Wind and solar flunk national energy report card

Wind and solar energy fail to meet the challenges of U.S. electricity generation, according to a recent report by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The report evaluates energy sources based on reliability, environmental impacts, costs, technological innovation, and market feasibility. So-called “renewables,” use a great deal of fossil fuel energy in manufacturing and mining of mineral or metal resources, must be regularly repowered on relatively short timelines, and must be maintained using fossil-fuel-powered equipment. Wind and solar also have massive land requirements and emerging environmental impacts and, due to their intermittent nature, create reliability and capacity problems for the grid.

The authors of the report explain in a March Fox op-ed:

“Much of the praise for wind and solar comes down to cost, with the federal government labeling them the most affordable energy sources. Yet federal estimates only look at the cost of new electricity generation, ignoring the more affordable generation that comes from existing plants that have paid off their construction costs.”

Natural gas received an A rating for its high reliability, as natural gas plants can be ramped up and down to meet demand. The fuel is also cleaner burning than coal, and technological advancements promise emissions reductions over time. However, natural gas is facing uncertainty in its feasibility. Federal policies shutting down new LNG export terminal approvals and threatening unworkable emissions rules on natural gas plants are only two examples.

Nuclear received a B+ for its low environmental impact and high reliability since nuclear reactors may run continuously for years at a time. However, nuclear encounters feasibility and cost issues imposed by governmental regulations.

From the report:

“We are told that the immediate transition to wind and solar is a laudable and worthwhile effort that will protect the natural environment and halt climate change. Our research demonstrates that the transition will impose a host of environmental and economic challenges and cause dangerous instability in the nation’s electric grid.”

Solar and wind, like any other energy source, have tradeoffs. The difference is that the tradeoffs of wind and solar are sorely misrepresented. The Mackinac report sets the record straight. Read more here.