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Robert Bryce: How the Green Promise is Making the West Poorer

In a not-to-be-missed episode, Tom Bodrovics welcomes a new guest, Robert Bryce. Robert is an author, journalist, film producer, and public speaker.

Together, they delve into energy issues as Bryce voices his concerns over the fragility of the electric grid and the potential consequences of underestimating the value of a reliable energy supply. He recounts personal experiences with power disruptions and highlights significant contrasts between developed countries’ energy abundance and challenges faced in places like South Africa and Beirut. The discussion centers on the 2021 Texas blackout, which shed light on renewable energy’s role during the crisis and its limitations when needed most. Bryce underscores the danger of making the electric grid overly reliant on non-base load power. He advocates for recognizing natural gas’s crucial role in securing energy stability during inclement weather. He also criticizes initiatives like Michael Bloomberg’s Beyond Carbon Campaign, as they could potentially worsen the grid’s vulnerability and threaten national energy security.

Robert raises concerns about inaccurate information and analysis regarding the energy landscape, specifically concerning hydrogen being misrepresented as a renewable resource by certain media outlets. He laments the negative impact of these misleading narratives on public understanding and decision-making processes. They also discuss challenges of the hydrogen fuel cycle and why it’s more of a transportation carrier system than an energy source.

Robert discusses how modern energy policy is regressive in nature and its outsized impact on poverty and the wealth gap. He argues that these policies, including those related to climate change and electric vehicles, increase electricity costs disproportionately for low-income and middle-class households despite Democrats’ advocacy for the public’s welfare. Robert believes that energy affordability should be a bipartisan concern due to its critical role in the overall economy. He also criticizes the media’s portrayal of the global energy transition, pointing out that developing countries like China and India are not adhering to the same goals as the West, focusing instead on building coal power plants to meet their immediate energy needs.

Robert advocates for pragmatism and a clear-eyed approach to energy production and consumption. He shares his skepticism towards renewable energy’s low power density sources, such as wind and solar, and champions high power density sources like natural gas and nuclear. Robert also criticizes the corporatism surrounding renewable energy development and emphasizes the importance of understanding the realities of energy needs in light of increasing demand from developing countries.

Lastly, they explore the challenges of rapidly transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) from a fossil fuel-based system. Despite promises, EVs are not yet capable of replacing oil as a critical commodity for commerce due to the enormous energy consumption in the U.S. transportation sector. The limitations and challenges of batteries, including their energy density, material intensity, and dependence on Chinese supply chains, are discussed. The Biden administration’s energy policies are criticized for making the auto sector dependent on components from overseas while stifling the development of oil and coal-based power sources. Financial losses incurred by EV manufacturers like Ford and Rivian are highlighted, questioning the rationality and pragmatism of current industrial and energy policies.

Robert encourages people to become informed on these topics and to explain the situation to friends and family. It’s important for people to understand the world’s reliance on energy and why it’s crucial to humanity.

Time Stamp References:
0:00 – Introduction
0:50 – Taking Energy for Granted
3:15 – Texas Blackouts – Causes
5:13 – GRID Stability & NatGas
7:03 – Media Accuracy & Bias
11:33 – EROI & Alternatives
14:50 – Fuel Cell Technology
16:03 – Energy Policy & Poverty
19:18 – Energy “Transitions” Charts
22:33 – Germany Coal Use
25:09 – Climate is a Concern
27:18 – Subsidies & Tax Credits
33:44 – EVs and Real Impacts
41:00 – Electric Motorcycles
41:52 – The 10000$ Question
44:47 – Commodities & Debasement
51:45 – Peak Oil Thoughts
55:05 – Efficiencies & Plastic
58:48 – Incentives & Nuclear
1:04:15 – Educate Yourself
1:07:02 – JuiceTheSeries & Wrap Up

Guest Links:
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Robert Bryce is a Texas-based author, journalist, film producer, and podcaster. The host of the Power Hungry Podcast, Bryce has been writing about energy, power, innovation, and politics for more than 30 years. His articles have appeared in a myriad of publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Time, Austin Chronicle, and Sydney Morning Herald. His sixth book, A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations, was published in 2020 by PublicAffairs. He is also the producer of a feature-length documentary film: Juice: How Electricity Explains the World, which is available on iTunes, Amazon Prime, and numerous other streaming platforms. He lives in Austin with his wife, Lorin, who is an art teacher, photographer, and master potter.

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