In her latest campaign video on renewable energy, Hillary Clinton mocks Republican candidates for not facing the “reality” of global warming and the need to fight it. But it’s her own energy plan that defies reality.
Clinton says she has two big goals that she’ll start working on “day one” to combat climate change. First is to expand solar energy supplies by 700% by installing half a billion solar panels by 2020. Second is to power “every home in America” with renewable energy by 2027.
She describes these as “bold national goals.” The more appropriate label is “expensive pipe dream.”
Today, renewable energy of all kinds — hydropower, biomass, geothermal, wind and solar — accounts for just 15% of the electricity capacity in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Even with President Obama’s big renewable energy push, that’s expected to reach just 20% by 2040.
Under the best of circumstances, changing this trajectory in any meaningful way in 12 years will be, shall we say, unlikely. Even in California, the state that already leads the nation in renewable energy, Gov. Gerry Brown is only proposing to hit a 50% renewable energy target — and he’s given his state 15 years to do that.
What’s more, environmentalists aren’t keen on the two big sources of renewable energy: hydropower (which accounts for 46% of all renewable electricity capacity) and biomass (which accounts for 9%).
Environmentalists have been successfully pushing to demolish hydroelectric dams because of the impact they have on wildlife. As a result, hydropower generated less electricity in 2013 than it did in 2000.
Biomass is hardly viewed as much better. The World Resources Institute recently blasted biomass as inefficient and not particularly greenhouse-gas friendly.
The problem is that the three renewable sources left — solar, wind and geothermal — account for a paltry 6.7% of the nation’s electricity capacity, according to the Energy Department.
Clinton doesn’t say much about wind, and her promise to add 500 million solar panels in five years would put renewables on an unbelievably fast growth trajectory (see chart).
Plus, she’d likely confront stiff environmental opposition along the way, given that leading environmental groups have fought against big solar plants in the past.
They cheered, for example, when Los Angeles announced that it wouldn’t buy any power from the Soda Mountain Solar Project, a solar plant planned for the Mojave Desert that environmental groups said would harm local animals.
They’ve also sued to stop wind farm construction. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce compiled a list of 140 renewable energy projects that had been delayed or abandoned because of opposition from environmental and other interest groups.
Not surprisingly, Clinton doesn’t spell out how, given these enormous obstacles, she’d shift electricity almost entirely over to renewables in 12 years. Let alone what it would cost taxpayers.
For years, the left has been trying to deceive Americans into believing that a completely renewable energy economy is a realistic possibility in the near future. Hillary Clinton’s latest proposal takes this campaign of deception to an absurd extreme.