This post consolidates the main points of many of my articles on wind and solar generation of electricity. The [ir]rationale behind the renewable energy campaign is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions which are alleged to be the main cause of global warming despite the lack of any supporting physical evidence. We will see that replacing electricity generation from fossil fuels with wind or solar will have no significant effect on global warming; that it significantly raises the cost of electricity; that it destroys wildlife and wildlife habitat; that wind generation has deleterious effects on human health; and that because wind and solar generation is intermittent and unpredictable, fossil fuel generation or nuclear generation will still be necessary. At the end of this post are links to some of my articles on the subject.
1. Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by switching to wind and solar will have almost no effect on global warming.
Carbon dioxide (which makes up just 0.04% of the atmosphere) is continually being emitted into the atmosphere and absorbed by the oceans, plants, formation of limestone, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Energy annual emission reports, humans are responsible for about 3% of total CO2 emissions; the rest is from natural sources. Carbon dioxide constitutes about 3% to 4% of total greenhouse gases by volume (water vapor is the main greenhouse gas); therefore anthropogenic CO2 represents just over one-tenth of one percent (0.12%) of total greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere each year. The U.S. is responsible for about 18% of global emissions, so elimination of U.S. emissions will make a difference of about 0.02% of total emissions.
The American Enterprise Institute estimates that eliminating all carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel generation of electricity would cut the global increase in temperature by 0.083 to 0.173 degrees Celsius, by 2100.
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg (president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of the book: The Skeptical Environmentalist) estimates that U.S. climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.031°C (0.057°F) by 2100. (Source)
2. Cost of transition to 100% renewables
An analysis from Scottish consulting firm Wood Mackenzie estimates the cost of transitioning the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, as recommended by the “Green New Deal” and other overzealous climate change plans, would cost at least $4.5 trillion over that time period. The American Action Forum estimates the costs of moving the entire country to 100 percent renewable sources would be $5.7 trillion, or $42,000 per household. The several states that have imposed Renewable Energy Mandates (requiring a certain percent of electricity be produced from wind and solar) have already raised electricity prices by 11percent, which has cost us $125.2 billion. (Source)
Experience from Europe shows that the more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. In the graph below the vertical scale is Euro cents per kilowatt-hour, the horizontal scale is the installed capacity of renewables (solar and wind) per capita. (For reference, the U.S. average residential cost is 12 cents/kwh which is about 9.6 euro cents/kwh, lower than all European countries on the graph.) (Source)
3. Enormous land footprint of wind and solar destroys wildlife habitat
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, for the contiguous U.S.:
If all electricity were to be supplied by solar generation it would require 11,674 solar farms with a total footprint of 525,312 square miles.
If all electricity were to be supplied by wind generation, it would require 6,954 wind farms with a total footprint of 1,808,166 square miles.
If all electricity was supplied by nuclear generation, it would require 3,553 nuclear stations with a total footprint of 4,619 square miles. (Source)
4. Destruction of wildlife:
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.
“New studies reveal that these appalling estimates are frightfully low and based on misleading or even fraudulent data. The horrific reality is that in the United States alone, ‘eco-friendly’ wind turbines kill an estimated 13 million to 39 million birds and bats every year.” (Source)
Many birds are also killed by concentrating solar installations: see Avian mortality from solar farms.
5. Human health problems from wind turbines:
Wind turbines produce low-frequency sound, called infra-sound, which may cause many health problems. Infra-sound affects the vestibular system, causing symptoms resembling seasickness, accompanied by headache, dizziness, and “deep nervous fatigue.” It can affect ocular reflexes, causing nystagmus; spinal reflexes, causing tremors; and autonomic reflexes, causing shortness of breath. Infra-sound can lead to well known consequences such as tumor development, cardiac infarcts and/or the need for cardiac bypass surgery.
6. Wind and solar generation makes the electric grid unstable.
Wind and solar generation are unpredictably intermittent. Adding an unpredictable supply to the mix makes grid management very complex and increases the danger that the grid will become unstable and fail. The problem is multiplied as wind and solar generation become a larger percentage of the total power sources.
7. Renewable energy is not as green as advertised
PV solar panels rely on polysilicon being manufactured in large quantities and at high quality. A byproduct of polysilicon production is silicon tetrachloride, a highly toxic substance that poses a major environmental hazard. Wherever silicon tetrachloride is dumped, the land becomes totally infertile. A major environmental cost of photovoltaic solar energy is toxic chemical pollution (arsenic, gallium, and cadmium) and energy consumption associated with the large-scale manufacture of photovoltaic panels. (Source)
8. Wind farms decrease weather radar ability to track storms – puts people in danger
A new report from the National Weather Service says that wind farms have some unfortunate negative impacts on the ability of Doppler radar to track storms.
“Wind farms affect … radars in several ways; first, the turbines can block a significant percentage of the radar beam and decrease the radar signal power down range of the wind farm, particularly if the wind farm is within a few miles of the radar. Second, the wind farm can reflect energy back to the radar system and this appears as clutter or false reflectivity data. This reflectivity can create false precipitation estimates and disrupt precipitation algorithms used by the radar and other software programs. Finally, wind farms can significantly influence velocity and spectrum width data, which can cause bad data sampling of rotating storms and false storm motions, along with impacting algorithms used by the radar to process this data. Since the wind turbines have motion and produce reflectivity, schemes designed to filter out the clutter do not work properly.”
Former EPA scientist and economist Alan Carlin opines, “Climate alarmism is probably the most insidious, largest, and most dangerous scam ever perpetrated on the American public and most of the developed world. Unless brought down by reality, it is now reaching such dimensions that it could even end the position of the current developed countries as the primary engine for economic and technological progress. Instead, the dictates of climate alarmism may eventually consume as much as half of the resources available and yield nothing but climate virtue signaling.” (Source)
References on Wryheat:
The Broken Greenhouse – Why CO2 is a minor player in global climate