To the editor:
Ken Meyer, in his Feb. 17 letter, makes a valid point about corn-based ethanol, which I would be among the last to attempt to defend. His statements about the carbon footprint of green energy alternatives is way off the mark, however.
It is true that all forms of electrical energy production involve producing some amounts of carbon dioxide, but when the amount of CO2 is calculated over the useful lifetime of the various alternatives, all of the green energy alternatives produce far less CO2 that do coal, oil, and natural gas generation. Coal, for example, produces between 863 and 1175 grams of CO2 per equivalent kW of electricity, with oil producing 893 grams and natural gas producing 577 grams.
Of the green electricity alternatives, low temperature geothermal produces the least at 0 to 1 gram. Hydroelectric is second at 15. Wind comes in third at 21, followed by concentrated solar at 40 (Plus or minus 15), nuclear at 60 to 65, high temperature geothermal at 91 to 122 and photovoltaic solar at 106 grams per kW.
These figures are from published studies, cited in a Wikipedia article on green energy carbon footprint. As one can easily calculate, fossil fuel electricity produces anywhere from 5.4 to as much as 1,100 or more times as much carbon dioxide as does green electricity production, calculated over the lifetime of the plant. Given that 10 percent to 30 percent of electricity produced in central plants is lost in transmission, localized production of green energy becomes an even better alternative.