The “Green Energy” Delusion

Written by Carl Brehmer

The supporters of the UN’s “climate agenda” are completely ignorant when it comes to building and maintaining stable, affordable electrical grids. green wash They, for example, are attempting to persuade (and if persuasion fails force) developed countries to transition away from powering their economies with hydrocarbon energy under the delusion that hydrocarbon energy can simply be replaced by what they call “green energy” without any diminution of the modern way of life that developed countries now enjoy.

Here is one such example from the Ceres Coalition:

In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the world’s leading [political] scientists say we must: [1] Make ‘substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades and near zero emissions of CO2 and other long-lived GHGs by the end of the century’ [and 2] Phase out fossil fuels and move to 100% clean energy [solar panels and windmills].”

Substantial emissions reductions” is thinly veiled language for reducing the burning of hydrocarbons for energy across the board and the phrase “phase out fossil fuels and move to 100% clean energy” means replacing hydrocarbons energy with primarily windmills and solar panels, which is the delusional part because these people obviously do not understand electricity.

What is electricity? Electricity is the flow of electrons through a conductor and ceases to exist when that flow stops. As such, electricity is a “non-conservable” phenomenon. When electrons flow through a conductor a magnetic field is generated around the conductor. This magnetic field drives the electric motors that do much of our work for us. The moment that the flow of electrons stops the magnetic field collapses and the motor stops immediately and can do no more work. When electrons flow through a conductor they “collide” with some of the atoms in the conductor; this generates the thermal energy that makes electric heaters and incandescent light bulbs work. When the flow of electrons stops the heater stops heating and the lights go out immediately. All electrical appliances are similarly “on” or “off” depending upon whether or not there is electricity flowing through the appliance in the moment. Add to that the fact that most electrical gadgets and appliances cannot tolerate fluctuating power levels and you can easily see why modern economies can run only on stable and dependable electricity.

When electricity stops flowing “first world” communities immediately become “third world” communities. What was the primary catastrophe that was brought on by hurricane Sandy in 2012? It took down the local power grid for several days and millions of people got to experience “third” world living for a short while. In their view, living without electricity even for a few days was a catastrophic experience. Never the less, that is what the UN’s climate agenda has planned for the world on a permanent basis—a lifestyle that is devoid of stable, dependable and affordable electricity. You see, when the UN gathers world leaders together to discuss “phasing out the use of fossil fuels” what they are really discussing is phasing out the availability of stable, dependable and affordable electricity and replacing it with unstable, intermittent and very expensive electricity. Why is wind and solar energy unstable, intermittent and expensive? Let’s explore.

Because of the “non-conservable” nature of electricity it must be generated at the very moment that it is being used. Even batteries are themselves small electrical generators that generate an electrical current due to a chemical reaction that occurs within the cells—a chemical reaction that can be reversed in some batteries when “recharging” them. So, when you flip a light switch, start your washing machine, turn on a microwave, air conditioner or the burner on you stove the electricity that powers those appliances has to be generated at that very moment at some power plant somewhere in the area and routed to your home via relays, transformers and transmission lines, i.e., the “grid”. The only delay that exist between the time that the electricity is generated and the time you use it in your home is the time that it takes for the electricity to travel from the generating plant to your home which is a fraction of a second.

The reason why hydrocarbon energy works so well in powering dependable electrical grids is because the burner at the plant can be fed more or less fuel in the moment to adjust the amount of electricity being generated at any point in time during the day or night to meet the continually fluctuating collective demand that is generated by all of the appliances that are connected to the grid, i.e., the “load”. The reason that solar panels and windmills will never be able to power an electrical grid without hydrocarbon, nuclear or hydroelectric power back up is because the power that solar panels and windmills generate is random and therefore cannot be matched to the “load”. An electrical grid powered solely by solar panels and windmills would not only be very expensive and environmentally damaging, it would, more importantly, be fraught with power surges and blackouts. Period. Why? Because the amount of electrical power generated by solar panels and windmills is not under the control of man; it is now and will always be intermittent; it depends upon cloud cover, time of day and wind speed rather than on the moment-by-moment “load” demand on an electrical grid. Here, for example, is a chart of the wind and solar contribution to Germany’s much touted “green energy” success.

(Fig. 2.4 from the book Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Epstein, Alex, 2014)

As Epstein (2014) points out these intermittent “green energy” contributions to the power grid not only wreak havoc with the grid because they make it much more difficult to match energy output with energy demand. Germany has even been increasing its coal powered electrical generating capacity over the past few years.

Much within our modern civilization depends on a stable power grid and simply wouldn’t exist if powered by a grid that was constantly cycling between blackouts and power surges, as would be a grid powered by solar panels and windmills alone. Therefore, if you should hear a politician suggest that solar panels and windmills can simply replace hydrocarbon energy without a diminution in the quality of modern life be aware that you are listening to a profoundly ignorant person who has no real understanding of the nature of electricity. The fact that these intermittent and unreliable sources of energy have to be mandated by law in the first place should be your first clue that if allowed the freedom to generate energy in the most efficient and effective manner possible power companies wouldn’t bother with either wind or solar energy.

One of the arguments that today’s “political” scientists use to justify a completely unnecessary transition from hydrocarbon energy to wind and solar energy is that wind and solar energy is “free and plentiful”, but so is hydrocarbon energy “free”. Humanity didn’t coerce nature into creating coal, oil and natural gas. It did so on its own and this “natural” resource is free for the taking and using.

Key take-home point: Nature does not provide humanity with usable electricity, i.e., electricity in a form that can power an electrical appliance. None of the energy contained within wind, sunshine, nuclear reactions, hydrothermal, hydrocarbons, biofuels, biomass or flowing rivers is electricity. Without exception each one of these forms of energy in their natural state has to be converted into electricity via some form of technology in order to be used to improve people’s lives. What costs time and money is converting any one of these natural forms of energy into electricity. As such it is irrelevant what solar and wind cost in their natural state; what is relevant is whether or not they can be converted into stable, dependable electricity at an affordable price. Despite the numerous empty promises and assertions made by the world’s “political” scientists technology has only been able to turn wind and solar energy into unstable, undependable and expensive electricity.

When you couple their ignorance about the nature of electricity with the silly notion that drives the policy in the first place, i.e., the false notion that carbon dioxide a “pollutant”i that is threatening to cause “catastrophic” climate change, you end up with the disaster waiting to happen called the COP21’s draft agreement, which is in reality the most recent installment of their plan to not only prevent real economic development in the “third world” but to also completely demolish industrial civilization.

i See Dr. Patrick Moore’s article “Should We Celebrate Carbon Dioxide?” that among other things outlines the profound, nay the essential, contribution that carbon dioxide makes to the biosphere.