Saturday, January 3, 2009

America's Energy Plan: Defy Physics

The U.S. is approaching its 50th year  of trying to defy physics and make solar, wind, and biofuel (e.g., ethanol) a cost-effective alternative to oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. Democrat-imposed labyrinthine regulation has extended the time it takes to build a nuclear plant to 15 years.

(Note written after I wrote this post: Commenters asked me to explain the science behind my skepticism about solar. I did so in comment 2.)

China, in contrast, recognizes alternative energy for the politically correct, practically likely-to-be-a-boondoggle it is and so has committed to increase its current 11 nuclear power plants to 100 by 2020 and a six-fold increase in nuclear power usage by 2030.

This is merely one example of the data-defying American agenda that is driving it to its knees. (Others include bailouts, international adventurism, uncontrolled immigration, reverse discrimination hiring and promotion, restrictions on sex education and distribution of birth control, and lifetime-tenured teachers.) 

If America deliberately tried to accelerate its descent into third-world status, it couldn't do a better job.


Anonymous said...


Experts Craig Venter, Larry Page, Dean Kamen, and Ray Kurzweil discussed at a conference the future of energy. They believe solar will lead the way.

There are many problem with Govt picking winners. One involves their slowness in changing their minds when it becomes clear they've picked a loser.

Another involves the monopoly power, non-market incentives the Govt responds to.

Then there's the problem that it's not their money they're investing, but yours and mine. They regard themselves above the moral law that it's wrong to steal other people's money. They use it for their own purposes while claiming to have altruistic motives.

Michael R. Edelstein

Marty Nemko said...

It feels hubristic to question the likes of those folks, but here's why I worry about whether solar will ever be a significant part of the energy solution:

1. Solar collectors and converters are expensive and because they absorb a lot of sunlight and so degrade, the cost is even higher because of the need to repair or replace.

2. For solar to have national implications, it must be transmitted far distances from from sunny-enough locations. That is a problem that will be difficult to solve.

3. Solar collectors and converters are reaching an asymptote in efficiency. Future improvements are likely to be too small to make solar a cost-effective national solution compared with, for example, nuclear.

Of course, some environmental true-believers will choose to put solar on their roofs even if not-cost effective, and that doesn't engender the transmission problem. But that doesn't mean solar will be a major solution to our need for energy independence.

juliet said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...


I suggest you have Ray Kurzweil again as a guest on your Sunday radio program to defend his optomistic view of solar energy. (His reasoning sounded logical to me.)

In addition, ask him about his predictions for career trends in the next 5 to 10 years. With a few misses, his past predictions have been on target.

Michael R. Edelstein

Prairie Popper said...

I am perplexed that Dr. Edelstein
would paint such a broad brush regarding government. I always thought psychologists did not believe in "black or white" thinking.


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