Before crude oil and natural gas began powering the world, people relied primarily on wood and coal for warmth and energy. But burning those fuels was inefficient. Because wood has a low energy density, it took so many trees to create the energy needed that deforestation became a problem. Energy is the ability to create change, and energy density is the amount of energy stored within something. These days liquid hydrocarbons, such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene, are the most energy-dense fuels. Having them around has saved forests all over the world. Here is just one example of the amazing energy density of gasoline. Bill Colton of ExxonMobil discovered that one gallon of gasoline has so much energy density in it, it could power an iPhone every day for 20 years. Yes, I said one gallon and 20 years.
Your footprint is showing
Solar and wind power are being talked about a lot. So it should be well known, even if it is ignored by some, that the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing. Aside from that, the energy density of these energy sources is not even on the same scale as fossil fuels. According to Life:Powered – “It takes about 27 times the acreage to replace a natural gas power plant with solar panels, and over 100 times the acreage for wind turbines. (And that’s not including space required for transmission lines and battery storage!)”
The transmission lines for renewables is something else you are not likely to hear a lot about. They would include $70 billion in new power lines and nearly $700 billion in new power plants through 2038. That is a very, very large footprint. Think of how much of the countryside would be marred by those huge industrial power lines; add to that all the power lines already out there. And just imagine how much fossil fuel energy would be required to build those power plants. That kind of construction project would drain all the energy those renewable sources would be able to squeeze out.
America leads the way
The pedestal renewables have been placed upon is cracked. Even those who push for 100% renewable energy admit fossil fuels cannot go away. They are needed to create the solar panels and wind turbines, and they are needed when the weather is grey or calm. Fossil fuels are affordable, reliable, and the use of natural gas has made America one of the top countries in the world for low emissions.