Current of Gulf Stream off coast of NC is a better energy solution!

RALEIGH – House Bill 951, which is pending in the General Assembly, is a terrible bill and should be put out of its misery. Here are my reasons:

There is a provision in the bill for demand side control. This means that in the winter when it gets really cold, the demand for electricity will shoot up and power companies like Tideland EMC will selectively shut down power to homes and businesses to keep “The Grid” from failing. Is this any way to treat the citizens of North Carolina? I think NOT!

Not too long ago the Green party in Germany decommissioned nuclear power plants and switched to alternative energy production – mainly solar and wind. It is a disaster! Power costs have gone off the charts. Residences are shielded somewhat from the consequences because industry is subsidizing the residential power users. As a result, companies than can do so  are planning to leave Germany for other countries such as FRANCE where they are primarily using nuclear power.

Nuclear power is CHEAP, reliable, and pollution free. Fortunately here in North Carolina, Tideland EMC gets 63 percent of its power from a nuclear plant in South Carolina that is owned by numerous utility companies and operated by DUKE energy.

Let’s take a look at the intricacies of solar power. Hopefully, most solar voltaic panels are set to track the sun across the sky. (This is the optimal manner to generate the most power per day.) Fixed mount panels have their best output from 10 AM to 2 PM. This, of course, requires that the skies be cloudless.

 A typical day of power demand begins around 6 AM with factories starting up, people waking to prepare for work. Depending on energy needed for heating or cooling buildings, power demand rises. 

In the summer, power demand increases through the day as buildings are heated by the sun, resulting in the need for air conditioning. In winter, the electricity demand for climate control diminishes in the morning hours and into the early afternoon.  As the sun sets, the demand for electric heat increases and continues into the night, peaking about sunrise.

Additionally, since General Motors has committed to an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2030 or 2035, this will add tremendously to overall power demands during the day and especially overnight as commuter vehicles are recharged. This will also be true for other automobile manufacturers.

Now here is another kicker! In the headlong rush to get 5G broadband everywhere, cell sites must now be located approximately 800 FEET apart, as opposed to 4G systems which are typically spaced 7 to 9 MILES apart in rural areas. The high speed of 5G also makes the power needed to operate the sites MUCH higher than for the 4G systems.

The power situation as currently exists – with small numbers of 5G sites and low quantities of electric vehicle – looks like this. Let’s say you have a photovoltaic plant that can generate 80 Mega Watts at FULL SUN from 9AM to 3PM

Power Generated: 6 Hrs. X 80 MW = 480 MWH (Mega Watt Hours)

Power Consumed (demand) per time period:

7 AM to 9 AM:  2 Hrs. X 40 MW=  80 MWH

9 AM to 3 PM:    6 Hrs. X 60 MW= 360 MWH

3 PM to 5 PM:    2 Hrs. X 40 MW=   80 MWH

5 PM to 8 PM:    3 Hrs. X 20 MW=   60 MWH

8 PM to 7 AM:  11 Hrs. X 10 MW= 110 MWH 

Total Power Demand for 24 hours:   690 MWH

Assuming FULL SUN over that crucial and most productive six-hour windor, he solar power facility only generates 480 MWH. Yes, during the peak power period, 360 MWH of that output is consumed.

This leaves only 120 MWH to be stored, but an additional 330 MWH is needed! This has to be supplied by fossil-fueled generating plants, nuclear, water turbines, or biomass systems – which hopefully will kick in when needed.

More and more solar power facilities are being established to generate electricity.They are replacing prime farm land growing food and changing the green vegetation by replacing it with black solar panels. This inherently raises the ambient temperature in the area of these panels, whether they are in the shadow of clouds or receiving full sun.

I have contacted NC State University and have not been successful in finding anyone in their meteorology department who is interested in conducting a study. This has to be adding to the temperature rise in the surrounding vicinity. I suspect that when hurricanes approach North Carolina, all of these solar farms will add to the heat that sustains and enhances hurricanes. Certainly these factors will cause hurricane damage losses to grow beyond what there would be without large quantities of solar panels.

Assuming the green energy movement saturates the earth with solar panels that reach temperatures of 140 degrees Centigrade, that would contribute significantly to global warming. The fact is that in the last 50 years solar panels have not made any significant improvement in their efficiency. Even with the amount of worldwide energy consumption today, if we were to COVER THE ENTIRE PLANET with solar panels, we would still not have enough power to support current energy needs, much less future electric power growth.

The new energy buzz word is batteries for power storage. This is sheer stupidity!  Let me explain: Batteries add to the already uneconomical price per kilowatt hour for solar energy, because now the solar farms have to divert power generated during prime operating hours to charge batteries to support loads after the sun goes down and before it rises in the morning.  As noted above, the amount of load exceeds the amount of solar energy available.  As demand for electricity increases, the disadvantage of solar energy grows exponentially. 

Additionally, batteries have a life cycle problem. The more they are charged and discharged, the shorter the battery life will be. Let’s be generous and say the batteries last six years.  When they die, you may be able to recycle parts of them, but there are costs to dismantle the batteries, process the materials to get fresh lithium, and use new chemicals to refurbish the batteries.  You can also bet that there will be illegal dumping of the dangerous chemicals and poisonous metals, not to mention that the dump sites will leach their poisons into the ground water.

Here is an idea, why not put water turbines in the Gulf Stream off the NC coast? Sink them low enough to avoid deep draft ships plus an additional 100 feet more to avoid hurricane storm surge.  The Gulf Stream flows about 5 miles per hour 24/7/365, day and night, winter or summer. No worries about pollution, cloud cover, wind, hail, freezing rain, and no power inverter failures. Get this, it is CHEAP!  Guess what?  NC State University has studied this possibility already!

I hope this analysis will be beneficial so we avoid the problems that other countries have experienced trying to go “green” with “not ready for prime-time” technology. I hope County Compass readers will pass this along to whomever.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Gordon H. Allison, Jr. of Arapahoe. Telephone: (252) 249-0438