The Renewable Energy Folly of the West

We live in troubling times.

First we’ve had to contend with the coronavirus pandemic. Just as we seemed to be emerging from this threat we have been beset with major flooding in Queensland and New South Wales. But now, the final straw, Russia has invaded Ukraine with the real prospect that Vladimir Putin could trigger a nuclear conflagration.

But when you are a climate change catastrophist you can only see the world through one lens. I was appalled to read the other day that the Biden administration’s climate change envoy (multimillionaire and private jet owning) John Kerry responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expressing concerns that Vladimir Putin might no longer be committed to reducing CO2 emissions!

Kerry declared, “You are going to lose people’s focus. You’re going to lose big country attention because they are diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact.”

The war in Ukraine poses a far greater and more immediate existential threat than climate change.

And, of course, we can’t dodge the issue that Europe’s precipitate adoption of renewable energy has facilitated Russia’s military adventurism. In its rush to reduce its own reliance on fossil fuels, Europe has not only shut down its coal-fired coal stations but also, inexplicably, its nuclear power plants. It has vastly reduced its own production of fossil fuels.

But in terms of reducing global emissions this has largely been a charade.

As I have indicated in previous essays, Europe and particularly the United Kingdom, have struggled to meet their demands for electricity. Reliable and affordable energy is one of the essential underpinnings of modern economies. That is essentially unachievable for countries solely reliant on wind and solar energy. Security of supply requires a basic foundation of base load power that is available 24 hours a day to cover the shortfalls when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow. The only alternative is to have the capacity to store energy which can then be used when the renewables are not producing. The most effective storage mechanism is the use of pumped storage hydro.

(Many people seem unaware of the role of this technology decrying the fact that is a net user of electricity and not a generator of electricity. They don’t understand that over the daily cycle of electricity usage prices fluctuate wildly. Hence it makes good sense when prices are low to utilise energy to pump water into elevated storage ponds and then release that water to generate hydroelectricity when there is a shortage of energy and prices are high. In this regards these facilities act exactly like a battery only they have far greater storage capacity than existing batteries.)

All the batteries currently installed in Western Europe have only sufficient capacity to supply the average demand for less than one and a half minutes!  It is a myth that with current technologies renewable energy technology can give us energy independence.

Unfortunately Europe after closing down their gas and coal industries in their insane obsession with woke green politics have now come to rely on Russian gas supplies to not only provide backup for their intermittent renewable energy production but to also provide essential heating during the winter.

(Remember that despite the protestations of the climate catastrophists many more people around the world die from the cold rather than elevated temperatures.)

The futile attempt to decarbonise the European economy has resulted in an unhealthy dependence on Russia as a source of fossil fuels. Every day Europe pays Russia over a half a billion dollars US to augment its energy shortfall. This in effect is financing Russia’s war against the Ukraine.

Even the US, which under the Trump presidency was self-sufficient in energy, under Biden purchases 7% of its energy from Russia. One of the first things President Biden did on being elected was to cancel the Keystone pipeline designed to carry crude oil from Canada to the US. He also banned gas and oil drilling on federal lands.

Nobel Prize winning, Danish economist, Bjorn Lomborg reports:

…electricity makes up just a fifth of Europe’s overall energy consumption, nearly three-quarters of which is met by gas and other fossil fuels. Despite the hype, solar and wind deliver less than 4 per cent of Europe’s total energy.

Hence the insane rush to renewables has resulted in an unreliable electricity supply and an over-reliance on Russia for fossil fuels.

The US achieved energy self-sufficiency by using “fracking” to tap methane reserves in fossil fuel deposits. Europe has the opportunity to do the same. However anti-fracking sentiment among conservationists has precluded European countries from following the US precedent. It has been reported that Russia has financed anti-fracking propaganda, which is not surprising seeing how it has benefitted their energy exports.

Even the recently converted green advocate, Boris Johnson, faced with this scenario, is having second thoughts about his commitment to net zero by 2050.

So well done, climate zealots! You have succeeded in rendering Europe’s electricity supply unreliable and more expensive, undermined energy self-sufficiency and boosted the Russian coffers to finance a war with Ukraine. And all of this without making any discernible impact on CO2 emissions.

Now is it not instructive that those rushing to decarbonise their economies are only the “woke” Western democracies? There is no credible evidence that those major polluters, Russia, China and India, are likely to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels anytime soon. They value their economic progress more than virtue signalling.

Conservationists are always keen to remind us of the complexity and the interdependencies of the natural world. They tend to neglect the fact that human societies are also complex and interventions tend often to have unintended social, economic and institutional consequences.

Now I have always believed we should transition to renewable energy. But we need to do this in an ordered and considered way over decades. It is quite clear that the most fervent renewable energy proponents and the political fellow travellers they have captured have either no knowledge of or little concern for the deleterious effects of doing this in haste. Let us be clear that Greta Thunberg, John Kerry and their ilk are indeed false prophets.

7 Replies to “The Renewable Energy Folly of the West”

  1. All too true, Ted. As Goebbels said, ‘tell a big lie often enough and people will believe it’. This whole WOKE garbage is now believed to be true and unchallengeable and CO2 is the single factor to cause the problem. Initially, when global warming was first raised as an issue, adaptability was heralded as the course that we should take. The negative response to nuclear energy, the refusal to include the seasons of the sun and its ability to independently have major effects never seems to be considered. Recall in the 60s a solar flare blacked out the whole electrical network of Canada. There was recently a huge solar flare which fortunately was not directed toward the earth. If it had been it may have destroyed the satellites and a lot of our electronic capacity.

    The world is full of gullible idiots.

  2. It is worth your time to look at the Project Drawdown website. They have a more measured and diverse list of solutions than noisy climate attention seekers such as Greta. The idea of using stored water for energy is interesting. Everything should be on the table as there is no silver bullet especially when no one wants a reduced standard of living.

  3. Ted, agree with the general tenet of this essay, that the rush to transition to “renewable” energy has been too hasty and left countries on this frolic insecure in reliable energy supply.
    However any business case on the lifecycle of “renewables” will show that they are far from renewable or sustainable. Apart from the blight on the landscape and destruction of ecology, we will soon be burdened with the cost of manage their waste at the end of useful life.

  4. Hi Ted, wow that was so incredibly loaded and conflated with so many issues. And so political rather than intellectual.

    Just to mention a couple of things I don’t follow in your thinking:

    What is the reason you support transition to renewable energy, at all, being that you so strongly seem to reject it?

    Also, by referring to people that do accept climate change, why do you label them so strongly as catastrophists and zealots? It’s not a fair reference to people, especially specialists and scientists on the matter. It devalues your contribution to an argument when you label and group people in an extreme sense, that merely don’t align fully with your understanding and view.

    And you refer to conservationist in a disparaging tone. I don’t think that is intellectually fair minded dealing and labelling of anyone that may have a concern for the environment and living things, other than humans.

    You take such a strong view on outright rejection of the idea that humans activity has had some impact (or caused) climate change.

    Us humans are fallible, often trapped in our own biases, and shaped by out upbringings and personal experiences that influence our morals and values – could it be that with your history, and seemingly political leaning to the right (so it seems) has given rise to a circumstance of your mind unable to accept that it could be wrong in your attack on those that accept (at least to some extent) that human activity has contributed to (or caused) climate change?

    1. Well, Matt, to set the record straight, I do believe in climate change and I think that we should responsibly make our way to a future with more renewables.

      I refer to catastrophists and zealots because so many give the impression that the world is under imminent threat from global warming when indeed it is not. The catastrophists would have us believe that sea levels would have risen metres by now when they obviously haven’t. They have peddled their propaganda that life on earth is about to be almost impossible for human beings when there is no evidence that is the case. They have brainwashed young people into believing that their future is going to be abysmal where there is little evidence that supports this fatalistic conjecture.
      The earth’s history is replete with evidence that there has been periods of cooling and warming even before mankind had much influence on the earth’s atmosphere.

      So my point of view is that we should prudently reduce our emissions but not in such a way that it destroys our way of life.

      A rush to meet dubious environmental targets without considering the economic effects of such interventions is irresponsible.

      Humans have the capacity to adapt to climate change. Precipitate action to ward off the exaggerated effects postulated by the zealots is likely to do more harm than good as I tried to show in my essay.

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