Thomas Gallatin / February 12, 2021

The Renewable Energy Pipe Dream

“Green” energy produced by wind and solar simply cannot meet the power demands of the modern world.

The biggest problem with the renewable energy sources of wind and solar is the fact that they are severely limited by their inherent unreliability. The “green” energy produced by wind and solar is neither constant nor controllable enough to meet the ever-increasing energy demands of a modern world.

First of all, no matter how loudly ecofascists tout renewables as a “solution” to the ostensibly disastrous problem of climate change, that doesn’t negate the reality that wind and solar fail badly in being a viable alternative to fossil fuels or nuclear energy. The simple fact is that solar only works when the sun is shining and there is nothing obscuring the panels (approximately 18% of the time) and wind turbines only work when the wind is blowing (approximately 40% of the time). One of the most glaring factors that serves to demonstrate their inadequacy is the fact that all renewable energy systems are necessarily backed up by either fossil fuels or nuclear power — energy sources that are reliable, consistent, and controllable.

Further highlighting the severe limitations of wind and solar is the natural environment’s impact on this technology. For example, cold weather not only diminishes the energy output of wind turbines but often reverses it. When the temperature drops below zero these wind turbines are shut down and actually consume electricity in order to keep their components warm to prevent damage and malfunction, turning these already lackluster energy producers into energy consumers.

Of course the ecofascists answer to the innate unreliability conundrum of renewables is batteries. They claim that by storing all the excess energy produced during the peak operational periods of wind turbines or solar panels, the innate unreliability problem is “solved.”

However, the problem here is twofold. First, the battery storage capacity needed simply does not exist, nor is it likely to ever exist. As American Experiment’s Issac Orr observes, “A recent analysis by the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie estimates there will be about 741 gigawatt-hours of battery storage in 2030. This amount equates to 741,000 megawatt-hours (MWh). … In 2019, the state of Minnesota consumed 72 million megawatt-hours of electricity. This means the amount of battery storage expected to be in existence for the entire world would be the equivalent of just one percent of Minnesota’s annual energy consumption.”

Second, there’s the high cost of battery storage. Orr notes, “Current cost estimates for battery storage are about $250 per kilowatt-hour, which equates to a cost of $250,000 per megawatt-hour. This means the cost of all the expected battery storage in the world (741,000 MWh by 2030) would cost $185 billion to build, and this doesn’t even begin to include the cost of building the wind turbines and solar panels needed to charge the batteries!” And again, that would meet just 1% of Minnesota’s current annual energy consumption.

We’re really only scratching the surface here. There are certainly favorable aspects of renewable energy, and this isn’t a black-and-white calculation, no matter how much leftists tell us this is a “moral” choice. Not to put too fine a point on it, however, given the reality of the laws of physics, the day the world’s energy needs are fully met by wind and solar is the day pigs will fly.

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