Guest Opinions

Guest Opinion: Most renewables are terrible business bets

The claims about renewable energy made in Aimee Christensen’s July 2 opinion piece have been proven untrue over the last 20 years, and the claimed benefits have never, and will never, materialize. The companies she cites have also concluded the opposite of her claims.

After 20 years and trillions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, there is not one renewable energy producer anywhere in the world that is financially viable in an efficient market. There is no job creation in green industries; there are large-scale job losses. There are negative economic benefits; and the environmental impacts of these technologies are much worse than any fossil-based alternative. Bill Gates has labeled today’s renewable technologies as “dead-end technologies,” with the cost of decarbonization being “beyond astronomical.” Google engineers came to the same conclusion, finding “no way to get the cost of renewables competitive with coal.”

Several European countries who went all-in on renewable technologies — specifically wind and solar — are now suffering energy poverty that disproportionately affects the poorest of their citizens. Germany, Denmark and Spain have all suffered massive financial and job loses as their renewable programs have failed, and now they have some of the highest energy rates in the world. BASF (one of Germany’s largest industrial consortiums) is building its next-generation plants outside of Germany in Louisiana due to the difference in energy costs.

Many of the solar and wind farms installed in these countries are now out of operation and are not maintained, leaving a blight on the landscape. None of these projects has ever hit the projected energy production; in fact, they have missed projections by over 200 percent, while costs have overrun by a similar ratio.

The bottom line: These renewable projects have seen much lower energy production than projected by their backers, and have much higher capital and operating costs than the original financial prospectuses. The latest research from Germany has concluded that the Energy Returned on Energy Invested is insufficient to justify continued investment and subsidies in any form of wind or solar technology. Several other studies have concluded that neither wind nor solar can generate power that is both distributed and dispatchable, thus making it viable for a modern economy.

Both wind and solar have tremendous impacts on local wildlife and fauna, particularly in the decimation of local bird and bat populations. Both technologies also consume large amounts of energy and rare earth minerals, creating large amounts of toxic waste both in manufacturing and in end-of-life disposal. Long-term maintenance costs are also much higher than projected, especially for wind farms. Try changing the magnets and other parts on a wind turbine 200 feet in the air or 10 miles offshore.

The companies involved in the U.S. renewable energy industry are rent seekers requiring large and continuous government handouts. Tesla batteries are neither technically nor financially viable without subsidies. No one could manufacture enough batteries to have an impact on a modern economy, and the production and disposal of the rare earth minerals required to build hundreds of millions of such batteries would create an environmental impact much larger than any fossil fuel.

The green advocates have delayed the electrification of Third World countries, especially in Africa. For a small percentage of the waste in green subsidies, most of Africa can be electrified using natural gas, lifting millions of people out of poverty and from harsh, short lives and a typically painful and brutal death. Again, this falls disproportionately on the poor in these regions.

Idaho has ample, dependable, low-cost power. Let’s keep it that way for the future.

Tim Fitzley, of Meridian, is a prior senior executive at several high-tech companies and CEO of several technology startups, the last of which was developing a next generation of optical sensors for environmental monitoring.