Saturday, September 26, 2009


UPDATE: below

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander says "We're about to destroy the environment in the name of saving it," in the Wall Street Journal:
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced plans to cover 1,000 square miles of land in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with solar collectors to generate electricity. He's also talking about generating 20% of our electricity from wind. This would require building about 186,000 50-story wind turbines that would cover an area the size of West Virginia--not to mention 19,000 new miles of high-voltage transmission lines.

Is the federal government showing any concern about this massive intrusion into the natural landscape? Not at all. I fear we are going to destroy the environment in the name of saving the environment.

The House of Representatives has passed climate legislation that started out as an attempt to reduce carbon emissions. It has morphed into an engine for raising revenues by selling carbon dioxide emission allowances and promoting "renewable" energy.

The bill requires electric utilities to get 20% of their power mostly from wind and solar by 2020. These renewable energy sources are receiving huge subsidies--all to supposedly create jobs and hurry us down the road to an America running on wind and sunshine described in President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address.

Yet all this assumes renewable energy is a free lunch--a benign, "sustainable" way of running the country with minimal impact on the environment. That assumption experienced a rude awakening on Aug. 26, when The Nature Conservancy published a paper titled "Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America." The report by this venerable environmental organization posed a simple question: How much land is required for the different energy sources that power the country? The answers deserve far greater public attention.

By far nuclear energy is the least land-intensive; it requires only one square mile to produce one million megawatt-hours per year, enough electricity for about 90,000 homes. Geothermal energy, which taps the natural heat of the earth, requires three square miles. The most landscape-consuming are biofuels--ethanol and biodiesel--which require up to 500 square miles to produce the same amount of energy.

Coal, on the other hand, requires four square miles, mainly for mining and extraction. Solar thermal--heating a fluid with large arrays of mirrors and using it to power a turbine--takes six. Natural gas needs eight and petroleum needs 18. Wind farms require over 30 square miles.


In comments, reader OBH refers to his solar power post, which is here.

(via Planet Gore)


OBloodyHell said...

Equally notable, I extensively detailed the environmental irresponsibility of the land requirement for solar cells here months ago.

OBloodyHell said...

> the land requirement for solar cells here months ago.


It details the land requirements for ANY/ALL forms of solar. The mechanism -- photovoltaics, solar thermal, and even Obama Brand® Magical Perfect Solar-Electric Conversion Coils... it's irrelevant.

Quick number: the entire land-surface of Delaware (or more) to provide for US power requirements.

What's that, we only want 20% coming from that?

Ah, well, it's ok, then, if we only cover one FIFTH of the entire state's land surface area?

Anyone who claims
a) to want a low carbon footprint
b) yet doesn't support nuclear power

Is lying through their teeth about what they really want.