Wind and Solar: Are they really “Key to Our Energy Future?”

It seems like every week or two the Albuquerque Journal feels compelled to publish a hopeful article by proponents of some “alternative” energy source. This week’s edition, “N.M. Sun, Wind Key To Our Energy Future” comes to us from the N.M. Solar Energy Association.
The authors assert in their article that:

A concentrated solar plant (CSP) utilizing about 15 square miles of otherwise unusable land would produce enough electricity to offset New Mexico’s total electrical energy requirements. A CSP of around 100 square miles could meet the country’s entire need, producing more energy than the U.S. consumption of oil, natural gas, coal, hydropower and nuclear energy.

and,

Wind energy programs are working well in New Mexico and have proven to be a cost-effective energy source. Eastern New Mexico could easily produce 20 times the amount of electricity needed in the state. New Mexico’s wind could supply a major percentage of U.S. energy.

This all seems wonderful and without a doubt that wind and solar can become a more important part of both our state and national energy picture, but as it stands now (according to the Energy Information Agency), they combine for less than 1 percent of our energy supply.
Certainly, what the authors promise for wind and solar doesn’t seem to mesh with reality. It’s hard to believe there’s a conspiracy here because if you could solve our energy problems with the measures they proscribe, someone would have done it or be doing it now.
America can’t run on a pipe dream. Solar and wind can help, but they will be niche players for the foreseeable future.

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