Reality Blind - Vol. 1

Making cement involves feeding crushed limestone, clay, sand, and other ingredients into a (cement) kiln kept at 2700 °F. It is roughly two to three times cheaper to generate this heat by simply burning coal directly rather than to convert electricity (from coal, or wind, or biomass) to heat. This means, even if solar or wind power is at grid parity, it will be two to three times more costly to produce heat for industrial processes using solar-generated electricity than burning coal or gas. ● About 75% of the seven billion barrels of crude oil used annually in the United States is used to produce gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and distillate fuel (heating). The other 25% results in a diverse array of petroleum products: 185 crayons, pantyhose, heart valves, telephones, mattresses, helmets, glasses, toilet seats, fertilizers, aspirin, detergents, glue, garbage bags, fishing poles, shampoo, paints, fan belts, tires, condoms, luggage, anti-freeze, toothbrushes, tents, lipstick, tennis rackets, guitar strings, ammonia and other manufacturing chemicals, cameras, bandages, caulking, skis, roofing tiles, medicines, asphalt and many more. There is no simple or cheap non-fossil substitute for most of these products. (Note: if there were somehow a substitute for gasoline e.g. electric cars, we would still need the same amount of oil, as all the products listed above come from different fractions of the oil than the gasoline .) ● There are other processes we depend on that simply can’t be operated directly with electricity, such as airborne or water-borne transportation, and even ground transportation, the way our roads are currently constructed. Don’t forget that “batteries” aren’t electricity. They are chemical potential-energy carriers that store electricity on demand in limited quantities. Beyond transportation, some applications could use conductive cables, but this is an added layer of complexity. ( Note: On the afternoon this is being written, author DJ is putting this into practice: 100 feet from the house, a coconut tree is encroaching on a neighbor’s driveway. Rather than usi ng a gasoline chain saw, we’re using a 120’ extension cord and an electric chainsaw with far lower cranking power coming from the solar panels. It’s getting the job done but is less convenient than a gasoline saw would be. Still, it beats the heck out of u sing a hand saw. In cases where the work to be done is reasonably close to the generation source, power cords make electrification feasible.)


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