Letter: Shifting to renewables will cost usIf wishes were horses, legislators could pass renewable energy standards capable of riding roughshod over the laws of nature and physics, but they can’t.
By: Rolf Westgard, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
If wishes were horses, legislators could pass renewable energy standards capable of riding roughshod over the laws of nature and physics, but they can’t.
If wishes were horses, wind and solar would have replaced at least one fossil fuel power plant somewhere on earth, but they haven't. Solar energy would be more than a fraction of 1 percent of our electric energy, and wind and solar combined would be more than one quad of the 100 quads of annual U.S. energy consumption, but they aren’t.
And there would be batteries with the storage capacity to take over when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind blows too little or too much, but there aren’t. We use natural gas for that.
We need more public transport; more efficient cars and light bulbs; and to continue support for renewables research. We don’t need premature projects like the $2 billion Ivanpah solar project in Nevada; the $2 billion Cape Wind farm off Cape Cod; or the proposed bird killing wind farm in Goodhue County. None of these will produce one tenth the effective output of the Prairie Island nuclear plant, Xcel Energy’s reliable low cost power source.
So when political candidates talk about the environment this year, think also about the economy where the rest of us cough up $7,500 for each wealthy buyer of an electric car. Or think about Germany, where low-and middle-income power users pay to subsidize wealthy home owners who can then decorate their roofs with solar panels. Or think about wind’s poster country, Denmark, with the highest electric rates in Europe.
If wishes were horses, it would be easy and cheap to ride from a world run by fossil fuels to one powered by renewables, but that won’t be easy or cheap.