Does Starbucks think virtue signaling can “save the planet”?

Will corporate and government green-washing save Earth from inflated or phony eco scares?

Paul Driessen

I’d just passed the local Starbucks in Chicago, when my cell phone buzzed to say the Washington, DC City Council had unanimously agreed “in a preliminary vote” to require that 100% of the District’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2032. How can they put hundreds of wind turbines and solar arrays in DC, or get only renewable electrons from the wind-solar-fossil-nuclear grid? I wondered.

Then, just a few hours later, I received an email from a marketing and public relations firm. “Starbucks IL Stores Going 100 Percent Renewable,” it announced. The email and a related news release explained that Starbucks has entered into an agreement to power some 340 company-operated Illinois neighborhood coffee shops (plus the future Chicago coffee bean Roastery) entirely with renewable wind energy.

The electricity will be generated by the soon-to-be-completed HillTopper wind project in Logan County, about 150 miles southwest of Chicago. HillTopper is operated by Enel Green Power North America, but the Starbucks deal also involves a separate agreement with Exelon Corporation subsidiary Constellation.

The project’s nameplate capacity totals 185 megawatts; once fully operational, HillTopper will be able to generate 570 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually … under optimal wind conditions. The Starbucks-Enel-Constellation arrangement will involve 48,000 megawatt-hours of wind power annually – “enough to brew nearly 100 million cups of coffee” in the Illinois shops – the memos state.

All these numbers certainly get confusing – an unavoidable problem with wind (and solar) energy, largely due to its notoriously intermittent, unreliable, weather-dependent nature. The problem is also irrelevant to issues that are central to all “renewable” energy and their conjoined “Save the Earth” campaigns.

The fundamental, though diligently ignored reality is that nothing about wind (or solar) energy is renewable or sustainable. Breezes and sunlight are certainly renewable, if inconstant, and free. But their energy is highly diffused and dispersed – the very opposite of densely packed coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear fuels. And the complex systems needed to harness “free” wind power are anything but free.

Major wind projects like HillTopper require scores base that can reach 100 feet below the surface, a 400-foot-tall tower, a monstrous nacelle and generator, and 215-foot-long blades. They kill raptors, other birds and bats by the thousands. And every “wind farm” requires 100% backup by coal or gas-fired power plants that run 24/7/365 on “spinning reserve,” ready to power up every time the wind dies down.

During a nasty heat wave in 2012, northern Illinois electricity demand averaged 22,000 megawatts, but turbines generated a miserly 4 MW. Try brewing coffee in 340 Starbucks shops on 4 megawatts, especially while operating the lights, refrigerators, AC and computer hookups on that piddling electricity.

The backup units require only a few hundred acres, but they also require extra costs, materials and fuels – which means you need expensive duplicate energy systems. That is not renewable or sustainable, either.

Briefly analyzing the life-cycle, cradle-to-grave, global aspects of a wind project and its fossil fuel backup power plants – to assess their “climate friendliness,” renewability and sustainability – requires reviewing the fuels and raw materials needed to manufacture, install and maintain both systems.

Coal and gas power plants require enormous amounts of concrete, steel, copper and other materials, reflecting their energy output. Wind turbine towers and bases require thousands of tons of concrete and steel; rotor blades are made from fiberglass, carbon fibers and petroleum resins; nacelles from petroleum composites; generators and magnets from steel, copper, rare earth metals and multiple other materials. Transmission lines need steel, concrete, copper and plastic. Not one of these materials is renewable.

Extracting ores for these metals, limestone for concrete, petroleum for resins and composites, requires removing billions of tons of rock, processing and smelting ores into usable metals, refining crude oil, and manufacturing everything into finished products. Every step in those processes requires fossil fuels. You cannot make even one wind turbine with wind energy – or transport a turbine … or coffee beans … with wind (or solar) energy.

A single HillTopper-sized wind turbine contains about 800 pounds of neodymium, 130 pounds of dysprosium, other rare earth elements, and tons of other metals. If you want to use rechargeable batteries, instead of coal or gas backup units, you need lanthanum, specialized rare earth alloys, lithium, nickel, cadmium and assorted other metals – in massive quantities.

Many of those metals come primarily from China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places where child labor is common, adults earn a few dollars a day, and health, safety and environmental rules are all but nonexistent. They’re the renewable energy equivalent of “blood diamonds” and slave labor.

All this raises some awkward but vital questions that customers, journalists, regulators and politicians might want to ask Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, former CEO and now executive chairman Howard Schultz, board chairman Myron Ullman, vice chair Mellody Hobson, and local franchise owners.

* Will Starbucks Illinois stores actually get electricity from HillTopper? Will transmission lines run directly from the Enel wind turbines to each Starbucks store? If not, how will Enel separate wind-generated electrons from the renewable-fossil-hydro-nuclear mixture on the regional grid?

* Since neither of those options is viable, will stores just get fancy certificates, attesting that equivalent amounts of electricity were transmitted from HillTopper to some customers somewhere in the state?

* What will power the shops when the wind isn’t blowing? If the HillTopper electricity is used to brew 100,000,000 cups of coffee a year, what’s left for lights, heat, AC, the Chicago Roastery and so on?

* How is it possibly “renewable” or “climate friendly” energy, if the turbines, transmission lines, backup batteries and backup fossil fuel power plants all require numerous non-renewable raw materials and fuels? How does your 100% renewable pledge factor in the fossil fuels needed to build all those components?

* How will your shops function without fossil fuels for plastic cups, tables, chairs, display cases and counter tops; paints and cleaners; ships and trucks to haul coffee beans; and factories to make all this stuff?

* How is it ethical, moral or “social justice” to get your electricity from slave and child laborers, who risk their health and lives in filthy, toxic pits, under few or no health or safety standards? Will you demand better, safer, more environmentally sound practices in those countries? If so, how might autocratic rulers in those countries react to those campaigns – and impact your business and profits there?

* Will Starbucks require that Enel Green Power allow independent biologists on its HillTopper sites, to determine precisely and honestly how many birds and bats are butchered by turbine blades every year – and prevent company or hired personnel from burying carcasses or letting scavengers haul them off?

* How is it ethical for highly profitable companies like Starbucks, Enel and Constellation to profit from a wind energy system that exists only because of government mandates and taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies? How is it ethical to launch slick PR campaigns to get glowing press coverage for doing so?

* Even with subsidies, wind-based electricity (with its essential battery or fossil fuel backup systems) is more expensive than conventional power. Will the higher electricity costs be passed on to Starbucks customers – or will Illinois ratepayers in general be saddled with higher prices?

* What climate benefits will come from this? Asian and African countries have more than 1,500 new coal-fired power plants under construction or in planning. Assuming for the moment that carbon dioxide actually is the primary force in climate change – how many thousandths of one degree less global warming will the Starbucks Illinois wind energy program result in? Who made that calculation for you?

It’s hard not to view this “100% renewable electricity” campaign as little more than a very clever public relations and virtue-signaling exercise, presented to friendly media to garner accolades the companies really don’t deserve. It will be interesting to see how company officials answer questions like these.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of books, studies and articles on energy, climate change, the environment and human rights.

118 thoughts on “Does Starbucks think virtue signaling can “save the planet”?

  1. I hope that the City Council of Washington also required that their local residents refrain from electricity when the wind is not blowing and the sun is set!

  2. Let’s not forget that you have to increase the number of wind mills if you are going to use batteries as back up.
    The power to charge those batteries has to come from somewhere.

  3. There is now a market for fake solar arrays and old, non-functional wind towers in the virtue signaling game. How would they ever know if the solar array is still working or not or if the batteries are doing anything?

    • Right, and just have a fake, free-wheeling pinwheels w/fake wires. Greenies will think it’s producing if it’s spinning. As you say, solar panels are even easier to fake — just black-painted glass w/”wires” running underneath. And then have painted black boxes for “batteries”. Viola, greenie-altars.

  4. so let’s see……people pay taxes….their tax money is spent on wind to run a direct line to Starbucks…to power coffee shops

  5. The wrong question was asked up at the top.
    The correct question is:

    Does Starbucks think virtue signaling can “Save Starbucks”?

    Yes, yes it does.
    (Why do you ask?)

    • I don’t think Starbucks is in danger of going out of business. 18% profit margin & $4.5 billion+ net profit last year.

      But, yes, this is all hokum.

      • We’ll get to see how “profitable” Starbucks really is when their coffee costs more that $10 per cup.

        If Starbucks can pay for all of those wind turbines and the land they sit upon, the price of coffee may rise higher.

        I doubt Starbucks will get any free passes for dead eagles, raptors, bats, etc., from President Trump.

        • “We’ll get to see how “profitable” Starbucks really is when their coffee costs more that $10 per cup.”

          Won’t slow anyone down in the slightest.

      • They were having a lot of problems last year when Starbucks management decided allowing the homeless to sleep in their outlets was less of a problem than was being accused of racism.

    • Because their clientele is primarily composed of man-bunned, laptop-toting gig-working arrested development case “hipsters” for whom being seen in “approved” places by “the woke” crowd is key! What I’d like to know is who decided “THE PLANET!” ™ is in need of “saving” at all–homeostasis seems to do a very good job without the input of today’s so-called “smart” set who if they get any “smarter” will remove themselves from the gene pool, thankfully. Soy lattes alone ought to do it!

    • “It’s hard not to view this “100% renewable electricity” campaign as little more than a very clever public relations”

      Actually, it’s no a clever plan. It’s greedy and takes advantage of the public and their taxes. It appears to be a very stupid plan that is going to be very complicated and so confusing in the long run that the public will ignore it or lose interest in Starbuck’s projects.

  6. Paul Driessen,
    Your dissection of the ‘nonrenewable’ material manufacturing chain that makes the ‘renewable energy’ claims possible reminded me of a couple of lines from an old Rolling Stones song: “Bite the Big (Green Energy) Apple! Don’t mind the maggots, Uh Huh!”

    This illustrates the New World Order of Green Hippocracy perfectly! Thanks!

  7. An excellent article which politicians, bureaucrats et al will read and comprehend at their peril; so will seek to avoid.

    Incidentally: Coffee beans are renewable so why is Starbuck’s coffee so expensive?

    • Beats me, because I think their coffee is lousy and bitter. Give me Dunkin’s any day, but I vastly prefer to stay home and make my own, topped by an inch of raw milk and a quarter inch of whipped cream atop that!

  8. Well then I’m happy to announce that from here on I will only be breathing 100% oxygen molecules.

  9. Another good reason to stay out of Starbucks! If their over-priced and over-rated coffee were not enough.

    • My wife is a coffeeholic but does not think starbucks is any good. Me, I’ll stick with regular old tea, black with no flowery flavors, thank you.

      • I quite often find PEETS COFFEE is far better than the Overblown Starbucks.
        Starbucks only has the market share it maintains from Predatory practices.
        It finds a competitor chain that is doing well in its location then offers the Lease Holder 4 times the rent to both take over the space and add the stipulation that No other coffee seller can be rented to at that strip mall locale

      • I would have to agree with your wife. I also don’t think Starbucks coffee is any good I make much better coffee at home.

        Matt

      • Some nice English Breakfast tea, with some sweetener of choice, to start the day. And a nice smooth Assam with lunch. Much better than that expensive crap at Harbucks.

      • As am I (I hand grind my hand roasted coffee beans) and I detest Starbucks coffee. To be fair I detest almost all commercially made coffee, when I take a long trip in my car I always take my beans, roaster, grinder, and French Press with me, along with a large thermos full of ‘my coffee’.

  10. “Renewable” energy (or grocery bags, or garbage pails) confers a self-appointed halo upon fake saints pretending to believe in things they have no intention of doing. As the article points out, virtually all the palaver about renewables is math-challenged.

    If America were really serious about non-carbon energy, they’d be building more nuclear power plants, the only current scalable technology for baseline electricity. Favored areas could build more hydroelectric dams.

    Absent those two commitments, the fakery will continue, and Marie Antoinette will continue turning over in her grave at the hypocrisy.

  11. Why don’t they just cold brew all their coffee and serve it at room temperature. Cold brewed coffee is less bitter and very tasty and eventually everyone will get used to room temperature beverages.

    • Depends on where your room is, and the dependability of energy to heat or cool.

      Starbucks, get a fresh cup of cold to lukewarm coffee at a location near you today!

  12. Let me say that I entirely agree with Sir David Attenborough well known British TV naturalist who said at the COP 24:
    “…the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” ( the horizon being only some 7-8 years away multiplied by 10^9 -my remark)

  13. At least with Solar, you can plan every day around noon for 3-4 hours of getting something. But in the winter, that is still practically nothing, especially if it is cloudy or the panels are covered in snow. And wind can quit blowing for days on end, so it is actually a huge lability when it is going for broke every wind gust and then a lull. What a nightmare to load follow that mess.

    Somebody must have failed Grade 4 Arithmetic.

    • This highlights a fundamental difference between the public and private sectors — incentives are much different.

      The private sector has to deal with rates of return, investment outlays, and risk assessments. The math for public sector decisions is really quite simple. Is the expected number of votes gained a positive number or is it a negative number?

      • Incentives, risks, and offsets. There are fewer fungible practices in the private sector than in the public sector, where the latter is heavily managed through democratic leverage.

    • “Somebody?” How about a bazillion jillion?

      That’s a precise number, by the way, not a guesstimate. Good enough for the snake oil salesmen, guilt-mongers, and hypochondriacs controlling the renewable energy traveling humbug show.

  14. While the money flows to subsidize such schemes, so too will the lies to justify them.

    The only question seems to be “How bad does it have to get before we elect politicians willing to fix the obvious problems?” It reminds me of the 1970’s in the UK: Loss making nationalised industries in cars, coal, steel, etc were forever soaking up more and more and more money from a nation that could increasingly not afford to pay for obvious stupidity. Were it not for North Sea Oil revenues, there might have been violent revolution in the 80’s. Whether you loved Thatcher or loathed her, it was inevitable that such a politician would get votes. People who ought to know better seem to want to go through the cycle again.

    • On the other hand, it’s not hard to find people who regret the loss of those nationalized industries and believe the solution to your current crisis is to re-nationalize everything.

      • MarkW

        In great part because successive governments couldn’t keep their sticky little fingers off what all of them though was rightfully theirs to meddle with. Trains were a fine example. When British Rail was broken up and sold off to the private sector they were still operating slam door carriages; you know the type, in the best tradition of 1920’s romantic movies, and man were they grotty.

        The private sector was expected to modernise the entire rail network and of course one way to help with that was to economise by cutting obsolete and unused services. Customers complained to the government and they waded in with hobnail boots, as though they had been any better.

        Too complicated to go into here but it’s a complete mess with rail fare increases about the only thing that can be guaranteed every year in this bloody country, apart from death and taxes.

        I believe the UK government and civil service is, per head of population, substantially larger than the US. Our tax burden is now approaching 45% of income in no little part, because of the bloody EU, I have no doubt!

        The sooner we get a ‘no deal’ exit from that nest of vipers and get back to trading with the US and the rest of the world under World Trade regulations the better.

  15. Excellent post. I have been asking questions that have been answered by this post. Ideally, this situation must be resolved by the time the petroleum resources start to play out within the next century. Go ahead and let the “green” energy folks evolve the new systems into something viable and comparable and affordable and reasonable but without tax payers subsidies. (1) Electric mid sized cars that can transport four and travel 300 miles per charge at a reasonable rate of speed and comfort with a back up battery for an additional 50 miles. (2) Mega/Gaga DC voltage/power storage at a reasonable cost to consumers and tax payers. (3) Life cycles greater than todays products by at least x4. (4) Long lasting DC to AC converters for transmission and home solar cell usage. (5) Safe non explosive/flammable DC battery consumer products, a consequence of packing high energy into a small package.
    BTW, we need to research geothermal resources as Mother Earth has an endless molten energy core that can be tapped at depths of todays modern day drilling rigs for steam generation.

    • “BTW, we need to research geothermal resources as Mother Earth has an endless molten energy core that can be tapped at depths of todays modern day drilling rigs for steam generation.”

      I loved that idea too, but when it was tried in Switzerland it caused earthquakes (small). I hope it can be tried again.

      • As I understand it, most places in the world simply don’t have rock underneath them hot enough to make it economically viable. Iceland is one of the few exceptions.
        Drilling further down in ‘cold’ locations is, of course, just prohibitively expensive. It is just another green myth that we can satisfy our energy needs this way.

        You can’t do it with wind.
        You can’t do it with solar.
        You can’t do it with geothermal, and
        You can’t do with hydroelectric.

        You can do it with nuclear. And we shall.

        • It’s actually worse than that.
          IF you have available water topside (above the dirt and rock), and IF the rocks below are warm enough to make it worthwhile drilling, you still MUST drill down deep enough to get to the hot rocks. then you MUST force the cold water down through the (very expensive) drill pipe liner to get to the cold water to the hot rocks.
          Then you MUST force the warming water through the hot rock matrix to some other point where you MUST ALSO drill down to the hot rocks, COLLECT that now-warmer water, and PUMP it back UPHILL to the now-warmer-water collection tank (which you must also build.) But the water you get back up is only 40% to 60% of what is pumped down below ground.
          Make-up water MUST be always available, you cannot count on a hot water table 600-1200 feet underground – or you would have a very rare fountain and geyser pool!
          So, now you warmed water topside, but it is cooling down and wasting energy. Need insulation, pipes, pumps, heat exchangers, and water cleaning equipment. LOTS of water cleaning equipment because MOST of the underground hot water in the world is highly contaminated with sulfur, magnesium, chlorides and chlorates, manganese, iron, clays, silts, silicons, …. Many of which will build up in pipes and pumps, heat exchangers and tanks, and foul the system yu are trying to use.
          Smell bad and kill people too.

      • Geothermal energy involves fracking. Exactly the same process, with the same fluids, as used for shale gas.

  16. So now at Starbucks Illinois they ask you if you want “the dead bird coffee or the regular?”. Where does this pass from killing birds and bats come from? Virtue Signalling? Where’s the virtue in chopping up our brothers and sisters the birds and bats? This whole meme boggles the mind. We should turn activists and take photos of dead birds/bats under windmills and ask the states Wildlife Department to get involved. That’s my virtue signal.

    • The number of birds killed by wind turbines is un-measurable (way down below the noise level) for total bird mortalities due to most causes in effect today, including collisions with buildings, power lines and towers, and vehicles, and deaths due to feral cats.

      Don’t lose any sleep over birds dying in windmills – it is literally nothing compared to the number of birds who collide with all of above.

      But all of the crocodile tears shed by right wingers over acropophylic bird killing windmills who otherwise don’t give a hoot about anyother environmental concerns is possibly one of the major contributors to sea level rise in the 21st century.

      Stick to the science and engineering folks – don’t practice environmental concern trolling, it simply is not credible.

      • First off, there aren’t reliable, current numbers for avian deaths due to wind turbines. And secondly, if the number of these turbines is increased at the rate the promoters suggest, these mortality figures will go up fast. And then they will become a concern – when it is too late. So this is a valid issue, although obviously not the only, nor the most important one when considering a massive build-out of wind power farms.

        • There have been cases in Scotland where eagles have disappeared, and landowners have been accused of shooting them. However, it was pointed out that there were windfarms within the flying range of the birds. RSPB refused to believe that a wind turbine could have been the cause. probably because they have investments in that sector.

          I’d like to see webcams at some of the windfarms so there can be an independent assessment of birdstrikes. After all in wild country it’s likely that a carcass is quickly claimed by a land carnivore, so an occasional visual inspection of the site may not reveal much.

        • Wildlife conservation groups and the Federal government have performed numerous studies over the decades proving the avian mortality data. You just choose to ignore data in favor of ideology.

          Sorry, ideology does not trump data, whether on the part of climate alarmists or right wingers who knee-jerk approve of anything that liberals like or say.

          I am none of the above. Not a winger of any strip. Just a lifelong engineer with an advanced degree in environmental science management and veteran of decades worth of fights between the BS artitsts and those armed with actual data and analysis.

          BS artists come in both left wing varieties and right wing varieties. They are all tiresome.

      • Wind turbines kill bats (not killed by the other manmade causes listed above) and raptors (ditto).

        • Not only do they kill Raptors, they kill enough of them to upset the prey predator balance. A study of Indian wind turbine farms shows that they kill (or drive off) 75% of the Raptors near them, causing a real environmental problem because their natural prey (rabbits, rats, etc) multiply without the Raptors to control their numbers.

        • The problem is that all of the above you site do not do what Wind Turbines are doing to the ‘Apex’ predators in the bird world.

          A recent study in India shows that wind turbines reduces the local raptor population by as much as 75%, which creates an environmental issue as their prey (rabbits, rats, etc) multiply without the raptors to control their population.

      • “But all of the crocodile tears shed by right wingers over acropophylic bird killing windmills who otherwise don’t give a hoot about anyother environmental concerns ….”

        Funny. But right-wingers were the original conservationists, continuing on for over a century, and scorned the while by belching-smokestack hard-leftists. They were the people behind the Audubon society, etc. Many of them continue to have a feeling for nature and the environment.

        • Yes. Duane has fallen for the lie that somehow only one side are able to care, and that “the other side” must therefore not care, by definition. That their way is the only way.
          I’ll admit that over thirty years ago I thought similarly.

        • Not true. The original conservationists were the opposite of right wingers, who cared only about extracting wealth from the land. Teddy Roosevelt was certainly no right winger. Neither was Muir. Neither were any of the original conservationists.

          Please, just stop with the fake concern trolling over the birds. You guys could not possibly care less. You convince nobody.

      • It never ceases to amaze what a long life a convenient lie has.

        But then again, you leftists have always believed that a lie in service of your ideology is a good thing.

        Speaking of practicing trolling, you’ve done enough to qualify as a professional by now.

      • Duane,

        un-measurable, or un-published?

        Wind Industry is effectively acting like the tobacco industry and not just as bird killers. They KNOW there are issues and concerns and making a deliberate effort to distract or avoid with either cover ups, outright dishonesty, removal of evidence and by deflecting the discussion by mentioning feral cats.

        (also, I am a Dog Person, so any time you want to violently deal with the feral cat issue rest assured you do not need to ask my permission first.)

        (also also, I would be interested in seeing studies linking feral cats to raptor killings. The fact cats often kill the smaller bird species is a distraction. It is like saying that it is okay to kill a few whales because krill die all the time. )

        Face it Duane, if you really support the environment you have two choices. Remove yourself from the planet in order to save it for the cute furry animals, or vote Right of Centre. Industry and jobs is what protects the planet. It is only when people have money and safety that they start to see the great outdoors as something to protect and respect. If you are starving then rainforests are fuel for your cooking fire and those small endangered animals are lunch.

        And before you ask, I do strongly suggest you choose the second option. 🙂

  17. You see, they add the renewable energy to the national grid, then they tap it off at the local Starbucks store.
    You see, the grid is like a power version of the internet.

    Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen this scam before with provider who promises renewable, non-nuclear power but the small print doesn’t guarantee it will actually be renewable, non-nuclear power if it is unavailable.

  18. Renewable drives, disposable technology. That said, there is space for the natural black blob, occasionally delectable; the artificial green blight, sometimes grating; and other things altogether different (and scary); in the energy production basket.

  19. Renewables are an egregious mistake responding to misinformed subsidy. It is not simply a matter of increased cost. The energy consumed to design, manufacture, install, maintain and administer renewables exceeds the energy they produce in their lifetime. Without the energy provided by other sources, renewables could not exist. They can only exist now because fossil fuels are still used to power industry, heat our homes, power nearly all vehicles, power farming, etc. Incorporating mandatory storage and/or standby CSGT makes it much worse. Renewables are not sustainable.

  20. So called renewable energy, is the dirtiest most environmentally disruptive energy source per terrawatt produced.

  21. Hydrocarbon fuels contain energy stored during photosynthesis.
    Q: What drives photosynthesis?
    A: Light from the sun.
    Starbucks can use hydrocarbon fuels, and truthfully say they are using stored solar energy.

  22. Starbucks will probably die soon…….had one cup of coffee there once, was average and not any better than instant at home.

  23. But that is a HUGE part of climate change, an opportunity to virtue signal, nice proud empty hypocritical narcissistic arrogant egotistical virtue signalling, in 101 different flavors.

  24. In the Climate ampitheater, Virtue Signaling is the name of the game. As long as you genuflect properly and sincerely at the Greenie Altar, and promise to do pennance, you are good to go. Appearances are everything. It’s how they keep the CAGW juggernaut trundling along, even as the wheels fall off and it self-destructs.

  25. Think of this: the very fact that we are ABLE to build such big wind mills means we do NOT need them, because of the huge amount of fossil fueled energy needed to build them.

  26. Gee, I don’t EVER recall hearing all the rightwingers bloviating so eloquently and endlessly about the evils of intermittent HYDRO power like do they about wind and solar power.

    All power supplies are “intermittent” – no power generator has a 100% power capacity factor. And all power demands are intermittent. Matching demands to supplies is the trick of centralized power generation and distribution. It’s not that hard most of the time.

    And where wind power is generated, the scientists have extremely good data on how often and how hard the wind blows, and places that can produce much less than 40% capacity factors are avoided for new wind farms, and other places with higher wind stability are preferred. Ditto on solar power generation. Today, the average capacity factor for wind farms is about 40+ percent, and the newer plants are routinely hitting 50% – which is equal to the best of the hydro power sites that we’ve been depending upon since the 19th century.

    • “All power supplies are “intermittent” FALSE

      HYDRO isn’t intermittent by the minute, hour or day like solar or wind is. You can still deliver base load electricity with Hydro until you make a decision based upon storage levels to start winding down in an orderly fashion. You can generate Firm power for as long as you have sufficient water/head. Even Run of River Hydro is fairly stable since it is the seasonality of the watershed that governs flow, and anyway, the head pond has head level control so it is very gradual up and down, not on and off. Not like wind, where a gust has your wind farm going 4 Mw to flat out 600 Mw in 15 seconds, and then back to 4 Mw 2 minutes later. Same for solar with a cloud going over the solar farm.

      This is why intermittent renewables should only get wholesale rate, but yet they are subsidized to the point of shuffling off base load coal and gas to the spot market where it is worthless, because these renewables get priority access to the grid. You can only do this to a point, before you crash your grid and make the product so expensive, that it was never worth doing in the first place. So you are wrong about that aspect of your comment Duane. These renewables in high proportion to the rest of the generating assets are damaging to the power generation profile and planning. This is why everybody is so mad, especially the crazy high prices that get paid to these shiesters.

    • As soon as you said that we match demand to supply, I stopped reading. You obviously have no idea how the electric utility system works. Supply must be matched to demand, and no, that’s not just semantics. Electrical generation must always load follow demand, but I bet you can’t explain why. Not only can hydro load follow, but it can provide baseload as well. And because hydro uses huge spinning generators, they can supply frequency control. Wind and solar can do none of these things and are in fact grid destabilizers; conventional plants must be taken on and off line to account for their intermittency.

    • Looks like Duane is another leftwinger who couldn’t care less about reality.

      First off, Hydro isn’t intermittent. To the degree that it’s output changes during the day, that’s do to changes in demand, not supply.

      While it is true that everything requires back up, fossil fuel and nuclear are available 90%+ of the time, while wind is available less than 20% of the time and solar isn’t much better. Combine that with the fact that you know weeks and months ahead of time when fossil/nuclear will be shut down for maintenance, wind and solar can and do shut down randomly without any warning.

      Just where are these mythical places where wind is available 40% of the time and why have none been developed yet?

      PS: It really is fascinating how Duane is so convinced that it’s only right wingers who care about affordable and reliable power.

  27. “The project’s nameplate capacity totals 185 megawatts; once fully operational, HillTopper will be able to generate 570 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually … under optimal wind conditions”

    This gives the project a 35% capacity factor “under optimal wind conditions” which is a nonsense and meaningless. You could just as easily say the projects capacity factor is 100% “under perfect wind conditions”.

    “Under normal wind conditions” the capacity factor would be around 25% bringing the annual production down to 405 GigaWatthours.

  28. Paul Driessen,

    Great essay!

    A question that you did not ask: How many of the green virtue signalling outfits will claim the same ‘renewable’ wind of solar generation. I would not be surprised if the same ‘renewable’ source was claimed by many different virtue signaling saviors but the power output coming up short. Hell, I could claim that all my power comes from solar or wind, but I’m not willing to pay the market price for it. It would take some ‘magical’ accounting if everyone made the same claim.

  29. RENEWABLE energy kills. It’s is a program to eliminate the unwanted, the poorest citizens of our society, not unlike results of the Nazi Holocaust.

    ONTARIO’S 2008-enacted Green Energy Act mandates converting to renewables and shutdown of coal-fired electric plants, with the wind energy costing upwards of 41 cents per kwhr, compared to previous coal-generated power at 3 cents/kwhr, that once comprised the most advanced fleet of coal generators on the continent. Ontario’s electricity costs are now the highest in North America.
    References: WindWatch http://www.wind-watch.org/faq-output.php
    Ontario’s high-cost wind-millstone, CCRE Commentary, June 2017 by Marc Brouillette Council for Clean and Reliable Energy http://www.thinkpower.ca
    Quarterly stats show wind power blowing Ontario electricity costs higher https://parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog.wordpress.com/
    Getting zapped: Ontario’s residential hydro prices increasing faster than anywhere in North America:
    Brady Yauch, economist, Energy Probe, Consumer Policy Institute, http://cpiprobeinternational.org

    SECOND, consider the more than 440,000 Ontarians that can either no longer afford electricity from wind turbines, have been disconnected, or their electric bills are in arrears, and disconnections threaten them.
    References:Ontario’s Wind Power Obsession Punishing Thousands-390,000 Families Struggling
    to Pay Power Bills and 58,000 Disconnected — https://stopthesethings.com/2018/01/17
    /ontarios-wind-power-obsession-punishing-thousands-390000-families-struggling-
    to-pay-power-bills-58000-disconnected

    THIRD, consider the Ontarians now among the energy impoverished if their annual incomes fall below $47,700
    Reference: Who suffers most from high energy prices in Canada?
    — April 19, 2016 https://www.fraserinstitute.org/blogs/who-suffers-most-from-high-energy-prices-in-canada

    • The material above should be presented to any legislative committee considering renewables, along with graphics on easel-mounted flip charts and handouts. (It would be happening, if we were the well-organized, well-funded entity we are accused of being.)

  30. Paul,
    The problems of wind and solar were known in adequate detail when I first got involved about 1970. Fifty years ago just about every relevant engineer did the calculations that showed no significant part to play except for niche applications and in remote locations. The energy supply was too diffuse and too intermittent.
    I continue to ask why engineers have avoided mention of common knowledge and proceeded to participate in design and construction of devices they knew were going to fail.
    You engineers out there, why did you not decline to participate?
    Why are you still silent?
    Why are you being paid to advance failure?
    Have you abandoned your principles and your professionalism?
    Geoff

  31. ‘Will Starbucks Illinois stores actually get electricity from HillTopper?’

    Of course not. This is like selling “stadium naming rights.” No reason why HillTopper couldn’t over subscribe like Jim and Tammy Faye.

  32. ‘The Washington, DC City Council had unanimously agreed “in a preliminary vote” to require that 100% of the District’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2032.’

    The Washington, DC City Council has authority over 2018. Double ought zero over 2032. Anything they say about the future is fakey fake fake.

  33. Starbucks and DC didn’t get this bright idea on their own. They were pushed by activists. They wouldn’t have made this move without that push.

  34. Yet again I have to say it. “We have to wait for the lights to go out”.

    Why ?, because the Warmer Greens appear to be winning the Properganda war. Now we have Attenborough saying that we mist all work hard to Save the Planet. A lot of people will say Ïf a man likes that tells us that if] “Climate change, is for real, then it must be true.

    Australia is going to become the canerry in the mine. Sad because once upon a time we were known as the lucky country. Because by world standards we had high wages, we managed because our coal, both brown and black was mostly just below the surface, so open cut which is cheap, is the way we mine it.

    Cheap coal meant cheap electricity.

    Of course while we are now told that coal is very bad, we are happy to sell vast quantities to the likes of both India and China, where because of their fake Ünderdeveloped countries”status, they can ignore all of the restrictions that us Western countries are via Paris, subject to.

    MJE

  35. Will corporate and government green-washing save Earth from inflated or phony eco scares?

    No, but it makes corporations look sexy with it and eco conscious so they sell more product to gullible snowflakes.

  36. So they have a Gizmo now that can sort “renewable” electrons from fossil fuel electrons and from nuclear power electrons?

    • No, but they can charge the saps in DC more for the same electricity though.
      And then the Socialist-Democrats will expect the grid operators to appropriately pad their election campaign coffers.
      It’s a form of pay-to-play.

  37. “Transmission lines need steel, concrete, copper and plastic.”

    Transmission lines today are aluminum. Insulators are glazed ceramics.

    • If Starbucks (or any other entity) wants the 100% renewable bragging rights, they should not receive power from any other source. The only way to guarantee this is by limiting certified consumers’ consumption from a grid to renewable input to that grid.

      SR

  38. Renewable power certification should work like water rights for farmers on an irrigation system.

    As water input into an irrigation system reduces in a dry summer, each farmer’s supply is reduced according to his water rights standing.

    Likewise, when electricity produced by a wind farm or solar power array drops off, each certified consumer should have their supplied power reduced according to their place in the “power certification queue”.

    SR

  39. “Starbucks IL Stores Going 100 Percent Renewable..”

    Thinking there may be a market for a device you clip onto your supply cable that only allows green electrons through, and stops the polluting ones. Of course it will actually do nothing.

    Well, apart from paying for my jet.

  40. Climate Change is causing intermittent winds and unpredictable cloud cover, both of which impede the development of reliable, renewable, wind and solar power.
    As a partial solution to provide full time solar power I am proposing a stationary array of plastic straws in space to act as light-pipes to direct sunlight to areas of the earth that would normally be without sunlight at night, providing energy for solar panels. An additional benefit would be the elimination of the need for streetlights, headlights on cars, a longer growth cycle for plants, and more consistent illumination for football games.

    I’m sure Elon Musk will seize the opportunity…

  41. BTW, am I the only person that finds Starbuck’s makes lousy coffee? High priced and in plastic dispensers. Oh yeah they make a super vanilla caramel latte for people who don’t really like coffee. It’s been a fad of “progressivchiks” to eat “healthy” foods that taste awful – thats how you know it’s good for you.

    • I’m with you Gary. Starbuck’s coffee is ** at best ** very ordinary, and certainly NOT worth the price they charge. There are so many lower cost alternatives that are as good or better than Starbucks, and also more convenient and allow you to do your own virtue signaling. For example, you can make a statement by purchasing your coffee at your local gas station. Not only do you support a business which is delivering essential energy products to consumers, they typically make a great cup of coffee too!

  42. NO business runs on 100% renewable energy if it’s attached to the grid. Any such claim labels the business LIARS and they should be avoided as much as possible. I realize Amazon and other such giants LIE constantly and we probably can’t get rid of them, but the smaller liars can certainly be driven out. Never go to a LYING small business. If they’d lie about where there power comes from, they’d lie about where the coffee comes from, how it’s processed and how it’s served. Their business is nothing but lies, most likely. I would not trust the safety of their coffee. Virtue-signalling equals complete lack of safety of whatever is being sold. No quality control. Just “virtue”.

  43. Does Starbucks think virtue signaling can “save the planet”?

    Yes.

    Along with every other genius out there that think’s “raising awareness” or other such useless gestures matter.

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