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Scientist Tells Utah Legislators: Renewables Are A Failed Path

texas wind farm

A Utah legislative committee this week gave 45 minutes to a scientist who argued that policymakers across the globe are committing a grave mistake by turning to renewable energy.

William Hayden Smith, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote a research paper with colleagues in Switzerland and South Africa that claims to calculate the full cost of producing electricity from various sources. [bold, links added]

The paper was published this year in the Journal of Sustainable Development, a Canadian scientific journal.

“Now everyone will say that wind turbines and photovoltaics are cheaper than fossil fuels,” he told legislators. “That’s a stretch.

He said the standard for comparing costs of electricity sources is called “Levelized Cost of Electricity,” which is calculated by adding up the total costs of a source over its lifetime and dividing it by the total energy expected from that source over the lifetime.

But Smith and his co-authors created an alternative metric they are calling the “full cost of electricity,” which he says factors in renewable energy costs not considered in LCOE, including the cost of storing power when renewables are not producing and the cost of replacing solar panels and windmills when they wear out.

He pointed to recent problems in Germany, where energy prices have shot up after Russia invaded Ukraine. He said Germany’s rush to renewables and decision to shut down nuclear plants is costing them now.

Beyond cost, wind and solar simply can’t meet the capacity, he said. “Every day the grid will collapse because you can’t meet the peak power.

He also dismissed the idea that there is enough land available for wind and solar farms to produce what fossil fuels do now. Thousands of square miles of wind and solar farms would be required.

He added that windmills strike millions of insects, and no one is considering the biological effects.

Smith is a scientific and technical adviser to the CO2 Coalition, a nonprofit organization established “for the purpose of educating thought leaders, policymakers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy.”

He is not compensated for his work, according to the coalition’s website.

Smith presented to the Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Interim Committee at the invitation of Rep. Ken Ivory, but Ivory had a conflict and could not attend. No other viewpoints were presented.

Read rest at The Salt Lake Tribune

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