Renewable Confusion

One resource that is definitely renewable ad infinitum is the confusion about renewable energy.  Today’s Journal Report section of the Wall Street Journal perpetuates the confusion with a howler they offer in the service of supposedly debunking “myths” about renewable energy:

One of the most persistent criticisms of renewables is that they account for a fraction of the U.S. electricity system—despite years of federal subsidies and breakneck growth.

When looking at “newer” renewable energies such as wind and solar power, that’s largely true. Wind accounts for about 5% of generation capacity and a little over 4% of U.S. electricity production, or roughly one-tenth what coal provides.

But the criticism overlooks one important point: Conventional hydroelectric power, such as the Hoover Dam, is also renewable energy. Taken together, hydroelectric and other sources—biomass, geothermal, solar and wind—combined to account for 12% of U.S. electricity production last year, and close to 14% so far this year. The entire nuclear fleet provides about 19%.

Hold it right there, as John Wayne used to say.  Ask an environmentalist about hydropower, and you’ll get a scowl.  Enviros never include hydropower in their renewable enthusiasm, though they love to play bait and switch and use the hydro figure to puff up the impression that we do well with renewables.  All of the state and federal legislation that call for renewable power specifically exclude new hydropower sources in favor of wind and solar.  So it is totally fair to single out wind and solar and biomass and compare them to fossil fuels sources of power.  Including hydropower in the “renewable” category as the WSJ does here is like sneaking meat into a vegan restaurant.

Other myths on Keith Johnson’s list are better, such as #2 (“Renewables Can Replace All Fossil Fuels”), and #6 (“Renewable Energy Means Millions of Green Jobs”).  The others on the list of six are a mixed bag.

Too bad we can’t generate electricity from environmentalist hot air.  We wouldn’t need di-lithium crystals.


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