A meticulous review published in 2020 in the scientific journal Energies, conducted by a team of Irish and US-based researchers including CERES researchers, raised surprising and unsettling questions about the feasibility and the environmental impacts of the transition to renewable energy sources.
During 2011-2018, the world spent US$3.6 trillion on climate change projects – 55% of which was spent on solar and wind projects. Despite this wind and solar energy still produced only 3% of world energy consumption in the year 2018. Not only are they expensive and ineffective, the review found that these projects sometimes contribute to problems they were designed to solve. Both wind and solar farms are themselves causing local climate change. And, they have a devastating effect on biodiversity
The following was originally published by CERES Science on 1 October 2022 and updated on 13 March 2022.
Concern for climate change has driven massive investment in new “green energy” policies intended to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and other environmental impacts from the fossil fuel industry. The world spent US$3,660 billion on climate change projects over the eight-year period 2011–2018. A total of 55% of this sum was spent on solar and wind energy, while only 5% was spent on adapting to the impacts of extreme weather events.
Surprising environmental impacts
The researchers discovered that renewable energy sources sometimes contribute to problems they were designed to solve. For example, a series of international studies have found that both wind and solar farms are themselves causing local climate change. Wind farms increase the temperature of the soil beneath them, and this warming causes soil microbes to release more carbon dioxide. So, ironically, while wind energy might be partially reducing human “carbon emissions”, it is also increasing the “carbon emissions” from natural sources.