- - Sunday, November 18, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Benefitting from a diverse energy sector” (Web, Nov. 14) jumps on the diversity bandwagon, but then places bets on losers with the statement that “new renewable energy sources [are] becoming more commercially viable each year.” Wind and solar, the major renewables today, generate only about 10 percent of the electricity generated by coal and natural gas. Coal and gas serve demand 24 hours a day every day. Wind and solar only serve demand on average about 12 hours a day, and only on days when the sun shines and the wind blows (but not too hard).

It’s possible to bet on wind farms and solar parks growing to generate the missing 90 percent, but that’s not enough, not by a long shot. It’s first necessary to bet on storage large enough to meet demand when wind and solar aren’t generating. Then, for wind farms and solar parks to meet demand and feed storage at the same time, their output and size to meet the missing 90 percent must be doubled.

Doubling wind- and solar-generating capacity is still not enough. More capacity must be added to feed storage for the expected shutdown of renewable generation by weather. In other words, to bet on renewables to replace coal and gas, wind and solar generation must grow from 10 percent to about 300 percent of today’s coal and gas electricity. If electric vehicles receive wide acceptance, that factor of three could grow to six.

Betting on electricity generation as a pet of diversity is a loser, especially when the political tail for renewables wags the fossil-fuel dog.

GEORGE F. STEEG

Potomac Falls, Va.


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