Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh, You Can Make It, You Just Can't Move It

Instapundit links to a New York Times article about the elephant-in-the-room issue concerning renewable energy generation: the fact that it is almost always produced in places nowhere near where you need it.

While the United States today gets barely 1 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, many experts are starting to think that figure could hit 20 percent.

Achieving that would require moving large amounts of power over long distances, from the windy, lightly populated plains in the middle of the country to the coasts where many people live. Builders are also contemplating immense solar-power stations in the nation’s deserts that would pose the same transmission problems.

The grid’s limitations are putting a damper on such projects already. Gabriel Alonso, chief development officer of Horizon Wind Energy, the company that operates Maple Ridge, said that in parts of Wyoming, a turbine could make 50 percent more electricity than the identical model built in New York or Texas.

“The windiest sites have not been built, because there is no way to move that electricity from there to the load centers,” he said.

Of course, this being Democrat Pravda the Times, they left out one of the primary reasons why we simply don't build more transmission lines and update the grid.
Only last week, Duke Energy and American Electric Power announced a $1 billion joint venture to build a mere 240 miles of transmission line in Indiana necessary to accommodate new wind farms. Yet the utilities don't expect to be able to complete the lines for six long years -- until 2014, at the earliest, because of the time necessary to obtain regulatory approval and rights-of-way, plus the obligatory lawsuits.

In California, hundreds turned out at the end of July to protest a connection between the solar and geothermal fields of the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles and Orange County. The environmental class is likewise lobbying state commissioners to kill a 150-mile link between San Diego and solar panels because it would entail a 20-mile jaunt through Anza-Borrego state park. "It's kind of schizophrenic behavior," Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently. "They say that we want renewable energy, but we don't want you to put it anywhere."

So what we have here is a case in which the Democrat Party is blocking gas and oil drilling in favor of "renewable energy" -- and then blocking the primary means of getting said "renewable energy" to where it can be used.

End result: billions of dollars in "tax credits" spent on building generators and turbines that are producing power that can't be moved effectively or stored, and is thus utterly useless.

Insane, you say? Not in a world where natural gas a) is not a fossil fuel and b) can be produced without drilling.

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