As the price of energy soars primarily due to the artificial constraints on oil and gas development, the president and his cabinet members are doubling down on their green new deal agenda, coining the “clean energy future,” with a major focus on wind and solar. The president himself just visited the Brayton Point power station in Massachusetts where a former coal plant was “repurposed to support wind power generation” to really drive his commitment to renewables home. And Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, recently emphasized the Biden administration’s green energy position, tweeting:
Team Biden continues to invest serious taxpayer-funded resources aimed at pushing their politically preferred “green” technologies. Biden appointees have prioritized investment loans at the Department of Energy and relaxed regulatory standards for renewable energy projects. The president himself has pushed private companies to commit billions specifically aimed at growing the offshore wind industry. The Department of Interior has launched new bureaucratic offices referred to as “Renewable Coordination Offices” that will oversee a reduction in rents and fees by more than 50% for solar and wind projects on public lands. The Biden administration has also set a goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
Mainstream media and activists are quick to praise these efforts but given the billions of taxpayer investment that are on the line, it’s important to understand whether the technologies underwriting Biden’s green energy transition will actually change the trajectory of exorbitantly high energy costs, unreliable electricity, and growing U.S. energy dependence. A new report assessing the realities of wind in particular reveals that the answer to these questions is a likely no.
Put out by an innovation focused non-profit called ClearPath, the report reveaed numerous constraints to wind energy development that not only complicate the Biden administration’s clean energy goals, but stand to leave taxpayers with a poor return on billions of taxpayer investments. The report, entitled Hawkeye State Headwinds, used Iowa as a case study given that 57% of Iowa’s electricity supply is generated from wind energy, making it the top wind energy state in the nation. The report found there are a range of economic and technological barriers to wind energy growth as well as growing political opposition at the local level. These realities, coupled with permitting challenges, make the build-out that would be necessary to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 virtually impossible. Further problematic for wind energy is that these problems extend beyond Iowa.
The report makes clear that both the “prevalence and stringency of wind ordinances are increasing across the U.S., with numerous states, particularly in the Midwest, having some level of local siting authority and adopting prohibitive ordinances for wind development.” As a result, more and more communities are rejecting or restricting proposed wind projects. They are also increasingly opposed to expanding transmission lines which is a requisite for any future wind energy growth.
The ClearPath report concludes that a 100% renewable energy pathway to a zero-carbon future is not possible. Alternatively, the report encourages the adoption of “tech inclusivity” and as ClearPath’s CEO explained, “We should focus on a clean energy portfolio approach that includes wind and solar, and other baseload clean energy assets,” so as not to have a narrowed focus on one type of method of energy production.
The government has a poor track record when it comes to picking winners and losers. This report makes clear that when it comes to our energy future, our nation’s leaders should embrace a technology neutral approach. Such an approach could improve our current energy situation and set us up for a more prosperous energy future where a variety of innovative technologies reliably and affordably deliver energy to those that demand it.