Any notions that so-called “cleaner” alternatives can replace primary reliance upon fossil energy any time soon — much less influence “climate change” — are feverish fantasies. Worse, the dirty secret is that many of those who use hot-headed scare and guilt tactics to push such agendas clearly must know better.

Take the latest recycled version of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prophesy of doom, for example. The “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report” claims that the world will face “severe, pervasive, and irreversible damage” if the renewable energy sources such as wind and solar don’t supply 80% of the power sector by 2050. Further, it urges that fossil-fueled power generation without carbon capture and storage technology must be “phased out almost entirely by 2100.”

Never mind here that no commercially viable carbon capture and storage technology presently exists to be phased out in the first place, that wind and solar power are anemic, intermittent, and unreliable sources, and that global mean temperatures have been flat now for 18 years and counting despite rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. This global warming “pause” represents half the time period such satellite measurements first began in 1979.

All that “greenness” we’re asked to believe about those non-alternatives warrants some scrutiny too. Whereas Secretary of State John johnkerry25Kerry lauded the IPCC report as “another canary in the coal mine,” it might more aptly herald another eagle in the turbine blade, or another hawk fried by a solar power plant mirror.

Elements of this strategy include a $100 billion bribe by Western nations to encourage developing nations to cut carbon emissions; a delusional agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to institute meaningful carbon reduction targets; and an EPA “Clean Power Plan” aimed at cutting “carbon pollution” from power plants 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 in order to “fight against climate change.”

Cutting that so-called carbon pollution will come at a very high cost to electricity consumers. The EPA’s regulatory war on coal rampage will impose major utility cost hikes, with disproportionate burdens falling upon economically disadvantaged residents of colder northern states.

The Brattle Group consulting company estimates that forced coal plant closures may boost prices for grids serving one-third of the U.S. population by as much as 25%.

Standard & Poor’s projects 40 to 75 gigawatts (75,000 megawatts) of coal units may be shut down by 2020. Among these, plant owners within America’s largest grid — the mid-Atlantic — plan to eliminate 11,578 megawatts of available output through 2015. That’s enough to supply more than 9 million homes.

Those which are eventually replaced with natural gas won’t nearly make up the difference. Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. which manages a Manitoba to Louisiana network expects to see a power shortage of about 2,000 megawatts by 2016, with increasing deficits mounting after that. BNP in New York estimates natural gas along with some renewables will make up only about 4,000 megawatts that of approximately 20,000 megawatts of coal power losses by the end of 2015.

electricgridAs for expecting renewables to fill in the power curve, EU experiences offer a painful reality check.  Approximately 7.8% of Germany’s electricity comes from wind, 4.5% from solar. Largely as a result, German households already fork out for the second highest power costs in Europe — often as much as 30% above the levels seen in other European countries. Power interruptions add to buyer’s remorse.

Only the Danes, who get between 20% and 30% of their power from wind and solar, pay more — the highest electricity rates in Europe. Residential electricity costs in both countries are roughly three times higher than in the U.S.

We can be very grateful that, unlike Europe, the U.S. is blessed with an abundance of coal — which produces about 42% of U.S. power — natural gas ( 25%) plus nuclear (19%). Only about 3.4% comes from wind, and about 0.11% from solar.

Whether renewable energy will ever be able to offer substantial cost-competitive alternatives — rather than limited niches — for U.S. and international energy remains to be seen. But regardless, we can only hope that America learns from the ruinous Green energy policies in Germany and other EU nations before such misguided policies wreak further man-made damage to our social and economic climate.
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  • Larry Bell

    CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax."