Our new President Joe Biden and his administration believes that renewables — electricity produced from wind and solar — are the magical solution for our energy needs that will save the planet.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news. They are wrong. And it is easily proven with a minimal amount of research. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind and solar produced just 9.1 percent of our energy needs in 2019.
To generate all the electricity in the U.S. with wind turbines we will need 1.26 million of them covering 300,800 acres — 11,200,000 acres for solar.
We have a long way to go. As of January 2019 the U.S. Wind Turbine Database lists just over 58,000 turbines on line.
On average, since 2005, we have been building 3,000 turbines a year. At this rate it will take over 400 years to reach that goal.
But wait, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the lifespan of wind turbines is only 20 to 25 years — the same with solar farms. So in four short years we will have to start replacing some of the wind turbines that were built in 2005.
Another problem with wind turbines is cold temperatures, like we are currently experiencing. Cold weather results in accumulation of ice on the turbine blades resulting in reduced power output and increased rotor loads. One Canadian study showed a decreased output of 16 percent in winter.
To work at all in cold climates wind turbines must be installed with “cold weather packages” to heat turbine components further reducing their efficiency. Texas windmills, which provide almost 18 percent of their electricity, froze on Monday, so their power grid failed and Texas had rolling blackouts.
A modern wind turbine produces electricity only 70-85 percent of the time — solar much less. Because of this, every wind or solar farm has to have a backup power supply, otherwise we would have blackouts. This usually comes from natural gas. Obviously Texas didn’t have enough.
These plants cannot sit idle. They have to be running all the time so they are ready to kick in electricity when the wind or solar farms stop.
Everyone knows that hundreds of thousands of birds are killed every year by solar and wind — many that are endangered species. But most of us are not aware that a minimum of a million bats are killed every year from wind turbines to the point that the hoary bat — a migratory species — could go extinct because of the expansion of wind mills.
Even if you overlook these flaws there are more. To build a 100 megawatt wind farm requires the mining of 30,000 tons of iron ore, 50,000 tons of concrete and 900 tons of non recyclable plastic.
To get the same electricity from a solar farm the amount of cement, steel and glass is 150 percent greater. Solar generation also requires several rare earth minerals.
Australia’s Institute for Sustainable Futures says that “a global ‘gold’ rush for energy materials will take miners into remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.”
The International Renewable Energy Agency has said that by 2050 the waste just from retired solar panels will be twice the tonnage as all of today’s global plastic waste. That does not include the millions of tons of waste from worn out wind turbines.
Electricity produced through wind and solar is not environmentally friendly. It has a huge cost on the environment that environmental groups are ignoring. They are turning a blind eye to science.
One person who is not is Michael Shellenberger. He is an environmentalist who, around 2005, was a big proponent of wind and solar power. He helped organize a collation of the country’s biggest labor unions and environmental groups to propose a $300 billion investment in renewables. President Barack Obama embraced their vision.
Since then Shellenberger has changed his mind.
He has come to the conclusion that “All the major problems with renewables aren’t technical they are natural.” He goes on with a question, “In the effort to save the climate are we destroying the environment?”
He has a TED talk you can find on YouTube entitled “Why renewables can’t save the planet.” Watch this, it’s well worth your time.
Emissions from harmful pollutants have decreased in the U.S. by 77 percent since 1970. This has come from natural gas, not wind and solar.
We subsidized wind and solar to the tune of $70 billion a year from 2010 to 2019. Another example of government waste and fraud.