As the push for a fast transition off of fossil fuels heats up, lots of us are finding detractors in multiple corners.
One of the more common class of arguments are “what-about”-isms, and many of them are valid cause for investigation into the alternatives to fossil fuels we’re suggesting.
Here’s some info to help address some of them:
– What about embodied energy? Don’t wind and solar power take more fossil fuel energy to produce than they can ever make up for in displacing them during production?
This one’s simple. No.
“Building solar, wind or nuclear plants creates an insignificant carbon footprint compared with savings from avoiding fossil fuels, a new study suggests. It shows that the carbon footprint of solar, wind and nuclear power are many times lower than coal or gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS). This remains true after accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply.
For example, the study finds that 11% of the energy generated by a coal-fired power station is offset by energy needed to build the plant and supply the fuel, as the chart below shows. This is equivalent to saying that one unit of energy invested in coal power yields nine units of electricity.
Nuclear power is twice as good as coal, with the energy embedded in the power plant and fuel offsetting 5% of its output, equivalent to an EROI of 20:1. Wind and solar perform even better, at 2% and 4% respectively, equivalent to EROIs of 44:1 and 26:1.”
» Read the full article
(Though this article and the study include nuclear as another cleaner choice, we do not advocate it’s use for a host of other environmental concerns).
» Clean Electric Generation
Utility scale and “distributed” generation (rooftop solar, small scale wind, micro hydro)
» Energy Efficiency
Different than conservation, energy efficiency mean getting the same results using less energy, and wasting less in transmission before reaching consumers
» Grid Options
Upgrades, smart grid and distributed generation, peak shaving strategies
» Thermal Energy Generation
Clean energy alternatives for heating and cooking
Need for more pipeline is attributed to pipeline constraint during cold weather, but these periods of pipeline constraint are only for a few hours a day, 10-20 days a year.
These constraints can be eliminated by increasing energy efficiency for heating and electric use, reducing demand. They’re going to be relieved as the extra 1600 MW of solar and 2000 MW of wind mandated to be in place by 2020 comes on line. New pipelines wouldn’t even be completed until 2018 at the earliest. Even if more gas IS still needed during these brief periods during the next few years, it can be supplied by liquified natural gas (LNG) being stored for peak production. This requires no new infrastructure and can be implemented ONLY when needed – not a 24/7/365 flood of capacity we’ll mostly never use.
Massachusetts has already made strong strides in developing solar and wind generating facilities for electric generation. We’re already implementing better solutions. Our state needs to continue on its clean energy path, not take a giant step back in the wrong direction.
Let’s build up our energy future, not compound the problems of the past.