12/29/20: “Ohio seeing surge in interest in solar farms”

By Beth Burger and Mark Williams of the Columbus Dispatch

The article starts off with the following:

“Blocked from developing more wind power in Ohio, renewable energy companies have their sights on the sun.”

The obvious question is “Why is this happening in Ohio?”

The article goes on to tell us that the desire for solar farms is driven by companies making pledges to switch to renewable energy sources, away from electricity generated by the use of fossil fuels such as coal. Some of those companies are important to central Ohio’s economy.

Next to the article on page one is a picture of the structures that will be used to hold the solar panels at the Hillcrest Solar Project in Brown County. While there are nice trees in the background, the supports don’t make for a pretty picture. If you’ve driven by any of the solar farms throughout the country you know that the finished project doesn’t get any prettier.

The article tells us that there are nearly 24 projects now under consideration. If they are all of similar size to the Yellowbud project proposed for Ross County (2,040 acres) and are all approved that will take nearly 50,000 acres of prime farmland out of production. 50,000 acres is equivalent to 78 square miles of valuable farmland converted to producing electricity (WHEN THE WEATHER PERMITS IT).

But the obvious question is “Why is this happening in Ohio?”

Let’s check out the 10 day weather forecast around the state.

According to the IPhone Weather AP at 2:30PM 12/30/20.

So how much electricity can a solar farm generate during a heavily cloudy day, especially if it is raining or snowing? I’m guessing it is near to zero? How much electricity can a solar farm generate during a partly cloudy day? I’m guessing not very much.

But you’re probably saying “Alan, this is just an unusually cloudy ten day period.” But it really isn’t. I checked the internet site CURRENTRESULTS.COM to see what the average hours of sunlight are for Columbus. The following is what I found:

PeriodHours of
Oct – Mar7704,36818%
Apr – Sep1,4134,39232%
Nov – Jan2992,20814%
According to CurrentResults.com.

You start off with only half of the hours during the year being daylight hours. So hours of sunshine of 50% of the total hours is the maximum percent of the time solar farms could possibly be productive. However, the hours just after sunrise and before sunset are hardly conducive to electricity production. So it is actually less than 50%.

But that isn’t what we experience in Ohio. Our hours of sunshine are much lower because of our climate. In fact, during the period of October through March we can expect less than 18% of the total hours being hours of sunshine! And during those six months there are long periods of days with heavy cloud cover. During the period including November through January it is 13.5%. Where will the companies who are pledging to switch to renewables going to get their electricity during those long cloudy periods? It won’t be from the solar farms. They’ll need the coal fired and nuclear plants for backup during those periods of heavy cloud cover. This will only be more so once our cars and heating are transitioned off of gas, natural gas and propane.

So the obvious question is “Why is this happening in Ohio? After all Ohio is the fifth or sixth state on the list of states with the least amount of sunshine!”

But the real question is why are we doing this when “real” science tells us that CO2 isn’t a harmful pollutant, but a necessary part of the life cycle. And global warming isn’t due to human’s use of fossil fuels, but part of Earth’s naturally occurring climate change pattern. After all, we’ve seen massive sheets of ice, called glaciers, cover much of what is now Ohio and then melt three times in the last 600,000 years. Now that is real climate change for you!

“So why is this happening in Ohio right now?” “And who is getting rich off of it?”

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