Wednesday, July 23, 2008
A Caveat for Green Energy
There is a second problem, however, coming from the nimbleness of the conventional 'back up' power plant, or rather the lack of it. A coal fired plant needs about 12 hours to react to increased demand for electrical power. It's not a lot better for nuke plants. (A watched pot never boils). So if you have coal fired plants as your 'back up', they have to be running at a capacity which would provide all of the communities' electrical power needs pretty much all the time. This sad fact reduces the wind mills and solar arrays backed up by coal fired plants to mere trinkets. They make us feel better about the community and its caring about CO2 production, but they reduce the CO2 output very little, if any.
Power plants using natural gas are more nimble and can pump up the power in response to, say, the wind dying down, in a matter of minutes. So, if you really want to reduce CO2 production (although I think that is an absolutely wasted priority) by building thousands of wind mills (as T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore propose) their 'back up' power plants had better be nukes or fueled by natural gas, or you're just fooling yourself.
Over half of the power plants in America are coal fired. Less than a fifth are natural gas. A full fifth are nukes.
Oh yeah, and the popular green energy production is very, very expensive.
So suck it up, poor people; it's the planet we're saving (supposedly).
* Note that he stopped writing that blog and is not interested in debating any of the points made there.