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US Sleepwalking Into Clean Energy Disaster

February 25, 2021
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By Paul Homewood

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Joe Biden pledges to spend $2 trillion on clean energy in first term

US presidential hopeful Joe Biden has set out a $2 trillion spending plan for clean energy and sustainable infrastructure, pledging to install 500 million solar panels and achieve net zero carbon emissions in the power sector by 2035.

The Democratic nominee has pledged to spend the $2 trillion in his first term, far faster than previously proposed.

Biden proposes to reform and extend tax incentives that support clean energy and implement a technology-neutral "Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES)" for utilities and grid operators.

Biden’s team plans to "dramatically expand" solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility-scale systems, including 8 million solar roofs and community solar systems and 60,000 onshore and offshore wind turbines.

https://www.reutersevents.com/renewables/pv-insider/biden-sets-out-rapid-2-trillion-clean-energy-plan-energy-storage-wins-ferc-court-ruling 

 

Joe Biden is planning to spend big on wind and solar power, as he aims to completely decarbonise electricity generation by 2035. It’s a tall order, given that wind and solar only account for 9% at the moment:

 

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BP Energy Review

 

Naturally the renewable sector is rubbing its hands in glee, as they scent their share of that $2 trillion:

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As President Joe Biden begins his first term in office, one of his administration’s top concerns will be ramping up green energy initiatives. And the renewable energy industry, from offshore wind to electric vehicles, is getting ready for a White House that’s more open to them.

Renewable energy is already a massive industry — by 2025, it’s estimated that the sector will be worth over $1.5 trillion globally. Companies like NextEra, Albemarle, and Vineyard Wind have already grown significantly in recent years. And since Biden became president-elect, renewable energy stocks have soared. 

Under President Trump, renewable energy took a backseat in favor of the fossil fuel industry. According to Trump, renewable energy was too expensive and bad for the country’s existing factories, despite the fact that oil and gas giants have been moving towards renewable energy for years in a bid to diversify in the growing market.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has big plans for renewable energy. In a $2 trillion proposal, Biden wants electricity to go carbon-free by 2035, and for the country to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. Experts predict a handful of strategies Biden will use: cutting back on coal use, phasing out old utility plants, and expanding wind and solar power.

Arguably the country’s biggest renewable energy giant, NextEra Energy, is primed for the Biden administration. The century-old company took an early stake in wind power and managed to grow its profits under Trump, making it the biggest investor-owned generator of wind and solar power. In October, NextEra briefly surpassed the biggest energy company, Exxon Mobil, in market capitalization.

One of NextEra’s growth strategies relies on taking advantage of federal tax credits — it’s amassed $3.1 billion since 2010. Under President Biden, those federal incentives are likely to expand. NextEra plans to continue its path to dominance in wind and solar energy through lobbying, a strategy that worked wonders under Trump. In 2019 alone, it spent $4.1 million on lobbying federal lawmakers, according to Bloomberg. With the new administration and democrats in control of both houses of Congress, NextEra may not need to work so hard to persuade lawmakers to advocate for green energy.

https://www.businessofbusiness.com/articles/renewable-energy-biden-nextera-offshore-wind-green-energy/

But what evidence is there that the US can run its grid without fossil fuels? Hydro is tiny, and nuclear seems to be getting phased out everywhere, which just leaves wind and solar.

There is a naive assumption that the wind is always blowing somewhere in the country, so there is ample to go round.

Sadly wind power is still horridly variable, even across the US as a whole, commonly ranging from between 500 and 1500 GWh a day.

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https://www.eia.gov/beta/electricity/gridmonitor/expanded-view/electric_overview/US48/US48/GenerationByEnergySource-4/edit

 

 

Solar power is little better, even if you could store enough to cover peaks and troughs each day. Last month, it ranged from just over 100 GWh to over 200 GWh a day.

Just as significantly, January solar output is about half that of June:

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Biden’s plan to install 500 million solar panels, is equivalent to 125 GW, assuming 250 watt panels. Current capacity is about 71 GW, so solar output would still remain tiny, which suggests his main target is to massively increase wind power.

 

Sleepwalking towards disaster would be putting it mildly!

27 Comments
  1. Keith Holland permalink
    February 25, 2021 2:30 pm

    If he wants to decorbonise everything, he will have to stop building. Doesn’t he know concrete is high on CO2?

  2. February 25, 2021 2:40 pm

    Like most Western nations, the US is sleepwalking into self-inflicted disaster, unlike most in the East.
    That disaster is based on hugely misguided greenery, not that stmulated and encouraged by rises in atmospheric CO2 concentrations but neurotic, quite unproven notions of a fiery doom for the planet within a century or so.
    The supposed offsetting of that imaginary disaster depends on the acceptance of financial and industrial ruin.
    For all his shortcoings, Donald Trump recognised these follies.
    In contrast, his obviously addled successor has fallen into the green blob’s trap.
    They’re daft too, with suspectedly sinister overtones.

    What can be done to avoid such certain folly allegedly to avert adverse climate changes?

  3. Broadlands permalink
    February 25, 2021 3:03 pm

    “Biden wants electricity to go carbon-free by 2035, and for the country to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.”

    Once again, these political policy-makers don’t seem to understand that NET-zero means negative emissions…taking CO2 directly from the air or at the source and burying it under pressure in geological locations. Of course, it doesn’t matter what they call it because renewables can’t lower CO2 emissions anyhow and therefore the global temperature cannot be lowered (assuming CO2 is the problem). Waste of time and money all because of models that predict climate catastrophe unless we take bold and drastic action.

  4. Mack permalink
    February 25, 2021 3:54 pm

    Following on from an earlier thread, I suggest that Biden’s clean energy plan really does equate to ‘ecocide’.

    Not only will the policy destroy a sizeable chunk of the US economy, plunging millions in to fuel poverty and worse, but will also bring widespread destruction to the environment, not only in the US but also in those countries that will be providing the raw materials to sustain this madness. If, as is being suggested, the aim is to replace fossil fuel power generation with wind, then the sheer quantity of mining and construction materials required (all huge Co2 emitters) and the land required to site them, will scar the US and supplying countries for decades. And for what? America will replace clean, cheap and reliable energy with an expensive, intermittent, dirty and damaging alternative that won’t make one iota’s difference to the climate. Well done Joe. I presume he will shortly be removing the bald eagle as the national symbol of the US (the last of them will be chopped up shortly) and replacing it with the lemming. Seems apt.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 25, 2021 7:30 pm

      Mack, I did a Google translate of ‘Green’ into Mandarin. It came up with:

      绿色
      Lǜsè

      Which I think sounds like ‘loser’. (Just a guess!)

      • Mack permalink
        February 25, 2021 10:09 pm

        Indeed Harry, but I think the literal translation, as far as the Chinese are concerned, is ‘win win’!

  5. February 25, 2021 3:55 pm

    Electricity systems should be designed, built and operated by power engineers. Politicians and environmentalists are the last people you want getting involved in one of the most vital and complex pieces of infrastructure that a modern society is totally dependent on for its survival. Ditto the gas grid.

  6. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 25, 2021 4:09 pm

    US presidential hopeful Joe Biden

    I guess this was written before November (cough) elections. 🙂

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 25, 2021 4:56 pm

      Ahh…teach me to read more carefully. I missed the dateline of July 2020/ Ooops.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 25, 2021 4:57 pm

      Ooops..May 2020

  7. February 25, 2021 4:17 pm

    The guaranteed output of wind+solar = 0.

  8. Ben Vorlich permalink
    February 25, 2021 5:24 pm

    A couple of weeks ago I made complaint to the BBC about one of their biased articles, can’t leave all the heavy lifting to Paul. This was a new addition for me

    We acknowledge the weight of scientific consensus around climate change and this underpins all of our reporting of the subject. The scientific community has reached a significant consensus on man-made global warming. We therefore reflect that with due weight when reporting on the science involved.

    This does not mean, however, that we should never interview someone who opposes this consensus, especially if they are influential in the political debate about how to tackle climate change. There are times when it is editorially appropriate to hear from a dissenting voice.

    There’s no obligation to include an alternative viewpoint within each and every individual article. Rather, we achieve due impartiality on the political angles – when required – over a reasonable period of time. The merit of doing so is decided by the editor with the specific context in mind on each occasion.

    Finally, we would like to assure you that we value your feedback on the matter. All complaints are sent to senior management each morning and we’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensure that your complaint has been seen quickly, by the right people. This helps inform their decisions about current and future reporting.

    • Duker permalink
      February 25, 2021 6:09 pm

      They claim no obligation to provide atlternative viewpoint within each and every article!

      Yet the BBC Charter doesnt mention ‘now and then’
      “To reflect the United Kingdom, its culture and values to the world: the BBC
      should provide high-quality news coverage to international audiences, firmly based
      on British values of accuracy, impartiality, and fairness”
      It seems that accuracy, impartiality and fairness is now an occasional obligation – at the whim of the editor no less -according to the BBC

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        February 25, 2021 7:19 pm

        Good spot, Duker. I see they missed the inclusion of ‘consensus’ in their provision of ‘high quality news values’ relating to ‘British values of accuracy, impartiality, and fairness’. So I figure they have no remit to do so.

  9. JerryC permalink
    February 25, 2021 5:42 pm

    Amazing how solar is able to produce so much energy in the middle of the night. Have I missed some great technical breakthrough?

  10. bobn permalink
    February 25, 2021 5:55 pm

    Only one thing to say “Remember the Alamo!”

  11. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    February 25, 2021 6:34 pm

    ‘Electric’ cars are coal powered. The insane are in charge.

  12. 2hmp permalink
    February 25, 2021 6:50 pm

    It’s politicians. That’s the problem. Low intelligence generally, power drunk and unenquiring. It’s the same here in the UK. I asked an ex Minister what percentage CO2 was of the atmosphere – he replied ” about 60%” a 1500 times over estimate. He said we needed to reduce it to stop the planet overheating. There is no hope when we are guided by fools..

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 25, 2021 7:24 pm

      And these politicians – the 60%-ers (I’m sure there are many more) – have managed to swerve their responsibilities by off-loading CC and its ‘solutions’ to Deben and his CCC. No comeback there then.

  13. Cheshire Red permalink
    February 25, 2021 6:51 pm

    This policy is more about ideology at all costs and less about guaranteeing reliable energy supply. I’d like to know how this isn’t reckless negligence. Incredible.

  14. February 25, 2021 7:59 pm

    Wind turbines are not “clean” if account is taken of their materials and manufacture, servicing, demolition and wildlife slaughter.
    Do those politicos in charge know that, or does corruption, groupthink, ignorance Lan and seascape poluttion and stupidity Inform their “thinking”?

    They and their manufacturers ought to be charged with deception and, indeed, fraud.

  15. stevejay permalink
    February 25, 2021 9:34 pm

    500 million solar panels! Enough to cover most of Texas. As we all know, it never snows there ? The Chinese will go laughing all the way to the bank.

  16. europeanonion permalink
    February 26, 2021 9:24 am

    Thinking about the fragile environments that seem most applicable to such a scheme this sort of development could push a lot of eco systems over the edge. In the short term economic functionalism is stimulated, which may appeal to governments. Your first consideration must be that your term shows flattering economic data. ‘Stevejay’ has his finger on the pulse. Takes me back to Nicholas Monserrat’s, ‘Cruel Sea’, when the captain looks out on the glum scene despairingly and says, “We’re all going to die”. Crucifixion or stoning?

  17. Bill Hutchison permalink
    February 26, 2021 11:34 am

    Ben,
    I received a letter from the BBC in response to a complaint that was almost identical to yours. I googled the BBC author and found this reply to a complaint from Extinction Rebellion which has a very different tone:

    They are of course an impartial public service broadcaster!

  18. Jackington permalink
    February 26, 2021 2:38 pm

    $2 trillion for an intermittent power supply eh, how is Joe going to sell that to the population?

  19. Stuart Brown permalink
    February 26, 2021 6:59 pm

    Said it elsewhere, but more appropriate here:

    Jennifer Granholm has been sworn in as the 16th US secretary of energy.

    The climate emergency is intensifying, “ravaging” the planet with “cataclysmic” storms, wildfires, droughts and floods that cost billions to clean up, and putting national security at risk, she said.

    “We’re going to have to fix this. It’s on this generation, this administration, you and me, to get climate change under control so that we can protect this planet for our children.”

    “Whether it’s solar, hydropower, carbon capture, or batteries, the clean energy technologies of the future are going to bring you affordable, reliable power, and protect our planet in the process.”

    Granholm made no mention of nuclear power (which provides 55% of the USA’s carbon-free energy) in the article, nor in a video address released to coincide with the swearing-in.

    Oh dear…

    https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Granholm-becomes-US-Energy-Secretary

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