America! We Have a Problem – The Green Nightmare – Part 3: Summary and Conclusion

America! We Have a Problem – The Green Nightmare – Part 3: Summary and Conclusion

The purpose of these articles is not to prove it is impossible to replace fossil fuels. Obviously, there is ample area in the United States, and the rest of the world, to install required quantities of wind and PV solar.

Rather, these articles demonstrate the absurdity of trying.

Wind

From Part 2, the amount of wind capacity that needs to be added between now and 2050, to replace coal-fired and natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants is 723,744 MW.

Wind and PV solar power plants have an expected life of 20 years, which means that wind and PV solar installations built prior to 2021, and in the 2020 decade, will have to be replaced before 2050. 

This is the pernicious penalty of wind and PV solar. Wind and PV solar installations need to be replaced every 20 years.

Meanwhile:

  • Nuclear power plants are lasting for at least 60 years.
  • NGCC power plants last for at least 60 years.
  • Coal-fired power plants can also last for at least 60 years.

Explorations are underway to see whether nuclear power plants can last for 100 years.

This table shows the amount of wind capacity that will have to be added by 2050.

The most wind capacity added during any single year in the United States was 16,913 MW in 2020.

To replace coal-fired and NGCC power plants, we must, beginning this year, and for every year until 2050, add more than twice as much wind capacity than has ever been added in a single year. 

Much of this wind capacity will have to be imported.  

As of 2019, the reported total wind turbine manufacturing capacity in the United States was 9,136 MW. GE was the largest, with a capacity of 4,146 MW. However, GE’s largest new unit, the 12 MW Haliade is currently manufactured in France.

PV Solar

The expected life of PV solar installations is also 20 years.

PV solar is subject to the same pernicious economic penalty as wind, with installations having to be replaced every 20 years.

Here is the current relevant data concerning PV solar.

  • Total PV solar installed as of 2020 = 97,700 MW
  • PV solar installed in 2020 (largest annual amount on record) = 19,200 MW
  • Total USA kWh generated in 2020 by all methods = 4,009 billion kWh
  • Total electricity generated by PV solar in 2020 = 88 billion kWh

To accommodate a doubling of electricity output in 2050, as projected by NREL: 

  • PV solar in 2050 must generate 46 times more electricity than in 2020. 

This will require an installed PV solar capacity of 4,450,901 MW.

It will require installing 148,363 MW of PV solar every year between now and 2050, which is 7.7 times the amount installed in 2020.

Actually, it will require more because all PV solar installed between 2020 and 2029, will have to be replaced in the 2040 decade.

A majority of the PV solar panels are likely to be from China. 

For a different perspective, it would take 232 years to install the required amount of PV solar based on the amount installed in 2020.

(While some of this capacity could be provided by on-shore wind turbines in areas not already used for wind installations, it merely shifts the problem from PV solar to wind, where wind has the same inability to construct the necessary additional capacity.)

Costs

The cost of adding wind capacity to replace coal and natural gas plants = $2.5 trillion.

The cost of adding PV solar capacity for the needed additional capacity in 2050 = $4.9 trillion.

The cost of required storage is unknown, but will likely be trillions of dollars.

(Assumes a cost of $1,300 per KW for on-shore wind installations, and $6,000 per KW for off-shore wind installation. See Part 2 for PV solar costs.)

Conclusions

There may be enough area in the united States to install sufficient quantities of wind and solar to replace fossil fuels, but only if battery storage technologies can be developed that are capable of storing large quantities of electricity for twelve or more days.

It is, however, absurd to attempt to replace fossil fuels with wind and PV solar by 2050.

The quantities of wind and PV solar that must be installed between now and 2050 are enormous, requiring far greater installation capacities than we have yet demonstrated to be possible.

The pernicious nature of wind and solar, of having to be replaced every twenty years, results in a never ending cycle of installing, and replacing of wind and PV solar facilities.

The costs are also unbelievably huge, and amount to roughly $7.4 trillion, which is over 25% of the nation’s debt in 2020. And, because of the pernicious nature of wind and solar, this investment would be repeated every twenty years.

Bear in mind that these Herculean efforts don’t address other important sources of CO2 emissions, such as the making of steel and cement, so these are not the full costs.

Attempting to replace fossil fuels with wind and PV solar is irrational, and a grotesque nightmare for the people of America. 

. . .

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13 Replies to “America! We Have a Problem – The Green Nightmare – Part 3: Summary and Conclusion”

  1. Thanks for you very enjoyable 3-piece article Donn. I have 2 observations as follows:

    Total Cost depends on what you count, what you don’t and how you consider benefits. Carbon emissions have many positive externalities. These include affordability. convenience and global greening (to name a few).

    Negative emissions. Very much of the “excess” carbon in the atmosphere “leaked” out of improperly managed soil and it is economically profitable to reverse it over a relatively few years (e.g., by photosynthesis). This potential should not be dismissed or left to the lefties because they will use it to further increase farmer dependency upon government largesse.

    Please consider these observations and how I can help to further illustrate.

    Mark

    • Thanks for your comments.
      First, regarding externalities; I have always avoided using costs derived from externalities because they are fuzzy concepts, where it’s difficult to assign costs.
      Foe example:
      It’s been suggested that the number of people who will be killed by climate change, at a cost of millions of dollars per person, should be counted as an externality cost of climate change. This clearly becomes an emotional rather than an economic argument. Who can predict, under what circumstances, how many people will be killed by climate change? If any? And what is the value of human life. I know governments try to assign a cost to human life, but any such cost is hugely subjective.
      Too many externalities have similar problems.
      It’s best to leave externalities from any cost equation. If externalities are important, they should be identified and dealt with separately.
      As for the other comment re negative emissions. I’m not sure how to get my arms around your comment. First, it’s not clear to me what is considered excess carbon in the atmosphere? At what levels are CO2 levels excessive? 10,000 ppm? Certainly not 1,000 ppm.
      As for farming? I know very little about the practices of farming and can’t make any sensible contribution to what happens in agriculture.
      I’m sure activists will try to use negative carbon practices in their arguments, but they will be on weak ground and need to be confronted with facts when such arguments are put forth.
      The topics you raise are intellectually challenging. To the extent possible, I try to keep externalities out of any cost based argument. As for the several negative carbon strategies outlined in my article? They are also very fuzzy and expansive, with few facts to support them. But they sound good, which is why activists try to insert them into climate discussions. For example: Is sequestering CO2 underground safe? I don’t believe so, and have some evidence to support my contention, but the Earth is huge and people will use this to support their argument that there must be some place where trillions of tons of CO2 can be sequestered forever.
      I hope I have understood your comments and addressed them accurately. If not? Let em know.

  2. Simply put, carbon in agricultural soil is severely depleted. Regenerating this lost carbon via photosynthesis is profitable on its own; perhaps even crucial for long-term sustenance. Thus, additional benefits for reducing “excess” atmospheric carbon are essentially “bonus points.” Regardless, the National Academies study on ‘negative emissions” deemed soil regeneration of carbon to be a “moral hazard” because its inherent affordability could cause people to continue to emit carbon.

    • OK, thanks. I don’t know enough about agriculture to be able to comment on this matter. My only question would be, what is excess carbon in the atmosphere? Is there any?

  3. Great information as usual Donn — and presented in a way even a squeeze-box playing, Pocono hillbilly can understand. If solar and wind worked so well then we’d all have been using it for many years. I don’t recall any of my neighbors using wind or solar for their stills. I will pass this article on to some of my liberal (but only at a distance) and conservative friends.

  4. Great summary – thank you. I am a meteorologist and I am convinced that there is another complication usually overlooked when doing the projections for the amount of wind and solar needed. In particular, until someone does a comprehensive nation-wide study of the simultaneous availability of wind and solar resources, we won’t know just how much could be harvested. I suspect that your 12-day condition for storage should be sufficient but most studies don’t use that long a period. My argument to the planners in New York State is that until they do the study they are just guessing.

    • Thanks for your comments.
      New York State is heading down the wrong path with the closure of nuclear power plants and the prohibition to build new natural gas pipelines. The only factor that is preventing a near term disaster is that a large amount of electricity in New York State comes from hydro. This is covering up the underlying problem that will eventually manifest itself.

    • 12 days was not enough for Texas (https://newtube.app/user/RAOB/8ydbQgs). If they had nuclear and coal fired power, they would have been just fine — which is what the smart Chinese are doing. It’s just a matter of time before NY fails its population — if they keep going down the “green” path. Folks forget that the “green” Garden of Eden was a time when global warming was in abundance — because they didn’t need to wear clothes back then.

  5. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #453 – Watts Up With That?

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