The Spin Doctors of “Renewable Energy”

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On jobs the summary report is also deceptive. We are told: “Globally there are more than 5 million jobs in renewable energy industries, and the potential for job creation continues to be a main driver for renewable energy policies.” What this conveniently overlooks are the studies that show that green jobs destroy many more jobs than they create. A widely quoted study at Spain’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos found that Spain had lost 2.2 jobs for every “green” job created. An April 2010 internal assessment by the former Zapatero government concluded that government subsidies for renewables (which had increased five fold between 2004 and 2010) had driven the price of electricity to 17% above the European average, undercutting the competitiveness of Spanish industry.

As long as Europe clings to its obsession with going green, the situation is likely to get worse. A report in the United Kingdom by the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) and the Trade Union Congress cites steel making, ceramic, paper, cement and lime manufacture, aluminum and basic inorganic chemicals as British industries whose viability is threatened by green policies. EIUG director Jeremy Nicholson reminds his countrymen that these industries “make a significant contribution to UK GDP and exports.” Germany’s third largest aluminum company recently declared bankruptcy. Ulrich Grillo, president of Germany’s trade body for the metal industry, warns the production of metals is at risk in Germany due to high electric prices that “result clearly from the state support system for renewable energies and especially photo-voltaics.” Although Angela Merkel’s Germany has a reputation for fiscal hard headedness, fiscal sanity goes out the window when it comes to green policies. A German utility executive has observed that solar energy in cold and cloudy Germany makes as much sense as growing pineapples in Alaska yet Germany now has half the world’s solar photovoltaic capacity.

Solar and wind facilities are niche products that will depend on subsidies as far as the eye can see. If they were close to being competitive, as the green advocates who put together these reports claim, they would not be so concerned about preserving and extending those subsidies. For profit companies would be investing in the sector without the promise of subsidies on which “investments” are now predicated.

It goes beyond jobs. Increasingly, green spells poverty. Four million of England’s 21.5 million households suffer from “fuel poverty” (defined as when fuel bills take up more than 10% of household income) with the number expected to rise to 9.2 million by 2016, with green taxes and levies the primary culprit. Der Spiegel has reported on the extent to which German low income consumers are paying the price for the move to renewable energy. It quotes Holger Krawinkel of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations: “Approximately every tenth household currently has problems paying for rising energy costs.” Consumer protection advocates blame the unchecked expansion of highly subsidized photovoltaic installations. Consumers, many of them low-income renters who obtain no benefit, are on the hook to pay 100 billion euros over the next 20 years to subsidize photovoltaics installed before the end of 2011.

All this damage to public well being and economic viability is being done in service of an apocalyptic fantasy, namely that man-made global warming is bringing Armageddon . As those many thousands assemble in Rio next week to save the earth we should remember that it is they who are the menace–to progress and prosperity on this planet.

Rael Jean Isaac is author of Roosters of the Apocalypse: How the Junk Science of Global Warming Almost Bankrupted the Western World (Heartland Institute, 2012).

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  • davarino

    They subsidize ethanol as well and that is supposed to be a renewable energy? It takes more energy to make ethanol than what it puts out. No matter, the pols have it under control, and the farmers are loving it. Ethanol and all the other goofy "renewables" make about as much sense as fusion, and the public fall for it. The public are not smart enough to realize this is all a big scam. I heard a guy last night call into a radio talk show and suggest, like he had invention of the century, to put alternators on electric cars to keep the battery charged. Like it would be a perpetual motion machine. Folks, let the real scientists do the real work here. There is no free lunch, and when it come to fossil fuels, they pack more energy in one drop than anything else on the planet, except Uranium. Its been fun but this "green" initiative is going to play out and we'll have to face the facts and this will have been a real huge waste of time and money.

    I heard our local schools only required mid 30% on science and math tests in order to pass. You could get that by just guessing, and now you know why we are where we are. You gotta love liberal agendas.

  • Beat Odermatt

    We should remember that every bit of fossil fuel not burnt today remains available for future generations. The children of our grandchildren may need fossil fuel far more desperately then we do. It is so easy to say that renewable energy is getting Government help, but we do forget about the massive support traditional coal and oil industries benefited from Government welfare in form of tax breaks etc. The worst environmental degradation is usually found in countries with long left wing extreme Governments such as in Haiti and the former USSR and its satellite states. Good Governments do care for the environment and do support clean renewable resources as they care for future generations.

    • ebonystone

      "Good Governments do care for the environment …."
      Then the U. S. government must not be a good government. Some of its facilities — particularly military bases and Department of Energy installations — are among the worst polluters, loaded with toxic waste dumps. Hanford Works of the AEC is a prime example. Private companies do not pollute for the fun of it. They do so because there is no economical way around it. From a comlany's point of view, everything that goes up the stack or down the drain is waste and a loss. It goes down the drain because that's the cheapest way to deal with it. But as engineering and technology improve, techniques become available to reduce that waste; i.e. to make a profit from some of it, and smart companies quickly adopt those techniques.
      [cont'd]

      • ebonystone

        [cont'd]
        A case in point: In the late 1990's my employer sent its employees to a presentation on pollution, and what the company was doing about it. They gave an example of a pollutant that in 1950 (the earliest year of their records) had been dumped into the local river at the rate of 200 tons/year. By 1972 (the year of the EPA's founding) this had been reduced to 34 tons/yr — an 83% reduction. And all due to better engineering and to the company's "greed" in wanting to improve profitability and stop literally throwing money down the drain. By the late '90's, after 25 or so years of EPA diktat, the rate was down to 14 tons/yr — another 10% improvement. So private initiative, in the interest of profit, had reduced this pollutant by 83%, while government-imposed regulations added only another 10%. All things considered, it's clear that it's the EPA itself that is the biggest waste.

  • scotto

    I eagerly anticipate the author's hard hitting expose on the incomparably massive spin machine run by the fossil industry — he could start with his own article.

    • Nick Shaw

      "the incomparably massive spin machine run by the fossil industry"? LOL!
      When was the last time the fossil industry was able to get 50K sycophants together in one place?
      You are really comparing Heartland, for example, to the UN?
      Please!
      Step away from the Kool Aid!

  • H&R_ Barack

    If the UN and the UN Environmental Programme-type activities could capture and channel their own B.S., – they would be a sustainable and renewable energy source that did not burden the American taxpayer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003747921021 ganadineroxinter

    There is no free lunch, and when it come to fossil fuels, they pack more energy in one drop than anything else on the planet, except Uranium. Its been fun but this "green" initiative is going to play out and we'll have to face the facts and this will have been a real huge waste of time and money

    • Jeff Green

      No matter how you cut it, co2 and other assorted GHG's are making this a climate a different place. It's money well spent to get off of carbon onto clean energy.
      http://climatecrocks.com/2012/06/15/carbon-surpri

      Coal is being called "dead man walking". Aint goiong to go in the United States.

      • Western Canadian

        Your post is as incoherent as it is short. You make no sense at all, since you know nothing at all.

      • wsg

        Jeffery – Ever heard of the Krebs Cycle ? CO 2 is a TRACE gas in earth's atmosphere it is NOT a pollutant !
        Based on the geologic record the earth's climate IS dynamic and always will be. There have been several glacial cycles ( ice ages) and mankind and not a thing to do with any of those changes and yet now the eco-socialists/ fascists are insisting that our freedom must be eradicated in the name of Gaia and THEIR QUEST of statist utopia => POWER .

      • Nick Shaw

        And, you know this how, Helen?
        'Cause somebody with a hockey stick chart told you?
        CO2 is plant food. You wanna' make the earth green? Feed the plants!
        And who calls coal "dead man walking"? Only fools like your incoherent self.

      • ebonystone

        "…other assorted GHG's …"

        You mean like water vapor and methane? Both. like co2, produced in huge quantities by Mother Nature.

      • ebonystone

        "Coal is being called "dead man walking". Aint[sic] goiong[sic] to go in the United States. "

        But it's going pretty well in China. Even with their own large coal resources, they're importing the stuff like crazy from Australia and Canada. They'd buy a lot from the U.S. too if our greenies didn't keep stopping the construction of port facilities on the Pacific coast.

  • ebonystone

    Hooray! I've made comments of various blogs over the past year or so about ridiculous waste of money on solar or wind generation, because of the need for conventional power plants to back them up–essentially building two power systems when only one is needed. And this article makes that price plain: ten billion pounds for gas turbines for when the wind ain't blowing! So why bother with the wind system at all? Use the gas turbines full time and save the billions spent on the wind-farm.

  • http://galationpress.blogspot.com Jonathan Gal

    Flaws in the Global Warming Hypothesis

    http://www.galationpress.blogspot.com/2012/04/glo

  • Don Kosloff

    Anybody who actually believes that AGW is real should be demanding that more nuclear power plants be built.

    • davarino

      Exactly, because they are not going to replace fossil fuels with renewables. It cant happen, but non scientists dont understand why.

  • http://RussP.us Russ P.

    http://russp.us/thorium.htm

    Imagine a new kind of nuclear power plant that

    cannot melt down

    produces essentially no waste (much less than 1% of the amount of waste that current nuclear power plants produce)

    is based on proven technology and requires no new scientific breakthroughs

    uses an abundant fuel that will last for thousands of years

    cannot contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation

    can actually burn up existing stockpiles of nuclear waste

    is much simpler to build and operate than current nuclear power plants (in part, because it operates at low pressure and does not require a huge pressure vessel)

    • davarin

      Dont know anything about Thorium base nuclear power but it sounds good. Nuclear is the clean way to go regardless of which option is used. Then the greenies could charge their electric cars without the guilty thought that they polluted the air using a coal fired power plant : )

  • mrbean

    Governments and private investors around the world are spending billions to subsidize green energy projects, but many of the emerging technologies in this industry are theoretically ineffificent, unproven and controls often are lax. All too frequently, investors in green energy aren’t motivated by solid business judgment but by environmentalist hype and political propaganda. The result is an environment ripe for fraud.

    • Nick Shaw

      Nope, Mrbean, those investors are far more interested in the government subsidies than the hype. Oddly, they seem to get out just before the project fails.

      • mrbean

        I don;t think you mean the investors – i.e. those who put up their own money? It is the actual people who are running these subsidized green energy projects and companies, not the venture capitalists as investing in the green energy business is a high risk for venture capital and private money with a low return at best – unless of course someone discovers "Dilithium Chrystals" – Ayyye… Captain Kirk.

  • http://Valmartinireland Val Martin

    The question now has moved from does renewable energy work ( only large hydro works ) to how can so many people be fooled into thinking it does work . The phasing out of science and maths from schools may be part of the answer . I am still puzzled . To say 1 mwh of wind energy is equal to . Mwh of conventional energy is like saying that if a shop sells a loaf of bread for 2 euros , then that 2 euros is all profit for the owner . 1 mwh of wind may give about . 04 % of a mwh . From this must be taken grid power used by turbines . Wind probably makes no contribution at all .

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