‘Renewable’ energy is still just a marketing term for unreliable energy

As winter approaches across the country, the usual seasonal stressors are upon us: Busy social calendars, buying gifts (if we can afford them), and preparing for family functions.

For those of us in Texas, however, we have bigger concerns. Memories of going days or weeks without light, heat, or drinking water during Winter Storm Uri trigger anxiety about what might still happen if another big storm hits. Will the grid survive? Unfortunately, that is still very much a concern, but not for the reason that some people are claiming.

A recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warns that much of the country — not just Texas — is still at risk for winter blackouts: “Much of North America is at an elevated risk of insufficient energy supplies this winter and is highly exposed to risks of energy emergencies in extreme winter conditions.”

Unfortunately, the report and the Washington Post article, lauding its dubious conclusions, claim that states moving aggressively away from reliable energy sources were considered to have the lowest risk of power outages this winter. While supporting the renewable energy narrative may please activist reporters and government bureaucrats, it doesn’t help the grid when wind turbines freeze, and the sun isn’t shining, which is exactly what we encountered in Texas almost three years ago.

In reality, the green movement’s optimism that government regulations will magically turn unreliable energy into a stable, year-round power source is misplaced at best. Hope is not enough, especially when lives hang in the balance as they do during the bitter cold of winter. We know better; we just have to act like it.

At current levels of technology, natural gas, coal, and nuclear are our only trustworthy energy sources, no matter the weather. We can learn from the isolated issues natural gas experienced during Winter Storm Uri. Liquefaction on-site takes a lot of energy, so improved winterization and on-site coal storage will contribute to grid stability. As much as the climate lobby loves to demonize coal, it works. It’s reliable, easy to store, and easy to fire up in a pinch. Coal will always be ready to provide heat and electricity to families and businesses across this great country.

The United States has more recoverable coal than any other country on Earth, and it is the most abundant source of energy worldwide, accounting for over a third of the world’s energy. We have more than enough to supply our energy needs and still export. And while we try to deny its usefulness in the hopes of pleasing the green lobby, our adversaries aren’t wasting time; China is building an average of two new coal-fired plants per week — without the utilization of pollution control technology that has made America a world leader in clean air.

But what about emissions of carbon dioxide, a trace gas that makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere, and the public’s widespread knee-jerk reaction to the mention of coal? We needn’t worry. Even without onerous environmental regulations foisted upon the American people by the Biden administration, the United States still somehow managed to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions —– even while using coal to produce electricity.

Not that cutting emissions will do anything, according to models used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). If the United States completely eliminated fossil fuels by 2050, the temperature difference by 2100 would be just 0.082ºC. Never mind the recent report from Statistics Norway, whose authors will likely be branded “MAGA Norwegians,” that claims that “… the effect of man-made CO2 emissions does not appear to be strong enough to cause systematic changes in the temperature fluctuations during the last 200 years.”

As we all saw when Uri descended on Texas, “renewable” energy is still just a marketing term for unreliable energy, and it will remain so until the technology catches up with market demand — and based on history so far, that will take generations at least. In the meantime, the American people still need to heat their homes when the temperature drops. No amount of political sloganeering or tortured bureaucratic analysis is going to change that set of facts.

We have everything that we need for a resilient grid here in the United States. We need to simply acknowledge what works. Instead of hamstringing our ability to strengthen our electric grid’s reliability, we should once again embrace the affordable, reliable fuels we have available and unleash our energy potential.

This commentary originally appeared in The Washington Times.


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