On July 8, 2010, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gave a lunchtime speech at Energy Epicenter, the annual conference of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. That speech provides a number of insights that are useful to those who are concerned about energy issues, concerned about the environment, and interested in the activities of power brokers who stand to make a great deal of money if important energy decisions favor their particular industry.
In this clip, Kennedy offers music to his audience’s ear. He describes how he is involved as a director on the board of a large clean energy venture capital fund and how one of the companies funded by that group is building large solar thermal installations that will represent a substantial market for gas whenever the sun is not shining.
As he says at the end of the clip:
For all of these big utility scale power plants, whether it’s wind or solar, everybody is looking at gas as the supplementary fuel. The plants that we’re building, the wind plants and the solar plants are gas plants.
Aside: During the clip he also hugely exaggerates both the cost and the time required to build a large nuclear power plant. According to Kennedy, a 1 GWe nuclear plant would take 15-20 years to build and cost $15-$20 billion. End Aside.
I wonder what he tells his ardent supporters in the environmental community who have been taught to believe that wind and solar energy are actually replacing fossil fuels? Does he tell them that utility scale wind and solar installations are simply a means to shift some of the market demand and profits away from the coal industry and to natural gas suppliers? Does he mention just how much natural gas is produced by the same large multinational companies that import most of our foreign oil and who pay little in the way of US taxes?
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the founder of Waterkeeper, an organization that is currently working diligently to shut down the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station. The most likely replacement fuel would be natural gas.
Update: Posted February 11, 2012 – If you want to keep up with the progress being made on the solar thermal power plant that Kennedy described in the above video, there is an excellent timeline posted at http://ivanpahsolar.com/ End Update.
Update: Posted March 27, 2013 – As of February 27, 2013, the constructors at Ivanpah solar claimed that the plant was 84% complete and that they had achieved “first flux” a milestone on which several hundred mirrors were focused on the tower, raising water temperature to below the boiling point. End Update.