Green energy plans don't only require lots of money, they need large amounts of land – an aspect that one expert says is often forgotten.
"There's this view of solar and wind being so environmentally friendly – and while they do not generate emissions in their generation, much like hydropower does not, much like nuclear power does not, the mining of rare earth minerals for wind and solar components is perhaps the most devastating environmental activity on earth," says James Taylor, senior fellow in environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute. "People forget about that."
Taylor says people also forget that wind turbines require 300 square miles of land development to replace a single conventional power plant.
"Those turbines themselves kill literally millions of birds and bats in the United States each and every year," he adds. "There are tremendous negative environmental consequences – and yet we have people pushing the idea that 'green' is synonymous with wind and solar power and only wind and solar power. It's just the opposite."
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information for the federal government, wind energy provided 6.6 percent of the nation's electricity last year. Only 1.6 percent of electricity came from solar. Significant investments and land use would be necessary for either platform or both to replace fossil fuels (63.5 percent) and/or nuclear (19.3 percent) as sources for electricity.
Many presidential candidates and members of Congress have plans to invest in and source renewable energy. However, Taylor and other critics say the plans require a lot of money on top of all the other programs and policies being pushed.