Robert Kennedy Jr: solar and natural gas belong together

October 28, 2009

The solar power sector and the natural gas industry need to build an alliance to get more government support and take over the energy sector from incumbents like Big Oil and King Coal, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said on Wednesday.

The environmentalist spoke at the Solar Power International Conference being held in Anaheim, California, this week.

“The alliance is just forming,” Kennedy told reporters after his remarks. He added that the natural gas industry has been “hiding under oil and they think Big Oil is going to take care of them. But they’re realizing Big Oil is never going to let them make a profit” and that companies like Chesapeake are realizing “that their future is with the environmental community and the renewable community.”

He said the team-up also makes sense because power from natural gas can help balance out solar and wind-generated electricity on the grid, eliminating the problem of inconsistency on sunny days, for instance.

Kennedy argued that the solar power industry needs to alert the U.S. government that the country is in an “arms race with the Chinese.”

“It’s not an arms race over tanks and planes. It’s an arms race over who’s going to build solar panels and who’s going to build them the most efficient. We’ve got to start treating this as an arms race,” Kennedy said.

He added that the Chinese have outspent the U.S. government in the renewable sector and that “they know that this is the future and they want to put us out of business. They are going to put a lot of us out of business, a lot of solar panel makers out of business because they’re going to flood the market with their paneling.”

Reporting and writing by Laura Isensee


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Been saying solar is the future for 50 years. Put it on my house 20 years ago and it does work.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

The alliance also makes sense technologically. Instead of load balancing separate facilities, use solar thermal pre-heaters on NG power plants. This would reduce gas usage while eliminating the storage problem for solar and relieving it of the burden of paying for separate generation and transmission equipment.

Posted by Owen | Report as abusive

Natural gas would seem to be lovely and clean, but it is still a fossil fuel and the horizontal drilling extraction process, “fracking”, requires the use and subsequent disposal of poisonous chemicals and millions of gallons of water. These steps involved in mining the gas may well put in jeopardy the pure drinking water in the Catskill Watershed which supplies New York City. The New York State DEC is currently holding hearings for the permitting process for allowing this drilling to begin very soon.

Posted by Merrill | Report as abusive

RK Jr is right. He speaks wisdom. But entrenched Big Oil interests hamper collaborations. Which must be overcome.

Go to Youtube and search ‘Grand Energy Transition’. Watch how natural gas can become the principal source of domestic energy for a century.

Posted by The Real Deal | Report as abusive

NG players would be foolish to decouple from oil lobbies – they go hand in hand – and anyone who suggests that it would be wise to decouple is delusional.

But why the greens haven’t taken on King Coal in alliance with NG is amazing – NG is far cleaner in all respects – from extraction to consumption.

Posted by Paiul | Report as abusive