Stephen Moore paints a grim picture of the costs to the poor and middle class of wind and solar energy (“How solar and wind mandates tax the poor and middle class,” Web, Sept. 16). But the hidden cost multipliers for solar and wind (so-called “renewables”) are many, many times worse than what he describes.
U.S. electricity demand is today almost 500,000 megawatts. A megawatt (MW) is 1 million watts, equivalent to 1,340 horsepower. Coal and natural gas each delivers about one-third of U.S. electricity and can generate full-time, for a total of about 300,000 MW. Total wind and solar generation is growing, but as Mr. Moore writes, they deliver only about 30,000 MW total — and only part-time.
Anyone who has ever looked out their windows knows that wind and solar only deliver about half the time each day, on good days. Therefore it’s not enough for wind and solar to produce 300,000 megawatts of electricity for consumption during half a day. They must produce more than 600,000 megawatts each day so the renewables can store what is not consumed. The first cost multiplier for renewables is that storage capable of handling more than 300,000 megawatts does not yet exist.
The second cost multiplier is to achieve 100-percent replacement of fossil fuels by increasing wind and solar generation to more than 600,000 MW. This is to store enough energy for several bad days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow (or blows too hard).
The third cost multiplier is land use. Increasing wind and solar generation to more than 600,000 megawatts will take about 60,000 square miles (square miles, not acres), or the equivalent total land area of Indiana and Kentucky. Still more land area will be needed for storage.
Some experts estimate that widespread adoption of electric cars, especially cars that can’t charge their own batteries, will double these numbers. With the cost multipliers, that would be a quadruple whammy on the poor and middle classes.
GEORGE F. STEEG
Potomac Falls, Va.