With the recent push for electric vehicles and green energy we need to take a minute to do a reality check and assess where we are and the path forward. Clean energy production is a noble and needed goal. It is not however reality, today or in the near future. When our government representatives talk about clean energy solutions as being readily at hand does a disservice to the cause and actually contributes to making the problem worse.
As you can see from the chart above renewables (the green part of the chart) have slowly been increasing in their contribution to the overall energy needs of the United States. They currently represent about 20 percent of the energy production.
The largest contributor to our renewable energy traditionally has been hydroelectric. In the last decade it has been surpassed by wind, solar and others. The largest contributor in renewables is now wind at 9.2% followed by hydroelectric at 6.3%. When you look at the rate we can implement the clean technology we currently have, even if you ignore the fact that it is not constant, it will be some time before renewables can take the full load. Until then, especially with the increase in demand we will see from electric vehicles we have no choice but to use, and increase energy production in non-renewables.
If we take a best case, non-realistic, scenario and assume we can replace 5 percent of the U.S. energy production with renewables (wind and solar) per year it will still take 16 years to go fully green. Of course we again are ignoring the fact that these are not reliable sources of energy and subject to the weather and daylight. We are no where near the pace to replace 5 percent of our energy production per year and there is no concrete plan to get there. For that matter there is no real plan to replace our energy sources other than turn off fossil fuels, which is also not realistic.
The current administrations plan to go green is unrealistic and lacks any engineering discipline. We need to outline a path to get from point A to point B that does not cause undue sacrifice to the people or our country. Knowing, as I outlined, that even a fantasy path using wind and solar being deployed at an unrealistic rate we still cannot replace our current energy sources we need to look at what we actually can do.
The first thing that should be done is more research into alternate energy production. For example energy storage. If we had more efficient and affordable batteries we could store the solar and wind generated power for use when it is not immediately available. This would go a long way towards making them a more reliable energy source. Another source would be nuclear. Before you shut this down you need to know there is technology that uses the spent fuel, lower grade radioactive materials to produce electricity in such a way that there can be no worry of a runaway or meltdown. These reactors are designed so that they will shut shutdown due to the physics built into them. No operational intervention is needed if something goes wrong. Due to this they are an order of magnitude safer than reactors today. We have these running right now in tests but need to do more to bring them into operational use.
It boggles the mind that our government cannot construct a plan that will create a clear path forward for the nation and supply our energy needs. Having a plan would promote stability for industry to plan for the future. It would act to support a strong economy, help solve the global warming issues, and actually make a difference in our lives. Instead of this we get ludicrous calls to cut off our energy supply with no replacement in sight, mandates to replace gas vehicles with electric with no plan to assure the electricity is produced from clean sources. Until we demand a plan from our government we will continue to suffer with the chaos and issues their inability to plan breeds. We deserve better than this and need to replace any representative who cannot make a path forward clear.