In 2021, fossil fuels is a phrase that carries negative connotations. In the push for renewable energy, electric cars, ESG, and Green New Deals, the public has indulged themselves with feel-good initiatives, buzz words, and click-bait talking points without taking into consideration the real-world ramifications these plans have. There will always be a strong need for crude and refined products in the modern world, and fossil fuels and renewables can peacefully co-exist.
We all recall winter storm Uri in Texas that ravaged the power grid in February 2021. The freezing cold wreaked havoc on ERCOT’s energy grid causing massive power outages that resulted in 58 deaths. The narrative told by the mainstream media was far different that the reality. In a state where natural gas comes effortlessly, government regulation and renewable subsidization handcuffed ERCOT’s ability to respond to its customers energy needs. The solar and wind renewables froze and were unreliable. Earlier this week, in California, the world’s largest battery storage center went “offline” when the project experienced high battery temperatures that resulted in sprinkler system activations. While no fire ensued, like in Phoenix in 2019, the plant remains offline as of the writing of this post. To say the least, renewables still have massive struggles that need reimagined and reengineered to be a safe alternative to fossil fuels and crude. There also needs to be great strides in output and reliability of renewables to keep up with world demand.
Fossil fuels and crude have long been in the forefront of the energy arena. Cheap, reliable energy has been a friend to the USA. Wood burning was pushed out by coal and the torch was recently passed to natural gas. These energy bridges have gotten cheaper, cleaner, more reliable, and more responsible as humankind has progressed through time.
So, what role does crude play and how does it affect your daily life? A barrel of crude is 42 gallons and produces just under 45 gallons of refined products that range from gasoline and diesel to essential materials for everyday products. Everyday products like asphalt, tires, light bulbs, propane, and paint are all made possible through the crude refining process. You may already be aware of how versatile crude truly is but the bridge that people rarely cross is how crude impacts or is impacted by the feel-good and green new deal programs that are being pushed onto the populous.
The story that often goes untold is the cost required to make all these programs work. We all recognize the monetary cost that will ultimately be footed by US taxpayers, but what is the crude intensive and carbon cost to subsidize these programs? The amount of fossil fuels required to manufacture and install wind, solar, and hydro is a substantial upfront expense. Often this concept gets overlooked in the debate for renewables. Again, once the wind, hydro, and solar installations happen (with power generated from fossil fuels/crude) many people don’t realize that fossil fuels often remain the back up to these systems/programs. Electric cars plug into a power grid that is overwhelmingly run-on natural gas and coal, wind turbines are powered in peak hours via diesel generators, and the list goes on.
In a world full of misinformation and feel-good proposals, take time to step back and think of the impacts these programs have. The energy consumed by the world is overwhelmingly derived from fossil fuels that are being extracted and refined safely and responsibly. Fossil fuels and crude should be portrayed in more positive manner. They are the reason renewables and programs alike are even possible in today’s world.