Biden’s Wind-Solar-Powered U.S. Economy is a Dangerous Myth

In a Gatestone Institute column titled “A Mostly Wind- and Solar-Powered U.S. Economy Is a Dangerous FantasyFrancis Menton wrote:

When President Biden and other advocates of wind and solar generation speak, they appear to believe that the challenge posed is just a matter of currently having too much fossil fuel generation and not enough wind and solar; and therefore, accomplishing the transition to “net zero” will be a simple matter of building sufficient wind and solar facilities and having those facilities replace the current ones that use the fossil fuels.

They are completely wrong about that.

The proposed transition to “net zero” via wind and solar power is not only not easy, but is a total fantasy. It likely cannot occur at all without dramatically undermining our economy, lifestyle and security, and it certainly cannot occur at anything remotely approaching reasonable cost. At some point, the ongoing forced transition… will crash and burn.

[I]t doesn’t matter whether you build a million wind turbines and solar panels, or a billion, or a trillion. On a calm night, they will still produce nothing, and will require full back-up from some other source.

If you propose a predominantly wind/solar electricity system, where fossil fuel back-up is banned, you must, repeat must, address the question of energy storage. Without fossil fuel back-up, and with nuclear and hydro constrained, storage is the only remaining option. How much will be needed? How much will it cost? How long will the energy need to remain in storage before it is used?

There should be highly-detailed engineering studies of how the transition can be accomplished…. But the opposite is the case. At the current time, the government is paying little to no significant attention to the energy storage problem. There is no detailed engineering plan of how to accomplish the transition. There are no detailed government-supported studies of how much storage will be needed, or of what technology can accomplish the job, or of cost.

It gets worse:…. Ken Gregory calculated the cost of such a system as well over $100 trillion, before even getting to the question of whether battery technology exists that can store such amounts of energy for months on end and then discharge the energy over additional months. And even at that enormous cost, that calculation only applied to current levels of electricity consumption…. For purposes of comparison, the entire U.S. GDP is currently around $22 trillion per year.

In other words: we have a hundred-trillion-or-so dollar effort that under presidential directive must be fully up and running by 2035, with everybody’s light and heat and everything else dependent on success, and not only don’t we have any feasibility study or demonstration project, but we haven’t started the basic research yet, and the building where the basic research is to be conducted won’t be ready until 2025.

Meanwhile the country heads down a government-directed and coerced path of massively building wind turbines and solar panels, while forcing the closure of fully-functioning power plants burning coal, oil and natural gas. It is only a question of time before somewhere the system ceases to work…. [I]t is easy to see how the consequences could be dire. Will millions be left without heat in the dead of winter, in which case many will likely die? Will a fully-electrified transportation system get knocked out, stranding millions without ability to get to work? Will our military capabilities get disabled and enable some sort of attack?

No sane, let alone competent, government would ever be headed down this path.

Net-Zero is a Dangerous Myth

The (CFACT) echoed Mr. Menton in an article titled “Net-Zero and ESG are Worsening the Energy Crisis – and Weakening the West” by Rupert Darwall who wrote:

The day after President Biden announced that the United States would ban imports of Russian oil and gas, a group of eleven powerful European investment funds that includes Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager, outlined plans to force Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second largest bank, to cut its lending to oil and gas companies. The juxtaposition of these two events dramatizes the fundamental disunity of the West. At the same time as the Biden administration is sanctioning Russian oil and gas producers, Western investors are sanctioning Western ones. Under the banner of ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing, the West’s capital is being deployed to create an artificial shortage of oil and gas produced by its companies and reward non-Western oil and gas producers such as Russia and Iran with higher prices. In doing so, the West is undermining its own security interests.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy markets were already extremely tight. In the past, high oil and gas prices stimulated a supply-side response leading to increased output and to prices falling back. This relationship has broken down. According to analysts at JP Morgan, capital spending by S&P Global 1200 energy companies peaked in 2015 at just over $400 billion and shrank to around $120 billion last year – less than half its previous trough of $250 billion in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, even though global demand is now around 15% higher than it was then.

[ … ]

Over the past decade and throughout the pandemic, investors could earn higher returns elsewhere, such as in tech – but with soaring prices, that assumption doesn’t hold any longer. In remarks to oil executives at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston last week, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm pointed the finger at Wall Street. “Your investors are demanding climate action,” she told an audience filled with executives of energy firms. To ESG investors, climate action means deliberately starving oil and gas producers of capital for non-financial reasons, leading to under-investment and rising prices.

[ … ]

The IEA’s net zero scenario for 2050 relies heavily on “ever-cheaper” wind and solar. Nuclear barely gets a look in, and the IEA magically solves the intermittency problem of wind and solar by not mentioning the word “intermittency” once in the report’s 224 pages. By ignoring the inherent limitations of weather-dependent electricity generation, the IEA gave its imprimatur to a green fantasy of near 100% renewable electricity generation, with fossil fuels playing an insignificant role in keeping the electrical grid stable and the lights on. This fiction was necessary to justify the report’s most quoted passage. “Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development,” it said of its net zero pathway, meaning that “the focus for oil and gas producers switches entirely to output – emissions reductions – from the operation of existing assets.”

The Bottom Line

This is a real “Let Them Eat Cake” moment for Transportation Department top dog Pete Buttigieg, as most Americans can’t afford electric cars and the infrastructure isn’t there for them in all parts of the country, but Buttigieg here reveals the Biden agenda.

He doesn’t care about skyrocketing gas prices because he wants to drive internal combustion engines out of existence anyway.

It’s part of the Green New Deal plan. The suffering he will cause by doing so is of little moment to Biden and Buttigieg; they won’t experience it. Neither will EPA top dog Michael Regan, who makes the plan clear.

In a column titled “Wind and Solar Power are the Welfare Dependents of the Energy World” CFACT reported:

[T]he wind and solar power industries each receive such enormous taxpayer subsidies that all other energy industries combined do not receive as much taxpayer pork as either wind or solar power alone. According to the U.S. Energy Information administration, the net subsidies for coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power combined amount to only 1/9th of the amount of federal renewable energy subsidies (see Table 3: https://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf).

Zero-emissions is a dangerous myth and is unattainable as is going all solar and wind for our energy needs.

©Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.

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