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Virginia – Don't follow net-zero lemmings over the energy cliff

By Paul Driessen
web posted Novemer 6, 2023

Seventeen states – including Virginia – tie their vehicle emission standards and electric vehicle sale mandates to California, the most climate-centric state in the Union. Unless current laws change, by 2035 all their new cars, pickups and SUVs must be electric (or hydrogen-powered).

In further obeisance to California, most of these states also require that their utility companies generate 100% of their electricity from "renewable sources" by 2045 or 2050. They and the federal government also mandate that electric models replace gas-fueled furnaces, water heaters, driers, stoves and ovens within a decade or less. 

This means electricity demand will double in the near future – at the same time that reliable, affordable fossil-fuel (and nuclear and hydroelectric) electricity generation plummets. Charging massive batteries to ensure power on windless, sunless days would double demand yet again.

Home, hospital, school and business lighting, heating, cooling, cooking and computing costs will likely double or triple, hitting poor and minority families hardest. Blackouts could become commonplace.

No wonder citizens in European countries are revolting against net zero laws, forcing politicians to delay or terminate their green dictates.

And yet Democrats in Virginia and elsewhere have refused to budge. They're so convinced that climate cataclysms are imminent – and government mandates will magically usher in a renewable energy era – that they are willing to compel families and businesses to follow them and other virtue-signaling lemmings off the net-zero cliff.

That's why – even with attention now focused on Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and other global hot spots – voters also need to think long and hard about looming US energy cataclysms.

Democrats, some Republicans, and their media and environmentalist allies are determined to sweep vitally important energy realities under the rug. Voters mustn't let that happen.

Not one village on Earth – much less a city or state – has shown that wind and solar power backed up by grid-scale batteries can enable them to function normally ... or merely survive ...  for even a week, winter or summer. And yet President Biden and the Climate Industrial Complex want to impose an all-electricity "green energy transformation" on the entire United States.

This total transformation would require literally millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, and tens of thousands of miles of new transmission lines. Billions of Tesla-EV-equivalent battery modules would be needed to stabilize increasingly large and complex electricity grids ... and back up sporadic, weather-dependent electricity ... to prevent repeated and widespread blackouts.

Building this equipment would involve billions of tons of steel, aluminum, copper, cobalt, lithium, concrete, plastics and other materials; hundreds of billions of tons of ore and overburden from thousands of mines; fossil fuels for mining, processing and manufacturing; and unprecedented greenhouse gas emissions, toxic air, water and ground pollution, and wildlife habitat destruction.

Installing all that equipment would impact thousands of square miles of habitats, scenic areas and croplands – decimating wildlife all across rural America – to serve major urban areas that have the votes to impose their views, but not the room or desire to have those impacts in their own backyards. Disposing of worn out and broken solar panels and wind turbine blades would require hundreds of huge landfills, also in rural America's backyards.

The costs would be astronomical. Net Zero Reality Coalition experts have calculated that grid-balancing and backup batteries alone would cost up to $290-trillion, depending on which capital cost, hourly or daily or weekly electricity generation data, and other factors are employed.

The wind industry loves to say such-and-such wind or solar project has the "capacity" to power 100,000 homes. That may be true – when the wind is blowing or sun is shining at optimal levels. However, that rarely happens. On an annual basis, those unreliable systems would likely generate electricity 20-40% of the year, in short intervals, at totally unpredictable times.

Since the Biden Administration and environmentalists steadfastly oppose mining in the USA, most resource extraction will be done overseas. The raw materials will mostly come from or through China, which often employs slave and child labor, zero to minimal environmental standards, subpar wage and workplace safety standards, and minerals as a political weapon.

That means wind, solar and battery power is actually the antithesis of clean, green, renewable, sustainable and ethical. All the dirty, evil, unsustainable activities just get done in faraway places, where they can be ignored; so they needn't be mentioned in slick product and campaign ads.

An all-electric economy also requires that home, neighborhood, local, state and national transmission systems be significantly upgraded to handle the massive additional electric loads. That's more trillions of dollars, further increasing the cost of electricity and every product and service.

Personal needs and choices will disappear. You will be told what cars you can buy and how far you can drive them; how big your home can be, and how warm or cool you can keep it; how often and how far you can travel on vacation; even what foods you can eat.

Where's the beef? Not on the menu. And just imagine being in your EV, in a massive traffic jam, during a blizzard or a hurricane evacuation. But as California goes, so will you if your legislators demand it.

Delving into specifics: President Biden wants 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind electricity by 2030. That would require 2,500 gigantic 12-MW wind turbines. But even if the wind is blowing optimally, their output would barely meet New York State's peak summertime electricity needs – today, prior to its transformation to a fossil-fuel-free, all-electric economy.

Equally crazy, New York's plan for 24,000 megawatt-hours of battery storage would provide backup for barely 45 minutes on a sweltering windless day – with today's power demands. And even that minuscule storage would require 300,000 Tesla 80-kilowatt-hour battery modules.

The 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act requires that utilities have 3,100 megawatt-hours of electricity storage. If that's provided with 19-MWh Tesla Megapack battery modules, costing $10-million apiece, Virginia taxpayers and ratepayers would have to lay out $1.6 billion. For that they'd get one-half-hour of statewide windless/sunless day backup!

Ask your elected officials how many offshore turbines would be needed to power your state – or the entire USA. How many onshore turbines with a nameplate capacity of perhaps 6 MW. How many solar panels sprawling across vast scenic areas, croplands and wildlife habitats – in sunny Arizona or frosty Wisconsin. How many battery modules for a full week of backup storage.

Demand to know how much all this will cost – and how much mining, processing, manufacturing, toxic pollution, CO2 emissions, slave and child labor, and habitat destruction would go into making all that equipment. Watch the politicians bob and weave, run for cover, or have the police remove you for asking such impertinent questions.

Mandates for electric vehicles, wind and solar power, and a magical transition to a fossil-fuel-free energy utopia are critical issues this year and in 2024. Think carefully about them before you head to the polls.

Your vote – and whether you help your friends vote wisely – will determine whether we end this insanity ... or must live beneath the iron fists of increasingly oppressive climate authoritarians. ESR

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environment, climate and human rights issues.

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