Originally Published at RealClearEnergy.org
Legislators in Michigan have joined President Biden and the green blob in the fantasy of forcing a 100% renewable transition. That would mean wind, solar, and batteries for our electric grids and more demand from electric vehicles.
Biden has promised to end all coal electric plants and now some states are also attempting to do this. This net zero goal by 2030 or 2050 will not happen. In fact, it is crazy expensive and not doable in the real world.
Never mind that the Communist Chinese, our biggest rivals, are massively expanding their coal mining and electricity plants. Or that Germany is taking down wind towers to expand a coal mine and has reopened numerous coal plants before and after the Russian invasion. India, now the most populous country in the world, is growing their coal use, reopening and building more mines and coal electric plants.
Some quick math. In 2021, wind provided 7% of Michigan’s electricity and coal supplied 32%. Coal provided 4.5 times as much as wind. We simply multiply the 1,600 wind towers in Michigan by 3.5 for the 5,600 towers needed to replace coal.
Source: Wikipedia List of Power Stations in Michigan
Coal provides on-demand power when needed, but wind cannot. Building more wind and solar doesn’t solve the when-the-wind-blows or sun shines part-time problem.
Electric grids need to meet demand with supply at all times, or we have blackouts; often when it is really cold or really hot. Batteries are wildly expensive and can’t store electricity for the months needed for a 100% renewable grid.
Nor is there a supply chain for millions of EVs and industrial at-scale batteries made with metals mined with child labor in Africa, refined with slave labor in China and with devastating environmental costs. This renewable transition is not green.
These 5,600 wind towers aren’t going to appear anytime soon. It takes years to site, build, and connect wind towers and solar panels. And it will cost about $15 billion or more, not including transmission wires and batteries.
There aren’t that many windy places left in Michigan. Local wind conditions make a huge difference on energy generation and many places just don’t have enough wind to make a 70-story wind tower financially viable.
Closing any coal plant before replacement power is online is stupid. Our experts have failed us by putting us in the blackout danger zone by allowing reliable, affordable, clean coal plants to be closed, leaving us short of electricity.
The solar transition is even worse. Solar only produces power 18% of the time in Michigan. It takes more solar panels than you think to replace full-time coal plants. By the way, 180 days of coal can be stored onsite at a reasonable cost. Only batteries can store solar for short periods of time.
It will take about 180 square miles of solar panels, about 50 million panels just to replace Michigan’s coal. This isn’t happening anytime soon. What about all the orchards, farmland and forests cut down for panels?
The easiest low-cost places to put solar panels are in flat open farm fields. We are on the verge of hundreds of millions of starving people and we’re going to cover good farmland with solar panels? This isn’t wise. And it will drive up food costs for everyone.
Solar panels warm the air above them by 20° to 30°. 180 square miles will make a lot of heat. We will warm the earth, to cool the earth, in order to save earth from warming. That’s more upside-down progressive thinking, all to arguably stop disasters that may or may not happen 50 or 100 years from now.
Disaster trends are non-existent for floods and droughts and trend down for tornadoes and hurricanes. In addition, CO2 is necessary plant food that is greening the world, including deserts. Greenhouses add CO2 to make plants grow bigger faster.
In the whole country we are installing about 3,500 wind towers a year. Jamming 5,600 in Michigan or 200,000 new wind towers across the country will be an unpopular move. Building thousands of square miles of solar panels will be unpopular and unwise.
Michigan and Biden’s energy transition is going to be slow, painful, and expensive. We need some reality, not fantasy.
We need real world cost and feasibility studies. There is not a single place in the United States that has a 100% renewable electric grid. No government has put a pen to paper and offered a plan or provided the real cost. It will be shocking.
Sensible people need to slow this all down and learn lessons from Europe and China.
Frank Lasee is a former Wisconsin state senator and former member of Governor Scott Walker’s administration. The district he represented had two nuclear power plants, a biomass plant and numerous wind towers. He has experience with energy, the environment, and the climate. You can read more energy and climate information at www.truthinenergyandclimate.com which Frank leads.