In fact, there are formidable challenges to bringing large amounts of renewable power online, especially near term. Dr. Axelrod's study found the following.
Wind power. "To replace Vermont Yankee with an equivalent number of wind-derived electricity would require the installation of more than 1,500 wind generators. Given that the largest wind farms install only a few hundred generators, the addition of 1,500 generations with the associated transmission lines needed to connect to the Vermont network, 2012 is an unrealistic completion date."
Solar. "The equivalent number of solar collectors (to replace Vermont Yankee) would require over 2,000 acres of dedicated space just for the solar collectors. To maximize exposure to the sun, an untold amount of land will have to be cleared in order to capture as much sun energy as possible."
Wood. "The amount of wood and waste wood materials needed to produce the same amounts of electricity as from Vermont Yankee would exceed two million tons of bond-dry wood per year, a Vermont Yankee biofuel replacement would require over 200,000 acres of woodlands to be cultivated each year, which represents nearly five percent of Vermont total geographic space."
Axelrod said, "There is one alternative to Vermont Yankee that might meet the tight time schedule, namely the installation of 620 MW (megawatts) of combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT)."
He adds, "Unfortunately, CCGTs require large volumes of natural gas and will produce significantly more nitric oxide and carbon dioxide, the latter a major source of global warming. From a cost perspective, a new CCGT will be twice as expensive and significantly more uncertain as the price of natural gas represents more than 70 percent of a CCGT's operating costs."
Axelrod emphasized, "It should not be misconstrued, solar, wind and biofuels can and should all contribute to Vermont's portfolio of energy resources, but to assume that 620 MW of Vermont Yankee power can be replaced by 2013 is unrealistic."