American Elephants


Some Reality About Renewable Energy by The Elephant's Child

Marches for climate, marches for science. The interesting thing is that the marchers can’t be bothered with studying up on the subject, but just go by what they read on Facebook or what the celebrities have to say. They call for “renewable” energy without much idea of what renewable energy is. The most  renewable is of course hydropower, but then they object to dams in the rivers, not so much for spawning fish, but because of a romantic ideal of wild rivers.

Wind energy, they believe is renewable, because the wind is free. The wind may be free, but those huge turbines cost an arm and a leg. Not only that, but wind comes with incurable intermittency. Wind simply does not blow steadily. According to Robert Bryce’s Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper, wind energy has a power density of 1 watt per square meter.

Wind turbines have a deleterious effect on wildlife. A 2013 peer-reviewed estimate found wind turbines killing 900,000 bats and 573,000 birds each year, including 83,000 birds of prey. Over a time period when wind capacity tripled, the number of eagles killed increased twelve fold between 1997 and 2012. Eliminating that number of birds and bats would seem to mean greater health threats from insect borne disease like malaria or Zika, but I have seen no estimates for that.

The world’s wind turbines have 284 megawatts of capacity. They produced 521 terawatt hours of electricity. To keep up with electricity demand, you would have to add four times the current wind energy capacity each year. U.S. capacity in 2012 was 60,000 megawatts. Wind and solar cannot keep up with current demand—much less displace displace significant quantities of hydrocarbons.

The 60,000 megawatt capacity reduced global CO2 emissions by 2/10ths of 1 percent. To stop growth of CO2 emissions would require turbines covering a land area the size of Manhattan Island every single day.

Economist Mark Perry at AEI produced the above chart. A New York Times article “Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal,” the reporter, Nadja Popovich wrote “Last year, the solar industry employed many more Americans (373,807) than coal (160,119), while wind power topped 100,000 jobs.” Mark Perry added:

To start, despite a huge workforce of almost 400,000 solar workers (about 20 percent of electric power payrolls in 2016), that sector produced an insignificant share, less than 1 percent, of the electric power generated in the United States last year (EIA data here). And that’s a lot of solar workers: about the same as the combined number of employees working at Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Pfizer, Ford Motor Company and Procter & Gamble.

Bottom Line: The goal of America’s energy sector isn’t to create as many jobs as possible (as the NYT article would apparently have us believe) especially the politically-favored and heavily-subsidized renewable energy jobs. Rather, the economic goal is to produce as much electric power as possible at the lowest possible cost, and that means we want the fewest number of energy workers!

Here’s another good article from Master Resource—explaining why renewables cost more.

Anthony Watts reports that the NOAA Tide Gauge Data shows no coastal sea level rise acceleration. Sea level rise occurs in inches per century, not 10 and fifteen feet. If you are concerned about rising seas, you might want to read this article, If not, never mind.

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