Still more on the downside of alternative, unreliable energy sources

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more updates on the unintended consequences of alternative, unreliable energy sources.

  • Humans want electricity available the instant we want electricity – the challenge of dispatchable energy
  • An overview of the harm from burning corn in our engines

8/9 – Million Dollar Way – Dispatchable Energy – The Demand is Growing

Yet another massive problem with wind and solar energy. You cannot turn it off and on. As in, provide electricity when people decide they want it. That feature is called dispatchable.

Here’s the definition of the term:

Dispatchable generation refers to sources of electricity that can be dispatched at the request of power grid operators or of the plant owner; that is, generating plants that can be turned on or off, or can adjust their power output accordingly to an order.

As usual, I do a large portion of my learning at Million Dollar Way.

7/27 – Bloomberg – As Corn Devours U.S. Prairies, Greens Reconsider Biofuel Mandate – A Congressionally created mandate to require biofuel sources in gasoline has created a long list of unintended consequences. Even the folks who pushed biofuel as a way to attack fossil fuels are finally realizing the devastation they caused.

In addition to the basic disconnect of burning food to power cars, the increased demand for corn has increased prices worldwide, creating increased financial pressure on the poorest of the poor, making them even poorer.

Article cites an NRDC report from 2004 which declared the glorious benefits of biofuels. Benefits of burning corn for cars include:

…slashed global warming emissions, improved air quality and more wildlife habitat.

Instead, we have seen unintended consequences.

  • Ethanol is worse for GHG than petroleum.
  • Millions of acres of previously unfarmed prairie have been converted to corn.
  • Breaking virgin prairie grass to get it ready releases massive CO2. Turns out that prairie grass is a big time CO2 sink; all that deeply rooted grass absorbs and stores a lot of CO2. Plowing it up releases the CO2.
  • Converting grassland into crops reduces wildlife habitat.
  • Large amounts of fertilizer run off have flowed to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Article hints at another unintended consequence which ought to be anticipated:  Republican politicians who would otherwise be pro-market and pro-free enterprise have been turned into cronies, voting to help their lobbyist friends force customers to buy products the consumers don’t otherwise want to buy.

Unmentioned in this particular article is the harm caused to the poor worldwide who have to spend a larger portion of their meager earnings buying enough food to stay alive. That’s a federally intended, real-world illustration of the old line of the poor get poorer.

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