Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

This is an interesting article, but it highlights perhaps the narrow-mindedness and stubborn focus of some environmentalists.

The article essentially states that we probably have enough oil to last 100 years and fuel the expanding economies of the developing world. And yet, the author insists that we must invest now in alternative energy technologies at great cost to ourselves. To encourage us, he uses the example of China, which is aiming to obtain 15% of its electricity from "alternative sources".

There is just one problem with this comparison. When the Chinese quote "alternative sources" they include hydropower and sometimes even nuclear power in the mix. How does Canada stack up when placed side by side then?

Canada (2003):
Hydro: 60.7%
Thermal (coal): 22.9%
Nuclear: 10.5%

China (2007):
Thermal (mostly coal): 83%
Hydro: 14%
Nuclear: ~1%
Wind: ~0.2% (5.6 Bkwh/ 3042 Bkwh)

Wow, the Chinese are sure ahead of us, I mean, in 2006 they were getting about 15% of their electricity from hydro + nuclear + solar + wind. Canada was only getting about 70% of our electricity from hydro + nuclear + solar + wind.

Pardon my sarcasm, but if the author's intent was to convince me that we should put as much focus on renewable energies as the Chinese do, then I'd say he's failed. Primarily because Canada is already so far ahead on that front. Moreover, most of the increase in the 'renewables' sector is coming from hydropower rather than wind or solar, which will ultimately end once every realistic dam location is used (just as it has in Ontario).

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