Sustainable energy is a controversial topic that encourages debates from all corners. Where much of the controversy stems from is that coal and nuclear energy production is sufficient to handle the current needs of the United States population. However, with lawmakers and environmental activists pushing for sustainable sources to replace them, the picture is cloudier.
In the last ten years, the U.S. has been shutting down coal-fired plants that produce electricity and putting up natural gas, wind, geothermal, or solar facilities instead. Forty percent of the nation’s coal fleet has gone missing since 2010. Those plants represent energy production for forty million American homes.
Douglas Healy Weighs in on the Topic
Douglas Healy is an expert on energy and thoroughly understands the current debate. Like most people, he’s well aware that sustainable energy sources offer improved power production, but crippling current energy production is a significant concern.
Sustainable energy is undoubtedly a worthwhile pursuit and should remain a top priority. However, having too little energy production capacity is a danger to the nation and its citizens. A decrease in production reduces redundancy, and also could end up causing a sharp increase in prices.
Outages Are Not Acceptable
Americans are used to non-stop electricity. Their lifestyles depend on a continuous flow of electrical energy to power their devices and appliances. Most are not remotely comfortable with the idea of rolling outages or brownouts. However, lousy planning could force that situation to arise. If enough of the existing capacity goes offline, there will come a time when prices skyrocket, and availability declines.
People who are responsible for non-stop energy production are sounding the alarm bells that the move towards sustainable resources is taxing their capacity.
The whole danger of a switch is that the current system uses an on-demand baseload power system to ensure energy, whereas solar and wind systems generate intermittent electricity.
Intermittent Electrical Generation Is a Problem
The residents of Texas got to experience one of the potential problems with the new scheme firsthand. Dallas homeowners were facing a colder March and turned up their thermostats to counter the weather. When they did, wind power equipment was unable to give them the juice they wanted. That situation alarmed experts who realized it’s a potential outcome anywhere the shift in production is fast and total.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the situation in Dallas is that it was the cause of a 700 percent increase in rates as well! For the consumer who budgets their energy consumption, it was a bitter pill to swallow. If that were to happen all over the country, commonly, it’s doubtful consumers would support the switch to wind and solar.
The Alarm Bells Are Ringing
Weather is notoriously fickle, and relying on it for peak production times could be a problem. Most people who are aware of the situation, including energy industry executives, are beginning to question the need to rush to alternative sources, especially at the cost of disabling nuclear and coal plants. Without those as backups, situations could arise where the new, sustainable grid cannot possibly keep up with the demands of the energy-hungry American public.
Demand for Energy Keeps Rising
The primary issue that’s keeping energy experts awake is that the demand for energy keeps rising. Wind and solar are known as the solution, but their shortcomings become even more apparent in a fast-growing demand environment. The cracks in the armor will worsen as energy demand spikes happen and weather impacts the ability to produce. Without smart planning for redundancy, the possibility of a crisis exists. That could kick in when people demand the highest levels of electricity and end up paying seven times more for it than they usually would.
Not only will sky-high prices impact consumers, so will the lack of availability. Electricity is a critical component for businesses and residences alike, and people expect it to arrive trouble-free. As awareness of the potential crisis widens, it will become time for better answers and alternatives. Wind and solar still have many weaknesses, and coal and nuclear are reliable. To dump the older technology for the newer version overnight only makes sense if the switch provides a superior outcome.
Right now, that’s in question, and people around the world are on alert. Electricity is the glue that binds together American society, and having too little of it is dangerous. Sustainable energy remains the solution, but the switch must continue in an orderly fashion. Otherwise, there could be significant electrical problems on the horizon.