The geopolitical implications of renewable energy

Todd Royal
Solar panels are seen at the central delivery point for oil produced off on U.S. Highway 550 in Lybrook in this file photo.

An October report from BlackRock (BLK) — the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firm — wisely states, “markets are calm but geopolitics are anything but.”

Wind and solar energy — two leading renewable energy options — could possibly become a dangerous part of an energy mix as the world continues on a downward geopolitical slope.

Both are intermittent and unreliable, and can only produce consistent energy under certain weather parameters, and neither, at this time, can be stored at scale. Renewable energy options are also tough on the environment because wind and solar energy requires large amounts of land compared to conventional, reliable fossil fuel energy.

However, renewables are consistently publicized as growing faster than fossil fuels, but that’s misleading. Unless hydroelectricity is being produced under a controlled scenario with dammed water then renewable energy is inferior to coal, nuclear and natural gas powered electricity.

While renewables don’t emit carbon dioxide, they may not, unfortunately, be the solution to lower emissions. This is where renewables can create a dangerous geopolitical climate for nations pursuing them wholeheartedly.

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A new paper by the Center of the American Experiment, “Energy Policy in Minnesota the High Cost of Failure,” chronicles Minnesota’s $15 billion experiment with wind energy over traditional fossil fuels, which didn’t lower CO2 emissions and caused Minnesota’s price of electricity to rise above the national average for the first time on record.
Imagine this on a larger scale. Think Africa — where 635 million citizens are without any form of modern energy at this time. This lack of scalable, affordable energy that fossil fuels and nuclear energy provide can be construed as a direct correlation for the inherent instability of Africa, its lower economic growth, higher rates of overpopulation and lacking the wherewithal to combat radicalization by groups like ISIS throughout the continent.

The geopolitical nightmare of the reliable energy problem grows when you include figures by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that states 1.2 billion worldwide are also without power.

People like hip-hop artist Akon mean well when they make big plans like attempting to install solar solutions for 14 African countries, but there seems to be a lack of understanding some critical environmental implications of those actions, like not addressing the problems and higher costs that renewables cause. If the United States still can’t figure out how to lower electricity costs using renewable energy, then it’s doubtful that Africa can right now.