Issues & Insights
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They Razed Paradise And Put Up A Solar Farm

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone? – “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell

We’ve been told with clockwork regularity that in order to prevent a baked planet, we have to generate our electricity through renewable sources, primarily wind and solar. Set aside for now the legitimate questions about the reliability and cost of both and consider this: Do we even have enough room for the equipment necessary to produce enough power to meet the demand?

Both wind and solar power are voracious land hogs. Wind or solar can need 90 to 100 times more acreage than a natural gas plant to generate the same amount of electricity. And let’s not forget the large swaths of land that will have to be appropriated, and in heavily forested areas clear cut, to build transmission lines that connect solar and wind farms to distribution lines.

Yes, there is a lot of open land in this country on which to build wind and solar projects. But don’t think the NIMBYs are going to let the renewables sites just roll over without not just a fight but a war.

A recent report from Mass Audubon and Harvard Forest says that it’s possible that solar can grow at the same time that “the nature we have” is protected. But before they can make their case, the authors had to acknowledge:

The current trajectory of deployment of large ground-mount solar is coming at too high a cost to nature. Concerns about impacts to nature are partly responsible for erosion of public support for solar, with many communities now seeking to slow or entirely stop new ground-mount solar systems.

The point was later reiterated:

Under current siting practices, thousands of acres of forests, farms, and other carbon-rich landscapes are being converted to host large-scale solar.

And all this time the save-our-planet left has sworn its great devotion for trees – whose presence is “an amazing nanotechnology carbon-capture solution” – and bucolic farmland. Eco-activists fuss and scold over the cutting of trees to clear land for housing, commercial development, and raw materials, but apparently it’s just fine to remove trees if they’re replaced by solar panels.

In a separate post, Mass Audubon notes that “since 2010, over 5,000 acres of natural and working lands have been destroyed for solar development in Massachusetts, resulting in the emission of over half a million metric tons of CO2 – more than the annual emissions of 100,000 passenger cars.”

Again, we have a clarifying admission that should be in the headlines.

The solution offered by the report is to place solar panels on structures and use them as canopies over parking lots. But not every home and structure can support solar panels, and not everyone wants an aesthetically displeasing solar array on their house.

The authors also admit that rooftop solar systems, “which on average are smaller … involve higher ‘soft costs’ (e.g., permitting, marketing),” and while placing canopies “over parking lots is very popular with the public,” this method carries “higher average costs than most ground-mount and rooftop projects due to the additional materials and labor needed to elevate solar panels.”

Simply put, according to one Massachusetts lawmaker, “it’s cheaper at the moment to buy land, clear cut it, and put up solar.”

This being the case, the authors then – of course they do – suggest “these systems would benefit from additional incentives to be more attractive for developers,” paid for by taxpayers’ dollars.

We have a suggestion: Stop trying to impact a climate that is going to do what it’s going to do despite man’s interventions, and quit manipulating markets and people’s activities. There are more constructive things for smart people to do.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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  • You forgot to address the recipient of your comment, although I prefer an appropriate “Dear Sir” at the end of such sentences, such as:

    “Stop trying to impact a climate that is going to do what it’s going to do despite man’s interventions, and quit manipulating markets and people’s activities, fascists.” Because that is what such interventionists are.

    It’s long past time to call them out for what they are: fascists. We are living in Mussolini’s wet dream.

  • Just like all religion’s, the green religion does not allow dissent. If you speak against any part of their manifesto, you are immediately branded a heretic.

  • This whole solar/wind farms = green is total utter nonsense. Destroy forests which convert CO2 into O2 to put up wind and solar farms??? “Climate change” is being forced down our throats by the very people profiting from it.

  • Out in the wide open West devlopers have plans for huge wind and solar plants. The pending applications call for about 100 acres of ground per MegaWatt (MW) nameplate (which is far more than they produce) of installed wind. Our local utility (balancing authority area actually) needs about 7,000MW (a lot more if they also must charge batteries). Thus, if wind were a dispatchable energy source we’d need 700,000 acres, or 1,100 square miles at minimum. If homes are to be heated with electricity, and all vehicles made electric, then triple the area needed. Then transmission lines to tie it all together. Then more transmission lines to run any available excess to California. Then…

    The land needs really begin to add up.

  • Eh? Hyperbole much? I read the article trying to determine what the “paradise” was that got bulldozed. Couldn’t find it. Solar has it’s place (in sunny places) and wind the same. In fact, one of the best uses of solar is parking lot canopies in Phoenix which is why those stores are packed during the summer. I’d have to verify myself that forest was bulldozed in MA to make room for a solar array. That sounds like a lie to me. Never lived there but I imagine MA gets a lot of cloud cover therefore it would be impractical to install a large solar array there unless of course Uncle Fraud is financing it and a whole bunch of political favors were exchanged.

    • I live in Phoenix. I have never seen a store packed because of solar panel shade. We have them in our parking lot at work. They are a pain in the arse.

    • Make up your mind. Is it hyperbole or is it political favors? My money is on political favors. Do us all a favor, go to MA and check where the forest was bulldozed then get back to us.

    • Here’s the AGW cultic ‘science”:

      1967: Dire Famine Forecast by ’75
      1969: Everyone will disappear in a cloud of blue steam by 1989
      1970: Scientist predicts a new ice age by 2000
      1970: America subject to water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980
      1971: U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming
      1974: Space satellites show new Ice Age coming fast
      1974: Ozone Depletion a “great Peril to Life”
      1976: Global cooling will cause a world war by 2000
      1978: “No End in Sight” to 30-Year Cooling Trend
      1980: Acid Rain Kills Life in Lakes
      1988: More droughts likely, expert tells Senators
      1989: Global warming and rising sea levels will wipe entire nations off the map
      1989: New York City’s West Side Highway underwater by 2019
      1990: We have five years to save the rainforests
      1999: The Himalayan glaciers will be gone in ten years
      2000: Snow will soon be a thing of the past
      2004: Britain will be “Siberian” in less than 20 years
      2007: Global warming will cause fewer hurricanes
      2008: The Arctic will be ice-free by 2013
      2009: Just 96 months to save the world
      2009: We have fewer than fifty days to save out planet
      2012: Global warming will cause more hurricanes
      2013: Arctic ice-free by 2016
      2014: Only 500 days before “climate chaos”
      2014: The science is settled
      2018: We have 12 years to stop global warming
      2019: We have 11 years to stop global warming
      2023: The climate time bomb is ticking

  • Wind and solar farms do more harm to nature and the environment than fossil coal, oil, and gas. The only people who benefit from them are those who get rich from govt. subsidies. In addition they harm birds, animals and sea life. We are idiots for letting this continue.

  • There certainly seems to be a blind spot in all these politicians and the like. Instead of taking virgin land, simply add up all the square footage that exist on federal and state buildings and put the panels on theirs. If that’s not enough, how about all the public parking lots, this would even give us charging stations while people are parked and going to work on mass, transit

    If you really want to get kinky, how about all the median strips that are located on super highways throughout the United States ?

    Unfortunately, all this is the result of bottled vision, which is worse than tunnel vision, that they ignore the easiest approach to solar panels and go for the most difficult.

  • If one believes in anthropocentric global warming, aka the thinly disguised anti-human movement that was forced to change its name to “climate change”, then that person is in a “cult” and is a “cultist”.

    Every one of AGW’s cultic priests hysterical predictions have been irrefutably proven to be false … not just a few, but every one.

    Every one of AGW’s cultic priests hysterical assertions have been proven to be false or irrelevant or deliberately misdirective (aka “a lie”) … again, not just a few, but every one.

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