RALEIGH – When energy utility Duke Energy actually took account of tangible bottom line effects of implementing more solar power on the grid, they found this favored renewable energy of the Green movement isn’t green at all. For all the fantasy floated by the Left on renewables, those grounded in reality acknowledge that such power sources aren’t consistent enough to be incorporated without adding necessary redundancies. Put simply, for every new solar farm hooked up to the grid, you need a consistent source of energy like a natural gas plant to even out the flow of power. Funny thing, the sun doesn’t shine at night.
Former Secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality under Governor Pat McCrory and Senior Fellow at the John Locke Foundation Donald van der Vaart points out just how inconvenient of a truth this is for the Left in the Federalist.
“If we expect to create a prosperous future fueled by low-cost, clean energy, it’s time to recalibrate the way we think about renewables. That requires us to move beyond the once cutting-edge view that solar power is a key ingredient in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Ironically, a frequent target of environmentalists, Duke Energy, is showing us that’s not the case. In fact, Duke documents show the negative impact of deploying solar power on the electric grid.
Reporting by North State Journal revealed Duke is asking North Carolina regulators to ease air quality emission limits for some of Duke’s combustion turbine facilities. The utility is trying to reduce air pollution it says is due to the increased penetration of solar power. North Carolina ranks second in the nation, behind only California, in the amount of installed solar plants.
Duke’s problem shows what happens when basic science collides with operational reality. Solar energy is intermittent. Until a reasonable storage technology is available, natural gas plants must operate when solar is brought on and off the grid. Put simply, the gas plant is generating power when the sun isn’t shining. Duke’s applications reportedly show that, due to the see-saw effect of deploying solar, emissions of the pollutant nitrogen oxide have increased, even though the level is lower than emissions from purely coal-based energy.
North State Journal also reported on Duke’s concerns about the potential reversal of reductions in another pollutant, carbon dioxide, if North Carolina continues to impose its renewables mandate on utilities. Such a reversal is possible if regulations force Duke to reduce nuclear plant output because it must accept solar electricity instead. It turns out that when zero-emission nuclear plants are dialed back to make room for solar, greenhouse gas-emitting plants must be employed to give nuclear plants time to ramp back up when the sun goes down. That’s not exactly the results environmentalists were expecting from the push to adopt solar power.
In the science field, we adjust our views and practices as new evidence and data come to light. That’s where we find ourselves today. Duke’s real-world experience is pointing us to simple but effective steps to ensure we’re producing affordable, low greenhouse gas-emitting electricity. […]”
Consider the real solutions to achieving lower emissions — without violating free markets, but by embracing him — that van der Vaart spells out here. If the Left was serious about wanting cleaner energy, rather than merely Bigger Government, maybe they’d be more open to them.