“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
Yesterday we reviewed the surprising rebuke of renewable energy–and the underlying premise that fossil fuels were inherently unsustainable–by an international voting audience.
Today we revisit the essential question: Can renewable energy really help ‘wean the world off fossil fuels’?
Although the affirmative’s Matthias Fripp, moderator James Astill, and their colleagues evaded this fundamental question, here is a sampling of oft-heard rationales, most if not all of which were implicit in Astill’s comments and final announcement. Windpower (providing more than 75% of any politically correct renewable portfolio), we are told, helps to:
(a) Reduce reliance on foreign oil;
(b) Substitute for coal;
(c) Complement the fuels used in our electricity generation portfolios;
(d) Provide a fair return to wind investors while making them feel good about helping save the world;
(e) Spawn discretionary revenues to help bootstrap our economic doldrums;
f) Create new jobs;
(g) Establish leadership credentials to encourage the rest of the world to follow our example; and
(h) Serve as a bridge to newer, better technologies in some more enlightened future.