Energy

Analysis: Here Are 7 Big Problems With Hillary’s Green Energy Plans

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton green energy plans to deal have seven serious problems, according to an analysis by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Clinton wants to fight global warming by building “half a billion” solar panels and making America run “entirely on clean energy by midcentury,” with a goal of “getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade.”

Without further ado, here are seven major technical problems with Clinton’s plans to go green.

1: Energy Storage For Wind And Solar Doesn’t Exist

America has considerably less than 1 percent of the energy storage capacity necessary for wind and solar to meet Clinton’s goal of powering the country entirely off green energy by 2050, according to an analysis of federal data by TheDCNF.

TheDCNF previous examined U.S. Energy Information Administration data regarding energy storage and found the country only has the capacity to store 21,378 megawatts of energy, 99 percent of which is done by pumping water up a hill. Wind and solar power advocates who endorsed Clinton openly acknowledge green energy only works if there’s a method of storing power for times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing with batteries, but haven’t thought about where America will store the 3,260,000 megawatts of energy it used in 2013.

Even though America is producing more energy than ever before thanks to a boom in oil and natural gas, energy storage hasn’t increased fast enough to make wind or solar power feasible. America also isn’t building enough storage capacity to change this fundamental equation — adding a mere 221 megawatts of storage capacity in 2015.

2: Similar Attempts In Other Countries Have Failed

German and Chinese attempts similar to Clinton’s proposals both failed, and those governments are now backing away from such plans.

China specifically shut down construction in the windiest regions of the country because roughly 26 percent of the country’s wind power was wasted in 2016. By 2019, Germany plans to get rid of  6,000 megawatts of wind power capacity, according to a report published earlier this month by the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

The Chinese government stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions in early March, according to China’s National Energy Administration statement. These regions previously installed nearly 71 gigawatts of wind turbines, more than the rest of China combined.

Germany was forced to pay wind farms $548 million to switch off last year to prevent damage to the country’s electricity grid, according to a survey by Wirtschaftswoche of Germany’s largest power companies. Despite the cut backs to wind power, the German government estimates that it will spend over $1.1 trillion financially supporting wind power, even though building wind turbines hasn’t achieved the government’s goal of actually reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to slow global warming.

3: Green Energy Requires Conventional Backups

In order for the power grid to function, demand for energy must exactly match supply. Power demand is relatively predictable and conventional power plans, like nuclear plants and natural gas, can adjust output accordingly. Solar and wind power, however, cannot easily adjust output. They also provide power unpredictably relative to conventional power sources.

The unpredictability means that solar and wind power systems require conventional backups to provide electricity when they cannot. Since the output of solar and wind plants cannot be predicted with high accuracy by forecasts, grid operators have to keep excess reserve running just in case.

4: Solar And Wind Produce Lead To Blackouts Or Massive Waste

Green energy is causing damage to California’s electrical grid and could lead to blackouts and massive energy waste. The state was forced to shut down its solar farms on March 27 because they were producing more electricity than Californians needed. Grid operators say this damaged the power grid, and the system will be incredibly vulnerable to damage and blackouts because of excess solar power.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently investigating how green energy undermines the reliability of the electrical grid. FERC believe there is a “significant risk” of electricity in the United States becoming unreliable because “wind and solar don’t offer the services the shuttered coal plants provided.” Environmental regulations could make operating conventional coal or natural gas power plants unprofitable, which could compromise the reliability of the American power grid.

5: Green Energy Only Accounts For A Small Amount Of Electricity 

Last year, wind and solar power only accounted for 4.7 and 0.6 percent of all electricity generated in America respectively, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration. Wind power provided substantially more electricity, but has grown at a slow rate while solar produced far less electricity, but has grown at a much faster rate.

Even in the unlikely event that both wind and solar power continue their very high growth rates, they will only provide 6.41 and 4.56 percent of America’s electricity by the deadline. Hydropower and biofuels account for 6 and 1.6 percent of all electricity generated last year, but both are increasingly targeted by the green movement, difficult to rapidly expand and dependent upon regional conditions. That’s only about 18 percent, which is far short of Clinton’s goal.

6: Green Energy Isn’t Reliable 

On an especially cloudy or windless day, the electrical grid can’t supply enough power from solar or wind alone. Wind and solar also run the risk of producing too much power which can overload and fry the power grid. This is why electrical companies will occasionally pay consumers to take electricity.

7: Best Spots For Solar And Wind Are Already Taken

Most of the best spots to build a new wind turbine or solar panel are already in use, making it extremely difficult to expand green energy as much as Clinton wnts.

Additionally, the best places to generate wind or solar power are often quite far away from where it is needed.

Building the infrastructure to move large amounts of solar or wind power from the best places to generate it to the places where power is needed would be incredibly expensive and could cost many times the price of generating the power. Merely building a 3,000-mile network of transmission lines capable of moving power from wind-rich West Texas to market in East Texas proved to be a $6.8 billion effort that began in 2008 and still isn’t entirely finished.

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