Demolishing the Myths of Renewable Energy, Part 1

Despite being the Great Satan of the green-left, Bjorn Lomborg is hardly a knuckle-dragging, neanderthal climate-change denier. At worst, Lomborg is what is known as a “lukewarmer”: someone who doesn’t doubt the reality of global warming, but suspects that “climate emergency” is a millenarian fantasy. But even such mild doubt is heresy to the warmist inquisitors who’d rather fawn at the feet of ignorant, puritanical children. Lomborg is hardly going to find himself welcomed back into the fold when he insists on trampling on the watermelons’ sacred eco-crucifixes and other ‘renewables’ idols.

In the first of a four-part series demolishing green mythology about renewables, let’s take a quick tour of the history and realities of renewable energy.

The reality is, today, solar and wind energy together deliver only about 1 per cent of global energy. The International Energy Agency estimates that even by 2040 these will cover a little more than 4 per cent of global energy.

One of the world’s leading energy researchers, Czech-Canadian Vaclav Smil, has said: “The great hope for a quick and sweeping transition to renewable energy is wishful thinking.”

Even the church father of global warming, James Hansen, isn’t buying the renewables myth.

“Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

But there’s money (usually taxpayers’) in them thar windmills.

How has such a fundamental misunderstanding become so firmly entrenched at the centre of climate policy debate? Partly through self-interest. Many private companies — from Vestas to Tesla — have an interest in making us believe the solution is simply to buy lots of their products…

There are a lot of political and activist groups that coalesce support around the idea that climate change can be solved with more green energy and less fossil fuels. But we need to remember that we don’t emit CO2 to annoy environmentalists. It is the by-product of today’s immense availability of power, which provides everything we need and demand from modern society: heat, cold, transport, electricity and food.

And therein lies the rub. Human development is absolutely contingent on energy: cheap as you can make it. When energy is limited and expensive, the elite thrive and the masses wallow in misery.

The link is strong and clear: if you have access to lots of cheap energy, this typically means you’ve escaped poverty, you will live a long life, you have access to a good education and healthcare, you won’t starve to death or die from easily curable diseases. These are manifestly good things, which is why the world has spent the past two centuries ensuring more and more people can access lots of energy.

It’s not as if we haven’t seen what a world run on renewables looks like.

In 1800, almost all energy was renewable. Humanity used energy from draught animals ploughing fields and pulling carts and from firewood heating hearths and homes. And almost everyone put in long hours of harsh, backbreaking labour…

After this, coal, then oil, gas and finally nuclear power were transformative in helping humanity. These gave us the ability to achieve much more with much less labour. At the end of the 19th century, human labour made up 94 per cent of all industrial work in the US. Today, it constitutes only 8 per cent.

Yet humanity has actually never experienced an “energy transition” — a shift from one set of energy sources to another set. Rather, we have added more and more…

But, while the ‘market share’ of renewables plummeted from 94 per cent to 14 per cent over the course of a century (even with the recent intense focus on climate policy), we’re still burning plenty of wood.

Most people think renewables are overwhelmingly made up of solar and wind. Nothing could be further from the truth. Solar and wind contributed only 2.4 per cent of the EU total energy demand in 2017, according to the latest numbers from the International Energy Agency. Another 1.7 per cent came from hydro and 0.4 per cent from geothermal energy.

In comparison, 10 per cent — more than two-thirds of all the ­renewable energy in the EU — comes from the world’s oldest ­energy source: wood.

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Burning massive amounts of wood while shrieking in horror at the very sight of coal is too obvious an hypocrisy for even the EU. So it tries to hide the fact by rebranding wood as “biomass” and blatantly lying that burning wood somehow doesn’t produce carbon dioxide.

But that’s only the start of the problems with renewables.

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