American Elephants

Rainbows, Wind Power and Unicorns. by The Elephant's Child

It’s like whack-a-mole, as soon as you manage to strike down some really terrible idea, they come up with another one.  The hopefully really dead idea was “cap-and-trade’.  Delusional Democrats thought it was the-energy-policy-that-will-create-jobs, until serious evidence emerged  that it was simply a significant tax, and it died in the Senate.

Some members of the Democrat elite had hoped to become much wealthier by trading carbon credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange, but carbon emission prices have been in free fall, and the Chicago Climate Exchange is on its last legs, scaling back operations and laying off employees.

The world watched the bottom drop out of the vastly hyped  UN Climate  Summit in Copenhagen in December 2oo9, with its neo-colonial and UN Global Government taxation agenda fully exposed.  The theory was that they would monetize the atmospheric trace gas CO2 and trade it in a commodities market.  The formula was to create an investment vehicle, hype the new commodity, buy low, watch share prices climb, and sell high.  Trading prices during its brief heyday in May and June of 2008 reached $5.85 and $7.50 per tonne.  Recent price — 10¢ a tonne.

Politicians now are turning to a new plan, one that could actually pass — a renewable electricity standard (RES).  The (not very) bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition — has urged the President to pass a renewable electricity standard.

Here’s the thinking.  To develop the wonderful economic benefits of wind power, we must guarantee the developers and manufacturers a market, because without a guaranteed market they won’t develop and manufacture.  What is wrong with this argument?  If you have a desirable product, something people want, you don’t have to guarantee a market.

The governors mistakenly believe that there are all sorts of “green jobs.” We have Spain’s experience for that.  Spanish economics professor Gabriel Calzada of Universidad Juan Carlos published an academic analysis that showed that for every “green job” created in Spain, 2.2 jobs were lost in the regular economy due to the higher costs of energy.

The administration response was to huddle with big wind lobbyists and other special interests expecting to benefit from governmental wind subsidies.  They collaborated on a taxpayer-funded rebuttal to Calzada’s scholarly work.  When members of Congress and the media inquired about the collusion between the Energy Department and the American Wind Energy Associates,  the transparency promise drifted off with the wind.

The governors not only want a National Renewable Electricity Standard, but support for the construction of a new interstate electric grid, More expansion of the Department of Energy’s collaboration with the American Wind Energy Associates to maintain the U.S. wind industry’s relative competitive advantage (why is this the business of government?). And on top of that a long-term renewable energy production tax credit.

There is a lot of money to be made in being subsidized by the government.  Wind lobbyists talk in terms of “capacity.” which is what a wind turbine could produce if perfectly sited, where the wind blew at the perfect speed all the time. This is rainbows and unicorns territory.  Turbines move less than a third of the time, and more importantly — wind turbines require 24/7 full-time backup from regular power plants.

The governors seem to believe that if they support wind power, it will relieve us from dependence on foreign oil, completely oblivious to the fact that it is our transportation sector that is powered by foreign and domestic (when Obama has not shut it down) oil.  Electric power is produced by coal-fired plants, natural gas-fired plants and hydropower.

Based on policy pronouncements of governments, the media, and Left environmentalists, one might believe the world is about to enter the renewable energy era. In reality, however, the “new” is about a long gone era that ended before the dawn of the 20th century. Then the primary fuel was wood. Other renewables, including water and wind, were used because they were available and technologically harnessable for some very localized situations.

However primitive, renewables relating to the sun’s flow was the best our ancestors could do.

Will there be a renaissance of this era? Perhaps there will be, but it will be in a significantly different form and dependent upon a vastly transformed world, in both technological and societal terms, which will not be achievable for many generations.

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