I started to realize that I had accepted as true certain claims about energy and our environment. Now I began to see those claims were false. For example:
It’s now clear I was chasing utopian energy. I was using green energy myths as moral camouflage, and I was able to believe those myths as long as I remained ignorant about the real costs and benefits of different energy sources.
Here are eight principles that can help us evaluate energy options that will give us the best chance to bring about successful energy reform that protects both people and the planet.
1. Security: Does an energy source enable a country to maintain its autonomy? Controlling access to critical minerals and natural resources to make affordable, reliable energy is a precondition for liberty and self-determination. Relying on energy imports or minerals from other countries puts a nation at risk.
2. Reliability: Can people and businesses reliably access energy when they need it? A reliable energy system provides power 24/7/365.
3. Affordability: Is the energy source easily affordable for households and businesses? The cost of energy affects the cost of everything else. If energy is not affordable, businesses can’t make the products we want, and people will freeze to death in their own homes.
4. Versatility: How many different kinds of machines can the energy source power? We need energy to power machines that mine, drill, pave, fly, cut, pump, filter, transport, compact, excavate, grade, and lift.
5. Scalability: How many people can use the energy source across how many places? Wind, solar, and water resources are often located far away from where people live and work, making it difficult and expensive to transport the energy to where it is needed.
6. Emissions: What are the energy source’s effects on air pollution, GHG emissions, and water quality? Sources of emissions include mining, transportation, and electricity production.
7. Land use: What are the energy source’s effects on wildlife, habitat, farmland, viewsheds, and coastlines? For example, a typical 1,000-megawatt US nuclear power plant needs little more than 1 square mile to operate. Solar farms need 75 times more land to produce the same amount of energy. Wind farms need 360 times more.
8. Lifespan: How long will a source produce energy? Nuclear plants can operate for over 80 years and run for 100 years if they are well-maintained. By contrast, solar panels and wind turbines last only about 20 years.