wind

Why You Should Vote NO on Arizona Proposition 127, the renewable energy mandate (Update)

Proposition 127 is very bad policy because: 1) wind and solar generation of electricity are both expensive and unreliable; 2) wind and solar generation can be dangerous to wildlife, human health, and the environment; and 3) the perceived need for more wind and solar generation is based on the false assumption that carbon dioxide emissions are a major cause of global warming.

The method of generating electricity should not be determined by one-size-fits-all government mandates, but rather by local market conditions and resources.

In the following summary I explain the problems with renewable energy. More background is available in the references at the end of this post.

Arizona proposition 127, dubbed “The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” will amend the Arizona Constitution to require affected electric utilities generate at least 50% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. The amendment defines renewable energy sources to include solar, wind, small-scale hydropower, and other sources that are replaced rapidly by a natural, ongoing process (excluding nuclear or fossil fuel). Distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar, must comprise at least 10% of utilities’ annual retail sales of electricity by 2030. The Amendment allows electric utilities to earn and trade credits to meet these requirements. (Read full text)

Arizona currently produces half of its renewable energy from hydropower generated at the large dams on the Colorado River, but, according to the proposed amendment, this electricity is not to be counted toward the 50% mandated goal. According to the Energy Information Administration, power plants in Arizona generate more electricity than the state consumes, and Arizona generating stations supply electricity to consumers throughout the southwest.

 

Expensive:

Promoters of proposition 127 claim that (based on computer modeling) more renewable energy generation will decrease the price of electricity. The computer model claims that “average electricity bills in 2030 would be three dollars a month lower if Arizona pursues a high-renewables future, and five dollars a month lower in 2040.”

Contrary to claims of proposition promoters, real-world experience shows that the price of electricity can triple as the percentage of wind and solar generation increases. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Arizona’s existing 7 percent renewable power mandate (on its way up to 15%) cost the average Arizona household $304 in higher electricity charges in 2017. At 50 percent renewables, as required by prop. 127, that could rise to an additional $2,179 per year compared to present electricity costs. (Source: The Heartland Institute) Higher electricity rates disproportionally impact the poor. (See this story)

My own electric bill from Tucson Electric Power is running at the rate of an extra charge of $230 per year due to the renewable energy mandate. A curious thing: These charges used to be listed on the bill as “Green Energy Charges” but since March, 2017, they are listed merely as “Surcharges.”

Electricity produced by wind and solar turns out to be much more expensive than electricity produced from coal and natural gas. That is mainly because wind and solar are unreliable, they can’t respond to demand. Therefore they need nuclear or fossil fuel generated electricity as backup which causes the fossil fuel plants to run inefficiently which is more expensive (and produces more carbon dioxide).

Europe has been a world leader in using wind and solar energy. The price, however, is high. Real operational data show that the more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. (Source) In some European countries electricity prices are triple the average cost in the U.S. Ironically, carbon dioxide emissions in those countries are rising while in the U.S. emissions are decreasing. Also ironically, according to the New York Times, renewables are helping to push nuclear power, the main source of zero-emissions electricity in the United States, into bankruptcy.

Australia has been flirting with replacing coal generation with renewables. Australian engineers warn 55% renewables will add $1400 to electricity bills, an 84% increase in electricity rates. (Source) The state of South Australian generates about 50 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power. South Australia’s consumer electricity prices are the highest in the world and electric reliability is one of the worst in the developed world. (Source)

California: According to Environmental Progress, a pro-nuclear advocacy group:

Between 2011 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose five times faster than they did nationally. Today, Californians pay 60 percent more, on average, than the rest of the nation, for residential, commercial, and industrial electricity. California’s high penetration of intermittent renewables such as solar and wind are likely a key factor in higher prices. (LinkHad California spent an estimated $100 billion on nuclear instead of on wind and solar, it would already have had enough energy to replace all fossil fuels in its in-state electricity mix according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress.

study by the left-of-center Brookings Institution found replacing conventional power with wind power raises electricity prices 50 percent, and replacing conventional power with solar power triples electricity costs.

From the Brookings report:

Costs are much higher for three reasons. First, the cost per MW [megawatt] of capacity to build a wind or solar plant is quite high (and much greater than that of a gas-fired plant). The cost per MW of solar capacity is especially high. Reductions in the cost of solar-voltaic panels have reduced the cost of building a solar plant by 22 percent between 2010 and 2012, but further reductions are likely to have a lesser effect because the cost of solar panels is only a fraction of the total cost of a utility-scale solar plant.

Second, a wind or solar plant operates at full capacity only a fraction of the time, when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. For example, a typical solar plant in the United States operates at only about 15 percent of full capacity and a wind plant only about 25 percent of full capacity, while a coal plant can operate 90 percent of full capacity on a year-round basis.

Third, the output of wind and solar plants is highly variable—year by year, month by month, day by day and hour by hour—compared to a coal-fired plant… Thus more than six solar plants and four wind plants are required to produce the same output with the same degree of reliability as a coal-fired plant of the same capacity.

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. They conclude: “As a means of producing useful electrical power, wind and solar are very expensive generating technologies because of their low capacity factors and because of their non-dispatchability and intermittency.” (Source)

It has been proposed that the intermittency problem with wind and solar can be solved by battery storage. But an MIT Technology Review article says that would be too expensive: “The $2.5 trillion reason we can’t rely on batteries to clean up the grid: Fluctuating solar and wind power require lots of energy storage, and lithium-ion batteries seem like the obvious choice—but they are far too expensive to play a major role.” The $2.5 trillion battery system would provide just 12 hours of storage for the entire U.S. (Link)

Dangerous:

Utility scale wind and solar installations require vast expanses of land that affect local habitats. Wind turbines chop up birds and bats, including endangered species. Solar installations burn up birds and other flying animals. Low frequency sound from wind turbines causes a variety of human ailments. The manufacturing and disposal of solar panels put dangerous chemicals into the environment. For example, many 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. Does that sound like “clean energy”?

recent study shows that solar modules cause more greenhouse gas emissions than modern coal power plants. It turns out that because of the emissions of extraordinarily potent greenhouse gases nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride and energy requirements of manufacturing solar modules, solar energy ends up being worse for the climate than burning coal.

(See references 5 & 6)

Another danger is that proposition 127 is intended to be an amendment to the Arizona Constitution rather than a statute. It will therefore be much harder to repeal once its utter folly is realized.

The false assumption:

The push for renewable energy, especially wind and solar generation, is based on the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are a significant cause of global warming.

This claim is not based on physical evidence but only upon garbage-in, garbage-out computer models, the results of which diverge widely from observations. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the major promoter of the human-caused global warming scare. Yet, in five major reports, the IPCC does not provide any physical evidence that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in global warming. I have asked several university climate scientists who support the claim to cite supporting physical evidence. Although they are alleged experts in the field, they could not cite any physical evidence. They devolve to computer modeling. On the other hand, there are several lines of physical evidence that show carbon dioxide emissions do not enhance the dread greenhouse effect. (See references 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 & 9) Many scientific studies present physical evidence showing that carbon dioxide is but a bit player among the many factors influencing climate change. (See these references: link)

A report from the Science and Public Policy Institute estimates the temperature savings theoretically obtained by stopping all carbon dioxide emissions for each state and for the U.S. as a whole. According to SPPI, if Arizona stopped all carbon dioxide emissions, it would theoretically prevent a temperature rise of 0.0014°C by 2050 and 0.0029°C by 2100. If the U.S. stopped all carbon dioxide emissions, it would theoretically prevent a temperature rise of 0.172°C by 2100. (Link to report) Do you think that’s worth the higher electricity prices and disruption of the electric grid?

In the entire geological history of the planet, there has been no known linkage between CO2 and temperatures other than that temperature controls the solubility of CO2 in the oceans. (See reference 8) The war on carbon dioxide tries to cure a problem that does not exist.

Generating more electricity from solar and wind is just a very expensive exercise in political correctness that will have little impact on carbon dioxide emissions, but a big impact on your wallet, and an adverse impact on electric grid stability and the environment. (See reference 7) If you really want low/no emissions generation of electricity, we should invest in more nuclear generation which is always there when you need it.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken

Note: This article is based upon my own observations and research. I have had no dealings with any of the several PACs organized for or against the proposition. This article may be reprinted provided credit is given to the author and link back to the original.

References:

1. A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

2. Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

3. Failure of climate models shows that carbon dioxide does not drive global temperature

4. Health Effects of global warming on humans

5. Avian mortality from solar farms

6. Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

7. The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation

8. An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

9. What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

10. Audit of main temperature database used by IPCC finds multiple errors

 

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Renewable energy mandates and politics versus science

Competing renewable energy mandate legislation will appear on the Arizona this fall. You can read about them in two Arizona Daily Star stories:

Arizona utility APS crafts renewable-energy initiative with escape clause

Arizona Senate puts utility-written renewable energy plan on ballot

Neither addresses the real issue: electricity produced from utility-scale solar and wind is unreliable, expensive, plays havoc with electrical grid stability, and is not as green as advertized. Rather than play with tricky fixes, the Arizona legislature should repeal the Arizona Corporation Commission’s renewable energy mandate and forbid the ACC from mandating how electricity is generated. I can find no place in the Arizona Constitution nor in the Arizona Revised Statutes that gives the ACC authority to impose such mandates.

For background of ACC action, read a report from the Goldwater Institute: “Rediscovering the ACC’s Roots: Returning to the Original Purpose of the Arizona Corporation Commission” (link)

Here is the executive summary of the 26-page report:

The Arizona Corporation Commission was established through the state constitution to regulate corporations, public utilities, securities, and other investments. But in an unprecedented move, the Arizona Corporation Commission sought to single-handedly determine alternative energy policy in Arizona with a bold and unconstitutional energy mandate in 2006.1 This mandate forced energy producers to embrace state-favored alternatives instead of deciding for themselves which options are most attractive in Arizona.

Arizonans now face the real threat that the Arizona Corporation Commission will continue to seize power meant to be held by the state’s legislative branch. Important decisions about energy policy, corporate governance, and other areas have been removed from the legislative process which, for all its faults, offers more transparency, citizen input, and accountability than the opaque and bureaucratic proceedings of the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The framers of the Arizona Constitution had serious concerns about the Commission’s potential to abuse its authority. Records of the state constitutional debate show the constitution’s authors intentionally limited the Commission’s powers to prevent interference with internal business decisions. The framers’ fears have been borne out.

The Commission’s attempt to act as the state’s de facto energy czar clearly oversteps its original role.

Arizona courts should re-establish a proper balance between the Commission and legislative power. Courts in other states with similar utility regulatory commissions already have concluded such agencies don’t have constitutional authority to mandate statewide policy. The Legislature also can reassert its authority by ordering an audit of the Commission that would recommend ways to streamline the agency and to restore it to its proper role. Finally, the state constitution could be amended to transfer necessary functions to other agencies and decommission the ACC to stop its policymaking power grabs, which Arizona’s founders specifically aimed to prevent.

See these articles for more detail on the consequences of the ACC mandate:

Six reasons Arizona should repeal its renewable energy standards mandate

The economic impact of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate

The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation

The more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity.

Political correctness versus science:

The alleged rationale for these mandates is that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions to forestall dread global warming. But, there is no physical evidence that emissions from fossil fuels play a significant role in driving global temperature. See these ADI posts for more detail:

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

“What physical evidence supports the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the principal cause of global warming since 1970?” I posed that question to five “climate scientist” professors at the University of Arizona who claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are the principal cause of dangerous global warming. Yet, none could cite any supporting physical evidence.

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The “greenhouse” hypothesis of global warming makes four major predictions of what we should see if the “greenhouse effect” is intensified by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. All four predictions are shown by physical evidence to be wrong.

What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

An alternative hypothesis with observable evidence.

Failure of climate models shows that carbon dioxide does not drive global temperature

Results from climate models based on the assumption that carbon dioxide controls global temperature diverge widely from reality.

Climate change in perspective

An overview of climate history

The 97 percent consensus of human caused climate change debunked again

The fake climate consensus

The cost and consequences of “green” energy

Solar and wind generation are not practical alternatives to fossil fuel-generated electricity. Biofuel is not practical for transportation. We are now seeing the consequences of politically correct green policies on energy.

Here are some recent stories in the news:

What Happens to an Economy When Forced to Use Renewable Energy?
By Robert Bryce

Some of America’s most prominent politicians want national mandates for renewable electricity. Had these politicians considered the surge in electricity costs that have occurred in Europe in recent years, they might have been less eager to push such mandates.

Between 2005, when the EU adopted its Emissions Trading Scheme, and 2014, residential electricity rates in the EU increased by 63 percent, on average; over the same period, residential rates in the U.S. rose by 32 percent.
EU countries that have intervened the most in their energy markets—Germany, Spain, and the U.K.—have seen their electricity costs increase the fastest: during 2008–12, Germany’s residential electricity rates increased by 78 percent, Spain’s rose by 111 percent, and the U.K.’s soared by 133 percent.

While European countries have succeeded in creating jobs in the solar and wind industries, their energy policies have also resulted in significant job losses elsewhere. Read full report

States Which Support Green Energy Have Higher Electric Bills
by Andrew Follett, Daily Caller

States which offered substantial taxpayer support for green energy pay a lot more for electricity, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis.

The most notable examples of this trend were California and West Virginia. California had some of the nation’s highest power prices, paying 14.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, and had a whopping 183 policies offering support to green energy. In contrast, West Virginia had some of the nation’s cheapest power at 7.91 cents per kilowatt-hour and a mere 11 policies.

Statistical analysis run by TheDCNF found a positive and statistically significant correlation existed between high electricity bills and states with numerous policies supporting green energy. States which offered rebates, buy-back programs, tax exemptions and direct cash subsidies to green energy were 64 percent more likely to have higher than average electric bills. For every additional pro-green energy policy in a state, the average price of electricity rose by about .01 cents per kilowatt-hour. Read more

More US Taxpayer Cash Giveaways for Clean Energy
by Eric Worrall

The US Government is concerned that huge taxpayer underwritten loan guarantees for renewable energy projects aren’t producing the results they want, so they have decided to step up the effort to give away money, by offering free cash and work space to projects which are too “high risk” to attract investment from venture capitalists, or qualify for other green funding schemes. Read story

European Union Scraps Biofuel Targets
EU laws requiring member states to use “at least 10%” renewable energy in transport will be scrapped after 2020, the European Commission confirmed, hoping to set aside a protracted controversy surrounding the environmental damage caused by biofuels. Read more

New administration rule would permit thousands of eagle deaths at wind farms
Fox News
The Obama administration is revising a federal rule that allows wind-energy companies to operate high-speed turbines for up to 30 years, even if means killing or injuring thousands of federally protected bald and golden eagles. Under the plan, companies could kill or injure up to 4,200 bald eagles a year without penalty — nearly four times the current limit. Golden eagles could only be killed if companies take steps to minimize the losses, for instance, by retrofitting power poles to reduce the risk of electrocution. Read more

Devastating Finding: New Study Deems Solar PV Systems In Europe “A Non-Sustainable Energy Sink”!
By P Gosselin
Despite hyped claims, much doubt has emerged over the years on whether or not renewable energies such as wind and sun would able to substitute fossil and nuclear energy.

Getting a sound answer to that question naturally would have been a reasonable step to take long before countries rushed to invest tens of billions of euros.

A brand new paper by Swiss researchers Ferruccio Ferroni and Robert J. Hopkirk published by the Journal of Energy Policy now further intensifies that doubt, finding that solar power remains an inefficient way to produce energy in most cases. It’s beginning to appear that Europe has wasted tens of billions of euros in a mass energy folly.

Thus it should not surprise anyone that Germany’s fossil fuel consumption has not been falling over the past years.

So is solar energy a worthwhile alternative in places like Europe? The authors conclude that it is not. They write in the conclusion that “an electrical supply system based on today’s PV technologies cannot be termed an energy source, but rather a non-sustainable energy sink” and that “it has become clear that photovoltaic energy at least will not help in any way to replace the fossil fuel“.

The authors add that “photovoltaic technology would not be a wise choice for helping to deliver affordable, environmentally favorable and reliable electricity regions of low, or even moderate insolation.“ (Source)

Germany’s Green Energy Fiasco
Wind Farms Paid €500 Million A Year To Stand Idle
Because of the boom of renewable energy, more and more wind turbines have to be switched off. The reason is power overloading. The network operators must turn down electricity generated from windmills when their power threatens to clog the network. For the grid operator Tennet alone, these costs added 329 million euros in 2015 – two and a half times as much as in the previous year. The other network operators 50Hertz, Amprion and EnBW had a combined cost of 150 million euros, according to a survey of Wirtschaftswoche among the four network operators in Germany. –Christian Schlesiger, Wirtschaftswoche, 28 April 2016 (Source)
“Consumers are now paying more for their power than ever before” — some 30.27 euro cents per kilowatt hour. Families today are paying 21% more for electricity than they did 5 years ago. (Source)

How President Obama has increased our energy costs

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) has just released a report documenting “actions President Obama has taken to increase energy prices and to increase the costs of cars, trucks, appliances, ice makers, and a multitude of other items that use electricity.” The list covers the period from February, 2009, to September, 2014. The full list (available here) extends for 13 pages and provides links to individual actions. Here is a sampling from the list:

February 4, 2009

Cancelled 77 oil and gas leases in Utah that could cost American taxpayers millions in lost lease bids, production royalties, new jobs and the energy needed to offset rising imports of oil and gas.

March 30, 2009

Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act into law. This $10 billion, 1200-page bill prohibited energy production on over 3 million acres of federal land, costing American jobs.

January 8, 2010

Energy Department issues final rule for conservation standards for some consumer and commercial products including dishwashers, dehumidifiers, microwave ovens and clothes washers utilizing controversial Social Cost of Carbon calculations to justify cost.

February 17, 2010

Department of Energy notified Congress that it would reprogram $115 million Congress appropriated to continue the Yucca Mountain licensing process, and instead use it to terminate the only national repository for spent nuclear fuel under current law.

December 23, 2010

Interior Department announced a new “Wild Lands” Secretarial Order that could place hundreds of millions of acres of public lands off-limits to American energy production.

August 26, 2011

The Department of State concludes its 36–month environmental assessment of Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport as much as 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada per day to be refined and used in the US. The review found that no significant adverse impacts to the environment would result from the pipeline. Yet no action was taken to approve the pipeline.

January 9, 2012

Obama’s Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announces a 20-year ban on uranium mining on one million acres of federal land in Arizona.

February 3, 2012

Obama Administration announces plans to close off 75 percent of Western oil shale—of which 70 percent is on federal lands—to development.

January 18, 2013

Announced EPA regulations that would mandate costly upgrades to Arizona’s coal-fired Navajo Generating Station. Such changes would increase power and could impact water prices in Arizona as well. The local Navajo reservation could also see increased unemployment due to regulatory impacts.

November 15, 2013

Proposed Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) levels outlining the levels of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel in 2014. The proposal calls for 17 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels in 2014. As of August 2014 producers have only been able to generate 72,000 gallons due to cost and complexity of the process.

April 18, 2014

Delayed final judgment again on Keystone XL pipeline that would deliver millions of barrels of oil from Canada and states like North Dakota to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The project has been blocked by the Obama Administration since 2008.

Remember, the whole list covers 13 pages. What I’ve listed above is about one page.

The Obama administration, especially the EPA, has been in collusion with radical environmental groups to stifle energy production. Anthony Watts has a report on his blog showing that “FOIA’d Emails show outside ‘green’ lobby groups staffed up, collude with Obama EPA, calling rules’ legality into question.” See his full post here. It begins:

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal)

released a report today [Sep. 15] revealing and piecing together dozens of emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which lay out in detail EPA’s collusion with senior activists within environmentalist pressure groups, and proving the real thinking about the intent behind and impact of EPA’s “climate” regulations.

Far from the required recusing to avoid the appearance of a conflict, EPA filled its senior political ranks with green pressure group activists, continuing their life’s work and coordinating with former colleagues from their new positions in government. These emails show the groups sharing jokes about EPA assurances that it isn’t waging a war on coal, and gloating about the courts serially siding with EPA as it rewrites federal environmental law. More important, they show the special role and undue influence these relationships provided, the very sort of influence the Obama Administration once disavowed.

Obama claims that he is for “all of the above” on types of energy production, but in practice, it seems that “all of the above” does not include things that actually work.

See also:

Obama Clueless on Energy – Part 1

Obama Clueless on Energy – Part 2

Obama administration still clueless on energy

Obama, the Keystone Cop-out

Obama’s April Fools Joke

Obama’s Climate Action Plan is Clueless and Dangerous

Impact of Solar and Wind Electricity Generation on our energy supply and the environment

Installation of solar and wind facilities has expanded almost exponentially in the last few years. The graph below, from an article in Energy Matters by Roger Andrews, shows global growth.

Renewable energy growth

Quite impressive isn’t it? But what impact does it have on energy supply compared to total consumption? Andrews shows another graph which puts things in perspective:

Renewable energy impact

You might have to look very closely at the very bottom right of the graph to see what wind and solar generation contribute to our total energy supply. In spite of the exponential growth in solar and wind installations, it has had almost no impact on the supply of electricity. In the U.S. wind energy produced 3% of total energy consumption and solar energy produced 0.26% of total energy consumption in 2012 according to the Energy Information Administration.

President Obama, with his “war on coal,” has promoted alternative energy schemes. Europe, especially Germany, has been way ahead of Obama’s policy, and have found out, the hard way, that Obama’s prediction is true: “ “under my plan…electricity prices would necessarily
skyrocket.” (See The Price of Obama’s New Carbon Dioxide Emission Rules)
Pierre Gosselin, writing from Germany, says “It seems that it is beginning to dawn on some of Europe’s mainstream media: The transition to green energies is turning out to be ten or even 100 times more expensive than what they were led to believe just a few years ago.” “Already the EU 2020 strategy costs 185 billion euros annually. By the end of the century the costs will run to 15 trillion euros. With this, according to the UN IPCC, the global temperature increase will be lowered 0.05°C.”

While solar and wind generation seem to have little impact on electricity supply, generation facilities have a large impact on the environment because both solar and wind installations take up large tracts of land. They also have a negative impact on wildlife. See Avian mortality from solar farms and Big Wind gets “get out of jail free card” from Obama Administration. They also have an impact on human health and well-being, see Health Hazards of Wind Turbines.

Some people think we should replace all fossil fuels with “green” energy sources. Philip Dowd did a calculation on what it would take to produce all U.S. electricity from solar power (see full article here):

If we start with demand of 56 Terawatt hours of electricity per day and add a 50% safety factor, we find that we will then need a system that can produce about 83 Twh/day. The footprint of PV solar panels needed to produce this much electricity is 210,000 square miles [almost twice the size of Arizona]. Cost about $60 trillion.

“We would need some kind of battery to store energy to use at night. The article proposes pumped storage of water in a pair of reservoirs. This would require 1,640 reservoirs each covering at least 1,000 acres. Cost about $5 trillion.

Back in Germany, Gosselin also writes that “The days of an open welcome to ‘environmentally-friendly’ wind parks in Germany are over.” “Developers To Clear 850,000 sq m[eters] of virgin forests on UNESCO nature reserve to make way for 700-foot turbines.”

Gosselin also reports that every month 10 wind turbines are destroyed by fire due to lightening strikes, damage to power cable insulation, and overheated gear-drives.

The Obama administration seems to behave hypocritically on energy policy because he promotes alternative energy in the U.S. but U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing fossil fuels in other countries. Kevin Mooney, writing at the Daily Signal, notes:

“Americans have to pay more for electricity and compete for fewer jobs because of President Obama’s regulatory curbs on fossil fuels at home, even as their tax dollars support expansion of those same energy sources abroad.

“The Obama administration last month rolled out its most recent brake on fossil fuels, a 645-page proposed rule to achieve a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions from power sources by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

“At the same time, the administration pressed for reauthorization this fall of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that offers billions of taxpayer dollars for development of fossil fuels in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mexico and other countries.”

We live in interesting times.

Why alternative energy is not a viable alternative for electrical generation

Larry Bell, writing in Forbes, claims that ” Renewable Energy Is No Alternative.”  Read the complete article here.

His main points:

Utility scale wind and solar installations take up too much land to be a significant alternative to fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydro electrical generation which currently produce 96 percent of electricity in the U.S.  In the U.S. “about 3.4 percent now comes from wind, and about 0.11 percent from solar.”

Wind and solar generation are unpredictably intermittent and that makes electric grid management very difficult.  “Managing the uninterrupted transfer of electrical power from myriad sources wherever and whenever it is needed is a hugely complicated challenge. It’s one thing when the principal supply sources use gas, heat or hydraulically-driven turbines which provide constant, unfluctuating outputs that can be adjusted and counted upon independent of weather or season.”

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.  “Difficulties arise as segments of the grid become overloaded or underserved by the renewables, requiring the conventional-source turbines which balance the grid to meet base demand loads be repeatedly throttled down and up.  This reduces turbine operating efficiencies.”

Many upgrades to the electric grid would be necessary to safely accommodate the intermittent output of wind and solar generation.  A group from Caltech estimates “that the necessary upgrades to make a green future work will be ‘one of the greatest technological challenges industrialized societies have undertaken.’ They project this can be expected to cost about $1 trillion nationwide by 2030.”

As it stands now, utility scale wind and solar electrical generation do not represent a viable alternative.

See also:

Winds farms decrease weather radar ability to track storms

Wind Farms Gone Wild

Biofuels program destroying grasslands in American Midwest

Wind turbines killed 600000 bats last year

Wind turbines versus wildlife

The scale problem for solar and wind generation of electricity

Ethanol fuel not as green as you think

Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

Carbon tax failures – lessons from Australia and Germany

In a national election yesterday, frustrated Australians threw out the administration that imposed a carbon tax on the country.

An article in the Daily Caller notes that the carbon tax did not decrease carbon dioxide emissions.  One year “after the tax was enacted electricity prices had risen 15 percent, including the biggest quarterly price increase in the country’s history. Furthermore, 19 percent of the typical Australian household’s electricity bill is due to the tax and other “green” programs in the country. Taxing carbon may have also impacted the job market, as unemployment shot up by 10 percent after its implementation.”

The Daily Caller article notes some other consequences of the carbon tax: a record 10,632 businesses faced insolvency in 2012; and provincial hospitals forked over an extra $6.1 million for energy costs in only six months.

A report from the Institute for Energy Research said the carbon tax failed to deliver any of its promised benefits.  The IER report also says that the “carbon tax will permanently reduce GDP below what it otherwise would have been in every year that it is in place, with these costs growing over time.”  The study notes that there has been a reduction in real wages and predicts that electricity costs will double by 2050.

Germany, the greenest of the green in Europe, is suffering the consequences of its foolish energy policy of carbon taxation and heavily subsidizing alternative energy schemes.  The German paper Spiegel Online has a long article titled “Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good” with the subtitle “Germany’s aggressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power has come with a hefty price tag for consumers, and the costs often fall disproportionately on the poor.”

Even though Germans already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe, the government predicts that electricity bills will increase an additional 20 percent due to renewable energy surcharges.  “After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan two and a half years ago, [German Chancellor] Merkel quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar.”  The result was that “German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.”

The increased electricity costs have resulted in power shut offs in more than 300,000 households a year because of unpaid bills.  “It is only gradually becoming apparent how the renewable energy subsidies redistribute money from the poor to the more affluent.”  “Germany’s renewable energy policy is particularly unfair with respect to the economy. About 2,300 businesses have managed to largely exempt themselves from the green energy surcharge by claiming, often with little justification, that they face tough international competition.”  Where have we heard about “waivers” before?  Could it be Obamacare?

“More and more wind turbines are turning in Germany, and solar panels are basking in the sun, yet the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases emitted by smokestacks increased last year.”

We see that in both Australia and Germany, the green dream is a costly mistake that fails in its primary goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, puts a damper on the economy, makes things more expensive, and cuts jobs.  It’s not easy being green.

See also:

Study says subsidies and tax incentives for renewable energy have minimal effect on greenhouse gas emissions

The economic impact of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate

Petition to Arizona legislature – Dump Renewable Energy Mandates

Does alternative energy actually replace fossil fuel consumption?

Green energy jobs cost taxpayers only $11 million each

There is an interesting post by David Middleton over at WUWT.  Using data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Institute for Energy Research (IER), Middleton notes that 2,298 permanent jobs have been created since 2009 on green energy projects in the U.S., mostly solar, wind, and geothermal jobs (see table below). Those jobs were created by $26.32 billion in loan guarantees by DOE.  That comes to $11.45 million per job created.

Middleton says of this: “Clearly, in terms of ‘bang for the buck,’ government programs that coddle renewable energy are losers. In terms of jobs, the losers are the American workers who would otherwise be gainfully employed but for the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on the administration’s obsession with ‘green energy.’ As the economy continues to suffer and dollars for federal programs get harder to come by, it is getting increasingly difficult to defend a program that costs so much and produces so little.”

President Obama promised to create 5 million green energy jobs over 10 years.  He has only 4,997,702 jobs to go.

The alleged rationale for these green energy projects is to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide produced by generation of electricity, and indeed they have.   Middleton calculates that U.S. green energy projects have reduced global carbon dioxide emissions by 0.007% relative to coal or 0.00035% relative to natural gas.  Again, not much bang for the buck.  It’s your tax dollars at work.

DOE-loan-losses4

See also:

Solar energy cannot economically compete in electricity generation

Wind turbines versus wildlife

Big Wind gets “get out of jail free card” from Obama Administration

Does alternative energy actually replace fossil fuel consumption?

The Cost of green energy

Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

Wind turbine farm proposed for Willcox area

Torch Renewable Energy , a Houston company, is seeking permission to construct a wind farm near Allen Flat, north of Interstate 10, about 20 miles west of Willcox, Arizona. According to a story in Willcox Range News, the project proposes to construct up to 28 wind turbines with a combined plate capacity of 51 Megawatts. (Plate capacity is the ideal potential for generation. Usually, however, wind turbines actually deliver only about 20 percent of rated plate capacity.) Torch says that this project, dubbed “Red Horse 2 Wind Farm,” “will invest between $100 – $125 million in infrastructure in Cochise County related to the project.”

Willcox-wind-farm

Each turbine will be as much as 487 feet high with a blade diameter of 192 feet. The company claims this project will employ 20 people during the construction phase and result in four permanent jobs.

 According to the company website, “Torch Renewable Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Torch Energy Advisors Incorporated (“TEAI”), a diversified energy company with 27 years of experience developing, acquiring, and operating over $10 billion of oil and gas properties, gas pipelines and processing facilities, oil and gas services businesses, and renewable energy projects.”

 The website of TEAI provides little detail about their projects. Rather, they seem to be a vehicle for venture capitalists and other investors. TEAI says, “Torch Energy Advisors, Inc. (TEAI) maintains or manages the interests of third parties’ interests in a variety of oil and gas producing properties, natural gas pipelines and hydrocarbon treating and processing facilities.”

 The proposed location of the Red Horse 2 Wind Farm seems to be well away from habitation. That is good because there is some evidence that low-frequency vibrations from wind farms cause illness, dubbed wind turbine syndrome, which includes sleep problems, irritability, and depression: see “Health Hazards of Wind Turbines.”

 According to the Willcox Range News, Torch plans initial construction to begin in the 4th quarter of this year with turbine installation in the 2nd quarter of 2014, all contingent on the outcome of bird and bat studies. Wind turbines tend to chop up birds and bats. This is of some concern since the Willcox Playa Wildlife Area hosts hundreds of species of birds during the winter migration.

 This article originally appeared in the Arizona Daily Independent.

See also:

Wind turbines versus wildlife

Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

The economic impact of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate

In a recent, rather befuddled, guest opinion in the Arizona Daily Star, solar energy advocate Terry Finefrock urges the Arizona Corporation Commission to compel our electric utilities to install more solar energy generation. Finefrock starts his article with this sentence: “I challenge the Arizona Corporation Commission to fairly evaluate all electricity-generation technologies and act to actually reduce ratepayer and taxpayer costs.” I agree with that sentence. Ironically, Finefrock’s call for mandating more solar energy will have the opposite effect.

The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston, MA., has been studying the probable impact of renewable energy standards and tariffs (REST) on a state-by-state basis. This month they published their analysis of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate. You can read the entire report here.

They calculate low, medium, and high estimated impacts. Among their findings are:

The current REST rule will raise the cost of electricity by $389 million for the state’s electricity consumers in 2025, within a range of $239 million and $626 million.

The REST mandate will cost Arizona’s electricity consumers $1.383 billion from 2013 to 2025, within a range of $857 million and $2.221 billion.

Arizona’s electricity prices will rise by 6 percent by 2025, within a range of 3.7 percent and 9.7 percent.

These increased energy prices will hurt Arizona’s households and businesses and, in turn, inflict harm on the state economy. In 2025, the REST would:

Lower employment by 2,500 jobs, within a range of 1,500 jobs and 4,100 jobs.

Reduce real disposable income by $334 million, within a range of $202 million and $543 million.

Decrease investment in the state by $38 million, within a range of $23 million and $61 million.

Increase the average household electricity bill by $128 per year; commercial businesses by an average of $686 per year; and industrial businesses by an average of $28,600 per year.

See also:

Petition to Arizona legislature – Dump Renewable Energy MandatesThat post gives six main reasons why we should dump Arizona’s renewable energy mandate. Among those reason are that renewable energy such as solar and wind are much more expensive and very unreliable and the unreliability puts the stability of the electric grid in danger.