While I have asserted in several articles that wind and solar are uneconomic and unreliable, it’s interesting to see how the UK has fared under its policy of cutting CO2 emissions through the use of renewables.
The just issued report Renewable Energy, Vision or Mirage, evaluates the current situation in the UK.
In its forward, the report says: “[Governments] have an obligation to the electorate to provide a secure, affordable supply of energy, on which economic competitiveness and the safety and comfort of citizens depends. The evidence shows that continuing along the current path will not do this and certainly does not represent an efficient use of tax revenues.”
The report makes it clear that renewables, with a few notable exceptions, “hydro in Norway and geothermal in Iceland,” are not economic and cannot supply the needed electricity.
The report is technically oriented.
A few of the items that caught my attention were:
- GDP in the UK has increased while energy usage has remained flat, resulting in an improvement in energy efficiency. Some of this improvement has been due to actual improvements in efficiency, but some of it has also been due to industries moving out of the UK.
Industry uses more energy than other sectors, so if GDP increases as a result of a large increase in the service sector and a decrease in the industrial sector, it gives the impression that energy efficiency is improving.
In the U.S., energy efficiency has also improved, but some of the improvement is also due to American manufacturing jobs moving to China and elsewhere.
- Renewables require government subsidies to exist.
- The low density of biomass and lack of supply in the UK means that biomass can never produce a significant amount of electricity in the UK.
- The types of large scale storage required to make renewables useful do not exist – and are not in development.
- The UK needs to use its large supply of coal to contribute to energy security.
- A phenomenon in the UK has been referred to as fuel poverty. The UK’s emphasis on high cost renewables and attempts to eliminate coal generated electricity has driven up the price of electricity to the point that people cannot afford electricity — and with less natural gas available, the cost of natural gas has also increased making that fuel also unaffordable to many.
So far, we in the United States haven’t experienced fuel poverty, though renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that require increased wind and solar generation of electricity are causing an increase in the cost of electricity. We are also fortunate in that fracking has increased our nation’s supply of natural gas so that prices for heating with natural gas will remain low.
The report also provides an excellent history of energy development in the UK.
We in the United States can learn a great deal from what is happening in the UK.
The report is available at: http://www.adamsmith.org/research/reports/renewable-energy-vision-or-mirage
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