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Green energy insanity

Posted by Richard on April 22, 2014

If you asked a bunch of economists to name the dumbest green energy idea, most would probably say it’s the ethanol mandate. Half the US corn crop is now turned into ethanol and poured into our gas tanks, causing the price of corn to more than double. That in turn has driven up food prices. Beef and pork are up almost 10% in just the past year. Other foods have become more expensive as well, as more and more acreage has been diverted from other crops to the more profitable corn. And of course, as with all green energy programs, we’re paying more for the energy we use. The effect here in the US is that we’re all made a little poorer. The effect on the world’s truly poor is much worse.

The idea is so bad that even environmentalists have turned against it, since it’s now clear that growing corn, turning it into ethanol, and blending it with gasoline actually produces more CO2 than just using gasoline alone. The only people left who like the idea are the ruling class Republicans and Democrats in Washington — it’s a combination of corporate welfare, crony socialism, and bureaucratic control of the economy that appeals to their basest instincts.

But as bad as the ethanol mandate is, now there’s something even dumber. The Brits have come up with a green energy project that’s so crazy-stupid it’s hard to believe. They’re going to clear-cut forests in North Carolina, turn the hundred-year-old trees into wood pellets, and ship a million metric tons of these wood pellets per year across the Atlantic to a power plant in Yorkshire, England. Where they’ll be burned to produce electricity. In place of coal.

Does it need to be pointed out that this insane idea will significantly increase the amount of CO2 produced by the power plant (20% more than burning coal, twice as much as natural gas)? And that the electricity produced will be far, far more expensive?

Presumably, the coal being displaced comes from nearby, perhaps Wales. What will become of it? Well, either less coal will be mined, and thus fewer miners employed, or the coal that the Brits can’t bring themselves to use will be loaded aboard ships and sent to someplace where green energy mania has not yet reached such heights — or is it depths? North Carolinians, Britons, and the planet will all be worse off.

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