(Norm Rogers) – Governor Lombardo has issued an executive order concerning Nevada’s energy. He dared to mention natural gas. That will upset the renewable energy believers. They are easily upset. The executive order is a collection of platitudes. Lombardo endorses the dumb energies: solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen and energy storage. He forgot garbage dump methane, one of the less dumb ones.
Telling fanatics that they have good ideas, but we should just change things a little, does not qualify as a courageous step toward sanity. Nor does it help matters. Extremists are energized and validated when politicians endorse their ideas.
Right now, the $2 billion Gemini solar project is underway 30 miles north of Las Vegas, at the intersection of I-15 and the Valley of Fire Highway. This project is only one of many on the drawing boards. It’s a dumb plant and it’s not the first dumb electricity plant that has been built in Nevada.
We would be better off if the $2 billion were spent on a great pyramid, bigger than the ones in Egypt. At least that would be a tourist attraction.
The Gemini project, or any solar project, will not result in the closure of natural gas generating plants. Unless you want to have rotating blackouts, you can’t count on solar energy for electricity. That’s because it’s often cloudy, including in the middle of July when air conditioning creates maximum demand for electricity. The giant batteries at the Gemini plant don’t help at all. Those batteries can only store 4 hours of electricity and every morning they are exhausted because they are there to move excess daytime solar electricity to the early evening and are drained every evening. If you have a cloudy day, the Gemini plant will provide nothing.
According to documents submitted to the Public Utilities Commission the average cost of electricity from the Gemini plant is a little over 4 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s the wholesale cost to NV Energy. If it’s cloudy the existing gas plants will provide the electricity for 3 times less, or about 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s the marginal cost of using the gas plants, mostly the cost of gas.
Solar power doesn’t do away with fossil fuel plants, it only causes them to generate less electricity when the solar is working.
Solar power does reduce carbon emissions but at exorbitant cost. It is nearly impossible to get more than a 50% reduction in emissions from electricity generation with solar power. It is absurd for Nevada to be spending billions to reduce carbon emissions. Even if you believe in global warming, the Chinese are rapidly increasing emissions and anything Nevada does will have zero effect. The only motivation for turning our economy upside down seems to be to set a good example for the Chinese who won’t even notice what we are doing.
The Crescent Dunes Solar plant near Tonopah sells NV Energy electricity for 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour. That plant has had repeated problems. Many other solar and geothermal plants supply modest amounts of electricity for about 10 cents per kilowatt hour. The Ivanpah solar plant in California just across the border on Highway 15, generates electricity for 15 cents and has also had problems.
Expect the Gemini plant to have problems. The lithium batteries store an amount of energy equivalent to 1000 tons of the high explosive TNT. Many fires have occurred at similar installations.
Our governor is painting himself into a corner by giving in to the energy extremists. Once he starts endorsing dumb energy it is hard to reverse course.
Mr. Rogers was educated as a physicist. He lived in Northern California most of his life and was co-founder of the company Rabbit Semiconductor. Currently he is a resident of Las Vegas. Upon retirement he took up the study of global warming and green energy and has many published articles to his credit. He is the author of the book Dumb Energy. He is alarmed by the growth of money science that warps scientific findings to maximize financial gain for scientists and fellow travelers in the green energy and environmental alarm industries.