A few years ago the Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce hosted an oil and gas expert as guest speaker one month, and he had some interesting things to say.
The gist of his entire presentation is that the global demand for oil and gas is increasing, especially in the developing world. Hence, territories that have oil and gas industries, such as Alberta, should position themselves for that.
It’s sad that other provincial governments and even our federal government throw obstacles in the way of that, with virtually no logical or concrete reason. It appears most of the obstacles have politicians behind them.
Some interesting questions remain if we accept what people like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and special interest lobby groups say that oil and gas are extinct and we need to start looking elsewhere for our energy needs. Global demand for energy is higher now than ever before, as the global population continues to grow while ever-expanding technologies, that didn’t ext 30 years ago, drain more and more power.
Ethanol is one of my favourite alternative energy sources because it self-destructed so impressively. Former American President Barack Obama was apparently quite a believer in ethanol; corn or agri fuel could replace oil and gas in the global energy market thought he. You’ll have to forgive the president for his shallow appraisal of the situation, he doesn’t hail from a farm area. Even if ethanol is useful, it still has to be harvested by farm equipment that burn oil and gas. In fact, a study revealed that it takes 1.5 gallons of fossil fuel to make 1 gallon of ethanol. A perfect example of how much thought is being put into the energy debate.
Solar on the surface seems like the ideal situation. Despite questions like sunlight angles at high latitudes on the globe, there are some simple problems I feel are important that don’t ever seem to get answered. For example, Alberta is known to get a lot of summer hail, extremely destructive summer hail. If I have only solar panels on top of my condo for power, what happens when I get four hailstorms that summer that destroy them? Who’s going to pay for the new ones? I’m told solar panels aren’t cheap. Will insurance companies provide coverage for solar panels that we all know are going to get destroyed? After my solar panels are replaced, then destroyed by another storm two days later, who’s responsible?
What about in the harsh Alberta winters we get? How will panels hold up to minus 50 degree windchills? How much power are they going to collect when we have 14 straight days of clouds and snow? Twenty-eight straight days? Where will we get power to tide us over in those situations? Coal plants?
The harsh Alberta winter raises another question for me as well. I’m assuming a new technology like the electric car has been tested for Alberta, where we regularly get seven to 14 days of minus 25 degree weather at a time, plus windchill. Lats winter I had to cope with a flat tire at the beginning of February, and I believe the weather was colder than minus 30 degrees that day. When I pulled my cellphone out to call a tow truck, the phone instantly died in the cold, and I mean instantly. How can we rely on these electric cars in Alberta?
For that matter, when you plug the electric car in, where is the power coming from that it stores? A coal-fired power plant?
There are so many questions surrounding this issue and too many smug, ad hoc and unsatisfactory answers in return.
Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.