As Team Biden prepares to go to Glasgow at the end of October for yet another climate summit, it is worth noting that more than a few people in Europe will likely die this winter because of their governments’ fixation on climate change.
This summer in Europe, wind and solar power produced less electricity than expected, which meant that utilities had to generate more electricity from natural gas than they had anticipated. Burning coal was not an option, given the political preferences of the climate change crowd.
That natural gas will, obviously, not be available to heat homes this winter. Of course, what natural gas can be found will cost a lot more for consumers to buy; natural gas prices are up 600% in Europe this month.
Consequently, people who would otherwise live through the winter, but will now not be able to afford enough heat, are likely to die from the cold. These people are, of course, likely to be the elderly, the poor, the sick.
This experience is an excellent example of why solar and wind power cannot be the basis of an industrialized society’s electricity system. Whether, when and how much electricity they provide are not determined by the community’s needs or the operators of the electricity grid; the whims of the weather determine them.
In short, system operators have no meaningful say in how much generation an electricity system can get from solar and wind power. No matter how much solar and wind capacity a system has, the actual electricity provided by that capacity could at any particular moment be zero.
Perhaps not surprisingly, those who operate electricity systems have responded to the political pressure to increase solar and wind capacity by building and operating two systems in tandem – one composed of solar and wind and the other consisting of nuclear, natural gas and coal-fired generation.
That is why Europe has higher electricity rates than the United States. In Germany, for example, electricity sells for 30 cents/kilowatt-hour, about triple the price of electricity in the United States.
Some will talk about batteries. They definitely might help store the excess energy sometimes generated by solar panels and wind turbines. Unfortunately, there are currently enough large-scale batteries in the United States to meet the nation’s electricity needs for about a quarter of a second.
Worse, most of the batteries and almost all of their parts originate in or are controlled by China. Much of the production use child or slave labour. Eventually, the environmentalists in the United States will have to decide whether they are concerned about slavery in China. Right now, they seem content to ignore whatever moral qualms they may have about advocating for policies that will make slavery and child labour more profitable to communist China.
By coincidence, the Chinese communists also had a summer characterized by less wind and solar generation than expected. Unlike Europe, however, the Chinese communists have moved aggressively to buy or find as much coal, natural gas and oil as they can. Indeed, China has been on a drilling spree and a buying spree for the last two months.
When President Biden touches down in Glasgow, he will encounter a world where prices for oil, natural gas and coal are higher as everyone tries to make sure they have enough reliable energy sources — that work in the direction of humans – to survive the winter.
Remember that as the climate conference wanders around looking for a reason to exist.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to President Trump and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.