This column has for years warned of the insidious and needless costs to prosperity from governments’ quixotic “green” energy mandates. These myopic moves to replace conventional fossil and nuclear fuels with “renewable” energies, all in the partisan cause of cooling the planet, fail practical economic cost/benefit analyses.
For the first time since the climate crusaders began their apocalyptic claims about “global warming” (a.k.a. “climate change,” “extreme weather,” and lately “climate risk”) the widely- respected, The Economist, presents a rational and comprehensive economic cost/benefit analysis in comparing renewable energies vs. conventional fossil fuel and nuclear power production.
Massive government subsidies for renewable electric power energies are controversial costs because it should not be governments’ job to make wind and solar power profitable. Billions are spent globally to boost wind and solar industry in the hope that they will someday become cost- competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear power and reduce climate carbon emissions.
A complex economic analysis by the progressive Brookings Institute took four zero-carbon renewable electric energies (solar, wind, hydropower and nuclear), added a low-carbon natural gas fuel cohort, and compared them with various conventional fossil-fueled electric power generators.
Here are the Brookings results in brief summary:
• Solar power is by far the most expensive way to reduce carbon emissions;
• Wind power is the second most expensive way to reduce carbon, after solar;
• Hydropower (dams) provides a modest carbon reduction benefit, above solar and wind;
• Nuclear power proved the most cost-effective carbon reduction electric power generator.
These cost/benefit findings have profound implications for global environmental policies. Currently, most developed country electric power subsidies go to solar and wind – the most expensive carbon control technologies. Meanwhile, Germany, Japan and others are decommissioning their nuclear power plants, which are the cheapest zero-carbon electric power generators.