The Green New Deal’s Solar Absurdity

Posted on Thu 10/24/2019 by


By Dr. Jay Lehr ~

Those who support the Green New Deal (GND) want what they claim to be the only real solution to the global warming problem which is solar power, and other so-called renewables to save our planet from the ravages of fossil fuel.

They insist our dependance on fossil fuels can be ended by having the world become fully dependent on green energy they wrongly claim to be environmentally friendly, producing no pollution. None of which is true or possible. But their real motivation for the climate change delusion is to shift control of all energy from oil and gas companies to the government. It is a move toward the socialist goal of the Green New Deal.

With the exception of hydropower all so-called “renewable” energy is expensive and inefficient. They are only thought to be economical and competitive through massive government subsides which are hidden in our tax burden. Let’s try and show the real costs rooftop solar power.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Livermore Laboratory says that as of 2015 the total energy consumed in America was the energy equivalent to 17 billion barrels of oil, 38% is used for electricity , 29% for transportation and the remaining 33% as onsite power for business and industry. Only 11% is used domestically. Fossil fuels provide 82% of that power, nuclear 9% and hydropower 2.5% (IBID). Of the renewable energy sources preferred by the GND, biofuels such as ethanol in gasoline provides 5%, wind power 2%, and solar one half of one percent. Yet in light of these government generated statistics the GND calls for all fossil fuel burning power plants to be shut down over the next 12 years, along with all Nuclear plants as anything radioactive is considered inherently evil. In addition it demands that as many hydroelectric power plants as possible be closed to protect fish spawning grounds. (No this is not a joke). Finally it eliminates gasoline powered vehicles switching to electric cars and public transportation.

According to the 2017 Solar Electric Handbook ( the maximum amount of sunlight hitting one square meter (roughly a square yard) of the Earth’s surface, delivers 1000 watts of power ( that would light 10, 100 watt bulbs). But the shifting angles of the sun drops that number to 600 watts. Commercial photovoltaic cells can only harvest 15% of that energy dropping us to only 90 watts under ideal conditions or lighting about one 100 watt bulb. But the sun does not shine at night so we are down to 45 watts. But solar collectors only take up a little over 50% of the land area of a solar farm bringing us to 25 watts, and then average clouds, smoke and dust could drop us all the way down to zero. The average output across the US of a typical solar power facility is in fact between 5 and 7.5 watts per square meter (Electric Power Monthly , U.S. Energy Information Administration , Dec.22,2017. Is the problem getting clearer, but wait there is more.

Photoelectric cells used to create electric energy consume more energy in their production than they collect. The complex steps required to create raw quartz used to eventually make the wafers that become the collectors surface, require 3370 kilowatt hours of energy per square meter of collector material produced ( Williams,E.D.,Ayres.R.U., and Heller,M., “The 1.7 Kilogram Microchip: Energy and Material Use in the Production of Semiconductor Devices”, Environ.Sci. Technology., 36, 5504-5510 (2002). )

But wait there is still more. Solar energy can’t be turned on and off to meet shifts in energy. The sun shines during the day but power needs peak in the morning and evening. Less energy is collected in winter than summer due to shorter days and lower sun angles. One solution is to have backup fossil fuel power plants and now you are paying for two systems instead of one and the use of fossil fuel continues. The other solution is to store extra energy in batteries. A typical lead-acid car battery has a storage capacity of one kilowatt hour, according to McGraw-Hill’s Handbook of Batteries

(Linden,D., Reddy, T.B..,Eds., Handbook of Batteries, Third Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York , 2002, Chapter 23).

A total replacement of fossil fuels by solar energy and a battery storage component would require many trillions of such batteries. Lithium batteries would offer more storage but at twice the price.

While a solar farm can be built anywhere, sunny areas of the country are not evenly distributed requiring transmission lines from the sunniest areas to the less sunny areas. As the distance increase the cost of solar skyrockets.

Finally the land areas required for solar farms are extraordinary. Using the most generous capacity numbers for photovoltaic cells in the sunniest areas, a 1000 megawatt solar farm (the standard output of most fossil fuel plants) would require 51 square miles which is the approximate area of San Francisco (Land Requirements for Carbon-Free Technologies, Nuclear Energy Institute Policy Paper, July 9 2015,

Where is the land to be sacrificed in the name of the GND to come from. In fact there is not enough land in the United States to harvest the Solar energy to play a major role in the nations energy requirements .

Solar energy is too expensive for most countries or individuals to afford. The World Bank says that over 1.5 billion people live without electricity

(World Bank Group, Access to Electricity (% of Population)Sustainable Energy for All Database, https://data World

Although coal is vilified while producing a third of the world’s energy, it’s use continues to increase as it costs only 7 cents a kilowatt hour (Coal International Energy Agency Natural gas costs are even less at 6 cents a kilowatt hour. The costs reported for solar operations have dropped to 16 cents a kilowatt hour, but government subsidies come to 24 cents a kilowatt hour giving it a real cost of 40 cents (Hansen,M.E., Simmons,R.T., Yonk,R.M., The Unseen Costs of Solar-Generated Electricity, The Institute of Political Economy, Utah State University,April 2016,

Few Americans could afford this to save the planet let alone people living in poor countries. Both widespread solar energy and the Green New Deal are but a fantasy of those who truly wish to destroy the nation as envisioned by our founding fathers.

Portions of this article have been excerpted with permission of the publisher and author of the 2018 book THE MYTHOLOGY OF GLOBAL WARMING by Bruce Bunker, Ph.D.. Publisher: Moonshine Cove . The author of this article strongly recommends that book as the very best source of detailed accurate information on the climate change debate.

Dr Jay Lehr contributes posts at the CFACT site. Jay Lehr is the author of more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government, as well as many foreign countries. He is a leading authority on groundwater hydrology.

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