WSJ Dares to Doubt: What if Wind & Solar ‘Transition’ Aren’t ‘Inevitable’, After All?

When the Wall Street Journal starts to question the inevitability of our ‘transition’ to an all wind and sun powered future, you know the gig is up.

Until now, the WSJ has been a champion for the wind and solar ‘industries’ in the US. Playing to the myth that the wind and sun are ‘free’, and that wind and solar power are both cheap and reliable, the Wall Street Journal has hitherto rarely fired an angry shot in the direction of the greatest State-sponsored fraud, in history.

So, when Mark Mills penned the piece below, we expect he also drew up his resignation notice, at the same time.

Mills expresses serious doubt, where perfect certainty once ruled the day. You see, amongst the intelligentsia, the future is already written, and its pages spell out the doom of conventional power generation – fossil fuels and nuclear power are already ‘dead-men-walking’, apparently – clearing the inevitable pathway for nature’s wonder fuels: sunshine and breezes.

Now, it seems, the future is not so self-assured.

What if Green Energy Isn’t the Future?
Wall Street Journal
Mark Mills
20 May 2019

What’s Warren Buffett doing with a $10 billion bet on the future of oil and gas, helping old-school Occidental Petroleum buy Anadarko, a U.S. shale leader? For pundits promoting the all-green future, this looks like betting on horse farms circa 1919.

Meanwhile, broad market sentiment is decidedly bearish on hydrocarbons. The oil and gas share of the S&P 500 is at a 40-year low, and the first quarter of 2019 saw the Nasdaq Clean Edge Green Energy Index and “clean tech” exchange-traded funds outperform the S&P.

A week doesn’t pass without a mayor, governor or policy maker joining the headlong rush to pledge or demand a green energy future. Some 100 U.S. cities have made such promises. Hydrocarbons may be the source of 80% of America’s and the world’s energy, but to say they are currently out of favor is a dramatic understatement.

Yet it’s both reasonable and, for contrarian investors, potentially lucrative to ask: What happens if renewables fail to deliver?

The prevailing wisdom has wind and solar, paired with batteries, adding 250% more energy to the world over the next two decades than American shale has added over the past 15 years. Is that realistic? The shale revolution has been the single biggest addition to the world energy supply in the past century. And even bullish green scenarios still see global demand for oil and gas rising, if more slowly.

If the favored alternatives fall short of delivering what growing economies need, will markets tolerate energy starvation? Not likely. Nations everywhere will necessarily turn to hydrocarbons. And just how big could the call on oil and natural gas — and coal, for that matter — become if, say, only half as much green-tech energy gets produced as is now forecast? Keep in mind that a 50% “haircut” would still mean unprecedented growth in green-tech.

If the three hydrocarbons were each to supply one-third of such a posited green shortfall, global petroleum output would have to increase by an amount equal to doubling the production of the Permian shale field (Anadarko’s home). And the world supply of liquid natural gas would need to increase by an amount equal to twice Qatar’s current exports, plus coal would have to almost double what the top global exporter, Australia, now ships.

Green forecasters are likely out over their skis. All the predictions assume that emerging economies — the least wealthy nations — will account for more nearly three-fourths of total new spending on renewables. That won’t happen unless the promised radical cost reductions occur.

For a bellwether reality-check, note that none of the wealthy nations that are parties to the Paris Accord — or any of the poor ones, for that matter — have come close to meeting the green pledges called for. In fact, let’s quote the International Energy Agency on what has actually happened: “Energy demand worldwide [in 2018] grew by … its fastest pace this decade . . . driven by a robust global economy . . . with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70% of the growth for the second year running.”

The reason? Using wind, solar and batteries as the primary sources of a nation’s energy supply remains far too expensive. You don’t need science or economics to know that. Simply propose taking away subsidies or mandates, and you’ll unleash the full fury of the green lobby.

Meanwhile, there are already signs that the green vision is losing luster. Sweden’s big shift to wind power has not only created alarm over inadequate electricity supplies; it’s depressing economic growth and may imperil that nation’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. China, although adept at green virtue-signaling, has quietly restarted massive domestic coal-power construction and is building hundreds of coal plants for emerging economies around the world.

In the U.S., utilities, furiously but without fanfare, have been adding billions of dollars of massive oil- and natural-gas-burning diesel engines to the grid. Over the past two decades, three times as much grid-class reciprocating engine capacity has been added to the U.S. grid as in the entire half-century before. It’s the only practical way to produce grid-scale electricity fast enough when the wind dies off. Sweden will doubtless be forced to do the same.

A common response to all of the above: Make more electric cars. But mere arithmetic reveals that even the optimists’ 100-fold growth in electric vehicles wouldn’t displace more than 5% of global oil demand in two decades. Tepid growth in gasoline demand would be more than offset by growing economies’ appetites for air travel and manufactured goods. Goodness knows what would happen if Trump-like economic growth were to take hold in the rest of the developed world. As Mr. Buffett knows, the IEA foresees the U.S. supplying nearly three-fourths of the world’s net new demand for oil and gas.

Green advocates can hope to persuade governments — and thus taxpayers — to deploy a huge tax on hydrocarbons to ensure more green construction. But there’s no chance that wealthy nations will agree to subsidize expensive green tech for the rest of the world. And we know where the Oracle of Omaha has placed a bet.
Wall Street Journal

Sage of Omaha puts his money where his mouth is.

4 thoughts on “WSJ Dares to Doubt: What if Wind & Solar ‘Transition’ Aren’t ‘Inevitable’, After All?

  1. “IF renewables fail to deliver”? How about “WHEN” ? Actually WSJ has often questioned the fantasy of CO2-free autos and free energy. WSJ has also noted that if reduced CO2 was really the goal, then nuclear power would be the primary choice for reliable 24 hour available electric power. Clearly, members of the “green energy church” worship something else, like perhaps government control of all aspects of the economy. Interestingly, no where in the US Constitution is the Congress authorized to enact any legislation mandating green energy. The United Church of AGW is our new secular religion, but not everyone in the US worships there. There are many who hold apostasy views relative to AGW, rather recognizing real science as more reliable path to truth.

  2. I work for a western U.S. Utility as an Operator of a power plant. The Wind/Solar myth is in full swing with my company. They tell the public how wonderful it is then in private meetings I’ve attended the CEO talked about how wind/solar is the enemy. Look up “The Real cost of Wind power” and The Real Cost of Solar power” reports by Utah State University. All forms of electrical generation are massively subsidized by the government. The utilites get paid millions to take solar and wind power. The get about 45 to 55 dollars per MegaWatt hour for solar. Utah Power Company was given over 200 million dollars to “take” solar last year. All borrowed money that the U.S. Taxpayers grandchildren will be indebted for the rest of their lives for. You can’t borrow and squander away your prosperity into reality. It is in fact a giant ponzi scheme scam on the public that will bankrupt the U.S. and any other country that buys into the scam.

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