I suppose it had to happen. You can’t be opposed to hydraulic fracturing to recover natural gas from the Marcellus or Utica shale in New York State without eventually coming up with an alternate energy supply source, given that New York imports two-thirds of its energy needs (for electricity, transportation and heating). And while you’re at it, get rid of the nasty nuclear plants and don’t even think about renewables like biofuels because burning them releases carbon dioxide. So, what do you propose: Tada!! Produce by 2050 all energy in New York from wind, solar and hydroelectric! Cars would run totally on batteries or fuel cells. I am not kidding. This is detailed in a paper written by authors in Energy study programs at such schools as Cornell and Stanford. You have to give them credit for thinking big. No doubt they found an audience when the New York Times provided space for this misguided vision, published in Energy Policy. Fortunately, Tom Wilber, who follows frackings pros and cons in his iconic blog Shale Gas Review, drew my attention to this paper.
The proposal provides breathtaking details. For example, there would be 12,700 offshore wind turbines with a nameplate capacity of 63,550 megawatts. Also, 828 solar photovoltaic plants generating 41,400 megawatts. And 2600 tidal turbines (making electricity from wave motion) thrown in for good measure, which only contribute one percent of total power supply.
The most interesting part of the paper is the fact that nowhere can be found the total capital cost to install all of this equipment and the cost of shutting down and dismantling New York’s entire current power supply sources (coal, natural gas, nuclear) other than hydroelectric. The authors conceivably think that no one will oppose 12,700 offshore wind turbines – interesting when you consider the convoluted history of implacable opposition to the pioneering offshore wind turbine project on Nantucket Sound.
According to Wilber, the authors expect to get a hearing from Governor Cuomo, whose Hamlet-like dithering on making a decision regarding lifting the five year-old fracking moratorium in New York State must be seen as encouraging to these advocates of generating energy only from wind, solar, minor geothermal and hydroelectric sources. We can only hope that Cuomo’s staff will take a shot at estimating the cost for the authors to realize their beautiful dream.