Solar: Pieces of a Puzzle —Dr. Michael G. Noll

Op-ed in the VDT today, responding to a response to my op-ed. -jsq

If the attempt of a guest column from Jan 13 was to shine light on solar power, it left everyone in the dark. Neither mockery nor close mindedness will assist us in finding real answers if we want to solve the energy puzzle of the 21st century.

In July 2012, the Financial Times interviewed Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE. GE knows perhaps more about the world of energy business than any other company. Immelt stated that

“on a cost basis it is impossible to justfy investing in nuclar power for the future.”

People who sitll claim that solar is more expensive than nuclear are not paying attention. If solar is viable as far north as New Jersey, it certainly is in Georgia. If countries like Germany can excel in solar energy production, so can we. Companies like Walmart, Costco, Apple, and Google are havily investing in solar because it works.

It should also be noted that the nuclear plant on Crystal River has been idle since 2009. As the Tampa Bay Times reported last December,

“the crippled Crystal River nuclear plant is now America’s headache. The bill to fix it and pay for replacement power may top $5 billion.”

A similar fiasco awaits Georgia Power’s Vogtle Plant, with cost overruns and delays. That headache, too, will cost billions, and we, the ratepayers, get to pay for these boondoggles.

Lastly, a comment on water consumption. The idea that water used for the cooling of nuclear power plants “is not lost … but returned to the environment” is absurd. That’s like saying that wood burned in your fireplace is not lost but returned to your storage bin. The two towers at Vogtle use more than 43 million gallons of water daily. That is an enormous amount, and it is indeed lost. It is lost to the farmer who needs to irrigate his fields, and it is lost to the flora and fauna of our ecosystems.

In the end only a conmbination of energy conservation and efficiency measures with clean forms of renewable energy like solar and wind will make a difference. Natural gas, too, has its advantages, but fossil fuels are by nature finite, and the process of fracking shows many dangerous pitfalls.

Dr. Michael G. Noll is president of Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy.