Leftists fantasize that before long, we can dispense with all reliable energy sources–coal, natural gas, nuclear, even hydro–and run our society entirely on wind and solar, two forms of energy that have been obsolete for 150 years.
How can this be, since wind turbines only produce electricity when the wind is blowing sufficiently, which is around 40% of the time, and solar only works when the sun is shining and the panels are not covered in ice and snow–in a northern climate, something like 18% of the time? Obviously the Greenies have a problem. Today, their problem is solved by building natural gas plants that carry the load when wind and solar are AWOL–which is to say, a large majority of the time. Of course, the natural gas plants are dispatchable, which means they can produce energy reliably, at will, 24/7. Which raises the obvious question: if we have to build fully-capable natural gas plants to make wind and solar sort-of work, some of the time, what the heck to we need the wind and solar for?
The truthful answer to that question has nothing to do with the laws of physics, and everything to do with the laws of money. But the Left has another answer: batteries! It looks forward to the day when batteries will store the output of wind turbines and solar panels and thereby turn unreliable, intermittent energy into electricity that you can count on to turn on your lights when you flip the switch.
At American Experiment.org, my colleague Isaac Orr demolishes the Green New Deal fantasy. One basic problem is that wind turbines don’t work when the weather gets cold, which can be fatal in the North, especially when we are experiencing a brutal cold snap:
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