Net Zero? Oops, Never Mind

Great Britain, like other countries, has pledged to stop emitting carbon dioxide (“net zero”) by transitioning to a “green” economy. That means relying on wind and solar power rather than fossil fuels and nuclear. Such promises are easy to make, but it turns out they are impossible to keep.

The Telegraph reports on a new study that was commissioned by the British government:

Britain is incapable of building the wind farms, solar farms and transmission networks essential to net zero, a government report has warned.
The report, a “readiness study” for the UK supply chain, was commissioned by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and released without any publicity on April 17.

Here are some of the problems identified in the report that came out earlier today. The first is, sadly, that the U.K. doesn’t have enough ships:

The UK lacks the ships needed to build offshore wind turbines and even if that were solved, would be unable to connect them to the shore because it cannot produce enough high voltage cables, according to the study.

Or enough high voltage cables. More:

For solar farms, it warned that the UK was also incapable of supplying enough switchgear and transformers, as well as cables.

Until now, no one, apparently, had figured this out. Britain doesn’t have the workers it needs to go green, either:

Disastrous shortages of skilled labour are also a factor. The report warned: “All renewables sectors face skills-related constraints. Shortages are particularly acute for design and commissioning engineers, project managers, and installation technicians.”

One thing about wind and solar installations is that, unlike reliable power plants, they can’t be sited near the urban areas that will consume their electricity (on those occasions when it is produced). Thus, long transmission lines are needed:

One of its most damaging findings is that the UK lacks the skills and engineering facilities to expand the transmission network, which is the network of high voltage cables essential for all electricity generators.

As I have said before, it is extraordinary that Western governments have promised to transition their economies from fossil fuels to intermittent and inefficient “green” energy without ever figuring out what it would take to do that. You might assume that someone, somewhere, has put pencil to paper and calculated the raw materials that would be needed; where those materials would come from; how they would be shipped to manufacturing sites; how and where the necessary equipment would be manufactured, and how it would be transported; what transmission wires would be needed, and where they would come from; and many other obvious elements.

But the fact is that no one has done this. There is no plan, just a fantasy. And it bears repeating that there is not a single demonstration project anywhere in the world–no state or province, no city, no town, no village–that has shown how wind or solar energy, alone, can power modern life.

The report discussed in the linked Telegraph article criticizes the British government for poor planning and coordination, but that strikes me as foolish. The idea that any government could plan and execute something as complicated as switching from fossil fuels–the greatest benefactors in all of human history–to regressive technologies like wind and solar, is absurd. No government planned the Industrial Revolution, and that was good.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.