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The Sunrise Powerlink is a proposed power transmission line that would wind its way 150 miles, from Imperial County east of San Diego, through Anza-Borrego State Park, and down into San Diego. Proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the line is needed to transport wind and solar energy from projects in Imperial County to San Diego. You would think that the eco-lobby would be 100% behind a transmission line dedicated wholly to carrying “Save the Earth” solar and geothermal power from plants in the desert to power users in San Diego—unfortunately the green lobby doesn't agree.
When it comes to energy, California is in a dilemma of its own creation. State law requires investor-owned utilities to get 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010, rising to 33% by 2020. These requirements are part of sweeping new rules that require California to slash its production of greenhouse gases. At present, less than 12% of the state’s electricity comes from renewables and utilities are counting on large-scale solar plants, wind farms and geothermal operations to help them meet their targets.
SDG&E says the Powerlink project would be the first new transmission line connecting the San Diego area to the state’s energy grid in 25 years. Former chairman of the California Energy Commission Bill Keese said in a statement: “By linking the state to abundant supplies of solar, wind and geothermal power in the Imperial Valley, the Sunrise Powerlink will battle climate change by helping meet California’s environmental mandates of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger actively supports the project as well. He wrote state utility regulators endorsing the Sunrise line, saying: “This project is a vital link in California’s renewable energy future and must be approved as soon as possible.”
Isn't this what the eco-activists want? To change over to “renewable energy” sources like solar, wind and geothermal? It seems that, not unlike Orwell's pigs, some sources of renewable energy are more green than others. Here is a direct quote from an eco-leaning website that puts forth the far left ecological point of view:
The Mojave, to remind you, in under SIEGE from Big Energy profiteers who are planning on dynamiting, bulldozing, herbiciding, dehydrating and slaughtering millions of it's precious acres for Industrial Solar and Industrial Wind, even though the urban load centers are more than capable of producing 90% of the power they need, just from PV on brownfields right in these urban centers.
This is one of a thousand reasons we need to STOP INDUSTRIAL SOLAR AND WIND FROM DESTROYING OUR DESERTS and start rethinking this bull** we have been fed about centralized, remote power generation and lengthy transmission. Eco-crimes on a massive scale are about to be committed and WE are the only ones who can stop them. Giving greenwash cover to Big Solar and Big Wind and the politicians who support them is the same as destroying the planet directly. time to stand up for what is right, and stop these projects.
There it is. It's not good enough to replace fossil fuel generated electricity with solar or wind, energy must become a cottage industry with every house, every family generating what they need from solar cells on their own urban rooftops. We not only have to go green, we have to do it in ways that fit these neo-Luddite knuckleheads' uninformed, unscientific, preconceived notions of what's right. Deploying wind or solar energy on an industrial scale—the level of effort it will take if either of these green power sources is to make a measurable impact on national energy usage—isn't considered progress, its considered a sin! Let's take an engineering point of view of this problem.
Consider a modern fossil fuel power plant, the type that is supposed to be displaced by green power brought in from the Imperial Valley desert. Much of California's power is generated from natural gas. A typical combined cycle turbine would generate about 430 grams per kWh. A best of breed combined cycle turbine would probably be at around 280 grams per kWh. A coal plant, the worst possible option, would generate 800 to 1050 grams per kWh.
The Nevada Solar One power plant generates about 134 million kWh per year on 400 acres (Only 300 actually covered with solar panels). This means that solar power from the desert produces 82 kWh per square meter per year. A still controversial scientific study found that a Nevada desert ecosystem sequestered around 100 grams of carbon per square meter per year. So using those 400 acres (1.6 million m2) for solar power generation costs a total of 160,000 kilograms of carbon per year in lost sequestration. This sounds like a lot, but it pales in comparison with the amount of carbon a fossil fuel plant emits, as much as 800,000,000 kg per year for a 1GW gas plant.
The 82 kWh/m2/year generated by the solar plant would result in 22,960 grams of carbon if generated by a high efficiency gas power plant. Compared with an average power plant, the 82 kWh displaces 35,260 grams per year—353 times the 100 gram per meter sequestration claimed for undisturbed desert. I think we can trade a few thousand acres of desert for a cleaner environment as a whole.
Every comprehensive study of wind and solar power has recognized that they provide energy in a variable, inconsistent way. Some days the wind blows, some days it doesn't. Sunshine varies with the seasons and the weather. The only way to effectively used these power sources is to build an extensive smart power grid that can move energy from where it is available on any given day to where the people who need it are.
Governments and utility companies are moving to build the needed infrastructure so we can all benefit from green power. Yet, the eco-freaks in California will not even let a power line be built to harvest clean solar and geo-power from their own backyards. As journalist and blogger Laer Pearce has said, “when your local neighborhood environmentalists wax poetic about alternative energy, remember that they really hate viable alternative energy solutions because they represent progress and man exerting his will over nature.” Amen, brother.