The Enormous Costs of Wind and Solar Electricity Generation

Ignorance-based plans such as the Green New Deal propose that we terminate electricity generation by fossil fuels and replace all of it with renewables such as wind and solar. Proponents of such plans have not considered the environmental and economic implications.

The footprint for enough wind and solar plants to replace all fossil fuel generation is enormous.

If all electricity was supplied by solar generation it would require solar farms with a footprint of 525,312 square miles.

If all electricity was supplied by wind generation, it would require wind farms with a total footprint of 1,808,166 square miles.

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Because wind and solar generation are unreliable, these methods still would require backup generation with is usually natural gas or coal generation.

On the other hand, if all electricity was supplied by nuclear generation, it would require nuclear stations with a footprint of just 4,619 square miles. (Source)

Such large land requirements are very detrimental to the environment, and will wreak havoc with agriculture.

A new study from the American Enterprise Institute (full reportone-page summary) estimates that meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources would cost $490.5 billion per year, permanently, or $3,845 per year per household. It would also require 115 million acres of land to build wind and solar farms.

If the plan to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to “net-zero” by 2050 is fully implement, it would cut the global increase in temperature by 0.083 to 0.173 degrees C by 2100, a number barely distinguishable from zero.

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Carbon dioxide is continually being emitted into the atmosphere and absorbed by the oceans, plants, formation of limestone, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Energy annual emission reports, humans are responsible for about 3% of total CO2 emissions; the rest is from natural sources. Carbon dioxide constitutes about 3% to 4% of total greenhouse gases by volume; therefore anthropogenic CO2 represents just over one-tenth of one percent (0.12%) of total greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere each year. The U.S. is responsible for about 18% of global emissions, so elimination of U.S. emissions will make a difference of about 0.02%. Is that worth spending trillions of dollars and disrupting our economy? Will that save the planet?

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The Broken Greenhouse – why CO2 is a minor player in global climate

Note to readers:

Visit my blog at:

Index with links to all my ADI articles:

My comprehensive 30-page essay on climate change:

A shorter ADI version is at


  1. Unless you are in a very windy place, I don’t see wind as a major energy generation source. Solar however doesn’t take up that much space, it can be installed on roofs or atop parking shelters for large energy users. Nuclear energy is good as long as we keep it safe, however, building nuclear power plants is very expensive. Coal is dirty and harmful to the environment, unless you can find a way to clean it up or another use for it other then energy, the coal industry will disappear.

  2. The Morency pit and the Lavender Mine pit should be shown in conjunction with information like this. THIS is the enduring footprint the Smart Energy people are demanding of us.

  3. How can it cost so much as they say everything if to be FREE? Who is getting rich on all the new solar panels that are cropping up all over. All tusd, county, and some city have them up as car ports, yet TEP wants to increase the monthly bill! Who is getting the benefit as it dos=esn’t seem to be the users. This is just another scam to get into your pockets and the idiots on the left never fear running out of money as long as you have pockets to get into.

  4. Thanks Jonathan for your informative article. There is no energy free lunch. The amount of new mining disturbance needed to support this much solar and wind would be staggering. Opponents of new mines in Arizona (PRosrmont, Resolution, Hermosa, Florence) have no idea what footprint their consumption leaves on Earth.
    Will you resurrect some of your plant and animal articles going forward? I miss them. Always learned something.

  5. Please Johnathan, don’t confuse the idiots with facts. They don’t understand facts and most likely don’t care. I am assuming that your figure of $3845/yr is just the cost to generate, not transmit which equals a monthly bill for electric only at abnout $320/month. Now lets add in fees, taxes and the natural increase in comsumption in the summer and winter for heat and A/C and that will also increase the electric bill. Lets now add the water sewer bill that will show marked increases due to the increase of the cost of electricity to power the pumps, etc. Most likely the average water/sewer bill for an average user will be in the neighborhood of $200 or more a month. Most likely more. So now you are looking at a monthly fee of over $500/mo for electric and water/sewer. These are probably low estimates so at the minimum if the idiots want to go this way, not many people can afford a yearly amount of around $6K a year for water, sewer and electricity. Good luck to you greenies. Where you gonna live???

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