Energy Smackdown: Keystone XL vs. Solyndra
One oil pipeline could provide more energy than all of America’s solar and wind power.


Robert Bryce

Read that again. One pipeline — one pipeline! — would have delivered 46 percent more energy than all the solar panels and wind turbines did last year. To put that in perspective, consider that the U.S. now has about 43,000 megawatts of wind generation capacity. If we assume the average wind turbine capacity is 2 megawatts, that’s about 21,500 wind turbines. Furthermore, roughly five megawatts’ worth of wind turbines can be installed per square mile. Thus, the U.S. has now covered about 8,600 square miles (a land area approximately the size of New Jersey) with wind turbines. And that energy sprawl has spawned a backlash among rural residents from Maine to Oregon.

But rather than look at the hard realities, the Obama administration and their supporters claim that the future belongs to renewables and to companies like Solyndra. Whenever you hear that claim, recall the numbers above: In 2009, production from all geothermal, wind, and solar sources amounted to 1.25 percent of American energy while oil provided 37 percent — the exact same percentage as it did way back in 1949.

In August 2008, Barack Obama said that “we must end the age of oil in our time.” Here’s the reality: The age of oil isn’t over. Not by a long shot.

And by delaying the Keystone XL, Obama has shown that he’s more interested in political maneuvering than in providing cheap, abundant, reliable energy to U.S. consumers.

— Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His fourth book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, was recently issued in paperback.