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Do renewables really make economic sense?

• May 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM

A recent blog post by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has taken on the topic of the economics of renewable energy.

Many have touted that renewable energy such as wind and solar power are cost competitive and as economical as other energy options.

However, in a Mackinac Center for Public Policy blog posting, author Jason Hayes argues that if solar and wind power make financial sense, there shouldn’t be any need to subsidize the power sources.

Writes Hayes: “We can see if it makes financial sense to use renewable energy sources by ending their politically based advantages.

“These advantages include direct subsidies — like the federal production tax credit handed out to big wind and solar developers each time they install new wind turbines or solar panels. They also include protective mandates, like Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard, which forces renewables into the market ahead of other sources, like nuclear or natural gas.”

Hayes notes in the blog that until these subsidies are removed, “all claims that renewables are cost competitive are little more than green marketing and spin.”

Later on in his blog post, Hayes touches on the fact that the renewable energy sources aren’t 100 percent reliable.

“The wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine 24-7. In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory admits that even in prime conditions wind and solar only produce electricity 35 and 20 percent of the time, respectively.

“Until we develop affordable and reliable means to store energy on a massive scale — a feat that’s probably decades away — we need something to give us electricity when renewables can’t handle the task. In simple terms, that means we need to have natural gas, nuclear or coal running behind the renewables to catch them when they fail to provide the essential electricity that we have grown to expect and rely upon.”

You can read Hayes’ complete blog post over at the Mackinac Center’s website.

The opinions expressed by bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.

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