I think most can agree that America needs to encourage the production and use of ALL energy resources — oil, natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, clean coal, etc. — to meet future energy demand in this country.
While great technological strides have been made in the way of renewable energy, many still fail to recognize their limitations. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal highlighted the inconsistency of wind energy and how it affects the costs of power generation.
“Currently, every wind farm and solar installation has to be backed up by a nearly equivalent amount of conventional fuel to keep the power grid running. That raises costs.”
Advocates of renewables talk about the benefits, mainly that it’s cleaner for the environment, but they don’t talk about the vast acreage that wind farms require on and offshore or the fact that when the wind doesn’t blow, wind power generation is backed up by affordable, reliable, clean-burning natural gas.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, ’largely due to the unpredictability of the heavens, the thousands of wind turbines across the country collectively produced 1.3% of actual electricity in 2008.’
In fact, the Energy Information Administration shows year-to-date through June, 2009, net generation by energy source was 45% coal, 21.4% natural gas, 20.8% nuclear, 7.6% conventional hydroelectric, 4% other energy sources and 1.1% petroleum.
While renewables are certainly pieces of the climate change puzzle and will contribute to meeting future demand, Congress and the administration must recognize the strengths and weaknesses of renewables and craft realistic energy and climate policies accordingly. We can not afford to pit one energy source against another, which we continue to see in Washington.
Balanced, long-term energy solutions must encourage – not discourage – the safe, effective and proven development of America’s oil and gas resources.