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Tragically, Fossil Fuels Often Make Sense

image credit: ID 97787972 © Alexv73 | Dreamstime.com

Fossil fuels are going extinct. Not only are they dirty, but they no longer hold the economic benefit over renewables that they boasted just a few years ago. Solar and wind technologies, along with battery capacity, have gotten so good and cheap that there’s no excuse not to switch over. 

Well, at least that’s the narrative we’re fed by the mainstream media. The reality, of course, is a bit more complicated. There are geographic limitations to renewables (some places aren’t very windy), and even in the most ideal locations, breezes and sunshine sometimes disappear. What’s more, and as it’s been pointed out numerous times on this forum, integrating renewables onto a grid is no easy task, and building the renewable grid of the future is much easier said than done. 

Nowhere is the quixotic, feel good story and real-life paradox best exemplified than in our own backyard. The PJM Interconnection, a grid network that stretches from the east coast to the midwest and serves over 65 million customers, seems totally committed to fossil fuels. In fact, the outfit has boosted its gas generated output by 11,131 megawatts in just the past two years and developers plan to add 34,507 megawatts more in the near future. 

Why is PJM’s power structure set on acerbating our planet’s climate crisis? They aren’t, it’s just that, like in many places, the incentives to go green aren't there. This grid sits in a part of the country, or the world for that matter, that has one of the greatest natural gas surpluses. So, as fast as renewables may have fallen in price across the board, natural gas is even cheaper for PJM. Moreover, the infrastructure is already there and gas is oh so reliable. 

There’s no question that renewables are ascendant, but there are plenty of reasons fossil fuels are still popular. Us Texans understand this all too well after a summer of high-temperatures and low-winds left our utilities struggling to meet demand.

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