Our friend, drugsandotherthings objects to my points on wind power, I started a response in the comments and then realized that I have already responded to his assertions in several related and unrelated posts spanning the last couple of years, so I thought it would be appropriate to highlight them rather than rewrite it all again. You can feel free to go to the “categories” search box and select “Energy and Transportation” to see every post on energy, should you wish. Counting this one, there are 57 posts spanning the 20 month life of the blog.
Ok. I’ll happily give you- there are major issues to be resolved with both solar and wind. Not least of which are there on again/off again nature, and the eternal bugaboo of electricity- storage.
BUT- Please tell me just which forms of power haven’t greatly benefitted from a massive influx of both private, and government funding. And which, ultimately, haven’t benefitted from the nasty, evil government regulation?
Well, I can only say that it was private companies that created the oil industry – as far as direct government funding, not so much. For the past 60 years or so the US government has been hostile to the fossil fuel industry – at least until they need campaign contributions.
Let’s see. I grew up in the coal belt. And not far that downriver from good ole 3 Mile Island. So I grew up with the acid rain destroying crops, destroying the paint on cars and houses, destroying the monuments of our nations civil war. And the wake up call of the 3 Mile Island “incident”. And now, watch as many friends and familiy in the region our dealing with the realities of “Fracking”.
Let’s also see- I grew up in the south where power is pulled from a TVA hydroelectric grid. Hydro is a consistent, clean and renewable form of power generation but we can’t build dams anymore because there is a minnow or a snail or a toad that might become extinct because of it.
As far as the litany of your assumed “problems”, lets see – coal fired plants now have scrubber stacks to remove/reduce pollutants and about 24% of electricity is generated by clean burning natural gas (a percentage that is increasing), gas that has been made plentiful by fracking – I would love to hear what “realities” your friends and family are “dealing with” because the real science seems to indicate that there are no issues. As far as nukes – TMI was an unnecessary scare that was exacerbated by the environmental movement to destroy the nuke industry – while countries like France generate 80% of their electricity with nukes and have been doing so safely for decades. As a matter of fact, the lefty counties like Sweden and Finland also get 30 to 40% of their electricity from nukes.
I lived on an island in Hawaii for years. One whose power came from diesel generation. (and a state that did not have a net-metering law, so the utilities paid 1/8 or less for the power you produced and sold them compared to what they charged you). The island hired an independent consultant. Whose report said- you can meet 100% of your power needs, easily and economically, with wind, solar, hydro, biomass…). At the same time the oil company said- if you reduce your diesel purchases, at all, we are tripling the price.
Well, let’s see – since Hawaii has no local source of diesel, do you think that the laws of supply and demand might have something to do with the price? As far as the wind generation, that is probably true – if so, why are there abandoned wind farms in Hawaii?
Ok- this is turning into a post of its own…sorry. So let me close by saying- wind, solar, etc, are among the few energy sources we have that A) will never run out B)Don’t have very real ancillary costs picked up by society (ie: pollution, health issues, waste storage, associated with both extraction and production.
Well, have a look below for the “very real ancillary costs picked up by society” of alternative forms of energy.
What you don’t consider are all the products that are made using hydrocarbons as a base material – plastics, fertilizer, emulsifications like asphalt, synthetic rubber (there is no natural rubber in auto tires) and most man made materials in clothing and textiles – NOT having these products or having them made more expensive are “very real ancillary costs picked up by society” in the elimination of fossil fuels. Only 60% (roughly) of the world’s oil production actually goes to fuels, the balance goes to make “stuff” as a direct raw material. How much of wind, wave and current energy can be used as a raw material? I can tell you – that would be zero percent.
But I think your biggest issue is your distaste for our society, embodied in this statement:
And the biggest lesson I learned was not that alternative energy has issues (which it does), but how much energy we waste to support our laziness, our “instant gratification” lifestyles.
From June 14, 2011:
What I am trying to do is illustrate that the Denier deniers, most from the left (but some from the Mitt Romney/Jon Huntsman – and Newt Gingrich if he had a camp – camps), are typically single issue/myopic dystopian believers. Everything is an extinction level event, mankind must destroy itself to save itself, we must do something even if it is based on speculative data, is ineffective or wrong.
These folks are not capable of looking at both sides of an equation or doing a cost benefit analysis, which his quite remarkable given that there are scientists and businessmen that are part of Al Gore’s “climafia” and not just whacked out 60’s leftover Children of Love. These are people who do this basic analysis in their everyday lives, their successes depend on it but when it comes to the environment or anthropogenic climate change, they just go deaf, dumb and blind.
If we look at what has been done so far, how effective it has been and at what cost, it becomes clear that this is about politics and power exercised over citizens by governments, bureaucracies and NGOs (like the IPCC) alike and not “saving the planet”. As Insty would say, “the country is in the best of hands”.
So when you are told that we are “saving the planet’ based on “settled science” and it’s all about the “environment”, show them what is below the fold.
The UK (where I live as an expat) and the EU are heavily invested in “alternative” energy. A lot of the information that is coming to light is coming as a result of this. Both the EU and the UK are net importers of oil and gas, the North Sea (even with the measures to increase productivity) is losing production capacity, so this isn’t just an environmental issue for them, it is economic survival. That makes the results of their experiments all the more relevant.
Let’s look at a few examples for around the world:
We have noted the UK analysis that points out that electric cars really don’t do much to save on carbon emissions.
An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.
Governments are being forced to reveal how much of the rate increases are for support of “alternative energy” and it ain’t pretty.
“In the week that Scottish Power triggered another round of price rises by announcing that domestic electricity bills are to go up by 10% on August 1, The Courier can reveal that £41.90 is added on to the average electric bill each year to subsidize wind farms and other green energy schemes, as well as schemes to improve home energy efficiency.
Energy watchdog Ofgem said 10% of each electricity bill now goes to renewable projects and the annual cost is rising each year. In 2007 it was just £7 a year.”
UK studies are showing that wind power is ineffective without ways to store and manage it…
Wind farms are much less efficient than claimed, producing below 10% of capacity for more than a third of the time, according to a new report.
The analysis also suggested output was low during the times of highest demand.
The report, supported by conservation charity the John Muir Trust, concluded turbines “cannot be relied upon” to produce significant levels of power generation.
…and if you can believe it, we are “running out of wind”…
Despite the freak gales that battered parts of the country last week, climate experts are warning that many of Britain’s wind farms may soon run out of puff.
According to government figures, 13 of the past 16 months have been calmer than normal – while 2010 was the “stillest” year of the past decade.
Meteorologists believe that changes to the Atlantic jet stream could alter the pattern of winds over the next 40 years and leave much of the nation’s growing army of power-generating turbines becalmed.
Minnesota invested itself in alternative energy sources years ago, and so the revelation that the state spent $3.3 million on eleven wind turbines hardly qualifies as news. However, the fact that they don’t work in cold weather does. KSTP reports that none of the wind turbines work, prompting the Twin Cities ABC affiliate to dub them “no-spin zones.”
Alternative energy generation damages human health and local economies.
A SENATE committee report into the social and economic impact of wind farms to be released today is expected to call for greater restrictions on where they can be built.
The inquiry, established last October by the independent senator Steve Fielding, attracted 900 submissions – most of which support rural wind farms and renewable energy in general.
But about a third of the public submissions say wind turbines have adverse health effects on people living nearby, and point to ”wind turbine syndrome”, under which some people report having headaches and nausea as a result of the sound of spinning turbine blades.
The Senate inquiry also addressed questions about the effect on property values, job opportunities and farm income.
Alternative energy generation damages wildlife…
Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists submitted joint comments today to the Province of Ontario, voicing opposition to a proposed permit allowing Gilead Power Corporation to “kill, harm and harass” endangered species and their habitat at Ostrander Point, Ontario. The wind energy company seeks permission to damage or destroy habitat for two endangered species, Blanding’s Turtle and Whip-poor-will, for the purpose of developing Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park.
…and consumes inordinate land area vs power generated (thanks Attilla).
A new California law mandate that one-third of the state’s electricity come from “renewable” sources by 2020. What will this mean in practice? Robert Bryce explored some of the numbers in an NYT op-ed last week.
The state’s peak electricity demand is about 52,000 megawatts. Meeting the one-third target will require (if you oversimplify a bit) about 17,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. Let’s assume that California will get half of that capacity from solar and half from wind. Most of its large-scale solar electricity production will presumably come from projects like the $2 billion Ivanpah solar plant, which is now under construction in the Mojave Desert in southern California. When completed, Ivanpah, which aims to provide 370 megawatts of solar generation capacity, will cover 3,600 acres — about five and a half square miles.
The math is simple: to have 8,500 megawatts of solar capacity, California would need at least 23 projects the size of Ivanpah, covering about 129 square miles, an area more than five times as large as Manhattan. While there’s plenty of land in the Mojave, projects as big as Ivanpah raise environmental concerns. In April, the federal Bureau of Land Management ordered a halt to construction on part of the facility out of concern for the desert tortoise, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Wind energy projects require even more land. The Roscoe wind farm in Texas, which has a capacity of 781.5 megawatts, covers about 154 square miles. Again, the math is straightforward: to have 8,500 megawatts of wind generation capacity, California would likely need to set aside an area equivalent to more than 70 Manhattans. Apart from the impact on the environment itself, few if any people could live on the land because of the noise (and the infrasound, which is inaudible to most humans but potentially harmful) produced by the turbines.
In short, while wind and solar power result in lower greenhouse gas emissions, they require large amounts of land — and that’s not even including the need for transmission lines, or the energy and material requirements of facility construction. In the case of wind turbines, it takes approximately 50 tons of steel to build a single megawatt of capacity. Yet a single megawatt of gas turbine capacity can be built with less than one-quarter ton.
Renewable energy sources have their place, but they should not be oversold. Wind and solar may reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but at the expense of other environmental impacts — impacts that should also be considered.
Food prices in the United States increased six-tenths of one percent in February, going up at the highest rate since September 2008. Because food is a necessity, Americans are spending higher percentages of incomes on it, leaving less to buy other goods that might help the economy.
If you want a look at one of the culprits, glance outside at your driveway or along the curb in front of your home. That’s right: Your car is helping drive food prices up.
Much of the gasoline Americans use to fuel cars and trucks contains ethanol produced from corn. It’s a federal mandate; gasoline companies are required to use at least 12 billion gallons of ethanol this year. By 2015, they must blend at least 15 billions gallons of ethanol into their fuels.
Most of them don’t object – because they receive government subsidies of 45 cents per gallon for producing ethanol blends. That costs taxpayers about $31 billion a year.
Ethanol is consuming higher and higher percentages of the corn produced in this country. By next year, as much as 30 percent of the corn grown here may go to ethanol plants, according to one estimate. That diverts corn from food production – raising the cost of a variety of items we consume.
What has been the response from government?
The last major U.S. factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs will soon be closing. When it does, the remaining 200 workers at the Winchester, Va., plant, about 70 miles west of Washington, D.C., will lose their jobs, marking a small, sad exit for a product that began with Thomas Alva Edison’s innovations in the 1870s.
Joseph Mason, author of “The Economic Cost of a Moratorium on Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration to the Gulf Region,” estimated that the new regional job losses due to the moratorium on offshore oil production in the Gulf region is now 13,000 – up from his original estimate of 8,000.
Mason also estimated the national job losses to have increased from 12,000 to 19,000; regional wage losses to be $800 million, up from $500 million; national wage losses to be $1.1 billion, up from $700 million; lost tax revenues on the state and local level to be $155 million, up from $100 million; and lost tax revenues on the national level to be $350 million, up from $200 million.
The president no longer admits that his administration’s policies will increase energy prices, preferring to spin fantasies about millions of “green jobs.” But as Politico reports, “Nearly three years into Obama’s presidency, the White House can’t point to much solid evidence that significant numbers of Americans are scoring the green jobs the president has been touting.”
Nor will they, because green jobs are a chimera. The numbers touted by the administration — Obama claimed that he would create 5 million green jobs in 10 years — are plucked out of thin air. The administration claims that 225,000 green jobs were either created “or saved” by $80 billion in stimulus spending. But that escape hatch phrase — “or saved” — prevents any kind of serious accounting. Besides, as Ed Morrissey of Hot Air calculates, if those numbers were accurate, it would mean a $355,555.56 taxpayer subsidy per green job.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries next year, targeting the nation’s two biggest sources of carbon dioxide.
Manchin was livid in January when EPA pulled the plug on a massive mountaintop-removal coal mine in West Virginia that the George W. Bush administration had signed off on in 2007. The move was the agency’s first-ever retroactive veto of a coal mine permit, and Manchin wants to make sure it’s the last.
“Giving any agency such absolute power will have a chilling effect on investment and job creation far beyond West Virginia, and I hope there is bipartisan support for my proposed legislation,” read the Senator’s prepared remarks.
Look at it objectively and make your own choice.