Over the past three decades, the United States has improved its energy
efficiency as much as or more than other developed countries.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration, average
per capita energy consumption in the United States fell by 2.5 percent
from 1980 through 2006. That reduction was greater than in any other
developed country except Switzerland and Denmark, and the United
States achieved it without participating in the Kyoto Protocol or
creating an emissions trading system like the one employed in Europe.
EIA data also show that the United States has been among the best at
reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per $1 of GDP and the
amount of energy consumed per $1 of GDP.

America's move toward a more service-based economy that is less
dependent on heavy industry and manufacturing is driving this
improvement. In addition, the proliferation of computer chips in
everything from automobiles to programmable thermostats is wringing
more useful work out of each unit of energy consumed. The United
States will continue going green by simply allowing engineers and
entrepreneurs to do what they do best: make products that are faster,
cheaper and more efficient than the ones they made the year before.

[Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His
fourth book, "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real
Fuels of the Future," will be out Tuesday, April 27.]

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