Demolishing the Myth of Renewable Energy Pt 2

In the first part of this series, Danish statistician, environmentalist and climate heretic Bjorn Lomborg roundly debunked the myth that renewables are somehow a “transformational” magic bullet solution to climate change.

Humanity needs cheap, abundant energy, and renewables just can’t cut the mustard. Especially not solar and wind, which remain niche sources of energy. The biggest source of renewable energy, even in advanced societies like the EU, remains burning wood. The EU can use fancy names like “biomass” and pretend that it doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, but that’s only the beginning of renewables’ problems.

First, they take up an amazing amount of space that often rep­laces nature. To replace a 1ha gas-fired power plant, society needs 73ha of solar panels, 239ha of onshore wind turbines or an unbelievable 6000ha of biomass.

In a remarkable TED talk Michael Shellenberger shows how some simple back-of-the-envelope calculations demolishes the fanciful claims of renewables advocates. Not only do renewables have a gargantuan environmental footprint, they’re not even much use.

Second — and most important — solar and wind power are intermittent or unreliable…We often hear that wind and solar energy are cheaper than fossil fuels, but at best that is true only when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. It is deeply misleading to compare the energy cost of wind or solar to fossil fuels only when it is windy and sunny.

What’s more, because modern society requires 24-hour power, even when solar or wind is introduced, it’s still necessary to pay for back-up service from fossil fuels (for when there’s no wind or sun), only these are now more expensive because fossil fuels have fewer hours to back the capital investment. And batteries are nowhere near ready to help solar and wind energy last longer. In the US, total battery storage could power the nation for only 14 seconds.

But, even if electricity production magically transformed to 100% renewables without sending everyone, broke and freezing, back to the mud and toil of the Middle Ages, it still wouldn’t make a great deal of difference to carbon dioxide emissions.

Electricity constitutes about only a quarter of global emissions.

There is a focus on emissions from electricity because although it is very hard to end our reliance on fossil fuels and solutions are far from effective, it’s actually easier and further ahead than the other sectors: agriculture (24 per cent of emissions), manufacturing (21 per cent), transport (14 per cent), buildings (6 per cent) and other (10 per cent).

Despite the back-slapping of globe-trotting carbon-fussers circle-jerking each other in luxury resorts around the world, ruinously expensive initiatives like the Paris Agreement make bugger-all difference.

Right now, our solutions to ­climate change are failing. We may feel as if we’re doing a lot, but the ­reality is we are mostly tinkering at the margins, often with incredibly ineffective policies.

…While the EU likes to point to its green achievements, more than two-thirds of its energy still comes from fossil fuels. Nuclear energy contributes 13 per cent of CO2-free energy and renewables 15 per cent. And even this figure of 15 per cent is dubious.

The EU adopts the fictitious position that biomass such as wood pellets produce no CO2 at all. The truth is wood emits more CO2 per kilowatt hour than even coal.

That’s only the beginning of the environmental horror story that is the reality of shonky renewable scams.

Moreover, reliance on burning American forests in EU stoves leads to “biodiversity loss, deforestation and forest degradation”, ­according to a European Commission report. This shows the EU’s climate “achievement” — of ­increasing its use of renewables — is mostly deceptive, and the vast part of it is unsustainable.


In some African countries, “environmentally conscious” Westerner’s demand for guilt-free “bio-fuels” has seen villagers violently driven from their ancestral lands in order to make way for plantations. Others were lucky just to be left jobless and landless, as promised benefits from bio-fuel companies evaporated.

But that is just the beginning of the toll of human misery that the climate alarmists’ obsession with renewables would wreak…