There was a time when the thought of a 100% renewable mandate for all states would be laughed at for being implausible.
Times have changed though, as bill after bill and act after act seem to be rolling through Congress and state legislatures as lawmakers try to reconcile energy grids with climate change.
And while a growing number of state and federal lawmakers have argued in favor of stringent renewables policies, influential arguments made over the past two years remain against a 100% mandate.
Team of Scientists Try to Debunk Father of Modern Renewables Movement
One of the notable rebuttals to 100% renewable movements came in 2017. Twenty-one scientists submitted to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America an evaluation of the research of Mark Jacobson, one of the most influential voices in the decarbonization movement.
While the paper admitted it was possible, they said the probability of complete decarbonization with the wind, water and solar is incredibly low.
“The conclusions reached by (Jacobsen’s) study … about the performance and cost of a system of ‘100% penetration of intermittent wind, water and solar for all purposes’ are not supported by adequate and realistic analysis and do not provide a reliable guide to whether and at what cost such a transition might be achieved,” the researchers said. “In contrast, the weight of the evidence suggests that a broad portfolio of energy options will help facilitate an affordable transition to a near-zero emission energy system.”
Texas Public Policy Foundation Goes after Georgetown “Myth”
Georgetown, Texas is the poster child for the modern renewables movement. In April 2017, the town committed to supplying its residents with 100% renewable energy.
Cutter W. Gonzalez, campaign manager for the Texas Public Policy Foundation Energy Project, responded with a scathing op-ed in September, calling Georgetown’s decarbonization a “myth”.
His piece addressed several inconsistencies in the Georgetown decision, inconsistencies which could be applied to 100% renewables mandates at large.
Gonzalez’s main critique was that subsidies were upholding the renewables market at the time, so much so that energy providers could sell their electricity at a loss and still come out ahead.
He went on to point out that, while wind and solar may avoid greenhouse gasses. The construction required to build wind and solar farms will produce greenhouse gasses.
“The results are mixed and ill-investigated, which should — and does — cause concern among conservationists,” Gonzalez said. “Couple that with the fact that dispatchable energy sources like coal and natural gas must stay online to supplement when wind and solar fail, and you quickly realize that it’s not such a great deal after all.”
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