The dirty green line

Yes, as we have been saying for some time now-

The dirty green line. Erecting new transmission lines for solar and wind power is a boon to coal-burning utilities and a drain on our wallets. What’s an environmentalist to do? By Katharine Mieszkowski. Salon.com.

It’s good to see more and more folks figuring this out. I still haven’t seen much chatter how centralized “clean energy” is a threat to security and to democracy.

Obama admin faces power grid vs. public lands conundrum

Our own KT quoted in New York Times!

Obama admin faces power grid vs. public lands conundrum. By Scott Streater. New York Times.

Coal plants checked by enviro campaigns, costs

Good news for energy and wildlife-

It is increasingly clear that the building of new coal plants is collapsing as this article indicates as a followup to my post of yesterday, Companies rethink coal plants.

While planning and some actual construction of wind, solar and geothermal plants in remote locations continues, with plenty of hype accompanyhing it, it seems to me that as in the 1970s energy crisis, it will be increased efficiency that wins the day. For example, read this story about building a “smart energy grid.” Stimulus Dollars Energize Efforts To Smarten Up the Electric Power Grid. By Peter Slevin and Steven Mufson. Washington Post.

Building new transmission lines is enormously expensive, and even large solar or wind farms do not supply all that much energy compared to a coal or nuclear plant. Therefore, I am thinking most of these wind and solar electricity facilities will be built next to, or near already existing transmission lines and in or near load centers such as on building roof tops.

The currently largest solar-steam electricity plant in the United States is Solar One. located just south of Henderson and Boulder City, Nevada. I drove by it the other day. See below. It takes up a lot of space and yet “largest” only means generation of 74 megawatts. The typical coal plant today is built in units of 500 to 750 megawatts. I also noticed that Solar One was located right next to a transmission line coming from Hoover Dam on the Colorado.

solar-one1

The Solar One steam-electric plant in Eldorado Valley, Nevada. Feb. 2009. Notice the big transmission line behind the plant. It comes from nearby Hoover Dam. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Awful as the “great recession” has become, one bright side is that it decreases the demand for electricity from what it would otherwise be. This makes is so that lack of electrical energy is not a barrier to economic recovery.

The disruption to wildlife habitat will be less than many believe, despite some scary proposals on the table such as China Mountain on the Idaho/Nevada border, which may indeed be built.

New Grid for Renewable Energy Could Be Costly

The Wall Street Journal Reports on a study that indicates a new grid could cost $100 billion.

This article says that 15,000 miles of new transmission lines would be required and that federal intervention might be used due to lawsuits.

New Grid for Renewable Energy Could Be Costly – WSJ.com.

My feeling is that we might want to consider other models before plunging headlong into this decision.

KC

Transmission lies

Against the so-called ‘need’ for new long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines

Transmission lies Grist Environmental News and Commentary

Carol A. Overland posits the idea that a new electrical grid is “an enabler of dysfunctional energy planning and profit-driven projects that are against the public interest.”