Large Scale Solar & Wind Systems, Make Climate Chaos Worse
Why 100% Electric “Renewables” Are Not What We Need
From my drives throughout our area walking properties for clients, I am noticing many Solar arrays of sizable stature on nice old farm fields; off Upper Cherrytown, in the Town of Rochester, on large old fields in the Pine Bush area off of rt. 52, and of course the 5 acre array in Napanoch on 209, across from Peter’s Market. All of what I am seeing is grid tied. So to break it down for you, as someone who lived off the grid for 8 years building my own straw bale home, in Pocahontas county W.V., framed with wood from the 17.6 acres of raw land, with no access to the grid. I know a thing or two about energy systems and how they work at different scales and how to discern what are appropriate uses for the different types of renewable energy technologies that are available, which are quite a few. Most “off grid “ homes rely heavily on propane for cooking and powering generators and expensive battery banks. Hardly as green as you might think. The digesters I describe herein, replace propane with methane and create it with your own household waste streams! I will explore more ideas about how we truly disconnect from industrial technologies and create integrity and resilience for our homes and communities.
One of the problems with grid tied, large scale, wind and solar, is that at a large scale the variability of them becomes more pronounced and problematic. The fact that the sun goes behind clouds and the wind stops and starts, makes it a power source that is suddenly surging with huge quantities of energy, when the wind kicks up, but then in between, it drops off completely. The grid is designed for a steady output, from a high energy power source, distributed from centralized power plants. At this point, many will refute, that all we need to address this weakness of variability and the centralized grid, is more batteries, that will solve this problem. In part there is truth to this, but how large of a battery bank, where to locate them, and what are they made out of?
What we will find, when we do a more complete analysis of our energy needs, is that we do not so much need more electricity from renewable sources but rather we need to cut down on our need for energy inputs, throughout our infrastructure and economy. I like to word this design approach as; maximizing all passive ways to get work done, before we get into active systems, the active systems back up our passive infrastructure. Like passive refrigeration and cooling with root cellars set into a hillside and directing spring water to cooling for summer processing.
Localizing our food supply to cut down on energy inputs to produce and transport it. Many studies show that we use as much energy producing food, as we do powering our homes in this country. Thus we can also address climate change very effectively by localizing our food supply.
By diverting organics from our trash with comprehensive composting programs, sending much of it to municipal and home scale anaerobic digestors, using passive solar, hot water systems for thermal heat, we can replace propane with methane from digestors, that we install to replace failing septic tanks region wide. Compost piles can reach 160 degrees and stay there for 4-6 months for hot water, providing finished compost, when it’s done, these can be used quite effectively to heat greenhouses with hot water from piping going through the compost pile just adjacent to the green house called a Pain mound system. Anaerobic digestors, and the methane they generate for fuel from a diversity of wastes, heat from compost piles, and solar thermal hot water systems are all passive technologies, that are not nearly as variable as wind or photovoltaic panels.
This maladaptive focus on installing large scale, 5-25 acre spreads of solar panels, cheek to jowl, covering beautiful, historic, food providing farm fields, is nothing but a green icing on a antiquated and failing grid. A grid of made up of 11,000 miles of transmission lines in the northeast, about 4000 miles of which, according to the ISO (Independent Systems Operators), will need to be replaced in the next 20 years, to the tune of about $30 billion dollars. The grid itself is falling apart and not worth plugging new technologies into, nor is it suited to them. These large arrays are simply a band aid attempt to keep business as usual going, with no substantial benefit or change in the overall resilience of our infrastructure.