Some people call it “renewable energy” but I prefer to call it “alternative energy” because that’s what it really is: an alternative to energy that actually works (eg nuclear and anything made from wonderful, energy-rich fossil fuel.)
Now a pair of top boffins from uber-green Google’s research department have reached the same conclusion.
Ross Konigstein and David Fork, both Stanford PhDs (aerospace engineering; applied physics) were employed on a Google research project which sought to enhance renewable technology to the point where it could produce energy more cheaply than coal. But after four years, the project was closed down. In this post at IEEE Spectrum they tell us why.
We came to the conclusion that even if Google and others had led the way toward a wholesale adoption of renewable energy, that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. Trying to combat climate change exclusively with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.
Why is renewable energy such a total fail? Because, as Lewis Page explains here, it’s so ludicrously inefficient and impossibly expensive that if ever we were so foolish as to try rolling it out on a scale beyond its current boutique levels, it would necessitate bankrupting the global economy.
In a nutshell, renewable energy is rubbish because so much equipment is needed to make it work – steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage – that it very likely uses up more energy than it actually produces.
Yet our political class remains committed to the fantasy that the emperor’s green clothes are perfectly magnificent. Earlier this week, for example, the British government chucked £720 million of taxpayers’ money into a cesspit labelled the Green Climate Fund.
In theory this UN-driven initiative is supposed to help Third World countries cope with the effects of climate change. In reality, all it will do is force on their struggling economies more of the costly, intermittent renewable technologies (wind turbines; solar; etc) which have proved such a disaster for the advanced Western economies.
If we really want to throw money at the developing world so it can combat climate change, then what we should really be doing is insist that it is spent on adaptation projects – not, heaven forfend, ones to do with “decarbonisation.”
As Benny Peiser and Daniel Mahoney write here, adaptation projects make a real difference and save lives.
Bangladesh’s investment in cyclone shelters, better weather forecasts, and smarter construction practices is a prime example of how effective adaptation can be. The country has learnt how to prepare for the threat of cyclones, succeeding in significantly reducing related deaths. The two deadliest cyclones in Bangladesh’s history occurred in 1970 and 1991, killing up to 500,000 and almost 140,000 respectively. Through adaptation investment, in the last two decades the country has been able to reduce deaths and injuries from such disasters 100-fold.
Instead, though, our leaders are still ideologically committed to wasting much of our foreign aid on renewables.
Take the UK’s recent contributions. Just over a quarter of UK climate aid from 2011 to the beginning of 2014 went to adaptation measures, whereas well over 50 per cent was allocated to renewables, according to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. The World Resources Institute estimates that, between 2010 and 2012, of a total of $35bn in global climate aid, a mere $5bn was allocated to adaptation.
You know that scene right at the end of Spartacus? Well I think I’d like to recreate it, using wind turbines instead of crucifixes, and, instead of rebellious gladiators, all those lovely people – green activists, wind and solar industry parasites, idiot politicians – who’ve been telling us that renewable energy is the way forward.