Solar Makes No Sense, But It Makes Money

To The Reader’s Forum:

Utility scale solar installations make no sense in Western New York.

The energy industry standard of energy efficiency is called “Energy Returned on Energy Invested ” (ERoEI). Consider the energy expended to manufacture, transport, install and decommission utility scale solar compared to the amount of electricity New York solar can produce. As Documented by Forbes Magazine, industrial solar at this latitude falls below the “economically viable threshold”. Industrial solar is rated at four compared to nuclear at 75 on a Forbes ERoEI graph showing energy produced related to energy invested. Why would policy makers encourage a project that uses more energy to build than it can produce in its lifetime?

Industrial solar “Relies on the most toxic industrial processes ever created. PV panels are not made of sand, which has too many impurities, but of high quality mined quartz and coal melted together at 1800 degrees…Producing symbolic power has seduced well-meaning environmentalists into making bad decisions,” according to energy engineer Ozzie Zehner, UCLA (“Planet of the Humans”).

The European Energy Commission states, “Any attempt to adopt an Energy Transition strategy by substitution of intermittent [solar and wind] for base load power generation [gas, coal, nuclear] above the 35th parallel or further north will result in unavoidable net energy loss.”

There is one reason to promote utility solar – if you are a developer, you can make lots of money from the subsidies. See “Why Is Solar Energy Getting 250 Times More Federal Tax Credits Than Nuclear?”

EDPR, developer for the Cold Water Solar project, said solar has a 10% capacity factor in WNY. That makes the claim of 270 MW by South Ripley Solar developer ConnectGen about 27 MW – for an expenditure of $350 million. The federal, state and local subsidies, the add-on subsidies on our utility bills, and the sale of “green” credits (bought by NYSERDA and BPU) may provide a substantial profit to the developers, but is no justification for the destruction of a large portion of a pristine, rural community. Without subsidies solar in Western NY would not happen.

A South Ripley Solar representative admitted during a town meeting in 2020 the sale of electricity is “peanuts” compared to the sale of the “green credits”. Imagine what $350 million invested in useful businesses, grape, wine, tourism, agricultural projects, in Ripley could accomplish.

Karen Engstrom



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