What If Renewable Energy Is a Racket?

A strange thing happened the other day. A large-scale solar panel farm in Fort Bend County, Texas, thousands of acres right in the middle of oil country, experienced a rough […]
Published on May 2, 2024

A strange thing happened the other day. A large-scale solar panel farm in Fort Bend County, Texas, thousands of acres right in the middle of oil country, experienced a rough hailstorm. That’s not entirely unusual for the region.

I grew up in Texas, and it was always astonishing to have life going on as normal only to have golf ball-sized ice cubes rain down from the heavens seemingly out of nowhere, doing enormous damage to cars and homes.

Well, in this case, the storm utterly destroyed the entire solar panel farm of thousands of acres.

“They look like somebody took a shotgun and blasted it into the air and let the pellets fall down and shatter holes all in them,” a resident told the local news.

So much for the great innovation. So much for cheap energy from the sun. So much for the wonderful technological revolution. It is a pile of worthless glass and steel now.

The most immediate concern is not just the enormous loss of energy. It is the cadmium telluride inside the panels that could leak into the ground and water supply, potentially poisoning the entire community.

Now, you might ask yourself: why didn’t the builders and owners of this boondoggle think about this possibility? The answer is always the same: federal subsidies. They have encouraged the conversion of hundreds of miles of ranch, farm, and drilling land in Texas to become solar farms.

None of this would even exist without this artificial prodding from our central planners.

They are all at risk for the same destruction. In fact, the same thing happened in West Texas a few years ago. It’s a guarantee that in the life of these huge farms some storm will come along every few years and likely wreck everything. By now we should know that.

It’s not only that: there is a danger that comes with sandstorms too. Years ago I was flying into Las Vegas and flew over one of these large fields with solar panels that were entirely covered in sand. The sun could not get anywhere near the panels. My first thought: someone is going to need a very large broom.

But it’s not only huge blowers and suckers that are necessary. Cleaning them requires vast water usage, water not used for farms, lawns, showers, and other purposes that serve mankind.

Texas must also deal with the preposterous miles of wind turbines throughout the state that utterly wreck the landscape. You can hardly see the gorgeous mountains and rock formations in portions of Southwest Texas due to these bird-killing monstrosities.

You drive by miles and miles of these ghastly things while your car is literally riding right above oceans of oil that is sitting there waiting to be drilled and put to human use.

What the heck is going on? There is one answer: federal restrictions on drilling and refining plus federal subsidies for breezes and sunbeams.

It all stems from some weird ideology that says that drilling oil and gas is somehow dirty and unsustainable whereas sticking up fancy windmills and sucking down sunrays is sustainable.

They call oil and gas “fossil fuels” though that is heavily in dispute. Oil might be just as renewable as the sun or wind. We don’t even know how much there is, only that there is more than enough to power the whole of human activity on the planet as far as we can see into the future. Maybe it never runs out.

Governments of the world have somehow decided that one form of energy is bad and the other form is good, even though once you balance out all the costs of the two, it is not even clear that oil and gas are less to be desired by the standards of resource use. They might be more desirable.

We know precisely how to dig up and refine oil and deploy it for human use. We’ve known for centuries and it was this discovery that enabled the building of the modern world. Then in the 21st century, a bunch of crazed government bureaucrats, scientists on the dole, and politicians allowed a fantasy to seize their brains only to force other solutions on us.

The propaganda against oil and gas is so overwhelming—kind of like COVID fear—that it is hard for an entire generation to think outside the box and ask the fundamental question about whether this is really a good idea after all.

We are finding out from bitter experience that the utopian dream bumps into hard reality and then shatters to bits. All the while, we are experiencing ever more energy uncertainty. Particularly in Texas; a few years ago, the wind turbines froze and millions found themselves without heat in the dead of winter.

This one is personal to me: my mother in central Texas nearly froze to death. I spent two full days on the phone with her making sure she was okay. She found enough blankets and got by but I will forever blame the Green New Deal for nearly killing her.

This whole craze for renewables over fossil fuels, both misnamed, is out of hand and threatens to wreck civilization as we know it. Consumers all over the world are right now rejecting electric vehicles as anything other than vanity purchases for urban consumers in warm climates. But the Biden administration is forcing manufacturers to make ever more of them anyway even though the consumer marketplace for them is rapidly drying up.

The grid cannot handle much more in the way of plugged-in cars, and the highways cannot withstand the weight. The heck of it is that most electricity in this country is right now provided not by sunbeams and breezes but rather coal, which also qualifies as a “fossil fuel.”

Just you wait: once we are all in EVs, the government will announce more restrictions on coal too.

Then comes the rationing. You can only drive two days per week and only so far. This will be enforceable by forcing the software managers to shut down your car. You will no longer have the freedom to drive where you want much less go on a spontaneous road trip. The very definition of the postwar good life will be at an end, thanks entirely to the weird reality that a generation of bureaucrats got consumed by a freaky ideology.

Of course much of this fanaticism traces to the frenzy about “climate change.” Some lunatic teenager lectured the world’s elites about this and they believed her.

Guess what? The climate is changing. It has never not changed. It changes whether we drive or not or what we drive. It changed before the Industrial Revolution and it will change after.

It also turns out that discovering whether the temperature is changing depends entirely on what you measure and how long you measure it. Yep, you know this game. It’s called lying with statistics at taxpayer expense. If you don’t believe the claims, you are called very nasty names.

Meanwhile, we’ve taken up valuable land with endless miles of mirrors and propellers that break at the slightest disruption. And maybe that is the point. I fear saying it but it is true: the people who have come to control U.S. energy policy might be malevolent Jokers who actually hate the civilization that has been built over the course of two centuries and would rather we all live in huts, eat bugs, and drive Flintstone cars, that is, if they approve of the invention of the wheel itself.

Look, I was once willing to give all this a pass. When I was very young, I got hold of my first solar-powered calculator and thought it was pretty cool for what it was. What I didn’t know then is that this is about the limit of it. It’s a nice thing for small jobs, not for powering an industrialized world.

Sorry if you hate Donald Trump but he was exactly right about wind power. Why should we rely on the wind to know if we can have the basics of modern life? That’s just nuts if you think about it.

I’m truly at the point of thinking that all of this apparatus must go, every last wind turbine and solar farm. You don’t even have to tear them down. Just stop the uneconomic subsidies and let them be subjected to market forces.

Oil, gas, and coal will win hands down.

All we are saying is: give the free market a chance. And live with the results.

 

Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown.

Jeffrey A.Tucker’s interview with David Leis on Leaders on the Frontier can be seen here.

Featured News

MORE NEWS

The Sean Carleton Show

The Sean Carleton Show

Last January I attended a webinar featuring settler historian Dr. Sean Carleton on “How to Recognize and Confront Residential School Denialism.” Carleton has been leading the vanguard in spotting this distinctly Canadian menace. The webinar began, of course, with the...

The PM As Leaf’s Coach

The PM As Leaf’s Coach

The meme where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau becomes the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost in the NHL playoffs to Boston May 4th, has far more depth than people realize. Previous head coach Sheldon Keefe was fired, leaving a prime job open. “With my...

How Canada Was Forced to Build Up Its ‘Tin-Pot’ Navy

How Canada Was Forced to Build Up Its ‘Tin-Pot’ Navy

As the proud possessor of the world’s longest coastlines and home of the world’s sixth-largest merchant navy, one might have thought that the newly independent Canada would have an interest in developing a strong navy. In fact, as a Dominion of the British Empire, it...