“A 100 percent transition to non-carbon energy sources is simply impossible. Even a 50 percent reliance on renewables like solar and wind wouldn’t be possible without widespread energy shortage and a collapse of the economy.”
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democrat nominee for President, recently unveiled his “new infrastructure and clean energy plan.” If enacted, it could have devastating and long-lasting impact on the American economy.
Why? The $2 Trillion Clean Energy Plan will essentially strip the American economy of its backbone: the conventional energy sector.
Biden’s announcement page declares that “he will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.”
An “irreversible course”? Regardless of whether the proposed “clean” technologies fail in the future? Or the relevant science points in different directions?
The gamble is equivalent to digging one’s own economic grave.
The plan further promises to “Move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.”
This core element of Biden’s energy plan is fundamentally flawed in its assumptions. It has no relevance to the existing energy scenario in the U.S. or the state of global climate affairs.
A 100 percent transition to non-carbon energy sources is simply impossible. Even a 50 percent reliance on renewables like solar and wind wouldn’t be possible without widespread energy shortage and a collapse of the economy.
This is because the American economy depends carbon-based sources for 80 percent of its energy. Nuclear contributed another 8 percent.
The clean energy sources Biden touts contributed just 11 percent, with solar and wind accounting for less than four percent.
Even if renewable installations rapidly increase in the coming decade, there are factors that make a 100 percent renewable transition impractical without a major compromise on energy security and energy affordability.
Firstly, renewables are expensive and intermittent. That makes them less dependable. States and countries that pushed renewables in the recent past are now charging consumers higher energy prices. Solar panels don’t work at night and when it rains or snows. Wind turbines cannot produce electricity when there is calm.
Secondly, they destroy more natural resources than conventional energy, while generating only a fraction of the demand. Wood (considered as biomass and providing 20 percent renewable energy in the U.S., but only 2.2 percent of total energy) cannot be harvested infinitely and is not environment friendly. Solar panels require clearing large areas, and wind turbines cause millions of bird deaths.
Thirdly, energy storage technologies cannot fill the void left by intermittent wind and solar. Even Bill Gates, an avid promoter of renewable tech, admitted as much.
Lastly, wind and solar are not clean. Both create toxic waste as a part of their manufacturing process, harming the environment and even killing people. Both have very poor end-of-life recycling use, making them less environmentally friendly than popular media report.
Besides the inadequacy of available technology to support these ambitious plans, Biden’s plan makes a fundamental error. It justifies the renewable transition based on the assumption that climate change is an existential threat.
But that is just a theoretical prediction about the future. It rests on output from highly flawed computer climate models that have consistently failed to reflect real-world temperature trends in the past two decades.
In fact, the entire global climate movement and renewable industry hinges on these flawed forecasts from models. Biden’s plan is no different, and it will jeopardize America’s energy security in a big way.
Biden should back off from his draconian, energy-restrictive plan. Instead, he should embrace energy strategies that aid in the development of the country and trust in actual climate science, not speculations about the future climate.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England) is a Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. His previous posts at MasterResource can be found here.