Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Energy
Department of Energy
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
8/24/18  10:07 pm
Commenter: George Mears, Retired geologist and environmental engineer

Green Industry Hype Substituted for Rational and Cost-Effective Public Policy

Virginia elected officials and regulatory have been convinced by environmental zealots, Green industry rent seekers, Leftist academics, NGOs, and Progressive foundations to declare war of affordable, efficient, and much cleaner fossil fuel energy sources even with over 20 years of documented poor performance, excessive costs, and deteriorating electrical grids throughout the EU, Canada, and Australia!  Yet, Virginia officials remain blind to the fact that Green Industry hype claims never become reality after resources are wasted in “new renewables” (solar PV and wind turbines.

Virginia now has the benefit of hindsight given the extensive history of claims vs actual performance, yet ignore published results in almost a religious belief that  Virginia will experience positive results using the same policies that have failed so spectacularly elsewhere when attempted on a large scale.  Why ignore the fact that biofuel production consumes more energy, water, and generates more CO2 than any of the fuels they replaced? That energy grids become more fragile, less reliable, and harder to manage the more new renewable power sources they are forced to accept?  Why ignore the fact that the cost of electrical energy is from 2 to over 4 times higher than here throughout most of the EU, Canada, and Australia? The public has been lied to by governments, environmental groups, NGOs, the UN, Federal and State Agencies, academia, and woefully uneducated Media for so long that most accept the Green claims of free, clean, and plentiful renewable energy without thinking about it—until their governments start transitioning to green energy and reality strikes.  The progressive Australian PM was ousted as party leader only this week after years of skyrocketing electrical prices, growing grid instability and massive job loses. Spain’s gambit into high paying Green jobs failed miserably as their economy tanked. And Germany is facing political revolt over both immigration and green energy mandates. In fact, world populations are finally beginning to wake up to the fact that virtually none of the catastrophic environmental claims made over the past 30 years have proven to be true. 

Fact: the  average global sea level rise today continues at the same rate (1.5 to 1.8 mm/yr—or about 6 to 7 INCHES PER CENTURY) as it has been over the past 100 years.  Fact: the average global temperatures hasn’t increased over the past 18 years in spite of the fact that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have gradually increased from about 375 ppm to 400 ppm.  Fact: neither the frequency nor the severity of droughts, tornadoes, or hurricanes have changed have worsened over the past few decades—in spite of the Weather Channel’s constant panic attacks!  And fact: global and ocean temperatures are driven by deep ocean decadal and multidecadal currents and solar irradiance--not CO2. And they are NOT increasing every month and ear in spite of almost weekly breathless claims to the contrary from agenda and budget driven  NASA GISS and NOAA bureaucrats!   In almost all such claims, the new “records” fall well within the their own statistical margins of error—rarely mentioned in the public proclamations—but clearly spelled out in follow-on official reports—released months after spooking as many politicians and populations as possible!  

Since the inception of the UN IPCC, they  STILL haven’t produced any reproducible proof to show that CO2 increases drive temperature increases—or any other adverse climate impacts!

For the record, spent 23 years as a Navy pilot with 5,800 flight hours, over 1,000 as a pilot and mission commander for research flights with the Naval Oceanographic Office (Arctic, Antarctic, deep ocean eddy current, ice reconnaissance, and worldwide Vector Magnetic Survey, and hurricane penetration and tracking).  I had another 23 years of experience as a hydrogeologist and environmental engineer (private sector and Federal Agency) performing environmental cleanups, developing groundwater numerical models, and as both designer and project manager for several ocean engineering projects.  I have a BS in Geology & Geophysics (1972), an MBA from Golden Gate University (1985), and a Masters in Environmental Engineering, 1996.   For two years while an undergrad at UW, Madison, as a research assistant, I studied deep ocean (Arctic and Mid-Atlantic) sediment cores from the Arctic and Mid-Atlantic identifying single-cell forams (genus Globigerina) that characteristically coil either right or left depending on the temperature and salinity of the oceans when deposited on the ocean floor.  These paleoindicator organisms revealed cycles of warm (low salinity from ice melt) and cold (high salinity) periods throughout the same vertical columns—dating long before the Industrial Revolution.  I see no possibility that man is driving significant changes in temperature or world climate using minor  CO2 contributions to an atmosphere, ignoring solar irradiance and water vapor (96% of the atmosphere by volume vs 0.04% for CO2, 95% of which is natural and not man made). 

Also, for objective VA Energy Plan reviewers, many reports and countless scientific studies have been published recently countering the alarmist hype, virtually all ignored by the climate alarmists. I’ve listed several below:   

1. “More Renewables Mean Less Stable Grids” (From Nature Environment) Schäfer et al., 2018  (  8 Jan 2018: Non-Gaussian power grid frequency fluctuations characterized by Lévy-stable laws and superstatistics

 “Multiple types of fluctuations impact the collective dynamics of power grids and thus challenge their robust operation.” Fluctuations result from processes as different as dynamically changing demands, energy trading and an increasing share of renewable power feed-in.

PEI Power Engineering International 1/11/2018  (press release)   “More renewables mean less stable grids, researchers find …  [I]ntegrating growing numbers of renewable power installations and microgrids onto the grid can result in larger-than-expected fluctuations in grid frequency.”

2. Increasing Fossil Fuel Use (Natural Gas) Reduces Emissions More Than Increasing Wind/Solar Energy. From Environmental Science and Technology:

Anderson et al., 2018     “Before considering the future, it is worth examining just how far we’ve already come without any federal CO2 regulation (for existing power plants) in the U.S. Figure 1 illustrates historical CO2 emissions and natural gas prices from 2005 through 2017 (estimated). During that period, emissions have declined from nearly 2.7 billion tons to approximately 1.9 billion tons (30%), while revealing a strong link to natural gas prices. To be sure, while other factors also had an impact, the clearest means by which to reduce CO2 emissions has been to reduce the cost of generating electricity with less CO2-emitting fuels (i.e., substituting natural gas for coal).

3. Renewables Fail To Deliver: When Demand Is High, Generation Capacity Is Low

Cradden and McDermott, 2018  (From Environmental Research Letters):   “Prolonged cold spells were experienced in Ireland in the winters of 2009–10 and 2010–11, and electricity demand was relatively high at these times, whilst wind generation capacity factors were low. Such situations can cause difficulties for an electricity system with a high dependence on wind energy.”

4. Renewable Energy Becomes More Costly The More It Is Deployed … Renewable Energy Expansion Ensures More Fossil Fuel Installation Is Necessary As Backup

Blazquez et al., 2018    (From The Renewable Energy Paradox) :“However, promoting renewables –in liberalized power markets– creates a paradox in that successful penetration of renewables could fall victim to its own success. With the current market architecture, future deployment of renewable energy will necessarily be more costly and less scalable.  Moreover,

 transition towards a full 100% renewable electricity sector is unattainable. Paradoxically, in order for renewable technologies to continue growing their market share, they need to co-exist with fossil fuel technologies. … The paradox is that the same market design and renewables policies that led to current success become increasingly less successful in the future as the share of renewables in the energy mix grows.

 In short, the results indicate that the EU’s domestic electricity production systems have preserved fossil fuel generation, and include several economic inefficiencies and inefficiencies in resource allocation. … [A]n increase of 1% in the installed capacity of wind power provokes an increase of 0.26%, and 0.22% in electricity generation from oil and natural gas, respectively in the long-run.”

5. Proximity To Wind Turbines Significantly Reduces Quality Of Life, Well-Being For Nearby Residents

Barry et al., 2018     “The findings indicate that residential proximity to wind turbines is correlated with annoyance and health-related quality of life measures.

Krekel and Zerrahn, 2017     “We show that the construction of wind turbines close to households exerts significant negative external effects on residential well-being … In fact, beyond unpleasant noise emissions (Bakker et al., 2012; McCunney et al., 2014) and impacts on wildlife (Pearce-Higgins et al., 2012; Schuster et al., 2015), most importantly, wind turbines have been found to have negative impacts on landscape aesthetics (Devine-Wright, 2005; Jobert et al., 2007; Wolsink, 2007). … We show that the construction of a wind turbine within a radius of 4,000 metres has a significant negative and sizeable effect on life satisfaction.

Gortsas et al., 2017     “Infrasound, low frequency noise and soil vibrations produced by large wind turbines might disturb the comfort of nearby structures and residents. In addition, repowering close to urban areas produces some fears to the nearby residents that the level of disturbance may increase. Due to wind loading, the foundation of a wind turbine interacts with the soil and creates micro-seismic surface waves that propagate for long distances and they are able to influence adversely sensitive measurements conducted by laboratories located far from the excitation point.”

6. “Renewable Energy Consumption Has A Negative Effect On Economic Growth”

Lee and Jung, 2018     “The results of the autoregressive distributed lag bounds test show that renewable energy consumption has a negative effect on economic growth, and the results of a vector error correction mechanism causality tests indicate a unidirectional relationship from economic growth to renewable energy consumption. The empirical results imply that economic growth is a direct driver expanding renewable energy use. In terms of policy implications, it is best for policy makers to focus on overall economic growth rather than expanding renewable energy to drive economic growth. … [

7. Research: 100% Renewable Energy Is “Unattainable” In Reality– Decarbonization Is “Arguably Reckless

Clack et al., 2017   “The scenarios of [Jacobson et al., 2015, “Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes”] can, at best, be described as a poorly executed exploration of an interesting hypothesis. The study’s numerous shortcomings and errors render it unreliable as a guide about the likely cost, technical reliability, or feasibility of a 100% wind, solar, and hydroelectric power system.

8. Wealthy Countries Foist Social-Environmental Disruption From Wind, Solar Onto Poorer Countries 

Shakespear, 2018     “A trend was found, whereby developing countries tend to suffer the most socio-environmental disruption from material extraction for solar-panels and wind-turbines while exhibiting lower implementation of these technologies, and developed countries show opposite effects. This indicates that EUE [ecologically unequal exchange] effects constitute global solar-panel and wind-turbine systems, and that developed countries displace socio-environmental disruption from energy innovation onto developing countries. … [I]mplementation of solarpanels and wind-turbines tended to be the most prevalent within countries that suffer the least environmental and socio-economic consequences from the extraction of materials for these technologies. This effectively means that efforts to increase sustainability in relatively powerful countries via renewable energy implementation exacerbates unsustainable practices in the relatively less powerful countries that extract the minerals for these technologies.”

9. Wind Power Harming The Environment, Biosphere – Destroying Habitats, Endangering Rare Species 

Millon et al., 2018  (full paper)   “Wind turbines impact bat activity, leading to high losses of habitat use … Island bats represent 60% of bat species worldwide and the highest proportion of terrestrial mammals on isolated islands, including numerous endemic and threatened species (Fleming and Racey, 2009). … The result of the study demonstrates a large effect on bat habitat use at wind turbines sites compared to control sites.

Lopucki et al., 2018      “Living in habitats affected by wind turbines may result in an increase in corticosterone levels in ground dwelling animals… Environmental changes and disturbance factors caused by wind turbines may act as potential stressors for natural populations of both flying and ground dwelling animal species. The physiological stress response results in release of glucocorticoid hormones. … 

Watson et al., 2018     “The global potential for wind power generation is vast, and the number of installations is increasing rapidly. We review case studies from around the world of the effects on raptors of wind-energy development. Collision mortality, displacement, and habitat loss have the potential to cause population-level effects, especially for species that are rare or endangered.”

Aschwanden et al., 2018    “The extrapolated number of collisions was 20.7 birds/wind turbine (CI-95%: 14.3–29.6) for 8.5 months. Nocturnally migrating passerines, especially kinglets (Regulus sp.), represented 55% of the fatalities. 2.1% of the birds theoretically exposed to a collision (measured by radar at the height of the wind turbines) were effectively colliding.”

Naylor, 2018     “While wind energy provides a viable solution for emission reductions, it comes at an environmental cost, particularly for birds. As wind energy grows in popularity, its environmental impacts are becoming more apparent. Recent studies indicate that wind power has negative effects on proximate wildlife. These impacts can be direct—collision fatalities—and indirect—habitat loss (Fargione et al. 2012; Glen et al. 2013). Negative impacts associated with operational wind farms include collision mortalities from towers or transmission lines and barotrauma for bats. 

Lange et al., 2018     “Results from our surface water extractions and aerial surveys suggest that the wind farm has negatively affected redheads through altered hydrology and disturbance displacement. Our surface water extraction analysis provides compelling evidence that the local hydrology has been greatly affected by the construction of the wind farm.

Chiebáo, 2018     “I studied the large-scale movements of white-tailed eagles during the dispersal period, assessing their space use in relation to the distribution of existing and proposed wind farms across Finland. I found that a breeding pair holding a territory closer to an installation has a lower probability to breed successfully when compared to a pair from a territory lying farther away.

Vasilakis et al., 2017     “Numerous wind farms are planned in a region hosting the only cinereous vulture population in south-eastern Europe. We combined range use modelling and a Collision Risk Model (CRM) to predict the cumulative collision mortality for cinereous vulture under all operating and proposed wind farms. Four different vulture avoidance rates were considered in the CRM.  Cumulative collision mortality was expected to be eight to ten times greater in the future (proposed and operating wind farms) than currently (operating wind farms), equivalent to 44% of the current population (103 individuals) if all proposals are authorized (2744 MW). Even under the most optimistic scenario whereby authorized proposals will not collectively exceed the national target for wind harnessing in the study area (960 MW), cumulative collision mortality would still be high (17% of current population) and likely lead to population extinction.”

10. Wind Turbine Blade Waste Disposal A Growing Ecological Nightmare

Ramirez-Tejeda et al., 2017     “Globally, more than seventy thousand wind turbine blades were deployed in 2012 and there were 433 gigawatts (GW) of wind installed capacity worldwide at the end of 2015. Moreover, the United States’ installed wind power capacity will need to increase from 74 GW to 300 GW3 to achieve its 20% wind production goal by 2030.  … 

Estimations have suggested that between 330,000 tons/year by 2028 and 418,000 tons/year by 2040 of composite material from blades will need to be disposed worldwide. That would be equivalent to the amount of plastics waste generated by four million people in the United States in 2013. This anticipated increase in blade manufacturing and disposal will likely lead to adverse environmental consequences.

CommentID: 66719