“Save the Trees!” Unless We’re Talking Solar Farms, That Is

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Massive solar farms planned for Virginia are resulting in incredible amounts of forest destruction for next to nothing gained in energy production.

Remember the brouhaha about the cutting of trees for the Constitution Pipeline? That pipeline will run 124 miles and disturb approximately 1,050 acres of land while delivering natural gas sufficient to power roughly 6.2 million homes annually. Meanwhile, 6,000 acres of Spotsylvania County, Virginia is being clearcut to build solar farms generating a mere 500 MW of power, enough to serve, at best, some 250,000 homes. You do the math and decide which choice saves the most trees.

While you’re doing that math, also consider the real world impact of solar farms, wind farms and other renewable energy projects that are big land consumers, extremely visible in many cases and are typically bitterly fought by neighbors:

But, the aesthetic impacts are just the beginning when you’re talking about projects as large as 6,000 acres. There is also real honest to goodness forest fragmentation that is detrimental to wildlife. There is also the fact 6,000 acres of forestland absorbs roughly 90,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Solar farms don’t absorb any CO2 and still require natural gas as backup when the sun doesn’t shine or the panels just aren’t generating electricity, which is about 75% of the time.

Yes, dispatchable power is still the name of the game, however much renewables advocates refuse to face it. When the sun doesn’t shine, dispatchable power from natural gas is the only practical way to go unless there happens to be an under-utilized nuclear power plant nearby. This means the natural gas development, pipelines and power plants can’t be eliminated. The forest destruction from solar farms such as those in Spotsylvania County, therefore, represent additional and completely unnecessary forest destruction on top of what is necessary for natural gas. If you really want to “save the trees” the lesson is obvious: don’t go solar.

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8 thoughts on ““Save the Trees!” Unless We’re Talking Solar Farms, That Is

  1. Yes. Agree we need better designs and inventions involving non-fossil fuels.
    We need to develop something akin to what Nicola Tesla was delving into and his Tesla Coil..
    and produce and design something akin to free energy.

  2. When the better designs are completed and when they see they work then we can turn to renewable energy. Because we wish it doesn’t mean it is possible. Spotsylvania please do not forget the Civil War legacy of your important battle. The forests around your town are a tribute to the sacrifice of men both Confederate and Union. This is the new battle of the 21st Century, honoring and preserving our past while seeking new and more efficient ways to produce energy.

  3. This is another example of double standards that are starting to be seen for what they are:desperate (back against the wall) efforts to throw the kitchen sink at pipelines.

    You were right, Tom; we are going have to beat them in court first, and then beat them court of popular opinion.

  4. What does it mean to power 250,000 homes? Lights only? Stove, baseboard heating, water heater, computers, refrigerator, TV’s, recharging phones etc? For how many hours?

    And of course only when the sun shines. Where do they get there power at night? And on rainy, snowy or cloudy days. Does that power figure make any sense at all?

    So we destroy a Carbon Sink which removes CO2 from the air, and replaces it with solar panels which in their making, transportation and disposal create CO2? Right?

    And by the way, the name plate MW rating is not the actual output rating, which is much lower. Don’t these solar panels degrade each year?

  5. Why aren’t state departments of “environmental conservation” demanding that solar companies provide how many tons of CO2 will be put into the air as a result of trees being cut? The Broome County Solar “Farm” is a great example of what NOT to do. They killed 25 acres of mature forest to put up a 5.2 megawatt monstrosity that will power a whopping 567 homes – https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/2018/07/18/broome-county-expects-new-solar-farm-conklin-save-140-k-year/796205002/ Photos of the butchery can be seen in this past article – https://naturalgasnow.org/money-broome-county-solar-farm-saving/ Where are the tree huggers now?


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