Renewable Energy Can’t Fill the Shoes of Fossil Fuels

Renewable Energy Can’t Fill the Shoes of Fossil Fuels

October 18, 2021

The current energy crisis happening worldwide serves as a reminder of the world’s energy dependency on fossil fuels, even as governments push efforts to shift to renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy has proven to not be reliable. In some cases, supplies of renewable energy such as wind and hydroelectric power have fallen short of forecasts, which further boosts the demand for fossil fuels. Europe experienced a decline in power generation partly due to an unusual slowdown in offshore wind speeds, and now natural-gas prices have almost tripled in three months there. Oil, coal, and natural gas demand has skyrocketed worldwide as economies recover and reemerge from the pandemic with a lack of supply to meet those demands.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

To meet global energy demand, as well as climate aspirations, investments in clean energy would need to grow from around $1.1 trillion this year to $3.4 trillion a year until 2030, the Paris-based agency found. Investment would advance technology, transmission and storage, among other things. … [The IEA report] added that ramping up renewables would require greatly enhanced spending in other sectors, such as mining, to produce and refine the raw materials needed for wind turbines, solar arrays and utility-scale battery storage.

The transition to unreliable and unaffordable renewable energy is a costly one, not just for consumers but for governments worldwide.

World leaders set to gather for a major climate change conference in Glasgow in two weeks are aiming to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But they are still grappling with core questions that have complicated such negotiations for decades, including whether richer countries will pay to help poorer countries make the shift.

Supply-chain issues also constrain how quickly the world can increase wind and solar power. Most solar arrays are currently produced with energy from coal-fired power plants in China, which supplies more than three fourths of the world’s polysilicon. Some Western governments and companies are attempting to shift solar manufacturing away from coal, but that threatens to drive up solar costs.

According to the IEA report, the world added 280,000 megawatts of renewable electricity last year, up 45% from the prior year. Still, fossil fuels make up the majority of power generation globally. According to IRENA, renewables accounted for only 26% of global electricity generation in 2019.

This aggressive energy transition the Biden administration and other world leaders are pushing will undoubtedly fall on the backs of richer governments. This means the burden will be pushed onto American taxpayers who are already going to be paying 30% more on their household energy bills this winter than last year.