Is shift to renewable energy propelling us into an energy crisis?

By Thomas Catenacci

Rapidly increasing energy costs across Europe and Asia have prompted warnings of an impending U.S. crisis and calls for policy makers to scale back the shift from fossil fuels to renewables.

“If it gets cold at all, we are in real trouble,” Kyle Bass, the founder and CEO of Conservation Equity Management, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Wikimedia Commons/Harvey McDaniel

The global crisis and the threat of one in the U.S. has led some experts to question Western nations’ speedy transition to renewables from hydrocarbons like natural gas and oil. OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo has repeatedly blamed the shift away from fossil fuels on rising worldwide prices.

Both the U.S. and international benchmarks for crude oil briefly touched multi-year highs this week and remain elevated after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its Russian counterpart opted against increasing production. The White House had pleaded in August with OPEC to boost production, noting that higher gas prices were inevitable if the cartel held firm.

U.S. natural gas prices have also skyrocketed, reaching levels that haven’t been touched since the Great Recession. Natural gas price volatility hit an all-time high Tuesday, Reuters reported.

In the U.K., natural gas prices soared higher, shattering previous record highs, according to Bloomberg. The crisis has led to long lines at gasoline stations, energy shortages, the collapse of three power companies and British soldiers delivering gasoline to pumps.

High energy prices, shortages and even blackouts have also reached Europe and Asia, Foreign Policy Magazine reported.

Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Wednesday that “all tools are on the table” as cold weather approaches and that the federal government may release some oil from its reserve system, according to the Financial Times. The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the world’s largest emergency crude oil inventory.

‘Going to catch us with our pants down’

The global crisis and the threat of one in the U.S. has led some experts to question Western nations’ speedy transition to renewables from hydrocarbons like natural gas and oil. OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo has repeatedly blamed the shift away from fossil fuels on rising worldwide prices.

“Certainly, we all want to keep gasoline prices low, but the threat of the crisis — the climate crisis — certainly can’t wait any longer,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday.

Psaki added that the Biden administration hoped high energy prices wouldn’t change world leaders’ approach to the upcoming United Nations climate conferencewhere world leaders are expected to develop a framework for curbing emissions over the next decade.

The vast majority of new global energy investment, meanwhile, has targeted renewable power and electricity networks in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency’s flagship report published in June. Just $119 billion is projected to be invested in fossil fuel power this year compared to the $660 billion of expected investment in renewables and electricity networks.

“That under investment is going to catch us with our pants down,” said Bass, who is also the founder and chief investment officer of the investment firm Hayman Capital Management.

“I love the initiatives that are being discussed, but the kind of absolute shutdowns of certain things – immediately no more drilling on federal land, immediately no more interstate pipelines,” he continued. “It’s embarrassing to me that we buy Russian gas to heat the Northeast when all we have to do is build a pipeline.”

Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden revoked the federal permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and banned all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. However, a judge blocked the federal leasing ban and more than 20 states filed a lawsuit challenging the president’s pipeline permit cancelation.

Bass added that U.S. prices are sure to reach levels seen across Europe and Asia during the winter because of low inventories. That could push prices higher across multiple economic sectors, which are all dependent on a healthy supply chain and lower energy prices.

“What’s happening in Europe is they have turned their backs on hydrocarbons, coal, oil and gas in a very rapid green transition,” Dan Kish, a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF. “As a consequence, the prices of everything have gone through the roof because the wind isn’t producing and the solar isn’t producing according to their projections of what it would be producing.”

In the U.K., renewables are the largest source of electricity because of a series of green policies implemented over the last several years that disincentivize oil and gas investment, The Wall Street Journal reported. By comparison, natural gas accounts for 40% of electricity in the U.S. while renewables produce 20% of electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Thirty-five percent of total U.S. energy comes from oil while 34% comes from natural gas, 12% comes from renewable energy and 10% comes from coal, additional government data showed.

“This is all driven by politics,” Kish continued. “Our energy system is all of a sudden becoming weather dependent.”

‘At the mercy of global fossil fuel marketplaces’

However, Gregory Wetstone, the president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said the energy crisis is a product of fossil fuel companies and OPEC deliberately manipulating the energy supply. He added that renewables continue to be less expensive to produce than oil and gas.

“The major influences that are pushing energy prices up are oil shortages caused by OPEC’s reduced oil production schedule and natural gas shortages, particularly in Europe, that are caused by low supplies, both in Europe and in Russia,” Wetstone told the DCNF.

“It is always in the interest of oil and natural gas suppliers to constrain supply and keep prices at levels as high as they can,” he added. “So you’re at the mercy of global fossil fuel marketplaces.”

Wetstone characterized those who blame higher energy prices on the shift to renewables as “misinformed.”

Costs associated with renewable energy production have fallen for consecutive years, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report released in June. Global solar power costs declined 16%, wind costs declined 13% and offshore wind costs declined 9% last year alone.

Emerging economies would save up to $156 billion by switching from coal to renewables, the report showed.

“Today, renewables are the cheapest source of power,” IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said in a statement.

Nearly half of the world’s population lives in a country where it is cheaper to build a solar farm or wind farm than to rely on existing fossil fuel infrastructure for energy, according to an analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“We keep prices from going up by shifting to clean energy,” Wetstone told the DCNF.

The U.S. should be a substantially carbon-free grid by 2035 and completely green by 2050, he added.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Harvey McDaniel

3 thoughts on “Is shift to renewable energy propelling us into an energy crisis?

  1. The renewable energy industry, environment groups benefiting from renewable energy industry financial support and the lobbyist for each have an outsized and unhealthy influence on the direction of climate policy in Vermont.

    The industry’s influence is echoed and amplified by a Vermont media easily mislead. A media that is too quick to follow the thinking of the renewable energy industry, while failing to question its financial motives, direction and policy pronouncements……These actions in turn unduly influence the Vermont Legislature, which obediently follows the dictates of the renewable energy industry.

    Here’s a very recent example of renewable energy influence on climate policy abetted by a compliant media. Global Foundries, the largest private sector manufacturing company in Vermont employing 2200 people in high paying jobs had reached an agreement with the Scott Administration to reduce greenhouse gases. This plan would have saved the company millions of dollars annually insuring its future and protecting Vermont jobs.

    The renewable energy industry immediately objected to the plan prompting the VT Digger to cover the story with this headline: “Environmentalists balk at proposed exemption for Global Foundries”……..The parties objecting to the plan are The Conservation Law Foundation (environment advocates), Renewable Energy Vermont (Renewable energy lobbyists) and All Earth Renewables (A renewable energy company headed by David Blittersdorf). Blittersdorf, along with a number of other renewable energy company executives are on the board of directors of Renewable Energy Vermont. The compliant VTDigger called this trio of objectors “environmentalists”, which is painfully misleading if not totally dishonest…….This is an objection to the Global Foundries plan by the renewable energy industry pure and simple and not an objection by “environmentalist” as headlined by the VTDigger.

    https://vtdigger.org/2021/10/08/environmentalists-balk-at-proposed-exemptions-for-globalfoundries/

    This one matter alone demonstrates the outsized and unhealthy influence of the renewable energy industry over Vermont’s climate policy and the role of the media in abetting such influence……..This influence has been going on for years and now has Vermont on the precipice of Global Warming Solution Act mandates that will cost Vermonters billions and result in no impact on global warming.

  2. EXCERPT FROM:
    https://www.manhattancontrarian.com/blog/2021-10-8-having-fun-watching-wind-and-solar-failing-to-step-up-to-power-the-world-economy

    October 08, 2021/ Francis Menton

    MANHATTAN CONTRARIAN
    You don’t have to be any kind of a genius to figure out that wind and solar generation are never going to supplant fossil fuels in powering the world economy. The main reason is that the wind and sun only work part time, indeed well less than half of the time at best.

    With wind, you never know when it might work, and over a year a given facility might on average produce about 30-35% …, with long and random periods of nothing, about 0.30 in New England.

    With the sun, you know from the get-go that you will get nothing fully half the time (i.e., night); and cloudy days wipe out half and more of the remaining half, again at random times. Averaged over the year, you’ll be lucky to get 15% of rated capacity from a solar facility in New England.

    With the world economy finally bouncing back (hopefully) from the year-and-a-half of pandemic, this is the moment for wind and solar to step up and show what they can do.

    All the advanced economies (Europe, UK, US, Canada, Australia) have been pushing wind and solar for a couple of decades, with tens of billions of dollars of various subsidies and tax breaks. There are now wind turbines and solar panels all over the place.

    Simultaneously the same countries have shuttered coal plants, reduced nuclear, banned fracking in many places (Europe, the UK, and much of the US), and discouraged fossil fuels of every sort in a hundred different ways.

    Now there is a surge in demand for manufactured goods of every sort. That will take some energy. Let’s see what the wind and the sun can do!

    The answer is that when they are needed they are useless.

  3. There was little wind in Ireland, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark from April, 2021 to the present.
    As a result more gas was, and is being used from already-depleted EU gas storage levels, to generate electricity.

    Blaming Russia was not an option, because Russia had been supplying gas to Europe, per signed contracts, as even EU bureaucrats had to admit.

    The EU countries failed to sigh additional long-term contracts with Russia, mainly because bureaucrats are forcing the EU to “decarbonize”, to set a good example.
    BTW, Fossil Fuels Supply 84 Percent of World Primary Energy, and Other Eye Openers from BP’s Annual Energy Review

    Coal, 27%; Natural Gas, 24%; Oil, 33%, a total of 84%, plus Nuclear, 4%; Hydro, 6%; Renewables, 5%, after more than 20 years of subsidies.
    Some of the primary energy, about 10%, is used for exploration, extraction, processing and transport to produce primary energy to users. That 10% of primary energy is often called “upstream energy”.

    For example, to produce ethanol from corn requires a very significant quantity of primary energy to produce a gallon of ethanol for blending with gasoline; the combustion CO2 of ethanol is not counted, as is the CO2 of burning biomass, because they are “renewable”, per international agreement.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2020/06/20/bp-review-new-highs…

    These idiot EU bureaucrats think more wind, solar, and batteries are the answer to NIRVANA, i.e., “saving the world from ruinous climate change”

    At present, EU gas storage levels are at about 30% from where they should be at this time of year, with no extra gas available to increase storage; A RECIPE FOR A LONG-LASTING DISASTER AND ECONOMIC STAGNATION, IN CASE OF A STRONG WINTER.

    If additional gas contracts were signed right now with Russia, it takes a while, several weeks at least, for Russia to ramp up production, and then transmit the gas to users, to alleviate shortages in Europe, and simultaneously increase storage in Europe. Yikes!

    This predicament is the result of Socialist-style, government-mandated “planning” by EU bureaucrats, who do not know their a.. from a hole in the ground regarding energy systems; New England is similarly affected by such bureaucrats.

    Instead, European countries relied on the SPOT MARKET, which always is only a small fraction of the CONTRACT MARKET.
    As a result natural gas prices increased, from about $300 to $2,000 per 1,000 cubic meter, and coal prices increased in Europe; at present gas is about $1,200/1,000 cubic meter.

    This did not happen in the US, because the in-the-basement, recently opened-borders, dysfunctional-Biden-wind/solar idiocies, and the $3.5 TRILLION SOCIALIST, REMAKE BOONDOGGLE, fortunately have not yet been implemented, and may never be implemented.

    The US does not need such EU idiocies.
    The US has no trouble being energy independent, plus that energy is low-cost, as proven by Trump before the 2020 Election.
    Unfortunately Trump was ousted by the infamous 2020 Dem/Prog Coup d’Etat.

    BTW, Bloomberg, a financial services/media conglomerate, earns a lot of fees from cajoling wealthy investors into buying various tax shelters, including wind and solar systems.

    Bloomberg would never mention any lack of wind, because that would rain on its own wind/solar parade.

    LESSON: Now we all know, how we are being brainwashed by the self-serving Media purveying incomplete, distorted, and untruthful “news articles”, to sell TV programs, newspapers and ads to survive.

    The same self-serving Media shenanigans were, and still are, used regarding the 2020 Election

    It’s very grim that nuclear isn’t mentioned. Not once. Critical thinking and science-based energy solutions will be the only things that pave the way toward an increasingly energy dependent planet.

    The current mindset seems incapable of incorporating anything more powerful than sailing ships into our future.

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