Robert Bryce (“The Gas Is Greener” NYT June 8, 2011) provides ballpark calculations of the land requirements to meet the California mandate that one third of its electricity be from renewable energy by 2020. I use his calculations to ballpark the requirements for a nation-wide mandate of the same proportions.
Here is what I get:
1,300 square miles of land to meet the solar requirements (an area about equal to Delaware)
18,200 square miles of land to meet the wind power mandate (an area about equal to New Hampshire and New Jersey combined)
One half the nation’s steel production to produce wind turbines
These calculations do not include the long swaths of land needed for new power lines.
With such massive land requirements, consider the clash between global warmists and environmentalists: The Mohave Desert is an ideal location for solar farms. But the desert tortoise is on the endangered species list. The Bureau of Land Management has already ordered the halt of construction of part of the Ivanpah Solar plant because it threatens the habitat of the desert tortoise. Environmental groups also have sued to halt the Sunrise Powerlink to carry electricity from renewable sources to San Diego because it cuts through a national forest.
With land requirements equal to Delaware, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, there is no telling how many snail darters, beetles, blossom clams, thorn mint plants, and Tobush cactus are threatened.
At last global warmists and environmentalists understand the notion of opportunity costs. Neither has much concern abut the increased cost of energy to industry and the consumer, but the loss of desert tortoises is something they can worry about.