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.