Tuesday, December 27, 2011

US: Gas v. Wind -- Hawaii: Geothermal v. Wind

Matt Ridley concludes his article Gas Against Wind as follows:

To persist with a policy of pursuing subsidized renewable energy in the midst of a terrible recession, at a time when vast reserves of cheap low-carbon gas have suddenly become available is so perverse it borders on the insane. Nothing but bureaucratic inertia and vested interest can explain it.

Like the U.S. mainland has abundant gas Hawaii has abundant geothermal energy. Tapping into geothermal power can be more expensive than hydraulic fracturing or fracking for natural gas but geothermal power in Hawaii is less exhaustible than natural gas on the mainland, and once developed its use does not produce greenhouse gasses.

Like in the U.S. natural gas is in shale hundreds of miles away from big metropolitan areas, but a national grid makes electric power transmission feasible, although billions need to be spent to the existing grid if gigawatts are to be transmitted efficiently and reliably.

In Hawaii a cable to connect Oahu, Maui and the Big island may be too expensive, but there are alternatives: Hydrogen, and Ammonia (as a carrier of Hydrogen.) Hawaii can utilize abundant geothermal energy to transform into a hydrogen/electric economy for long term sustainability, instead of blowing Billions in the wind.

In addition to blowing Billions on unreliable power production, I quote from Ridley's article: The wind farm requires eight tonnes of an element called neodymium, which is produced only in Inner Mongolia, by boiling ores in acid leaving lakes of radioactive tailings so toxic no creature goes near them.