After reading Brandie Carignan’s letter, “Not magic, just basic science,” in the Thursday, July 25, 2019, News-Optimist, I feel compelled to respond. While I applaud Ms. Carignan’s plea for preservation of our environment, her unspoken assumption that we can switch over to solar energy then continue with life as usual is unfounded.
We have installed a solar array large enough to produce 100 per cent of our annual electrical energy consumption, but the reality of solar power production in Saskatchewan is that in winter we consume approximately 10 times what we produce, while summer is the diametric opposite – we generate approximately 10 times as much as we consume.
This system works for us for only one reason and that is, since there is no financially feasible method of storing our excess summer production, we feed it into the provincial, coal-fired power grid then draw on that credit during the winter months. (It would, of course, be preferable if it were fed into a natural gas-fired system, as Mr. Zinchuk discusses in his earlier article, thus producing only half the current emissions.)
But even if more people invested in solar power as we have done, it would not negate the need for a provincial power grid capable of absorbing the excess summer electricity generation. To suggest that the Saskatchewan New Democrats’ key climate policy provides the answer to this dilemma is also unfounded. Their web page offers nothing more than platitudes such as, “encouraging everyone in the province to take real action to protect the environment,” and “helping families transition to energy efficient homes.” As for their support of the carbon tax, this is the same politically correct language the Liberals use to promote it. It gives the appearance of doing something about the very real problem of profligate energy use, without actually doing anything. Truly meaningful policies would result in an immediate and significant economic slowdown, and this would be political suicide.
Not magic, just basic science tells us that economic growth and energy use are always directly correlated – as one increases so does the other. Mr. Zinchuk is telling us what we must do if we wish to continue living the consumer lifestyles most of us seem to desire. Solar, and all other renewable energy sources make up only a very small fraction of the energy we use worldwide, and there is no alternative to widespread fossil fuel use in the foreseeable future if we wish to continue that lifestyle. When we citizens of the developed world are willing to accept a much simpler lifestyle, perhaps then politicians will implement the policies required to truly make a difference.