Solar, wind & other alternatives aren't the solution.September 26 2011 at 11:29 AM
Response to The American 'allergy' to global warming ?
Renewable energy could 'rape' nature
Ramping up the use of renewable energy would lead to the "rape of nature", meaning nuclear power should be developed instead. So argues noted conservation biologist and climate change researcher Jesse Ausubel in an opinion piece based on his and others' research.
Ausubel (who New Scientist interviewed in 2006) says the key renewable energy sources, including sun, wind, and biomass, would all require vast amounts of land if developed up to large scale production - unlike nuclear power. That land would be far better left alone, he says.
Renewables are "boutique fuels" says Ausubel, of Rockefeller University in New York, US. "They look attractive when they are quite small. But if we start producing renewable energy on a large scale, the fallout is going to be horrible."
Instead, Ausubel argues for renewed development of nuclear. "If we want to minimise the rape of nature, the best energy solution is increased efficiency, natural gas with carbon capture, and nuclear power."
Ausubel draws his conclusions by analysing the amount of energy renewables, natural gas, and nuclear can produce in terms of power per square metre of land used. Moreover, he claims that as renewable energy use increases, this measure of efficiency will decrease as the best land for wind, biomass, and solar power gets used up.
Using biofuels to obtain the same amount of energy as a 1000 megawatt nuclear power plant would require 2500 square kilometres of prime Midwestern farm land, Ausubel says. "We should be sparing land for nature, not using it as pasture for cars and trucks," he adds.
Solar power is much more efficient than biofuel in terms of the area of land used, but it would still require 150 square kilometres of photovoltaic cells to match the energy production of the 1000 MW nuclear plant. In another example, he says meeting the 2005 US electricity demand via wind power alone would need 780,000 square kilometres, an area the size of Texas.
More Left Coast Blues
May 31, 2011 11:06 A.M.
By Steven F. Hayward
Normally I leave the "Crazy California" beat to Victor Hanson, but as I'm out here in my home state for a few days I can't resist piling on. Not long ago Gov. Jerry Brown ostentatiously signed a law requiring California to generate a third of its electricity from "renewable" sources within about a decade. Get ready for lots more windmills and solar panels. That is, if environmentalists will allow it.
Hayward's First Axiom of Environmental Energy is that there is no source of energy which environmentalists won't oppose if it becomes feasible and scalable. Enviro opposition to wind power in Massachusetts is well known, but I've seen news accounts of as many as 70 wind-power projects that environmentalists have filed suit to delay or prevent. Now environmentalists are suing to stop a proposed 250 megawatt solar-power project on the Carizzo Plain in California.
The Carrizo Plain is indeed a pretty place, but mostly because of its stark isolation. There is nothing out there. Hardly anyone - I'll bet not even Victor - drives State Highway 58 between McKittrick and Santa Margarita on a regular basis. There's a road sign at each end of this stretch that says "Next Services 90 Miles." How often do you see a sign like that anywhere in California? I have always liked Hwy. 58 through the Carizzo Plain because I can drive 90 miles an hour while only encountering another car about once every 15 minutes.
So it would seem like an ideal place to put solar panels that wouldn't disturb anyone's view. But wait! It will disturb the wildflowers, as well as the usual endangered species! The New Times story on the controversy notes one telling detail: The proposed 250 megawatt project will require 4,685 acres of land - over seven square miles. And here's the problem with both wind and solar: They are massive land hogs. A typical 750 megawatt coal- or natural-gas-fired power plant would require about 40 acres or less. In other words, youd need roughly 20 square miles of land to equal the power output of one typical fossil fuel plant that could fit inside a modern football stadium. I think the New Times (one of those "alternative" freebie papers) buried the lead here.
Meanwhile, good luck to California in making that renewable-energy mandate.