On Energy, the Chinese-Russian One-Two Punch

Steve has noted how America’s energy policies–suppressing fossil fuels and spending vast sums to develop inherently unreliable wind and solar energy–play into the hands of the Russians. While we waste trillions of dollars on expensive and unworkable energy sources, we simultaneously feed Russia’s export economy by buying Russian oil and gas. Meanwhile, if our “green dreams” are realized, we will allow them to run their economy on a far more efficient basis, with regard to energy, than our own.

There is a real irony in the fact that we purport to sanction Russia while at the same time we and our European allies are financing Putin’s adventurism:

[I]n just the 24 hours immediately following Putin’s recognition of the so-called People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk the European Union, U.S., and United Kingdom “bought a combined 3.5 million barrels of Russian oil and refined products, worth more than $350 million at current prices,” and “another $250 million worth of Russian natural gas.”

With respect to our strategic position vis-a-vis Russia, our current energy policies are literally insane. But they might be even worse with regard to China. China is a far more serious economic competitor than Russia. Russia is pretty much a basket case apart from its oil and gas exports. But if the U.S. actually does try to transition from fossil fuels to wind and solar, it will effectively give the Chinese Communist Party control over our economy.

Wind and solar consume a considerable amount of petroleum, but much more of other materials. Who produces or processes a large majority of the minerals that go into wind and solar energy production? China. But it gets worse. Wind and solar are weather-dependent, and neither will ever produce electricity as much as 50 percent of the time. If you ask a greenie how we are going to overcome this inherent problem of intermittency, his answer will be “batteries.”

Do batteries remotely adequate to the task exist? Of course not. The entire battery capacity of the world is a drop in the bucket compared to what would be needed to electrify everything, as environmentalists say they want to do. My colleague Isaac Orr created this simple chart to show the absurdity of the “battery” theory. It contrasts electricity consumption in just one of fifty states–Minnesota–in just one of many countries, with the total projected battery capacity of the world in 2030:

And that is electricity consumption today, not electricity consumption if we “electrify everything,” starting with automobiles. Suffice it to say that batteries are not going to make the Green New Deal viable. But in the meantime, trillions of dollars will be wasted by the U.S. and other developed countries. If we want “green” energy, we need vast amounts of battery storage–vaster by many orders of magnitude than what has ever been produced.

So if there is to be an enormous increase in the production of lithium ion batteries, where will the lithium come from? Oh, guess what. The Chinese Communists are ready to sell it to us–or, more likely, produce the batteries and sell those to us, until such time as they decide to switch our economy off: “China targets lithium trove near Everest as battery demand soars.” The subhead: “Discovery comes as demand for electric car batteries soars.”

In the race to dominate the world’s resources of “green metals”, Beijing has increased domestic production while rapidly buying up some of the most profitable mines abroad.

The Himalayas could be next on their radar, after scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) suggested that the Qiongjiagang peak was home to an ore deposit with more than a million tonnes of lithium oxide.
It is not known how much the new deposit could be worth, but soaring demand has pushed the price of lithium to record levels. The consulting firm McKinsey has predicted that the market for lithium batteries will grow to at least $360 billion by 2030, with an average growth of 20 per cent a year.

The Chinese have a lot of lithium, but most of the world’s supply comes from South America. So the Chinese have entrenched themselves as processors of this mineral, as they have with regard to other minerals needed for solar and wind production:

While Beijing relies heavily on importing ore from abroad, it has positioned itself as an integral part of the development process with around two thirds of global supply passing through its refineries.
Chinese companies are also buying up rivals, having acquired 6.4 million tonnes of lithium reserves and resources worldwide, according to S&P Global.

Lithium is actually pretty common, and we have a good bit of it here in the U.S. In fact, Donald Trump issued an executive order placing lithium on the list of “critical materials.” “The [Trump] administration said reliance on foreign imports of these materials constituted an ‘extraordinary threat’ to the US economy and national security.” Well, it is, pretty obviously. But that has all gone by the boards in the Biden administration. Is there any prospect that a major mining project will be approved while Joe Biden is president?

Just kidding.

I actually don’t think that Joe Biden was the Manchurian Candidate. I don’t think he consciously intends to sell out the American people to Vladimir Putin and the Chinese Communist Party. But the Democrats’ energy policies are so outrageous that if Biden were a secret agent in the service of the Russians or the Chinese, he wouldn’t have to change a thing.

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