Wind and solar energy are both essentially obsolete technologies. There is a reason why only the very rich or the very adventurous sail across oceans: the wind is unreliable, and at best produces relatively little energy. Nevertheless, liberals have concocted fantasies whereby all of our electricity, or perhaps our entire economy, will be powered by those fickle sources.
There are a number of reasons why this will never happen, but a paper published last week by Center of the American Experiment argues that land use constraints are the most basic reason why wind and solar are inexorably destined to fail. The paper, titled Not In Our Backyard, is authored by internationally recognized energy expert Robert Bryce, producer of the terrific documentary Juice: How Electricity Explains The World and the book A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations
Because wind and solar produce so little energy per square mile, an enormous amount of land would have to be devoted to panels and turbines if we seriously tried to get all of our present electricity needs from those weak sources:
Miller and Keith determined that “meeting present-day U.S. electricity consumption, for example, would require 12 percent of the continental U.S. land area for wind.” A bit of math reveals what that 12 percent figure means. The land area of the continental U.S. is about 2.9 million square miles, or 7.6 million square kilometers. Twelve percent of that area would be about 350,000 square miles or 912,000 square kilometers. Therefore, merely meeting America’s current electricity needs with wind energy would require a territory more than two times the size of California.
Suffice to say that this just isn’t going to happen.
For one thing, no one places wind farms in Washington, D.C. or midtown Manhattan. Nor are wind projects slated for Long Island, Marin County, or near any valuable suburban developments. It is rural America that bears the burden of many square miles of wind and solar installations.
“Green” energy holds political sway, which has made a relative handful of people (largely non-Americans and lobbyists) immensely wealthy, while impoverishing utility rate payers and taxpayers–that is to say, the rest of us. This insanity will continue until voters wise up, or–more likely, I am afraid–until the laws of physics, along with land use and raw materials constraints, make it blindingly obvious that the “green dream” is just that. A nightmare.