Dr. Fred Ward is right. Solar panels cannot generate electricity 24 hours a day, while nuclear power plants can. He’s also right that nuclear power plants make a lot of electricity on a little piece of land, while we would need to use more land to generate electricity with solar.
We can talk about capacity factors and efficiencies, but these are not what really matters. The question is: Do we want inexpensive, clean energy or shall we keep buying expensive, toxic energy?
Sunlight and wind are free. We have to pay for fossil fuels and uranium. Seabrook won’t run forever and decommissioning it will cost upward of $1 billion.
Solar cells and wind turbines do not pollute the air with soot that causes strokes, heart attacks and asthma. Solar cells and wind turbines do not generate radioactive waste that needs to be safely stored in a deep geological repository, isolated from the biosphere, for 1 million years. Solar cells and wind turbines do not remove mountain tops in West Virginia, contaminate groundwater or contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Yes, renewable energy will need land, but no more than we presently use for fossil fuels. And, the land can still be used for pasture or to grow wildflowers that support valuable pollinators like monarch butterflies. Farmers can earn income generating electricity while still farming.
Because there are zero fuel costs, renewable energy has a stable price. Fossil-fuel prices rise and fall with geopolitics. Renewable energy is more reliable power — when combined with micro-grids and storage. Renewable energy generates comparatively little waste and almost none is toxic. Renewable energy makes us energy self-sufficient and energy secure.
New Hampshire wind and New Hampshire sunlight could power all our cars, all our appliances, and heat all our homes. Or we could opt for more fracking, marine oil spills, gas pipeline explosions, air pollution, radiation releases and acid rain.
We could have a few more decades of expensive and toxic fossil fuels and nuclear power, or we could start the transition to a sustainable future with clean, inexpensive, local renewable energy.
Change can be unsettling and there are powerful forces lobbying politicians and regulators to maintain the status quo. Being educated about energy is key. That’s why we will continue to share information at cleanenergykeene.org about how other communities are moving forward with the transition to renewable energy.
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