Solar Power: An Environmental Disaster

Solar power is expensive, unreliable and environmentally destructive. So it doesn’t come into being through consumer demand; rather, by government fiat or subsidy. The federal government controls the military, so, sadly, our armed forces have been dragged into the government’s alleged fight against “climate change” to a humiliating degree.

The Minnesota National Guard’s facility at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, is a case in point. Yesterday, an array of public officials hailed the opening of a 60-acre swath of solar panels that will produce a pathetic amount of energy, during the daytime and assuming it isn’t cloudy. My colleague Tom Steward has the story at the American Experiment web site:

Our military used to boast about its fire power. These days the brass brags about its solar power. The Minnesota National Guard has just unveiled the latest weapon in the war on global warming. It’s a 60 acre solar panel farm at Camp Ripley in north central Minnesota. Row upon row of 120,000 solar panels standing in precise military formation, the biggest solar installation at any National Guard base in the country.

But as turns out to be the case more often than not in Minnesota, sunshine proved to be elusive for the occasion.

This is what 60 acres of solar panels looks like. One of the worst features of both solar power and wind power is that they are terrible for the environment:

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If we devoted a fraction of that space to a natural gas, coal or nuclear facility we could produce 100 times the energy–even at night time, when people need to turn lights on.

It is sad to see military personnel who should know better, and probably do, mouthing the inane pieties of global warming:

“Camp Ripley is now capable of producing as much energy as it consumes,” said Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. “We can make a better Minnesota and a better world by joining the worldwide initiative to address the serious challenge of climate change.”

Right. We’d prefer you address the serious military challenge of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and so on. Tom Steward points out the costly reality:

The project’s astonishing $25 million price tag has led to the utility taking fire from state regulators for overpaying for solar panels and long-term lease with the National Guard. The collateral damage includes the northern Minnesota utility’s residential ratepayers, whose bills will rise as a result of the costly solar farm.

The solar facility can provide electricity for only 1,700 homes, a ridiculously small number, at “full capacity.” But solar installations never reach full capacity, and if it is dark or cloudy, they are irrelevant. No one would argue for ugly 60-acre scars on the landscape based on a cost/benefit analysis.

In Duluth, the best proxy for Camp Ripley, there are an average of 77 sunny days per year. Hey, that is better than one in five! Of course, they don’t have any sunny nights in Duluth, so there’s that.

It was left to Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith (D) to deliver the most mind-numbingly stupid commentary on the occasion:

“With four megastorms in the past seven years in Minnesota, we don’t need any more reminders of the impact of a changing climate on our state,” Smith said. “Projects like you see behind us will be helpful to mitigate some of that damage.”

Perhaps Ms. Smith is unaware that no respectable scientist claims “megastorms” have increased as a result of purported global warming. Perhaps she doesn’t know that hurricanes in the Western Hemisphere–to take just one example–are at a historic low. Perhaps she is unaware that the models on which global warming hysteria is based forecast fewer extreme weather events, not more.

All of that might be excusable ignorance. But Ms. Smith presumably has lived in Minnesota for a while, so she should know that four “megastorms” in seven years is a mild rate. Actually, I don’t recall anything that I would call a megastorm in recent years. Ms. Smith has perhaps forgotten that the really epic storms, like the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, when snow fell faster than I have ever seen before or since, or the tragic Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940, predated the purported era of “climate change.”

But maybe it is irrelevant to point out how wrong the global warming alarmists are, and how severely their uneconomic installations damage the environment. Their doctrine is a religious faith that has nothing to do with science or history, and everything to do with government greed, so rational arguments are wasted on them.

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