America's Coming Energy Crisis

President Joe Biden and the apocalyptic climate cult within the Democrat party believe that climate change is the greatest threat to the country.  That's right, the greatest threat is not nuclear war, not unlimited unlawful immigration, not inflation, or out-of-control spending.  Instead, it's the slow warming of the atmosphere, which they believe is caused solely by burning fossil fuels.

In 2021, Biden signed an executive order that decreed that all federal contracts for goods and services to be carbon-neutral by 2050.  Some states and businesses are following Biden's lead.  California and six other states intend to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.  California also wants to ban the sale of gas-powered water heaters and furnaces by 2030.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency has piled on.  The agency is proposing vehicle pollution limits for 2032 that are so strict that they will force roughly two thirds of new vehicles sold to be electric.

This may sound glorious to climate warriors, but they have no idea what they are getting us into.  Transitioning to net zero involves decarbonizing electrical generation, industry, and transportation all at the same time.  It also involves creating net-zero carbon buildings, even though none presently exists.  

Let's assume Joe Biden and subsequent leaders can force a national conversion away from fossil fuels by 2050.  Can this plan work?

Let's start with the roughly 263.5 million cars and light trucks registered in the US in 2020.  Only 1% are electric, meaning that around 261 million are not.  Since Americans drive an average of 13,476 miles per year, we drive approximately 37 miles daily.  If an electric vehicle gets about 3–4 miles per kilowatt hour, that works out to around 10.5 kWh per day.  So the electricity needed to fuel future E.V.s is approximately 2.74 billion kWh/day.

What about converting gas appliances to electricity?

There are roughly 130 million households in the U.S.  Around 40% of them, or 52 million, have gas stoves.  Assuming that each household uses 40 therms of gas per year for cooking — a therm is equivalent to 29.307 kWh — this works out to roughly 0.11 therms, or 3.22 kWh per day.  Multiply by 52 million, and we need 167 million kWh/day to replace gas stoves with electric ones.

Gas dryers would be the easiest to convert because only 22.75 million households use them.  Let's assume the average gas dryer uses 70 therms of gas per year.  If we do the math, we need approximately 128 million kWh/day of generating capacity to replace them.

Gas water heaters are more common.  Around 60% of households have one.  Assuming the average amount of gas used to heat water is 258 therms per year, we will need 1.6 billion kWh/day to switch them all.

Adding E.V.s to the electricity needed for gas appliances yields roughly 4.64 billion kWh/day.  Dividing by 24 hours tells us we need an additional generating capacity of 193,000,000 kW every hour, or 193 gigawatts, to handle an average load.  Since that load varies by as much as 50% between daylight and darkness, we really need around 290 gigawatts.

Gas furnace conversion is a bit more challenging to estimate because furnace usage is cyclical and more heavily utilized in the winter months.  So what we need to know is the peak demand for gas.

The peak residential demand is around 30 billion cubic feet per day above baseline during cold nights in the winter or 1.25 billion cubic feet per hour.  Assuming that the increase is almost all due to furnaces, the electrical energy needed to replace them is roughly 366,000,000 kWh or 366 gigawatts during maximum demand.

Adding gas furnaces to everything else means we need around 656 gigawatts of additional electricity.

Remember that this estimate does not include commercial, industrial, and governmental natural gas usage, which is more than twice as much.  If we ballpark that number, we need another 1,500 gigawatts.  So this means we need something like 2,150 gigawatts of additional power. 

In 2021, roughly 60% of U.S. power generation, or around 720 gigawatts, came from fossil fuels.  Since this will have to be replaced to get to net zero, we can add this to the total required giving us 2,870 gigawatts.

The reliability of renewable energy is a separate issue.  As others have noted, wind and solar deliver variable amounts of power even when working, which means they are limited by their reliability.  Wind and solar average maximum power roughly 30% of the time.  Natural gas and coal have a reliability factor of around 52%.  So to provide the same amount of reliable power, we will need roughly 75% more wind and solar capacity, or another 2,130 gigawatts.  This gets us to 5,000 gigawatts of renewable energy.

Since roughly 6% of electrical power is lost in transmission, we multiply 5,000 by 1.06 and round up.  This means that approximately 5,300 gigawatts of renewable electrical power will be required to replace fossil fuels.

Is this a problem?  You bet it is.

The entire electrical generating capacity of the United States in 2022 was just over 1,200 gigawatts.  A total conversion to electricity would require us to more than quadruple our present capacity.

Even if we assume improvements in energy distribution and end-use efficiency by 2050, the improvements may be offset by the U.S. population growth of roughly 2 million people per year.  Can we possibly generate this much electricity without the use of fossil fuels?

The numbers are not encouraging.  In 2022, approximately 46 gigawatts of mainly wind and solar were planned additions.  In 2023, 54.5 gigawatts, again mostly wind and solar, will be added.  These numbers do not count power plant retirements, averaging 10–11 gigawatts annually.

This is nowhere near enough.  We are barely adding 40 gigawatts per year.  At this rate, it will take over 130 years to create enough generating capacity to support the demand for electricity in 2050.

In addition to wind and solar, we will need battery backup systems and hundreds of miles of transmission lines, which add to the cost.  The batteries do not generate power.  Instead, they smooth the energy flow and provide backup power for a maximum of 12 hours.

We can expect the fossil fuel panic to cause significant problems soon.  Rolling blackouts and calls to restrict electricity usage, especially in the summer and winter months, as demand for electricity spikes are not far away.  In fact, the California electrical grid may have reached the tipping point just last year.

If this wasn't crazy enough, the United Nations recently claimed we need to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 because the world is fast approaching catastrophic levels of heating.

This is just nonsense.  Unfortunately, the Ministries of Magic and Climate Change, AKA the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA, seem to be under the control of the same climate-obsessed, fossil fuel–hating dark wizards infesting the U.N.

No one is going to die from climate change.  But what happens if our save-the-earth renewable electric grid falls apart in the dead of winter in sub-zero temperatures?  Will the EPA let you burn your furniture to stay alive?

This madness has to stop.

You can read my opinion of U.N. climate predictions here.

Image: Eric Fischer via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).

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