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Friday, March 18, 2005

Chron assembles nonsensical energy policy

You'd think the only newspaper in the world's energy capital would know a thing or two about energy. You'd be wrong:
As Baker Institute energy fellow Amy Myers Jaffe noted in a recent interview with the Chronicle, Americans must drill more, conserve more and invest more in new technologies and alternative energy sources. If not, Americans must restrain or give up their high-energy lifestyle of gas-guzzling SUVs, air conditioning, home entertainment and computing.
The claim that home entertainment and computing are high-energy activities is just plain stupid. A computer, monitor, large projection TV, stereo and DVD player combined will use about 44 kilowatt-hours per month, less than 6% of the average home's consumption. High-energy my foot. True, this country needs a better balance of supply and demand for energy. It's too bad the Chron's recipe ignores the Baker Institute's first recommendation -- drill more -- and instead contains this goofy ingredient:
large investment in science and technology; greater utilization of available renewable sources such as solar and wind
Wasn't the editorial board just telling me I use too much technology? But let's leave that aside. Let's talk about the real-life application of solar power:
The environmental problems of solar center around the production of mirrors and land impacts. Regarding the latter, central-station solar requires between five and 17 acres per megawatt (see below), compared to gas-fired plants that a decade ago required only one-third of an acre per megawatt and today can be as little as one-twenty-fifth of an acre. The Department of Energy has spent approximately $5.1 billion (in 1996 dollars) on solar energy since FY 1978, more than $12 million per megawatt. This investment per unit of capacity is some 20 times greater than today's capital cost of modern gas-fired plants.
That's right, solar power wastes land and money. Whoops, so does wind power. As an added bonus for the eco-weenies, wind turbines shred birds by the thousands:
But for just as long, massive fiberglass blades on the more than 4,000 windmills have been chopping up tens of thousands of birds that fly into them, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and other raptors.
The Chronicle would have us build ugly, expensive, inefficient, loud, weak sources of energy that dice eagles into endangered species confetti, while 16 billion barrels of oil sit underneath a desolate wasteland, untouched. Yeah, brilliant.

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