How Green Energy Will Become No Energy

by | Nov 2, 2022

America’s reckless green energy policies evaluated.

The White House advises that the US is transitioning away from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to avoid global warming and a climate crisis. The President has promised to “end all fossil fuel” in America and has a goal of “100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035”[1].

Americans may not realize that achieving the end to fossil fuels means enforcing an all-electric economy – banning fossil-fueled cars and furnaces in favor of expensive electric transportation and electric heating. Even worse, Americans are not being told that achieving 100% carbon pollution-free electricity will lead to the complete collapse of America’s electricity supply. And that monumental sacrifice will be in vain; because the goals of stopping global warming and climate change are neither attainable nor necessary. These disclosures and more will be concisely explained and proven in this policy brief.

Why 100% Carbon Pollution-free Electricity = No Electricity

Achieving the goal of 100% carbon pollution-free electricity requires entirely replacing fossil-fueled electric generation with 100% wind and solar electric generating capacity, the US government’s favored and subsidized replacement electricity.

Safety and a reliable electricity supply require that the constantly varying electric demand on an electric utility grid must always be exactly and instantaneously balanced by the electric supply. If supply does not balance demand, protective relays will open the circuits to protect people and equipment – causing a partial or complete electricity blackout. But solar and wind electric supply cannot balance demand.

The fuel supply of fossil-fueled turbine generators can be readily and precisely controlled by the turbine generator operators, the grid operators, and automatic controls. In that way, grid operators can readily dispatch fossil-fueled turbine generators to vary the electrical supply to precisely and instantaneously balance electrical demand. Electric grid operators (sometimes known as “balancing authorities”) [2] consider fossil-fueled turbine generators to be both firm (reliable) and dispatchable (controllable).

When an electric grid is primarily supplied by firm and dispatchable generating capacity, the usual grid practice is to allow non-firm and non-dispatchable wind and solar output to vary as the wind and sunshine vary but to also dispatch firm and dispatchable turbine generator capacity to continuously and precisely track the demand with a balancing supply.

With 100% wind and solar capacity, there will no longer be any firm and dispatchable capacity to serve and balance the demand. Operators will have no control over wind and sunshine and only inadequate, imprecise control over wind and solar electric output. The electric supply cannot be dispatched to track and balance the electric demand.

When electric supply can no longer balance electric demand, America’s grids can no longer supply electricity at all. When America’s electric supplies fail, elevators, air conditioning, refrigeration, water supply, food supply, health services, internet, telephone, entertainment, manufacturing, commerce, etc. will all be severely disrupted.

There are thousands of electric supply experts in US utilities, balancing authorities, and electric reliability companies who can confirm to US officials that utility grids without adequate firm and dispatchable supply will not deliver electricity. Shouldn’t US officials be disclosing the severe electric supply consequences of 100% wind and solar grids?

Energy Storage Backup for Wind and Solar

Some climate alarmists insist that electric utility grids can be made dependable by adding electric battery storage. But they are not disclosing the massive amounts of storage that are required to store energy during an abundant season to be held long term and then released to supply electricity months later when solar and wind generating output alone is inadequate.

The Clean Air Task Force (CATF) calculated that 100% battery backup for the California electric grids would require a battery storage capacity of about 36 million MWH for the California grids.[3] Even by assuming an 85% reduction in the cost of batteries, the CATF estimated the cost of utility-scale electric battery storage would be $2.9 trillion – increasing the cost of electricity in California sevenfold.

Ironically, the reliable, nuclear generation that California officials apparently hate, could provide firm, dispatchable, and emissions-free electricity at a fraction of the exorbitant cost of wind and solar generation combined with electric battery storage.

It is difficult to imagine America’s reliance on mountains of electric storage batteries for electric reliability year round. The massive environmental impact of battery minerals mining and battery and generating equipment disposal will almost certainly be strenuously opposed by environmental intervenors once they grasp the magnitude of the environmental impact.

Other Carbon Pollution-free Generating Alternatives

Nuclear generation, hydroelectric generation (with reservoir storage), and geothermal generation offer firm and dispatchable generation and carbon pollution-free electricity. But all of the viable sites for hydro and geothermal were developed long ago. New nuclear plants have been effectively banned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. No new nuclear plants have been built in the US in the past 30 years.

Carbon capture is sanctioned by some climate activists. But costly carbon capture also requires mandates or large subsidies. In practice, carbon capture is most attractive where the captured CO2 can be stored underground in aging oil fields with oil producers paying developers for the CO2 to aid secondary recovery of crude oil. Such projects will undoubtedly attract strong opposition from anti-oil intervenors, if not from governments. A major weapon for intervenors will be to demand that carbon capture plant owners be held liable for CO2 leaks into the atmosphere. More importantly, there is not enough underground storage space to store the massive quantities of CO2 gas that would need to be captured in growing, never-ending quantities – continuously and forever.

Water and air-pumped energy storage facilities can provide reliable short-term backup to unreliable wind and solar generation, but their extensive civil works are costly and very difficult to permit. But pumped storage, as well as nuclear generation, will require permitting processes to be reformed. Otherwise, both technologies will suffer from extremely difficult and extended permitting ordeals with a low chance of success. US officials know this but have shown little interest in reforming permit procedures.

Doubling Down – The Mandatory All-Electric Economy

Wind and solar energy cannot directly replace the fossil fuels that are burned for transportation (e.g. cars and trucks.) and for heating (e.g. residential and commercial space heaters, water heaters, cooking, agricultural food dryers, commercial and industrial heating processes). So to completely eliminate fossil fuels, US governments will need to force Americans to replace fossil fuel-burning vehicles and heating appliances with electric vehicles and electric heating appliances.

Electric vehicles are about 50% more expensive to purchase and own than gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, for a comparable carrying capacity and passenger comfort. The cost difference and battery charging inconvenience might be partially neutralized by subsidies. But the impact of subsidies for hundreds of millions of vehicles on state budgets and the federal deficit will be so massive as to be untenable. According to environmentalist and author Bjorn Lomborg, “Norway is the only country where most new cars are electric, and that took wiping the sales and registration tax on these vehicles – worth $25,160 a car – on top of other tax breaks such as reduced tolls.”[4] And that’s not attracting all of the new cars. So, the elimination of fossil fuels will motivate governments to shift the cost burden directly to citizens by outlawing the production and importation of most vehicles that burn gasoline and diesel fuel.

In fact, California has already imposed mandates that phase out the sale of new fossil-fueled cars, trucks, and SUVs between 2023 and 2035[5]. Reportedly, 11 other states are now actively considering such mandates. The Biden Administration has a similar goal that has not yet been mandated by federal law. Similar mandates will probably also be imposed to outlaw the sale of new furnaces and water heaters that burn fuel oil or natural gas. The US companies that supply gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil, and natural gas, will obviously cease operating. As will the associated maintenance businesses.

Keep in mind that the US electric utilities are government-granted monopolies that are mostly owned or highly regulated by governments in the US – much more so than the remainder of the energy industry. Mandating the all-electric economy will bring the entire US energy industry under tight government control. Mandating the all-electric transformation must be an irresistible dream for anti-capitalists and for politicians and regulators with authoritarian ambitions.

America’s mandatory all-electric transformation will massively increase the demand for the electricity needed to replace fossil fuels used for cooking, heating, and transportation. So the all-electric transformation can be expected to accelerate the cost, unreliability, and failure of America’s electric grids.

The loss of electricity will also disrupt electric transportation and heating, completing America’s economic ruin. Life in America (for those who survive) will revert to the harsh, mostly agrarian, pre-industrial lifestyle of 200 years ago.

And the weakened US will become largely defenseless against hostile nations who continue to enjoy the economic advantages of using fossil fuels and who will probably want to confiscate America’s vast and unused fossil fuel reserves.

America’s Transition to a Pre-Industrial Life

Utilities cannot achieve the goal of 100% wind and solar electric supply without retiring all fossil-fueled generating capacity. As firm and dispatchable fossil-fueled capacity is retired from service, America’s energy supply will become increasingly unreliable and expensive.

According to the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), the state of Texas added 25,024 MW of unreliable wind and solar capacity, but reduced 4,659 MW of firm and dispatchable fossil-fueled capacity between 2010 and 2020. In the summer of 2022, Texas’ wind turbine electric output fell to nearly zero during a heat wave. With reduced firm and dispatchable capacity, Texas’ electric grid operator had to ask Texans to reduce their use of electricity to avoid blackouts.

California has been aggressively adding wind and solar generating capacity to achieve its 100% green electricity mandate. The EIA reports that between 2010 and 2020, the California ISO grid added 17,705 MW of wind and solar capacity, but also reduced firm and dispatchable fossil and nuclear capacity by 7,138 MW.[6] Not surprisingly, California experienced rolling blackouts in 2020. And, during a September 2022 heat wave, California officials sent millions of urgent text messages asking Californians to reduce their use of electricity to avoid rolling blackouts. The response was reported to be a 2,600 MW reduction in on-peak demand which was reportedly just enough to avoid blackouts.[7]

California energy officials expect further fossil and nuclear plant retirements and have warned of possible power shortages through 2027 if there are extreme events.[8] Of course, extreme events such as heat waves, wildfires and droughts have always been common in California. So the California governor is now attempting to delay the planned 2024 and 2025 retirement of the 2,256 MW firm base load capacity, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

To be clear, the addition of wind and solar capacity to a grid has the effect of raising the cost of electric power, either through higher rates or subsidies or both. For example, California utilities supplied 22.6% of their electricity from wind and solar in 2020. As a result, the average cost of electricity in California rose from 9.47¢/kWh in 2000 to 18.00¢/kWh in 2020 – almost double in only 20 years[9] even though the cost of new capacity was also heavily government subsidized. Costs increase as wind and solar capacity is added because of the added capital cost of project development, generating equipment, installation, transmission interconnection facilities, and land. The grid can remain reliable as long as the grid’s separate firm and dispatchable capacity are sufficient to match the demand with a supply that is independent of wind and solar supply.

But to the extent that an electric utility grid reduces the capacity of firm and dispatchable generating capacity (relative to the growing system peak demand), the reliability of electric supply will suffer. So the replacement of firm and dispatchable fossil and nuclear capacity with wind and solar capacity has the dual effect of increasing electricity supply costs (funded by electricity rates and tax subsidies) and decreasing electricity supply reliability.

During the transition to 100% wind and solar electricity, the costs of subsidies, new generating facilities, and all-electric mandates can be expected to be massive and growing. For example, Congress and the President recently enacted the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to authorize $369 billion to subsidize the “green energy” industry, purportedly to avoid global warming and climate change.

Bjorn Lomborg advised that “If you plug [IRA’s] predicted emissions decline into the climate model used for all major United Nations climate reports, it turns out the global temperature will be cut by only 0.0009 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.”[10]

For perspective, readers can estimate the cost for Congress to buy at least a whole 1°F reduction in global temperature. For a 1°F reduction, the cost of these subsidies and grants would extrapolate to $28,472,222 for each of the 144 million US income taxpayers.[11] Perhaps governments won’t go that far, but how far will they go? The federal government has actually been subsidizing green energy for years with federal income tax credits. And this new law will probably not be the end of the subsidies, because the green energy industry cannot compete with fossil-fueled energy without the subsidies.

Britain’s recent experience can serve as a warning. Britain’s hostility to fossil fuels motivated increased reliance on wind and solar, a ban on shale-gas fracking, windfall-profits taxes on oil and gas producers, and various “green” levies and taxes. In April 2022, Britain’s government announced a 54% rise in household costs for electricity and natural gas. In August 2022, the government announced another rise of 80% to £3,549 per year ($4,208 – 11% of Britain’s median household income of £31,400).[12]

Here’s another preview of the cost of the energy policy transition. As of Oct 1, 2022, the average price of gasoline in California is $6.29 per gallon — $2.50 more than the national average and $3.18 more than the Texas average. The difference in prices is primarily due to state carbon and gasoline taxes and to special gasoline formulations required by California environmental regulations.[13]

The transition cost and time to an all-out electric supply crisis depend upon how fast the existing firm and dispatchable fossil and nuclear plants are forced to retire and how fast fossil-fueled transportation and heating energy is converted to electric energy. But over time, electricity costs and electric supply failures will increase in any state in the US that pursues these green energy policies – until the policies are changed or the electric supply completely fails. In the meantime, Americans should expect energy-intensive businesses to move their production to another state or nation or go out of business.

In summary, US governments are spending lavishly and replacing firm and dispatchable fossil-fueled electric generation capacity with unreliable and non-dispatchable wind and solar capacity. Governments are also preparing to force Americans to replace fossil-fueled vehicles, heating furnaces, and appliances with costly electric-powered transportation and heating. But as the electric generation, transportation, and heating transitions proceed, America’s energy supply will gradually falter and then finally destroy the US economy, security, and way of life. And Americans should realize that even if governments reverse their reckless energy policies, it is likely to take a decade to permit, design, and reconstruct new dispatchable electric generating facilities. Recovering from the damage to America’s prosperity, security and well-being could take much longer.

Why Opposition to Green Energy Has Been Ineffective

So far, climate alarmists and green energy advocates have been prevailing over opponents who rightfully complain about the cost of green energy policies. The following discussion may explain why they are prevailing and what opponents can do to reverse the political momentum of the alarmists.

Consider how people of the US and other nations will support a war that is horrendously costly in terms of destroying wealth and human life, even when their own military is invading another nation. Why? Most likely the people who support a costly war do so because they have been persuaded – right or wrong – that their nation’s actions are morally justified. That is undoubtedly why national leaders strenuously assure their citizens and allies that their cause is just, even if they have invaded another nation. These leaders are trying to take the moral high ground. They want their citizens and allies to conclude that even though the war and the huge losses are horrible, the war is a moral and worthy cause.

Similarly, climate alarmists insist that using fossil fuels will cause climate change which is an existential threat to humanity (while ignoring the economic harm done). That is the false flag that the climate alarmists have planted on the moral high ground. As long as their false allegations remain unchallenged by the opposition, climate alarmists can be confident that their reckless policy agenda is likely to prevail, even when the costs and harm to society continue to grow and become apparent.

Consider what Americans are likely to think when they hear a US Senator complain that “the cost of green energy is too high,” but the Senator does not challenge the climate alarmists’ evasion of the ultimate devastation they will cause. Even if Americans believe that the cost is burdensome, the Senator has understated the devastating consequences of eliminating fossil fuels and has not answered the implicit moral question: “But is the cost justified by the threat to human existence?” By understating the consequences of eliminating fossil fuels and evading the danger absurdly claimed by the climate alarmists, the Senator’s complaint would imply to many people that the cost of eliminating fossil fuels could be tolerable and might be justified by the alleged danger of climate change.

Regrettably, few opponents of green energy policies have ever seriously challenged the climate alarmists’ evasion of the massive harm that will be caused by America’s green energy policies.

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Take the Moral High Ground

Many climate alarmists are motivated by a cult-like desire to stop any and all human impact on the environment, no matter how the changes benefit humanity. Other alarmists apparently hate capitalism and hate Americans for embracing capitalism. Perhaps they expect that bringing down the fossil fuel industry will bring down America or capitalism. Then there are the autocrats who seek political power over their fellow Americans and the US energy industry. Finally, there are people who have been misled and don’t know any better. Whatever their motives, alarmists and their fellow travelers have empowered America’s green energy industry and their accommodating politicians to pursue reckless and dishonest energy policies.

So the challenge for Americans who understand the threat of green energy policies is to communicate the truth about green energy policies to other Americans. The truth is that achieving the green energy goals established by US governments will require forcing US electric utilities to reduce the generating capacity of fossil-fueled electricity while increasing the generating capacity of unreliable and non-dispatchable wind and solar electricity. Simultaneously, the green energy goals will require forcing manufacturers to shift from making fossil-fueled vehicles and furnaces to making electric vehicles and furnaces. And the period of transition will be very costly and very disruptive for Americans.

But the worst harm to Americans will be the eventual collapse of almost all energy production in America. This will completely destroy American wealth and income and tens of millions of people will perish as food, water and medicines become scarce due to the lack of energy. In addition, the huge US fossil fuel reserve will be a target of hostile foreigners – all in pursuit of a foolish and unworthy goal.

This massive cost and disruption are futile because abandoning U.S. fossil fuels will only imperceptibly delay global warming; and because the reasonably expected climate change is completely manageable with the ordinary measures that humans use to protect themselves from weather extremes.

The following irrefutable facts and conclusions summarize the key points that Americans need to know:

  • Congress has authorized $369 billion in subsidies to reduce global warming by 0.0009°
  • Ending fossil fuels will require governments to mandate that Americans switch to expensive electric transportation and heating.
  • Replacing reliable and dispatchable fossil electricity with 100% wind and solar electricity will make US electric supply costly and unreliable. Eventually, the electricity supply will totally fail.
  • When America’s electric supply has failed, life in America (for those who survive) will necessarily revert to the harsh, mostly agrarian, pre-industrial lifestyle of 200 years ago.

Demand Rational Energy Policies

Hopefully, readers of this brief have learned that the undisclosed and unmanageable risks of abandoning fossil fuels are enormous compared to the familiar and very manageable side effects of using fossil fuels. Only the green energy industry and its accommodating politicians, authoritarians, anti-Americans, anti-capitalists, anti-humanists, misguided journalists, and dishonest commentators will benefit from America’s reckless and authoritarian green energy policies.

Americans who now understand the truth and have the courage to challenge the reckless green energy policies will hopefully share the facts and conclusions disclosed, proven, and concisely explained in this policy brief to help other Americans become aware of the truth about America’s reckless green energy policies and to demand that they be replaced by rational energy policies. Energy is too important to America’s prosperity to be subjected to coercion in any way. American energy policy should ensure and encourage vigorous and fair competition between all forms of energy production and consumption.

Now Americans can understand that a rational energy policy would require that all generating capacity proposals be proven to be competitive with fossil-fueled capacity for both price and function as determined by competitive bidding which has not been corrupted by government taxes, preferences, mandates, or subsidies. For example, wind and solar offers should include the cost of electric storage required and be guaranteed to always deliver firm and dispatchable electricity year around without subsidies, preferences, or mandates. The same procurement principles would apply to nuclear generation, pumped storage, carbon capture, etc.

A rational energy policy would not tax or subsidize the exploration, production, processing, transportation, or sale of any form of energy: fossil, nuclear, wind, solar, batteries, hydro, geothermal, etc. And would also leave Americans free to choose their vehicles and heating appliances and other forms of energy consumption without government taxes, subsidies, energy preferences, or efficiency mandates.

Nuclear and pumped storage plants should not be outlawed. A rational policy would also reform permitting procedures for energy facilities to allow permitting to be finally decided within a year or two of application at most and to make environmental and safety decisions using a rational cost-benefit analysis.

The rational policy details could fill a book. But this is a article, so the preceding principles of free market competition that will ensure a cost-effective energy supply must suffice.

 

End Notes

[1] 100% Carbon Pollution-Free Electricity: President Biden Sets 2035 Goal for 100% carbon pollution-free electricity  https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/22/fact-sheet-president-biden-sets-2030-greenhouse-gas-pollution-reduction-target-aimed-at-creating-good-paying-union-jobs-and-securing-u-s-leadership-on-clean-energy-technologies/

End Fossil Fuel:  “I Guarantee You We’re Going To End Fossil Fuel”   YouTube recording   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Slszva6kk90  Sep 6, 2019 — Candidate Joe Biden told a questioner during a campaign event, “I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuel,” in New Castle, N.H. on 9/6/19.

[2] Balancing Authority: US Energy Information Agency (EIA) https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=27152  According to the EIA: “A balancing authority ensures, in real time, that power system demand and supply are finely balanced. This balance is needed to maintain the safe and reliable operation of the power system. If demand and supply fall out of balance, local or even wide-area blackouts can result.”

[3] Clean Air Task Force: Excerpts of testimony by Armond Cohen, Executive Director, Clean Air Task Force on July 24, 2019, to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change.   20190724-Cohen-Pathways-to-Decarbonize-1  https://cdn.catf.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/21092941/20190724-Cohen-Pathways-to-Decarbonize-1.pdf

Note: The CATF’s hypothetical study does not consider the availability of California’s hydroelectric resources, which would mitigate the total capacity and cost of storage batteries required depending upon precipitation.

[4] EV Subsidies:  Lomborg in Wall Street Journal   https://www.wsj.com/articles/policies-pushing-electric-vehicles-show-why-few-people-want-one-cars-clean-energy-gasoline-emissions-co2-carbon-electricity-11662746452?mod=Searchresults_pos1&page=1

[5] California EV Mandates:  California moves to accelerate to 100% new zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/news/california-moves-accelerate-100-new-zero-emission-vehicle-sales-2035 – :~:text=The%20new%20regulation%20accelerates%20requirements,and%20reach%20100%25%20in%202035.

[6] California Cuts Dispatchable Capacity: US Energy Information Agency   https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eia.gov%2Felectricity%2Fdata%2Fstate%2Fexistcapacity_annual.xlsx&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK

[7] California Blackouts: California’s Last-Ditch Effort to Avoid Blackouts: Texting Consumers – WSJ  https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-avoids-blackouts-by-texting-convincing-consumers-to-slash-power-use-11662658114?mod=Searchresults_pos1&page=1

[8] California Power Shortages: California Faces Summer Blackouts from Climate Extremes   https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/california-faces-summer-blackouts-from-climate-extremes/

[9] California Electricity Prices: US Energy Information Agency   https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eia.gov%2Felectricity%2Fdata%2Fstate%2Favgprice_annual.xlsx&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK

[10] Value of Subsidies: The Inflation Reduction Act Does Little to Reduce Climate Change – WSJ  https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-inflation-reduction-act-does-little-to-reduce-climate-change-global-warming-carbon-emissions-legislation-temperatures-11661288454

[11] Do the Math: ($369 billion/144 million taxpayer) x (1°F/0.00009°F) = $28,472,222/taxpayer

[12] Britain’s Soaring Energy Costs: Net-Zero Emissions Policy Bankrupts Britain – WSJ https://www.wsj.com/articles/net-zero-bankrupts-britain-household-energy-bills-climate-11661523856

[13] California Gasoline Price: https://www.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/YFL0p5fFRywYhti4Mtzm-WSJNewsPaper-10-1-2022.pdf

 

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Richard Batey received a Bachelor of Science degree (Physics) from Texas A&M University and enjoyed a lengthy career in the electric utility power generation and transmission industry. Rich receives no compensation or other benefits from any employers or sponsors.

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