published Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Alternative energy ‘land hogs’

Aside from their high costs, alternative energy projects are often known for another major drawback: They can require vast amounts of land to produce a significant amount of power.

Steven Hayward, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, put it succinctly on National Review Online: Solar and wind projects can be “massive land hogs,” he wrote.

He noted that one proposed solar-power project in California will consume more than seven square miles but will produce only 250 megawatts of energy. For comparison, “a typical 750-megawatt coal- or natural-gas-fired power plant would require about 40 acres or less.”

So a solar-power plant would have to use up “roughly 20 square miles of land to equal the power output of one typical fossil fuel plant that could fit inside a modern football stadium,” Hayward noted.

It is not only conservatives who have objected to such projects. More and more liberal environmentalists are doing so as well.

The big solar project in rural California, for instance, has outraged environmental activists, who fear that devoting so much land to solar panels will harm endangered species and disturb plant life in the area.

Yet ironically, activists also denounce traditional coal and natural gas plants for emitting “greenhouse gases” that they blame for “global warming.” And frequently they oppose nuclear power because of the radioactive waste it produces.

The fact is, no source of energy is perfect. All have positives and negatives, but the negatives of many forms of alternative energy have only recently begun coming to light.

That makes it unwise for the federal government to continue giving huge, taxpayer-funded subsidies to alternative-energy projects — or to the oil and natural gas industry, for that matter.

Let them all compete in a free market — and may the best source of power win!

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nucanuck said...

Fossil fuels can be described as our energy inheritance. We have spent almost half of that inheritance in a little more than one hundred years. It doesn't take a mathematician to explain that our inheritance will soon be spent if we continue on our current consumption path and yet, we mindlessly plough ahead.

We apparently would rather waste all of our inheritance before spending the effort to earn our own renewable energy.

Just like spoiled rich kids, we are headed for (energy) trouble.

June 5, 2011 at 12:40 a.m.
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