Bill Gates says Subsidies for Wind Power a Pointless Waste: Time to Back Nuclear & R&D on Systems that Can Actually Work

Bill-Gates

What on Earth would the richest man in the
World know about energy, markets & economics?

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Gates: Renewable energy can’t do the job. Gov should switch green subsidies into R&D
‘Only way to a positive scenario is innovation’

The Register
Lewis Page
26 Jun 2015

Retired software kingpin and richest man in the world Bill Gates has given his opinion that today’s renewable-energy technologies aren’t a viable solution for reducing CO2 levels, and governments should divert their green subsidies into R&D aimed at better answers.

Gates expressed his views in an interview given to the Financial Times yesterday, saying that the cost of using current renewables such as solar panels and windfarms to produce all or most power would be “beyond astronomical”. At present very little power comes from renewables: in the UK just 5.2 per cent, the majority of which is dubiously-green biofuel burning1 rather than renewable ‘leccy – and even so, energy bills have surged and will surge further as a result.

In Bill Gates’ view, the answer is for governments to divert the massive sums of money which are currently funnelled to renewables owners to R&D instead. This would offer a chance of developing low-carbon technologies which actually can keep the lights on in the real world.

“The only way you can get to the very positive scenario is by great innovation,” he told the pink ‘un. “Innovation really does bend the curve.”

Gates says he’ll personally put his money where his mouth is. He’s apparently invested $1bn of his own cash in low-carbon energy R&D already, and “over the next five years, there’s a good chance that will double,” he said.

The ex-software overlord stated that the Guardian’s scheme of everyone refusing to invest in oil and gas companies would have “little impact”. He also poured scorn on another notion oft-touted as a way of making renewable energy more feasible, that of using batteries to store intermittent supplies from solar or wind.

“There’s no battery technology that’s even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables,” he said, pointing out – as we’ve noted on these pages before – that it’s necessary “to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it’s cloudy and you don’t have sun or you don’t have wind.”

So what are the possible answers, in Gates’ view?

Gates is already well known as a proponent of improved nuclear power tech, and it seems he still is. He mentioned the travelling-wave reactors under development by his firm TerraPower, which are intended to run on depleted uranium stockpiled after use in conventional reactors. He also spoke of methods of using solar power to produce liquid hydrocarbons, which, unlike electricity, can be stored practicably in useful amounts: “one of the few energy storage things that works at scale”, as he put it.

Gates also spoke of the radical plan of high-altitude wind farming using kite-balloons flying high up in the jet stream – though he admitted that that one was something of a long shot.

In Gates’ view, decades from now a few of today’s new-energy companies will have become massive and early investors will have reaped the sort of rewards that he, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer have from Microsoft. But many others won’t be so lucky.

“Now there’s a tonne of software companies whose names will never be remembered,” he told the FT interviewers.

Analysis

Gates has said a lot of this before. The main new thing is the firm assertion that renewable energy technology as it now is has no chance of powering a reasonably numerous and well-off human race.

This is actually a very simple thing to work out, and just about anybody numerate who thinks about the subject honestly comes to the same conclusion – examples include your correspondent, Google renewables experts, global-warming daddy James Hansen, even your more honest hardline greens (they typically think that the answer is for the human race to become a lot less numerous and well-off).

Unfortunately a lot of people aren’t numerate and/or aren’t honest, so it’s far from sure that the colossal subsidies pumped into today’s useless renewables will get diverted into R&D which could produce something worthwhile.

In the UK at least this would be quite difficult, as the subsidies are not actually subsidies as such – no tax money is paid out to windfarmers and solar-panellists from the Treasury.

Rather, the system works by artificially pumping up the price of ‘leccy and gas and channelling the extra cash – minus various margins for various people involved – to the windfarmers and panel people, such that they get paid vastly more than the market price of the power they produce.

A lot of people – including the government at times – prefer to pretend that this isn’t happening at all: that prices are going up because of the gas market, or corporate profiteering, or something, and that green policy is actually saving people money in some way.

So given that officially nobody is paying any more money and therefore there aren’t any subsidies, they probably can’t be diverted to anywhere. The newly-reelected Chancellor is trying to stop them getting bigger, but he probably won’t manage to seriously reduce them overall, let alone re-purpose them.

Bootnote

1DUKES chapter 1 (pdf page 1) and chapter 6 (pdf page 4)
The Register

turbine collapse 9

When Bill Gates calls it a ‘flop’, it’s a ‘flop’ ….

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. This is Agenda 21, the mapping of the resources of the planet so that corporations can benefit from the resource, at the expense of the rural people who live there, forcing them to ‘human settlements’ because the land has been rendered uninhabitable. In this case, the resource is the wind and the sun.

    Elected governments deny that this is the plan and yet they orchestrate the situation so that corporate interests dominate. The rural residents face the the reduction of the quality of their lives and no one protects them; not even their own municipally elected leaders whose mandate is to protect them.
    This massive human rights violation is justified using alarmist propaganda based on computer modelled IPCC data that is being exposed as incorrect…wattsupwiththat.org …..and yet, the scam continues.

    When will people wake up and say this must stop?

    How will the victims of this forced relocation agenda be compensated? How will we get rid of industrial scale renewables and get our rural countryside back?

  2. Silence is consent.

  3. Search Engine says:

    ‘…and just about anybody numerate who thinks about the subject honestly comes to the same conclusion – examples include your correspondent, Google renewables experts, global-warming daddy James Hansen, even your more honest hardline greens…”

    Clearly current ‘renewable energy’ technology is not the answer. Bill Gates understands that deeply. But truly, are there really any honest ‘hardline’ Greens apart from James Lovelock? They are certainly hard to find!

  4. One thing is for sure, Bill Gates did not get his wealth from the windweasel grubs. Bill developed something that improved the lifestyle of mankind.

    Windweasel grubs developed a fraudulent scam (wind turbines) that destroys the lifestyle for mankind, which is torture from infrasound and lowfrequency noise; all based on massive subsidies from governments and power customers. What a waste of money. Maybe a lot more countries will end up like Greece.

    • E Griffiths says:

      If you want to see what’s happening to help pay off the Greek debt, this video shows what’s happening in Crete, one of the big Greek islands in the Mediterranean. It ain’t pretty 😦

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