Wind and solar are great sources of power for two reasons: the sun never stops shining and the wind never stops blowing. This makes the marginal cost of a unit of solar or wind energy essentially $0.00 and that is quite a competitive price. The ever decreasing cost of installing solar and wind energy makes them the best and cheapest near-term sources of energy. The market for wind and solar over the next half-century will be huge.
In terms of wind and solar, “renewables” as some call them, Ohio has shown chronic underinvestment in the previous decades. Renewables don’t even make up 5% of Ohio electricity supply. This has us lagging far behind even states with similar profiles (wind blowing and sun shining) like Indiana and Illinois. Increasing renewables to something closer to 30% of our energy mix (primarily at the cost of older coal power plants) will keep Ohio in competition for the energy revolution of the 21st century and significantly lower rates for consumers in the state.
First things first. Despite how their boosters frame them, wind and solar energy in their current forms are not unalloyed goods. They both require extensive use of land–with an energy density far lower than that of coal, natural gas, or fissile material–which takes away from other uses like natural habitats, housing, farming, etc. They also produce waste and many of the materials in their manufacture and operation will come at environmental and economic cost as the world dramatically scales the use of the technologies. The intermittent nature of renewables throws grids and electricity markets out of whack. Plus, windmills kill birds.
These are not insurmountable problems and, in comparison to the fuel sources we aim to replace (coal), the tradeoffs are worth it. We aim to expand Ohio’s supply of renewable energy and the export of renewable energy technology around the world while reducing the resource demand and negative impacts of the technology. A full and measured accounting of the energy transition is, after all, the responsible thing. If you’re gonna do something, do it right, is all we’re saying.
- No solar farms in Ohio.
- For the foreseeable future, the net benefit to Ohio, the country, and humanity, would see Ohio primarily as an exporter of solar cells. Ohio does not receive nearly as much sunlight as many places in the United States.
- Large scale solar is best implemented in areas where the impact on nature is limited and sunlight is maximized (the American southwest, for one).
- Rooftop solar.
- Ohio has quite a bit of rooftop acreage which would be suitable for solar panels with no additional impact on habit.
- Solar panels would also be well used covering parking lots and powering EV charging ports.
- Integration of solar with microgrids and distributed storage.
- Provide certification of “sustainable communities” (primarily as a cultural selling point. Like “organic” produce).
- Implementation of a statewide smartgrid capable of managing inputs from microgrids and intermittent sources.
- Intermittency and Storage
- Ohio will soon be a major producer of EVs and EV batteries (primarily lithium). Permit and facilitate the integration of private EVs into the grid for distributed storage.
- Utility scale storage with fuel cells and vanadium flow batteries.
- Solar powered electrolysis to produce hydrogen for industrial uses and in natural gas power plants converted for use with hydrogen for base load.
- Nuclear reactors for base load.
- Winds from the West
- Western Ohio is prime real estate for wind farms.
- A regulatory framework to encourage growth of wind farms in western Ohio while protecting wildlife and habitat.
- Build grid for long distance distribution of wind energy.
- Combine state backed demonstration of wind farm and utility scale battery story in western Ohio.
- Supposedly painting one blade of a turbine black greatly reduces bird deaths. Seems easy enough.
- Develop unconventional wind turbine designs which reduce their footprint and maximize efficiency.
Renewable Energy Manufacturing and Innovation Cluster
Did you know Ohio is home to the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere? Yet Ohio lawmakers have done all within their power to limit the development of renewable energy technologies in Ohio. Stripping out renewable energy standards and raising the cost of electricity in Ohio to subsidize coal in other states. The Dark Horse administration will do everything within its power to ensure that Ohio is not a mere participant in the energy transition, but a leader, innovator, and profiteer (with only the best of intentions!). We will:
- Expand educational and research programs at Ohio’s public universities relating to renewable energy tech.
- Create a grant fund for renewable energy tech research.
- Provide venture capital for firms commercializing renewable energy tech in Ohio.
- Facilitate coordination of entrepreneurs, suppliers, and utilities in the state of Ohio to maximize the potential and integration of a multitude of technologies.
Additionally, Ohio will foster a local market for the early commercialization of renewable energy systems and technologies. This will be achieved through setting standards and creating the regulatory environment to permit integration of energy storage, micro-grids, and distributed energy resources.
Ohio will become a net exporter of renewable energy technologies. This will include not just solar cells and the components for wind turbines, but the batteries for storage, the equipment for distributed grids, and the software for the optimization of distributed grids, distributed storage, and intermittent energy optimization. This requires that Ohio become a statewide demonstration of a 21st century grid. The Dark Horse administration will direct utilities to develop and adopt standards for these new energy technologies and the technologies to take full advantage of them.
Ohio has great manufacturing prowess and we already have an advantage with our major manufacturing of solar cells. With investment by GM in EV battery manufacturing in the state and the development of other storage technologies going on in the state, we have industry and firms that lend themselves to further coordination and the development of a renewable energy cluster. Coupled with the research happening at Ohio’s public universities, we are poised to dominate one of the fastest growing industries in the world. All it requires is the right vision.