The fear of a warming planet is forcing people and corporations to switch to clean energy. However, government subsidies to fossil fuels and rising carbon emissions are posing serious challenges to the green revolution. According to the VOX magazine, global subsidies targeting fossil fuels totaled $300 billion in 2017. Efforts to reduce the global carbon emissions are also falling short as emissions increased by 1.7% in 2018. It has also been revealed that most of the electricity consumed in the US in the month of April 2019 came from clean energy and not coal.
This was the first time this had ever happened in the country’s history. The report shows $290 billion was invested in renewable energy sources across the world in 2018, but this was still less than the money spent in fossil fuel subsidies. The input excludes investments in hydro-electric power. Proponents of clean energy are optimistic that the shift to renewable energy is unstoppable. Some 180Gw of renewable energy capacity came into stream in 2018. The figure represents a third of the total installed power output around the globe.
A growing number of energy executives are apprehensive about the hurried dismantling of coal and nuclear plants across the US, arguing that the move would precipitate a silent crisis with far-reaching effects. In a report published by the Commercial Appeal Journal (USA Today) in April 2019, the heads of major US utility providers have sent a letter to PJM, a regional transmission organization that represents 14 states requesting to know the true value of nuclear and coal power plants to the country’s changing energy dynamics.
The executives reiterated that coal and nuclear power plants have always provided steady electricity to millions of clients. Because of these assertions, millions of customers would be affected by unreliable power production resulting from fuel security and fuel diversity. Another organization, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has intimated that a quick retreat to renewable energy sources and natural gas could expose the power system to unexpected fuel delivery hazards in the regions where the pipeline network is not sufficiently secured.
The demand for power sourced from gas-fired power plants could also come under serious strain during the high season. Coal has often come to the rescue when renewable power sources are impacted in one way or the other. For instance, in January 2019 the Polar Vortex caused serious disruptions in the wind production in Illinois causing serious power disruptions to thousands of homeowners. In another instance, a cold snap that hit Texas in March 2019 affected wind speeds forcing many homeowners in Dallas to turn up the heat on their thermostats.
The response led to an upsurge in electricity demand, which forced the wind power generating system to collapse. Although the speed of adopting renewable power sources is exciting the advocates of wind and solar power, the speedy transition is overstepping several important issues that cannot be overlooked. According to the Morning Consult, the practicality of rapid shift to renewable energy sources is inadvertently favoring the use of intermittent electricity in place of the more reliable and time-honored, on-demand base load power.
To overcome the immediate challenge, stakeholders in the power sector must find a safe and efficient way to integrate the different power sources to ensure seamless output. The 2019 Texas wind power debacle saw the total turbine output in the area reduced to only 1.6Gw, which was way below the installed power through-put of 10Gw. The problem also caused the cost of electricity to suddenly shoot up by as much as 700%. Texas is a leading producer of wind power and accounts for 25% of the entire national wind power production.
However, the state’s energy demand is very high and energy sources from wind and solar are unable to produce steady, on-demand power. Besides ensuring steady supply of electricity, renewable power sources have to contend with unpredictable weather patterns and the lack of best grid scale batteries to provide prolonged backup power. The country currently spends more than $10 billion on renewable energy subsidies while the tax credits for wind alone hit $5 billion in 2018.
Douglas Healy Championing the Propagation of New and Old Energy
There is growing consternation among supporters of coal and nuclear energy that mandates and tax credits offered by the federal government and states to support solar and wind are unfairly working against dependable power plants that have for years powered millions of American homes and factories. Douglas Healy, a renowned attorney working for Healy Law Offices, LLC is advocating for the adoption of renewable energy sources in a manner that does not cripple the power output from steady sources like nuclear and coal.
He adds that the energy harnessed from wind and sun should be carefully woven into the power grid while ensuring the energy dependent infrastructure is not destabilized. The Springfield, Missouri native is a member of various interest groups, including the Energy Attorney Network and the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University. He has also written numerous articles about energy. Douglas Healy studied at Liberty University for his Bachelor of Science Degree before proceeding to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to obtain his Juris Doctor degree.