If you listen to the media narrative on climate change and “clean energy,” you’d think that the rest of the world has moved smartly and seamlessly toward 21st-century green energy, while the U.S. is the high-polluting laggard that just won’t get with the program to save the planet.
Think again. The green energy revolution around the world has turned into a Big Green meltdown with many nations sprinting away from “renewable” energy as if they were X-Bolt.
Here are a few of the latest news flashes from Europe and Asia.
In Germany, the world leader in green energy, electricity prices have now reached a level triple those paid in the United States. See chart. Imagine the anger here if middle-class Americans saw a tripling of their utility bills each month.
In Britain, to comply with renewable energy requirements, power stations are burning hundreds of millions of pounds of wood pellets (pellets imported from the U.S.). Environmental experts confirm that burning wood is much worse for the environment than burning natural gas or even coal.
Australia, another “green energy” leader, saw its electricity prices skyrocket this past winter. According to an analysis by the Institute for Energy Research, power costs surged unbelievably from $100 per megawatt hour to $10,000 per megawatt hour, because of heavy dependence on its unreliable renewable energy program. The government had to reopen one of its shuttered natural gas plants to keep prices from further exploding. Sweden announced a decade ago that it was all in on green energy and launched a wind power program that the politicians have now had to embarrassingly acknowledge has become hopelessly expensive and inefficient. They are now shutting down wind turbines and the government will phase out the subsidies that have been lavished on the industry.
In each of these cases, the economies and local factories are taking a big hit. According to the IER analysis of Australia: “The government has found that its electric system that is heavily reliant on wind power (40 percent comes from intermittent renewable sources) cannot cope without reliable power from traditional generation sources. The fallout is that Australia is finding that its energy-intensive businesses are relocating to Asian countries that provide stable regulation and costs, lower taxes, cheaper wages, and less red tape.”
So very quietly, Europe and other nations aren’t going so green anymore. The EU spent an estimated $750 billion on green energy handouts over the past decade and what it has bought for that is a doubling of its power costs. This has given American steel, auto, light manufacturing, agriculture, and technology firms a big competitive edge in world markets. This is why European nations and Australia are understandably desperate for the U.S. to move to the same green energy policies that they adopted years ago.
What would that mean for America? One study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that if America were to adopt the same mandates for renewable energy, the total cost to American consumers would be more than $600 billion and industry would pay out at least $30 billion more.
By the way, the U.S. already provides subsidies to wind and solar power that are five times higher per unit of energy produced than for nuclear power and 20 times more generous than for fossil fuels, according to a 2016 American Action Forum study.Yet wind and solar are still less than 5 percent of American energy output despite all the money spent. Why not just eliminate all American energy subsidies and let the free market decide.
The left disparages this approach as a move toward “dirty energy.” Wrong. Even though the U.S. has never been all in on green energy the way Europe has, the Department of Energy reports that America has reduced its carbon emissions more than the EU has because we are producing and consuming more clean burning natural gas.
Thankfully, President Trump has made it known that adopting more of the policy quackery of Europe — at a time when the U.S. Has more recoverable shale oil and gas and more clean coal than any other nation on the planet — is no way to make America great again. Europe is running away from the fantasy of green energy, and this is one rare instance when America may want to follow their lead.
• Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works and a partner at 32 Advisors. He is co-author of “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Regnery, 2016).
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