[Ed. note: On August 27, 1997, the Cato Institute published Policy Analysis #280, which criticized the government push to subsidize politically correct renewable energies. This review by Jon Boone, published ten years ago, is reprinted below.
“The policy implication of [a thorough examination of renewable technologies] is, stop throwing good money after bad. All renewable energy subsidies from all levels of government should cease.”
Such is the conclusion voiced today by a rising chorus of energy experts, economists, even politicians, after many years of failed renewables projects and more expensive utility bills in the growing shadow of a $16 trillion national debt ($140,000 per taxpayer). But, remarkably, fifteen years have passed since Rob Bradley crafted this statement for the Cato Institute as the bottom line of his comprehensive six-part policy alarum, Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’
An Opening Shot
Few knew about or shared Bradley’s concerns at the time.…
“Wind does not belong in any modern energy supply portfolio. Grids do substantial work to integrate wind volatility … Retrofitting modern technology to meet the needs of ancient wind flutter is monumentally backwards, a sure sign that pundits and politicians, not scientists, are now in charge.”
Except for hydro, renewable energy sources are inimical to any rational idea of maintaining access to energy with highly secure power capacity. Restated, wind and solar cannot produce modern power without being wholly entangled with modern power producers.
This article will focus on wind power, but similar problems affect solar.
Any chemist should know enough to understand the implications of the formula governing the way wind energy must be converted into electricity: w=1/2 rAv3, where w is power; r, air density; A, rotor density; and v is wind speed.…
“This house believes that subsidizing renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.”
– ECONOMIST magazine, Online debate, November 8–18, 2011
[Ed. Note: Six years ago, the prestigious Economist magazine held an on-line debate on the future of energy policy. Despite a loaded affirmative motion (above), an upset victory was achieved with 8,916 votes opposed and 8,346 in favor of the proposition. The third most votes of 92 such debates, 70,000 visits produced 448 comments. Jon Boone’s writeup of the debate is reproduced below.]
Last month, The Economist magazine conducted a two-week Oxford style online debate over the proposition “that subsidizing renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.”
“Renewable” in this case is really politically correct renewables: basically wind power, with some solar and a bit of of biofuel/geothermal thrown in.…