The Beginning of the End for Wind and Solar 

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The Beginning of the End for Wind and Solar 

To the consternation of many, wind and solar have never, and will never make a serious contribution toward meeting mankind’s energy needs.  Just consider the indisputable set of facts assembled by our esteemed colleague, Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist:

Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand.  From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends report, we can see that wind provided 0.46 percent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tidal energy combined provided 0.35 percent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.

Such numbers are not hard to find, but they don’t figure prominently in reports on energy derived from lobbyists for unreliable solar and wind. Their trick is to hide behind the statement that “close to 14 per cent of the world’s energy is renewable,” with the implication that this is wind and solar.  In fact, three quarters of this “renewable energy” is biomass and most of that is ‘traditional biomass,’ including sticks, logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with. Those people need that energy, but they pay a big price in terms of health problems caused by smoke inhalation.

Even in rich countries playing with subsidized wind and solar, a huge slug of their renewable energy comes from wood and hydroelectric, which are the only reliable renewables. Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours.

If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth, but no more, how many would need to be built each year?  The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce only about 5 gigawatt-hours per annum. That’s one-and-a-half times as many turbines as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry, in the early 2000s.

At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the United Kingdom and Ireland, every year.  If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms, just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs...

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