If you consume mainstream media sources in the U.S., you very likely have the impression that renewable energy sources like solar and wind are advancing smartly and soon will be providing half or more of the energy that is produced. The reality is very much the opposite. If you want to learn what's really going on, you will never find out from reading the New York Times or Washington Post, whose missions in this area are basically to suppress all information that is important to know. What you need to read is the daily email put out by a guy named Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in England. You can go here to subscribe.
Although it has a number of prominent scientists on its Academic Advisory Council, GWPF does not itself dabble much in the quasi-scientific debate over whether global warming is occurring and if so by how much and from what cause. Rather, its niche is government policies that are supposedly designed to address the global warming crisis, and particularly how much they cost and whether they work. Each day they provide multiple links to sources that report on these issues, most often from national publications in particular countries or from relatively small-circulation outlets.
If you haven't been reading the GWPF newsletter recently, here are a few things you may have missed just this week:
About a quarter of the windmill capacity in the Netherlands is operating at a loss and is threatened with near-term closure. (What, you thought wind power was free?) From Financieele Dagblad (Dutch language, translated) on April 13:
Due to the low energy prices wind turbines are making losses on a large scale. The maintenance costs are higher than the benefits of the energy generated. Windmills are now being demolished according to a survey by Financieele Dagblad. According to estimates Association of Private Wind Turbine Operators (Pawex) 'potentially 500 to 750 megawatts' are making a loss or are at risk of doing so. That is a quarter of the power generated by onshore wind energy in the Netherlands.
Britain recently cut subsidies for household solar installations, and the pace of such installations immediately fell by three-quarters. From The Guardian on April 8:
The amount of household solar power capacity installed in the past two months has plummeted by three quarters following the government’s cuts to subsidies, according to new figures. The size of the drop-off will dismay green campaigners who want take up on clean energy sources to accelerate. The cuts were announced just days after energy secretary Amber Rudd helped agree the historic Paris climate deal, and have bankrupted several solar companies.
SciDev.net on April 11 covered a new report out from something called the International Renewable Energy Agency, saying that many major developing countries are backing away from renewables and turning more and more to fossil fuels in light demand among their people for cheap energy.
Nicholas Wagner, an IRENA programme officer who helped prepare the report, says countries such as Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria . . . have . . . turned to fossil fuels to power greater demand for heating, cooling and transport, he says. Renewables formed nearly 50 per cent of Indonesia’s energy mix in 2000, but this had dropped to under 40 per cent by 2013, the report found. China, India and Mexico have also seen their renewable share fall over this period.
You probably have read somewhere about the threatened closure of much of the remainder of Britain's steel industry caused energy prices that have been intentionally driven to high levels to limit fossil fuel use. But did you read about the massive demonstrations by steel workers in Germany seeking to stave off a similar fate for their industry and their jobs? From Die Tagesshau (German language, translated), April 11:
Tens of thousands of workers in the German steel industry have taken to the streets to demonstrate for their jobs. The IG Metall union spoke of 45,000 participants. . . . The steelworkers . . . fear the introduction of stricter climate policies by the EU. Federal Economics Minister Gabriel promised the steelworkers his support. He said, he would not agree to any climate policy that threatens the future of the German steel production. According to industry figures, the planned tightening of the EU emissions trading scheme would lead to additional annual costs of one billion euros for the German steel industry.
And did you know that Germany is in the process of backing away from massive subsidies for wind energy, leading many to predict the imminent "collapse" of its wind industry (which cannot survive without subsidies). From Berliner Zeitung, April 7:
If the green energy plans by the German Federal Government are implemented, the expansion of onshore wind energy will soon come to a standstill and then go into reverse. In early March, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel presented a draft for the amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (EEG). The new rules regulate the subsidy levels for renewable energy. The new regulations are to be adopted in coming months. A study by consultants ERA on behalf of the Green Party’s parliamentary group concludes that under these provisions the development of wind energy will collapse fairly soon.
The coming wind collapse is just a small part of Germany's disastrous "Energiewende" (energy transformation) that has made it so that Germans pay about triple what Americans pay for electricity, but they have recently had to turn to building coal plants to replace energy from closed nuclear plants and also to deal with the intermittency of solar and wind. From the Wall Street Journal on April 14:
All of this—the job losses, the unreliable power supply, the astonishing amounts of spending that could top €1 trillion over the coming decades, and the rising coal emissions to boot—amounts to one of the more monumental blunders of modern governance.
And really, you could go on with this as long as you want. Peiser puts up at least five of these every day. Billions upon billions of dollars spent -- all going straight to the energy bills of the populace -- with essentially no noticeable effect on global CO2 emissions, let alone global warming. You owe it to yourself to check this out.