‘Typically this kind of stuff doesn’t go public…’
(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) Advocates of solar energy point to its efficacy in cutting carbon-dioxide emissions. But an investigation in the state of North Carolina reveals that increasing solar power might do exactly the opposite of what renewable energy supporters want.
According to the North State Journal, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy confirmed that solar is potentially making things worse for the environment.
Kim Crawford said that the increased amount of power on the state’s electric grid is increasing emissions of nitrogen oxide.
Renewable energy advocates have been aggressive in North Carolina, which a decade ago created taxpayer-funded subsidies to build up the solar energy in the state.
A federal law mandating guaranteed government contracts for businesses that buy solar power led to North Carolina issuing 60 percent of the nation’s contracts under that mandate.
Donald van der Vaart, former secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, was aghast at the findings.
“After committing $2 billion in tax credits, and more than $1 billion in electricity overpayments for solar power, we now learn from Duke that nitrogen oxides have actually increased, and that CO2 may be headed in the wrong direction,” he stated. “This should shock everyone responsible for North Carolina’s air quality, and the nation’s energy policy.”
A policy advisor for the Heartland Institute, Steve Goreham, thinks that Duke’s findings deserves study from policymakers. It’s the first time he’s heard of a utility revealing that an increase in solar energy also increases harmful emissions.
“Typically this kind of stuff doesn’t go public,” said Goreham. “It’s hard to get data on this.”
Goreham said that studies in Colorado and the Netherlands found that increasing wind power also increased carbon dioxide emissions, so it would not be surprising if the same thing applied to solar.
In response to inquiries from the North State Journal, Crawford provided information from Duke experts confirming that nitrogen oxide emissions would be lower if there were no solar power on the grid.
Without solar, Crawford said that “a typical combined cycle combustion turbine emits [nitrogen oxide] at approximately 9-11 lb/hr, assuming 24 hours of ‘normal operation.” But when these same plants use solar, daily emissions of nitrogen oxide more than double, to 624 pounds a day.
Duke is now attempting to implement an alternative operation scenario, in which a combustion turbine would only emit 381 pounds of nitrogen oxide in a day. But that’s still almost 50 percent more pollution than operating without any solar power.
Dan Kish, distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, pointed to the unreliability of renewable energy as contributing to the increased pollution.
“Renewable energy sounds good, but it performs terribly,” he stated. “If you want electricity available when you need it, you don’t want intermittent, unreliable, renewable energy.”
The inconsistency of solar energy also proved to be taxing on other electricity supplies since it made it more difficult to regulate the needs at a given time.
“It’s like a cancer on an efficient grid, with its ups-and-downs forcing other sources to pick up the slack in the most inefficient ways, which, in some cases, are more polluting,” Kish said.
The American Lung Association warns that nitrogen oxide leads to asthma in children and respiratory problems in others, while also contributing to smog and acid rain.