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The Green New Deal Says U.S. Can Rely on Solar Energy Instead of Planet Destroying Fossil Fuel, Can We? Myth 7

By Jay Lehr and Tom Harris 

Those who support the Green New Deal (GND) want what they claim to be the only real solution to the global warming problem which are solar power, wind power and biofuels to save our planet from the ravages of fossil fuels. 

According to climate change advocates there is only one possible solution to the problem of man made global warming; eliminate the use of fossil fuels. The climate change community insists that climate destroying fossil fuel pollution can be terminated forever if the world switches their energy production template from fossil fuels to green energy that is environmentally friendly and produces no pollution. The three energy supplies most widely touted are solar, wind and biofuels. Unfortunately, the real motivation of the climate change blueprint is to shift control of all energy supplies from oil companies to the government. By definition this is a move toward socialism which is the clear goal of the Green New Deal. 

With the exception of hydropower all renewable energy is expensive and inefficient. They only become economical and competitive through massive government subsides which become hidden in our tax burden. Therefore no one really knows the actual costs of wind, solar or biofuels. 

With the risk of burying the reader in the weeds of a little arithmetic let’s take a look at the energy needs of our nation and see how difficult it would be to supply those needs with direct energy from our sun. The US Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Livermore Laboratory says that as of 2015 the total energy consumed in America was the energy equivalent to 17 billion barrels of oil or the use of 4000, 100 watt light bulbs by every person in America.

Of this DOE says 38% is used for electricity , 29% for transportation and the remaining 33% as onsite power for business and industry. Only 11% is used domestically. Fossil fuels provide 82% of that power, nuclear 9% and hydropower 2.5%. Of the renewable energy sources preferred by the GND, biofuels such as ethanol in gasoline provides 5%, wind power 2%, and solar one half of one percent. Yet in light of these government generated statistics the GND calls for all fossil fuel burning power plants to be shut down over the next 12 years, along with all Nuclear plants as anything radioactive is considered inherently evil. In addition it demands that as many hydroelectric power planets as possible be closed to protect fish spawning grounds. (No this is not a joke). Finally eliminate gasoline powered vehicles switching to electric cars and public transportation. 

According to the 2017 Solar Electric Handbook the maximum amount of sunlight hitting one square meter (roughly a square yard) of the Earth’s surface, delivers 1000 watts of power ( that would light 10, 100 watt bulbs). But the shifting angles of the sun drops that number to 600 watts. Commercial photovoltaic cells can only harvest 15% of that energy dropping us to only 90 watts under ideal conditions or lighting about one 100 watt bulb. But the sun does not shine at night so we are down to 45 watts. But solar collectors only take up a little over 50% of the land area of a solar farm bing us to 25 watts, and then average clouds, smoke and dust could drop us all the way down to zero. But the average across the entire country for solar facilities is between 5 and 7 watts. Is the picture getting clearer. But wait there is more. 

According to the US Energy Administration, Photoelectric cells used to create electric energy consume more energy in their production than they collect. The complex steps required to create raw quarts used to eventually make the wafers that become the collectors surface, require 3370 kilowatt hours of energy per square meter of collector material produced. At an efficiency of 7 watts per square meter harvested it would take 50 years to break even on energy out versus energy in and no solar collector has or will ever last 50 years.

But wait there is more. Solar energy can’t be turned on and off to meet shifts in energy. The sun shines during the day but power needs peak in the morning and evening. Less energy is collected in winter than summer due to shorter days and lower sun angles. One solution is to have backup fossil fuel power plants and now you are paying for two systems instead of one and the use of fossil fuel continues. The other solution is to store extra energy in batteries. A typical lead-acid car battery has a storage capacity of one kilowatt hour, according to McGraw-Hill’s Handbook of Batteries. A total replacement of fossil fuels by solar energy and a battery storage component would require 15 trillion of such batteries. Lithium batteries would offer more storage but at twice the price. 

While a solar farm can be built anywhere sunny areas of the country are not evenly distributed requiring transmission lines from the sunniest area to the less sunny areas. As the distance increase the cost of solar skyrockets. 

Finally the land areas required for solar farms are extraordinary. Using the most generous capacity numbers for photovoltaic cells in the sunniest areas a 1000 megawatt solar farm (the standard out put of most fossil fuel plants) would require 51 square miles which is the approximate area of San Francisco. Where is the land to be sacrificed in the name of the GND to come from. In fact there is not enough land in the United States to harvest the Solar energy to play a major role in the nations energy requirements. 

Solar energy is too expensive for most countries or individuals to afford. The World Bank says that over 1.5 billion people live without electricity. Although coal is vilified for producing a third of the world’s energy, it continues to rise as it costs only 7 cents a kilowatt hour. Natural gas is even less at 6 cents. The costs reported for solar operations have dropped to 16 cents a kilowatt hour, but government subsidies come to 24 cents a kilowatt hour giving it a real cost of 40cents. Few Americans could afford this to save the planet let alone people living in poorer countries. Both widespread solar energy and the Green New Deal are but a fantasy of those who truly wish to destroy the nation as envisioned by our founding fathers. 

Portions of this article have been excerpted with permission of the publisher and author of the 2018 book THE MYTHOLOGY OF GLOBAL WARMING by Bruce Bunker, Ph.D.. Publisher: Moonshine Cove . The authors of this article strongly recommend that book as the very best source of detailed accurate information on the climate change debate.