We Must Demand A Demonstration Project Of A Mainly Renewables-Based Electrical Grid

CO2 Coalition Member Francis Menton’s Commentary:

This was first published at Manhattan Contrarian, February 8, 2023.

Could anybody possibly be stupid enough to believe the line that wind and solar generators can provide reliable electricity to consumers that is cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels? It takes hardly any thought about the matter to realize that wind and solar don’t work when it is calm and dark, as it often is, and particularly so in the winter, when it is also generally cold. Thus a wind/solar electricity system needs full backup, or alternatively storage — things that add to and multiply costs. Surely, our political leaders and top energy gurus are fully aware of these things, and would not try to mislead the public about the cost of electricity from a predominantly wind/solar system.

If you think that, you must have missed the State of the Union Address yesterday. Nor is President Biden alone in peddling the preposterous fantasy of cheap electricity from the wind and sun The internet is filled with seemingly authoritative voices asserting with complete confidence that wind and solar generators are the answer to providing consumers with cheaper electricity.

No amount of pointing to the failed experiments of places like Germany, the UK and California seems to get any traction. We need to demand a working demonstration project of a fully wind/solar system so that the full costs can be shown for all to see.

So there was President Biden last night talking about his great green energy plans.

Look, the Inflation Reduction Act is also the most significant investment ever to tackle the climate crisis. Lowering utility bills, creating American jobs, and leading the world to a clean energy future.

It’s so spectacularly contrary to reality that it doesn’t nearly do it justice to call it just a “lie.” In Germany and the UK, energy transition fantasies have led to electricity bills three times and more the U.S. average, and continuing to increase, and millions of ratepayers thrown into energy poverty. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the costs explode. They can build thousands of wind turbines and solar panels, but they can’t get rid of any of the dispatchable power plants because they are all needed for backup. So now they are paying for two duplicative systems. Then they must pay the dispatchable plants enough to cover their capital costs at half time usage. Then they must buy the fossil fuels for backup on spot markets where production has been suppressed by, for example, banning fracking.

But as I said, it’s not just President Biden who is too dumb to figure this out. Consider Mark Z. Jacobson, Professor at Stanford and tireless promoter of his WWS (water, wind and solar) system as the “low cost” way of the future. No amount of debunking of Jacobson’s models can keep him from endlessly repeating the same ridiculous claims. He got another shot just yesterday in the Guardian, headline “We don’t need ‘miracle’ technologies to fix the climate. We have the tools now”:

Wind, water and solar energy is cheap, effective and green. We don’t need experimental or risky energy sources to save our planet.

Jacobson goes on with endless mumbo jumbo about how his fantasy system can deliver electricity at low cost. Excerpt:

When combined with electricity storage, heat storage, cold storage and hydrogen storage; techniques to encourage people to shift the time of their electricity use (demand response); a well-interconnected electrical transmission system; and nifty and efficient electrical appliances, such as heat pumps, induction cooktops, electric vehicles and electric furnaces for industry, WWS can solve the ginormous problems associated with climate change at low cost worldwide.

Is there any such thing as a demonstration project on any scale — small, medium, or large — to vindicate these claims that such a future system would be “low cost”? Absolutely not. I would say that everybody with even half a brain knows that Jacobson is a charlatan. But then we have our President, not to mention the entire federal bureaucracy backed by trillions of dollars of annual taxpayer largesse, buying into his nonsense.

Nobody would be happier than me to see a demonstration project built that showed that wind and solar could provide reliable electricity at low cost. Unfortunately, I know too much about the subject to think that that is likely, or even remotely possible. But at least the rest of us need to demand a demonstration project from the promoters of these fantasies.

Authored by CO2 Coalition Member Francis Menton, and first published at Manhattan Contrarian, February 8, 2023, here.

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