While Dominion Energy continues its obstinate, foolhardy, corrupt, wrong-headed, possibly illegal infatuation with fossil fuels (such as a gigantic, brain-dead, fracked-gas-pipeline-from-hell), the real action SHOULD be on the booming arena of clean energy. The reasons for that are simple.
First, the cost of clean energy has plummeted in recent years and will likely continue falling indefinitely. For more on this topic, see Wind and solar costs continue to drop below fossil fuels. What barriers remain for a low-carbon grid? Plus, of course, the “fuel” for clean energy – the wind, the sun – is free; it’s simply a matter of using technology to capture that clean, inexhaustible power. Needless to say, that’s in stark contrast to fossil fuels. Second, the technology of clean energy keeps improving, such as the development and deployment of enormous wind turbines (see image below) that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Third, the environmental advantages of clean energy over dirty energy are myriad, with the most important advantage being clean energy’s absence of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, clean energy doesn’t “spill,” nor does it risk our aquifers, nor does it kill marine life, nor does it cause asthma and cancer, nor does it…we could go on all day.
With that intro, check out the new report on Atlantic offshore wind potential by Environment America. I’ve included a few graphics, below, which I thought were particularly revealing. The first and second graphics show the Atlantic coast states’ enormous offshore wind power potential compared to their electricity consumption. Note that Virginia’s offshore wind power potential is 1.4 times our current power consumption, and nearly enough to power the state even if we electrify transportation and heating! Also see below for a map of offshore wind power potential, which is truly astounding, as well as an eye-popping graphic depicting the MASSIVE increase in wind turbine size and power since the 1990s.
Given all this, it’s clear that we need to scale this industry up as rapidly as possible, which among other things will drive costs down. What are we waiting for? In large part, I think we need to look at Dominion Energy’s perverse, warped incentives — which the 2018 “Dominion bill” did nothing to fix, by the way. We also need to point our fingers at the politicians in Richmond who do Dominion’s bidding instead of doing what’s right for the people of Virginia, for our economy, and of course for the environment we all share. Fortunately, the offshore wind industry along the Atlantic coast is starting to gain momentum. Unfortunately, here in Virginia, there remain unnecessary “headwinds” that are slowing that momentum to a crawl, instead of the sprint we need it to be. That needs to change – ASAP!