The clock is striking midnight. The green energy movement is about to lose its gleaming white steeds and glass slipper-wearing princess and turn back into an unimpressive pumpkin.
Two massive rounds of layoffs mean nearly 20,000 people will soon be out of work at the hands of climate alarmism, as Royal Dutch Shell and BP struggle to afford their plans to reach net-zero emissions. They recognize the reality that so many in politics and public relations studiously ignore: A net-zero energy economy is prohibitively expensive and unreliable.
Contrary to what its advocates claim, renewable energy can’t sustain our economy or even small portions of it. The facts are simple — the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine. There’s no getting around the fact that weather patterns usually don’t align with peak power demand.
Production of wind energy especially fluctuates wildly, making planning for grid reliability a significant challenge — critical in an era when everything from healthcare to banking and more depends on electricity — and claims that renewables are becoming cost-effective don’t show the full picture.
Even Joe Biden, who touts the “Green New Deal” as “a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face,” admits renewables are unsustainable without fracking, the technology that has revolutionized the energy industry and made natural gas more affordable than ever. As much as renewable advocates hope for a transition, the more likely scenario is that wind and solar will remain single-digit contributors at most to our energy landscape, with abundant natural gas and clean low-sulfur coal continuing to power the nation.
Though renewable advocates will claim battery storage is enough to compensate for renewables’ unreliability, the technology develops too slowly to be a panacea. Nationwide battery storage capacity is projected to more than double by 2023, but even all the batteries in existence combined in that projection wouldn’t be enough to keep the lights on in New York City for an hour. Just like Elon Musk’s hype machine hasn’t sped up the pace of innovation enough to make electric vehicles affordable for the masses, there are generations at least to go before battery storage is plentiful and cheap enough to make renewables viable for the rest of us.
The basic principles of supply and demand mean that scarce energy is expensive energy. And if Shell and BP are struggling to afford the high cost of going net-zero (or trying to), imagine the exponentially higher cost of achieving the same goal for the entire nation. It’s a cost that people simply won’t stand for, and for Biden and other politicians pushing to eliminate fossil fuels, that’s the only standard that matters.
Though surveys usually report climate change is a concern for voters, cost is where the rubber meets the road. More than two-thirds of people in a recent AP poll report they wouldn’t be willing to pay $10 or more per month for their electricity in order to pay for anti-climate change programs.
Given the multitrillion-dollar price tag projected for the Green New Deal and climate plans like it, the likelihood of people quietly accepting the fiscal consequences is extremely low. Energy powers every sector of our economy, so these costs would expand from higher taxes and higher energy prices, which would be difficult enough to stomach, to higher prices for everything we buy. Unfortunately, the public will bear the brunt of the energy fairy tales of politicians such as Biden.
Shell’s and BP’s latest layoffs portend doom not for “Big Oil”, but for the green movement they’re struggling to appease. Wind and solar power are just too unreliable and expensive to replace fossil fuels. If recent history teaches us anything, then we know they remain that for many, many decades. Those hoping to lead our cities, state, and country should heed the writing on the wall.
This commentary originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on October 12, 2020.