David Osterberg makes a good observation about DAEC in his Jan. 5 column, “With loss of nuclear, clean energy is needed.” Duane Arnold Energy Center (DAEC) generated clean carbon dioxide-free electricity 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. With the loss of this clean energy, Mr. Osterberg proposes a stronger commitment to solar and wind energy production. Solar generates electricity during sunlight hours. Wind production varies with the wind. A wind facility rarely, if ever, generates full design power. The average production for a wind facility in Iowa is one-third of its full design power. This means that backup power generation is needed to prevent blackouts. What will we use? Without DAEC, the only choices we have are fossil fuels. It may be worthwhile to consider the case of Duke Power in North Carolina where it was found that after the installation of solar panels, carbon emissions actually increased due to the fossil fuel backup needed.
How clean is solar energy anyway? Solar panel production results in the deadly poison silicon tetrachloride — a threat to the environment.
There will always be trade-offs when choosing a power production method. With solar energy we can’t get entirely away from fossil fuels and we generate a poisonous chemical that must be dealt with. With wind energy we also can’t escape fossil fuels because of the uncontrollable variability of the wind. Any serious energy plan requires a reliable back up source for energy production.