US President Barack Obama received more news coverage in the US for his speech promoting renewable fuels than the UK government did for a new step away from green-energy ambition.
The comparison offers two lessons: 1. that of the two countries the UK is closer to an inevitable reckoning with physical and economic reality, and 2. that trendy US media won’t acknowledge problems with state-sponsored energy.
“For the first time, we can actually see what our clean-energy future looks like,” Obama said Aug. 25 at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. In his view, it’s a future in which “consumers have freedom to choose cleaner, cheaper, more efficient energy.”
Where politically preferred energy already has been tried, however, results aren’t quite so wonderful.
With costs of subsidizing wind and solar energy in the UK exceeding projections and electricity prices punishing consumers, the Department of Energy and Climate Change on Aug. 27 proposed to slash subsidies for new roof-top solar systems and small windmills.
The government earlier had announced plans to cut subsidies for onshore wind generation and large solar installations.
The DECC said its latest proposal aims “to place policy costs on bills on a sustainable footing, improve bill-payer value for money, and limit the effects on consumers who ultimately pay for renewable energy subsidies.”
Experience thus shows “what our clean-energy future looks like.” It’s intolerably expensive.
The ever-confident US president might argue that UK grief results from flaws of program design or implementation. But how can he say his program—based as it is not only on boosting renewable energy but also on displacing commercial energy now in place—would be superior in concept or execution?
In fact, he cannot.
State manipulation of energy markets always creates havoc in economies and administrative systems. It therefore always fails. Obama’s manipulation is extreme. Consequent problems will be extreme, too.
Experience, most recently in the UK but also in US history, makes this clear. It should make the news.
(From the subscription area of www.ogj.com, posted Aug. 28, 2015; author’s e-mail: [email protected])