Christopher Booker highlights the obvious key issue facing those who promote renewable energy – intermittency.
Last week in the White House, to a roomful of 150 cheering environmental activists, President Obama unveiled his answer to what he called “the greatest threat facing the world”. Variously billed as a bid “to cement his legacy as a world leader” and an attempt to salvage brownie points from December’s talks on a global climate treaty (which he knows will fail, because India, China and the Republican majority in Congress won’t buy it), Obama’s “Clean Energy Plan” for the US is twofold.
On one hand, to bypass those Republicans in Congress, he wants to use federal regulations to impose crippling new CO2 emissions cuts on the fossil-fuel power plants that still currently supply the US with about 70 per cent of its electricity. This even poses a serious threat to the shale gas industry, which has more than halved US energy costs and played a key part in its economic recovery.
On the other hand, Obama plans a further huge boost to wind and solar power which, despite billions of dollars of subsidies, still only manage, intermittently, to produce a mere five per cent of America’s electricity.
Inevitably the BBC Today programme wheeled on one of Obama’s senior “climate” advisers, to tell us how wonderful this all is, and how it will slash US energy bills so dramatically that, between 2020 and 2030, it will save consumers “$139 billion”. This is implausible enough, but, equally inevitably, what the BBC interviewer did not ask was how America can keep its lights on and its economy running when, after all those “dirty” coal-fired power plants have been closed down, the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.
But that is precisely the all-important question which, when faced with such insanity, either in the US or here in Britain, the BBC’s journalists are careful never to ask.