We were greeted on March 1, 2020, by a front-page article in that day’s Capital-Journal, in which Evergy (our new electric company) was berated by critics from Elliott Management Corp., a New York hedge fund which owns a minuscule number of shares in Evergy, on the grounds that we don’t have enough “renewable energy” (sic) sources in Kansas and so we can’t meet “carbon reduction” goals.
It is unlikely that anyone from Elliott Management has been in Kansas or even knows where it is. One hopes they don’t come, because they will realize that we have a lot of cows here, and that will cause them to worry about the flatus from cattle as another source of air pollution.
The term “renewable energy” is a euphemism for windmills and solar collectors. We already have a lot of huge windmills in Kansas. A more important concept is energy density. This means how much energy can be produced in a given amount of space. Ever since the first steam engine, the goal of engineering science is to produce the most power from the smallest space.
Robert Bryce* asks the question, “Which has the most energy potential, a bucket of dry leaves or a bucket of gasoline?” Any school child who has had even rudimentary science knows the answer to that.
The overwhelming drawback to wind energy is that it requires huge amounts of land and lengthy, expensive power lines to bring the energy from wilderness areas to urban users. Same with solar. In other words, these sources have very low “energy density.”
But now, hydrocarbons (coal, oil and natural gas) have taken over, because we live in an “electric civilization.” One other (the best) concentrated source of vast power and high energy density is nuclear energy, barely mentioned in your report.
Evergy has the beautiful Wolf Creek nuclear plant near Burlington: a non-polluting facility with a small footprint, generating a total of 10,648 GWh/year ( that’s gigawatts, folks: I gigawatt equals 1 million kilowatts). A wind farm capable of half that would occupy most of the state of Kansas. Nice, huh?
I haven’t even brought up the huge number of birds killed by the windmills we have already. The Audubon Society annual bird count was reported last year, and it was noted that the number of birds being counted is trending down yearly. Nobody bothered to see if there is a correlation between this decline and the growing number of huge windmills for electric generation.
Of course, the Elliott Management people (and the Sierra Club) don’t really care about the lives of Kansans or birds in Kansas. They are Leftist theoreticians living far away from here.
They fly over us in polluting jets on their way to various international meetings, wringing their hands over how deplorable the people of Kansas are, not to be following their wise advice.
*Bryce, R.: “Power Hungry: The Myths of ’Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.” Public Affairs (2010).
James H. Ransom is a physician in Topeka.