The Obama administration’s global warming hell-bent “Clean Power Plan” which is supposed to regulate and tax our nation away from fossil fuels to heavily subsidized “renewable” energy sources is presently a transitional bridge to nowhere.
And after all, as the president himself once said, “That’s not the American way. That’s not progress. That’s not innovation. That’s rent-seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business and staying in the way of the future.”
Of course he wasn’t referring here to the many billions of dollars of crony capitalist government wind and solar energy charities. No, his message was targeted on those who dare to criticize his determination to replace fossil energy with anemic, unreliable, and costly non-alternatives.
Accordingly, in August he and his enthusiastically obedient EPA announced still another multibillion scheme to force utilities to obtain about 28 percent of all U.S. electrical capacity from renewable sources by 2030.
Yet while wind and solar combined provided less than 5 percent of total U.S. electricity in 2013, on the basis of that per-unit electricity production, each of them received more than 50 times more subsidy support than coal and natural gas combined.
Cutting so-called carbon “pollution” (more properly known as plant food) will come at a very high cost to electricity consumers, with disproportionate burdens falling upon economically disadvantaged residents of colder northern states.
Standard & Poor’s projects 40 to 75 gigawatts (75,000 megawatts) of coal units may be shut down by 2020. Among these, plant owners within America’s largest grid, the mid-Atlantic, plan to eliminate 11,578 MW of available output through 2015.
That’s enough to supply more than 9 million homes.
Those plants which are eventually replaced with natural gas won’t nearly make up the difference. Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. which manages a Manitoba to Louisiana network expects to see a power shortage of about 2,000 MW by 2016, with increasing deficits mounting after that. BNP in New York estimates natural gas along with some renewables will make up only about 4,000 MW that of approximately 20,000 MW of coal power losses by the end of 2015.
So, where is that replacement power going to come from? Consider wind, for example.
A 2013 report by the New York Independent Systems Operator (NYISO) estimates that New York’s first 15 wind farms operating in 2010 produced about the equivalence of a single 450 MW gas-fired combined cycle generating unit operating only at 60 percent capacity which can be built at about one-fourth of the capital cost.
The quality of that power isn’t any bargain either. Unlike coal — and natural gas — fired plants which provide reliable power when needed — including peak demand times — wind turbines only produce electricity intermittently as variable daily and seasonal weather conditions permit regardless of demand.
That fickle output trend favors colder night-time periods rather than hot summer late afternoons when needed most.
The real kicker here is that wind has no real “capacity value.” Intermittent outputs require access to a “shadow capacity” which enables utilities to balance power grids when wind conditions aren’t optimum . . . which is most of the time.
What we don’t tend hear about is that those “spinning reserves” which equal total wind capacity are likely fueled by coal or natural gas which anti-fossil activists love to hate and wind was touted to replace.
Solar power, like wind, is a natural, free source of energy — provided that public subsidies and customers of high-priced electricity cover the costs. And like wind, there simply aren’t enough suitable utility-scale site locations, particularly near urban areas where power is needed to make much of a national supply difference.
Also like wind, reliability to meet highest demand loads presents a big problem. And besides, weren’t those “clean,” “freely renewable” sources supposed to be environmentally friendly?
Paul Driessen, a senior policy analyst for the non-profit Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow notes that the 550-mile Atlantic Coast pipeline requires only about 4,600 acres which can be replanted with grasslands, compared with 475,000 acres required to generate the same amount of energy using 46,000 wind turbines with monstrous bird-and bat-chopping blades.
As for solar, Los Angeles recently refused to purchase power from a relatively small proposed 2,557-acre Mojave Desert project due to deleterious influences on desert tortoises and bighorn sheep.
Along with those birds, bats, tortoises, and sheep, maybe we should worry about some other vulnerable victims of Obama EPA’s war on fossil fuels as well.
Pity those human creatures who are unable to recharge their taxpayer subsidized plug-in Obamacars when the sun isn’t shining and wind isn’t blowing at night . . . or when their blue sky planet-saving expectations are overcast.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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