Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Myth That Wind and Solar Will Replace 80% Of Our Energy

In his 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama said this "By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources."  As a result of that comment, many people, mostly liberals, claim that wind and solar could replace most of our current power production.  But believing Obama's comment, reveals an infantile understanding of the capabilities of these two technologies.

Most people see a wind turbine's blades revolving and they think its producing power.

Not so.  Wind turbines will start turning at about 4 mph but won't start producing power until they reach what is called the cut-in speed of 7 to 9 mph; and, they don't reach maximum power or its rated power until the wind reaches around 25 mph.  From, that point forward, the turbine blades are actually feathered to insure a constant power production without damaging the turbine itself.  At winds of 55 mph or above, it shuts itself down by completely feathering its blades in order to keep itself from literally self-destructing.  Typically, the average wind turbine resumes power production after several minutes of wind speed below 45 mph.  As a result of all of these conditions, the average turbine only produces power 40% of the time in any given year. Not, exactly a clean source of energy that is capable of providing 80% of this nation's electricity.

Then, there's those clean energy solar panels.

Most people wrongly assume that a solar panel will generate power throughout the day and as long as the sun is shining, but, like wind, that is a wrong assumption. As a practical matter, solar panels, on average, only produce 5 hours of power a day. A solar panel not only needs the sun to shine but the sun's radiance must be at a minimum angle to the panel in order to produce electricity.  In the winter months, when sun is low in the sky, solar panels produce less power.  In the summer with sun high in the sky, solar panels hit maximum output as long as the sun's rays are as close to 90 degrees of the panels as possible.  However, like wind power, 5 hours of 24 hours is only an average of 21% power production in a day.  Also, consider this. Solar power's peak production is at a time when most people are at work or school.  On top of that, peak demand for electrical usage usually occurs after 5 PM and lasts through the evening until people go to bed; at times when solar panels aren't producing power. 

These two technologies are nowhere near providing 80% of our nation's energy needs and they are costing each of us a lot of money.

First, wind and solar are both subsidized by both federal and state tax breaks or by direct federal and state funding.  In other words, the taxpayer is paying for all or some of the cost for your neighbor to go green.  Without tax incentives, I doubt most people would install either of these two systems, because of the cost.

The average person also gets hit in the pocketbook when paying for their electricity usage. By law, in 44 states, the electric utility must buy any excess power produced by a private wind or solar system at the retail price that they are charging for electricity in that local area.  But, paying solar users retail for their excess power is sheer madness.  An electrical utility's retail price is not on;y based on the simple cost of producing electricity, but also the expense of maintaining the power facilities and the electrical grid; including bringing power to a person's house when their solar power doesn't produce squat. Thus, every time a utility must pay someone for their excess solar power, the utility is losing the money it needs to maintain the electrical system in that area.  As result, the utility has no other choice but to raise rates higher than they would otherwise. With that in mind, think about this hypothetical. Assume that half of all power in a given area is excess solar power.  If that should happen, every dollar that an electric utility receives from its non-solar customers would have to be handed over to the solar power producers.  How, then, would a utility even stay in business?

The plain and simple fact is that wind and solar will never be able to cost effectively replace fossil fuel electricity production because for every watt of solar or wind power, an additional 79% of fossil fuel power will be needed to cover the 19 hours a day when wind and solar are unavailable.  Ultimately costs will skyrocket by relying on two unreliable forms of power.

References:

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a goal, "By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources." [13]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_policy_of_the_Obama_administration

 Wind Power FAQ's: https://www.wind-watch.org/faq-technology.php

Solar & Wind Energy Calculations: The (very) Basics: http://www.solar-estimate.org/?page=solar-calculations

Peak Electricity Demand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_demand

The Hole in the Rooftop Solar-Panel Craze: https://www.google.com/search?q=The+Hole+in+the+Rooftop+Solar-Panel+Craze&oq=The+Hole+in+the+Rooftop+Solar-Panel+Craze&aqs=chrome..69i57.63j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8

U.S. electricity prices may be going up for good: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-power-prices-20140426-story.html#page=1 


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