A couple of weeks ago we were visiting our youngest son and his family in Maryland. They were having a team party for the girls lacrosse team my son coaches. The party was at an area dairy farm. They have a little store on the property that sells incredible homemade ice cream and other products made on their farm. We all had a great time.
I couldn’t help but notice the solar panels in the parking lot and on the roof of the store. I checked with the owner and when the sun is shining the solar panels can actually provide electricity for the entire building including the freezers. That is pretty impressive. He also has solar panels on his barns that run the lights and equipment inside. I did not see any power lines so I assume that his farm is completely off the power grid.
Does this mean that solar power can replace fossil fuels? Well not exactly. Because the sun doesn’t shine at night or on cloudy days and battery power is expensive and undependable. Without electricity for a period of time this farmer would lose everything. He couldn’t milk his cows and everything in the freezers would melt or spoil. To back up his solar power he uses a natural gas generator. As soon as his solar power goes off the generator comes on and provides electricity for everything. The two forms of energy work well together.
We continue to hear politicians especially Hillary and Bernie and the anti- fossil fuel crowd set targets for the year when renewables will replace fossil fuels. This makes no sense. President Obama recently made the statement, “Ignorance is not a virtue if you are running for President.” I agree with him. Anyone running for President must understand energy. Both Bernie and Hillary have pledged to ban hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. What they apparently don’t know is that we frack practically every well in the United States and so do most other counties including Russia and Saudi Arabia. No fracking means no oil or natural gas and a lot of other stuff we use every day like computers, TVs, cell phones, medical equipment, clothing and all of the other items that use plastic or petrochemicals.
Without fossil fuels this farmer would be out of business and so would a lot of other people. Wind and solar are intermittent fuels. They have place in our energy mix but simply cannot be depended on 24 hours a day seven days a week. Just imagine if you are in surgery and are depending on lights and equipment powered by wind and solar and the power goes off. This farmer uses natural gas from fracked wells to back up his solar power. He also needs to get his milk to market and that requires a large truck run by diesel fuel. (next to the barn in the photo) Diesel is made from oil from wells that have all been fracked. His customers get to his store by driving their gasoline powered cars. (Oil and fracked wells again) Even electric cars need fracking to make the plastic they use. The electricity they use comes from coal and natural gas both fossil fuels that work 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
It is important for all Americans to understand where their energy comes from. Currently the only energy source that can replace coal and natural gas 24 hours a day 7 days a week is nuclear power. No energy source is perfect and we are blessed to be able to have choices. Energy is like people. We work best if we work together and use truth and sound science not wishes and false hopes.
Thoughts to ponder.
© 2016 Greg Kozera