The Anti-Green Energy Meme

Courtesy of FOX News:

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The reality? An industrial economy can get a substantial portion of its energy from renewables. Germany, for example, gets over 20% of its electrical power from renewables. Over 20%. And that number is projected to rise to 35% by 2020. Bavaria, with just 12 million people, has more solar power than the entire United States. Here’s Andrew Curry at Grist.org:

Twenty-two percent of Germany’s power is generated with renewables. Solar provides close to a quarter of that. The southern German state of Bavaria, population 12.5 million, has three photovoltaic panels per resident, which adds up to more installed solar capacity than in the entire United States. […]

German companies lead the world in solar research and technology. The handful of companies that make inverters, the devices that reverse the flow of electricity and feed power from rooftop solar panels back into national grids, are almost all German. On a sunny day last May, Germany produced 22 gigawatts of energy from the sun — half of the world’s total and the equivalent of 20 nuclear power plants. […]

The price for solar panels has fallen 66 percent since 2006, and the cost of solar-generated power may be competitive with coal in a few years, according to a study by UBS. Already, solar projects are thriving in places like India and Italy despite a lack of government subsidies or support, and a recent Deutsche Bank report predicted “grid parity” in Bavaria by next year.

And what’s the result of all this renewable energy success in Germany? Old forms of power generation are being scaled back:

Germany’s power companies are closing power plants and scrapping plans for new ones. Germany had a national freak-out after the Fukushima disaster and decided to abolish nuclear power by 2023. Meanwhile, energy prices continue to sink, and solar installation continues to grow. By decentralizing power generation, the renewables boom could do to the power industry what the internet did to the media: put power in the hands of the little guy, and force power companies to rethink how they do business.

In other words, renewables are empowering in more ways than one. FOX News, by continuing to push anti-renewable energy memes, is thus ill-serving the conservative movement, making “arguments” that are a decade or more behind the fast-evolving reality. A retooled conservatism in the United States would notice this, latch onto the libertarian and populist potential of solar, and stop treating renewables as just a lefty-utopian cultural thing. Resisting renewables is like resisting the internet: it’s resisting the human future.

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About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to The Anti-Green Energy Meme

  1. Staffan says:

    Solar power is conspicuously missing in America. According to Wikipedia, the EU has more than 7 times as much solar power per capita. And I bet you have more sunny weather.

    Funny thing about the hippie-shaming of green energy is that it was done here in Sweden too with great success. We still lag behind the others because of it. People bought the propaganda and thought it was silly nonsense. Meanwhile our business savvy neighbors in Denmark invested in wind power and with great success. They now get 20 percent of their electricity from wind and manufacture half of the world’s wind turbines.

    • adambnoel says:

      To be fair Denmark also pays about 35 cents a kilowatt hour or so for their electricity versus prices as low as 7 cents a kilowatt hour in the United States. Denmark has an installed wind capacity of around 20 percent but this installed capacity fluctuates based on the conditions in Denmark at the time. When the wind isn’t blowing the grid is starved for electricity and needs to import electricity from Norway and Sweden while when the wind is blowing the grid is threatened with brown outs (If the power is not consumed it will cause problems in the grid) so the power is sold for free to neighbours.

      Until the energy storage problem is solved renewables will not see wide-spread adoption. Base-load power is still necessary.

      • Staffan says:

        The problem of fluctuation is gradually being taken care of as grids are connecting more and more of Europe. But sure, burning coal and passing our problems forward to future generations is the cheaper alternative.

      • adambnoel says:

        Oh I’m not arguing what the correct thing to do is merely stating the costs. If we need to move to renewables then we need to move to renewables.

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