President Joe Biden keeps claiming that wind and solar energy are going to save money for consumers. But more government subsidies to “renewable energy” is a key feature of the White House anti-inflation strategy recently announced by Biden.
He probably got that idea from John Kerry, the administration’s climate czar, who recently claimed that “solar and wind are less expensive than coal or oil or gas.” Pete Buttigieg, the Biden Transportation secretary, makes the same claims about the thousands of dollars that motorists can save if they buy electric cars.
This couldn’t be more wrong.
Proponents of “green” energy boondoggles are often masters at playing with the numbers, because that is the only way that wind and solar electricity generation make any sense. Advocates such as Kerry love to focus on the low operating costs of solar and wind since they don’t require constant purchases of fuel. Ignoring the relatively short lifespan of solar and wind components, as well as the high initial investment, can make it appear as though solar and wind operate at lower costs than fossil fuels or nuclear power.
Let’s get the facts straight. The cost isn’t just what you pay at the retail level for gas or power. It also includes the taxes you pay to subsidize the power. A 2017 study by the Department of Energy found that for every dollar of government subsidy per BTU unit of energy produced from fossil fuels, wind and solar get at least $10.
That’s anything but a money saver.
The reason the subsidies are so high is that solar and wind have additional costs compared to their more reliable competition. “Green” energy sources are non-dispatchable, meaning their output can’t be changed to match demand. The wind doesn’t blow harder, and the sun doesn’t shine brighter, just because electricity use is peaking.
Conversely, fossil fuel entities—such as a coal plant—can ramp up generation when we need it most and ramp down when demand falls.