Government Watch / Keeping America Safe

The Energy Transition Is a Delusion Indeed

President Joe Biden with Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein.

The “energy transition” continues to receive thunderous applause from all the usual Beltway suspects, an exercise in groupthink fantasy amazing to behold. For those with actual lives to live and thus uninterested in silliness: The “energy transition” is a massive shift, wholly artificial and politicized, from conventional energy inexpensive, reliable, and very clean given the proper policy environment, toward such unconventional energy technologies as wind and solar power. They are expensiveunreliable, and deeply problematic environmentally in terms of toxic metal pollution, wildlife destruction, land use massive and unsightly, emissions of conventional pollutants, and in a larger context large and inexorable reductions in aggregate wealth and thus the social willingness to invest in environmental protection.

But the Beltway being what it is, the fantasists are impervious to reality, until the massive costs and dislocations and absurdities become impossible to ignore. (Witnessfor exampleCalifornia.) Even as they backtrack on their confident assertions that a modern economy can be powered with the energy equivalent of pixie dust, they argue that the emerging problems are little more than growing pains attendant upon short run rigidities, and all will be well given some more time, more subsidies, and more magical thinking.

Uh, no. The obstacles confronting the “energy transition” are fundamental — they are caused by the very nature of unconventional energy — driven by massive costs, technical and engineering realities, severe constraints in terms of needed physical inputs, and at a political level growing local opposition to the unconventional energy facilities central to the “transition.”

These realities — there’s that word again — are discussed in detail in a major recent paper by Mark P. Mills of the Manhattan Institute. This brief discussion cannot do it justice, but let us first quote Mills directly:

In these circumstances, policymakers are beginning to grasp the enormous difficulty of replacing even a mere 10% share of global hydrocarbons—the share supplied by Russia—never mind the impossibility of trying to replace all of society’s use of hydrocarbons with solar, wind, and battery (SWB) technologies. Two decades of aspirational policies and trillions of dollars in spending, most of it on SWB tech, have not yielded an “energy transition” that eliminates hydrocarbons. Regardless of climate-inspired motivations, it is a dangerous delusion to believe that spending yet more, and more quickly, will do so. The lessons of the recent decade make it clear that SWB technologies cannot be surged in times of need, are neither inherently “clean” nor even independent of hydrocarbons, and are not cheap.

Mills makes a number of hard realities clear, among which are the following:

  • The realities of the physics, engineering, and economics of energy systems are independent of any beliefs about climate change.
  • Europe, the U.S. and Canada, Australia and the other regions that have pursued power grids with a higher share of wind and solar electricity uniformly have experienced large increases in electricity costs, and even that effect hides the costs of the massive subsidies borne by taxpayers.
  • It costs at least $30 to store the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil using lithium batteries, which explains why batteries cannot compensate for the unreliable nature of wind and solar power even for days, let alone weeks. “There is no physics, never mind engineering or economies of scale” that would overcome this cost disadvantage.
  • The time cost alone of recharging an electric vehicle makes such vehicles uncompetitive, even apart from the costs of the batteries and other problems.
  • The International Energy Agency estimates that only a partial energy transition would require increases in the supplies of lithium, graphite, nickel, and rare earths by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900%, and 700%, respectively, by 2040. This staggering problem of materials is “inherent in the nature of SWB technologies,” which means that the cost of unconventional energy will rise even more.

Nonetheless, the delusions continue. Mr. Amos Hochstein, an official at the Department of State, testified before a Senate committee recently that “The imperative [is] to diversify away from Russian energy dependence while accelerating the clean energy transition,” and that “The most effective way to reduce demand for Russian fossil fuels is to reduce dependence on all fossil fuels.”

Got that? Were the Europeans to reduce their dependence upon unreliable deliveries of Russian natural gas, and increase their dependence upon unconventional energy even more unreliable, there will result an increase in European “energy security.” Wow.

This is utter delusion, as Mills demonstrates incontrovertibly. But the Beltway continues in its imitation of George Orwell’s world, in which “War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength.” The “energy transition” translation: “Expensive Energy Is Cheap, Environmentally Destructive Energy Is Clean, and Central Planning Will Yield Utopia.” Only fools can believe such things. Much of the Beltway believes them. 

Reprinted with Permission from - AEI by – Benjamin Zycher

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Michael Lewis
2 months ago

In light of the loss of the Petro-Dollar as the world’s reserve currency, America moving away from fossil fuel production is pouring gasoline on a volatile decline. America must resume Donald Trump’s energy policies or die!

2 months ago

I wonder how many new coal-fired electric power plants will be required to operate all the new electric cars and stoves. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial and sensible to protect the current grid beforebefore somt third-rate country rakes it out? Anybody seen any follow-up reporting on the deceased sea mammals floating ashore of the east coast?

2 months ago

if the transition is revealed a delusion they will definitely throw biden under the bus and link him to MAGA

2 months ago

The biggest problem with the transition is that until they solve the storage problem (if they ever do) you have to maintain extra production capacity. As Texas has discovered a couple of times now, you need to have enough traditional power production available to cover when the alternative sources are producing effectively zero power. In other words, every wind mill and every solar panel is completely redundant! If you can produce all the power you need without them then you don’t really need them do you? They’re just extra costs.

But, with subsidies, mandates, regulations and consumer demand, the alternative power sources will put power on the grid — which means a traditional plant is being under-utilized or even shut down. But those under-utilized/idle plants still have expenses. They still have to be manned, maintained, fueled, taxes paid, debts paid and return-on-investment earned for it’s investors. When those plants are under-used or idled they are losing money. So, when that plant is allowed to produce at capacity they have to charge extra for the electricity in order to make up for the losses incurred during all the down time. And when there is a large demand spike or moderate supply crunch the operators of those plants understand their position and they take full advantage of it. They crank up the wholesale price of electricity to literally the max the State allows. The grid operator has no option but to pay those prices as there are no other sources available.

And that my friends is why the mixed source grid we have today has ever increasing retail prices for electricity. The more alternative sources that they bring online, the more redundant traditional plants there are in the system and that increased redundancy increases the average cost (and thus price) for electricity. It’s simple math, no avoiding it.

We should immediate put a hold on increasing the percentage of power generated from unreliable sources until we have sufficient storage capacity online. Hint: it won’t be batteries, there are much cheaper and much better alternatives (especially environmentally) but they are still in the early stages of development.

Gabe Hanzeli
2 months ago

Nobody is above the law. put Biden and his entire administration is prison for attempting to destroy and american

anna hubert
2 months ago

At the beginning there was a corrupt politician should be the first sentence of every story there is to be told about the sorry fix we are in

2 months ago

It takes 2 sections of land covered in solar panels to replace one 600mega watt steam turbine unit: that’s one unit, not a plant. GE’s standard wind turbine makes at most 3.5 MW. so it takes between 200 to 300 to reliably replace one 600MW unit. that’s a lot, and the blades are not recyclable and have about a 10-year life span. GE makes as best I can find out, about 1,000 of those wind turbines a year. Texas has 95,000 MW of fossil fuel generation capacity. Do the math. the cost in money and land is astronomical, and it would take a minimum of 50 years to even get close to replacing fossil fuel plants.

2 months ago
Reply to  pete

actually, its far more than that. I have worked in the electric utility industry. A typical wind farm is dispatched at 20% due to inefficiencies (and lack of constant wind) – meaning 1000MW of wind energy can only be relied upon for 200MW of power. So, to replace a 600MW CT, you would need 3000MW of wind – roughly 860 wind turbines

2 months ago

There was no mention in this article about waste and productin. If you factor in cost to dispose of windmills/turbines and solar, including the pollution to produce them the cost climbs even higher. The whole green energy scam is based upon lie.

Stephen Russell
2 months ago

For CA No Energy= No EVs for 2035

2 months ago

Look at history, this is another money grab from the taxpayers Citizens by the marxist Democrat party and establishment politicians for THEIR benefit! Its has NOTHING to do with working for the best interest of Legal American Citizens.
Ask yourself these questions IF this is good for America, what’s the rush??? Why not study ,plan gradually and carefully implement a transition???
Be open, transparent and prudent,so America’ Citizens receive the best longterm solution.
Why rush and pay billions to satisfy the UN, or other Countries wishes??
What’s the harm if America is first and best at this change???
The marxist democrats will sell out America, it’s energy dominance, and Country’s strength with NO REGARD for US!
Like I said, just look at history.
These people care ONLY about their own power and money.

2 months ago
  • No doubt in my mind that there is a very large segment of our politicians (mostly Commies and their DemocRat puppets) that are always politicking for “change” because they can get in the early position of making money and get out of getting racked if it fails. Again, if there is ever going to be a change in our politicians in the majority, a term limits of House Reps, Senators, VPs,, Executive Heads (IRS, State, FBI, CIA , etc.) will be needed. The aforementioned politicos have mastered the are of deception with a bit of cooperation from the majority news media. Sadly, our general population of politicians have crowned themselves as KINGS!!!!!
2 months ago

On one side of the issue are the hard facts surrounding the reality of physics, engineering, and the economics of energy systems. On the other side of the issue, you have corrupt politicians and their financial backers relentlessly hyping unreliable, intermittent and more costly forms of energy systems that they call “green” or “sustainable” (its not in actuality) forms of energy. All of which just so happen to be owned or highly invested in by these same small group of people, so they stand to reap an incredibly large windfall.

The sole purpose of this great push towards “green energy” is simply executing the largest wealth transfer from the masses of this planet to these relatively small number of people. Remember like all financial frauds perpetuated on the public over the decades, none of this “green technology” has to actually work as advertised in the end. That isn’t the point of the game being played on the world’s masses. All that is required is that people go along with this financial scam long enough for those pushing this insanity to become insanely wealthy and powerful beyond anything they could have ever imagined. Then they will be virtually untouchable and run everything.

One would have hoped that at least the people in the United States would have been smart enough to push back against this green nonsense, centered around just relying on wind and solar power, after seeing the dismal outcomes in places like western Europe and other smaller countries around the world. Where they have all seen their energy costs rise 3X to 5X in less than a decade, while rolling brown-outs and black-outs have become a regular part of life. Further damaging already weak national economies and lowering the standard of living for the people. However. like so many other things, that was not the case here. Once again, it seems apathy has won out on this issue as well. So people will have to dig deeper to pay for all the higher costs associated with living in the “Green New Deal”.

2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

On the money as usual but most of the populace are still asleep as the rich get richer and everyone gets poorer.

2 months ago
Reply to  Max

Correct! Even though the evidence of the failure of so-called “green energy” and “climate change” is all around us and has been documented for years and years, most people will just still continue to ignore it and hope it all magically goes away. The ostrich principle reigns supreme!

The reason the people pushing this farce on the public don’t seem to be overly concerned is because they know this simple truth. We are largely a country of just complainers at this point. Most people won’t stand up for themselves, even as they are being systematically robbed blind by a pack of thieves. When the vast majority of people have been reduced to walking around with just the clothes on their backs and their stomachs are empty from starvation within a very few years, they still won’t do anything but complain. It’s truly amazing how this country has chosen to simply surrender on all fronts. Sheep indeed.

2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

How right you are.

2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Yes, sadly so true.
Right now in Michigan govenor halfwit is shoving through every destructive, marxist program possible to insure their grasp on power and the control of citizens possible.
And yet the media, watch dog organizations say nothing.
These politicians are truly self serving,immoral disciples of everything wrong in America.
I wonder if the Real Citizens even care enough to take back Our Country.
So sad to see what we’re becoming.

2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

I think the majority of sheep in our country are all indoctrinated thru the public education system along with the Marxists university system! I know folks at the tail end of the boomer generation that believe the corrupt “climate alarmist” and all the other nonsense being pushed today! All useful idiots for the left, indoctrinated since kindergarten!

David Millikan
2 months ago

Excellent article.
What else would you expect from the Global Warming Lie.
This is intentional to bring down the United States by DESTROYING our economy which is a pure act of TREASON.
Add constant INCREASE in INFLATION and LESS FOOD (Putting Smaller and Smaller portions in products with Higher Prices which is Thievery).
Been to the grocery store since last week and seen how much Higher food cost is since last week?
And we were #1 in Energy Independence and hardly any inflation and plenty of food with PRESIDENT TRUMP
without the Global Warming Lie.
Above all, gasoline/diesel, jet fuel and utilities were by far cheaper and
our Borders were Secured with
PRESIDENT TRUMP because he put

2 months ago
Reply to  David Millikan

The clear majoity of modern day politicians are tied to “putting their personal welfare” ahead of the maintaining of the Nation’s Democracy. and the Constitution. Joe HIden Biden is a perfect example of that premise.

2 months ago
Reply to  Hal-

This biden is the poster child of the marxist democrat party on full display.
Now they flaunt America’s destruction and care not one iota about what Citizens think.
Arrogant, blatant,hateful, self serving politicians on display.
Wake up America. Your the enemy they seek to destroy.

2 months ago
Reply to  Garyk

More like they seek to rule us as slaves … but doing so wearing a coat of democracy while hiding their true intent in their cloak of the supposed National welfare. Term limits on Congress persons and House Reps and Exec Office heads (FBI, State, IRS, etc.) is becoming the only hope of shaking off the force of the DemocRatso hiding their Communistic ways in the cloak of Democracy.

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