News & Politics

Andrew Cuomo Is Doing the Future of Energy Wrong

Office of the NY Governor via AP

Elon Musk and the CEO of Toyota agree: We don’t have enough energy to power the future.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified, increasing the need to expand nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind energy generating sources.

No one can accuse Musk of not supporting electric cars, or not knowing what he’s talking about. He sells far more electric cars than anyone else, according to Statista.

As for Toyota, they’re either the first or second-largest car manufacturer in the world from one day to the next (the Volkswagen brands are its main competitor). The bottom line is, according to them and to basic and obvious logic, if you’re going to electrify hundreds of millions of cars, as the Democrats are pushing hard to do, you’re going to need more electricity.

To get that electricity, we’re going to need more generators and means of storing it, transporting it, and putting it to work for consumers. Even if the grid goes wireless at some point, or we put power-generating satellites in space, we’ll need fuels and extensive mining to make all of that go. We’re a ways away from any of that being more than a great idea. It’s being tested but it’s not ready to power even more than an iPad at the moment.

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking his state in the opposite direction from where the near-term future will be. He closed down a nuclear power plant this month (h/t John Sexton at Hot Air).

He reduced New York’s energy output, achieving nothing in return. It didn’t even help the environment.

So far, most of the electricity produced by the nuclear plant, known as Indian Point, has been replaced by power generated by plants that burn natural gas and emit more pollution. And that trade-off will become more pronounced once Indian Point’s last reactor shuts down on April 30.

“It’s topsy-turvy,” said Isuru Seneviratne, a clean-energy investor who is a member of the steering committee of Nuclear New York, which has lobbied to keep Indian Point running. The pronuclear group calculated that each of Indian Point’s reactors had been producing more power than all of the wind turbines and solar panels in the state combined.

Three years ago when he decided to shutter the plant, Cuomo was warned.

“There is currently not enough carbon-free energy in the pipeline to replace Indian Point,” said Robert Freudenberg, the director of energy and environmental programs for the Regional Plan Association. “We feel that now the most urgent priority is that the state take all the steps necessary to ramp up the state’s renewable energy supply.”

Renewables a) don’t fill the void and b) aren’t all that renewable. You can’t build renewables at this point without fossil fuels making it happen. You also can’t build them without dirty mining operations, and without — in solar energy’s case — empowering China. The vast majority of rare earth minerals and solar panels come from China. A large share of the world’s lithium, which is used in battery tech, also comes from China. Going renewable makes China even more of a superpower than it already is, and leaves our power needs at the CCP’s whims.

It’s not even worth pretending that closing Indian Point is going well.

After one of Indian Point’s two working reactors was permanently shut down last summer, the share of the state’s power that came from gas-fired generators jumped in 2020 to about 40 percent, from about 36 percent in 2019, federal data show. The share of the state’s power from renewable sources increased slightly, to about 30 percent.

“This is one of the greatest strategic blunders in the history of energy in New York,” said Robert Bryce, an author who has been a constant critic of the shutdown. “It’s a catastrophically wrong decision.”

In the coming years, we will need more power, and it will have to be more reliable and more economical. The sources to generate the bulk of that power will either be fossil fuels or nuclear. Renewables have proven over and over again that they’re expensive and unreliable.