Marita Noon

The ascent of the Democrats has generated buzz regarding renewables as the obvious energy evolution. But there are many problems with deployment that have nothing to do with subsidies, conspiracies or economies.   

Though renewables get all the good press, they have been unable to make the leap to mainstream. And there are good, solid reasons for that.   

Despite the power density shortcomings of wind and solar (nuclear power: 56W Per Square Meter, solar: 6.7W PSM, Wind: 1.2W PSM) and the storage problems associated with delivering the renewable power to the grid, wind and solar are pushed as the solutions--propped up by government subsidies. T. Boone Pickens concedes he would not have an interest in wind power without the Federal backing.

Energy has evolved from wood, to whale oil, to coal, to petroleum, to nuclear. There are many who believe that renewables, particularly wind and solar, are the next step in the evolution of energy.

But there is a missing link: you have to get the energy to the user.

Wind and solar are land intensive. To be able to replace an average coal-fueled power plant with solar will require massive amounts of land—which predicates that the installation be “out,” away from the people. To get the power “in” to the people will require miles and miles of high-voltage power lines. Somehow, no one seems to think about how the energy is going to get from there to here.

There are five obstacles that need to be overcome before renewables can provide America with wide-spread, utility-scale power. These problems will take a long time to work out.   

1) Cost

This is the first hurdle and one that consumers seldom think of, yet the up to $2 million cost per mile must be calculated into the cost of any new power plant. Acquiring rights-of-way for the lines can increase the cost considerably.


Marita Noon

Marita Noon is Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.