It’s easy to be green, just wish it so and ignore the facts

If you thought the “green movement” was more about self-righteous politics than clear-headed science, here are two  tales that prove the point.

In Arizona a petition is being circulated in an effort get on the ballot an initiative called the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment. This would require 50 percent of the electricity generated in the state to come from renewable sources by 2030.

The petition states:

The Amendment defines renewable energy sources to include solar, wind, small-scale hydropower, and other sources that are replaced rapidly by a natural, ongoing process (excluding nuclear or fossil fuel). Distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar, must comprise at least 10% of utilities’ annual retail sales of electricity by 2030.

If the measure passes it would necessitate the closure the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix, which currently provides about 35 percent of the state’s electricity, even though it produces no carbon emissions.

If the state were to achieve the goal of 50 percent of its power coming from mostly solar and wind, both of which are intermittent there would be no room on the grid for Palo Verde’s power, because reactors can’t be quickly turned off and on — it takes weeks of preparation.

“We would have to shut Palo Verde down during the day every day,” one plant official was quoted as saying. “But that’s not how nuclear plants really work. Nuclear plants can’t just be shut down and then started up again.”

Since battery technology is not yet available, the most likely source of rapid start-up generation would be natural gas, which produces carbon emissions, especially when frequently idling.

Adding wind and solar to the power grid could increase the carbon dioxide output.

Retired electrical engineer Kent Hawkins wrote in February 2010 that “the introduction of wind power into an electricity system increases the fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions beyond levels that would have occurred using efficient gas plants alone as the providers of electricity equivalent to the firmed wind.”

This is because every kilowatt-hour of intermittent electricity introduced into the grid must be backed up by a reliable fossil-fuel generator. When the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine, the demand for electricity remains.

Starting and stopping gas-fired generators is inefficient, comparable to operating a car in stop and go traffic instead of steady and efficient on the open highway. Just like the car, the fuel consumption can double, along with the carbon emissions, negating any presumed carbon savings by using solar or wind.

Meanwhile, in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to build $6 billion worth of offshore wind turbines while shutting down the nuclear-powered Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y.

Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, explains in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that the wind turbines will produce only 60 percent as much power as the nuclear plant being closed.

How will this gap be covered? You guessed it, natural gas.

“The irony here is colossal. Mr. Cuomo, who banned hydraulic fracturing despite the economic boon it has created in neighboring Pennsylvania, and who has repeatedly blocked construction of pipelines, is making New York even more dependent on natural gas, which will increase its carbon emissions,” Bryce writes. “At the same time, he has mandated offshore wind projects that will force New Yorkers to pay more for their electricity, even though the state already has some of the nation’s highest electricity prices.”

Being green is a state of mind … or should we say mindlessness?

Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y., in 2017. (AP pix via WSJ)

11 comments on “It’s easy to be green, just wish it so and ignore the facts

  1. Rincon says:

    My brother in law is an electrical engineer. He works on telemetry systems and doesn’t know any more about the electrical grid than you or I (except for his understanding of the laws of physics regarding electricity), so the fact that Kent Hawkins, the retired electrical engineer(I wonder how many years retired) claimed that, “…the introduction of wind power into an electricity system increases the fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions beyond levels that would have occurred using efficient gas plants alone…” isn’t particularly impressive. I checked him out on Google. Turns out that, “In his professional career, Mr. Hawkins specialized in communications systems engineering, operations research, and management consulting. The majority of his working life was in the information technology industry with such companies as IBM and EDS.” Nothing about electrical generation. Maybe he studied a lot since retiring, but you or I could have done the same. Would anyone believe us on our word alone?

    Although his paper certainly has all of the bells and whistles to make it all look very scientifical, rather than being published in a prestigious journal, it’s published on Master Resource, a “free market energy blog”. A blog? Really? Wow. Forgive me if I’m skeptical. Conservatives are dismissive of the tsunami of research findings (and the common sense indicators such as a melting permafrost and Arctic Ocean ice) about global warming, so I would expect an equal skepticism about Mr. Hawkins’ claims. Anyone have any other info to add or is it this one budding Galileo taking on the rest of science?

    This is the same plate of bull cookies constantly served by the Conservative ideologues. I remember the claim that CFL bulbs cause more mercury release into the environment than incandescent bulbs, that it takes 7 years of operation for a wind generator to make up for the carbon emissions of its manufacture, that lead toxicity is insignificant, that DDT is nontoxic, so there’s no problem if it bioaccumulates forever ,that solar cells require more energy in their manufacture than they will ever produce, and that global warming either 1) Isn’t happening 2) Has stopped 3) Is happening, but is natural or 4) Can’t be mitigated without catastrophic costs. And there’s one more: tobacco smoke doesn’t cause cancer. Big claims require big evidence. Some idiot engineer who disagrees with the rest of the scientific community better have some pretty good documentation. I’m waiting.

    Conservatives also implicitly argue with China’s decision to invest in Ultra High Voltage DC power transmission in a big way They have about 22,000 kilometers already in operation This technology insures enough wind and sun with a remarkable degree of reliability. The wind is blowing and/or the sun is shining somewhere at all times. BTW, we have almost 3873 km worth. Canada, Brazil, and India all beat us with 3925, 5961, and 6337 km respectively. Conservatives of course, are responsible for preventing the United States from investing in this technology in a bigger way. As with so many things, we plod along as other countries pass us by. Might be a tortoise and hare race, but don’t bet on it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HVDC_projects

  2. whether you believe the idling part or not, both states will be producing more carbon, not less.

  3. Steve says:

    Speaking of things each side insists on believing in the face of facts and reality, the “97%” lie is just that. It’s 97% of climate scientists who express an opinion. Not “97% of all scientists” as is so often claimed by the green left. And that “97%” of climate scientists still amounts to a minority of the community of climate scientists.

    And then, we have those who claim the US is so far behind in so many things…this is true among some things and not true among other things. There are plenty of cherries and both sides love to pick their fav’s. Then using those to blame the other guy.

    Reality, as usual, lives somewhere in between all this blather being blurted out by all sides.

  4. Steve says:

    In case some people have forgotten, Twitter provides the proof. “97% of scientists” Note, not Climate scientists…all scientists. Politics, not science.

  5. Rincon says:

    Politifact cited NASA and 4 studies on the subject. Their conclusion:

    “The studies found that overwhelming majorities of these experts – sometimes, but not always as high as 97 percent – say humans are contributing to global warming.” http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2016/apr/04/don-beyer/don-beyer-says-97-percent-scientists-believe-human/

    So yes, Steve, although the 97% figure is accurate, there are slightly smaller numbers also in other studies depending on how questions are phrased, etc. This is to be expected. 97% on all 4 studies would smack of collusion.

    The bottom line is that Conservatives such as yourself have such a dim view of science that they routinely dismiss overwhelming majorities of climatologists, feeling safe in the assumption that their good old fashioned common sense is more reliable than all that fancy science crap and are happy to dismiss extremely robust information as they hang on Sean Hannity’s every utterance. Here’s a Web site on creationism for all of you flat Earth types: https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/

  6. Rincon says:

    The Forbes article is a hoot – like in owl. It’s strictly about endangered species. So lemme see here…you scream bloody murder when the government gives some scrub land to the Sage Grouse, but let one radical greenie cry about birds being killed, and suddenly you believe we should destroy a whole industry – actually two industries – based just on this one guy’s opinion. BTW, his only suggestion for how to generate power is to go nuclear. Generally, nuclear is OK by me, but relying on a single technology for all power generation is putting all eggs in one basket. Not wise. Balance is key. Some nuclear, some fossil fuels\, and some renewable. What’s so bad about that?

    As with most journalists, you aren’t too fussy about your sources. This is one reason why truth in this country is so elusive. Extremists magnify the voices of crackpots so that they sound as truthful to the average citizen as bona fide experts. If you read this book, you might be a little more careful about your sources in the future: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Expertise-Campaign-Established-Knowledge/dp/0190469412

  7. Rincon says:

    BTW, I forgot to thank anonymous for the link. It shines a nice light on these propagandists.

  8. Steve says:

    I love how you guys ignore Barack Obama.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You’re welcome Rincon I’m glad you found it worthwhile.

    But, speaking of “ignoring facts” apparently that is always an option for this administration, but sadly, actually acknowledging them isn’t.

    “The Washington Post reports that a memo, drafted in September by Michael Catanzaro, the then-White House special assistant for domestic energy and environmental policy, discussed three options for dealing with federal scientists’ data about the effects of man-made climate change.

    The options included highlighting uncertainties in the data, reviewing the scientific studies under the Administrative Procedure Act, or simply ignoring them altogether, the Post reports.

    None of the options suggested by Catanzaro involved publicly espousing the dangers of climate change highlighted in the data.”

    http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/389050-trump-officials-discussed-whether-or-not-to-ignore-climate-data

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