Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future

My review of the new book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future , by Robert Bryce.

You just have to feel sorry for the advocates of global warming. They’ve had a bad year. First it was the continuation of a decade of stable or slightly cooling weather, completely unpredicted by the climate models. Then it was the devastating scandals, not only in the Climate Research Unit but in NASA and the IPCC as well. To add insult to injury, there was the jarring failure of Copenhagen. Then the failure of Congress to adopt a cap and trade scheme when they had a Democratic President and overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. Now the coup de grâce, Robert Bryce hits yet another home run by completely demolishing the argument for renewables in his new book Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.

Bryce really ticks me off. I am an energy policy expert. His earlier book Gusher of Lies was an excellent rebuttal to the demagoguery on oil imports. But oil wasn’t my thing so I gave him a pass and enthusiastically supported his book. But now he writes Power Hungry about the idiocy of many of the arguments supporting “green energy.” This is my field and so I am truly in awe of his ability to so cogently skewer mindless advocates of green.

Bryce is addicted to numbers. He is ruthless in presenting numbers that make his points. His main weapon is the tyranny of big numbers. Many ideas sound good in the abstract–e.g., wind power, electric cars, cellulosic ethanol–but fail miserably when put into the context of US energy demographics.

I marvel that Bryce could deliver a nugget of new insight on literally every page. (I realize I am leaving myself open to abuse.) But he does. The list would be too long of all the fascinating nuggets that Bryce has so artfully strung together in an altogether gripping story of our modern day energy dilemma. A few will suffice to make the point:

  • He presents the Four Imperatives of energy supply: power density, energy density, cost, and scale;
  • He describes the technology advances that allow us to access huge natural gas shale resources;
  • He discusses modular nuclear units (some as small as 25 megawatts);
  • He absolutely skewers T. Boone Pickens and Amory Lovins;
  • He devastates the argument that Denmark is an exemplar for relying on renewable energy; and
  • He catalogues China’s dominance in the “natural earth” resources essential for wind and solar.

It goes on and on.

Given all the attention given to literature that paints false pictures of green energy, I hope Bryce’s book takes off like a rocket. The country very much needs this splash of cold water on the phony claims made for green energy.

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