What’s Best at emissions control; Trees, Wind Farms or Solar Farms?

It is amusing to do a Google search with the simple words:  trees cut down to have solar farms, or trees cut down to have wind farms. The former generates over 26 million hits and the latter over 88 million.  Examining just a few dozen from either search alerts you to how convoluted and twisted the eco-warriors are about the either/or arguments in respect to; clearing trees or not clearing them to erect those IWT (industrial wind turbines) or lay down solar panels!

Leading to the searches was an article out of India titled:  “Felling of trees for solar power plants in Jodhpur raises hackles of locals, environmentalists”.  What catches the eye is the sentence: “While solar parks are being encouraged for providing clean energy, environmentalists and local communities in Rajasthan are concerned over their impact on the natural vegetation of the desert state.”  Wow, are people finally catching on?

A few of the Searches Catching the Eye on Solar Farms

A Korea Herald article from April 2019 noted “Since the government strongly pushed for solar power business in 2017, 4,407 hectares of forest have been damaged, 15 times the space of the Yeouido area of Seoul,”. It noted 2 million trees had been cut down to make way for solar panels and went on to state it was the opposition politicians of the Liberty Korea Party’s view that renewable energy shouldn’t be a replacement for nuclear energy.  Interestingly enough a recent announcement indicated Korea will expand its nuclear power in order to meet its climate targets.

Another article from May 2015 said Six Flags amusement park were seeking to clear-cut 90 acres for a solar farm in Central New Jersey to power their park but they received push-back from several environmental groups including the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. Those environmental groups even filed a lawsuit against Six Flags and the solar developer.  Amusingly the article went on to note; “The lawsuit was filed on the same day as a legislative panel in Trenton approved an aggressive ramping up of how much electricity in the state must come from renewable energy, a goal endorsed by most environmental groups.” The lawsuit was somewhat effective and wasn’t settled until 2018 and Six Flags was only allowed to clear-cut 40 acres so had to cover some of their parking lots with solar panels.

Yet another article from February 7, 2019 announced Georgetown University of Maryland was planning to get nearly half of its electricity power from solar power and went on to note:  “However, the university drew ire when it was announced that the solar farm it would construct in Nanjemoy, Maryland, would require clearing 210 acres of forested land on a peninsula near the Potomac River.  That raised the hackles of the environmentalists resulting in push-back. As a result; “Bonnie Bick, the political chair of the Southern Maryland Sierra Cluban organization famous for fighting for emission reduction with renewable energy – said, “I’m very much in favor of solar, but the solar needs to be properly sited. The question is not forest or solar, it’s where is the proper place to install solar?”  The push-back worked and Maryland blocked the project which resulted in the University instead contracting with existing solar farms in Maryland to purchase power from them under a PPA (power purchase agreement).

 A few of the Searches Catching the Eye on Wind Farms

One of the early finds in the Google search was one titled “A green paradox: Deforesting the Amazon for wind energy in the Global North” and curiosity piqued; it was viewed. The sub-heading was more enticing as it stated: “A shift to wind energy is leaving a trail of destruction in Ecuador, with a brutal impact on Indigenous communities and fragile ecosystems”. Reading the article, one discovers that the “trail of destruction” has been caused by the demand for balsa wood, a major component in the construction of wind turbine blades due to it being flexible and yet hard, while also being both light and resilient.  The article states: “The increased demand led to the deforestation of virgin balsa in the Amazon basin, in what came to be known as ‘balsa fever’. Balseros began to illegally deforest virgin balsa from the islands and banks of the Amazonian rivers in an effort to overcome the shortage of cultivated wood. This has had a terrible impact on the Indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon,” The demand for balsa has come from both Europe and China.  The article claimed; “In 2019, Ecuador exported $219m worth of balsa wood, up 30% from the previous record in 2015. In the first 11 months of 2020, it exported $784m worth.”  It sure appears the push by eco-warriors and their political followers to reach “net-zero” is “leaving a trail of destruction” and the Indigenous communities on the Amazon basin by clear-cutting those balsa wood trees.

A series of articles about Scotland’s push to create wind power also disclosed how it resulted in clear-cutting 17,283 acres and wiping out 14,000,000 trees to save the planet.  The foregoing claim was also backed up by a citizen inquiry to the Scottish Forestry arm of the Government who provided a partial response which stated “The area of felled trees in hectares, from 2000 (the date when the first scheme was developed, is 6,994 hectares. Based on the average number of trees per hectare, of 2000, this gives an estimated total of 13.9M.” For privacy reasons Scottish Forestry would not disclose the clear-cut trees or acres affected on private property.  An attempt to determine how many IWT (industrial wind turbines) were located in Scotland only seemed available on Wikipedia which said as of June 2020 they were 8,366 MW (megawatts). If the average IWT was 2 MW it suggests a total of 4,183 IWT. In order to secure the bases of those turbines scattered throughout the Scottish countryside those bases would need about 500 tons of concrete to secure each of them. That results in over 2 million tons of cement scattered underground throughout Scotland’s countryside. We should all wonder how that will save the planet from “global warming”?  There has been lots of push-back from Scottish anti-wind groups for years but without much success until very recently when ministers actually refused planning permission for a 39 turbine wind farm in the Highlands’ Monadhliath mountains as it would have a “significant visual impact”.

Perhaps the Scottish politicians were enamored by the fact it was a Scottish engineer, James Blyth who first generated electricity via a wind turbine back in 1887 to power the lights in his cottage but we will probably never know why they bought into the concept?

Conclusion

It seems obvious that not only are wind and solar generation intermittent and unreliable but are also costly and detrimental to forestry and all the nature existing in the forests they decimate.  They have done absolutely nothing to alter the climate under the pretext of saving the planet from climate change.

One should surmise, trees; not solar panels or IWT, are much better at reducing emissions so, STOP the push to replace the world’s forest with those unreliable energy sources!

Net-Zero Looking like a No-Go by 2050 PART 1

The past several days has made it look like there isn’t “a hope in heaven or hell” to meet the commitments to reach net-zero by 2050. The promises made at COP-26 will be not be met, unless mankind is back living in caves by that date!  The following highlights several happenings impacting the impossible dreams of our elected leaders. Here are a just few that will also make eco-warriors upset!

Creaky U.S. power grid threaten progress on renewables, EVs

The captioned was labelled as a Reuters Special Report posted several days ago suggesting grid failures are becoming a big problem in the U.S. and caused by “climate change” bringing nasty things like; wildfires in California, hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, Midwest heat waves and a Texas deep freeze.  The author goes so far as to claim; “the seven regional gid operators in the United States are underestimating the growing threat of severe weather caused by climate change” claiming he checked data going back to the 1970s! Had he bothered to go back a little further he may have found heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires and deep freezes are not a new phenomenon that has only occurred during the past 50 years.  He did rightly note the “inherent unreliability” of wind and solar “exacerbates the network challenges” and requires grid expansion to get their generation to where they are needed!  The article goes on to cite the increasing demand for electricity that will be caused by all those EV (electric vehicles) charging their batteries but that means a huge increase in spending on the grid!  He cites John Kerry, U.S. Special Envoy who stated: “We can send a rover to Mars, but we can’t send an electron to California from New York.” My guess is if Kerry had investigated, he would find out New York has no spare electrons to send anywhere and moving that “electron” across the county would cost more than sending that rover to Mars!

A summer of Blackouts

Another recent article related to the U.S. in the City Journal (CJ) co-authored by the editor and a “Fellow” at the Manhattan Institute took a different tact. The article noted “rolling blackouts” will be caused by; “the closure of some coal and nuclear plants, and the unreliability of renewables like wind and solar”.  The article further states “the unreliability of renewables like wind and solar” reduced energy surpluses. The article goes on stating; “That’s left some places with little margin for error during peak usage times in mid-summer—potentially prompting the kind of blackouts California saw last year. The warnings have spurred calls to slow down climate-change-driven efforts to retire nuclear and fossil-fuel generating plants.“ The authors of this article make a more logical argument than the Reuters article as it cites immediate problems presumably inferring building transmission systems to carry an electron from NY to California is not the answer noting: “the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which coordinates and oversees the power grid for 15 midwestern and southern states serving more than 40 million people, has noted that the closing of plants representing significant sources of energy had accelerated a shortfall in power reserves, potentially with dire consequences.”  The article goes on to note upcoming problems in several of those midwestern states including Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, all of whom, forecast power shortfalls and corresponding blackouts during peak demand hours principally due to plant closures and intermittent unreliable wind and solar.  The article also mentions the drought in California which will reduce hydro generation and suggest that, in itself, may well cause blackouts similar to those experienced last year.

Bundesbank warns Russian gas embargo would cost Germany 5 per cent in lost output

The Russian Ukraine war has exacerbated the global efforts to meet those COP-26 targets as the European Union has moved to stop purchasing Russian oil, natural gas and coal. Germany could see one of the largest impacts as they had become overly dependent on the supply of those fuels from Russia. Recently Bundesbank (Germany’s central bank) warned the embargo could knock 5% (US$195 billion) off of Germany’s GDP effectively creating a recession.  At the same time Germany has reactivated many of their old coal plants to ensure electricity supply certainty.  The latter will not ensure they avoid the falling GDP forecast from Bundesbank nor will it help Germany and the EU reach their “net-zero” emission targets as they will be replacing gas fired plants with coal which is much more emissions intensive. It should also be remembered by all, that Germany had not only closed their coal fired electricity plants but had also phased out their nuclear plants in favour of intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation.

Kwarteng to classify natural gas as ‘green’ investment to support North Sea

Kwasi Kwarteng is the UK’s Business Secretary under Prime Minister Boris Johnson. One month ago he was quoted stating: “Net zero is the solution to the global gas crisis, not the cause. Expensive gas is the problem – cheap, clean, homegrown energy is the solution,”! The quote was from a speech he delivered at the Harvard Kennedy School.  Kwarteng is now planning on classifying “natural gas” as green and drilling for it in the North Sea as “environmentally sustainable”.  Pretty sure the “eco-warriors” around the world must be very upset about declaring “natural gas” as green and drilling for more is “environmentally sustainable”!

Not to worry about the above though, as right here in Ontario the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) got a much different message recently.  The OCAA paid close attention to a recent debate amongst the leaders of four (New Blue Ontario Party and the Ontario Party were excluded) of the Provincial Parties invited to debate and the OCAA were delighted when they heard Doug Ford declare he “will not be happy until Ontario achieves a 100%  zero-carbon electricity grid”!  We should be pretty sure the Liberals, NDP and Green Party Leaders are fully on-board with Ford’s “happy” target!

What the foregoing suggests is that it doesn’t matter which side of the ocean you live on; politicians haven’t got a clue as to what the truth is!  Their preferences are driven by what they perceive voters’ favour and apparently, they haven’t a clue if “climate change” aka “global warming” is fact or fiction or what mankind’s influence on the climate actually is.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series!