To the Editor:
I am sure that David Maidrand (“Facts about renewable energy,” July 31, 2020) is correct about which sources of power were used in Massachusetts during the last heat wave, however; his assertion that it means renewable energy is nothing more than a religious fantasy is both condescending and absurd.
Mr. Maidrand is a retired nuclear power plant engineer, so let’s look at nuclear power. It is declining in this country not because of tree-hugging environmentalists but because the plants are too expensive to build and operate profitably. 100 projects have been canceled since the 1970s. Many others closed due to poor reliability and excessive operating costs, even though the nuclear power industry is still subsidized via liability and waste disposal waivers. I support nuclear power, but we first have to find a competitive way to build and operate nuclear plants. Until then, nuclear power can never be the only alternative to fossil fuels.
Mr. Maidrand dismisses solar and wind because they currently make up a small fraction of energy generation today, but he forgets that it was well over a decade before commercial nuclear power became a significant contributor to the US electric grid. Grid scale alternative energy and storage are just starting to ramp up. Is there enough to replace a nuclear power plant in Massachusetts today? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean never, as he would have us believe.
We will not always have to rely exclusively on centralized power distribution. National Grid rents My 5-kilowatt solar-powered backup battery as part of a growing virtual power plant network which supports the grid during times of excessive demand. National Grid would not do that if it did not make economic sense. Centralized power generation will always be necessary, but we will need less of it in the future as decentralized alternative energy technology advances, costs decline and energy efficiency improves.
Straightforward engineering says we can transition from fossil fuels. Massachusetts decided 12 years ago that we needed to do it because human-caused climate change is a scientifically documented reality, not a religious belief.