As Hillary Clinton struggles to maintain her lead in the Democratic leadership race, one of her policies has come under fire for the amount it would cost. Back in July, Clinton announced her plan to combat climate change, which aims to increase solar capacity by 700 percent within the first four years of her presidency if she wins. The plan would cost an estimated $246 billion, and only save around $6.7 billion a year in increased efficiency. This projected policy is so expensive that it would rank alongside the most expensive policies of the current administration.
Currently, solar power generates 20 gigawatts of power in the U.S., and Clinton wants to increase this to 140 GW. According to the American Action Forum, not only would the plan need a huge investment, it would also need an enormous amount of land. The AAF released a report saying that they would need a piece of land 1.5 times the size of Rhode Island to produce 112GW of solar power. They cited the example of the Topaz Solar Farm, which produces 550 MW of solar power in an area of 9.5 square miles.
Aside from the cost and land mass required, the other problem with this policy is its effect on wildlife. According to the AAF, solar farms “have been documented to literally fry birds out of the sky.” Temperatures above solar farms can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and reports from one Nevada solar farm say that visitors to the site could see trails of smoke coming from birds flying overhead. Ironic for a measure whose whole purpose is to save the planet.
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