On Barack Obama’s twitter feed, run by his campaign, read today:
“Between 2008 and 2011, U.S. electricity production from both solar and wind power more than doubled.”
Considering the meager output that solar and wind power produces, even if that statement were true, (and there is conflicting evidence) does it really matter? All the evidence points to the fact that proponents of solar and wind power’s glorious future have been blowing smoke for years.
Barry Commoner, the environmentalist who ran for president in 1976, said:
“Mixed solar/conventional installations could become the most economical alternative in most parts of the United States within the next few years.”
The head of the Solar Energy Industries Association said in 1987:
“I think frankly, the–the consensus as far as I can see is after the year 2000, somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of our energy could come from solar technologies, quite easily. As of today, less than 5% comes from solar and wind power.”
Cynthia Shea of the Worldwatch Institute in 1988:
“In future decades, [photovoltaic technologies] may become standard equipment on new buildings, using the sunlight streaming through windows to generate electricity.”
Not so much.
Meanwhile, solar companies vanish. Solyndra of California, Evergreen Solar Inc. of Massachusetts, and SpectraWatt of New York have all filed bankruptcy petitions. But was this really surprising? As Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said, solar technology would have to improve five-fold to be competitive with other energy sources.
The Obama Administration, aware of the false hopes of the solar and wind proponents, has attempted sidling up to the natural gas industry. Obama himself has been faking friendship for the traditional forms of energy. Heather Zichal, Obama’s deputy assistant for energy and climate change, told an audience of officials from the oil and gas industry that oil and gas companies are “incredibly important to our domestic energy portfolio.” She also spoke at the American Petroleum institute and said that the Obama Administration “probably could have been doing a lot more outreach from the beginning.”
She went so far as to court American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard, who supports Mitt Romney.
Romney has no illusions about the inefficacy of solar and wind power; in a briefing paper that lucidly outlines his perspective Romney pulls no punches about it:
“As the Obama administration wages war against oil and coal, it has been spending billions of dollars on alternative energy forms and touting its creation of ‘green’ jobs. But it seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based economic calculation. To begin with, wind and solar power, two of the most ballyhooed forms of alternative fuel, remain sharply uncompetitive on their own with conventional resources such as oil and natural gas in most applications. Indeed, at current prices, these technologies make little sense for the consuming public but great sense only for the companies reaping profits from taxpayer subsidies.”
Despite the claims of Obama and his campaign, solar and wind power ain’t goin’ nowhere.