Renewables Rejected: World’s Poorest Crave Reliable & Affordable Coal-Fired Power

Eco-zealots ram wind and solar power down the throats of Third World governments, purporting to save the planet and drag millions out of poverty. But it never takes their targets long to work out that wind and solar power are both insanely expensive and hopelessly unreliable; sitting in the dark, night after night, generally does the trick.

The wind and solar obsessed in the first world are quite prepared to ensure the World’s poorest stay that way. With economic development agencies peddling ridiculously expensive solar panels – seen as ‘fake electricity’ by those lumbered with it – and forcing tinpot governments to sign up to costly and pointless wind and/or solar power schemes, the ratio of haves to have-nots is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

One who doesn’t subscribe to the ‘keep them poor at all costs’ model is Bjorn Lomborg.

Why we can’t afford the rich world’s fossil fuel hypocrisy
The Australian
Bjorn Lomborg
30 July 2022

The rich world’s fossil fuel hypocrisy is on full display in its response to the global energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While the wealthy G7 countries admonish the world’s poor to use only renewables because of climate concerns, Europe and the US are going begging to Arab nations to expand oil production. Germany is reopening coal power plants while Spain and Italy are ramping up African gas production. So many European countries have asked Botswana to mine more coal that the country will have to triple its exports.

A single person in the rich world uses more fossil fuel energy than all the energy available to 23 poor Africans. The rich world became wealthy by massively exploiting fossil fuels, which today provides more than three-quarters of its energy. Solar and wind deliver less than 3 per cent of the rich world’s energy.

Yet the rich are choking off funding for any new fossil fuels in the developing world. Most of the world’s poorest four billion people have no meaningful energy access, so the rich blithely tell them to “leapfrog” from no energy to a green nirvana of solar panels and wind turbines.

This promised nirvana is a sham consisting of wishful thinking and green marketing. The world’s rich would never accept off-grid, renewable energy themselves – nor should the poor. Consider the experience of Dharnai, a village which Greenpeace tried to turn into India’s first solar-powered community in 2014.

Greenpeace received glowing, global media attention when it declared that Dharnai would refuse “to give in to the trap of the fossil fuel industry”. But the day the solar electricity was turned on, the batteries were drained within hours. A boy remembers wanting to do his homework, but there wasn’t enough power for his family’s one lamp.

Villagers were prohibited from using fridges or TVs because they would exhaust the system. They couldn’t use electric cookstoves, so they had to continue burning wood and dung, which create terrible air pollution. Across the developing world, millions die from indoor pollution that the World Health Organisation says is equivalent to each person smoking two packs of cigarettes every day.

Greenpeace invited the state’s chief minister to admire their handiwork. He was met by a crowd waving signs demanding “real electricity” (the kind you can use to run a refrigerator or a stove, and that your children can use to do their homework) and not “fake electricity” (meaning solar energy that could do none of these things).

When Dharnai was finally connected to the power grid, more and more people dropped their solar connections. An academic study found a big reason was that the overwhelmingly coal-powered grid electricity was three times cheaper than the solar energy. What’s more, it could actually power appliances people wanted such as TVs and stoves. Today, the disused solar power system is covered in thick dust and the project site is a cattle shed.

To be sure, solar energy can charge a cell phone and run a light, which can be useful – but it is often expensive. A new study on solar lamps in India’s most populous state shows that even with hefty subsidies, solar lamps are worth much less than their cost for most people. In rich countries such as Germany and Spain, most solar and wind would never have been installed if not for subsidies.

Solar and wind are incapable of delivering the power needed for industrialisation, powering water pumps, tractors and machines – all the ingredients needed to lift people out of poverty. As rich countries are now also discovering, solar and wind energy remain fundamentally unreliable. No sun or wind means no power. Battery technology offers no answers: globally, there are only enough batteries to power global average electricity consumption for one minute and 15 seconds. Even by 2030, with a projected rapid battery scaleup, they would last less than 12 minutes. For context, every German winter, when solar is at its minimum, there is near-zero wind energy available for at least five days, or more than 7000 minutes.

This is why the rich world is on track to continue to mostly rely on fossil fuels for decades. The International Energy Agency estimates that even if all current climate promises are delivered, fossil fuels will still constitute two-thirds of the rich world’s energy in 2050.

The developing world sees the hypocrisy, as elegantly formulated by Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo: “No one in the world has been able to industrialise using renewable energy”, yet Africa has “been asked to industrialise using renewable energy when everybody else in the world knows that we need gas-powered industries for business”.

Instead of immorally blocking the path for other countries to develop, rich countries need to invest substantially in the innovation needed to ensure that green energy costs drop below fossil fuels. This way, everyone in the world will be able to afford to switch to renewable alternatives. Insisting that the world’s poor live without fossil fuels is virtue signalling that plays with other people’s lives.

Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus and visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His latest book is False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.
The Australian

At least the panels help keep the monsoon rain off.

3 thoughts on “Renewables Rejected: World’s Poorest Crave Reliable & Affordable Coal-Fired Power

  1. How can we get Adam Bandt and the sanctimonious Greens to even read this information ? Should we shove it down their throats ? They are destroying Australia where I’ve happily lived with coal power since 1940. My Dad worked as a turbine driver at Yallourn power station where abundant supplies of brown coal gave us the world’s cheapest electricity.

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