How do energy types actually compare to one another? Let's take a look.
ENERGY TYPES COMPARED
Our team researched the benefits and drawbacks of common energy sources in the United States. Numerical scores were assigned to each source, with lower scores indicating greater drawbacks and higher scores indicating greater overall benefit.
Categories and questions considered include, but are not limited to:
How long has this energy source been in use? How far has the technological development come in that time? In what ways might technology advance this source in the near and distant future?
How much and which greenhouse gases are produced during exploration, extraction, and use of the energy source? How much harm do the emissions cause?
Is the source itself renewable or can we deplete it? How abundant are the materials necessary for capture, storage, manufacturing, or use of this source? Could most people, cities, countries, or continents have access to this source?
How easy is it to store the energy? Can the energy be transported, or must it be used at or near the source?
How safe is exploration, extraction, transport, refining, use, and disposal? At any stage, how severe would an accident be in terms of loss of human life, environmental damage, and/or financial losses?
From exploration through to disposal, what does it cost to use or develop this source?
Can this energy source be interrupted? If so, what are the total considerations of a backup source?
How much land is necessary to use this energy type? Does using this energy source prevent land from being used in other ways in either the short or long-term?
How many ways can we use this energy? Can it be used in every sector, or only for a limited number of applications?
Apart from greenhouse gas emissions, does the exploration, extraction, transport, refining, use, and/or disposal of this energy type damage the environment? If so, how difficult or possible is it to fix any damage? Even if not directly or immediately harmful to the environment, does using this energy type cause a shortage of any resource for others? Has this energy source been in use long enough that we are aware of most or all of the impacts?
THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB
Our research focused on finding the "best" energy type for the most people and applications. In the same way that many different tools are required to build a house, different energy sources are developed for specific applications or regions in order to best meet demands. If you live where the sun doesn't shine for days or weeks on end, solar energy may not be the right tool. Hydroelectric power is clean and cheap, but it is unethical and immoral to dam rivers if communities or ecosystems downstream will perish due to lack of water. Energy must make sense at the local, state, and federal level, and anyone pushing a one-size-fits-all approach has their own agenda.
There is evidence of such an agenda when we consider electric vehicles. Officials championing the move to EVs neglect to mention that China has 80-90% of the global rare earth market. For example, over 70% of all mined cobalt needed for the EV industry comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and most of it is controlled by China. That means massive U.S. policies to “go green” with EVs are in fact, “going red,” as in handing over our power to the Chinese Communist Party. This type of energy policy guarantees overwhelming dependence on China, and their control is much greater than OPEC's control of world oil production. The U.S. does not yet control enough of the raw materials needed for EVs to make this sort of move. This becomes even more concerning when we hear discussions about moving our farm equipment to electric. We would be placing our very lives in the hands of a nation when there is no net benefit for us.
For China, the chart above would be scored differently. They don't have nearly the amount of oil or gas as the U.S. does, but they have most of the materials on earth to make EV batteries. If I were China, I would tell everyone that EVs are the right tool too. They are not the right tool for vehicles or machinery in the U.S. or most other countries.
Energy independence is easily attainable for us. We have the ability and abundant resources despite some politicians' claims otherwise. Oilfield technology constantly advances, and recoverable reserves increase with every advancement. There is no reason to place ourselves at the mercy of other, sometimes hostile countries for what we can easily accomplish ourselves.