Those trying to make a business case for renewable energy may want to look away now. The assumption that vast numbers of solar panels and wind turbines are good for the environment is questionable.
Which way next?
Poverty, unemployment and zero economic growth are the likely outcome for countries which choose renewable energy sources over fossil fuels, according to a study.
Energy from fossil fuels appears to ignite economies into greater and more sustained growth, whereas energy from wind and solar power not only fails to enhance or promote economic growth, it actually causes economies to flat-line, as Phys.org reports.
The results, from an in-depth study of more than 100 countries over 40 years, pose a serious ethical dilemma, according to the lead author, economist Dr Nikolaos Antonakakis, Visiting Fellow at the University of Portsmouth Business School and Associate Professor at Webster Vienna University.
Dr Antonakakis said: “Put simply, the more energy a country consumes, the more it pollutes the environment, the more its economy grows. And the more the economy grows, the more energy consumption it needs, and so on.
“This poses big questions. Should we choose high economic growth, which brings lower unemployment and wealth for many, but which is unsustainable for the environment? Or should we choose low or zero economic growth, which includes high unemployment and a greater degree of poverty, and save our environment?”
Dr Antonakakis and co-authors, Dr Ioannis Chatziantoniou, at the University of Portsmouth, and Dr George Filis, at Bournemouth University, set out to study whether environmentally friendly forms of energy consumption were more likely to enhance economic growth.
In the light of recent policies designed to promote the use of green energy, including tax credits for the production of renewable energy and reimbursements for the installation of renewable energy systems, the authors predicted that environmentally friendly forms of energy consumption would enhance economic growth. Dr Antonakakis said: “It turned out not to be the case.”
They argue that societies now need to rethink their approach toward environmental sustainability, and strongly question the efficacy of the recent trend in many countries to promote renewable energy resources as a reliable alternative for helping achieve and maintain good economic growth.
The report continues here.