What Tina Smith’s laughably bad beer pour teaches us about energy
What can a bad beer pour teach us about energy? A lot, actually.
Minnesota Senator Tina Smith (D) has been a leading proponent of the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) in Congress, which would force electricity companies to build more wind turbines and solar panels every year or face stiff penalties.
Unfortunately, Smith’s preferred energy sources are a lot like her recent beer pour, which you can see in the photo below.
U.S. Energy Information Administration data show wind turbines and solar panels don’t work very often in Minnesota. In other words, they are much more foam than beer.
The graph below shows the capacity factor of different energy resources in Minnesota in 2019. The term capacity factor is industry lingo for the measurement of how much electricity a power plant produces, compared to its potential output. In this case, the glass is the potential output, and the beer is the electricity produced.
EIA data show wind only produced 32.6 percent of its potential output in 2019 (meaning it was 32.6 percent beer and 67.4 percent foam), solar produced 17.3 percent of its potential output (17.3 percent beer, 82.7 percent foam), and nuclear produced 97.2 percent of its potential output (97.2 percent beer, 2.8 percent foam).
The foam in Senator Smith’s glass represents a wasted opportunity to have a delicious beverage. On the electric grid, the foam represents a wasted opportunity to generate electricity. This wasted opportunity, called idle capacity, drives up the cost of electricity while adding nothing to the reliability of the system.
Unfortunately, Senator Smith’s preferred energy sources are all foam and no beer.
Rather than pushing the CEPP, which American Experiment’s new study found this program would cost Arizona families an additional $1,200 per year, Senator Smith should urge her DFL colleagues in Minnesota to legalize the construction of new nuclear power plants in the state. Only then can she have a reliably good pour of electricity that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide emissions.