Answers to: Renewable Energy Transition

No unique link — we are saying that Arctic development is inevitable and that it is a question of US access to the oil resources.

Renewables will never make it because if the price of oil gets to high the Saudis will flood the market with oil, preventing the transition

Jad Mouawad, 6/15/2008, International Herald Tribune, “Saudis plan to increase oil output”,
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is planning to increase its output next month by about a half-million barrels a day, an increase of nearly 6 percent, according to analysts and oil traders briefed by Saudi officials. The increase could raise Saudi output to a production level of 10 million barrels a day, which, if sustained, would be the highest ever by the kingdom. The move was seen as a sign that the Saudis are becoming increasingly nervous about both the political and economic effects of high oil prices. In recent weeks, soaring fuel costs have incited demonstrations and protests from Italy to Indonesia. Saudi Arabia is now pumping 9.45 million barrels a day, which is an increase of about 300,000 barrels from last month. While they are reaping record profits, the Saudis are concerned that the record prices reached this month might eventually dampen global economic growth and lead to lower oil demand, as is already happening in the United States and other developed countries. The current prices are also making alternative fuels more viable, threatening the long-term prospects of the oil-based economy.

Saudi Arabia will just flood the market with oil, blocking the transition

Rahemtulla ’13 (Karim Rahemtulla, Chief Resource Analyst at Oil and Energy Daily, Author of the bestselling book, “Where In the World Should I Invest?”. “Will Saudi Arabia Go Nuclear With An Oil Supply Shock?” 30 July 2013. LP)
Saudi Arabia is home to the world’s most prolific, consistent daily production of crude oil and the second-largest reserves in the world. The kingdom currently produces 12.5 million barrels per day. It has the capacity to produce another 2.5 million barrels per day. There just isn’t enough demand at current prices. Through its influence over OPEC, it can pretty much set the price for more than one third of the world’s daily oil usage of around 100 million barrels. So even if it doesn’t sell as much oil to the United States – most of our imports come from Canada, Venezuela and Mexico – Saudi Arabia is still a major factor in the price of the oil that we consume. More importantly, the Saudi royal family will do anything to maintain their grip on their kingdom, as well as their own personal power, prestige and wealth. If that means selling oil at a loss, so be it. The kingdom has NO other source of income and NO other choice. If Saudi Arabia were to feel a genuine threat, it could open the spigot and flood the market… literally. The other OPEC members would follow suit, as most are in the same boat as Saudi Arabia – with no other source of revenue and leaderships that are dependent on the largesse from oil sales. And if you want to get an idea of what can happen in an industry when supply increases faster than demand, or when prices plunge by more than half, just look at what happened to natural gas prices over the past decade. Wells sit idle and companies cut back production. So while oil may be trading at $106 per barrel today, it could just as easily be trading at half that price a few years from now, and that’s not even counting the increasing downward pressure from alternative energy sources like natural gas. And that would deal a serious blow to the dream of U.S. energy independence. And “the chase” continues.

Renewables can’t solve warming – they supplement, not replace, dirty energy

Angus 12 – ecosocialist advocate, citing an extensive study by Richard York, professor at the University of Oregon with an MS in Environmental Studies from Bemidji State University (Iran, “Green energy won’t save the earth without social change”, 3/21/12; <>)//Beddow
The most popular techno-fix for global warming is green energy. If energy companies would only deploy wind, hydro, solar, geothermal or nuclear, then emission-intensive fossil fuels will eventually disappear. But will that actually work? A new study by Richard York of the University of Oregon shows that it isn’t that simple. Rather than displacing fossil fuels, green energy sources have proven to be mostly additive. “Do alternative energy sources displace fossil fuels?” published this month in Nature Climate Change, discusses what happened when alternative energy sources were introduced in countries around the world, over the past fifty years. Contrary to the accepted wisdom that new green energy replaces fossil-fuel use, York found that on average each unit of energy use from non-fossil-fuel sources displaced less than a quarter of a unit of energy use from fossil-fuel sources. The picture is worse with electricity, where each new unit generated from green sources displaced less than one-tenth of a unit of fossil-fuel-generated electricity. York writes: “Based on all of the results presented above, the answer to the question presented in the title of this paper – do alternative energy sources displace fossil fuels? – is yes, but only very modestly. The common assumption that the expansion of production of alternative energy will suppress fossil-fuel energy production in equal proportion is clearly wrong.” Why don’t the new sources replace the old? York identifies two key reasons: the inertia of a huge existing fossil-fuel infrastructure, and the power and influence of the coal and oil corporations. “The failure of non-fossil energy sources to displace fossil ones is probably in part attributable to the established energy system where there is a lock-in to using fossil fuels as the base energy source because of their long-standing prevalence and existing infrastructure and to the political and economic power of the fossil-fuel industry.” In other words, eliminating fossil-fuel as an energy source is at least as much a social and political problem as a technical one. “Of course all societies need energy. So, obviously, if societies are to stop using fossil fuels they must have other energy sources. However, the results from the analyses presented here indicate that the shift away from fossil fuel does not happen inevitably with the expansion of non-fossil-fuel sources, or at least in the political and economic contexts that have been dominant over the past fifty years around the world…. “The most effective strategy for curbing carbon emissions is likely to be one that aims to not only develop non-fossil energy sources, but also to find ways to alter political and economic contexts so that fossil-fuel energy is more easily displaced and to curtail the growth in energy consumption as much as possible. “A general implication of these findings is that polices aimed at addressing global climate change should not focus principally on developing technological fixes, but should also take into account human behaviour in the context of political, economic and social systems.” The evidence shows that simply introducing green energy isn’t enough: the introduction must be accompanied by “explicit policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.” The article is published in a scientific journal, where political and social conclusions can only be expressed in muted form. But Richard York’s research and conclusions reinforce the argument that he and his co-authors (John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark) made more explicitly in their recent book, The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Planet. “We are confronting the question of a terminal crisis, threatening most life on the planet, civilization, and the very existence of future generations. … attempts to solve this through technological fixes, market magic, and the idea of a ‘sustainable capitalism’ are mere forms of ecological denial, since they ignore the inherent destructiveness of the current system of unsustainable development – capitalism.”

No uniqueness – prices will fall

COM Stat Data Hub, 6-14, 18,
Brent crude oil prices will average $63.4 per barrel in 2018 and decrease to $62.7 per barrel in 2019, according to the most recent forecast from the US Energy Information Administration’s monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (EIA). This reflects an upward revision of $2.5/barrel to the EIA forecast for 2018 compared to last month’s Outlook.
US Energy Information Agency, July 10, 2018,
Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $74 per barrel (b) in June, a decrease of almost $3/b from the May average. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices will average $73/b in the second half of 2018 and will average $69/b in 2019. EIA expects West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices will average $6/b lower than Brent prices in the second half of 2018 and $7/b lower in 2019. NYMEX WTI futures and options contract values for October 2018 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending July 5, 2018, suggest a range of $56/b to $87/b encompasses the market expectation for October WTI prices at the 95% confidence level. U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.89 gallon (gal) in June, down 1 cent/gal from the average in May. EIA expects that 2018 monthly average gasoline prices peaked in May and forecasts prices to decline gradually in the coming months to an average of $2.83/gal in September. EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.76/gal in 2018 and $2.77/gal in 2019.

Renewable energy technologies rely on rare earth minerals that are in short supply. Using more rare earth materials in renewable energy means fewer are available for military applications

Burnett, senior fellow with the Natonal Center for Policy Analysis, 1  [Sterling, 11/1/11, NCPA, “Will Green Energy Make the United States Less Secure?,”]
The more the United States embraces green energy technologies, the worse off it will be geopolitically and economically. Demand for green energy would fall if there were not huge government subsidies, grants and mandates, because green energy is more expensive and less reliable than traditional energy production. As the push to adopt rare earth-intensive energy technologies intensifies, those concerned about U. S. energy security could find that the tradeoff involves swapping one form of dependence for a much more perilous one. In addition, the diversion of scarce rare earths to green energy technologies means that there is less available for critical aerospace and military technologies.

Rare earth acquisition is key to nuclear primacy – guided missiles, first strike capabilities

Kennedy, President of Wings Enterprises, internationally recognized expert on rare earths, 10
[J. Kennedy, March 2010, “Critical and Strategic Failure of Rare Earth Resources,”
The national defense issues are equally important. Rare earths are critical components for military jet engines, guided missiles and bombs, electrical countermeasures, anti-missile systems, satellite communication systems and armor, yet the U.S. has no domestic sources. Innovation Drives Industry – Industry Carries the Economy Advances in Materials Science are a result of tireless innovation; innovation seeking improvements in the performance and characteristics of material properties or a change in their form or function. Much of this work must eventually translate into commercial and military applications. Today many advances in material science are achieved through the application of rare earth oxides, elements and alloys. This group of elements, also known as the lanthanide series, represents the only known bridge to the next level of improved performance in the material properties for many metallurgical alloys, electrical conductivity, and instrument sensitivity and in some cases a mechanical or physical change in function. These lanthanides hold unique chemical, magnetic, electrical, luminescence and radioactive shielding characteristics. Combined with other elements they can help maintain or alter physical and structural characteristics under changing conditions. Today, these rare earth elements are essential to every computer hard drive, cell phone, energy efficient light bulb, many automotive pollution control devices and catalysts, hybrid automobiles and most, if not all, military guidance systems and advanced armor. Tomorrow, they will be used in ultra capacity wind turbines, magnetic refrigeration, zero emission automobiles, superconductors, sub-light-speed computer processors, nano-particle technologies for material and metallurgical applications, structurally amorphous metals, next generation military armor and TERFENOL-D Radar. America must lead in these developments. The entire U.S. defense system is completely interdependent upon REO enhanced technologies for our most advanced weapons guidance systems, advanced armor, secure communications, radar, advanced radar systems, weapons triggering systems and un-manned Drones. REO dependent weapons technologies are predominantly represented in our ‘first strike’ and un-manned capabilities. This national defense issue is not a case of limited exposure for first-strike capabilities. This first-strike vulnerability translates into risk exposure in every level of our national defense system, as the system is built around our presumptive technological and first-strike superiority. Yet the DoD has abandon its traditional procurement protocols for “strategic and critical” materials and components for weapons systems in favor of “the principles of free trade.”

Loss of U.S. nuclear primacy causes global nuclear war

Caves, Senior Research Fellow in the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University, 10
[John P. Caves Jr., January 2010, “Avoiding a Crisis of Confidence in the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent,” Strategic Forum, No. 252]
Perceptions of a compromised U.S. nuclear deterrent as described above would have profound policy implications, particularly if they emerge at a time when a nuclear-armed great power is pursuing a more aggressive strategy toward U.S. allies and partners in its region in a bid to enhance its regional and global clout. A dangerous period of vulnerability would open for the United States and those nations that depend on U.S. protection while the United States attempted to rectify the problems with its nuclear forces. As it would take more than a decade for the United States to produce new nuclear weapons, ensuing events could preclude a return to anything like the status quo ante. The assertive, nuclear-armed great power, and other major adversaries, could be willing to challenge U.S. interests more directly in the expectation that the United States would be less prepared to threaten or deliver a military response that could lead to direct conflict. They will want to keep the United States from reclaiming its earlier power position. Allies and partners who have relied upon explicit or implicit assurances of U.S. nuclear protection as a foundation of their security could lose faith in those assurances. They could compensate by accommodating U.S. rivals, especially in the short term, or acquiring their own nuclear deterrents, which in most cases could be accomplished only over the mid- to long term. A more nuclear world would likely ensue over a period of years. Important U.S. interests could be compromised or abandoned, or a major war could occur as adversaries and/or the United States miscalculate new boundaries of deterrence and provocation. At worst, war could lead to state-on-state employment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on a scale far more catastrophic than what nuclear-armed terrorists alone could inflict.

US shale increases limit oil price increases

OM Stat Data Hub, 6-14, 18,
In May, OPEC announced that oil production cuts would be extended until March 2018. The agreement from OPEC, along with decreasing US crude oil inventories, has bouyed oil prices during the second half of 2017. By late September, Brent crude price reached $59.8/barrel, which was $16 higher than the lowest price so far this year ($44/bbl in June) and $14 higher than one year ago. But, the robust recovery of US shale oil activity, which is expected to continue through October, is broadly expected to limit price gains in the future. According to the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report, world oil demand will increase by 1.3 million barrels per day in 2018, which is 0.1mb/d more than the increase expected from non-OPEC oil supply.

Non-unique – Saudi Arabia increasing production now

TRS Staff, July 4, 2018,
Following Trump’s removal of the Iran Nuclear Deal and building a coalition of allies not to buy Iranian oil, the Trump administration has aggressively pressed Saudi Arabia to boost output to offset declines from elsewhere in the Middle East. In a report from Oil Price, Saudi Arabia has complied, promising to ramp up output to about 11 million barrels per day in July, up from less than 10 million barrels per day in May.

Trump will release oil from the Strategic Petroleum reserve, lowering prices

TRS Staff, July 4, 2018,
All of this and the fast-increasing prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent Crude raise the likelihood that President Trump will turn to SPR to thwart higher prices at the pump. “We think that WTI would not have to advance much further before [SPR] is brought into play,” banking services giant Standard Chartered wrote. “Higher gasoline prices, particularly in the Midwest, are likely to provoke a SPR release in the run-up to November’s mid-term elections.