'The Footprint of Energy: Land Use of U.S. Electricity Production'

 

Guest post by David Middleton

The Strata group at Utah State University recently published a study on the “footprint of energy.”  For each energy source, the calculated the full-cycle land use required to generate 1 MW of electricity from each source of energy.  Despite the fact that they included the land required to drill and mine for natural gas and coal, all of the processing and transportation requirements, as well as power plant footprints, fossil fuels and nuclear power were the clear winners, by a long-shot.

Modern society requires a tremendous amount of electricity to function, and one of this generation’s greatest challenges is generating and distributing energy efficiently. Electricity generation is energy intensive, and each source leaves its own environmental and ecological footprint. Although many studies have considered how electricity generation impacts other aspects of the environment, few have looked specifically at how much land different energy sources require.

This report considers the various direct and indirect land requirements for coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar electricity generation in the United States in 2015. For each source, it approximates the land used during resource production, by energy plants, for transport and transmission, and to store waste materials. Both one-time and continuous land-use requirements are considered. Land is measured in acres and the final assessment is given in acres per megawatt.

Specifically, this report finds that coal, natural gas, and nuclear power all feature the smallest physical footprint of about 12 acres per megawatt produced. Solar and wind are much more land intensive technologies using 43.5 and 70.6 acres per megawatt, respectively. Hydroelectricity generated by large dams has a significantly larger footprint than any other generation technology using 315.2 acres per megawatt.

While this report does not attempt to comprehensively quantify land requirements across the entire production and distribution chain, it does cover major land components and offers a valuable starting point to further compare various energy sources and facilitates a deeper conversation surrounding the necessary trade-offs when crafting energy policy.

[…]

Strata

Chart 1: Land Use by Electricity Source in Acres/MW Produced
Electricity Source Acres per Megawatt Produced
Coal 12.21
Natural Gas 12.41
Nuclear 12.71
Solar 43.5
Wind 70.64
Hydro 315.22

Strata receives at least some funding from those great Americans: The Koch Brothers.  They are also very up-front about their economic philosophy:

Thought leaders and authors we tend to follow:

Friedrich Hayek

Adam Smith

Ronald Coase

Joseph Schumpeter

Elinor Ostrom

James Buchanan

Gordon Tullock

Milton Friedman

MILTON FRIEDMAN… 

I just couldn’t resist taking their results and seeing if I could make renewables look even worse… And it was easy.

The U.S. currently has 274 GW of coal-fired generating capacity (274,000 megawatts).  Using the capacity factors in the EIA’s most recent LCOE analysis, I calculated how many MW of each source would be required to replace 274 GW of coal and then used Strata’s per  MW footprint to calculate the footprint required by each source, if it completely replaced coal.

MW ac/MW Total Footprint (ac) Sq. Miles Capacity Factor
Coal                                 274,000 12.21                     3,345,540           5,227 0.85
Capacity-Adjusted MW ac/MW Total Footprint (ac) Sq. Miles Capacity Factor
Natural Gas                                 267,701 12.41                     3,322,171           5,191 0.87
Nuclear                                 258,778 12.71                     3,289,066           5,139 0.90
Solar PV                                 970,417 43.5                   42,213,125         65,958 0.24
Wind                                 597,179 70.64                   42,184,759         65,914 0.39
Hydro                                 394,746 315.22                 124,431,759      194,425 0.59

Then I related the footprint of each source to U.S. States.

Sq. miles
Connecticut              4,845
Nuclear              5,139
Natural Gas              5,191
Coal              5,227
Hawaii              6,423
Georgia            57,906
Wind            65,914
Solar PV            65,958
Washington            66,544
California          163,696
Hydro          194,425
Texas          268,581

For hydroelectric, I used the total areas of California and Texas.  Otherwise, I just used land areas.

Picture4

The pictures related to each power source are roughly scaled to the total footprint required to replace coal.

 

Some may say, “That’s silly!  No single power source is expected to replace coal.”  This is true, however some people think that wind, solar and hydroelectric can provide 100% of our electricity.  In which case we would need a Georgia-sized wind farm, a Washington-sized solar farm and a hydroelectric capacity (including the rivers) almost as big as Texas.

Or, we could just roll with three Connecticut-sized footprints: Coal, natural gas and nuclear.

Glossary

LCOE: Levelized cost of electricity.

MW: Megawatt

GW: Gigawatt = 1,000 MW

 

Featured image source:

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Tom Halla

No, the whole idea is to conserve, so actually producing power is irrelevant./sarc

[sarcasm noted and appreciated]
OTOH, there are those MANY enviro-Nazis, such as Tom Holdren, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Holdren, obama’s senior advisor [science and tech], who advocated strongly for such conservation while “non-conserving” human global population. If I recall correctly, he is in the group which advocated for total global human population = 500,000. Such people would NOT recognize nor appreciate the sarcasm in your statement.

Thomas Homer

Power generation from solar and wind is a function of land area and is therefore not scalable for general human consumption. Solar/wind cannot decide to ramp up existing output to meet increasing demand, they each require building more units.

Griff

but, unless Tesla EVs and the like make a difference in the future, isn’t US power demand declining?
And there’s a lot more energy saving from the likes of LEDs to come

All future solutions depend on scalability!

Paul Penrose

Yes, but only marginally. And that is expected to turn-around soon.
No, further conservation efforts will yield little reduction in overall electrical demand. It’s called the law of diminishing returns.

oeman50

In my state demand is still growing, just not as fast as it was previously. Efficiency is kicking in, but more and more megawatt-hunger server farms are being built to serve Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. They are contracting to get “100%” of the new load supplied by renewables, but we all know what that means. The grid is still being used to absorb the overage and supply the underage to make sure they have power all the time and not be subject to the intermittancy of renewables.
And, as the economy recovers, the loads will continue to rise overall, but maybe not in states that suppress growth through onerous taxation and anti-business regulation.

nn

The blight factor is a significant metric when determining the composition of the energy production basket in individual ecosystems.

chadb

I grew up in Texas so maybe I have some antiquated property rights ideas. If I want to build a house on my property you don’t get to veto it just because you think its ugly. If I raise pigs you don’t get to veto them just because their smelly. If I want to frac you don’t get a veto just because you prefer solar power. If I want to lease my land to a wind farm… Well, you get the idea.

Bryan A

David,
Do your figures cover only replacement (Nameplate capacity) or are Capacity factors and generating restrictions factored in. I believe that it takes almost 4 tmes as much generation to offset fossil generation.
Also, does it include the needed additional capacity to charge batteries during the daylight hours? (capacity in addition to that immediately utilized for daily functioning)

Bryan A

Sounds just about right, I kept coming up with 3 times and 4 times as much capacity as well, but this was for current average annual usage and not the increased energy necessary for electrifying transportation.

Sheri

chadb: That’s probably true, but you might consider what I do to my property in response.

That’s exactly right, property rights are under assault pretty much everywhere and it always concerns me when people refer to “our” land use ,as if all land use should be decided by public planners with little or no regard for those who own and pay taxes on “our” land.

commieBob

I’m making a wild guess about what the ‘blight factor’ is.
When an oil or gas well is done, the site doesn’t need much remediation. On the other hand, when a strip mine is done, the problem is significant. It seems to me that the two cases are orders of magnitude different.
Having said the above, a properly remediated strip mine looks a lot better than a solar farm and the environment is way more natural. link

Sheri

Unless you are familiar with the reclamation process,. you probably cannot pick out where an old strip mine was. There are very few clues to the area’s past life.

Resourceguy

How do you measure the land use impact of a coal slurry dam failure or the carry cost of on-site nuclear waste storage with security expense? These are non trivial analytics issues.

Dean

The same way you measure the radioactive tailings dams created in china to produce the rare earths necessary for wind turbines?

Griff

and smartphones and many other consumer devices. The problem is low chinese environmental standards in all industry, not that renewables require polluting mines/manufacture.

nc

Then what about the cost of removing and disposing of solar panels? How about the cost of removing wind towers and the huge concrete base? We could play this game all day.

“Resourceguy August 9, 2017 at 10:55 am
How do you measure the land use impact of a coal slurry dam failure or the carry cost of on-site nuclear waste storage with security expense? These are non trivial analytics issues.”

Ah, the specious nightmare fears spread by rumor and innuendo.
You are correct. They are non trivial analytics, they’re specious claims thrown about by the trivial.
Tell us about the wanton deaths of raptors, scavengers, bats and migrating wildlife?
Or the artificial land desolation caused by massive solar arrays and wind farms?
Not forgetting the wind turbine impacts to humans, livestock and wildlife living near those false science edifices.
Can solar/wind electricity provide high quality, extremely consistent electricity needed to run industrial equipment? Of refine ore into the specific alloys needed for bearings, armatures, windings, structures of wind turbines?
The answer is, no.
Those subsidized absurdly expensive inefficient monuments to politicized science require near 100% backup by sources that can provide consistent high quality electricity.
Politics that forces wind and solar power usage as primary sources, instead of the reliable energy sources.

Griff

Solar: not short of parking lots or rooftops in the US, I think?
Did you factor in energy saving/demand management?
What size wind turbine did you allow for? If you put a few windfarms with the new 8MW turbines of the E coast, that cuts the space down on land perhaps?
and of course with coal and nuclear plants still closing and nobody building any more, their footprint is going down… old coal mines and old coal power plants are ideal for solar too.

Paul Penrose

Parking lots have vehicles parked on them during the day. Doh!

John M. Ware

Parking garages usually have parking on the roof also–that’s way too much space to waste. I often prefer parking on top because my car will be so much easier to see, and in the winter will be warmed by the sun, if any. The idea of using them for solar panels seems ludicrous to me.

Clyde Spencer

Paul,
Well, to be the Devil’s Advocate here, one could elevate the panels and provide shade for the vehicles. That would be most appreciated in Phoenix. On the other hand, if you tried that in Rochester, and the panels collapsed on the cars after an exceptional lake-effect snow, the car owners might not be thrilled. Speaking of which, how does one clean off 4′ of snow on thin, delicate PV panels?

Griff
Griff

Just to be clear, there are already hundreds of parking lots with solar panels over them. NRG signed an agreement with Kaiser to put them in at all Kaiser’s Western health facilities (which may have gone with NRG reorg, haven’t kept up, but proves the practicality)

Sheri

There’s an industrial wind plant here where there was a coal mine. Thousands of dollars in reclamation shot down with huge towers that mar the land. What a waste of money on all accounts.

Griff

My folks are from a coal mining town… I stayed next to the mines as a child.
I cannot see that a coal mine is more pleasing to the eye -or better for the health – for the inhabitants of an area.

Sheri

It’s much, much better. Coal produces energy 24/7. The mine does not stand 400 feet in the air and turn 300,000 acres of the prairie and mountains into an industrial area. It serves a purpose other than to make billionaires richer and richer and shaft the residence of the area.
Do you live next a wind plant? Are your recreational areas being turned into turbine jungles? Is your cabin 10 miles from 60 gigantic spinning towers of avian death? Would you love looking at hundreds of towers everywhere your drive, instead of herds of elk, mountain views, wildflowers, etc? How in the world can a mine at eye level, or below, covering only a few acres (versus hundreds for the turbines) be less of a disturbance than hundreds of spinning (occasionally) 400 foot towers? Either you’re blind or you have a very warped view of what’s ascetically pleasing. Nature is now concrete and steel.

“Griff August 9, 2017 at 11:01 am”

Willful ignorance at full sail.

John from Europe

Solar: still no power 50% of the time.

Venril

This is a site which tracks daily electricity production and demand in California, by source.
http://www.caiso.com/outlook.html

Samuel C Cogar

old coal mines and old coal power plants are ideal for solar too.
Shur nuff, Griff, …….. old coal mines are a wonderful place for disposing of old worn-out solar panels.
Finally, you comment contained something worthwhile ……. even though I’m sure the enviros “greenies” would adamantly oppose it.

dan no longer in CA

Don’t forget about the renewables technology risk!

rocketscientist

How the hydro land use requirement was arrived at leaves me wondering. What metric was used to “normalize” the sizing assessments?
The amount of energy derived depends on flow and pressure head. The pressure head comes from the elevation difference between the level of the reservoir and the level of the turbines, not on acreage of the reservoir. The capacity of the dam will determine the flow capability. A smallish reservoir will need to restrict its flow so as to not be drained as quickly. The flow rate that maintains pressure head equilibrium of the reservoir is dependent on the watershed replenishing it.

nc

Also there may be one storage reservoir but multiple generating facilities downstream reusing the water flow. Then there are run of river generation with no storage. These would reduce the total area.

rocketscientist

nc, I agree. Such a combined metric conglomerates far too may different hydroelectric concepts and assumes they are all Hoover Dam.
For many large scale hydroelectric facilities the primary determining factor is how high the dam needs to be to generate the pressure head. The size of the subsequently created upstream reservoir is a result of the dam height and upstream topography, not so much on how much water will be needed to maintain flow rates.
This is a misleading metric which biases against hydroelectric generation if land use alone is the determining factor.

Paul Penrose

If you consider the purpose of this posting is to figure out how much land it would take to replace coal generation with other sources, it is probably a reasonable method. Sure there are lots of different types of hydro facilities with differing amounts of acres per megawatt, but in this case we don’t care if the metric does not fit well for all of them. We only care about the average, because if we built enough new hydro plants to replace all the coal plants, it would all average out anyway. So far ballpark figures, this is fine.

Clyde Spencer

Paul,
It is really academic anyway. The best hydroelectric sites were built up first. I think I remember reading that something like 95% of all the suitable sites have been developed. Many of the remaining potential sites have issues of being in national parks/monuments or defined wilderness areas. So, for all practical purposes, we have all the hydroelectric capacity we are going to have. There is little chance for hydroelectric to make much in the way of inroads on replacing other sources.

marque2

I think the point is dams tend to be triple use. They 1: generate power 2: provide flood control 3: provide water for a thirsty populous. Hoover dam does all three of these, so you have to do an apportionment of how much of that land use should be dedicated to each cause.
Admittedly this gets tricky and folks use dubious math to prove their case with apportionment. Eg, when corn is turned to ethanol, they apportion some of the energy to the remaining low energy byproduct because it can be used as cattle feed – not that it actually is – since it has to be delivered most and would rot if not fed very quickly. Some more goes to the stover (corn stalks) which are used for animal feed, and occasionally as cellulose stock.

chadb

If wind is placed throughout the Texas panhandle and cattle grazing and farming continues uninterrupted then who gives a flip?

Thomas Homer

Where will the installations go to power San Francisco? Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, etc.?

chadb

You probably start running out about there. However, increased wind farms in Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska etc. along with a few strategic HVDC lines connecting Dallas to Memphis, Boise to Chicago and so on could displace a lot of the power currently being produced in the south east and near Chicago. I doubt lines connecting Iowa to New York could be profitable, but it is not difficult to imagine wind penetration increasing nationally from 6% to 15%. The natural answer for DC and NYC would be ocean. However, I doubt even 15 MW turbines could get down to $0.05/kWh so I don’t know whether that will ever be feasible. However, improved geothermal heating units could likely displace a lot of current energy use in the NE.

MarkW

Even with HVDC, maximum practical distance is about 500 miles.

chadb

To MarkW below:
“Even with HVDC, maximum practical distance is about 500 miles”
Somebody should make sure Brazil knows that so they don’t build the 2,385 km long Rio Madeira HVDC line capable of carrying 7.1 GW. Oh shoot, they finished it in 2013.
Also, according to Wikipedia there are 14 individual projects over 1,000 km each with a total capacity of 68.6 GW. Another 3 with a total capacity of 22GW are under construction. Let’s note that these aren’t Germany Energywiende projects, they are coal and hydro powered lines in China and India. If China and India can push around 90GW of electricity on lines 1,000 km or longer we can build a line connecting Wyoming to California, Texas to Memphis, Iowa to Chicago, etc. To put it in perspective the Rio Madeira line could connect Dallas to New York. If Dallas could buy wind from West Texas farms at $0.04 /kWh (current wholesale is below that, but let’s kick it up to that level for fun) and sell it into NYC at their current retail rates of ~$0.2/kWh over a 10 GW line and you assume a 40% capacity factor (capacity factor of new wind turbines) they would make $5.6B/y on the spread. The reality is that the capacity factor of the line would be higher (solar farms would pop up near wind turbines to sell their power into NYC), and the state would likely charge high interconnect fees, so it is difficult to know what the exact return would be. However, the economics could very well work out.

usurbrain

How favorable are the envirowhackos going to look at the underground pipelines needed for transmission of this HVDC throughout the US along with the necessary facilities about every four to five hundred miles for distribution node points?

seaice1

“Even with HVDC, maximum practical distance is about 500 miles.”
As pointed out by chadb, MarkW has again made an unsubstantiated and completely wrong assertion. I recommend checking before posting.

Walter Sobchak

I don’t, but I don’t go there. The folks in the area who are annoyed by the noise and wildlife destruction might have a different opinion, and it is their territory.

Javert Chip

…not to mention the taxpayers who’re forced to subsidize this crap.

Sommer

Thanks, Walter. There’s far more than audible noise to be concerned about with industrial scale wind turbines. Why not include this form of ‘trespassing’
http://ulsterherald.com/2017/07/30/expert-warns-adverse-health-effects-turbines/
as part of the ‘footprint’?

MarkW

The migratory birds that are being killed by the windmills give a flip.

Sheri

Yes, chadb, the owner can and often does fence out the entire wind plant. The two large wind plants going in in Wyoming take 300,000 acres total area. Open space is destroyed, as is the history of the area and recreational opportunities (people don’t generally camp under wind turbines so far as I know). They are blight on the land—like sticking hundreds of Washington monuments out on the prairie connected with dirt roads. Of course, if you hate open space, wildlife, and nature, they’re perfect.

Retired Kit P

I have been to Wyoming. I would rather camp in a truck stop with our motor home than Wyoming open spaces.
There are an infinite number of free camp sites where you have all the open space you want.
We are not running out of open space.

Sheri

Retired Kit P: A person from Japan will say we have too much open space because we have a backyard. So we all should live in 600 square foot houses packed in like sardines because the Japanese live that way. We can cram thousands more into cities that way.
Of course, since you don’t apparently like open spaces and wildlife and nature, you’d love wind turbines. Please have them moved to YOUR backyard, not mine, and we’ll both be happy.
(What is it about people that they fear being out alone in nature?)

Resourceguy

The 550 mw Topaz solar farm is slated to be surrendered to the Corrizo Plain enviro groups when the panels are removed at the end of the PPA contract term. That was a stipulation in getting the groups to allow it in California. It was dry land before and will continue to be so after.

Brett Keane

In spite of the tears of urban folk, nothing is really lost from Hydro. Part of a river is converted into a lake, both of water. Natural lakes can be made from cataclasmic volcanic explosions, or having a mile of ice form and scour the watercourse deeply before leaving a tailings dam at one end, of great size, or from immense landslips combined with deep erosion. And folk will say ‘how lovely’,with justification. None of the above last forever, however. So, get real.

Javert Chip

Ok let’s get real.
Lake Powell has materially changed the Grand Canyon.
Your flawed bucolic view is that since everything is eventually going to change anyway, why worry about sooner the later?
Logic like that is difficult to argue with because it’e mind-numbing stupid.

DonM

Natural dams on the Colorado had greater impact that anything done by man. They lasted longer than any manmade structure will last; they took longer to fill with water (20 years of obstructed flow before over topping); and more sediment released at failure than anything imaginable.)
The previous dams on the Colorado system materially changed the river system as well.
Perspective matters; I don’t live there so I don’t care.
https://wwwpaztcn.wr.usgs.gov/webb_pdf/Fenton-ea-2005-QR.pdf

Retired Kit P

The place we call ‘grand’ canyon is an isolated waste land with little value. It is not particularly unique or ‘grand’ when it comes to western river systems.
I have been there and it is beautiful. Other than its destination as a national park, the river could be used for power.

Ted

Anyone living in the area that is now underwater would bet to differ with the idea that nothing is lost, especially the farmers.

Thomas Homer

The St. Francis Dam had many losers. Those that lost their land to the new reservoir, and those that lost their lives and homes when the dam failed.

MarkW

With both wind and solar, the best locations are already being used.
If we were to start ramping up production, less optimal sites will have to be selected.
This will cause the acres/MW number for them to get even worse.

chadb

Incorrect. Wind sites are already being repowered. The best sites were taken 20 years ago and now the 300kW turbines that were there are being replaced with 3MW turbines. Also, as the turbines get larger there are more areas that can be built without taking a capacity penalty.

Thomas Homer

MarkW – “the best locations are already being used” chadb – “Incorrect … The best sites were taken 20 years ago ”
???

seaice1

Thomas – since the 300kw turbines are being replaced with 3MW turbines, the sites are only 10% “used”.

Thomas Homer

seaice1 – [ Thomas – since the 300kw turbines are being replaced with 3MW turbines, the sites are only 10% “used”. ]
You’re admitting that “the best locations are already being used”, so that is not incorrect. Your argument now is that, while those locations are in fact in use, the turbines there currently are so inefficient that replacing them with more modern turbines might produce more power.

seaice1

The response is really aimed at this
“With both wind and solar, the best locations are already being used.
If we were to start ramping up production, less optimal sites will have to be selected.”
That is wrong because we can ramp up production by up-grading the already used land.

Trebla

One of the contributors to Ted Talks did a back of the envelope calculation to see how much land area in the U K would be required to grow enough biomass to supply Britain’s energy needs. He ran out of country!

seaice1

Trebla – I agree entirely. Simple back of the envelope calculations can easily show that land-based biomass cannot replace fossil fuels. Utilising waste biomass can make a contribution.

We lost the Hetch Hetchy Valley, the nearby twin of Yosemite, to a reservoir for San Francisco, and the tears were shed buy environmentalists, not the urban folk of San Francisco. http://www.hetchhetchy.org/history_of_the_valley

Retired Kit P

Who is we and what is lost?
Yosemite is lost to tourist hordes.

The only power source, sustainable or otherwise, that makes sense is nuclear. First we do liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR), then fusion. LFTR is compact, scalable, dispatchable, non-proliferating, consumes nuclear waste and produces little, and is fail-safe. Its only problem is our environment of abiding ignorance, abetted by scaremongering media and politicians.

seaice1

I agree that nuclear should be an important and incresing part of our energy mix. Nuclear offers us a reasonable and safe way to a lower carbon future. The anti-nuclear lobby is just as anti-science as the CO2 denying lobby.

Median capacity factor for onshore wind in the US,is,0.31, not 0.39. See guest post True Costmof Wind at Climate Etc. for details and sources.

Earthling

Probably nothing better than Electricity will ever be discovered that would displace it as the most efficient source of power/energy. However it is produced, and how much land is required to host the various means of production of electricity will still require dedicated right of ways for power lines (Both AC and HVDC) The one thing we should do now is to make sure these Easements and Right of Ways are in place for the future so as the CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) protesting civilization and development cannot stall future power line construction. I may have missed it, but I don’t know if this article made much mention of the power line foot print required to transmit electricity, and we will need much more power line capacity in the future. It will be required forever, unless of course, Tesla was onto something with his wireless electricity transmission. I guess never say never, but it hasn’t happened yet.

seaice1

” I may have missed it, but I don’t know if this article made much mention of the power line foot print required to transmit electricity, ”
you can only have missed it if you did not read the report. Each source has a section titled “Transmission/Transportation Land Use”
It is difficult to miss.

Earthling

The only reference to power line foot print is very vague… “For each source, it approximates the land used during resource production, by energy plants, for transport and transmission, and to store waste materials.” There would be a lot of overlap on the same power line, whether it be Transmission or Distribution. All electrical generation, wind, solar, coal and gas or nuclear uses the same power line infrastructure. I didn’t see any substantive break down for such. However, this opens another question where say, much more distribution lines are required to install solar, but at a very low capacity factor as compared to a NG or nuclear generator that goes straight out to Transmission lines. This is a fairly simplified article, but it does show that capacity factor, and power density for choice of source of electrons does make a difference to total foot print.

Bryan A

Probably because the Power Line footprint is the same regardless of the source of energy generation. The only additional Transmission facilities would depend on generation placement though any new generation would require additional intertie

Paul Penrose

Bryan,
That’s wrong. Because solar and wind are so diffuse, they require a lot more transmission lines. This is a significant factor that is often overlooked or just hand-waved away.

Griff

domestic solar doesn’t need any more power lines at all… reduces amount of power needed to be provided over grid.

Paul Penrose

Griff,
That might be the most ignorant thing you’ve ever said. But it’s hard to judge since you spout so much ignorance. So tell me, just how do you interconnect millions of PV panels spread across thousands of acres of land?

Michael S. Kelly

Bravo. Excellent article.

Svend Ferdinandsen

It could be valuable to measure the land use for 1MW production at some time now and then. It would give more information to also tell about the MWh produced in a year or in average over a year.
A 3MW windturbine can produce 3MW maximum, but might only produce 1MW in average over a year.
Normal power stations produce 80 to 90% of the rated capacity over a year, if they are not reduced because of other variable and unpredicted sources.

seaice1

It is certain that wind, hydro and solar will need more land than fossil fuels. However, the numbers are disputable. for example, for wind they say
“Within the total land use requirements are direct impact areas. Permanently disturbed land amounts to less than one acre and only 3.5 acres are temporarily disturbed by construction and other activities.173 Wind turbines require vast tracts of land to operate, but the direct impact area is often comparable to other power sources. Despite smaller direct impact areas, this study will rely on the total land use requirements of 60 acres per megawatt due to the restrictions on development that the presence of wind turbines causes. ”
So despite saying that direct impact of wind could use similar areas of land to other sources, they have chosen to use total land use – assuming the land cannot be used for other purposes.
I am sure the real answer is somewhere inbetween, but this analysis has taken the worst possible case for wind.
For solar, the location of concentrated solar plants is likely to be desert, which has little other use.
Whilst this sort of analysis is useful it is very far from being the whole picture. This sort of analysis is very useful for showing that land grown biofuels can never replace fossil fules for transport for example. However, the type of land used is very important, and deserts and mountain lakes tend to be pretty low productivity before the energy source is installed.

Sheri

The only use for land is for human beings to cover it coast to coast? No open spaces, everything covered with concrete steel and roads. Perhaps even use wilderness areas and national parks. After all, the turbines don’t really disturb anything. There are millions of acres of parks in windy areas. Why not?

seaice1

See Scott Adam’s “Absurd absolute proof” that I have won this exchange.

Sheri

It would only be an absurd assertion if 1700 turbines weren’t going in within 150 miles of my house. Also, I remind you that at one time a boy saying he was girl and winning high school track meet trophies in the girl’s division would have fallen under the Scott Adams “Absurd Absolute”. In the face of the denial of reality by much of society, I’m not sure Scott Adam’s idea is still valid.

seaice1

“to cover it coast to coast? No open spaces, everything covered with concrete steel and roads” Absurd absolute

Tsk Tsk

And precisely how much land was budgeted for backup of these intermittent sources?

Michael S. Kelly

No, it didn’t put forth the “worst possible case” for wind. I don’t know what that is, but I know it’s worse than one central wind park. The reason is that wind turbines actually can’t coexist with random people. They are big, very powerful, and therefore very dangerous machines. Wind farm host municipalities have, for years, been struggling to find the safe “standoff distance” for people. Various studies have been done, but the one I recall the best analyzed the actual incidence of hazards that could affect the public from the long history of wind farms. Dominating the standoff distance calculation was blade-throw, the shedding of one of the multi-ton, 200 foot long blades and flinging it a considerable distance. Analyzing the actual history revealed a probability of 1 blade throw per hundred windmills per year. The authors guessed that the phenomenon would, in the long run, average one blade through per thousand windmills per year. Based on that guess, they recommended a standoff distance that exceeded that required for efficient turbine operation. In other words, the boundary of a wind turbine farm would extend further than calculated by a “hectares per watt” estimate, and the increase in land use would grow with the number of wind farms.

seaice1

“Strata receives at least some funding from those great Americans: The Koch Brothers. ”
Not just recieve some of their funding from the Koch’s – the ties are closer than that.
“Simmons was the “Charles G. Koch Professor of political economy” at Utah State from 2008 through 2013 and is the President and Director of Research for Strata. In addition to serving as the Koch Professor at Utah State, Simmons also runs the “Koch Scholars” Program, which receives an annual grant from the Charles Koch Foundation.”
Simmons is the Strata president.
Ths does not make their conclusions wrong, but perhaps sheds some light on the choice of using the worst case scenario for wind of total rather than direct impact areas.

Paul Penrose

They also used the worst case for coal, oil, and gas by including mining and transportation land uses. I wonder why you left that part out?

seaice1

I did not leave that out, all these are included in each case. Look at the quote I provide – they chose to use total land use rther than direct impact. That is a “worst case” for wind. Show me where they chose to use a total area rather than direct impact for coal and we can discuss. The mining and transportation uses for coal use are all direct impacts.

seaice1

For anyone that wants to slag off Mosh for his Engish degree “Landon earned a bachelor’s degree in communications…”
Landon is the lead author of this report.

TonyL

In his graphic comparing power footprints with states, David Middleton has covered eastern Mass. with nuclear power plants. The area includes Boston, Cambridge, North Shore, South Shore, and MetroWest. A most astute choice! This is one of the most liberal areas of the country, and is heavily infested with moonbats.
Paving the whole region over with nukes would greatly enhance the quality of life in the rest of the state. Finally, a climate change program we can all get behind.

seaice1

An interesting point is the use of land outide the USA in some calculations. Whilst this is one way to look at things, it also increases the amount of land avalable to the whole world.

Tsk Tsk

So no more nonsense about using up multiple Earths, right?

seaice1

Tsk Tsk, touche. However, I was pointing put that the argument generally is discussng land area in terms of the USA, whereas the article is not restricted to USA.

usurbrain

Does Musk realize that less than 1/2 of all family homes have a roof facing South?
Does Musk realize that of those roofs facing south half of them have a pitch of less than 9/12 – 37 degrees with the most common pitch being 6/12 or 26.6 degrees. Thus they panels will not be at optimum angle for solar efficiency.
Does Musk realize that there are only 125 million homes in the USA? [https://www.statista.com/statistics/183635/number-of-households-in-the-us/]
Does Musk realize that the average home is only 1660 sq ft providing a roof of about 2000 sq feet, and only one half of the roof of a home facing south is usable, i.e. 100 sq feet? [https://www.fatherly.com/love-and-money/family-finance/average-size-houses-us/]
Is Musk aware of this map? http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/atlas/serve.cgii
Note that is for a plate tilted at an angle of 15 degrees greater than the latitude, about 50 degrees. do you want that on your roof.
Is Musk aware that when directly on the roof that all you get is this map? http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/atlas/serve.cgi

Paul Penrose

Musk realizes that he can get people to buy his product by hyping the good points and not mentioning the bad. Just like every other company selling a product. Many of which, gasp, also take advantage of government subsidies. So why is Elon Musk always singled out?

Sheri

Perhaps because he is the epitome of the modern progressive—using everyone else’s money to run his businesses. Tesla went something close to 13 years without making a profit. I read once that Musk said profit was not important, the mission was. Only someone not using his own money would say that.

Robert

Some apparently interesting work in this study is made absolutely misleading if not worthless by assignment of transmission acreage on a prorata basis. For nuclear, transmission represents 80% of total landuse of 12 acres/ MWe. Compare this with landuse for nuclear plants such as Chinshan in Taiwan and Hanbit in Korea which come in at 0.04 acres / MWe. When land is scarce, the production facilities themselves take up 300 times less land than the assigned value from the ‘study’.
Robust transmission networks will be required in any industrial society, and no, you can’t power steel mills from distributed rooftop solar. Further, nuclear due to large unit size and high capacity factor will use a much smaller share of transission acreage than other intermittent and distributed sources. This is clearly evident in FERC publications related to high penetration for wind.
For meaningfull comparisons, production facility acreage should be shown separately from transmission. Otherwise, comparisons are misleading.

Middleton makes a fool of himself again. The implicit assumption of this entire article is that “less land per megawatt is good. To show what a stupid assumption this is, consider rooftop solar. This technology takes area that serves no purpose, which would do nothing otherwise, and uses it to produce energy.

Another example of how stupid this implicit assumption is, is that the land used for a wind turbine farm does not preclude the land for it’s original purpose, be it livestock grazing, or crop production. When the land is use for TWO purposes simultaneously, it increases the value of said land.

Seriously Dave, go out and do a scientific poll of the cattle grazing underneath the wind turbines, and find out if they mind the whooshing noise.

Robert

Wind is not free for adjaent landowners in Germany. Real estate values for properties with a view of a wind turbine suffer a 15% discount relative to similar properties with unobstructed views. Who compensates those landowners?
And for me, the nightime visage of the wind farms on I-65 north of Inianapolis is absolutdly hellish, venturing into Mad Max territory. Anyone think this improves the view?

“Who compensates those landowners?”

The same people that compensate the landowners downstream of a coal ash pond:comment image

Griff

about half of German wind turbines are owned collectively by local communities. who presumably agreed to the turbines being amongst them.
https://energytransition.org/2013/10/citizens-own-half-of-german-renewables/
(and I’d like to see a source for your assertion)

Robert

You really want to go there? Can anyone argue that the local wind farm increases property values?
From Forbes (23 Sept 2015):
Here are some more detailed analyses about wind project effects on
property values, by independent professionals:
A 2013 Study of over a million homes by the London School of Economics,
concluded that properties near turbines will decline in value. Searchlight wind farm could reduce property values by 25-60 percent, suggest studies.
A 2012 study by Lansink Appraisers: Diminution in Price.
A 2012 Study by E.ON Energy Research Center (German Utility company):
The Impact of Wind Farms on Property Values.
2012 testimony in Lee County, Illinois, by appraiser Michael McCann.
A 2011 study Values in the Wind: A Hedonic Analysis of Wind Power
Facilities by Clarkson economics professor, Dr. Martin Heintzelman.
A 2011 Study by appraiser Michael McCann on property value impacts in
Cape Vincent, New York.
A 2011 Report by appraiser Michael McCann on property value impacts in
Brewster, Massachusetts.
Testimony of appraiser Michael McCann on property value impacts in
Adams County, Illinois.
A study done by Metropolitan Appraisal, regarding the Forward Wind
Project (Wisconsin).
“A Wind Turbine Impact Study” by appraisers: Appraisal Group One, and a
later version.
A valuable report: “Impact of Wind Turbines on Market Value of Texas
Rural Land” by Gardner Appraisal Group.
“Living with the impact of windmills” presentation by Real Estate broker
Chris Luxemburger, is an analysis of some 600 sales over a three year
period.
Testimony of Maturen & Associates, Real Estate Appraisers, concerning the
effects of wind projects on home values.
In addition to being an excellent noise an health effects report, this
document has a twenty page appendix on property values.
Wind Power Siting Issues: Overview” (by energy expert Tom Hewson): cites
several studies.
Appraisers report property value losses near turbines.
Government Agency agrees that turbines do devalue property!
Property assessments reduced near turbines.
Property assessment lowered for home near wind project.
Grafton Vermont Property Values Forum (1/17/14): Mike McCann
Council tax cut for homes near wind farms.
These are some other analyses and commentary about wind project
effects on property values:
Wind farm ‘blight’ cutting value of homes by up to a third.
“How do wind turbines affect property value?”
Property values are the new front line in the war over wind turbines
32 Lawsuits against wind developer — including property value loss
Falmouth Real Estate – “The Turbine Effect”
Turbines complicate sales of abutting homes.
“Wind Industry Big Lie: Your Property Value Will Not Be Affected.”.
Vermont Wind Developer buys neighboring property after lawsuit
“A new slant on wind projects” offers a very helpful idea as to put some of
the economic benefits of wind projects into perspective.
This site has a fine collection of property value articles.
“Property Values decrease by 40% if view of wind turbines” is an analysis of
a real estate broker on turbine impacts on residential values.
An excellent discussion by the Wisconsin Realtor Association about the
adverse effects of wind development.
An analysis by an Illinois Realtor about effects of wind projects.
A survey by a Wyoming Realtor concluded that properties nearby a wind
project were virtually unmarketable.
“Property values blowing in the wind” is a report done by a local Realtor
about wind project effects in her area of northern NY.
See here and here where two Realtors make formal testimony about the
effects of wind turbines on property values.
Landowners say Turbines have Hurt their Property Values.
Wind turbines have reduced property values, court says.
Wind Turbine Compensation Stirring Discontent (Denmark).
“How Industrial Wind Projects Affect Property Values” is a worthwhile
commentary by Chuck Ebbing.
A nice presentation “Turbine Effects on View Shed” by engineer Chuck
Ebbing.
“Impact of wind farms on the value of residential property and agricultural
land” an RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Survey.
“Farm couple fights wind turbines”.
A newspaper article: “Critics say wind turbines hurt land values.”
“Wind turbine homes threat” is a news report.
“I predict a series of rural ghettos of abandoned, unmaintained homes” says
an experienced appraiser.
The Better Plan website has a good example of a real estate problem, plus
some good recommendations.
Here is a good news story about homeowners holding out for the wind
developers to buy their property — and succeeding very well.
This article says: “Horizon, opponents debate effects on property”.
“U.S. wrestling with property values and setbacks for its wind turbines”
touches on several related matters.
This UK site site lists several other sources regarding property values.
“Giant blades are slicing home prices” an article about experiences in
England.
“An Ill Wind Blowing” is a story about an English family’s experiences with
a wind project depreciating their home value.
Ontario Parliament member calls for a provincial home value study about
another English family’s experiences with a wind project depreciating their
home value.
“Windfarm Blows House Value Away” is a story about another English
family’s experiences with a wind project depreciating their home value.
“Wind farm property sells at sheriff’s sale.”

Ooooooops….

Hey Middleton, this analysis doesn’t account for the fact that off shore wind doesn’t use land.

And how about floating solar? http://www.seaflex.net/wp-content/sembly_data/thumbnail/f1/7614c7205535b2a4b9ab128ac69aeb.jpg?134177

Clyde Spencer

MSJ,
Well, if cattle liked to eat feathers and guts they might well congregate under the windmills. But, they don’t! I haven’t done the “scientific poll” but I have been around cattle enough that my suspicion is that they probably will take a while to get used to the noise and the approaching blades. Cattle can be spooked easily. I’d be interested to see if anyone has actually done your study.
By the way can you tell me, if I were to replace the asphalt shingles on my roof with the new Tesla PV glass shingles, would I be able to walk on them to remove leaves or deep snow?

Robert

BTW Dave,
Your efforts in producing a large quantity of high quality articles for WUWT is greatly appreciated in this corner. Your energy level must be close to Trumpian proportions.

Robert, I agree with you regarding “quantity”, but the quality is lacking.

The amount of land used for wind power is negligible even though wind farms cover large areas. To say that it would take acreage the size of Georgia to produce required amount of electricity is meaningless since the US has potential wind areas able to produce electricity which are several times the size of Georgia, where the actual amount of land used would be a mere fraction of the total area of the wind farms.

Griff

Yes… and solar goes on old airfields, over parking lots (many already in use for this), on conference centers, warehouses, on reservoirs, over irrigation canals, on houses, schools, old coal mines and even on farmland which can still be used for grazing sheep or raising chickens.
No shortage of space for solar.

Griff

another place you can put solar – an old nuclear plant!
http://www.powermag.com/abandoned-tva-nuclear-site-new-life-solar-farm/
I note:
“he site remained mostly untouched until Charlotte, N.C.-based Birdseye Renewable Energy partnered with United Renewable Energy of Alpharetta, Ga., earlier this year to design and build the solar farm2
and
“A 2016 report from solar panel manufacturer SolarCity said today’s solar panels should still produce about 80% of their power after 35 years in service. “

BlueDevil

Solar is banned around active airfields in NC, and, in the immediate area around them due to causing reflections that blind pilots.

David – A worthwhile article, thank you. My previous post disappeared so here is a shorter one.
The Capacity Factor for wind power (too high, imo) reflects the ridiculous fact that non-dispatchable wind power is legislated into the grid ahead of much cheaper and fully dispatchable conventional power. This is the BIG FIX that our idiot politicians have enacted to make wind power LESS UNeconomic.
We pay the wind power companies 20 cents/KWh 24/7 for their output, and when there is too much wind power we give it away for free to neighbouring provinces and states. We also idle much cheaper gas-fired power costing 2-4 cents/KWh to make room for the much more costly wind power. It takes a politician to be that stupid (or corrupt).
However, the true factor that reflects the intermittency of wind power Is the Substitution Capacity*, which is about 5% in Germany today. This is the amount of dispatchable (conventional) power you can permanently retire when you add more wind power to the grid. In Germany they have to add 20 units of wind power to replace 1 unit of dispatchable power – ja, that’ll work!
Regards, Allan

Retired Kit P

“David – A worthwhile article”
No Allen it is not. The article is worthless crap. David is an idiot for writing about the power industry. Why folks in the oil and gas part of the industry think they have a clue is beyond me.
First off, electricity has huge benefits to society.
Second the most important criteria is safety. Over the years, the power industry has become one of the safest industries to work in and live near.
Third, the power industry must show that it meets customers needs with insignificant environmental impact and we do. It has taken a long time to reach this goal
David is debating just how insignificant, insignificant is.
How stupid is that? Texas stupid! There are parts of Texas with lots of people and cars and no wind resource. Other parts of Texas has hardly any people or cars, but with a great wind resource. I have even seen a few wind turbines turbines there.
The step that David misses is determining the of such things as foot print. This a public process. If a windfarm is proposed, neighbors are asked what they think. Since David is not a neighbor, what think does not matter.
I have been to a few public meeting where the NRC ask for public input. The usual suspects from far away cities show up and make the same statements over and over. What you like or dislike also does not matter. To stop or shutdown a power project you need a substantive and non-emotional reason. It also has to be factual.
This is a two way street. Regulators are required to consider alternative power sources. For example, for a nuke plant; coal and gas are alternatives. Wind and solar are dismissed by the NRC because it does not meet the need for baseload power.
When and if wind and solar can produce baseload power, then fossil and nukes can be replaced. It is up to the wind and solar industry to show this. Not going to happen.

KIt – I reject your comments. Read my above post in detail.
Wind power is worthless, even harmful because of intermittency – it costs too much and it destabilizes the grid.
Paying 20 cents/KWh for nondispatchable intermittent wind power vs 2-4 cents for dispatchable reliable gas-fired power is so utterly stupid that it beggars belief.

Andre

Allan, game, set, match!
Retired Kit, you’re coming across as a crotchety old geezer with no major points other than to be contrarian. And you’re not particularly nice about it either. Doesn’t make your contributions very valuable, just saying.

beng135

Greenies don’t care about “frontprint” ’cause that’ll always be done somewhere out in the sticks/flyover country, away from their cities & suburbs. Unless it’s near their summer homes in Martha’s Vineyard (Kennedys) — then it’s not acceptable of course.

Retired Kit P

Wind farm developers I have talked have a map showing local wind resources. Superimposed are places are you can not build because wind advocates will see them from vacation houses.

Sheri

How many wind proponents live near the wind plants? How many of you here that love wind live within 15 to 20 miles of 300+ turbines (many of which are visible from your road), another 46 in a different wind plant, drive by 11 turbines on the way to work and have over 200 near your recreation areas? How many of you have 700 being installed where you used to hunt and camp?
How many wind advocates would be estatic if a natural gas backup plant went in next to their house? Do you live with the reality of what you think is so great?

Retired Kit P

I am not a ‘proponent’ of windfarms. I am an an opponent of stupid.
Sheri is using the debating device of asking the rhetorical question.
I camp and sail smack dab in the middle of two wind farms. Does not bother me in the least. Can not hear them.
The trains on both sides of the river can be an irritating source of noise. A 100 car coal train goes by daily to the coal plant down the road. I like to use electricity.
The grain elevator makes noise along with the trucks bringing it wheat and the barges taking it away. Wheat dust all over the place. I like to eat bread.
When the wind is blowing from the east, I can smell the paper plant and feedlot. I use paper and like beef.
When we choose to enjoy modern conveniences, it is implicit that you accept the means of providing them.
‘the way to work’
Of course Sheri’s work and her driving a car would not be a problem to anyone!

Sheri

There are WORKING means of providing them and then there are ripoffs. Wind turbines are ripoffs. The landscape is dispoiled for nothing but corporate welfare, passed on to land owners who get second hand welfare.
I have had railroads through my back yard, lived next to car washes, downwind of hog farms, grain elevators, and etc. I did not complain about these because they had VALUE. Wind turbines only function is to make billionaires richer. Nothing else.
My driving to work may involve an electric car for all you know. Yet you assume it does not. Assumptions are okay from your side?
I am curious how many turbines you are referencing? 10, 20? 50?
Would you live next to a nuclear power plant? A uranium mine? A rare earth mine? Is there anything you would consider an intrustion great enough to leave?
I am not doubting you. I am just trying to understand. People tend to dump on those who live in truly rural areas that are “worthless” to most people. That’s where many of the turbines are—where no one could fight back against them. What is “worthless” to you may have great value to me and I don’t want to give that up any more than you would something you valued, assuming you value anything enough to not want to lose it. Giving it up for the benefit of corporate welfare makes it all the worse.

seaice1

I don’t mind NIMBY’s, but I don’t want them anywhere near me.

Retired Kit P

“Of course, since you don’t apparently like open spaces and wildlife and nature, you’d love wind turbines. Please have them moved to YOUR backyard, not mine, and we’ll both be happy.”
Sheri, why is that apparent? Clearly some open spaces are less desirable than a truck stop. Truck stops are crowded, most open spaces are deserted.
Here is an example of a beautiful open space. Although it is hard to get to, you can see some desire to be there. Gooseneck State Park, Mexican Hat, UT
https://freecampsites.net/#!914&query=sitedetails
We have a piece of land where we can hear the ocean surf in Washington State. It is mostly overgrown with nature. It is home to 5 deer. Enough was cleared enough to park the motorhome and the deer coexist within a few feet.
Another open space where we park the motorhome is on the lakes behind dams in Oregon and Washington State. We were sailing there long before windfarms took advantage of the good resource. Sailing by definition is an open space activity. Seeing wind turbines on the hills with wheat fields, does not destroy the open space.

Sheri

“Seeing wind turbines on the hills with wheat fields, does not destroy the open space.” Open space does not include wheat fields. It’s open areas where there are no people living and no structures. Just short of being what used to be called a wilderness area where no vehicles were allowed.
This is extremely difficult for people to understand. Open space in the West means acres and acres of land used only for grazing or recreation. There are no buildings, nothing. People moved out West for the open space. Now, in order to supposedly keep the lights on in California, thousands of turbines are going in. It benefits only people out of state and takes away what people moved here for.
Perhaps a better way to explain:
If you lived in a city and it was decided to raze the city, send everyone to live only in small towns and on farms and ranches, in order to put in a power system that generated power on a random schedule in varying amounts, would you just sigh and move to the country. What turbines do to the open spaces out West is the same thing—razes our open areas for a power source that is completely random. We become an industial wind park, not open spaces. Can the city be razed and you just move away? Can several cities be razed?

Retired Kit P

Why are we having this debate?
Having worked at many nuke plants, I can tell you that some do not like nuke plants. Others do not like coal. Some want to tear out existing hydro. Being against something does not require rational thought. It is about the drama of having a cause in a world where survival from cold winter nights is no longer an important issue.
Since providing power is a public service, we are tasked with proving power they way our customers want even if it is not the most practical choice.
The expected unintended consequence is that a new set of crackpots will find irrational reasons to be against things like wind a solar. Sheri comes to mind.
Of course the reason they are a crackpot is normal people do not care. Think of it this way. A normal person understands that some people like chocolate ice cream and some do not. If you get angry, upset, and unhappy because not everyone agrees with you, you are a crackpot.
Unfortunately, crackpots organize and politicians pander to them. Next thing you know some mayor or governor is banning chocolate ice cream.
So how easy is it to avoid seeing power plants of any sort?
Last week I drove 1000 miles from the PNW to the Mohave Desert. The first power plant I saw was McNary Dam. Then there was a gas fired power plant and another wind farm which was the first in the PNW. The itinerary of the first 50 miles included dumping my sewage holding tank and buying fuel.
This was followed by 500 miles of backroads. Took a break in a beautiful Oregon state park. No one else was there. Took a break in a beautiful Blue Mountain forest service campground. No one else was there. In Nevada, had to wait for man on a horse to move a herd of horses off the road. Will not see that on the interstate.
Took a break in a ‘beautiful?’ Nevada rest stop that was 100% open space No one else was there. Had to run the generator to run the A/C since it was 105F.
Finally got to I-80 for 50 miles. Bought fuel and saw a coal fired power plant. This was followed by 500 miles of backroads. Took a break in a ‘beautiful?’ Nevada rest stop that was 100% open space No one else was there. Had to run the generator to run the A/C since it was still 105F.
The point, again, the footprint of the power industry is insignificant.

Sheri

Excuse me, irrational wind worshipper.

Sheri

“Of course the reason they are a crackpot is normal people do not care. Think of it this way. A normal person understands that some people like chocolate ice cream and some do not. If you get angry, upset, and unhappy because not everyone agrees with you, you are a crackpot.”
Wind plants are like mandating a set amount of chocolate ice cream per state, at an elevated price, subsidized by the government, paying the chocolate ice cream people for the ice cream even if they don’t deliver it and building the ice cream factories in the middle of parks. I’m sure “normal people” will agree that chocolate ice cream not delivered but paid for anyway and mandated to be bought before vanilla or any other flavor, paid for in large part by tax breaks and produced in factories in the middle of parks is a great way to sell ice cream.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

Thanks Dave — interesting as always, but some people sure got ruffled!
Land acquisition is part of the cost of building anything. There’s a monetary aspect, which is of course quantitative and then there are intangibles. All other things being equal, acquiring more land costs more money. So it is not at all irrelevant to consider how much land is required to produce the same amount of power through different technologies. If you like recreational lakes, you might well think the land area converted to hydroelectric use is a net benefit. I suppose somewhere there are people who find living next to a wind farm is pleasant.
While land used for nuclear, gas or coal power generation is devoted exclusively to that purpose, land required for hydro and wind is still available for some other uses (I wouldn’t put a sky-diving school near a wind farm however). That mitigates to some extend the disparity between thermal and renewable technologies.
However, I believe you can put a CCGT plant on exactly the same footprint as a decommissioned coal plant — maybe even reuse the building — so the net land cost of replacing coal with CCGT is zero.

Retired Kit P

Alan the reason you are wrong is that each power project has a specific location. It is not some hypothetical situation. Regulations require the environmental impact be insignificant.
Sheri asked me if I would live next to a nuke plant. Well of course. Buy me the million dollar house on the cooling water lake for one of Duke’s plant and I will live there.
I would live next to the TVA coal plant with the worst coal ash spill. Again you will have to buy it for me because it is mire than I can afford.
I have been to these places. Land use is not a significant issue in the context of society. In the context of project development there is lots to consider.

Sheri

No, we do not buy you the house, we build the plant next to your current house.

Retired Kit P

Sheri objection to windturbines is that she can see them and she does like them because she can see them.
This is called a circular argument.
Like said I have been there. You can see them from the interstate which I try to avoid. Ugly before wind turbines. I checked for the closest ‘free’ campsite. Walmart it is!
For those who have not been there, Wyoming is vast barren place. The foot print of beautiful places you would want to visit is small. Mostly butt ugly.
Culturally and historically barren too. Lots of fossil fuels.
I have lots of memories of Wyoming. All the goods ones are from avoiding the interstate.

Sheri

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