President Trump has not been what many of us hoped for, but his energy, regulation, and trade policies are a great improvement over the destructive policies of his predecessor. Hussein Obama is responsible for the Solyndra scandal, excessive restrictions on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and the war on our coal industry. Less regulation of energy resources, not mandates and subsidies of ineffective technologies is what works.
Solar energy is cost effective in many parts of the country, for space and domestic water heating, and great strides are being made in photovoltaics and energy storage technologies…but the innovations come from the private sector, not government. Even wind energy may have its uses, like powering desalination plants on the coast…but, if so, the free market will develop it.
In the meantime, the US is uniquely blessed when it comes to energy resources. Year after year we are assured by the chicken littles that we have reached the point of “peak oil,” and that oil and gas production will now decline. And, year after year, we develop new extraction technologies and discover new oil and gas fields. In fact, the theory (largely rejected by more conventional scientists) that much of our oil and gas is abiotic in origin, trapped in Earth’s mantle and crust when the planet was formed, and present in vast quantities, should be taken seriously. Methane and other hydrocarbons are the main component of the atmosphere and surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. Icelandic volcanoes, situated over a mantle plume with no sedimentary rocks containing fossils, spew methane.
Thanks to fracking of shale formations containing petroleum, and to new discoveries in the Dakotas and Wyoming, Texas and New Mexico, the US now has proven, economically recoverable reserves of about 36.4 billion barrels of crude oil, and probably some 198 billion more barrels yet to be discovered. We have some 2,462 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to power our gas needs for 90 years at current use rates.
In addition to actual crude oil in between layers of shale rock, the US has vast deposits of oil shales, which are composed of shale rock containing a hard, tarry substance known as kerogen. These shales can be burned directly as a low grade fuel, or, if heated, the kerogen can be converted into petroleum, a technology not presently economically viable…but technologies continue to advance. In places like the Green River deposits in the western US, we have enough kerogen to produce 4.8 trillion barrels of petroleum…80% of the world’s known deposits. Bear in mind that the world’s proven petroleum deposits total only 1.69 trillion barrels. Incidentally, kerogen is also found in comets…more evidence for abiotic origin of hydrocarbons.
And then there is coal. We already filter out fly ash, sulfur emissions, and the like, so coal-fired power plants emit only one “pollutant,” the dreaded plant food, CO2. With an estimated 253,453 million tons of recoverable coal, the US is first in the world, followed not-so-closely by Russia and China. Our known oil, gas, and coal reserves are enough to meet all our domestic needs for decades to come, even if we fail to develop our kerogen deposits.
Inherently safe nuclear reactors have now been designed, incapable of a meltdown. Reactors that can produce enough power to be useful presently use enriched uranium, with a higher ratio of the U-235 isotope (which emits more neutrons when it fissions, sustaining a chain reaction) to the more common U-238 isotope, which fissions and releases energy but not neutrons. But breeder reactors have been developed, which can convert U-238 into plutonium, which will sustain a chain reaction. The US has substantial uranium ore reserves, some 1,227 million pounds of U3O8, a 23 year supply at current use rates. We also have large thorium reserves, and thorium can “breed” into U-233, another isotope that can sustain a chain reaction. There has been so little exploration that we really don’t know how much of these resources we have…probably a great deal more than we have found so far. With breeder reactors we could produce all the energy we need for centuries.
Hydrogen fusion, once seemingly so full of promise, may not be what it was cracked up to be. In theory, the deuterium (a form of hydrogen with one neutron and one proton in its nucleus) found in trace quantities in water could supply all the energy we need for millennia. In practice, after over fifty years of fusion research, the government-funded “hot fusion” researchers have yet to pass the break even point, producing more energy than is needed just to sustain a reaction. And just passing that point does not make the technology economically viable, especially considering the tremendous expense of the reactors and the tendency of the containment vessels to deteriorate due to all the neutrons the reaction produces.
By contrast, “cold fusion,” using cheap reactors, has produced excess power. In 1989 chemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons at the University of Utah spent a mere 100,00 dollars on a low temperature reactor fueled by heavy water (deuterium oxide) that produced unexplained excess energy, far beyond the “break even” point. Contrary to the lies of the slimestream media (who have mainly just ignored the issue) other teams of researchers also produced excess energy, and, sometimes, neutrons. But the US Department of Energy has twice refused to fund the research, preferring to throw our tax dollars at the “hot fusion” boys, who are working at lucrative but non-productive careers begun by their grandfathers. The main reason is probably the fact that current theory does not allow for this kind of fusion, which may turn out not to be fusion at all, but something even stranger.
Mystics have always claimed that the entire universe is awash in a mysterious energy variously called “kundalini,” “chi,” etc. This may be the basic substrate of the physical universe. Some believe that it manifests itself as gravity and electromagnetism, which might mean that electromagnetism, for example, is not merely a static force, but active energy. If so, perhaps permanent magnets and some unique wire-winding design would allow this energy to be tapped directly, without the need to put mechanical, or kinetic energy into the system, as is the case with conventional electric dynamos. All of this is unproven and very controversial.
But what is increasingly obvious is that the ultimate energy to tap is the innovative talent of researchers working independently or for private (usually small) companies in a true free market environment, unhindered by government regulations, excessive taxes, and the stifling of independent thought by our “universities.”
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