How Climate Cultists in the Democratic Party Have Lost Touch with Reality and the Needs of the Less WealthyAlan Carlin | August 25, 2016
My last post concerned the misplaced faith by climate alarmists in the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) hypothesis despite the lack of valid evidence for it. This post concerns one of their other major articles of faith–that substitution of wind and solar for fossil fuel energy can meet US needs for energy to maintain our modern economy and society. The most recent manifestation of this faith can be found in the 2016 Democratic Party Platform, which includes these points:
We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century.
We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II.
Is an End to Fossil Fuel Use a Practical Possibility by 2050?
So let’s assume that there is a need to end all human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the US despite the lack of any valid evidence that this is the case, and ask whether this is actually possible by 2050 while maintaining US electricity reliability and energy availability. I have previously pointed out the very adverse effects of the current EPA efforts to reduce US use of fossil fuel sources of electricity on US electricity prices. This effort is small compared to what would be required for total elimination of fossil fuels in the US by 2050. This would require prohibiting emissions from fossil fueled vehicles, civilian and military airplanes, military tanks and other vehicles, home heating and air conditioning, lawnmowers and other yard equipment, earth moving equipment, etc., in addition to those from electrical generation.
Three weeks ago I pointed out that the cost of actually doing this would be infinite because of the impossibility of building enough wind and solar capacity to meet even present needs let alone greatly expanded uses necessary to meet all energy needs using wind and solar during periods when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow and abundant hydroelectric energy is not available. Little wind and sun means little energy generation using wind and solar despite the necessity to do so to avoid disastrous grid breakdowns if demand exceeds supply.
Ending Fossil Fuel Use Is Currently Not a Practical Possibility
This week I would like to report on an interesting experiment and to summarize what we know about the cost and feasibility of the Democratic Platform plan. The interesting experiment has been going on in an isolated area of South Korea which tried to meet its electricity needs without using fossil fuels. The local power company paid the cost of trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels for generating electricity and paid for solar plus wind nameplate capacity three times higher than the highest previous usage and four times average usage. They also installed a large battery as a backup that could hold enough energy for over a day of ordinary usage.
The experiment failed, however, when during a recent accounting period they were forced to use backup diesel generators for 58% of all electricity because of lack of sufficient wind or sunlight-generated electricity. The cost of all this, if it had been paid by the residents, would have amounted to about $1100 per month in an average resident’s electric bill (compared to US average bills of about $100). All this investment achieved only a 42% decrease in CO2 emissions from electrical generation and thus came nowhere near fossil fuel independence even for electricity generation. When the energy use by vehicles is figured in, this comes to about a 20% decrease in CO2 combined emissions. Their experience mirrors the problems in Western Europe so appears quite believable.
So what does all this mean? Putting together this and other fragmentary and scattered data suggests the following increases in energy prices for substituting wind and solar for fossil fuel sources:
- For electricity only: EPA “Clean Power Plan” (about a 25% emissions reduction over what they would have been): Factor of three or four increase based on European experience.
- For electricity only: South Korea (42% emissions reduction): Factor of about 10 increase based on US prices.
- For electricity only: Full conversion to wind and solar: Infinite increases since it cannot be done without grid collapse during periods when sun does not shine and the wind does not blow.
- For electricity plus vehicles: South Korea (about 20% emissions reductions): Factor of about 10 increase.
- For all uses of energy: Infinite increases would not meet this goal in the US.
So the general picture suggested is that of perhaps a linear increase in costs initially as substitution proceeds followed by an increasingly steep increase to infinity at higher levels of substitution.
Thus if the Federal Government should carry out the Platform goals all the resources available would not be sufficient to actually meet this goal, so even if the substitution should become the driving purpose of society as under the proposed World War II style mobilization advocated in the Platform, it still could not be achieved. I question whether the American people really want to cover more and more land area with hideous wind and solar thermal generating plants, cover more roofs with ugly solar panels, kill ever more birds and bats, and pay ever higher energy bills with no possibility of ever reaching the proponents’ unreachable goal, which would have no measurable effect on global temperatures even if achieved.
So a Major Political Party Has Apparently Lost Touch with Reality
Yet one of the two largest US political parties advocates that the US Government intervene in the energy markets to do the impossible–and bring great economic hardship to less wealthy US households. Could it be that they have lost all touch with the reality of wind and solar generation and do not care what happens to the less wealthy members of society in their blind desire to reach an abstract goal of energy purity of no real significance?