Is renewable energy just a myth?

It’s a question I’ve asked several times, indirectly on Sciencebase – is renewable sustainable or just a pipedream for blue-skies thinkers?

Dawn Stover suggests that it may well be: Renewable energy sounds so much more natural and believable than a perpetual-motion machine, but theres one big problem: Unless youre planning to live without electricity and motorized transportation, you need more than just wind, water, sunlight, and plants for energy. You need raw materials, real estate, and other things that will run out one day. You need stuff that has to be mined, drilled, transported, and bulldozed — not simply harvested or farmed. You need non-renewable resources:

via The myth of renewable energy.

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4 thoughts on “Is renewable energy just a myth?

  1. “Biomass. In developed countries, biomass is envisioned as a win-win way to produce energy while thinning wildfire-prone forests or anchoring soil with perennial switchgrass plantings. But expanding energy crops will mean less land for food production, recreation, and wildlife habitat. In many parts of the world where biomass is already used extensively to heat homes and cook meals, this renewable energy is responsible for severe deforestation and air pollution.”

    Biomass technology is still in its infancy. In certain respects coal, oil, and natural gas are biomass. But utilized for fertilizer rather than burned, coal and oil could be the key to generating incredible amounts of biomass for fermentation purposes. When one considers how much methane is generated in landfills where biomass is diluted with all manner of non-organic material, one wonders how much methane would be generated if huge amounts of biomass were deliberately buried in a manner designed to maximize fermentation and gas collection efficiency.

  2. This is something I have questioned a lot in the past few years, specially now during my master’s in energy engineering for sustainabiliy. The problem is that the italian prof. will always, i repeat, ALWAYS look at me like i’m making some stupid inquiry, but it is not. It’s a very real and important issue, because without a full life-cycle renewability, all we are doing is postponing. Well, if we postpone for long enough, it may well be called long-term renewable, but, the way we are doing now, it’s just misleading for many wel-intended-naive-or-not-developed-minds who believe in the system without further questioning. I guess i went far enough now….

  3. Is medicine a myth? There aren’t cures for all diseases. Is the internet a myth? I can’t make it take out the trash.
    In energy use, as with obesity, there are degrees of inequity and harm done to all parties. It somehow shrewd or dashingly contrarian to ask for a solution involving eating ice cream only, or dismissing your diet as myth.

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