Joe Manchin is front page news this week for “torpedoing” his party’s expensive climate change policy in the US Senate. Big, obnoxious, outlandish headlines are a staple in modern media and politics. It’s a long-used tactic for decades and with the emergence of “fake news” narratives, social media reporting, and click-bait news cycles, it’s time to investigate the cold hard facts of alternative energy sources.
Alternative Energy sources are heavily subsidized by governments around the world and the US is leading the charge on many of these initiatives. The result of government subsidies is taxpayers footing the bill and paying for 100% of these expensive endeavors. So how far have we come in alternative energy and what’s been the cost? Currently, the US is projected to invest $250 billion in the bi-partisan spending bill and approximately $2 trillion in the build back better plan. These investments are projected to reduce domestic emissions by less than 1.8 billion metric tons CO2 per year. Germany spent $80 billion on Energiewende and China spent $37 billion on the Three Gorges powerplant, which reduced emissions by 248 and 129 million metric tons CO2 annually, respectively. These are all relatively small drops in the 33.6 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted annually on a global scale.  The real issue, international emissions. The US accounts for only 4.7 billion metric tons annually and plans to spend $0 internationally to address climate change. Even if the US were net zero at the time of writing, the world would miss its climate targets. The US is the only country that has reduced its emissions in any significant way since 2005. The US answer to emissions issues…. Natural Gas.
Gas alone reduced US emissions by 525 million metric tons CO2 annually. The primary reason was the replacement of over 200 coal plants. We continue to reduce our coal footprint while countries like India and China fund more coal fired power plants abroad. During the same timeframe wind and solar accounted for 31% and 8% reductions respectively. Natural gas accounted for a 61% reduction. While the difference is obvious in reduction the main difference was cost. Natural Gas wasn’t subsidized and cost US taxpayers $0.
US Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is the biggest and only rapid solution to climate change worldwide. It is proven already in the US and was paid for 100% by industry. It also attributed to billions in royalty payments to taxpaying Americans and taxes for the US government. While renewable energy should still be developed and implemented worldwide, natural gas deployment to major coal consuming countries would be the CO2 reduction equivalent of electrifying every car in the US, powering every home in the US with solar and battery backup, and doubling the industrial windmill capacity in the US by adding 54,000 windmills, combined. The time to act is NOW. If we continue to obstruct natural gas as a climate change initiative in lieu of feel-good and hope programs, more coal plants will be built, and the ambitious goals of 2030 will quickly be pushed out to 2050 or later.
The real cost of alternative energy sources is the time it’s costing the world as it gears up for a renewable only approach. This approach is doomed to fail, per the statistics. It is not reliable, quick, or effective on a large scale. It we continue to pander to the feel-good initiatives through the 2020’s, climate goals will be undermined by coal consuming countries internationally and the cost will be almost insurmountable. We should be dedicating our time, energy, and resources into a real solution, Natural Gas. Natural Gas, in conjunction with subsidized alternative energy sources, can help the US achieve domestic goals sooner than 2030 and get the world on track to meet its ambitious climate goals.