Setting the record straight on energy independence
You’ve likely been hearing a lot about energy independence lately—an important topic we’ve been talking about for some time here. But, with the uncertainty of global events after the Russian invasion of Ukraine combined with the burdensome inflation and skyrocketing energy prices that every day Americans were already struggling with, interest in the concept of American energy independence and the security and affordability it could ensure is growing.
And, just like that, it seems that the “green at any cost” crowd in Washington has also caught on to that uptick in interest. Last week, Democrats released a plan that they say would make America energy independent—with just renewable energy. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)—co-author of the infamous and failed Green New Deal—said of his proposal, “An energy freedom strategy that stops funding wars and starts protecting our health and our pocketbooks is the real energy independence strategy. And this is the only acceptable energy strategy for the American people.”
The thing is, energy independence isn’t just a slogan—it actually means something. We will never be energy independent with 100 percent renewable energy, and Senator Markey knows that.
According to Hans-Werner Sinn, professor emeritus of Economics at the University of Munich, on Germany’s attempt to be energy independent based on all renewable energy: “Despite the fact that turbines and photovoltaic panels now dot much of the landscape, in 2021 the share of wind and solar power in Germany’s total final energy consumption, which includes heating, industrial processing, and traffic, was a meager 6.7 per cent. And while wind and solar generated 29 per cent of the country’s electricity output, electricity itself accounted for only about a fifth of its final energy consumption. Germany would not have come close to achieving energy autonomy even if the renewables sector had expanded at twice the speed that it did.”
In the U.S., nearly 80 percent of electricity is currently generated from traditional energy sources like natural gas. Solar and wind energy account for only about 10 percent. That’s a huge amount of electricity that “green” energy is going to have to replace. And, to do that, the U.S. would have to blanket hundreds of thousands of miles of land in solar panels and wind turbines just to replace those traditional energy sources. That transition would be very costly. Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie estimated that moving to a zero-emission power grid would cost the U.S. $4.5 trillion, approximately $35,000 per U.S. household. And, even with that astronomical investment of land and money, the reliability still isn’t there because wind and solar only work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, and the battery technology necessary to reliably make up for those down times is still years away. (That’s why solar and wind installations almost always need natural gas as a back-up to keep your lights on consistently.)
And, that’s just electricity, let’s also talk about transportation. While most Americans would love a solution that could help them affordably get where they need to go in the face of gasoline prices consistently over $4, a move to all electric vehicles is hardly a realistic or affordable answer. Electric vehicles (EVs) still account for less than one percent of all vehicles registered in the U.S.—so that means 99 percent of America is going to have to trade in their vehicles to hit that goal. And, electric vehicles aren’t cheap. The average EV costs over $56,000, which is $10,000 over the average for vehicles purchased in the U.S. EV charging stations are still hard to find in most areas of the U.S.. So to keep all those new EVs charged and running, there would need to be a massive, taxpayer-subsidized build out of charging stations. Oh, and that electricity you’ll be using to charge that EV will be way more expensive because of this huge new demand and that unreliable “green” power grid we talked about a moment ago.
Yes, Americans are absolutely looking for solutions to astronomical gasoline prices and the fear and uncertainty of relying on foreign governments for our energy needs. But, quite simply, that solution will come from a renewed focus on domestic energy production and taking advantage of our plentiful American energy. Markey’s bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, intended to score political points in a time where “energy independence” polls well.
Hard-working Americans deserve better than gimmicks and grandstanding—they deserve true American energy independence and the affordability, reliability and security that come with it. That, Senator Markey, is the only acceptable energy strategy for the American people