#Energy Year in Review: Zeke Hausfather – “Market Forces driving Wind energy”

December 31, 2020

Interviewed a year ago in San Francisco.

5 Responses to “#Energy Year in Review: Zeke Hausfather – “Market Forces driving Wind energy””

  1. Are market forces driving wind?

    I just ran across this piece on wind subsidies from FactCheck.org. After falling all over itself trying to defend wind, it concludes with some quotes from an EIA analyst named Chris Namovicz:

    In the end, only time will tell whether wind is viable without subsidies. As Namovicz emphasized in a phone interview, despite all the numbers and fancy analytics that people try to use, because the U.S. is currently providing a large subsidy to wind, it’s impossible to know the alternative.

    “There are no facts without the subsidy, because we don’t have that data available,” he said. “Everything else is just analysis and economic modeling.”


  2. This is an interesting point. While I don’t know what portion of wind energy’s growth is due to subsidies, it’s important to recognize that fossil fuels enjoy a much bigger subsidy: they dump their waste products into the atmosphere for free, in spite of the huge and rising damage this is causing.

    You can get rid of that subsidy by putting a price on carbon in fossil fuels via a tax (with 100% of the revenues returned to American households). This would result in a stampede to renewable energy. Why? Because with a sufficient price on fossil-based energy, wind and other renewable energy forms would become by far the most cost-effective option. Now, instead of slow progress (renewable now 11% of electric power, which is not even half of emissions), we’d get closer to the rate we actually need.

    To get close to zero by 2050, the carbon tax would need to be in the range of about $50/ton CO2 in 2025, and ~$90/ton CO2 in 2030. See:


    Multiple bills have been introduced in Congress to do this (H.R. 763 and S.4484 are two of them, see also http://www.energyinnovationact.org).

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      AFAICT, neither the Nature article nor the proposed legislation discusses how to address carbon footprints of imported goods. Without a “carbon tariff” on goods (say, from China or India) to take into account FF used in power and transport the CO2 cost would be hidden overseas.

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    It’s the area under the curve, stupid.
    To get close to zero [emissions] in 2050 is 20 years too late. There’s likely to be little left of civilization or life on Earth by that time unless we drastically reduce emissions now.

    As long as they have the power to stop it, the Republicans will never let a carbon price pass, and the oligarchic Democrats will never let an effective one pass. If they’re forced to pass one it will be much too low and slow to save anything we love. For both halves of the corporate duopoly, passing one, not passing one—they’re just more delaying tactics.

    Subsidies for clean safe renewable energy have been pitiful and intermittent while subsidies for fossil and fissile fuels have been huge, steady, and ever-flowing, so RE planning and construction has been pitiful and intermittent (for other reasons, too). Every major energy-tracking financial institution—Lazard, BNEF, IEA, EIA, Wood-Mackenzie et al—compares renewables’ prices without subsidies, making it clear clean safe renewables without them are already out-competing fossil fuels and nukes, in the US and all over the world. The nonsense about subsidies is just another tired lie from the Koch-Exxon-ALEC-Republican et al climate denying delayalism and anti-renewable industry.

    Every Haliade-X 14 MW turbine built now will generate 220 TWh and reduce emissions by 1.6 million metric tons of CO2 by 2050. Each one built 30 years from now will generate nothing and reduce emissions by 0 tons by 2050. https://www.ge.com/renewableenergy/wind-energy/offshore-wind/haliade-x-offshore-turbine

    We have to build them now, at emergency speed, and carbon taxes/prices/dividends, while nice, WILL NOT DO IT. Such incremental actions are pointless unless they’re part of a massive, comprehensive, immediate climate mobilization. Since what we need at this point will never be agreed to by the oligarchic duopoly, we’ll need a revolution that separates the current neocon-neolib regime from power. With climate activists—and potential activists—naively allowing themselves to be put back to sleep by trading Trump in for Biden, it will be much harder to do it. But if we wait 4 more years to figure out we’ve been betrayed yet again by the corporate duopoly, and try once more to elect a progressive president in a system that will never willingly allow that, it will be too late. We have to force Biden, Harris, Pelosi or whoever we can get into the presidency after those 3 are forced to resign, to do more.

    The solutions are for finally truly democratic government to

    nationalize fossil fuel, ICEV, agro-chemical, banking and other corporations;

    clear the way and mandate replacing fossil fuels with efficiency, wiser lives, and clean safe renewable energy in an updated, upgraded national smart grid;

    mandate the transformation of chemical industrial agriculture;
    drastically reduce inequality (one of the biggest causes of the climate and larger ecological crisis) through taxation and providing services;

    build free transit systems including a national high speed rail network;
    subsidize EVs to whatever extent necessary to replace ICEVs in 10 years, while rationing them to limit them to those who actually need them;

    renew and confirm the guarantee of basic rights including free speech, assembly, and the right to life including clean water, healthy food, housing, health care… and the rights to and of nature;

    and much more to move immediately to a zero carbon sustainable global society.

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