Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels?
Richard Heinberg, MA, Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, stated the following in his Feb. 22, 2016 article titled “100% Renewable Energy: What We Can Do in 10 Years,” published by Yes! Magazine:
“It will take at least three decades to completely leave behind fossil fuels. But we can do it…
But the transition will entail costs—not just money and regulation, but also changes in our behavior and expectations. It will probably take at least three or four decades, and will fundamentally change the way we live…
Nearly everyone agrees that the easiest way to kick-start the transition would be to replace coal with solar and wind power for electricity generation…
The collective weight of these challenges and opportunities suggests that a truly all-renewable economy may be very different from the American economy we know today. The renewable economy will likely be slower and more local; it will probably be a conserver economy rather than a consumer economy. It will also likely feature far less economic inequality.”Feb. 22, 2016 - Richard Heinberg, MA
Michael Klare, PhD, Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, stated the following in his Apr. 22, 2015 article titled “The Age of Wind and Solar Is Closer Than You Think” available at the Scientific American website:
“That day will come: the life-changing moment when renewable energy—wind, solar, geothermal and others still in development—replace fossil fuels as the principal source of world energy…
The transition to renewables will be hastened by dramatic improvements in the pricing and performance of such systems. Due to steady increases in the efficiency of wind and solar systems, coupled with the savings achieved through large-scale manufacture, the price of renewables is falling globally…
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy will not occur overnight, and it will not escape recurring setbacks. Nevertheless, renewables are likely to replace fossil fuels as the dominant source of electrical power well before mid-century as well as make giant strides in other areas such as transportation.”Apr. 22, 2015 - Michael Klare, PhD
Richard Schiffman, environmental journalist, stated the following in his June 26, 2014 article “Why the Shift to Alternate Energies Continues, Despite Shale Boom,” available at reuters.com:
“However difficult and expensive it may be at the outset to green the U.S. power system, it won’t take long before our initial investment begins to pay off in lower electric bills — which are no longer a hostage to global oil prices — and a cleaner environment…
It does cost more to build wind farms and install solar arrays. But once these plants are set up and running, they have lower operation and maintenance costs than conventional power on a yearly basis. No more regular fuel bills and only minimal expenses for upkeep of solar, for example, which has no movable parts that wear out and need to be replaced.
The price argument is also fallacious because we have never paid the real price for the power we use, which includes the cost to the environment and human health of the carbon pollution that fossil-fuel mining and burning generates… We should be supporting technologies that help us to put the brake on destructive climate change, rather than feeding the unsustainable fossil-fuel habit that is driving it.”June 26, 2014 - Richard Schiffman
Alfred W. Crosby, PhD, Professor Emeritus of History, Geography, and American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, stated the following in a June 19, 2009 email to ProCon.org:
“Alternative sources of energy can become a satisfactory substitute for fossil fuels if we put as much effort and genius in the effort as we did in producing the first atomic bomb. The most satisfactory single alternative would be hydrogen fusion but that quasi-miracle may be beyond our capability. We may discover that wind, solar, biomass, etc., all piled on top of each other, may have to do, but their success may turn out to require an effort that started a generation ago. Essential to any and all success is the realization on our part that we may be able to do anything, which includes fail.”June 19, 2009 - Alfred W. Crosby, PhD
Arjun Makhijani, PhD, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, stated the following in his Aug. 2007 article “Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free,” in Science for Democratic Action:
“[A] zero-CO2 U.S. economy can be achieved within the next thirty to fifty years without the use of nuclear power…
The U.S. renewable energy resource base is vast and practically untapped. Available wind energy resources in 12 Midwestern and Rocky Mountain states equal about 2.5 times the entire electricity production of the United States… Solar energy resources on just one percent of the area of the United States are about three times as large as wind energy, if production is focused in the high insolation areas [strong sunlight] in the Southwest and West…
With the right combination of technologies, it is likely that even the use of coal can be phased out, along with nuclear electricity.
Complete elimination of CO2 could occur as early as 2040. Elimination of nuclear power could also occur in that time frame.”Aug. 2007 - Arjun Makhijani, PhD
Patrick Moore, PhD, Chair and Chief Scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. and former International Director of Greenpeace International, stated the following in a Feb. 18, 2009 email to ProCon.org:
“It all depends on what you mean by ‘alternative energy’. Alternative to what? Specifically if nuclear energy is considered ‘alternative’ (to fossil fuels) then I am in the Pro camp. If nuclear is not considered alternative I am decidedly in the Con camp because I do not believe it is remotely possible to replace fossil fuels with wind, solar, geothermal etc. by themselves. Then there is the question of whether hydroelectricity is ‘alternative’. If both hydro and nuclear are not considered alternative then it is doubly impossible to replace fossil fuels with alternatives.
The terms ‘renewable’, ‘sustainable’, ‘clean’, ‘green’, and ‘alternative’ tend to be tossed about as if they all mean the same thing when they each have distinct meanings, some of which are less than objective. ‘Green’, for example, can be a shameless marketing term. ‘Clean’ is relatively straightforward, meaning there is no pollution involved. Hydroelectric energy is renewable. Nuclear energy is not renewable but it is sustainable.”
[Editor’s Note: The term “alternative energy” has numerous definitions. On this website “alternative energy” refers to any form of energy that is not derived from fossil fuels (oil, coal, or natural gas). Under this definition nuclear energy is an alternative energy even though it is not considered a renewable energy like solar or wind energy. To learn more about the terms alternative energy and renewable energy, please visit our webpage titled What are alternative energies?]Feb. 18, 2009 - Patrick Moore, PhD
Helen Caldicott, MBBS, President of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, stated the following in her July 25, 2006 article “Fuel Plan Beset by Fossilised Thinking,” published in The Australian:
“Anyone who has seen Al Gore’s extraordinary film An Inconvenient Truth will realise that the world must, urgently, stop burning fossil fuel…
We need politicians with knowledge, energy and courage who will move beyond the fossil fuel and nuclear eras. Is it possible to make that leap with available technology? Yes…
Tidal power, geothermal energy, cogeneration and biomass combined with conservation are some of the resources yet to be explored…
[F]or the first time in human history, all electricity can be generated by a combination of renewable carbon-free and nuclear-free technologies.”July 25, 2006 - Helen Caldicott, MBBS
Greenpeace International stated the following in a Feb. 23, 2009 email to ProCon.org:
“Our position on the question ‘Can alternative energy effectively replace fossil fuels?’ is clear.
Renewable energy, can and indeed must replace both fossil fuel and nuclear power as quickly as possible if the world is to avoid the catastrophic effects of runaway climate change. Page 12 of the summary report of the 2nd edition of the Energy Revolution contains this statement: ‘The amount of energy that can be accessed with current technologies supplies a total of 5.9 times the global demand for energy.’ The remainder of the report spells out how we believe the world can set off down the path to a clean energy future, within the current political and economic constraints.”Feb. 23, 2009 - Greenpeace International
Ulf Bossel, PhD, freelance fuel cell consultant, stated the following in his Apr. 7, 2005 article “Does a Hydrogen Economy Make Sense?,” available at www.efcf.com:
“[H]ydro power, solar energy, wind power, ocean energy or geothermal installations harvest renewable energy in a sustainable way. Add energy obtained from sustainably managed biomass and organic waste to complete the list of renewable energy. After depletion of fossil and uranium deposits energy must come from these sources. There are no other sustainable energy sources that could possibly contribute substantially to the energy needs of mankind…
Without any question, the energy demand of mankind can be satisfied from renewable sources.”Apr. 7, 2005 - Ulf Bossel, PhD
Joseph Romm, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), stated the following in his May 17, 2008 article “Winds of Change,” published in Salon:
“[W]ind power is coming of age… Sadly, most wind power manufacturers are no longer American, thanks to decades of funding cuts by conservatives. Still, new wind is poised to be a bigger contributor to U.S. (and global) electricity generation than new nuclear power in the coming decades. As I have written earlier, concentrated solar power could be an even bigger power source, and it can even share power lines with wind.
That means we can realistically envision an electric grid built around renewables: electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions, no fuel cost (and no future price volatility) and no radioactive waste.”May 17, 2008 - Joseph Romm, PhD
Al Gore, Jr., Chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection and former Vice President of the United States, stated the following in his Nov. 9, 2008 article “The Climate for Change,” in the New York Times:
“Here’s what we can do — now: we can make an immediate and large strategic investment to put people to work replacing 19th-century energy technologies that depend on dangerous and expensive carbon-based fuels with 21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth…
What follows is a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100 percent of our electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years.”Nov. 9, 2008 - Al Gore, Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., LLM, Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and Chairman of the Water Keeper Alliance, stated the following in his Aug. 25, 2008 article “Obama’s Energy Plan Would Create Green Gold Rush,” published in the Los Angeles Times:
“The United States has far greater domestic energy resources than Iceland or Sweden. We sit atop the second-largest geothermal resources in the world. The American Midwest is the Saudi Arabia of wind. Solar installations across just 19 percent of the most barren desert land in the Southwest could supply nearly all of our nation’s electricity needs even if every American owned an electric car…
For a tiny fraction of the projected cost of the Iraq war, we could completely wean the country from carbon.”Aug. 25, 2008 - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., LLM
David Morris, PhD, Vice President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, stated the following in his Aug. 2, 2008 article “Electric Cars Are the Key to Energy Independence,” available at the Alternet website:
“Oil generates only 3 percent of our electricity. Therefore a 100 percent renewable electricity system does little to reduce our oil dependency — unless that electricity is used to substitute for oil in our transportation system…
Converting our electric system fully to renewables would require us to shut down about 80 percent of our current electricity-generating capacity, much of it low-cost, already paid off and capable of generating electricity for another 25 years or more. Moreover, to reach very high penetration rates of renewable electricity would require that we overcome the principal shortcoming of wind and sunlight: intermittency.
Powering 100 percent of our transportation system would require about 30 percent of the electricity generated in 2006. With a massive effort, using a combination of solar and wind power, we could generate about that much electricity by 2020.”Aug. 2, 2008 - David Morris, PhD
Hosein Shapouri, PhD, Economist at the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), stated the following in a Nov. 25, 2008 email to ProCon.org:
“In response to your question, I believe alternative energy could effectively replace fossil fuels.”Nov. 25, 2008 - Hosein Shapouri, PhD
Christopher Paine, Director of the Nuclear Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), stated the following during a July 15-17, 2008 online debate titled, “Is Nuclear Power Essential to Addressing Climate Change and Energy Independence?,” available at newtalk.org:
“The US has enough potentially recoverable efficiency savings and renewable energy resources – direct solar radiation, indirect solar radiation, wind, geothermal, biomass, small hydro, and wave-tidal energy, to eventually power the entire US economy, essentially indefinitely, without nuclear or coal.”July 15-17, 2008 - Christopher Paine
Martha Young, Principal of Nova Amber, LLC, stated the following in a Feb. 19, 2009 email to ProCon.org:
“Yes, a portfolio of alternative energy solutions can and must replace the use of fossil fuels around the globe. Each country has its own collection of assets such as geothermal, wind, hydro and solar to support its energy needs. Being energy independent allows each country to grow its economic base in a sustainable manner without impacting any other country in a race to consume finite resources.”Feb. 19, 2009 - Martha Young
Green America (formerly Co-op America), a non-profit environmental organization, stated the following in its Summer 2005 article “The Promise of the Solar Future,” available at its website:
“Gradually shifting toward more efficient technologies and renewable energy sources won’t be enough—we must catalyze a massive shift in our energy use within the next decade to stabilize our climate while meeting the world’s growing power needs. Since our country accounts for more than 20 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions, it is particularly important that we in the US lead the way.
The good news is that we have the knowledge, technology, and capacity to make the shift to a renewable energy path—it all hinges on growing solar power.
Solar energy is essential to a renewable energy future. Even after we achieve all possible energy-efficiency gains and take full advantage of other renewable energy sources, such as wind and geothermal, we’ll still need some other way to generate at least 30 percent of our power. (This gap between energy demand and renewable energy supply for all energy, not only electricity, could be as much as 70 percent without aggressive energy efficiency.) That remaining energy must come from solar.”Summer 2005 - Green America (formerly Co-op America)
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) stated the following in their Dec. 23, 2008 article “Green Energy Notes,” available at psr.org:
“[E]xisting renewable energy technologies are capable of meeting the entire U.S. need for electricity by the year 2020. Solar energy could produce 100 percent of electricity demanded in the U.S. on .3 percent of the nation’s land, while wind power could create 2.6 times the amount of electricity used in the U.S. with turbines in just twelve states.
A change in fuels would also have benefits in the area of transportation. According to the Department of Agriculture, biofuels could make up 37 percent of transportation fuels in the U.S. by 2025. If combined with the use of fuel-efficient vehicles, this percentage could rise to 75 percent. Further advances in technology, such as the use of hydrogen fuel cells, and an increase in the use of hybrid vehicles would create further benefits.”Dec. 23, 2008 - Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)
The Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a non-profit anti-nuclear organization, stated the following in its May 2008 article “False Promises: Debunking the Nuclear Industry Propaganda,” available at nirs.org:
“What we need to do is get rid of both of our addictions: carbon and uranium…
There are numerous renewable energy technologies available which could be expanded and many more that have great potential and should be pursued and funded more aggressively…
It has been estimated that the solar energy available in a 100-square-mile area of Nevada could supply the United States with all its electricity needs…
It has been estimated that wind energy has the potential to satisfy the world’s electricity needs 40 times over, and could meet all global energy demand five times over.”May 2008 - Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Robert Lyman, Principal at ENTRANS Policy Research Group, Inc., stated the following in his May 2016 report titled “Why Renewable Energy Cannot Replace Fossil Fuels by 2050,” published by Friends of Science:
“Oil provides 95% of the fuel demands of the transportation sector… Every transport mode – cars, trucks, trains, buses, marine vessels, and aircraft – relies almost entirely on petroleum fuels. Only natural gas liquids and, in recent years as the result of regulated fuel mandates, ethanol – have made small inroads in the dominant share held by oil. Further, on the basis of the projections by all major agencies that analyze energy supply and demand trends to 2035 and 2040, this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future…
Proponents of the all-renewable future seem to be stuck in a time warp. For them, it is still 2014, oil prices are still close to $130 per barrel, and natural gas and coal prices are surging. In such a world, it may be easier to make the case that renewables will become far more competitive sooner. The reality, of course, is that the decline of international oil prices to the range of $40 per barrel and the dramatic slumps in natural gas and coal prices in many areas (especially North America), has meant that these hydrocarbons are far better placed to compete with alternative energy sources.”May 2016 - Robert Lyman
Gary Wolfram, PhD, William E. Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College, stated the following in his May 11, 2016 article “Can We Replace Fossil Fuels by 2030?,” available at the Detroit News website:
“Today in the U.S. 33 percent of electricity generation is from coal, 33 percent from natural gas and 20 percent nuclear. While rising steadily, only 13 percent is from renewable energy. The decline in the price of renewable energy is indeed worth noting… However, the price of oil and natural gas has also fallen steeply with the use of horizontal drilling and other new technologies which make it difficult for other fuel sources to compete economically, much less totally capture the market…
There has certainly been improvements in renewable energy sources over the last decade. However, the idea that there will be no need for coal or oil in 15 years is simply not believable.”May 11, 2016 - Gary Wolfram, PhD
Christopher Helman, MS, MA, Senior Editor for Forbes Magazine, stated the following in his Apr. 24, 2014 article “Solar Power Is Booming, but Will Never Replace Coal. Here’s Why,” available at forbes.com:
“So is the solar revolution finally here? Not quite. Even after a decade of rampant growth solar energy still barely moves the needle in the U.S. energy mix. In fact, solar merely equals the amount of electricity that the nation generates by burning natural gas captured from landfills…
The biggest sources are the old standbys. Oil still reigns supreme at 36 quadrillion Btu, natural gas at 26 quads, nuclear 8. Hydropower and biomass bring up the rear at 2.6 and 2.7 quads. Wind is just 1.5 quads. And coal — the great carbon-belching demon of the global energy mix — its contribution is 19 quads. That’s nearly 8 times all the nation’s wind and solar generation combined…
For all the talk of ‘grid parity’ the simple reality is that even combined with far more power generation from natural gas, renewable alternatives will need decades to push out coal. And the irony will be that as demand for coal lessens, it will become cheaper and cheaper, making it even more attractive for the coal-burning power plants that survive the coming cull…
Coal has gotten immensely cleaner over the past generation. And new and better ways will be found to extract energy from coal without sending its dangerous byproducts into the environment. It’s scalable and reliable in ways that renewable energy sources simply aren’t. In short, unless we’re willing to put up with blackouts that freeze grandma in the winter and melt her in the summer, coal will remain a mainstay of U.S. power generation for decades to come.”Apr. 24, 2014 - Christopher Helman, MS, MA
Clive Best, PhD, a former physicist, stated the following on his website in a May 4, 2016 post titled “The Logical Fallacy of Renewable Energy”:
“Modern society depends on always available power. If power goes down then society stops. There are no phones, no internet, no ATMs, no refrigeration, no sewage pumps – nothing, and if a large city like London is without power for more than 12 hours rioting and looting would quickly take hold. It is therefore inconceivable not to ensure that we have reliable energy at all times. So an energy plan for the UK must be able to meet demand even on the coldest evening of the year in winter with no wind and no solar. For this reason Renewable energy can never under any realistic scenario meet that target. To imagine that battery prices could fall enough to make wind and solar backup such enormous power demands is simply a delusion.”May 4, 2016 - Clive Best, PhD
Robert L. Hirsch, PhD, Senior Energy Advisor, Management Information Systems Inc. (MISI), stated the following in a Feb. 18, 2009 email to ProCon.org:
“In the next few decades world economies will require hydrocarbon liquids from oil, coal, natural gas, heavy oil, oil sands, and enhanced oil recovery. Sugar cane ethanol is also practical, but volumes will be limited. Other biomass liquids are uncertain. Corn-ethanol is an energy & environmental loser, and cellulosic liquids are not yet practical.”Feb. 18, 2009 - Robert L. Hirsch, PhD
Tad W. Patzek, PhD, Chairman of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin, and David Pimentel, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University stated the following in their Mar. 14, 2005 article “Thermodynamics of Energy Production from Biomass,” published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences:
“We want to be very clear: solar cells, wind turbines, and biomass-for-energy plantations can never replace even a small fraction of the highly reliable, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, nuclear, fossil, and hydroelectric power stations. Claims to the contrary are popular, but irresponsible.”Mar. 14, 2005 - Tad W. Patzek, PhD David Pimentel, PhD
Walter Youngquist, PhD, Emeritus Chair of the Department of Geology at the University of Oregon at Portland, stated the following in his Spring 2005 article “Spending Our Great Inheritance; Then What,” in The Social Contract:
“Ethanol is a net energy loss – it takes 70 percent more energy to produce than is obtained from the product itself. Other biomass resources show, at best, very low net energy recovery…
The two most popularly suggested energy alternatives, wind and solar, suffer because they’re undependable, intermittent sources of energy, and the end product is electricity. We have no way to store large amounts of electricity for use when wind and sunshine are not with us. Geothermal and tidal energy are insignificant energy sources in total but can be locally important. Nuclear energy can be a large power source if the safety aspects can be guaranteed (and this may be possible) — but again, the end product is electricity. There is no battery pack even remotely in sight that would supply the energy needed to effectively power bulldozers, heavy agricultural equipment such as tractors and combines, or 18-wheelers hauling freight cross-country.
Can electricity be used to obtain hydrogen as a fuel from water? It can, but hydrogen is difficult to store and dangerous to handle. And there is no energy system now visualized to replace kerosene jet fuel, which propels a Boeing 747 about 600 miles an hour nonstop on the 14-hour trip from New York to Capetown (currently the longest plane flight). We continue to seek the holy grail of energy – fusion – but containing the heat of the sun at 10 million degrees Centigrade is still only a far-off hope.”Spring 2005 - Walter Youngquist, PhD
ExxonMobil, an international energy corporation, stated the following in its Feb. 2006 study “Tomorrow’s Energy: A Perspective on Energy Trends, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Future Energy Options,” available at the Exxon Mobil website:
“Although wind, solar, biofuels and nuclear all compete with fossil fuels as sources of primary energy, their contribution to the world’s total energy demand is limited because they are more expensive than fossil fuels – and in the case of nuclear, limited by waste and disposal concerns…
While we recognize the risks of climate change we also conclude that the world will continue to demand oil and gas for a majority of its primary energy supplies for many decades to come.”Feb. 2006 - ExxonMobil
David B. Barber, MS, Nuclear Engineer at the Idaho National Laboratory, stated the following in his Mar. 24, 2005 article “Nuclear Energy and the Future: The Hydrogen Economy or the Electricity Economy?,” available at Iags.org:
“The wind doesn’t always blow and sunlight isn’t always striking every solar panel. Renewable energy desperately needs a very big battery, a load leveler. Without some form of energy storage, renewables are physically limited to less than a twenty percent share of the grid. At twenty percent, renewables are more of a headache than a resource for a grid manager. Electricity storage tools are expensive. Very expensive. Too expensive to justify on their own or at societal scale.”Mar. 24, 2005 - David B. Barber, MS
Samuel Bodman, ScD, former US Secretary of Energy, stated the following in his Apr. 22, 2008 article “Developing a Cleaner, Sustainable, and More Energy Secure Future,” published in the Washington Times:
“Any comprehensive strategy must recognize that our energy challenges have been decades in the making and certainly won’t be resolved overnight. So even as we rightly place a great deal of emphasis on renewable energy and alternative fuels, it is clear that our economy is – and will remain for some time – dependent on fossil energy. We must diversify the available supply of conventional fuels and expand production around the world and here at home– including within a small area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and portions of America’s Outer Continental Shelf – in an environmentally sensitive and efficient manner. Also, we must maintain an adequate liquefied natural gas infrastructure and promote the development of nontraditional fossil fuels like oil shale and oil sands.”Apr. 22, 2008 - Samuel Bodman, ScD
Colin J. Campbell, PhD, Founder and Honorary Chairman of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), stated the following in a Feb. 18, 2009 email to ProCon.org:
“The First Half of the Age of Oil comes to an end, being partly responsible for the current financial and economic crisis facing the world. Oil and gas are set to decline during the Second Half of the Age of Oil to near exhaustion by the end of this Century due to natural depletion. Today, renewable energy, including hydro, accounts for no more than about 12% of the world’s energy consumption. It is evident that the demand for it will grow greatly in the years ahead, but it is doubted that it can replace fossil fuels as such. Improved efficiency and changed lifestyles are called for to meet the challenges imposed by Nature. The tensions and challenges of the transition threaten to be serious.”Feb. 18, 2009 - Colin J. Campbell, PhD
Jerry Taylor, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, stated the following in his 2007 article “Energy,” published in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:
“In a free market, cost dictates energy choices. Fossil fuels, for example, are economically attractive for many applications because the energy available from fossil fuels is highly concentrated, easily transportable, and cheaply extracted. Renewable energies such as wind and solar power, on the other hand, are relatively dispersed, difficult to transport, and costly to harness given the capital costs of facility construction.
Many people recommend accelerated federal subsidies and preferences for renewable energy in order to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil. But such recommendations fail to appreciate the fact that energy sources are often difficult to substitute for one another. Until we see major technological advances in electric-powered vehicles and related battery systems, for example, technological breakthroughs in solar or wind power will have little, if any, impact on oil imports. That’s because renewable energy is used primarily to generate electricity and cannot be used directly in transportation to replace oil: in 2002, only 2.5 percent of America’s total electricity was generated from oil combustion.”2007 - Jerry Taylor
Abdullah S. Jum’ah, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco, stated the following during his Nov. 2007 remarks, “Global Oil Resources and the World’s Energy Future: A Holistic View,” presented at the 20th Congress of the World Energy Council:
“[A]lternative energy sources have some way to go before they can make substantial contributions to the world’s future energy mix, given the current state of their development and the various hurdles they still face. We must also remember that many of these alternatives, such as nuclear or renewables, or even conventional sources such as coal, may be able to meet additional demand in power generation and possibly industry but not in transportation, which of course is a key sector of oil utilization.
Alternatives and their contributions to meeting steadily rising energy demand are needed and welcome, and eventually these fuel sources will become a more important component of global energy supplies. But we must be realistic about the pace of their future development, and understand that for the foreseeable future, their significance in the energy supply mix will continue to be limited.”Nov. 2007 - Abdallah S. Jum'ah
Clifford J. Wirth, PhD, retired Professor of Energy Policy at the University of New Hampshire, wrote in his July 5, 2008 paper, “Peak Oil: Alternatives, Renewables, and Impacts,” available at the Peak Oil Associates website:
“The studies reviewed in this report indicate that alternatives cannot provide significant amounts of liquid fuels. Thus it is not feasible to ramp up alternatives to replace oil, even if there are decades to prepare for the occurrence of Peak Oil. There are no significant mitigation options on the supply side regarding the Peak Oil crisis…
Solar power, nuclear energy, and coal are primarily useful for generating electric power, but these energies do not provide liquid fuels needed for transportation or mechanized agriculture, nor do they provide raw materials for manufacturing of 300,000 products, including fertilizer. Electric power from solar, coal, nuclear fission, or nuclear fusion will therefore not solve the nation’s energy problems…
Because leaders lack a basic understanding of energy sources, the nation will continue to direct attention toward the hydrogen economy, corn ethanol, wind power, and solar energy – even though the most authoritative sources conclude that these are not solutions for the liquid fuels problems facing the nation.”July 5, 2008 - Clifford J. Wirth, PhD
J. Robinson West, JD, Chairman and Founder of PFC Energy, stated the following in his July 10, 2008 article “Two Takes: Energy Independence Is Neither Practical nor Attainable,” published in US News & World Report:
“Many politicians want to substitute other domestically produced liquid fuels for oil and assure the public that they are around the corner. They are not.
There is now no liquid fuel that can largely replace oil for transportation. We are stuck because of the scale of the industry and – despite criticism – oil’s efficiency…
Politicians pose with gimmicks like hydrogen cars, but they will have little near-term impact. Breakthrough technologies, such as cellulosic ethanol, are theoretically attractive – but don’t exist.”July 10, 2008 - J. Robinson West, JD
The Institute for Energy Research (IER), an energy research organization that promotes free-market solutions to energy problems, stated the following in its article “Energy Overview,” available on its website (accessed Jan. 28, 2009):
“America’s insatiable appetite for the good things energy delivers could not be satisfied by fossil fuels alone. Hydroelectric power, a renewable source of energy created by the damming of rapidly-flowing rivers, was introduced in the 1890s, as was nuclear power in the late 1950s. In recent years, other renewable sources of energy – wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal – have entered the fray. However, while the use of renewable fuels is expected to increase in the years to come, their overall contribution to America’s energy pool is forecast by the EIA [US Energy Information Agency] to remain very modest, far behind fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Nuclear power, by contrast, which currently supplies about 20 percent of US electricity, is expected to become a more prominent player as a new generation of power plants go into service in the decades to come.”Jan. 28, 2009 - Institute for Energy Research
The World Nuclear Association stated the following in its Nov. 25, 2008 article “World Energy Needs and Nuclear Power,” available on its website:
“The renewable energy sources for electricity constitute a diverse group, from wind, solar, tidal and wave energy to hydro, geothermal and biomass-based power generation. Apart from hydro power in the few places where it is very plentiful, none of these is suitable, intrinsically or economically, for large-scale power generation where continuous, reliable supply is needed…
Without nuclear power the world would have to rely almost entirely on fossil fuels, especially coal, to meet electricity demands for base-load electricity production.”Nov. 25, 2008 - World Nuclear Association
The United States Carbon Sequestration Council, a non-profit coalition of scientists, environmentalists, and businessmen supporting the development of CCS technology, stated in its Apr. 2009 publication “Is Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) Needed? How Can We Make It Happen Sooner?,” available at its website:
“Electricity is needed to give us light, to power our appliances, to power our televisions and computers, and to enable all of the work saving gadgets that we own. In order to meet these fundamental needs, we will need ever more energy, especially in the emerging economies of the world. This again translates to a very rapid growth in global energy demand, especially the demand for electricity. In the U.S. alone, electricity demand is expected to double by mid-century…
The large growth in global energy demand can only be met by relying on all of our energy resources. No single energy resource can meet such requirements. If we are to avoid energy shortages, we need to greatly expand our use of fossil fuels, nuclear energy, renewables and conservation.”Apr. 2009 - United States Carbon Sequestration Council