It is long past time to revisit the Green Nude Eel, or whatever fantasy the climatistas have in mind. My pal Ben Zycher has a comprehensive analysis of it out this week from AEI, The Green New Deal: Economics and Policy Analytics. Ben is a superb quantitative analyst of these matters, to which he adds a refreshing and blunt directness in his conclusions:
The GND’s central premise is that such policies — either despite or by reducing sharply the economic value of some substantial part of the US resource base and the energy- producing and energy-consuming capital stock— would increase the size of the economy in real terms, increase employment, improve environmental quality, and improve distributional equity. That is a “broken windows” argument: The destruction of resources increases aggregate wealth. It is not to be taken seriously. . .
The electricity component of the GND is the least ambiguous. A highly conservative estimate of the aggregate cost of that set of policies alone would be $490.5 billion per year, permanently, or $3,845 per year per household, an impact that would vary considerably across the states if the GND were financed through electricity rates rather than the federal budget. Under such a ratepayer finance assumption, the lowest household cost of $222 per year would be observed in Vermont. The highest would be observed in Wyoming: $17,103 per household per year.
There’s much more in the full report.
Meanwhile, my other go-to person on energy, Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute, has also produced an excellent report on the Green Nude Eel, The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking. Here are the highlights:
- Scientists have yet to discover, and entrepreneurs have yet to invent, anything as remarkable as hydrocarbons in terms of the combination of low-cost, high-energy density, stability, safety, and portability. In practical terms, this means that spending $1 million on utility-scale wind turbines, or solar panels will each, over 30 years of operation, produce about 50 million kilowatt-hours (kWh)—while an equivalent $1 million spent on a shale rig produces enough natural gas over 30 years to generate over 300 million kWh.
- Solar technologies have improved greatly and will continue to become cheaper and more efficient. But the era of 10-fold gains is over. The physics boundary for silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, the Shockley-Queisser Limit, is a maximum conversion of 34% of photons into electrons; the best commercial PV technology today exceeds 26%.
- Wind power technology has also improved greatly, but here, too, no 10-fold gains are left. The physics boundary for a wind turbine, the Betz Limit, is a maximum capture of 60% of kinetic energy in moving air; commercial turbines today exceed 40%.
- The annual output of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the world’s largest battery factory, could store three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand. Meanwhile, 50–100 pounds of materials are mined, moved, and processed for every pound of battery produced.
Finally, as a special bonus, you owe yourself the two minutes it takes to savor this splendid smackdown of “clean energy” from none other than Bill Gates: