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Pipeline Operator Says Wind, Solar Not the Answers to Energy Crisis

| Wednesday June 3rd, 2009 | 6 Comments

Reuters TV has an interesting interview of Rich Kinder, the CEO of Kinder Morgan, who says that wind and solar energies are not the answers to reducing America’s greenhouse gas emissions or the country’s dependence on oil.
Rather, he says that natural gas, nuclear, and even clean coil are much more logistically viable options. We’ve previously covered the pros and cons of nuclear energy, more recently Germany’s attempt to utilize clean coal, and even energy think tanks that believe our energy policy should be governed by “facts, sound science, and good American common sense.” As we learn more about our energy capacities and potential, it seems like the debate over energy policy just seems to get more convoluted.
Despite his obvious entrenchment in the oil business, which undoubtedly colors his opinions, is there any validity to Kinder’s claims? Check out the video, and tell us what you think.


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  • Anonymous

    Solid honest points, but I’m going to say the answer is none of the above. The missing answer is EFFICIENCY.

  • Anonymous

    Efficiency is great, but how far will that take us? Don’t we have to start focus our energy (pardon the pun) on creating more sound infrastructures for ourselves?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but efficiency buys us time – potentially a lot of time – to come up with those other solutions.

  • WK

    Solar PVC efficient up to 40%, Clean coal is in testiing phase in Germany and too expensive and when implemented you will pay more in utility bill, no mention of clean natural gas, Nuclear kills earth underground, even France is moving away from that. I thinl Solar PVC efficiency is the solution, because its portable and sun energy is for free, not owned by Exxon/Mobil. Could translate into Zero utility bills and solar PVC powered electric car charging the next generation high capacity lithium batteries avaliable in 3 years

  • Bob Fiske

    Yeah, I don’t see his perspective as being much more than “I can’t sell wind and solar. I could sell Natural Gas or Oil.”
    I don’t know that he’s necessarily hostile to the threat that renewables might pose for the ‘Subscription Energy’ model, ie, paying monthly for the energy itself as opposed to buying equipment (once) that will harvest it for you into the future. I can see how that is hard for people in much of the energy business to see any profit from..
    But his statement was typically ridiculous. ‘Wind and Solar accounts for a paltry amount of our power.. and this emphasis on building up that amount is misplaced.’ It’s like saying we need to improve education, but lets not build schools and train and hire more teachers.. let’s invent some smart pills with hefty research dollars.
    We KNOW that a kw of PV or two on every rooftop in Phoenix, San Diego and Las Vegas would reliably produce Megawatts upon Megawatts of electrical capacity that would be able to displace coal, NG , etc.. and it’s there regardless of the condition of the grid, the spot-price of electricity, etc.. you’re 9 feet away from the source of (some of your) power, no matter what.
    These things are dead simple. You put them in light, and you get electricity. No moving parts, no effluents, no personnel required.

  • http://www.halbright.com Rudi Halbright

    I agree that wind and solar pv aren’t sufficient to replace our dependence on oil. We need to consider other alternatives including geo-thermal, solar-thermal, and other technologies in addition to energy efficiency improvements.
    There is no such thing as “clean coal.” It’s just a concept. Even if we succeed at implementing cleaner methods of burning the coal, coupled with carbon sequestration, the mining of the coal itself is still toxic and poses a health hazard for the miners.
    Natural gas is a non-renewable resource. While we have more of it in the United States than we do petroleum, the largest stores are actually located in Russia, Qatar, and a variety of other middle eastern countries. The current drop in Natural gas prices is due to the global economic slowdown. As are a result of the drop in prices, our imports of LNG (Liquid natural gas) have increased (from the above mentioned countries) due to their drop in price, and domestic production has slowed.
    When the economy picks up we will have a difficult time meeting demand and prices will rise sharply. This will cause increases in home heating costs along with electric generation. Using more natural gas to power our vehicle fleet is short-sighted and will have a negative impact on the many people who depend on it for the homes today.
    We should not be building new infrastructure (e.g. natural gas filling stations) to support the use of a non-renewable resource. A better solution is electric vehicles which will work with electricity generated through any method.
    What is the solution? We should be increasing taxes on gasoline to reflect it’s actual cost, thus paying prices more comparable to those paid in the E.U. and elsewhere around the globe. Using those taxes to increase our ability to generate power with renewable resources would go along way to address our future needs.