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  • I'm Jeremiah Baumann with the US Department of Energy and today I'll be answering your questions from twitter, this is energy support.

  • So at red sweet jones asks dog, why is gas so damn high?

  • I'm about to throw up.

  • Who isn't?

  • Let's be honest, it's very, very high and it's kind of a big problem like so many things during the pandemic production of oil and gas plummeted because you know, suddenly nobody was driving anywhere for a few months back there and then hardly driving for almost a year, year and a half.

  • So oil and gas companies cut back production once things started opening up, planes are flying again, everyone's buying oil and gas again.

  • But because production hadn't caught up, prices went up and one thing that kind of going on right now is that oil and gas companies are making way more money than they've ever made before on oil and gas.

  • And so they might be not quite so inclined to increase production.

  • That would bring prices down.

  • Or two other things that would bring prices down at chris underscore Ashworth asks, does geothermal heat mean diverting rivers of molten lava into your home?

  • I am open to this idea.

  • Please advise as much as I think we would all love a molten river of lava side home, geothermal heat means drilling down into the ground and tapping into the energy of the earth.

  • The earth is naturally hot everywhere, basically they actually drill into the earth much like they do for drilling for oil and gas and the hot water comes up and create steam that can drive a turbine and generate electricity at Prince CSO V asks how does electricity get to the grid and then siphoned off to all the homes and buildings to the end consumer, the grid is often described as the biggest man made machine on the planet.

  • What it actually is is a giant electrical circuit and it's literally a bunch of wires connecting a power source and it's circulating around you can imagine each of these little stations is a home or a business or a factory or anything that needs electricity.

  • If you close the circuit breaker and it creates a loop that lets all these electrons start circulating through this, which is electricity.

  • So the national grid is actually broken up into lots of regional and even local grids and the biggest grid is mostly broken into three giant sections.

  • It's called the Western Interconnect and Eastern Interconnect.

  • And then the third one is of course independent minded texas in system managing their own grid off on their own with just a few connections to the rest of us.

  • Then within those regions, states or regions, it gets broken down to the even more local level.

  • So you've probably seen in your neighborhood or off somewhere in a field fenced in areas.

  • They're just full of all this clearly electrical equipment with massive wires coming in, right?

  • A lot of that equipment is often what's called step down transformers that take the power from the massive grid that actually runs at a different power level and bring breaks it down to a lower power level for your neighborhood and it's all one giant loop that has to always stay connected.

  • Has stepped up transformers to take that power level back up the other side of the circle to feed it back to the bulk transmission grid.

  • At the spirit of 77 asks, but seriously do wind turbines cause cancer or jobs or both?

  • Okay, seriously wind turbines cause lots and lots and lots of jobs and economic development for counties and income for farmers whose land they go on but they do not cause cancer.

  • Wind turbines super cool.

  • They're these giant towers, they literally spin and generate electricity there.

  • Not without controversy.

  • Some people don't want them and some states are just going gangbusters, Iowa is gonna soon have enough wind power to meet its entire electricity needs the high plains states, the Dakotas Kansas Nebraska is rapidly growing all these states down to Oklahoma and texas generate tons and tons of electricity from wind power Already at mike ridden asks, I am all in favor of green energy.

  • So this is an honest question.

  • While ebs themselves have zero emissions when you factor in the carbon emissions from the generation of electricity, how do they compare to cars that run on fossil fuels?

  • Great question.

  • It is still cleaner to charge your car on electricity and drive it that way than it is to burn gasoline in the tank.

  • The grid is way cleaner than it was even five or 10 years ago, electric motors are so much more efficient, you will burn way less gas or coal upstream to get enough electricity to power a car than you do.

  • If you're trying to actually explode gasoline right in your car in order to get enough power to drive at Cannes are Stewart asks, texas produces almost two billion barrels of oil a day, why do Texans have to pay so much for their gas?

  • Is it because big oil, they place the prices at the pumps and not government, state and federal governments need to step in and deal with big oil Gouging people.

  • One thing that makes the United States different than a lot of countries is the government does not set the price for oil.

  • We don't even manage how much gets produced or how much gets consumed, which some governments do.

  • Those are usually considered very aggressive forms of government.

  • We like more of a free market and so literally the market decides how much we end up paying at the end of the day.

  • It's a global market.

  • We are competing at specific marketplaces with the entire planet, with china, with Saudi Arabia, with Russia, with europe, with South America literally everyone, we don't tell people how much oil to produce, there are things governments do try to do.

  • The House representatives has a a bill to crack down on price gouging at the pump.

  • How do you know when the local gas station is charging more than they should or if they're actually just passing on costs from what they're paying to get gasoline from 10 steps upstream at the refiner.

  • So it is a really hard question about the role of government in society.

  • At john louis 19 to 1 to 130 asks, how is the Strategic Oil Reserve going to be replenished the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?

  • This is a huge amount of oil that is stored in a series of caverns underground in Louisiana and texas that your Department of Energy owns and manages as a strategic reserve basically in case of emergency, the average cavern is deeper than the Empire State Building is tall.

  • This President has actually released more oil from the Strategic Reserve than any president has before to try to get the price of gasoline to come down.

  • There's literally an million barrels a day coming out of Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to bring gas prices down.

  • So we do need to replenish it.

  • There's a couple of different ways you can do it.

  • One thing is we do sell the oil when we release it from the reserve and so the government is getting revenue from selling all that oil would love to turn around and use some of that revenue to buy more oil once prices are nice and low again, which will hopefully be a day that comes sooner rather than later to fill the oil back up depending on how all that plays out the way our funding works is that every year Congress literally give the department of Energy enough money for its annual operations, including money to go out and buy more oil if that's what we need to do at rig chick asks Na B.

  • T.

  • Dub, how many different types of renewable energy are there?

  • There are five types of renewable energy.

  • Wind, solar hydropower, which comes from rivers, geothermal and marine or title, which comes from the movement of ocean currents nationally.

  • We're somewhere in the 20% renewable range renewables are abundant and they're cheap.

  • So everybody's trying to build them fast and we should be pushing utility and states to build faster everywhere.

  • At Mustafa 183693 to 4 asks in your opinion, what is the best renewable energy and why?

  • First of all it's tempting to say soul Because it's getting super cheap and it literally works everywhere Oregon known for being cloudy and rainy could have so much more solar power than it does.

  • It's not as cloudy and rainy as Germany and Japan who used to be totally kicking our butts in solar power at very gray 19 would like to know how does solar energy work.

  • Solar panels like this one here is like a tiny, I guess it's technically a toy, but I think it's actually a solar panel that will actually generate electricity.

  • The material on this panel, which all starts with silicon, which is one of the most abundant elements we've got made from sand.

  • And when solar rays like cosmic rays strike the material in the solar panel, it literally excites the electrons in those atoms and it set up, there's little wires in there, see electrons get channeled into wires and then they're fed into electrical grid to send those electrons as electricity all the way to your home and fire your appliances at General Bull poo asks why is crude oil so important in our lives when we have better alternatives?

  • Am I just losing my mind here?

  • We do have better alternatives for some things and we've actually stopped using oil for some things.

  • Like if you look back in the sixties and seventies were using a lot of oil to burn in power plants to generate electricity.

  • There's this huge oil crisis that you probably hear people talk about and we did a huge concerted effort to get off of oil used for electricity, but it's still everywhere.

  • And it's not just the places that you must think of it right?

  • Like when you fill up your car with gas, you have a pretty good sense that came to directly from oil and you're kind of just transferring barely changed oil into your fuel tank.

  • There's some uses of oil that we just don't have that many alternatives for lots of the chemicals that turn into things like plastics.

  • And you can just imagine all the uses of plastic throughout society, not just in your day to day life, there just aren't alternatives that can make them as cheaply incredibly right now.

  • Today as we can by turning oil into plastics at quad machine oh nine asks So why is nuclear power bad?

  • Again, I would argue this nuclear power is one of our most important forms of electricity.

  • If only for one reason.

  • Right now, it's the single biggest source of carbon free electricity, meaning the kind of power that does not cause global warming or climate change.

  • And there are real downsides to nuclear power and they're serious, right?

  • Like people have heard about Chernobyl, a massive nuclear accident, Fukushima in Japan just a few years ago in a tsunami had a similar problem where the nuclear reactor went into disaster mode.

  • So the things you have to solve for to make sure we have reliable and safe nuclear power are basically the risk of accidents.

  • Some kind of security like a terrorism attack.

  • And then we put this nuclear fuel into a nuclear reactor that again generates steam that turns a turbine that creates electricity.

  • It leaves nuclear waste that itself is radioactive and it stays radioactive for thousands of years.

  • So how do you store it safely.

  • What most nuclear power plants do is they keep it on site, It stays actually in cooling ponds until it cools down till it's a lot less dangerous.

  • And it gets transferred into these dry casks and it gets stored in a secure location on site right now.

  • Now we'd all like to get that out of those locations and into some more even further safe and secured locations.

  • And that's actually one thing the Department of Energy is working on.

  • So at Kingsley 54 to 7 to 009 asks on a serious note, what is natural gas?

  • So, um imagine like a swamp with a bunch of like decomposing plant and animal matter in it, millions of years of sediment accumulating, pushing all that stuff down into the earth as that matter decays.

  • It gives off natural gas or methane.

  • It's often called is cheaper than coal.

  • And it's also cleaner than coal when it comes to public health.

  • So that's literally what natural gas is.

  • It's also a huge source of energy in our economy.

  • The problem is, it's not without downsides.

  • It still does does create a fair amount of pollution, including carbon dioxide, one of the chief gasses that causes global warming or climate change.

  • At Mystic raven 84 asks pardon my ignorance here, mate, but how is fracking clean energy?

  • Number one?

  • What is fracking?

  • It's actually short for hydraulic fracturing.

  • It's where you drill into the ground.

  • You literally like inject all these fluids and chemicals to shatter the rock underground to fracture it and release the gas then comes back up.

  • It gets called clean energy by some people because it's lot cleaner than coal, but it still causes climate change.

  • It still causes other problems.

  • There's concerns about reaching water supplies.

  • In some cases, it's caused actually seismic activity and earthquakes.

  • You know, it's probably better if we can find ways not to inject things into the ground, they're going to contaminate groundwater, but it's an issue that people have to keep working on in some places where there's fracking near populations at Aei Loves Cats, asks someone, let me know what an electric current is.

  • An electric current Is literally just electrons moving through a charged electrical field inside a conductor like a wire at Richard 93783516 Asks thought of the day, can anyone tell me why the use of our rivers for green energy?

  • Never seems to be mentioned.

  • It's what powered the first Industrial Revolution in this country.

  • Why don't we use them now?

  • Richard's right, it did power.

  • The first industrial revolution that was actually a slightly different form.

  • It was water that would turn wheels that would actually just do the work itself.

  • Like you hear about grist mills were literally the water is turning a giant thing that's like grinding flour or anything else that needs grinding.

  • Why don't we talk about it more today.

  • So number one, a lot of us do talk about it a lot.

  • It's still a very commonly used electricity source.

  • I think about 10% of our electricity ca comes from hydropower.

  • Of our 20% total that is renewable, about 10% half of it is hydropower and they generate huge amounts of electricity.

  • What you do in most cases you build a dam that literally blocks the river and these things that just spin when they spin, they generate electricity and it goes downstream after it goes through the turbines.

  • When you dam that river, there are some problems.

  • Number one salmon, very cool animals.

  • They're born way up in the mountains and little tiny streams.

  • They migrate all the way down to the ocean.

  • They swim 100 hundreds of miles and at the end of their lives, they migrate all the way back up the river all the way up into the little creek.

  • They find the spot they were born where they lay eggs and they die.

  • Unfortunately, it kind of throws everything up if they can't make that migration.

  • We've invented lots of technology to mitigate for that fish ladders.

  • There are some dams where there's like literally a like suction thing inside the reservoir and shoots the salmon out back into the river below the dam, we are still working on hydropower and we still invented, invest in technology that makes the dams less harmful for fish and if you've got a damn, that's already in place, but not dreading electricity, We should add electricity.

  • Get some power from that damn while it's going to be there.

  • And we've actually got a whole program at the Department of Energy to help local utilities do exactly that at myself.

  • 2677 asks can renewable energy sources replace fossil fuels, renewable energy sources can replace most of fossil fuels, but with current technology, not yet.

  • All of course the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine.

  • So when that's not happening and you don't have geothermal or hydro power available locally.

  • Where is the electricity gonna come from?

  • Well, today we get a bunch of it from batteries.

  • Actually it's a small slug right now, but it's growing really rapidly.

  • Fossil fuels can have a future in all this too.

  • And they employ millions of americans in America.

  • So we want to research every option to keep those jobs in those industries going.

  • So it's called carbon capture.

  • And it literally attaches to the emissions coming off that place of the oil or coal or gas is being burned And it separates out the carbon dioxide that otherwise cause global warming.

  • And then it literally injects it deep underground into salt caverns.

  • So that's the other thing that we're working actively on is another way to give us 24 700% clean power at Adam Guillory asks, imagine we all somehow get electric cars and now need to charge them.