Green Delusions and the Wind Bully
Green ideology is a collection of beliefs and superstitions that have been elevated into a religious cult. The green cult is rife with contradictions and dogma. For example, people in Wisconsin must eat fresh natural food, grown locally...and Wisconsin farmers are still working on the problem of growing lettuce in the snow.
The electric power grid is an essential of modern life. Take it away, and the consequence would be mass extinction. The greens are eager to tamper with the grid. They want to substitute "clean" wind and solar electricity for the "dirty" nuclear, coal, and natural gas electricity.
The word "clean," like the word "green," has a new meaning. Now "clean" means politically correct. Something is clean if it conforms to green dogma.
The Panera Bread fast food chain tells us that its food is now "clean." It means that its food is politically correct, not containing a long list of taboo ingredients. The greens have their own dietary laws. Read the magazine Clean Eating for details.
Renewable is another word that has been twisted to conform to green dogma. Renewable electricity, according to the dictionary, is a source of electricity that is naturally replenished. The state of California has a definition of renewable electricity that is more complicated. California collects a variety of green dogmas under the umbrella "renewable." Fossil fuels are taboo. Hydro electricity is naturally replenished by the rain, but to California, it is renewable only if it does not interfere with kayaking and fish. California loves wind and sunlight for generating electricity. Among greens, anti-nuke hysteria trumps global warming hysteria, so carbon-free nuclear electricity is not renewable. A 112-page RPS Eligibility Guidebook, Ninth Edition Revised, details the California definition of renewable electricity.
As George Orwell often pointed out, changing the meaning of words is a method of controlling and limiting the ability to think.
California has passed a law that 50% of its electricity is to be renewable by 2030. Taken seriously, that would be technically impossible. But California has a method of turning non-renewable electricity into renewable electricity by legal fiat. Instead of importing electricity, "Renewable Energy Certificates" can be imported from someone generating and selling renewable electricity outside California. The abstract "renewable attribute" comes with the certificate and can be used to legally turn non-renewable electricity into renewable electricity. It's modern alchemy. The wind farmers selling these certificates to California utilities are supposed to sell the renewable attribute only one time. But there is an incentive to counterfeit certificates. Renewable electricity auditors police that. Both the seller and the buyer of the certificate have an incentive to cheat. The seller is selling a piece of paper that costs him nothing. The buyer needs the paper just to satisfy a government agency.
The owner of a wind farm in Colorado can sell the electricity to consumers in Colorado and separately sell Renewable Energy Certificates to utilities in California. The wind farm owner also collects a federal subsidy of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity sold.
The claim is often made that wind electricity is cheaper than fossil fuel electricity, a claim that can be easily disproven. Wind electricity is about three times as expensive as electricity produced by the best fossil fuel plants. A combined cycle natural gas plant can generate power at a cost of 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. From real U.S. wind farms, wind electricity costs about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Wind electricity is the most important form of renewable electricity. Other forms of renewable electricity, such as solar, are even more impractical than wind. Adding wind power to the U.S. grids makes no economic sense. It just increases the cost of electricity and gains nothing unless you believe that limiting CO2 added to the atmosphere will prevent catastrophic global warming.
Increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere is highly beneficial for plants and agriculture. Plants grow better with less water if there is more CO2. Even if you believe in global warming, cutting back on U.S. emissions of CO2 is a waste of time because the heart of increasing CO2 emissions is in China.
In the conventional electric grid, the manager of the grid instructs the generating plants when to generate electricity and how much to generate. Wind works the opposite way. When the wind is blowing, the grid is expected to accept whatever wind power is available and adjust the other generators to balance supply and demand. Wind is a bully that pushes the other generators around to suit its needs. Wind generators have this power because many states have requirements, like California, that a certain percentage of the power be renewable by certain dates. The politicians enable the wind bully. Green propaganda and the wind turbine manufacturers drive the politicians.
According to Disraeli and Mark Twain, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. A forth type of lie, green lies, should be added. The best liar is someone who believes his own lies, and that makes green lies particularly believable. Goebbels noted that if you keep repeating a big lie enough, people will come to believe it.
An important green big lie is the claim that global warming is affecting the current climate and is responsible for extreme weather events. According to the best measurements, global warming has been absent for 18 years. The scientific link between global warming and extreme weather is not just weak, but negative. Logically, one would expect global warming to make the weather less extreme, because global warming decreases the temperature difference between the poles and the equator that drives weather.
Do not think that the green cult is populated only by hippies with ponytails, driving Volvos and composting garbage in their backyards. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and the 10th richest man in the world is a card-carrying member. The card is a Sierra Club membership card. Bloomberg and the former president of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, wrote a recent book, Climate of Hope. The book is a demonstration that you can write any ignorant drivel and be taken seriously if you are important and pretend that the drivel is science.
The green cult, especially the global warming branch, is like Lysenkoism in the former Soviet Union. It is an official scientific ideology that scientists are expected to support. The scientists who refuse to support it – there are many – suffer the consequences. Most scientific dissenters keep quiet. They have families to support. Thankfully, there are signs that the official support is starting to crumble.
Norman Rogers writes often about environmental issues. His website is climateviews.com. See this study for a detailed analysis of the cost of wind electricity.