The world has collectively deployed more than $2 trillion for alternative energy over the past decade. And the share of the world’s energy coming from hydrocarbons has declined about 2 percentage points, from 86% to 84%.
Mark Mills continues his account of the basic realities of power and energy, and the fundamental lack of scientific understanding that underpins the Green New Deal and all the similar moves that are mainstream in the west, including every state in Australia.
The Tesla car is the centrepiece of green energy transition and he calls it the talisman because it has become the icon of the transition for public relations purposes, for virtue signalling and the electric car fleet is even anticipated to contribute to the grid-scale storage that is required to get over wind droughts. What is more, he points out that no single everyday product uses more energy than a car. “The furnace in the average home basement is a distant second, and there are far more cars than homes.”
The real impact of this paper comes from the connection that he makes between the patent inability of RE to significantly replace hydrocarbon/fossil fuels and the geopolitical implications of wildly fluctuating oil and gas prices in a world where the US is about to the abandon the transformational benefits of the fracking revolution that made her an energy exporter and helped to revive the economy.
The bottom line in geopolitics is the resurgence of Russian power and influence due to their gas reserves that are now being piped into China, reducing her reliance on the Middle East and US, and will flow to Europe when the Nordstream 2 pipeline is completed (currently sanctioned by the US).
Mining the makings of the Tesla
Getting back to the Tesla, he considered the optimistic forecasts that there will be 500 million EVs on the road worldwide by 2040 and he found that the reduction in oil consumption and CO2 emissions is not inspiring.
That would constitute a remarkable one-third of all cars by then. But since cars account for only about 30% of petroleum use, the arithmetic for that scenario works out to a less than 10% reduction in world oil demand and a far smaller reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions.
Replacing a standard car with an EV means swapping from liquid fuel to a bunch of sophisticated solids weighing in the order of 1,000 pounds fabricated from 500,000 pounds of stuff dug up somewhere far away. That constitutes a greater-than-tenfold increase in the quantity of material (liquids) that is used by a standard car over its entire operating life.
Woke mining companies have boasted about going solar in the deep north but the reality is that the mining industry in remote areas uses oil for heavy machinery and often to generate electricity as well. Especially at night. Global mining already uses nearly twice as much petroleum as the entire country of Germany, and that’s before the emerging “gold rush” for energy minerals. The global push for EVs will drive up demand for a variety of other energy minerals from 200% to 8,000%.
As for the massive expansion of RE to fuel the EVs under the Green New Deal, digging up the earth to build wind and solar machines requires at least 10 times the amount of materials for conventional power plants power plants does to produce the same quantity of energy. What is more, most of the materials will be imported.
The United States is, in general, 100% dependent on imports for 17 critical minerals, including those used in green machines, and over half of our domestic needs are imported for another 29.
Not to mention the 90% of solar panels and 80% of key components of wind turbines that are imported.
This means that buying green-machine components is essentially an export of both jobs and hydrocarbon consumption…For example, in 2018, the Netherlands’s government sponsored an analysis of mineral demands associated with its own green energy goals. The study concluded that following a “Green New Deal”-style plan in the Netherlands would require the country alone to consume a major share of current global minerals production.
Economic and political impact of the Green New Deal
The genie of the shale-fracking revolution got out of the bottle during the Obama administration before he could stop it and President Trump gave it added impetus. The New Deal would reverse the current situation where America is essentially self-sufficient in petroleum and a net exporter of natural gas as a direct consequence of the revolution.
But virtually all of the new demand for “energy materials” will come from imports, either directly or indirectly in the form of the green machine hardware and components manufactured elsewhere.
If fracking stops there will be a missive shortage of energy but green machines and energy minerals cannot be imported fast enough to fill the gap because at present oil and gas supply 69% of America’s energy, while wind and solar together supply 4%.
A ban would simply mean either shortages or more imports, or both. And in due course, it would also trigger a more rapid, and possibly unprecedented, oil price spike once the post-COVID recovery is rolling. Both OPEC and Russia would appreciate such an outcome.
Disruptions in the oil market can be seismic and a fracking ban will bring on a serious shortage.
Consider that the world saw a 7% loss in supply with the 1973 Arab oil embargo that sent world oil prices soaring by 400%, triggering a global recession. A few years from now, even in the most dewy-eyed Green New Deal vision, America will still be using roughly as much oil as it is today. But in the frack-ban scenario, that oil will be increasingly imported, and likely at far higher prices.
That is a serious matter for drivers in the US. Mills calculated that “just” doubling the price of gas would put transportation costs on a par with home mortgage expenses (show us your workings?). And then the ripple through the transport industry. Trucking did not decline during the pandemic because so much cargo is essential and e-commerce boomed.
Moving on to gas
The electricity supply will be in crisis without shale gas and power supplies will have to rotate supplies (blackouts) and fire up all the available coal plants. Look at the situation where gas supplies a large proportion of the power – New England (nearly 50%), mid-Atlantic (38%) and Pacific Coast (30%).
None of this sounds like an outcome that any serious policymaker, green or otherwise, would want. But a frack-ban would cause such a fallout because there’s no prospect for importing enough wind-solar-battery hardware to fill the gap…Simply consider what the past two decades of climate awareness and spending have actually achieved. The world has collectively deployed more than $2 trillion for alternative energy over the past decade. And the share of the world’s energy coming from hydrocarbons has declined about 2 percentage points, from 86% to 84%.
And so as the Green New Deal approaches reality, contemplate the cost.
Tesla corporate gets some $400 million in revenues from selling emissions credits to other automakers. That money, supplied by non-Tesla-owning taxpayers, is a “hidden” subsidy courtesy of federal policy. Getting to hundreds of millions of EVs with those kinds of subsidies adds up to trillions of dollars. You find similar numbers in the subsidies for wind and solar. That explains why honest brokers of green deals talk about spending trillions of dollars. How long taxpayers will tolerate such scales of subsidies is the political question of the decade.
So a word to people who are pleased to see Trump out of office: Be careful what you wish for.