Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are green energy sources like solar power and wind power good for the environment?

Green energy harms wildlife, especially birds

Green energy harms wildlife, especially birds

Investors Business Daily explains how green energy hurts birds, even rare, endangered species of birds.

Excerpt:

What do you call an energy source that consumes vast tracks of open land and fries birds that cross its path? If you’re the president, you call it “safe,” “reliable,” “green” and worthy of massive taxpayer subsidies.

That, at least, is the case with the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station that covers a vast area of desert outside Las Vegas and, thanks to the generous support of the Obama administration, has officially opened.

The plant points hundreds of thousands of mirrors at three towers to boil turbine-spinning water. But the heat rays aren’t very friendly to the area’s birds, including falcons, hawks, warblers and sparrows that have shown up dead near the towers.

One of the inconvenient truths that global warming fanatics and renewable energy purists try to ignore is that wind and solar energy are not so environmentally friendly. At least, not if you care about wildlife and land preservation.

First, these energy sources are massive land hogs. Ivanpah requires more than 5 square miles of mirrors to produce enough electricity to light 140,000 homes. It would take roughly 3,600 Ivanpahs to supply all the country’s electricity needs, with mirrors covering New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and a chunk of Massachusetts combined.

Wind power is hardly much better. According to the Nature Conservancy, it takes 30 times the land for windmills to produce as much electricity as a nuclear power plant.

And their turbines amount to bird Cuisinarts. To keep wind farms spinning, the Obama administration recently issued permits letting them kill protected bald and golden eagles for 30 years, provided they take some steps to mitigate the slaughter.

People who friend me on Facebook know that I love birds very much and I keep them as pets – they are my favorite animal. So this just gives me another reason to be disgusted with the policies of the secular left. When you add this wholesale slaughter of birds to the fact that we could be creating many more new jobs by investing in traditional sources of energy at home, it makes me even more angry.

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State department: not building the Keystone XL pipeline could increase greenhouse gas emissions

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Not building the 875-mile Keystone XL Pipeline could result in the release of up to 42 percent more greenhouse gases than would be released by building it, according to the State Department.

Not building the pipeline “is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the [Canadian] oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States,” the department noted in a long-awaited environmental report released January 31st.

But the “No Build” option is likely to result in an increased number of oil spills, six more deaths annually, and up to 42 percent higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the State Department concluded.

The proposed 36-inch pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through the Bakken oil fields of Montana and South Dakota before connecting to an existing pipeline in Nebraska on its way to Gulf Coast refineries.

The project will create an estimated 42,100 jobs and add $3.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

This report follows last week’s report showing that the pipeline would have no major environmental impact.

Excerpt:

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle toward approval Friday, a serious blow to environmentalists’ hopes that President Barack Obama will block the controversial project running more than 1,000 miles from Canada through the heart of the U.S.

The State Department reported no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion pipeline, which has become a symbol of the political debate over climate change. Republicans and some oil- and gas-producing states in the U.S. — as well as Canada’s minister of natural resources — cheered the report, but it further rankled environmentalists already at odds with Obama and his energy policy.

Now the State Department is one of the most liberal departments in the government. Unfortunately, this has not appeased the great climate science experts in Hollywood, who donate so much money to Democrat election campaigns. So long as the money keeps flowing from the high school drop-out celebrities, don’t expect this pipeline to get built. For the Democrats, it’s all about staying in power.

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Solar energy firm leaves behind toxic mess after wasting millions in stimulus funding

Dad sent me this article about the Democrat energy policy from Fox News.

Excerpt:

A Colorado-based solar company that got hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees before going belly-up didn’t just empty taxpayers’ wallets – it left behind a toxic mess of carcinogens, broken glass and contaminated water, according to a new report.

The Abound Solar plant, which got $400 million in federal loan guarantees in 2010, when the Obama administration sought to use stimulus funds to promote green energy, filed for bankruptcy two years later. Now its Longmont, Colo., facility sits unoccupied, its 37,000 square feet littered with hazardous waste, broken glass and contaminated water. The Northern Colorado Business Report estimates it will cost up to $3.7 million to clean and repair the building so it can again be leased.

“As lawyers, regulators, bankruptcy officials and the landlord spar over the case, the building lies in disrepair, too contaminated to lease,” the report stated.

[...]One of the hazards is the presence of cadmium, a cancer-causing agent that is used to produce the film on the solar panels, the report said.

[...]“If a coal, oil or gas company pulled something like that the EPA would send out SWAT teams and the U.S. Marshals to track down the offenders, bankrupt or not,” the center said in a report of its own.

President Obama touted Abound in a July 3, 2010 announcement of a $2 billion “investment” in green energy projects.

Here’s another trustworthy promise from Dear Leader:

“The second company is Abound Solar Manufacturing, which will manufacture advanced solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs,” Obama said. “A Colorado plant is already underway, and an Indiana plant will be built in what’s now an empty Chrysler factory. When fully operational, these plants will produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year.”

But less than two years later, the company laid off half of its 400 workers, and then, in the summer of 2012, filed for bankruptcy. It became the third clean-energy company to seek bankruptcy protection after receiving a loan from the Energy Department under the economic stimulus law. California solar panel maker Solyndra and Beacon Power, a Massachusetts energy-storage firm, also declared bankruptcy. Solyndra received a $528 million federal loan, while Beacon Power got a $43 million loan guarantee.

Why did Abound Solar get these loans? Because they had connections in the Democrat Party – that’s why.

Excerpt:

Abound Solar further claims $260 million in private investments, part of which came from billionaire medical heiress Pat Stryker’s Bohemian Companies.  This is where the story gets interesting.

Thanks to Independence Institute investigative reporter Todd Shepherd, we still have access to the Web page that lists Bohemian as an investor even though it does not appear on the company’s current Web site. The exact amount that Stryker has given is not public at this time.

[...]Forbes lists medical heiress and founder of Bohemian Companies/Foundation Pat Stryker as number 331 of its top “400 Richest People in America.” Worth $1.3 billion, the Fort Collins resident could single-handedly fund Abound Solar and still be well above the poverty line.

While some of her fortune has gone to Abound Solar, she also has chosen to donate more than $2.2 million (probably a low figure) to Democrats and their causes over the last several election cycles. Beneficiaries include Barack Obama, one-term Congresswoman and Fort Collins resident Betsy Markey, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when he successfully ran for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

The Washington Examiner published e-mails showing that the White House was directly involved in granting loans.

Excerpt:

Previously undisclosed emails made public today by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee describe multiple instances of White House pressure on career Department of Energy officials to speed up approval of government loans to clean energy firms like Solyndra and Abound Solar.

President Obama is described in one of the emails as having personally approved “moving it ahead,” thus reversing a prior decision by DOE career officials not to extend $2 billion in tax-funded help to AREVA, a French nuclear power company, on an Idaho project.

[...]In another email made public today by the House panel, Silver instructed McCrea to tell a Treasury Department official of White House support for DOE help to Abound Solar.

“You better let him know that WH wants to move Abound forward. Policy will have to wait unless they have a specific policy problem with abound,” Silver said in the June 25, 2010, email.

Abound Solar is a Colorado-based solar panel manufacturer that had used $68 million of a $400 million DOE loan guarantee before filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Obama had to pay back his friends who got him elected. He used YOUR MONEY and YOUR CHILDREN’S MONEY to do it. Doesn’t that cause you any alarm? And this was done under the rubric of “stimulating” the economy.

You can see a list of other Obama administration green energy failures here.

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How well is government promotion wind and solar power working out in Germany?

Surcharge paid by German households and SMEs

Surcharge paid by German households and SMEs

First, let’s hear from the ultra-leftist New York Times. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Excerpt:

It is an audacious undertaking with wide and deep support in Germany: shut down the nation’s nuclear power plants, wean the country from coal and promote a wholesale shift to renewable energy sources.

But the plan, backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and opposition parties alike, is running into problems in execution that are forcing Germans to come face to face with the costs and complexities of sticking to their principles.

German families are being hit by rapidly increasing electricity rates, to the point where growing numbers of them can no longer afford to pay the bill. Businesses are more and more worried that their energy costs will put them at a disadvantage to competitors in nations with lower energy costs, and some energy-intensive industries have begun to shun the country because they fear steeper costs ahead.

Newly constructed offshore wind farms churn unconnected to an energy grid still in need of expansion. And despite all the costs, carbon emissions actually rose last year as reserve coal-burning plants were fired up to close gaps in energy supplies.

A new phrase, “energy poverty,” has entered the lexicon.

“Often, I don’t go into my living room in order to save electricity,” said Olaf Taeuber, 55, who manages a fleet of vehicles for a social services provider in Berlin. “You feel the pain in your pocketbook.”

Mr. Taeuber relies on just a single five-watt bulb that gives off what he calls a “cozy” glow to light his kitchen when he comes home at night. If in real need, he switches on a neon tube, which uses all of 25 watts.

Even so, with his bill growing rapidly, he found himself seeking help last week to fend off a threat from Berlin’s main power company to cut off his electricity. He is one of a growing number of Germans confronting the realities of trying to carry out Ms. Merkel’s most ambitious domestic project and one of the most sweeping energy transformation efforts undertaken by an industrialized country.

[...]The cost of the plan is expected to be about $735 billion, according to government estimates, and may eventually surpass even that of the euro zone bailouts that have received far more attention during Ms. Merkel’s tenure. Yet as the transition’s unknowns have grown, so have costs for the state, major companies and consumers.

[...]With consumers having to pay about $270 each in surcharges this year to subsidize new operators of renewable power, the hardest hit are low-wage earners, retirees and people on welfare, Mr. Gärtner said. Government subsidies for the plan amounted to $22.7 billion in 2012 and could reach $40.5 billion by 2020, according to John Musk, a power analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

[...]Part of the reason consumer prices have risen so sharply is that, for now, the government has shielded about 700 companies from increased energy costs, to protect their competitive position in the global economy.

Industrial users still pay substantially more for electricity here than do their counterparts in Britain or France, and almost three times as much as those in the United States, according to a study by the German industrial giant Siemens. The Cologne Institute for Economic Research said there had been a marked decline in the willingness of industrial companies to invest in Germany since 2000.

Note that German industry has been EXEMPT from paying the green energy surcharge. Households and small-to-medium-size enterprises are paying it.

The key part of the article, I think, is this:

One of the first obstacles encountered involves the vagaries of electrical power generation that is dependent on sources as inconsistent and unpredictable as the wind and the sun.

And no one has invented a means of storing that energy for very long, which means overwhelming gluts on some days and crippling shortages on others that require firing up old oil- and coal-burning power plants. That, in turn, undercuts the goal of reducing fossil-fuel emissions that have been linked to climate change.

Last year, wind, solar and other nonfossil-fuel sources provided 22 percent of the power for Germany, but the country increased its carbon emissions over 2011 as oil- and coal-burning power plants had to close gaps in the evolving system, according to the German electricity association BDEW.

Didn’t anyone think of that problem before starting out this crazy plan? No. Because they important thing was feelings – politicians had to feel good about solving a made-up crisis.

Cost of renewable wind and solar energy

Cost of renewable wind and solar energy

Why can’t leftists learn from the failed experiments of others?

Government-subsidized green energy scams have been tried before in Spain and Denmark. Did they work?

Well, we know that in Spain, the green jobs programs failed. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.

The Heritage Foundation cites a study from Denmark, which shows that wind power has also failed.

Excerpt:

But according to a new study from the Danish Centre for Political Studies (CEPOS), commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research, the road to increased wind power is less traveled for a reason. The study refutes the claim that Denmark generates 20 percent of its power from wind stating that its high intermittency not only leads to new challenges to balance the supply and demand of electricity, but also provides less electricity consumption than assumed. The new study says, “wind power has recently (2006) met as little as 5% of Denmark’s annual electricity consumption with an average over the last five years of 9.7%.” Furthermore, the wind energy Denmark exports to its northern neighbors, Sweden and Norway, does little to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because the energy it replaces is carbon neutral.

The study goes on to say that the only reason wind power exists in Denmark is “through substantial subsidies supporting the wind turbine owners. Exactly how the subsidies have been shared between land, wind turbine owners, labor, capital and its shareholders is opaque, but it is fair to assess that no Danish wind industry to speak of would exist if it had to compete on market terms.”

But there’s a cost involved. When government spends more money, it necessarily diverts labor, capital and materials from the private sector. Just like promises are made in the United States about green jobs creation, the heavily subsidized Danish program created 28,400 jobs. But “this does not, however, constitute the net employment effect of the wind mill subsidy. In the long run, creating additional employment in one sector through subsidies will detract labor from other sectors, resulting in no increase in net employment but only in a shift from the non-subsidized sectors to the subsidized sector.”

And because these resources are being diverted away from more productive uses (in terms of value added, the energy technology underperforms compared to industrial average), “Danish GDP is approximately $270 million lower than it would have been if the wind sector work force was employed elsewhere.”

Why do people keep voting in leaders who don’t know what they are doing? Why are people surprised when emotional craziness and moral preening doesn’t work out financially?

Previously, I blogged about how Obama was causing our electricity prices to skyrocket by effectively banning coal power. Not to mention blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. Keep that in mind when you are lighting your house with 5 Watt light bulbs. This doesn’t happen by accident – you need politicians to wage war on the free market system in order for this to happen. And that’s what we’ve been voting for in the last two elections.

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State Department report finds that Keystone XL pipeline is safe for the environment

The Heritage Foundation reports.

Excerpt: (links removed)

In Washington, a presidential Administration releases news it doesn’t like at 5 p.m. on Fridays. So it pays to pay attention when everyone is leaving work for the weekend.

Late last Friday, the State Department released a positive environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama has been delaying this pipeline—which would carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas—for more than three years.

The delay has meant that America is still waiting on an additional 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from a close ally, not to mention 179,000 American jobs.

Why has this taken so long, when all environmental reports thus far have been positive? Heritage’s Nicolas Loris, the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow, explains:

Given the need for jobs and more oil on the global market to offset high prices, the permit application had been moving along positively with bipartisan support without much attention until environmental activists made blocking the Keystone XL pipeline their issue to rally around for 2011. Although President Obama and the Department of State (DOS) said they’d make a decision at the end of 2011, they ultimately catered to a narrow set of special interests, punting the decision until after the 2012 elections.

The State Department, which is overseeing the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border, has “already conducted a thorough, three-year environmental review with multiple comment periods,” Loris reported last year.

The review has been comprehensive:

DOS studied and addressed risk to soil, wetlands, water resources, vegetation, fish, wildlife, and endangered species. They concluded that the construction of the pipeline would pose minimal environmental risk. Keystone XL also met 57 specific pipeline safety standard requirements created by DOS and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

This confirms the previous assessment done by the Nebraska government, which concluded that the Keystone XL pipeline was safe for Nebraska’s environment as well.

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