Tomorrow ~ Thank you planning commission

Laurel Ridge

By Paul Quigg, columnist

Thank you, Page County Planning Commission, for your unanimous recommendation for rejecting the Cape Solar facility. A special thanks must go to Cathy Grech for her many months of research and her analytical, reasoned, beautifully organized presentation of facts relating to a new solar ordinance and her concerns with the new Cape Solar Facility. Also, thanks to Beth Snider for her extensive solar research.

Let us hope that this more than four year journey into solar hell may soon come to an end with a rejection by the Page County Board of Supervisors.

In the study of climate, there are only two statistics we can have confidence in. The global concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air and the air temperature are the only statistics not subject to abuse. 

The concentration of carbon dioxide is recorded on the summit of Mauna Loa  (11,400 ft) in Hawaii. A graph from the U.S. Department of Energy, shows the relentless growth of carbon dioxide concentrations since the late 1950’s, which shows extraordinary consistency. The yearly oscillations are the result of seasonal changes. 

The temperature is recorded in millions of locations on land and sea, with a steady rise since 1910, except for a small dip between 1945 and 1983.

Carbon dioxide emissions are impossible to measure accurately due to the trillions of emitters and their varying emissions. Every smokestack, every tailpipe, and every tree plays a part in the measurement, therefore the extent of emissions growth is grossly abused with little or no oversight. Methane and other greenhouse gases face the same problem.

The obvious question is why have the concentrations continued their exponential rise in the face of all of the global efforts to reduce them? The answer to this question is very complicated, but basically it is because our efforts to date are doing as much harm as they are good.

The two renewables we mostly talk about are wind and solar and they are producing a whopping 4.5 percent of total energy consumption — 1.3 percent from solar and 3.2 percent from wind. We aren’t pushing hydro and we aren’t pushing biomass, so wind and solar have got to get us up to 50 percent of renewable energy by 2050.

Wind and solar started showing up in consumption statistics in 1990 and after 32 years we are at 4.5 percent, with 45.5 percent to go in the next 28 years. Going from 4 percent to 50 percent in 28 years is not going to happen. The mining, production and assembly of the exotic  materials into solar panels and wind turbines would take 28 years to get up and running and start producing.  

I am not trying to be pessimistic, I’m trying to be realistic.  

Mr. Quigg, a University of Virginia graduate and resident of Luray, has practiced architecture in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1962. As a lifelong environmentalist, in the 70’s he was appalled at the polluted air and water and has dedicated much of his time since in studying and commenting on the environment. He has been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. 

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20 Comments

  1. This column was supposed to have two graphs which were omitted due to my limited computer skills. Both were from the US Dept. of Energy.
    The first showed the growth of global CO2 concentrations from 1960 to 2020. It shows a steady growth from 317PPM in 1960 to 415PPM in 2020. From 1960 to 1970 concentrations grew 9PPM and grew 26PPM from 2010 t0 2020. This leap from 9PPM to 26PPM,50 years later, clearly shows that concentrations are growing rapidly and that we are losing the battle to lower concentrations.
    The second shows energy consumption by source in 2020.
    Petroleum 35%
    Gas 34%
    coal 10%
    Nuclear 9%
    Bio-mass 4.7%
    Wind 3.2%
    Hydro 2.7%
    Solar 1.3%
    Geothermal .1%

  2. The materials required for the manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines and especially batteries are not easily obtained without considerable energy consumption and environmental concerns, as well as supply worries. More troublesome is the storage of energy utilizing toxic batteries that have a defined life span and will require a robust recycling program in order to prevent a downstream environmental disaster.

    Additionally, the generation, transmission and distribution of electrical energy will need to be further developed before solar and wind produced energy can become completely viable and “green”. Unless solar and wind energy is generated/utilized at the point of sale/use or until the “wireless” transmission and distribution of electrical energy is perfected, aerial and underground systems will remain the norm for moving the energy. Both aerial and underground transportation systems require construction/maintenance techniques and materials that consume large amounts of energy and are not green. Given current energy supply, capacity requirements and peak usage demands, an enormous amount of space is needed for solar and wind generation sites, which typically are not near the point of sale/use or existing transmission and distribution infrastructure; solar and wind power generation has a long way to go before it is economical, cost effective, efficient, green, and able to serve larger portions of the population which reside in heavily built out urban areas in widely varying weather and temperature conditions.

    We should continue to pursue wind and solar energy, but we should also accept that a blended energy supply (nuclear, hydrogen, natural gas, hydro, petroleum, wind and solar) will serve our energy needs best.

    • Present solar voltaic energy technology only captures a small percentage of the suns heat, and our current efforts to raise the contribution incrementally is not paying off. There has to be a better way considering the heat we get from the sun. I don’t have any idea what that might be, but we have got to try.

  3. The Virginia Clean Economy Act requires that Virginia be totally carbon free by 2045. Another attack on oil and natural gas has been launched by AOC (everything is racial with the Democrats) in that “man camps” spring up around production sites.
    https://www.foxnews.com/media/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-violence-indigenous-people-fossil-fuel-industry.
    So what’s going to replace all the electric power stations run by natural gas and oil when they are all put out of business in just 24 more years, when all the really smart morons don’t want solar or wind turbines to look at.
    I want to see the answer.

    • Virginia will not be carbon free in 2045, not even close. The long, dismal history of environmental goals is a tale of total and complete failure.

      • “Virginia will not be carbon free in 2045, not even close. The long, dismal history of environmental goals is a tale of total and complete failure.“
        Mr. Quigg: What will work then, to make Virginia carbon free in 2045?

        • There is no realistic way for Virginia to be carbon free in 2045. Replacing fossil fuels with renewables will take far more than the 23 years. Future growth will add to the problem. The complexity of the renewable energy sector with intermittency, grid, and production problems are just too much to overcome. I don’t know how much of Virginia’s energy consumption is from renewables at this time but I’m sure it is very low, which is a testament to the lack of effort over the past 23 years. I don’t see any massive future effort to change this reality

  4. Mr Quigg, as always, your information is both accurate and informative. thank you for your efforts to keep Page county rural and beautiful!

    • kenneth a jemielity, what is going to replace the electric power stations run on fossil fuel (natural gas, oil, coal) that will all be put out of business by 2045 due to the Virginia Clean Economy Act?

  5. Kenneth a Jemielity, Page County will remain rural and beautiful after the solar farm is built. All the arguments against Hinton Road, are a sham.
    What is going to replace the power generation stations that use natural gas, and oil (fossil fuels) that the Virginia Clean Economy Act is going to put out of business by 2045?
    We want to hear your answer.

    • Robert; You seem confident Virginia will be carbon free by 2045. What are your views on how this will be accomplished?

  6. In one statement, you praise the denial to allow a private owner to build a solar farm on his land that does nothing wrong except ruin the view of his neighbors.

    Then you say solar is a failure as a because it can’t be built fast enough.

    Are you okay?

      • Thanks to you, this is one less solar farm that could be built. Have you asked any of the younger residents in the area their opinion since we’re the ones who have to live here after you’re gone?

        • I am against the present solar-voltaic industry because the cost of the subsidies, when combined with the out of pocket costs are a waste of valuable resources compared to any others producer of energy. I was very enthusiastic about solar 25 years ago but solar productivity has improved very little, while other energy sources improved dramatically.
          I believe that solar is the ultimate energy source in the future because of the large amount of energy the sun transmits to the earth every second, but present solar-voltaic efficiency, and the lack of improvement in that efficiency, convinces me that basic research must find a different route.
          I am confident that my 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren will lead long and healthy lives.

          • So now that you’ve decided solar power wont work and have killed the solar project. What’s your plan to help improve our energy needs?

            I think this is what all the commenters are getting at: you have strong feelings about what won’t work but never say how we can improve. You’re stopping progress.

  7. Paul Quigg: “Robert; You seem confident Virginia will be carbon free by 2045. What are your views on how this will be accomplished?”
    I’ve been asking what will replace fossil fuel electric generators that are out of business by 2045.
    Since nobody can answer that question, I’ll tell you what will happen. If the reliability of the grid is threatened approaching that time, there is an “escape clause”. Whatever amount solar hasn’t met the goals, enough fossil fuel generators will be allowed by the State Corporation Commission to continue to operate until solar can catch up.
    So being against solar is a vote for continued CO2 overload on the environment.
    This is what will happen. This is my view.

    • I agree with your answer. We differ in my belief in the size of the “escape clause,” which I believe in my case will be much larger than in your case. I hope you are right but the failure of past goals gives me little faith in the potential for future efforts.

  8. Mr. Quigg: I’m a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. We typically don’t give up on important things.

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