Energy

Coming Summer Outages Were Avoidable


Utilities are warning of potentially serious power outages this summer in many parts of the country. This crisis isn’t the result of an unforeseeable surge in electricity use; it’s because of misbegotten policies.

For years governments have been mandating that utilities use more and more renewable sources of energy—primarily from windmills and solar panels—to generate power instead of fossil fuels and nuclear plants. Many coal- and gas-fired power facilities are being closed. A number of nuclear power plants have been or are in the process of being decommissioned, and replacements are lagging.

The trouble is that the technology for alternative energy sources is costly, and these sources are unable to meet our electricity needs.

Advocates for renewables say they’re needed to fight climate change, but consider the environmental hazards involved in what it would take to replace our traditional sources of energy. In coming decades, it would require a 1,000% increase in mining to supply the necessary minerals. Ripping up millions of acres for these minerals would impose horrific environmental costs.

By contrast, a 100-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant is the size of a typical residential house but supplies enough juice for 75,000 homes.

As technology expert Mark Mills and others have pointed out, generating a similar amount of electricity on a wind farm would require 10 square miles of land, 20 wind turbines—each about the size of the Washington Monument—50,000 tons of concrete, 30,000 tons of iron ore and 900 tons of non-recyclable plastic for the blades. To store the created electricity for around-the-clock availability would call for 10,000 tons of Tesla-class batteries. Multiply that farm a few thousandfold, and the costly impracticability of such a transition becomes manifest.

Or take costs. Over the last 20 years $5 trillion has been spent by governments to develop these alternatives. Yet the amount of energy supplied worldwide by fossil fuels today has shrunk from 86% to 84%; $5 trillion for only a 2% change.

Just consider what that $5 trillion could have done had it been used to fight lethal diseases, produce more food and provide badly needed clean water in many parts of the world.

Nonetheless, under intense political pressure, American utilities are readying to spend mammoth amounts of money on these costly, environmentally hazardous energy alternatives.

The fact is that natural gas is a clean fuel, as even green-minded Europeans now acknowledge. And nuclear power poses no problem with carbon-dioxide emissions.

It’s high time we had an unemotional examination of how we can realistically meet our energy needs.



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