The Dangers Of Moving To Green Energy Before The Technology Is Perfected

On February 10th, The John Locke Foundation posted an article about the proposed energy policies of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

The article reports:

  • Last summer California suffered two days of rolling blackouts
  • California’s Utility Commission recently published their findings of what happened to cause the massive loss in power
  • Years of misguided policies led to a shortage of dispatchable energy — the same policies Gov. Roy Cooper is advocating for North Carolina

Last summer California suffered two days of rolling blackouts because the customers’ needs for electricity exceeded the California power system’s ability to generate electricity. Such a thing should never happen. The California Utilities Commission recently published a report explaining what happened and why.

North Carolinians should know that many of the energy policies Gov. Roy Cooper has advocated for here in North Carolina follow the mistakes identified as the cause of California’s blackouts. As in California, these missteps will leave North Carolina unprepared for our energy future and will ultimately lead to blackouts here. North Carolina should not repeat California’s mistakes.

The job of providing stable electricity to the consumer can be complicated, but this much is pretty simple: enough electricity must always be generated to meet the demand. The United States has developed one of the world’s finest electricity systems. Its costs are among the lowest, and its reliability is among the highest. What happened to California? What bad energy decisions were made over the years in California resulting in rolling blackouts?

According to the “Root Cause Analysis” published by California Independent System Operator, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission, here are the factors that led to the outages:

  1. Climate change–induced extreme weather caused the demand to exceed the generating capability of the California system.
  2. In transitioning to “clean” energy, the State’s dispatchable generating capacity had “not kept pace” with the state’s needs.
  3. The State’s “Resource Adequacy” program failed to predict the needs of the heat wave.

The article concludes:

Cooper is steering North Carolina in the same direction. He opposes building new natural gas pipelines while pushing for more solar plants, which need natural gas backup. Is this where we want North Carolina to go? Do we want more poverty? Do we want the poorest having to pay more of their monthly income for electricity? Do we want rolling blackouts?

Shouldn’t we learn from California’s mistakes instead and keep natural gas plants supplied with gas while we build more nuclear power?

There are a few things those promoting green energy (including electric cars) fail to mention when promoting their agenda. The disposal of the blades on windmills and the disposal of solar panels are creating an environmental hazard. The mining of lithium for electric car batteries involves the use of slave labor in Africa. (articles here, here, here, and here). Rolling blackouts are not acceptable in a country as prosperous as America. We have cut our carbon footprint significantly with the use of natural gas. It is folly to believe we can run a successful economy without the careful use of fossil fuel to keep the economy going. Spain learned that lesson in the early 2000’s (article here).

Hopefully the legislature can put Governor Cooper on the right track.

 

Has Anyone Actually Thought This Through?

On January 30, 2021, a website called Deseret News posted an article about the ‘solar waste’ involved in green energy.

The article notes:

Although countries are feverishly looking to install wind and solar farms to wean themselves off carbon-based, or so-called “dirty” energy, few countries, operators and the industry itself have yet to fully tackle the long-term consequences of how to dispose of these systems, which have their own environmental hazards like toxic metals, oil, fiberglass and other material.

A briefing paper released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicts these startling global numbers for countries by 2050 just for solar waste:

    • United States, 10 million tons.
    • Germany, 3 million tons.
    • China, 20 million tons.
    • Japan, 7.5 million tons.
    • India, 7.5 million tons.

Solar arrays have a life cycle of about 30 years, but the rapid adoption of solar in the United States and elsewhere has the problem of disposal creeping up in the rearview mirror — faster rather than later.

The article also notes the problem with wind power:

Wind power also is taking off as a clean energy resource, but the EPA notes that windmills are the least energy producing and most physically difficult renewable energy waste stream to address.

The sheer size of the windmills and the difficulty of disposing of them at recycling stations led the agency to conclude that each new wind farm is a “towering promise of future wreckage.”

While there is a market for second-hand windmills in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, the tactic of shifting used windmill components to other countries simply delays the waste disposal problem and puts it on the shoulders of countries less equipped to deal with the challenge, it noted.

Like coal mining or other natural resource extraction, certain entities in Utah and elsewhere have addressed the afterlife issues of wind and solar farms by requiring environmental remediation or the posting of a reclamation bond to ensure proper cleanup and disposal.

The article concludes:

There is some innovation playing out, however, with Japan’s Nissan repurposing batteries to power streetlights. In the United States, General Motors is backing up its data center in Michigan with used Chevy Volt batteries.

The EPA notes, however, that these sort of “adaptive reuses” still only delay the time for final disposal of the batteries and the need to deal with materials in the batteries that can cause fires or leach hazardous chemicals.

On the wind power front, GE announced last year it had reached a multiyear agreement with Veolia North America to launch the United States’ first wind blade recycling program, according to an article in Utility Dive.

Nearly 90 % of the blade material, consisting of fiberglass, would be repurposed for cement production, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from that source by 27%.

With the release of its paper, the EPA is calling on researchers, states, industry and other federal agencies to ensure green waste is sustainable from end to end and that gaps in renewable energy waste management are addressed.

“While consumers may purchase renewable energy or renewable energy-based products with good intentions, that does not prevent the unintended adverse environmental consequences of these products,” it said.

It seems that we have not yet solved the problems of green energy. Those problems will be solved in the future, but as of yet green energy is not quite ready for prime time.