Claiming that wind and solar are green is simply nuts. Delivering rubbish power and leaving mountains of toxic rubbish in their wake, solar panels and industrial wind turbines are the antithesis of ‘green’. Assuming that ‘green’ means friendly to environments, people and the communities that they live in?
As Michael Shellenberger explains during this Chris Kenny interview, people are rapidly realising that the whole premise upon which the wind and solar ‘industries’ have been built is nothing short of an industrial scale lie.
‘Big lie’: People are ‘waking up’ to the failures of green energy”
Chris Kenny and Michael Shellenberger
31 October 2023
Author Michael Shellenberger says humanity has been sold a “big lie” around green and renewable energy.
“Around the world, we see there is opposition from conservationists, Indigenous people, local communities to solar and wind energy projects,” Mr Shellenberger told Sky News host Chris Kenny.
“The reason is very simple – they require 300 to 600 times more land than a natural gas plant or a nuclear power plant.
“Anybody who loves nature … really needs to resist these projects – we have much better alternatives.”
Mr Shellenberger says people around the world are “waking up” to the “big lie” pushed by advocates of green energy.
Chris Kenny: Now, you don’t need me to tell you that renewable energy, long thought of as cute and cuddly, of course, or in the words of our climate and energy minister, cheap and reliable. Well, we all know it’s anything but, of course, don’t we? We’ve shown you how communities in rural Victoria and New South Wales are railing against massive transmission lines to link in renewable projects. In Queensland, locals are angry that pristine bushland is being cleared for wind farms. And we’ve got coastal communities in South Australia and New South Wales protesting against offshore wind turbines, massive projects.
The expansion of renewable energy projects has created problems right around the world now. And energy expert and environmentalist, Michael Shellenberger, has been calling it out. He joins me from the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship Conference in the UK. Good to talk to you again, Michael. Tell us about the vast amount of land and landscapes that have been taken up by renewable energy projects around the world. It’s really just starting to hit home big time in Australia as communities, whether it’s a solar farm here or offshore wind here, really arc up about what’s going in. But this is happening right around the planet, isn’t it?
Michael Shellenberger: Yeah, that’s right, Chris. It’s going to be with you. In fact, around the world we see there’s opposition from conservationists, indigenous people, local communities, to solar and wind energy projects. The reason is very simple, is they require 300 to 600 times more land than a natural gas plant or a nuclear power plant. It’s very easy for people to discover this for themselves. You can go to Google Maps and draw a circle around a power plant or a wind farm or a solar farm and then divide it by the amount of electricity that it creates, and you get a power density calculation. And you’ll discover this is a huge difference. It’s not 50% more. It’s 3-600 times more land. And so anybody who loves nature, who loves the national environment and wants to protect endangered species, really needs to resist these projects. We have much better alternatives. We’ve been sold a big lie about green energy. That’s the reality of it. And people are now waking up to that around the world.
Chris Kenny: And there are all sorts of aspects to this. Some aspects are aesthetics. People don’t like to look out over wind farms or solar farms, but also productive agricultural land is at a premium in most parts of the world. And if you’re putting solar farms or restricting land use because of wind turbines or transmission lines, it reduces the amount of food produce you can get from your land.
Michael Shellenberger: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And I should also say there’s nothing wrong with opposing a solar or wind project for aesthetic reasons. We want to live in a beautiful world, and what we’re seeing with these renewables projects is it’s really the trashing of landscapes. It’s a kind of garbage energy. It’s also worth pointing out that solar panels create 300 times more waste than nuclear waste that comes out of nuclear plants. Nuclear waste is safely contained to the site of production, and we have no end solution to the solar panel waste problem. If we tried to incorporate the costs into solar panels costs, it would be four times more expensive. We’re externalising the cost of green energy pollution onto future generations.
But yeah, you’re absolutely right. I mean, we have prime farmland around the world going to create what is effectively highly inefficient, irregular, and unpredictable energy that’s just often dumped onto the grid and not used. It’s really the most wasteful form of energy imaginable because it doesn’t follow when people need it. It only produces energy when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, which as we know is not even half of the time. So I think it really, almost everything is a downside. We’ve been sold a big lie.
Chris Kenny: And just quickly, Michael, because I know you’ve got a whole documentary on this, but we’re looking at a lot of offshore wind here, and you’ve done a lot of work on how that can be damaging to whale populations.
Michael Shellenberger: Yeah, that’s right. The documentary is called Thrown to the Wind. You can see it at public.substack.com. We’ve given it away for free now. It’s a shocking story. We’re seeing that simply using sonar to map the ocean floor on the East Coast is killing whales, as is the increased boat traffic. It’s all working to separate mothers from their calves. The babies are dying. The mothers are dying. We’re experiencing a catastrophic decline in the North Atlantic right whale due to wind energy. These projects must be stopped. And the good news is, is that because wind energy is also so inefficient, so expensive, they’re now asking for a bailout, yet more money from American taxpayers that we can’t afford.
So we’re going to win this battle, Chris. We’re going to win it in the United States. I believe we’re going to win it in Australia as well, because people are waking up to the realities that green energy is brown energy. It’s terrible for the natural environment.
Chris Kenny: Yeah, indeed. This is a battle that’s only just begun. Thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it. Michael Shellenberger there.