Renewable Red Herrings: Time To Get Real About So-Called Green Energy

An article in The Australian today, detailing costs of wind and solar power and their impact on power bills relative to the carbon tax, has boiled my blood; it is time to get real about so-called “green” energy, and to recognise the pile of horse shit the whole concept is predicated on.

One of the many things wrong with this country at the moment is the virtual siege mentality that has been engineered by the Communist Party Greens, intellectually moribund academics and the sensationalist pork-barrellers in Canberra over the environment in general and the generation of energy in particular.

Specifically, the presentation of “problems” requiring “solutions” that amount to little more than window-dressing — yet cost billions of dollars, and slug ordinary Australians already stretched to breaking point by cost-of-living pressures — is a contemptible little closed circuit that plays on the gullibility of the uninformed.

The Australian reports today — and I quote — that “subsidies for rooftop solar panels will cost consumers about $2.3 billion over the next year as the combination of a federal government solar subsidy program and state government feed-in tariffs add about $140 a year to household power bills.”

Without going too far into the article’s breakdown of the figures, beyond that headline figure the rest of it is simple detail. The Australian does note, though, that price impacts associated with “renewable” energy on power bills are additional to those of the looming carbon tax, and greater in size than the imposts the carbon tax promises to inflict.

I do, however, wish to quote South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill; speaking directly on this issue, he said “…people want to find ways of reducing their environmental footprint and many choose to pay higher electricity costs because of signing up to green energy…they want to buy green power.”

Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better. And that’s a big part of the problem.

I would make the clear point that nobody likes environmental pollution, or at the very least, most of us don’t; but by the same token, unless we all go back to living in caves and cooking around a fire, the worldwide imperative for baseload electricity generation and its attendant side-effects are issues that are actual, not academic, and certainly ones that will not be resolved on an economically viable basis by wind power or solar energy.

Even so, the siege mentality to which I referred has had the consequence that millions of people across the country believe the planet is on the brink of environmental and ecological collapse; this doesn’t just include the gullible, the stupid and the contemptible, either: learned folk, intelligent folk, otherwise rational and functional folk actually believe this pap too.

And the consequence, in turn, of that has been that an environment now exists — no pun intended — in which a) governments and QANGOs can impose endless taxes, levies, charges, fees and other imposts in the dubious name of “clean energy;” and in which b) a sideshow of hypocritical circuses now exists, and grows, to provide a semblance of a solution to the “problem” but which, in fact, is a mere perpetuation of it.

Environmental Footprint. Carbon Offset. Food Miles. Clean Energy Future. Blah Blah Blah. These — and other politically stylish catchphrases — do not describe actual phenomena; rather, they reflect the results of marketing consultancies and focus group sessions to devise suitably punchy slogans by which to perpetuate the myth of the environmental siege gripping the planet.

It should give readers pause for thought to consider that in and around all this high-profile concern for the Earth’s environmental good, nary a mention is given to the salinity levels in soils that have been mismanaged; to tangible problems such as the wholesale clearance of rainforest areas, including in this country; or to the sick state of health of river systems.

Yes, these issues are acknowledged, but paid mere lip service by comparison: the real show, and the real money, lies where a tax can be efficiently levied — and, on a rainforest or a river or a salt pan, it can’t be.

Wind farms aren’t just ugly, they’re next to useless; in the name of 2% of the country’s electricity being generated from wind, pristine coastal areas are scarred and blemished by these unsightly monstrosities that are inefficient, unreliable, and ridiculously expensive to manufacture, install and maintain.

And, importantly, which don’t even turn if the wind doesn’t blow.

Solar energy isn’t much better; anyone who has ever made the mistake of “investing” in a solar hot water system knows all too well that when it is cold, or grey, or raining — or night, which is 50% of the time — booster electricity from baseload power is required if there is hot water to be had. How — given this simple small-scale but authentic example — baseload electricity could ever sustainably be generated from solar energy is a mystery.

And let’s not ignore the fact that whilst electric cars are becoming environmentally stylish — they emit no greenhouse gases — they still need to be recharged; and the various sources from which that recharge comes are all powered by fossil fuel-fired electricity generation. Ultimately, burning oil is replaced by burning coal.

(And whilst slightly off the track, let’s remember the raft of new “green” levies being charged on airfares and so forth — rather pointlessly, any trees planted with the proceeds won’t eliminate a molecule of jet engine exhaust from the atmosphere).

Thanks to the Greens (back in the days when they were actually environmentalists in the true sense, whether right or misguided, and not the social engineers and warriors of the hard Left) hydro-electric power is almost impossible to consider in Australia, as are the additional dams required to provide the water source to drive it.

And geothermal power — a great idea in theory — is, today, no answer.

The simple fact is that Australians are paying through the nose to subside the likes of wind power and solar power, which resolve nothing and do not eliminate demand on electricity generated using fossil fuels.

And the carbon tax is an illusion: far from creating a “clean energy future,” it is likely to decimate local manufacturing industries and the likes of the steel and aluminium industries (and boost their overseas counterparts from whom we will increasingly import), whilst providing cover for utility companies, transport companies, and every other industry to raise prices well beyond the level of the impost of the tax.

All the while, achieving nothing in terms of environmental outcomes.

All the while ignoring the fact, just like proverbially sticking one’s head up one’s backside, that the rest of the world (and 99% producer of environmental pollutants) is doing, in broad terms, nothing.

And all the while, Julia Gillard and the other imbeciles who constitute federal government in Australia rattle on that more is being paid to Australians as “compensation” for the carbon tax than the tax will actually generate in revenue.

It mustn’t take Einstein to realise that at the very least — on that third point alone — something is very, very wrong.

Any tax for which more is paid out to soothe grievances than is collected is either an utter waste of time or a smokescreen for something else.

I believe it is both, to be frank. There is ample evidence that the carbon tax will provide no positive environmental benefit whatsoever.

There is also ample — and growing — evidence that it will inflict great damage on Australia’s economy, and no guarantee that it won’t inflict great hardship on millions of Australians, some of them on the breadline, and many more simply overburdened by rocketing price pressures their otherwise adequate incomes cannot afford.

Perhaps the billions of dollars in government expenditure on subsidies, reasearch and development concessions, grants and the like would be justifiable if cost-effective solutions were being realised, or if additional billions were not required from the leverage of a bevy of ambit new taxes.

But they aren’t.

And in any case, until certain elements in the energy debate are firmly told where to go — and nuclear energy finally put on the table in Australia in a meaningful sense — the merry-go-round of taxes, handouts and higher consumer prices will continue indefinitely.

The whole exercise is pointless. It is, however, usurious in its expense, and I refuse to believe that the expenditure and transfer of such vast sums of money, simply to make people feel good about environmental issues, is worth it.

When it comes to electricity generation and the environmental issues surrounding it, the present debate and the actions emanating from it — as I said at the outset — is predicated on a truckload of shit.

And until people in positions of consequence want to get serious about these things, and abandon the perpetuation of such a ruse, the use of coal and gas to fire power stations remains the best, and most economical, option available.