Saturday, August 6, 2016

On the Viability of Solar and Wind Energy

In the comments section of my post of 1/4/16, Epstein Answers: Can We Rely on Solar and Wind?, I had a discussion with correspondent Mike Kevitt. We discussed some important points (in my view). So I'd thought I repost the exchange in a separate blog post.

You can view Epstein’s 4-minute video, Can We Rely on Solar and Wind", before reading on.

Mike Kevitt:

Won't environmentalists and other advocates of 'renewables' say we can develop batteries to store 'renewable' electricity when the sun doesn't shine and when the wind doesn't blow, because when they do shine and blow, we can produce more than we need so we can store the surplus? Plus I hear, on NPR of course, that production processes for solar panels and windmills are becoming so cheap that they will compete with fossil fuel. So 'renewables' are the wave of the future, freestanding and needing no backup, and fossil fuel will be out. Any truth to any of this?


“Who knows what technological breakthroughs are possible in “the future?” But they’re not here yet. Bill Gates, himself a big proponent of alternative energy investments who committed to $billions in personal non-fossil investment, rejected “the self-defeating claims of some clean-energy enthusiasts” who assert that the cost of solar and wind have reached parity with hydrocarbons, labeling them “misleadingly meaningless statements.” The best proof that “renewable” energy is not competitive is that proponents are always pushing for crony laws like carbon taxes, “clean energy” mandates, and subsidies to aid their cause. If solar and wind are so cheap and reliable and viable, why the cronyism?

“My main concern is that environmentalists want to take away proven reliable energy in the hope that “renewable” breakthroughs will happen in time to replace the shuttered fossil energy. What if they’re wrong? Better to have a free market, and let renewables win legitimately if they can.”

Mike Kevitt said...
Well, I agree with what you say, and batteries for storage of 'renewable' electricity might still be a pipe dream. But NPR says solar and wind are becoming (not will become) cost competitive, despite the claims to the contrary you cite. I've not heard a peep from NPR about those claims to the contrary. That would go against the program they've put in their heads. But Gates seems to think the pipe dream of cost parity can be made real to the tune of $billions of his money. Good for him, I guess.

Environmentalists sure are trying to shut down coal as soon as possible, and probably the rest of fossil fuels. I don't think they're trying to do it 'in hopes'. I think they don't care. They might even hope they do it before anything else can fill in. The radicals among them actually want to shut down industrial civilization. And the people actually listen to them, respectfully. I know in a sort of first hand way. As a teenager, I thought and felt exactly like that, thinking I was about the only one in the world who did, because, back then (1950's & '60's), the vast majority of people were still rational enough to think such notions were totally nuts.


“You’re right about environmentalists. If solar and wind ever became feasible as primary, stand-alone energy sources, the environmentalists would be out in force to stop them. Just look at natural gas. Not long ago, the environmentalists hailed natural gas as a replacement for coal because of natgas’s much lower CO2 emissions. Now that Obama is regulating the coal industry into bankruptcy, fracking has created a gusher of natural gas, and coal plants are being replaced by or converted to natgas, the environmentalists have teamed up with NIMBYs to oppose natgas pipelines all over America.”

Related Reading:

The ‘Jihad on Pipelines,’ New Jersey Front

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