A July 28 article in The Free Press (DFLer Frentz ready to push for renewable energy) suggests a goal to more than double Minnesota’s renewable energy standards to 50 percent by 2030. Apparently this would be accomplished mostly through increased wind and solar energy generation.
Renewable energy use is good. It should be promoted within the limits of practicability. Hopefully Minnesota can be a leader. But so far this year, nationally, wind and solar have produced about 15 percent as much electrical power as coal and natural gas. For me that begs the question whether 50 percent usage here could be competitive in keeping energy costs low.
Looking first at wind energy, southwestern Minnesota already has many wind farms and individual wind turbines. Considering the amount of electrical energy that can be generated by a wind turbine is limited by physics, how many new 2-megawatt wind turbines would be required to help reach the goal?
The state of solar energy is slightly more promising. But how much additional land would solar farms occupy that could otherwise be used for agriculture, or left pristine, to help reach the goal? Moreover solar panels are resource-hungry. Expensive silver and other minerals are required in the panels. Battery storage capacity is another issue. Are solar farms feasible on a large scale?
I do not have the answers, but the issues are certainly among things to consider as we take on this very ambitious project.
4 August 2017 8:40 pm
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