Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More on the Follies of the Green Energy Economy

  1. First, green energy is diffuse, and it takes a tremendous amount of land and material to harness even a little bit of energy. Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment and senior research associate at Rockefeller University, calculates, for instance, that the entire state of Connecticut (that is, if Connecticut were as windy as the southeastern Colorado plains) would need to be devoted to wind turbines to power the city of New York.

  2. Second, it is extremely costly. In 2016 President Obama's own Energy Information Administration estimates that onshore wind (the least expensive of these green energies) will be 80% more expensive than combined cycle, gas-fired electricity. And that doesn't account for the costs associated with the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new transmission systems that would be necessary to get wind and solar energy--which is generally produced far from where consumers happen to live--to ratepayers.

  3. Third, it is unreliable. The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine when the energy is needed. We account for that today by having a lot of coal and natural gas generation on "standby" to fire-up when renewables can't produce. Incidentally, the cost of maintaining this backup generation is likewise never fully accounted for in the cost estimates associated with green energy. But in a world where fossil fuels are a thing of the past, we would be forced--like the peasants of the Dark Age--to rely upon the vagaries of the weather.

  4. Fourth, it is scarce. While wind and sunlight are obviously not scarce, the real estate where those energies are reliably continuous and in economic proximity to ratepayers is scarce.

  5. Finally, once the electricity is produced by the sun or wind, it cannot be stored because battery technology is not currently up to the task. Hence, we must immediately "use it or lose it."
This is rather basic and superficial logic, just scratching the surface layer of problems with big wind and big solar. It is quite easy to dig just a little deeper, exposing more fatal flaws in the "green economy" than even an energy undertaker could appreciate.

Wind turbines are fine and expensive machines. But placing these fine machines out in the elements (even out in the turbulent and corrosive salt seas) is a quick road to machine hell and destruction. Expensive gearboxes tend to breakdown in a matter of years, rather than decades, and blades are prone to develop cracks and fail catastrophically -- endangering anything and anyone within an alarming large radius.

The noise and vibration of these giant turbines in motion makes them unsuitable for installation anywhere near residences. Ice collects on the turbine blades, presenting further hazards. A vast and enormously expensive webbed mass of copper conductors have to be strung or laid to transport this dilute and unreliable energy to more central substations. And in the coldest of weather, you cannot count on wind turbines to keep you warm -- since the wind often stops at just that time of greatest need.

And on it goes. Big solar is even worse than big wind.

Consult Ted Rockwell, David Mackay, John Droz, Carbon Sense, etc. for many more reasons why the green energy economy is suited for dummies and the coming Idiocracy.



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