The Check Engine Light Is On

Imagine you’re in a car traveling down I-5 at 60 mph. The car has been modified with solar panels to supplement the car’s gas engine. Suddenly, as you’re driving down the highway, the sun disappears behind the clouds. In order to maintain your current speed, one of two things needs to happen: Another “idling” engine needs to kick in, or the main gas engine needs to “rev” up.

This hypothetical situation is similar to how the electrical grid works. The electric grid, just like the car, needs back-up generators and large high-capacity generators to make up for the times when wind and solar power fail. Often it’s natural gas or coal plants which fill the gaps. These power plants either continually operate without producing electricity as “spinning reserve,” or they operate less efficiently because they are “revved” up and down constantly.

Now, you can probably see the major drawback to subsidizing intermittent energy sources. It is because they rarely create enough sustained electricity to maintain grid stability; and power plants must “spin” or “rev” up and down, meaning little emissions savings are actually achieved.

If our government leaders continue to preach about saving the environment and reducing emissions, they may want to look under the hood to see if their plan will really work.

William Newell is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. He is a graduate of Willamette University.

Learn more at cascadepolicy.org.

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Posted by at 10:16 | Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • 3H

    How often are wind generators down (the ones we have here in Oregon) and are not producing any power? Before we go down the road of hypotheticals, it would be nice to have some facts.

    • guest

      Why don’t you don IcaraboutUS Eagle Feathers and fly yourself to the windy moonscapes attendant and count the decedent Chordata embodiments – and, then taxi on over to nearby hydro-power dam-nations and trollop amongst the tulips of the NW’s greatest energy resource, sans blowhards inebriated on hard Appell cider and ardbeg scotchitMichaelMooretoome’s.

      • thevillageidiot

        don’t knock the ardberg scotch.

        • Ardbeg

          Amen! And if you ever get to Scot’s Land try the Tullibardine distillery, best I ever had. Not available in the US unfortunately.

        • guest

          Scotland’s Ardbeg single malt is quite fine. The domestic blended clone I’d leave alone.

      • DavidAppell

        All methods of energy production have negative side effects. Carbon-based energy’s last for 100,000 years. Why are you OK with changing the climate for the next 4,000 generations, but have a problem with bird deaths?

        • .

          You are sorely lacking in common sense, Appell.
          Dismount the anal mule you’ve been riding on, kneel and pray for guidance from a higher source than the one you currently supplicate to.

          • DavidAppell

            Please, check your diaper, for the sake of us all.

          • DavidAppell

            What “higher source?”

          • DavidAppell

            I don’t see any “higher sources.”

          • .

            ah so, the blind man’s bluff again

          • DavidAppell

            You’re not making that up, are you?

          • .

            Might Dean Apostol’s ‘politifacts’ impress enough?

    • DavidAppell

      Facts? You’re asking for facts on Oregon Catalyst, from Mr. Newell? Don’t hold you breath…. he has his ideology down — his facts, not so much.

      • .

        What a load of DNC manure you schlep out from what’s Left of US and their anal-mule pharm, DemCOMrade!

        • lulzpdx

          God weeps when he sees the hate that festers in your soul. Accept Him and His Word. Learn the Humility of being one with Him. Your soul will be at peace, you will find your eyes clear when you slough off your anger.

          • .

            Snits up and go hang a big wookie on what’s left of US posting here. They’ll love it and embrace you with a great big New World Order and Alger His kiss.

          • lulzpdx

            And sadly Satan has made room for you and your pride.

          • .

            I’d be ‘lion’ if I said your ‘pride’ and prejudice wouldn’t find favor there, too.

          • lulzpdx

            You hide from the truth of who you are by pointing your guilty fingers at others. Why do you talk the talk, but refuse to walk the walk? I want to help you find God’s love and everlasting life in His Kingdom. Do you hate yourself so much that you don’t feel that you’re worthy? Walk with Jesus, don’t run away from him.

            Did you ever consider that God made those down votes happen to open your eyes?

          • .

            You sound like Rev Chuck Currie, still pending an evaluation by a grand jury in Elysium.

          • lulzpdx

            Why do you hate God? Why do you disparage his creation? What made your heart so cold that you turn away from the Love that God has for you?

          • .

            Most all of US perceive God as being good for our Constitution, at least that’s what our founding fathers emoted in our sovereign foundation. Alas, what ‘seams’ girdling your mind is that run amok liberalism isn’t a mental disorder, yet being a conservative challenges your ‘sole’ definition of what’s right.

          • .

            That’s an Alger Hiss kiss for brevity slake.

    • give me meat and potatos

      I’d also like to see the stats, not just an opinion of the lack of emissions savings. This is a hollow article.

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