One hundred percent renewable
electricity! It’s going to happen… and soon, right?
That’s what we are being told by people like AOC and a
growing number of other politicians. But the truth is, these attention-
seeking office holders have no idea what they are talking about,
and they are counting on you not asking for a little extra
detail. What kind of detail? How about this one? What do we
do when the wind isn’t blowing, and how do we keep the lights
on during cloudy days or at night when there is no solar power?
You see, wind and solar only produce electricity 25 to
30 percent of the time, and sometimes not at all. No biggie,
we’ll just build lots of giant batteries like the ones Tesla is
building. That will take care of it. No. It won’t. Unfortunately, that little detail
isn’t so little… or even doable. Mark Mills, Senior Fellow at the
Manhattan Institute, explained the battery problem extremely well
in his report, The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking.
For example, it costs less than one dollar a barrel to store oil
or natural gas for a couple of months. Storing the same quantity of
energy in a grid-scale battery costs $200. The Tesla batteries
needed to store that barrel of oil energy equivalent would
cost $200,000 and weigh more than 20,000 pounds. In contrast, a
barrel of oil weighs 300 pounds and can be stored in a $20
tank. Tesla spent five billion dollars building the world’s
largest battery manufacturing plant in Nevada and it’s called a
Gigafactory. According to Mills, the entire annual output of this
Tesla plant could store a whopping three MINUTES worth of U.S.
electricity demand. And since we’re talking about magical
thinking, lets imagine we could actually mine enough
resource materials to keep that Gigafactory cranking out
batteries for 1,000 years. With all that battery power
we could keep today’s U.S. electricity demand working for
a total of… TWO DAYS. Shocking, isn’t it? But isn’t
that the way things always are when politicians get involved?
Costs are hidden, realities are ignored, and all sorts of
accomplishments can be achieved if only we are aspirational
enough. Here’s another reality you haven’t heard about. Because
electric utilities have been mandated to add wind and solar
in unrealistic quantities, costly adjustments have had to
be made. In order to keep the grid reliable, utilities have installed
more than $4 billion worth of giant engine generators. Most of them burn
natural gas, but a lot of them are oil-fired. Three times as many
natural gas and oil generators have been added to the nation’s
grid in the past twenty years than in the previous half century.
That’s one of those costs that somehow doesn’t get attributed
to the wind and solar balance sheet. Mills said it best when he wrote,
“The issue with wind and solar power comes down to a simple point: their
usefulness is impractical on a national scale as a major or primary
fuel source for generating electricity.” No matter what politicians say,
100% renewable electricity isn’t going to happen. Let’s just hope they
don’t destroy us trying to make it so. For the Clear Energy Alliance,
I’m Mark Mathis. Power On.