Nuclear Hydro Wind Geothermal And Solar Power

Nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and solar power have all been offered as solutions to the energy problem. These all have various issues associated with them. However, the bottom line is that discussion of these technologies misses the point. It is true that, to the extent they can be done economically, these technologies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing coal or natural gas for electricity generation. But the central issue of energy independence is not electricity. The United States has plenty of coal, and if necessary it could generate all of its electric power in this way.

No, the key issue in energy independence concerns the availability of liquid fuels to power cars, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes. These systems are not merely conveniences that have become dear to our way of life; they are the sinews of the economy and the fundamental instruments of military strength.

During World War II, when the fuel supplies of the Axis nations collapsed, so did their war efforts. A modern war cannot be run—a modern economy cannot be sustained—without liquid fuels.

There is no prospect whatsoever of the large-scale economic generation of liquid fuels from nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, or solar power sources in the near future. Thus the discussion of these technologies is largely irrelevant to the immediate strategic problem we face. In the long run, however, when combined with the switch to alcohol fuels, they can play a key role in enabling an open human future of worldwide economic development and rising living standards, without the threat of global warming. This will be discussed in chapters 10 and 11.

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