OPINION: The Importance of coal and natural gas

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, shares his take on The Importance of coal and natural gas in 2021

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson

The Polar Vortex event that occurred last month in the southern states of the country that caused blackouts in Texas and other states is only the beginning of these events. Some of our political leaders have relied on too much intermittent renewable electrical generation of wind and solar instead of the constant reliable electrical generation of coal and natural gas. Their justification for converting to wind and solar is the climate change issues caused by coal and natural gas.

The problem with the intermittent renewable generation is the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun doesn’t shine all the time. We also have not yet developed battery storage capability for solar and wind generation. Coal and natural gas plants run constantly except for scheduled routine maintenance. What would the next Polar Vortex, tornado, hurricane, or extreme weather event cause if we relied solely on wind or solar generation? There have been brown outs in the past summers in states such as California due to relying on wind and solar instead of coal and natural gas.

I have read that studies have been done in the past to consider converting to a wind, solar, and battery systems for all electrical generation for the country. The estimated cost would be between $5 and $6 trillion to replace coal and natural gas generation. The footprint requirements and infrastructure needed for wind towers and solar panels is tremendous compared to natural gas and coal power plants. I also understand that a large majority of the parts for wind turbines and solar panel are made in other countries. Also, most of the rare minerals needed for the batteries are located in other countries. Today, roughly 21% of electricity is produced by renewables, while 40% is produced by natural gas, 19% is produced by coal, and 19% is produced by nuclear generation

Coal and natural gas reserves in the United States are more than enough to last for many years for our country. Natural gas is an abundant resource that we have discovered with the recent shale oil drilling in our own country. It is estimated that we have over 800 years of coal reserves in the United States. We have discovered new techniques in capture and injection of carbon dioxide from coal and other means to eliminate other toxic gases from coal and natural gas. Our scientists and engineers will continue to explore and invent new ideas and ways to create clean electrical generation.

I personally feel we should continue to use coal and natural gas with wind and solar generation for the near future to insure constant and reliable electrical generation for our country. We need to give our scientists and engineers time to solve the climate change issues. We will experience more extreme weather events and demand for more electricity as our country grows in population and developments. We don’t want a repeat of what happened in Texas last month!!

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