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Market realities are throwing wrench in Biden’s green energy dreams


Daily Caller News Foundation

For two years now, I and others have been pointing out the reality that there is no real “energy transition” happening around the world. Two new items of information came to light this week that irrevocably prove the point.

It is true that governments across the western world appear to be working to bankrupt their countries by pouring trillions of debt-funded dollars, Euros and British pounds into central planning efforts to subsidize renewables and electric vehicles into existence. That reality cannot be denied. The trouble is that no amount of debt money can turn the markets and the markets aren’t cooperating.

Despite all the government largesse that has spurred major additions of wind and solar generation capacity, those weather-reliant energy sources can’t even keep up with the pace of rising demand for electricity. As a result, the markets dictated that the world consumed record levels of coal, natural gas, oil and even wood during 2023. Yes, we are still burning vast amounts of wood for electricity, despite an alleged “transition” from wood to coal which began 500 years ago.

That is reality, dictated by the markets.

Two new bits of data came to light this week that pound the final nails into the coffin of the narrative around the energy transition. A report in the Financial Times, citing data compiled by Grid Strategies, reveals that the buildout of new high-voltage transmission lines in the United States slowed to a trickle in 2023, with just 55.5 additional miles installed. That collapse comes despite the Biden government’s recognition that a massive expansion of this type of transmission lines must happen to accommodate the demands of any true “transition” to renewables.

The Financial Times quotes a 2023 assessment by the Department of Energy that found that “regional transmission must more than double and interregional transmission must grow more than fivefold by 2035 to meet decarbonization targets.” DOE admits such a pace would add more than 50,000 miles of new transmission in just 11 years, which is almost 1,000 times the pace of adds during 2023. Yikes.

A crucial aspect of that DOE study to understand is that it was conducted before we began to understand the true magnitude of additional power demands that will result from the explosive growth of AI technology just now starting to come to full bloom. It was just this past January, at the WEF Forum in Davos, where OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told the audience he believes generation capacity on the grid will have to double over the next decade just to fill the AI demands alone. That is what is needed in addition to the rising demands for EV charging, industrial growth, population growth and economic growth.

The second piece of compelling data arising this week comes from a Bloomberg story headlined, “Data Centers Now Need a Reactor’s Worth of Power, Dominion Says.” The key thing to understand about this story is that the piece is only referencing the needs of planned new data centers being built in Northern Virginia to feed AI development in that tiny sliver of the United States.

This key excerpt from the story says it all: “Over the past five years, Dominion has connected 94 data centers that, together, consume about four gigawatts of electricity, Blue said. That means that just two or three of the data center campuses now being planned could require as much electricity as all the centers Dominion hooked up since about 2019.”

That is not just rapid growth, it is exponential growth in power demand from a single developing technology.

Demand growth needs such as this aren’t going to be filled by unpredictable, unreliable, weather-dependent generation like windmills and solar arrays. And let’s face it: The United States is not going to be able to continue expanding renewables without finding some way to create a massive expansion of transmission. Why build the generation if you can’t move the electricity?

What it all means is that all the grand Biden Green New Deal plans to shut down America’s remaining coal fleet and much of its natural gas generation fleet are going to have to wait, because the market will not allow them. That’s reality, and reality does not care about anyone’s green transition dreams.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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