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April 11, 2021

3/25/2021 11:28:00 AM
What's Wrong with Wind and Solar? Social Costs

Dear Editor;
Last week I talked about the construction of solar and wind farms and the destruction of our planet. Now ask, "Where's all this stuff going to come from?" Massive new mining operations, almost none of it in America, some imported from places hostile to America, and some in places we all want to protect. Australia's Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global "gold" rush for energy materials will take miners into "...remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven't yet been disturbed." And who is doing the mining? Let's just say that they're not all going to be workers with good pay and benefits (after all this is coming from 3rd world countries). Amnesty International paints a disturbing picture: "The... marketing of state-of-the-art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks."
And then the mining itself requires massive amounts of conventional energy, as do the energy-intensive industrial processes needed to refine the materials and then build the wind, solar, and battery hardware. Wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries have a relatively short life; about twenty years. Conventional energy machines, like gas turbines, last twice as long. The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that by 2050, the disposal of worn-out solar panels will constitute over DOUBLE the tonnage of all of today's global plastic waste (and California can fine a food server for giving you a plastic straw) . Worn-out wind turbines and batteries will add millions of tons more waste. It will be a whole new environmental challenge.
Before we launch history's biggest increase in mining, dig up millions of acres in pristine areas, encourage childhood labor, and create epic waste problems, we might want to reconsider our almost inexhaustible supply of hydrocarbons-the fuels that make our marvelous modern world possible. It costs about the same to drill one oil well as it does to build one giant wind turbine. And while that turbine generates the energy equivalent of about one barrel of oil per hour, the oil rig produces 10 barrels per hour. It costs less than 50 cents to store a barrel of oil or its equivalent in natural gas. But you need $200 worth of batteries to hold the energy contained in one oil barrel.
The wind and solar people are telling us that wind, solar and batteries are the magical solution for all our energy needs ask them if they have an idea of the cost... to the environment and society.
The above data summary was done by Mark Mills, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
John Curran
Dodgeville, Wisconsin

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