Regarding solar power, not too much can be said about it since it does not nor will it ever meet our energy needs. Recently, a large scale solar power project was planned for the Mojave Desert. One would think that a desert is the perfect place to site a solar plant. However, Diane Feinstein blocked the project out of environmental concerns. The fact is, without resorting to massive subsidies, solar power is not economically feasible. The average cost of producing one kilowatt of electricity from the most efficient photovoltaic cell is 30 cents and at a solar power plant it is 21 cents.
Obama, in his "race to the top" nonsense, talked about how China surpassed the US in production of solar panels. Yes, and so what? Does China use these panels domestically? Considering that less than 1% of their electrical power comes from solar, I think not. In fact, most of those panels are exported to the heavily subsidized solar industry in Germany. And incidentally, the most efficient solar batteries use silicon which is also necessary for the computer industry thus producing competition for that natural resource. I wonder how many tree huggers can do without their computers.
Wind seems to be panacea du jour. That industry notes how the use of wind power has increased in a short time. When you have the government mandating utility energy portfolios, that is usually what happens. Absent those mandates, does anyone really believe utilities would be relying on wind farms? In terms of energy costs, the top ten lowest states use the least amount of wind or solar energy in their portfolios- 4.2%, while in the ten most expensive states, solar/wind accounts for 15% of the energy portfolio. And we should all know about the hypocrisy of liberals when their icon- Ted Kennedy- protested about an offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
When looking at those ten cheapest states, most of them are in the western half of the country and have the highest percentage of hydroelectric generation in their energy portfolios. But again, the environmentalists have their problems with this also and start to talk about ecosystem destruction and carbon foot prints in the construction, blah blah blah. Like any renewable source of energy, hydroelectric power is subject to the whims of the weather. To produce power, adequate water flow is required and that can be affected by droughts or snow melts. Regardless, the US has used hydroelectric power on a large scale since 1882 and it has proven cheap and efficient. Additionally, it has a long economic life. The only major problem may be that we may have tapped all our major rivers for this purpose. But where they still exist, it is a reliable option.
Anyone- like a Liberal, a Democrat, a President, or a moron- is seriously deluded if they believe wind and solar are the future of mass energy production in the US. To power a city the size of New York would require a wind farm the size of Connecticut. However, smaller scale projects are certainly on the table. For example, wind mills in agricultural areas to power irrigation systems and such are certainly worth exploring. Likewise, solar energy panels on homes- if the owner so desires- is also a laudable idea. Perhaps, new construction over a certain square footage should require solar panels. In this way, the cost is born by the buyer/tenants at the time of the sale, not after the fact and offset by subsidies and tax credits. This way, it (1) increases the use of solar power, (2) creates jobs in the industry, (3) increases tax revenue through the elimination of subsidies and credits, and (4) the user bears the cost upfront as part of the overall cost of the construction and (5) they have lower utility bills as a result. The wonderful part about this is that states can change their uniform construction codes.
In the next two entries in this series, I will discuss nuclear energy in the United States. This country can produce jobs in the energy sector- solar, wind, hydroelectric, fossil fuels, and nuclear- without costing the government exorbitant amounts of money in subsidies and tax credits. It is ludicrous that the federal government under Obama would demand billions of dollars to create jobs at the rate of $500,000 a job and then turn down a private investment of billions of dollars- that is, not a single dime from the government- and deny the construction of a pipeline from a reliable ally. In the area of nuclear energy, as I will demonstrate, has the potential to address our energy needs, decrease imports so that domestic production can be used domestically, create jobs, create much needed tax revenue for states, and decrease greenhouse gases (if that is your unwarranted concern). The solutions are so commonsense that it behooves one to understand why our elected "leaders" have to make a solution more complicated than it should be. The only answer to that conundrum is either stupidity, being onstinate, hypocrisy, or corruption. Most likely, its a combination of them all.