Our serious energy and climate problems require serious solutions
Unfortunately, many of the current approaches are dangerously misguided. Here is a simple critique of two of the more dangerous GHG reduction strategies:
1: Electrification of everything.
Many electric utilities are pushing this with little opposition from state policymakers. The idea is to electrify building heating and transportation. The already-stressed power grid would somehow (through magic?) meet this exponential increase in load. Utilities say everything will be fine. PUC’s just need to approve rate increases and presto! Green energy will appear to match the load.
Reality: This is an affront to power engineering, economics, and not to mention math. Worse, if building heating is electrified and the grid goes down, people in Northern climates will freeze.
2: Renewables at all costs
This agenda comes primarily from well-meaning environmentalists and purveyors of RE. At Vergent we love renewable and clean energy. But even love must answer to reality, and the primary issue here is grid stability.
Reality: You cannot rely on intermittent sources of energy (sun and wind) and expect the grid to remain stable. All intermittent generation must be backed by flexible, dispatchable or baseload power. Currently this means natural gas, nuclear and coal. Just to be clear, we’re not fans of coal since natural gas is a vastly superior substitute.
There are better ways to achieve meaningful, immediate, lasting, and economical GHG reductions. I won’t name technologies here. Instead, our starting position should be that strategies to address climate change should be rooted in solid engineering principles and evidence-based science. That’s the foundation of rational climate action.