Forget wind and solar power for COVID recovery

by | Jun 16, 2020 |

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Imagine you are traveling in the safest, most powerful ocean liner in the world. One day, in the midst of a severe storm, the captain announces, “To ensure your safety, we’re scuttling the ship. Man the lifeboats!”

A deckhand explains to the incredulous passengers, “The Captain believes that big vessels like ours are making storms worse. So, we must sink the ship!”

Hours later, the crew assures frightened passengers huddled in storm-tossed lifeboats, “We had to scuttle the ship or this storm, and future storms, would have been even worse!”

Sound crazy? Yes, but that is essentially what climate activists and even governments are saying as we prepare to recover from the economic storm that has swept the world due to our response to COVID-19. Recovery must focus not on reliable and inexpensive coal, oil, and natural gas energy sources, they say, but on unreliable, costly so-called green sources of energy such as wind and solar power. After all, climate change is a deeper problem than the virus, according to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  

As is so often the case with dysfunctional climate policy, the European Union is leading the way. EURACTIV Germany reports:

“The European Commission’s Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans, assured EU lawmakers on Tuesday (21 April) that ’every euro’ spent on economic recovery measures after the COVID-19 crisis would be linked to the green and digital transitions.”

Germany’s Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented: 

“We need a green economic recovery in order to build a more resilient future. Our guiding principle is not to go back to the old world, but to work towards a better world with more resilient and climate-friendly economies. In the coming months, all over the world, large sums of money will be poured into the recovery of the global economy. These investments can also help drive climate action forward significantly. Investments in renewable energy, green mobility, and climate-friendly industrial processes are at the same time supporting climate action, innovation, and jobs. An ambitious climate action plan, like the Green Deal presented by the EU, is, therefore, the right strategy for exiting the current crisis.”

Sadly, even the Trump Administration has drunk the Kool-Aid. The Department of Energy (DOE) is now partnering with the International Energy Agency to design industrial wind turbines that will be three times larger than today’s models, which are already as tall as a 60-story building. There are currently over 28 U.S. offshore wind projects in the planning stage, according to the DOE, the largest clusters of which will run along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Virginia.

And then there is Gemini Solar, the largest solar power project in U.S. history approved by the Interior Department on May 11. Gemini Solar will sit on 7,100 acres of public land, the size of 5,369 football fields, in the Mohave Desert, about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas. At an estimated cost of $1 billion, the three-year project will never come close to its target of 690 megawatts, enough to power 260,000 homes.

None of this makes any sense, of course. Just as in the case of the mad captain who forces his passengers and crew to abandon the safety of a robust ocean liner to risk their lives in flimsy lifeboats, surviving our economic storm is far less likely if we try to recover our economies using the least reliable, most expensive and most environmentally damaging energy sources like wind and solar power. Contrary to Schulze’s dangerous plans, we do indeed need to “go back to the old world” in which we relied on solid, dependable energy sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, and hydropower.

But it is worse than that. ‘Green energy’ threatens our culture, our freedoms, and our pocketbooks. They remain a complete delusion. Indeed, wind and solar power plants are more efficient when they are not running and are the most efficient and eco-friendly when they are never bought, never installed, and never operated because they produce little or no net electrical power. They also make no significant overall reduction in carbon dioxide emissions or pollution, and little reduction of fossil fuel burning.

For ‘green’ power plants already bought and installed, the best option for an electrical utility and the community is to tear them down, recycle the materials, restore the wastelands, and give your wallet and the Earth a big green smile.

Renowned film producer and left-wing activist Michael Moore have exposed the eco-charlatans in his newly-released documentary PLANET OF THE HUMANS. Despite his misguided prejudice against industrial civilization, his movie is still a five-star, must-see film destined for at least one Oscar. Moore plants many gut-wrenching images in viewers’ psyches:

  • First, is the extensive damage done to our environment and the Earth’s bio-system to land strip, mine, produce, transport, install and operate solar and wind plants. We start with preparing the installation sites, where thousands of acres of trees are felled and the landscape razed. They bulldoze hills down and fill over the valleys and streams. The land areas ruined are vast. National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Walter Musial explained, “To have a wind farm large enough to power Long Island in New York state would take an area half the size of Long Island. Putting it offshore makes a lot of sense.”  Yes, if you care nothing for the cost, environmental damage, and the threat to whale populations, explained by Paul Driessen in this important article.

That is bad enough for the installation site, but….

  • Moore pulls the curtain further back with the stark images of the ecological and biodiversity damage caused by building wind and solar power systems. Open-pit mines gouged deep into the Earth all over the world to extract the iron, aluminum, copper, and other minerals needed for these solar/wind plants. Hundreds of tons of cement produced to anchor the base of the hundreds of 300-500-foot-high towers and their 300-350-foot-long wingspans.
  • Untold tons of earth and rocks are blasted with thousands of kilos of dynamite to extract a few kilos of rare-earth metals, produced mostly under terrible environmental conditions in China. Solar panels are not made from sand, as we are led to believe, but precious and purest quartz that requires hundreds of tons of coal to manufacture.
  • In a two-minute segment, Moore puts before our eyes the millions of tons of coal, oil, and gas that are burned to mine, process, and transport the raw materials into solar and wind components. All of them emitting billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and pollution. Will these solar/wind plants ever recover the electrical energy that it took to just build them? Most probably not, as explained by C. Le Pair, in his article “Windmills increase fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions,” Oct 2011.
  • You will rarely witness the destruction of animals and the bio-system occurring in these remote sites on a guided tours of your local electric installations. The hundreds of birds, bats, and eagles killed by the turning blades will be picked up before you arrive. 
  • Most egregious is that activists and mainstream media will not show you the fossil-fuel power plants, hidden from view, that are needed to back up the intermittent, unreliable, and expensive solar and wind plants 100% of the time. Moore’s film shows that solar stations are, in reality, just a front for more, not less, fossil fuel plants.

The damage doesn’t stop there. Most wind and solar plants will never reach their advertised 20-year useful life but average only 12 to 15-years. But then what? Repeat the above costs and destruction to replace these monstrosities with new machines? Are we going to mine more raw materials, further damage the environments and put new wind turbines in their place? Here are the options, none of which are attractive:

  • Replace the machinery. As a minimum, we must first tear down all the old working components, haul them away and load them on ships. What then, drop them into the oceans, releasing the toxins where no one sees them? Or burn more fossil fuels to detox the egregious parts, recycle some parts or find a developing country desperate enough to take them in exchange for a few dollars?
  • Tear everything down. Having seen the futility of the enterprise, do we tear everything down? Spend countless more tons of fossil fuels to break the many tons of steel-reinforced concrete, meltdown the metals, recycle the plastics and fiber materials, and haul away the debris? But to where?
  • Abandon it all and simply walk away. All too often, we have utilities conveniently declaring bankruptcy and walking away, leaving behind rusting towers like headstones in endless cemeteries or in fields scattered with broken mirrors and solar collectors.

And, after all these costs, fossil fuels burned, CO2 released, and eco-damage, in many jurisdictions these machines will not even produce the energy that it took to build and install them.

But what about renewable energy-induced job creation? Surely that is important during our recovery from the shutdown. Concerning Gemini Solar, the Interior Department’s Casey Hammond’s boasted that “This action is about getting Americans back to work, strengthening communities and promoting investment in American energy.” But the 900 new construction jobs that DOI says will be created when Gemini Solar is being built will shrink to only 19 full-time workers required to operate the plant once it is completed in December 2023, according to the Reuters news agency. And studies in Europe show that deploying renewable energy such as solar raises electricity costs for consumers so much that, for every job created in the renewables industry, two to three are lost in the rest of the economy.

So much for job creation.

When President Trump is re-elected, he must put his foot down—no more wind and solar plants will be funded by the tax-payer; no more subsidies for these unreliable and destructive energy sources; all current large scale facilities must pass stringent environmental review and those that fail must be closed down, dismantled and, to the extent possible, the land returned to its original state. The alternative energy lie has gone on long enough.

Note: Learn more about the green energy hoax in the new book A Hitchhikers Journey Through Climate Change by author Terigi Ciccone and Dr. Jay Lehr. The book is the best possible source for parents and grandparents to explain reality to their children.


Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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Dave James
Dave James
2 years ago

Dr. Jay Lehr and Mr. Tom Harris claim they are non-partisan and interested in climate science (Source the ICSC Mission Statement mission statement, ICSC website) but their opinion pieces shows they are political partisans who care very little about science. For example:”When President Trump is re-elected, he must put his foot down…”
Mr. Harris and Dr. Lehr assert that renewable energy results in “no significant overall reduction in carbon dioxide emissions or pollution, and little reduction of fossil fuel burning.” However the scientific data shows the exact opposite. Renewable energy has contributed to the sharp decline of coal. After a 134-year reign as the leading energy source in the U.S., King Coal has been toppled from the throne, replaced by wind, solar and other renewables. (Source “U.S. renewable energy consumption surpasses coal for the first time in over 130 years” U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 28, 2020, EIA website)
“Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States dropped last year after a sharp increase in 2018, new data released Tuesday show. The drop resumed a long-term downward trend driven chiefly by a shift away from coal power generation.” (Source “U.S. Emissions Dropped in 2019: Here’s Why in 6 Charts” By Nicholas Kusnetz, JAN 7, 2020, Inside Climate News)
“The decommissioning of coal-fired power plants in the continental United States has reduced nearby pollution and its negative impacts on human health and crop yields, according to a new study.” (Source “Shutdown of coal-fired plants in US saves lives and improves crop yields” University of California – San Diego, Jan 6, 2020 ScienceDailey)
Dr. Lehr and Mr. Harris cannot accept the data because their agenda is not science but promoting coal. For example:
Clean coal for the future” Tom Harris, Feb 9, 2018, Idaho Press.
“Coal key to national security strategy” Tom Harris, Jan 13, 2018, The Spectrum.
“Climate scare must be debunked for coal to recover” Tom Harris, Jan 2, 2018, Superior Telegram.
“Harris: Coal has many uses” Tom Harris, Sep 3, 2018, Casper Star Tribune.
“Trump right to try to end the WAR ON COAL” by Jay Lehr & Tom Harris, Apr 16, 2019, America Out Loud.
“Time to End the War on Coal” by Jay Lehr & Tom Harris, May 3, 2019, The Post & Email.
“Time to end the war on coal” by Jay Lehr & Tom Harris, May 15, 2019, Citizen Journal.

Tom Harris
2 years ago

What a stupid comment in the first para by the Dave James person or group of people. While you might not agree with the phrase ”When President Trump is re-elected…” it is obviously not promoting that Trump be re-elected and so is not partisan. I didn’t bother to read the rest of your post.

Dave James
Dave James
Reply to  Tom Harris
2 years ago

Mr. Tom Harris claims his assumption that President Trump will be re-elect is not partisan. He is mistaken.
Dr. Lehr and Mr. Harris don’t even attempt to hide their political agenda. For example: They wrote this political, straw-man argument early this week, “Before you cast your vote for any Democrat for President, or even one for the House or the Senate, be aware that, if they control these high offices, many of them will do their utmost to shut off all avenues for the production of petroleum products.” ( Source “The End of Petroleum Products Would Be The End of Society As We Know It” By Dr. Jay Lehr & Tom Harris, Jun 9, 2020, America Out Loud) No Democratic candidate for president, house or senate has ever advocated banning production of petroleum products.

Dave James
Dave James
2 years ago

Mr. Tom Harris and Dr. Jay Lehr assert “…studies in Europe show that deploying renewable energy such as solar raises electricity costs for consumers so much that, for every job created in the renewables industry, two to three are lost in the rest of the economy.” However they offer nothing to support their assertion.
The actual data shows the direct opposite. In 2018, there were 2.4 million jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency in America, compared to half that many in fossil energy.

Tom Harris
Reply to  Dave James
2 years ago

another nonsense argument from the Dave James person or group of people. If indeed he (or they) is right in his stats, it makes no difference as our point was something different:
“studies in Europe show that deploying renewable energy such as solar raises electricity costs for consumers so much that, for every job created in the renewables industry, two to three are lost in the rest of the economy.”

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