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100% Fossil Fuel Free By 2030?

Updated on September 26, 2019
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 100,000 views.

Introduction

Recently, a great event happened at the UN meeting on Climate change. Activists including a 16 year old from Sweden wants the world to change... They want to eliminate all fossil fuel usage by 2030. Have they thought of what will it take?

Here is a simple intellectual exercise that anyone with a 6 grade education can follow.

- Sept. 2019

Background

I am an engineer by training. As any good engineer will know, when you are presented with a problem or task, you have to evaluate it with a top down view first. Once that is done, you can proceed with the detail design and implementation...

Part of this exercise is always cost and time...can we accomplish what is given in a reasonable time period and at the lowest possible cost? That is the sign of a good engineer.

Let’s do the math. From 9/2019 to 1/2030 is approx. 10.25 years. That is 3770 days. In order to achieve 0% fossil fuel use, we would have to convert all existing equipment that burn gasoline, propane, diesel fuel, jet fuel and coal...to something else that is renewable.

That also includes all the existing power generation plants excluding nuclear power plants.

This is monumental to say the least. Even if every man women and child put all our energy into this, it cannot be achieve in 10 years or 30 years for that matter.

For example, the average life span of a gasoline car is 12 years. A car bought today will most likely last till 2031. Even if you could ramp up production of All Electrical vehicles like Tesla, you would need to build 10 million vehicles a year. The current production rate is only 200,000 a year. That is 50 times higher. Can anyone do this? The answer is NO. Even Elon Musk cannot do it.

Existing Machinery That Uses Fossil Fuel...

  • Automobiles
  • Motorcycles
  • Airplanes
  • Trucks
  • Trains
  • Ships
  • Ferries
  • Power plants
  • Rockets
  • Portable Generators
  • Building Furnaces

Logistics...

The logistics of replacing all fossil fuel related systems is a nightmare. Don’t forget, it takes energy to do things...anything. In the example of ramping up production of All Electric vehicles, you will need to use a huge amount of energy to build the parts that goes into making these cars. The battery alone, which is a major component of the Tesla, requires the use rare earth elements that needs to be discovered and mined...all of which takes “energy”. Currently, the only reliable energy we have is produced by fossil fuel.

Therefore, in order to accomplish what we want, we first have to use more fossil fuel on a grand scale...do you see the problem?

Cost to Replace...

Just as an example, the typical jet plane cost in the neighborhood of $200 million. The Boeing company has made a fortune building these planes starting with the 707...all the way to the 787 series. It is estimated that there are 12,000 commercial planes in existence. That is 2.4 trillion dollars just to replace all commercial jets.

What is the Alternative?

In the case of jet planes, there are few good options. We can revert back to the 1930s and use dirigibles.

Solar Airship

Summary

It is a pipe dream that intelligent people and scientists think we can live without fossil fuel. The fact is renewable energy source will only account for 10% of our total energy needs. The very nature of our existence, our way of life, our technological advances, is due solely to the abundance and cost effectiveness of fossil fuel. There is no replacement as yet.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jack Lee

Comments

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    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 

      18 months ago from Florida

      Jack you will probably enjoy this video.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM_QS984JKI

      One more example of how we really have no control over the climate or the cycles of the planet.

      But no matter how little control we may have, the necessity to remove from the air as much pollutants and toxic chemicals as we can is a necessity, moving forward with renewable energy and alternates to ICE vehicles should be a priority.

      Just as eliminating plastics wherever possible, ending dumping into the oceans, recycling as much as possible are all efforts we should be forwarding, not belittling.

      The two perspectives can exist together, the need to reduce the use and dependency on oil, gas and coal wherever possible, combined with the acceptance of the necessity for petroleum products in our lives now and for many years to come.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      18 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Marie, I value your comments and opinion. The truth of the matter is, fossil fuel is a necessity and not only due to greed. If greed was the only factor, then as long as there is money to be made, people will gravitate to whatever sources they can get at...

      If you take away the government incentives on solar and wind, you will find there is no economic advantage st this point.

      That is not to say a new energy source like hydrogen reactor may become economically viable down the road.

      When the right product comes along, nature and economics will take care of the conversion.

      Right now, we are stuck with natural gas, and coal and oil.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      18 months ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

      Jack, I cannot argue with your engineering savvy and statistics. We certainly have to make some kind of effort, though. I also think 2030 is not a realistic goal, but maybe a 10% conversation? 20%?

      Nuclear power is not a solution, either. Forms of nuclear should be banned due to safety and expense.

      Ultimately, only holding back on the development of something should not be based on cost alone. Health and safety should be stronger influential factors.

      Spiritual teachings suggest that oil continues to be developed because of greed. Geothermal and crystal power are additional alternatives to wind, water, and solar. Eventually over three generations or so, we'll eventually catch on.

      I cannot impress enough the importance of clean energy success. The difference of the breathable air in a major city and that within a forest is world's apart.

      We wonder how to resolve mass shootings and war. As a start, clean the air.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Interesting concepts.

      If my son believed all this stuff we would be scared to death.(9) "Dad I think it will be about another 15 thousand years before man goes extinct like dinosaurs".

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