Monday, 21 February 2011

Are Heavily Subsidized Wind, Solar, and Biofuels “Sustainable” Energies?

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So-called “sustainability” advocates never tire of condemning fossil fuels as unsustainable. Their assessment is based on ideology, not facts, I argue in  ”Sustainability: Some Free Market Reflections” over at MasterResource.Org, the free-market energy blog.
By any reasonable definition, modern commercial energy (except for heavily subsidized renewables) is sustainable. Whether we consider air pollution, life expectancy, health of the elderly, vulnerability to extreme weather, per capita food consumption, or access to safe drinking water, the long-term trends show dramatic — and continuing — global improvement. Abundant, affordable, reliable energy from fossil fuels is a key factor driving those improvements.
The truly unsustainable energy sources are those that cannot ’compete’ without special policy privileges. Clearly, subsidy-dependent enterprises are not self-sustaining. Chronic subsidy-dependence is an indication the value of the resources an enterprise consumes exceeds the value of the products and services it provides.  So from both a business and environmental standpoint, wind and solar power do not deserve to be called sustainable.