Panel 8 of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was on the subject of “Costs and Benefits of Renewable Energy.” The panel was focused on the subject of renewable energy, specifically the high cost and potentially devastating economic consequences produced by the federal government’s efforts to replace the current energy sources with renewables.
The featured speakers in this panel were Dr. Howard Hayden, Steve Goreham, and Marita Noon. These three panelists argued that the consequences of the renewable energy regime in America, and in Europe, will have ruinous effects on the economy and people’s lives.
In his talk, Dr. Hayden discusses the relative market share of various energy sources. He points out that renewables as a whole still account for just 13% of electricity generation in the United States. Breaking that percentage down into its constituent parts, hydroelectric power makes up 62%, wind power 23%, and solar a measly 0.35%.
Hayden spends some time articulating the many issues with wind power. He calls it a “capricious” energy source, one that operates only about 35% of the time, and has consistent problems with maintaining power-grid stability.
Hayden also has time to bash biofuels, which he points out are a complete waste of time. He deftly points out that even if all of the arable land in the United States was used to produce biofuels, it would still be insufficient to meet the energy needs of Americans.
The fact is the renewable energy industry has consistently failed to live up to the hype promoted by the political left. Hayden says, “The wind, solar, biofuel, and geothermal industries are not fledgling industries,” and it is time to stop treating them like they are. It is not hard to come to the conclusion that it is time for governments to stop propping these industries up with vast subsidies and let them stand or fall on their own.
Steve Goreham furthers Hayden’s case by highlighting the various economic madnesses produced by energy regulators around the world. In Denmark, 5,000 wind towers, that’s one for every 1,000 citizens, dot the landscape producing the energy of just one conventional power plant. Danes pay for the privilege of all this wind power by having some of the highest energy prices in the developed world (three times that of America).
In Germany, coal has been experiencing a resurgence thanks to the subsidies and privileges of the solar and wind industries having driven gas plants out of business. In the United Kingdom, coal-burning plants have been converted at enormous cost to burn less efficient wood because the country’s environmental regulators do not measure carbon dioxide output of wood burning.
Goreham also takes time to discuss the pressures on the American power-grid, and how they are being made worse by the promotion of renewable energy. The past winter pushed the nation’s grid to the limit, and needed 89% of all extant coal plants just to prevent blackouts. Yet these plants face closure thanks to dangerously ruinous regulations put out by the Obama administration. Nuclear plants also face closure thanks to new regulations expunging profits. These policies are pure folly.
Marita Noon’s presentation looks at renewable energy by following the money. She describes the mind-boggling use of money from the 2009 stimulus package to green energy projects. In all, the stimulus provided just shy of $100 billion on renewable energy projects. Noon’s research has found personal or financial connections between 90% of all the projects receiving this funding and senior Democratic Party figures. And since 2009, more than 50 of those projects have failed or are on their last legs.
Renewable energy projects have devoured taxpayer money for years with virtually no return on the investment. It is about time that governments cut their losses.