Two Examples of the Enormous Real Costs of “Green” PowerAlan Carlin | October 13, 2016
As discussed more generally in my book, Environmentalism Gone Mad, the costs of wind and solar are not really understood by most citizens even though they will end up paying the enormous costs. Although when these costs are calculated they generally do not include the transfer of jobs and income to countries such as China and India which have no current commitment to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the costs are still larger and more varied than generally realized. Two news items over the last few weeks illustrate just how large and varied these costs really are.
What Happens When “Green” Power Fails
One illustration comes from South Australia, an Australian state. In recent years they have been ruled by the Labor Party, which has changed their electric generating system perhaps as much or more than any large grid anywhere in the world to meet the demands of the climate alarmists. In the last two years they have also experienced two state-wide power blackouts, apparently because they neglected to preserve enough fossil fuel power generation as backup when there are substantial variations in wind and solar to assure reliable power to the state’s power users.
Basically, it appears that they may have thought they could retire most of their fossil fuel plants rather than keeping them on standby spinning reserve because of the unreliability of wind and solar generation. On September 28, 2016, and November 1, 2015, this proved disastrous. Even with this inadequate backup, users are currently paying the highest prices in Australia and some of the highest in the world, for quite unreliable electric power.
Several major power users in South Australia are blast furnaces. When the latest blackout hit in September, they were left with molten metal in containers that would be a total loss if power could not quickly be supplied to keep the metal from solidifying. In most cases the power was not restored in time to avoid these losses. Commuters on rail lines were stranded.
The state basically depended on a high tension line from another state (Victoria) as backup, which largely uses power generated using polluting brown coal. But when there was an unexpectedly large reduction in wind generation, the line quickly became overloaded and had to be shut down on September 28, which resulted in the statewide blackout. At this point the entire system had to be laboriously brought back on line, which required considerable time and fossil fuel plants they no longer had on line.
So the costs to South Australia users of “green” power have been both high rates and the enormous costs of power blackouts. There is also some question whether very large percentages of wind generators in a grid are compatible because of their asynchronous nature. Those responsible for the South Australia grid apparently failed to consider this. I wonder if their “green” colleagues elsewhere have done so? Or is the US headed towards repeating the South Australian experience?
Some Germans Will Lose Their Entire Net Worth on “Green” Power
Another illustration is the cost of the German version of “green” power, called Energiewende, to transition away from and end fossil fuel use for power generation in Germany. A German research institute has calculated that to fully implement it would cost the average household of four €25,000 over a number of years. This is currently about $27,500 US. 40 percent of German households have net assets of less than €27,000 euros. This means that Energiewende will effectively wipe out the net worth of 40% of German households for a purpose of no use to these households (or anyone else). As elsewhere, the supporters of “green” power are more than willing to sacrifice unlimited amounts of other people’s money–even their entire life savings–to support the alarmists’ climate fantasy.