All this renewables talk is a lot like the famous quote from some guy decades ago that said nuclear power would be too cheap to meter.
At the time, the primary cost of producing electricity was the fuel costs. There was little polution control, safety was of less concern, etc. Therefore, it seemed logical that a new source of energy that could produce it's own fuel would be incredibly cheap. Even the statement that it produces it's own fuel is not a true statement. However, if the other costs, primarily the steel and concrete, were eliminated, then nuclear power would probably be too cheap to meter. We are making the same false assumptions about renewables by thinking they are like what we have today.
The same flawed logic applies to renewables. The environment impact of todays power plants is primary associated with collecting and burning the fuel, whether it's coal mining and air pollution or uranium mining and high-level waste disposal. Therefore it seems just as logical that if there is no fuel at all then there is no environmental impact. This is seriously flawed logic. Renewables require huge amounts of land, steel, concrete, etc. per unit of energy that they produce.
We are fighting over utilizing 2,000 acres in Alaska on a temporary basis. When they are done, they cap the hole and haul everything away for scrap metal or to satisfy the decommissioning laws and it returns to pristine wilderness over about 100 years. Now, we are to believe that permanently paving over millions of acres to put solar collectors or wind turbines is going to be environmentally friendly and have no lasting consequences. There will be huge amounts of pollution generated to manufacture the steel, concrete, glass, etc. Nothing lasts for ever and there will be tons of waste generated when they are decommissioned and replaced with new ones. Not everything recycles very well.
All power plants will be huge industrial operations requiring huge industries to support them. Always have been and always will be. If we can't utilize 2,000 acres or even 2 million acres at an incredibly remote location, in what logical world can we do anything anywhere.
BTW, the vast majority of you guys need to take some economics lessons. Particularly, you need to understand the concepts of present value, time value of money, etc.
In an ideal world, every company would be trying to maximize their present value. If leaving the oil in the ground is more valuable than selling it for cash, then it stays in the ground because the price is too low. If the cash is more valuable than the oil, then you pump it. Since every source of oil has different costs associated with getting it too market, the price determines how much is worth pumping and how much is not. This should be the primary factor determining when and where. Our Congress determines when for political reasons and the Saudis determine how much for political reasons. I agree they are the bad guys, but no worse than our politicians that are making us pay more for oil for their own political gains.
If we can't safely drill for oil here, then it can't be done safely anywhere. Is it somehow OK to poison the Arabs? Isn't that the basic argument for social justice or whatever the buzz word is?