Global Investment in Renewable Energy Has Stalled

By Steve Goreham

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration announced a decision to apply a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and panels. The Solar Industries Association denounced the measure, projecting job losses and cancellation of solar investments. But the solar tariff discussion hides a larger renewable energy issue. Global investment in renewables has stalled in the US, in Europe, and in many markets across the world.

Since the 1990s, sustainable advocates have called for investment in wind, solar, and biofuel energy as the solution to global warming, pollution, and feared resource depletion. National, state, and provincial governments responded, promoting green energy with feed-in tariffs, renewable portfolio standards laws, renewable grid priority, and other subsidies and mandates. Carbon trading markets and carbon taxes were enacted to impose costs on hydrocarbon fuels to favor renewable energy.

These efforts resulted in a rapid rise in renewable deployments across the world. From 2004 to 2011, global renewable energy investment grew at a 26.7 percent compounded annual rate. By the end of 2012, more than 200,000 wind turbines were operating worldwide. Germany alone boasted more than one million solar rooftop installations.

But since 2011, investment in renewables has stalled. From 2011 to 2017, global green energy investment grew at only 0.7 percent per year—essentially flat. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2017 investment in renewables grew only 1 percent in the US, but was down 16 percent in Japan, down 20 percent in India, down 26 percent in Germany, and down 56 percent in the United Kingdom. Investment in China was up 26 percent, supporting a meagre 3 percent global renewable investment growth in 2017.

European nations have the highest per person renewable investment in the world and extensive experience with renewables. Europe invested over $100 billion each year in renewable energy in 2010 and 2011. But last year Europe’s renewable investment was only $57.4 billion, down 50 percent from the record years of 2010‒2011.

So why is renewable investment faltering? One answer is that renewable projects are heavily dependent upon subsidies, and subsidies are being cut. The combination of rising electricity prices and budget-busting subsidy bills is forcing nations to cut back.

Europe invested $850 billion dollars in renewables from 2000 to 2014 and continues to pay a huge ongoing price. Residential electricity prices climbed to three times the US price in Spain and four times the US price in Denmark and Germany. German consumers pay an EEG levy in their electric bills, amounting to €25 billion a year to subsidize renewable energy. Environment minister Peter Altmaier estimates that cumulative renewable subsidies paid by German consumers will total an astonishing one trillion euros by 2040.

Over the last five years, subsidies or mandates have been cut in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Retroactive cuts to feed-in tariffs were made in Bulgaria, Greece, and Spain. Germany cut feed-in tariff subsidies by 75 percent and levied grid fees on residential solar owners. In 2015, the UK government suspended all new subsidies for onshore wind farms and reduced subsidies for residential solar installations, causing a steep fall in investment in both 2016 and 2017.

US subsidy cuts are also in process. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 began a phased reduction of the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) from 2016‒2019. If not extended again, the PTC subsidy will expire after 2019. The Act also reduced investment tax credits for wind and solar.

Some claim that renewable energy can power modern society. A 2017 paper by Mark Jacobsen and others at Stanford University, calls for 100 percent renewables by 2050, with wind and solar providing 95 percent of the energy. But this wishful thinking is not supported by the trends.

Since 1965, global energy consumption more than tripled to 13.3 billion tons of oil equivalent, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. In 2016, wind and solar provided about two percent of the total. Each year the world consumes an additional United Kingdom worth of energy. Wind and solar sources are unable to supply even the annual growth in world demand, let alone replace our traditional energy sources.

Renewable energy investment has stagnated, buried by rising energy prices and unaffordable subsidies. The world is being forced to return to sensible energy policies based on cost, performance, and real environmental benefit.

Originally published in The Daily Caller. Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the new book  Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

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John Bell
February 6, 2018 8:24 am

Staggering the high cost of renewables and the low power output. That is their way of soaking the rich.

Joe- the non climate scientist
Reply to  John Bell
February 6, 2018 8:25 am

yet it is the poor that get hurt the most – standing up for the little guy

Leo Smith
Reply to  John Bell
February 6, 2018 8:27 am

No. That is their way if soaking the poor.
Its the rich doing the soaking

Reply to  John Bell
February 6, 2018 9:23 am

“Feed-in Tariffs” in Europe and “Net Metering” in the US, hurt the poor the most by driving up electricity costs for the least able to pay for it. New term — “Power Poverty”. Germans are reverting to burning wood and peat to stay warm. Dung next? In California, Net Metering has driven cost per kWh from 10c to 60c per kWh (summer). Even Baseline credits and low tier rates don’t help the poor and underclass from paying hundreds per month in the Central Valley. Meanwhile, the ‘rich’ buy panels, escape the rates by SELLING electrons at 60c/kWh with a ROI of 24% (payback 5.5yrs & free electricity for 30yrs). Scam that screws the pool and ignorant and enriches the elite.

Reply to  Sparky
February 6, 2018 9:28 am

…ooops that was 39c/kWh PGE Summer peak moving toward 60c/kWh (which is the current German cost per kWh). California is moving to be a honorary member of the German/EU electronic combine.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  John Bell
February 6, 2018 10:09 am

The rich never get soaked. They have enough money or they can get enough to pay the renewable bills (or they get near free power with solar subsidies and laws making the power company pay for their solar output so their power bills shrink).
But, the poor live in apartments, mobile homes, or small homes where where solar power is not allowed or way beyond their ability to pay for it.
So the poor get soaked with higher and higher electricity costs. In some places this is called “fuel poverty” and in most areas a dirty scam and a dirty shame.

Reply to  John Bell
February 6, 2018 11:59 am

And the poor pay again in higher property taxes or rent to provide the government with the money to pay the rich these subsidies. Or is it a hidden kick back?

The Dismal Science
Reply to  John Bell
February 6, 2018 3:06 pm

Well, there is an economic argument here.
It is very easy to subsidize something when it is small. But there is literally not enough money in the world to subsidize all the power production in the world. At some point renewable power would have to stand on its own, without subsidy. That time is actually now – again, we can’t afford to subsidize more than a few % of anything as big to the economy as energy.

February 6, 2018 8:33 am

I’m glad I live in Nebraska. My last electric bill, after (axes) and fees, 9.2 cents a Kwh.
The only renewable worth considering is Hydro in my opinion. At least then there’s watersports and such.

Reply to  Martin457
February 6, 2018 8:57 am

I wouldn’t mind taking an axe to my electric bill.

Reply to  MarkW
February 6, 2018 9:05 am

Swing that axe x2, in Germany I pay 0.67 euro cents a Kwh

Reply to  Martin457
February 6, 2018 9:31 am

those are ‘black electrons’ given,.. i believe, Nebraska uses a lot of Coal for electricity production. You’ve got nearly the cheapest juice in the country. I’m paying 39c/kWh in California (well, actually,.. i’m now selling my ‘solar’ electrons back to the State Managed Monopoly (PGE) at 39c “Retail” while they pay ‘wholesale’ for industrially produced electrons in the open market at ~4c/kWh. Upside down business model. But I get some of my taxes back in subsidies and leveraging the ‘net metering’ scam.

Reply to  Sparky
February 6, 2018 1:47 pm

It’s mostly Coal here with natural gas rising and 2 nukes that have a history of maintenance issues.

Reply to  Sparky
February 6, 2018 11:06 pm

“selling my ‘solar’ electrons”
More likely, photons

Reply to  Martin457
February 6, 2018 12:13 pm

Wind power coupled to gas turbines and hydro works well if installed in southern Argentina. Solar seems to work well in the Atacama desert in Chile, coupled to hydro and gas turbines. There are niches where it does work.

Reply to  fernandoleanme
February 7, 2018 6:19 am

So what is the energy source after dark?

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Martin457
February 6, 2018 1:46 pm

What’s your heating bill, though?

Reply to  Ben of Houston
February 6, 2018 2:10 pm

78 cents a Therm. after (axes) and fees. Natural gas. Yes, it has been cold here this winter. However, heating in the winter is still cheaper than cooling in the summer.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Ben of Houston
February 6, 2018 10:41 pm

@ Martin457 “… heating in the winter is still cheaper than cooling in the summer.
We live in central Washington State. Winters are quite cold.
House is at 2,200 feet elevation. In summer the night sky is most often clear.
Thus, with an air sourced Heat Pump / AC, winter heating often involves having resistance heat elements kick on. Cost goes up.
In summer, opening windows at night most of the time allows the house to cool considerably. The AC may not be needed until late in the afternoon, and only for 3 or 4 hours.
For us the winter season is most costly.
However, Washington has big dams and one of the lowest power rates in the USA. Our house is 100% electric.
We have several axes, a chainsaw, and lots of wood. We use this source in an efficient wood stove – only if necessary. Wife has had a heart valve replaced and some heart damage, so we avoid the use of wood, if we can. Otherwise, we could reduce our winter heating bill from electricity to near zero. That would really take an ax to the utility bill.

A C Osborn
February 6, 2018 8:35 am

For all the money spent in Germany, they have not reduced their CO2 output or worse still their Coal use.
Which is still the same as it was 40 years ago.
The next subsidy crash will be EVs, in the few places that have already done so the sales have completely fallen, Hong Kong, down from 2000/annum to 39.

Bruce Cobb
February 6, 2018 8:35 am

Yabut, when the “We are still In(credibly Stupid) campaign kicks things into high gear, look out. Renewables will be through the roof, I have it on good authority (Griff).

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
February 6, 2018 9:09 am

In(credibly Stupid)
You have found a true authority on the subject. His expertise is unparalleled.
(Advise that you and others drop bashing Griff, who is no longer here to comment as he stated that he quit visiting here) MOD

Gary Pearse
Reply to  schitzree
February 6, 2018 10:11 am

Actually its a shame Griff isn’t still here. He was polite as I recall and I always put those who visit here from the dark side as a step above those who mindlessly avoid visiting. Let such as Griff get used to the excellent education available. Welcome those that at least aren’t raving empty-headed nut bars. Reasoned argument will take root in reasonably intelligent folk. Heck I had no reason to doubt AGW until I found this site. Scientists were still living off the goodwill of past ‘greats’. I never had occasion to doubt sincerity of work done by serious scientists (although as a scientist -geologist- and engineer, I knew they may be wrong), but now I know there is a politically motivated gang of asterisked scientists pushing the end-of-world stuff.
Are worst enemies are really those of a sceptical bent who are hyper rude, insulting and dismissive without engaging in the argument. I’ve been guilty of this myself from time to time when I’m completely exasperated by the worst the ideologues have to offer – like what they did to Willie Soon and other excellent scientists. I made a conscious effort to improve my own ‘behavior’ in comments. Although the occasional low information rant escapes from me, I have engaged some of the trolls to see if they may be open to consideration of a point. Let us not become empty-headed nut bars ourselves.

Reply to  schitzree
February 6, 2018 12:27 pm

Apparently the grant finally ran out.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  schitzree
February 6, 2018 1:51 pm

Yes, I miss him. Griff tended to have good points every now and then, and you need someone to break up the echo chamber. However, who can blame him for leaving when so many of our fellows completely lack manners and used him for target practice?
Has anyone ever been convinced to change their mind by being insulted? Perhaps if they realize what they said was beyond insanity (such as the comparison to the 100m prediction and watching grass grow). However, most of the time, that’s not the situation.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
February 6, 2018 10:19 am

Awww….Was it something we said?

February 6, 2018 8:41 am

“Environment minister Peter Altmaier estimates that cumulative renewable subsidies paid by German consumers will total an astonishing one trillion euros by 2040.”
Peter Altmaier is not an environment minister, but a fat Minister of Chancellery, Merkel’s valet. But the rest is true, we Germans pay an insane price for a nonsensical power generation. In the meantime, because of this discrepancy, the environmental goals of 2020 have been completely abandoned, and the environmental goals of 2030 are being pushed into infinite distances in the space. Not that it would hurt me, but it’s our money, and that of all energy customers, which is outrageously distributed to those who have too much of it anyway. In no halfway developed country on the globe is the wealth gap between the upper class and the rest of the nation as large as in Germany, not even in the US or Putin country.
Furthermore, the plan is probably to invest even more in energy production types, which act more like # “Schildbürgerstreiche”, if anyone knows the citizen of Schilda….. Sunshine duration in Germany in the last winter months and in the winters before was at a record low. Some places have had less than 10 hours of sun since November. And yet, should now be invested more in solar energy, it sounds from the Greens and Sozen. It has been noticed that you can no longer sell windmills all over the country. There were even first attempted attacks on this. So you change to the next lame horse.

Reply to  Hans-Georg
February 6, 2018 9:27 am

I could never figure why solar is considered above 45N/S latitude.. unless there is nothing else available. Half the year the Sun is too low to be much benefit (let alone the clouds). The other half does provide more sun-hours allowing it to be more economically feasible, but even then the Sun angle isn’t that great for most of the day.
I would think passive solar would help, but trying to gather electricity with their inherit inefficiencies (including losses in conversion to AC) is a hit or miss proposition, and over the entire year is mostly a miss proposition.
Even where I live at 35N, December 21 only offers a Sun angle of around 30deg, and then for only a short time.

Reply to  rbabcock
February 6, 2018 10:32 am

“including losses in conversion to AC”
Huh? Conversion efficiencies in the high 90’s. Those skinny overhead wires feeding your meter aren’t much better.

Reply to  rbabcock
February 6, 2018 10:42 am

A quick back of the envelope calculation convinced me that solar can’t be the answer on average over the entire planet. Just calculate the number of watts per square meter coming in, back out the albedo and after allowing for about 15% conversion into electricity, you get about 40 watts over 24 hours per square meter of panel area. You can’t drive a modern economy with that.

Steve Keppel-Jones
Reply to  rbabcock
February 14, 2018 10:26 am

I’m pretty sure the Greens don’t *want* to drive a modern economy with that. I’m pretty sure that’s the point.

Reply to  Hans-Georg
February 6, 2018 9:41 am

Mistake was to abandon the nukes. Classic German Engineering could have made 3rd/4th Gen Nucular power the envy of the rest of the Globe. Now it would seem the Chinese will lead with Throium. Alas, it would seem the German soul is allergic to the science of the cheapest and lowest C02 option.

michael hart
Reply to  Sparky
February 6, 2018 10:30 am

Agreed. It is one of the greatest travesties of our time that the might of German engineering capabilities has been so recklessly squandered on such foolishness as large-scale wind power.
I still find it hard to believe that an earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific near Japan somehow led to Germany deciding to close it’s nuclear fleet even faster than planned. The power of the green vote in Germany, of all places, never ceases to amaze and dismay me. The so often finest technical nation in the world, hamstrung by the technical illiteracy of environmentalism.

Gregory White
Reply to  Sparky
February 6, 2018 10:33 am

Indonesia may beat them to it. They start construction of a full scale test reactor next year. Thorcon Power

Reply to  Sparky
February 6, 2018 11:16 am

‘Michael Hart’ – penman of “Hubris”?

Crispin in Waterloo
February 6, 2018 8:44 am

One of the interesting things about Ulaanbaatar is the enormous number of hybrid vehicles in use there. Specifically, Prius cars from Japan. They are about $7000 at the used car dealer.
One mans inanity is another man’s opportunity. Where there’s muck, there’s brass. One man’s garbage is another man’s gold.
The cost of transportation around the city has dropped in real terms because of these vehicles. In a land where literally every car is a taxi some of the time, there is a world class demonstration that hybrids are the way to go if you have some country willing to toss out their cars after only three years on the road (Japan).
Electric vehicles will never take over in Ulaanbaatar because it is too cold to warm the cabin most of the year.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
February 6, 2018 9:03 am

Cars will never take over in Ulaanbaatar nor elsewehre in mongolia, because the country is to poor. Man will settle on Mars, when Mongolia reach the limit of Chinas today. In Mongolia there are much more Diesel-Vehicles than fuel cars. Despite of the low winter temperatures. You have time there, as a quarter of a hour preheating does not bother.

February 6, 2018 8:44 am

After the arm waving and shouting reality kicks in. “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time…..”

February 6, 2018 8:50 am

Renewable energy is intermittent and unreliable.
If you add storage technology (Musks’s batteries or pumped storage etc), then is is not economically viable.
If there are no subsidies as the article writes…then the demand goes away. Can’t compete on a level playing field.

Reply to  J
February 6, 2018 9:00 am

Even without the batteries, it’s not economically viable.
The only thing the batteries are good for is to keep the grid from crashing long enough to bring the fossil fuel plants up to full power.

Reply to  MarkW
February 6, 2018 9:16 am

We have a battery backup at work. It runs for a few seconds until the monster diesel generator starts to roar.

Reply to  MarkW
February 6, 2018 12:32 pm

One company I used to work for had battery back-up for the computer room. A room full of lead acid batteries.
We made sure to check that the ventilator was working properly at least once a week.
When we got rid of the mainframes, we made sure to request that those batteries were retired at the same time.

Farsi Prince
February 6, 2018 8:53 am

The rich and politically connected are sucking the lifeblood from taxpayers and ordinary energy ratepayers, under the banner of “save the world!” Without the subsidies, companies like General Electric are forced to streamline in order to survive.

February 6, 2018 8:58 am

Every year in the UK, RegenSW (a renewable energy trade body) publishes a renewable energy progress report. The latest one (for the year to end March 2017) is 6months overdue. I cannot imagine why!

February 6, 2018 9:02 am

Wind and Solar power apologists in 3…2…1……..
The usual babble that they are awesome will once again be met with hard evidence some of it already shown in the post they will not read.
Carry on.

Roger Graves
February 6, 2018 9:11 am

Three trillion dollars or more spent on wind and solar since 2004, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and perhaps a further ten trillion by 2050 if plans to go completely renewable are ever taken seriously. If you are in the wind and solar business, the thought of that ten trillion slipping out of your grasp must be maddening. Expect to see more and more predictions of climate catastrophes of biblical proportions in the next year or two.
If you want to understand the CAGW industry, just follow the money.

February 6, 2018 9:12 am

“investment in renewables has stalled”
Because it is NOT investment at all!:
It is a spending that will cost you more than you’ll gain/save of it. And, on the long run, this becomes more and more evident.
Now, if people find some pleasure in this spending, just fine for them. This I find as legitimate as any show, sport, fancy cooking, literature or whatever makes a heart happy. If (big if!) they use THEIR money and effort, and don’t bully people who do not share their pleasure.

February 6, 2018 9:13 am

“From 2011 to 2017, global green energy investment grew at only 0.7 percent per year—essentially flat”
I don’t see growth on that chart…looks like a negative number to me

February 6, 2018 9:23 am

Fantastic use of meaningless and misleading metrics there Steve. Investment in dollars is flat partly because the $/MWh has been decreasing. Investment in terms of MWh produced has not flattened. The “total energy” graph is also misleading since it counts the thermal content of coal that goes into producing electrons rather than the useful electrons produced. On that chart when we switch from coal to CCNG the “Total Energy” drops, even though the “Useful Energy” remains constant.
My other frequent point is “yeah, but look at ERCOT.” They have integrated more wind than Germany or Australia as a percentage of total electricity, and have some of the lowest electricity prices in the world. On top of that, ERCOT wind is expected to increase by almost 40% over the next 2 years pushing wind to nearly 30% of the electricity generation mix. Solar is likely to follow up to at least 5% in the same time frame, and this in a deregulated market that is driven by cost functions.
Please don’t try to one-up Michael Mann in misleading chartmanship. The reality is that renewables genuinely are the lowest cost source of new electricity production. They have the disadvantage of not being dispatchable and so face likely penetration limits in any grid. An open market for electricity will likely incorporate at least 30% of these two sources, but unlikely to incorporate more than 50% due to the additional required capital of storage. No source of electricity is likely to penetrate more than 10% into transportation (1/3 of personal transport) unless the cost of electricity decreases by at least 60%.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 9:39 am


Reply to  benben
February 6, 2018 10:56 am

Did you bother to notice that the worlds total energy consumption rate is increasing faster than Wind and Solar themselves increases?

paul courtney
Reply to  benben
February 6, 2018 12:25 pm

benben: “This”. Nope, that. Sorry for being so wordy.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 9:50 am

“…Fantastic use of meaningless and misleading metrics there Steve. Investment in dollars is flat partly because the $/MWh has been decreasing. Investment in terms of MWh produced has not flattened…”
The metric typically used for “investment” is….well, monetary. In this case, the monetary unit is USD. How is that “meaningless and misleading?”

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
February 6, 2018 12:36 pm

Any metric that doesn’t result in renewable power looking good is by definition “meaningless and misleading”.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 10:26 am

@ chadb
+1 Michael Jankowski
Now, just keep in mind that climate skeptics don’t hate renewables. Antony Watts use them at home, and knows why.
They just hate the scheme by which average Joe got a higher bill and blackouts, so that wind and solar promoters get rich.
I wish it were true that “[wind and solar] genuinely are the lowest cost source of new electricity production, just fine.” It isn’t. Wind turbine are just wind derricks, pumping a resource that cost no less that oil in the ground (which also cost zero, you know) . Except they work 1/4 of the time, at best. There is no way they could outcompete oil or gas, except in a few situation were they belong (like: islands with steady winds and hydro power that is already maxed). Same (and even worse, actually) with solar derricks.
Among renewable, only hydro is really cheap and valuable, even more than fossil.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
February 6, 2018 12:03 pm

And yet ERCOT. Still has some of the highest wind penetration in the world and some of the lowest costs in the world. The investment is from private dollars. Also, ERCOT is not prone to rolling blackouts. Have there been close calls? Yes, but that was the case before wind as well.
Also, check Lazard for LCOE estimates for new capacity.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
February 6, 2018 11:44 pm

and yet ERCOT what? does wind get subsidies, or does it not?
My guess is that it does, and electricity could be cheaper without wind. I’ll be happy to be wrong, but I am … skeptic.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 11:33 am

chadb — Memes of the Wind.
Wind, without PTC is UNPROFITABLE and is NOT the lowest cost of electricity production save hydro which is the only one that could make that claim. The Feds are paying for your electricity thru our taxes. “Open Market” with level playing field — NatGas wins hands down. (Coal in some places depending on the Regs). Even in Texas (ERCOT) which is still 28% coal and only 12% subsidized wind (when it’s blowing).
see page 8, 9

Reply to  Sparky
February 6, 2018 11:42 am
Reply to  Sparky
February 7, 2018 2:56 pm

“with level playing field”
What is that?
Which regulations are legitimate?

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 12:35 pm

Unless the energy content of coal has changed over the last decade, how is using that number invalid.
He’s generating a ratio of now vs. then.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 1:03 pm

chadb: “The reality is that renewables genuinely are the lowest cost source of new electricity production“. Great. All subsidies and mandates can now be ended. (Everyone will need to get onto their politicians to get the message through and make sure it happens.).

Reply to  chadb
February 7, 2018 6:33 am

The reality is that renewables genuinely are the lowest cost source of new electricity production. They have the disadvantage of not being dispatchable
If you take the part in bold into account they are not the lowest cost.

Reply to  chadb
February 9, 2018 1:43 am

February 6, 2018 at 9:23 am
. The reality is that renewables genuinely are the lowest cost source of new electricity production. ……………………………….

Maybe for electricity production, but for delivery 24/7/365?
Renewables cannot escape being an EXTRA cost on top of the traditional sources which are used to back up the unreliable nature of renewables. These costs will also include grid connection,subsidies, cost of mandates, feed in tariffs, management costs of trying to balance ( frequency, output etc.) such an unreliable source.
Therefore, the reality is that from a practical point of view, renewables are horrendously expensive. Until there is a cost effective method for MASS storage of electricity (over a hundred years -and counting – of waiting) it should not even be considered as an alternative, except in niche off-grid locations.

February 6, 2018 9:26 am

It doesn’t just need to stall, it needs to be dumped. When & if the usual energy sources become expensive enough that “renewables” are competitive without subsidies, then invest in them. Not until.

Reply to  beng135
February 6, 2018 9:36 am

Dead wrong. Investments are made before a new technology is viable. If you wait until it is viable to invest then it would never be built. For example – what if Otto had said he would not spend any time on internal combustion engines until one was more powerful than a horse? I think what you are talking about is government directed or government funded investments. If you don’t like those then you would require a deregulated market (like ERCOT). In deregulated markets wind and solar are actually displacing some of the oldest least efficient coal plants. These are private investment dollars. I agree the tax incentive should be dropped, but even without the incentive many of these plants would be built anyway.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 9:48 am

chadb – which/where are these ‘deregulated’ and unsubsidized markets for wind and solar? I recall just about every Wind generator getting a 3-4c/kWh Federal subsidy (which is actually the wholesale cost of electricity in some markets). Solar surviving without 30% federal subsidy and ‘net-metering cost shifting’? Where — California (the biggest PV market)? If that’s the answer — it’s neither ‘deregulated’ nor ‘unsubsidized. Silly Kalifornians even exclude ‘hydro’ as a renewable (in calling their green electron goals) despite the fact that they are clearly ‘renewable’ and wholly green. Only crazy california ‘kelly-green’ is acceptable – solar and wind.

A C Osborn
Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 9:51 am

Cloud Cuckoo land thinking.
When those “Tax incentives” are dropped you will see how much “private investment dollars” actually get invested.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 10:02 am

Correction,.. ERCOT and Wind Energy is given a 2.5cents per kWh direct subsidy. This is about 50% of the Wholesale Energy Rate in some markets (~4c/kWh). Said another way,.. 100% of a generator’s ‘GROSS Margin’. All the ‘profit’ to sustain Wind comes from the Federal Coffers as delivered by the PTC
Formula: Price Sold (produced electricity) – Cost to Produce/ Price Sold = Gross Margin of Business Operation.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 10:06 am

Incorrect. In business it’s called R&D. Can take many years to produce a economically viable technology. Look at semiconductors. Many years off investment that gave us the memories, microprocessors,… computers and iPhones. No tax credits,.. subsidies, or government intervention required. When a technology is ready to produce economically viable products we have disruptive breakthroughs. When subsidies and governments get involved all you get is distortions, corruption and misallocations of capital.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 10:37 am

ERCOT Wind surviving ONLY on Federal PTC subsidies (2.5cents/kWh) and still a minor, minor contributor to Tx grid where the glory of the winds are some of the best in the country. If you can’t do it here,.. you’ll have a really time doing it elsewhere. (Any raptors left in Texas?) .

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 12:37 pm

Funny how socialists always assume that unless government funds development, there will never be any development.
The mere fact that 99+% of every product we use every day was developed without government “investment” is lost on these guys.

Reply to  chadb
February 6, 2018 1:54 pm

Dead wrong yourself. Those technologies are already “viable”. Pin-wheels aren’t viable yet? LOL. Solar-cells have been around for many decades. Those technologies aren’t just viable, they’re already MATURE. Any more improvements to be made on them will be merely incremental and not game-changing.

Reply to  chadb
February 9, 2018 2:00 am

February 6, 2018 at 9:36 am
Dead wrong. Investments are made before a new technology is viable. If you wait until it is viable to invest then it would never be built.

Investment expects an eventual return. I think you should have said spending in this case.
As various people have said this is more correctly R & D.
R & D is carried out to try and prove viability. This would qualify as investment.
Nobody goes into worldwide production before viability is proven (except in the case of renewables) which is an indicator that it is a politically driven ideology, not an investment. Without governments forcing people to pay for renewables through taxes, mandates and hidden additions to energy bills, renewables would not be any more than an odd isolated research project.

February 6, 2018 9:33 am

Love the author’s final graph. It says it all.

February 6, 2018 9:36 am

Just think of all the good that could have been done with all that money.
Just How Much Does 1 Degree C Cost?
Update: Post publishing this article new relevant data was released. It looks like much of the data used to support these spending projects is fraudulent, “Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.” The question now becomes, do we want to spend a fortune based on GIGO models and … Continue reading

February 6, 2018 9:39 am

$300 Billion is 1/3rd of a trillion dollars per year. That is a criminal amount of waste. Just think of all the good that could have been done with that kind of money. How many schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, water treatment, etc etc etc. What an absolute waste of money.

February 6, 2018 9:44 am

TRILLIONS of PUBLIC Dollars Spent on Conclusions Reached Based Upon “Made Up Data.”
According to the IPCC, the oceans are by far the most “dominant” influence on global climate energy balance. No other influence even comes close. Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence), with only about 1% stored … Continue reading

Old England
February 6, 2018 9:50 am

But this can’t be right – the Greeeen Blobby keep shouting that Renewables are cheaper than conventional power generation……….. perhaps silly investors are learning it doesn’t always pay to trust enviro-activist claims ………….

Nick Stokes
February 6, 2018 9:53 am

As the source points out, one reason why investment is dropping in dollar terms is that the equipment, especially solar, is getting a lot cheaper.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 6, 2018 10:01 am

That is company speak for they can’t compete with China.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 6, 2018 10:09 am

Nope. Crappy ROI and reductions of government subsidies,.. ‘market manipulations’ (feed-in tariffs, net metering) and forced compliance to political agendas driven into markets and now being finally reduced. Once the populous sees the impacts on their lives (see Europeans rebelling with new recognition of ‘power poverty’ as they pay 60cents + for silliness).

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 6, 2018 11:36 am

… and yet 400% more expensive than traditional sources of electricity (once subsidies,.. cost shifting and feed-in tariffs are removed). Cheaper is a lot like your temperature modeling — if the #s are plugged and adjusted they simply don’t work.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 6, 2018 12:40 pm

If that were true, then the total amount installed every year shouldn’t be shrinking, yet somehow it is.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  MarkW
February 6, 2018 4:15 pm

“yet somehow it is”

Reg Nelson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 6, 2018 4:03 pm

@ Nick Stokes February 6, 2018 at 9:53 am
As the source points out, one reason why investment is dropping in dollar terms is that the equipment, especially solar, is getting a lot cheaper.
This hasn’t been the case with technology. What was the market size for IBM PC’s in 1980 when they cost $6k vs. the market size of Microsoft PC’s when they dropped below $1k. Same holds true for internet access, data storage, etc. Price drops dramatically increase the overall market for tech products or services.

Reply to  Reg Nelson
February 6, 2018 6:01 pm

Most of the technologies mentioned ride on an economic model baed on Moore’s Law where the number of transistors doubles about every 18mths thereby having costs per MIP or Memory Cell. These technologies are based on the shrinkage of the transistor traces executed on ‘lithographies’ of smaller dimensions – basic Physics. Most of the ‘new’ technologies of sustainable energy production and electron storage (batteries) do NOT scale on anything like Moore’s law. PV,.. somewhat mature now sees a 10-15% per annum cost reduction as panels produce a few more Wh/m^2 by improving photic efficiencies (now running on the asymptote of ~22% efficiencies with annual gains in diminishing returns of <2%). Windmills have been around for hundreds of years and similarly on a declining efficiency asymptote. Batteries, running more on the economic of Chemistry are not 'breakthrough technologies' either nor do they 'run on a cost curve' anything like Moore's law. Green-dreamers haven't figured out the economics of their glorified technologies and the inability do deal with either energy density nor the cost of chemical (battery) storage.

Joe Civis
February 6, 2018 10:14 am

perhaps with California’s “Energy Upgrade California” campaign the masses will continue to believe that paying more and getting less is an “upgrade”. From the commercials made for this campaign I am shocked they haven’t shown North Korea as the epitome of success on this “Energy Upgrade California” scheme. The latest one is something to the effect “Sally can run on her treadmill to generate electricity or unplug the toaster…. Energy Upgrade California”
Stupidity is an endless resource.
Joe! 🙁

February 6, 2018 10:16 am

My State of Oklahoma has stopped all future subsidies for windmills, as of July 1, of last year, and is going to start making the windmill companies pay state taxes, just like any other business.

Reply to  TA
February 6, 2018 10:19 am

My State’s Attorney General is also going to see to it that the Trump taxcuts the electric utilities get, are passed on to their customers through lower electricity rates. Thanks, President Trump! 🙂

Reply to  TA
February 6, 2018 10:55 am

I do wish that the windmill companies were fined for every raptor that dies when it’s trapped in the turbine vortex. That is as disgusting a sight as you can get. That’s bad enough, but the solar farms, which fry migrating birds, are even worse.

Reply to  Sara
February 6, 2018 12:41 pm

Oil companies pay thousands of dollars for every duck they kill.

February 6, 2018 10:40 am

I check my electric bill each month. The per KwH rate is $0.05844 for power, $.01351 for transmission, minus a discount for purchased power probably coming from the coal-fired plant to the north of me.
That’s a reasonable rate, certainly affordable even when the tax and other fees are added. The number of Kwhrs is higher than a year ago, but it’s because this past month has been colder than the same time period last winter, and that makes the furnace run longer. Gas-fired furnace, electric motor in the lower. In fact, the rate went down when I had a new blower motor installed three years ago; made it run like a new machine, and was more efficient.
Since solar/wind power production works mostly for individual dwellings, NOT at an industrial scale, the notion that it is cheaper is ludicrous. When people in Germany, a cold climate country, are freezing to death because they can’t afford the cost of the utility bill to heat their homes, there is something extremely wrong. Has Merkel admitted to this yet? I think I read some place that she was caving in because of the bad PR from cold-weather deaths of people who couldn’t pay their heating and electricity bills.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Sara
February 6, 2018 11:47 am

Did people actually die?. That is criminal Merkel should be charged with murder.

February 6, 2018 11:39 am

Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows ski complex (Tahoe) claims they will be “100% renewable” by December 2018. Because Tesla. Yet today they rely on 75% natural gas.

February 6, 2018 12:27 pm

Global Investment in Renewable Energy Has Stalled
That’s why they’ve started to raid the pension plans. Like Canada’s CPP.

Warren Blair
February 6, 2018 1:31 pm

Spot on Rob!
Superannuation and pension funds are the left’s new target.
Executive positions Worldwide in funds and investor/managers are going to the left.
Soon their ‘respectable’ criminal activities will be in full swing stealing our money.
Their donations to political parties will ensure protection from investigation and prosecution.
On another subject TODAY the UN is convening its 9th “World Urban Forum” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A seemingly noble UN initiative; however, their plan is to ‘tax’ ratepayers of the first World via local city councils paying ‘membership’ and ‘project’ fees to the UN body.
Redistribution of your wealth will be achieved when your city signs up.
It gets the UN around Federal and State Governments directly to your money.
MSM has completely missed this criminal scheme.
Here’s their lovely website
Left’s money target list:
Superannuation/pension payers – WIP.
Rate payers – WIP.
Energy payers – well underway.

The Dismal Science
February 6, 2018 3:20 pm

The other issues no one thinks much about is the “gold mine” dilemma.
Say you are going to build the first gold mine. Where would you build it? Obviously where the gold is! But not just that, you would look at a variety of other factors (availability of power, and miners, and supplies). The land status (can’t build it underwater, or on someone else’s property.). So the location of the first mine represents a balance of these economic forces.
Where do you site the second mine? Well, at a slightly worse location than the first. And the forth and fifth? The one thousandth? At some point the new gold mines are no longer economic – you can’t make it work with the poor grade ore, and crappy location. Now we might open up a few new locations by improving mining efficiency. Say the cost of gold goes up, while fuel costs go down. but really you start to bump along the bottom.
Solar and wind are the same. Really they are just mining the sun and wind at any location. And, economically, they work the same way. The first locations for wind farms are where is makes the most economic sense – where there is the best resource, close to power lines, private land, etc. Each subsequent installation is slightly worse. And just like a gold mine, worse locations can be compensated for by improving “mining efficiency” for wind and solar – better solar panels and windmills, faster permitting, faster construction.
But at some point, you reach a phase where the remaining locations are marginal, where there are too many regulatory hurdles, where costs are too high. You installation rate, your gold rush, is over. Now you just bump along the bottom of the market.
And just like gold mining, bumping along the bottom of the market doesn’t mean there is no more gold in the ground. Just that it is no longer economic to extract.
That is what has always bugged me about fanciful estimates for renewable power – they are measuring the total size of the resources, NOT the economic viability of extracting those resources. For example, wind and solar resources 500 miles south of Hawaii are completely uneconomic and will likely never be tapped.
What we need are realistic estimates of what resources could be economically tapped.

Reply to  The Dismal Science
February 7, 2018 9:58 am

Except, you know, they do take that into account. But that would require reading the actual studies rather rather than rant about them.

Reply to  The Dismal Science
February 7, 2018 9:59 am

Oh and reference: I like the free e-book ‘renewable energy without the hot air’.

February 6, 2018 8:00 pm

If you think these numbers are bad, wait until the break/fix of the devices enters the fray. Electronics failure and battery replacement will be a particularly obscene expense for some. But finally, no dough from the USA Pillsbury dough-boy will really deep-six the industry. Europe cannot support the “demand” costs alone and China is to cheap and could really give a care about anyone else. We are witnessing the death throes of a giant whale of economic excess in direct conflict with the science and plain logic. When this baby beaches the stench will be incredible… by stench I am talking about the blame game…. the accusations… the recriminations…. all of the flack from the left over whose fault it was that the GREEN MACHINE failed to reach S2. (sorry about the mixed metaphors)
I can’t wait.

Michael S. Kelly
February 6, 2018 8:59 pm

Adding up all of that “investment”, I come up with about $3.4 trillion. Assuming the EU cost of a nuclear plant of $5,500 per kW, that would have allowed us to add 600 GW of reliable capacity to the grid. How much solar or wind capacity was added?

Larry D
February 6, 2018 10:06 pm

“A 2017 paper by Mark Jacobsen and others at Stanford University, calls for 100 percent renewables by 2050, with wind and solar providing 95 percent of the energy.”
I invite Stanford University to lead by example. Show us how it’s done.

February 7, 2018 3:55 am

I notice that every press release/BBC news item about new wind farms etc in the UK just gives the CAPACITY…
Or, even more misleading, ‘COULD power x-thousand homes’…

Reply to  David
February 7, 2018 2:55 pm

This is a trick used by virtually all renewable energy companies and as you say, especially when a new project is announced. All generators connected to the National Grid supply energy to ALL the homes in the UK. That is the nature of the beast. It is the cumulative output from all those generators that “powers” all the homes in a real sense. The use of the word “power” implies that those houses could be taken off-grid and still have enough energy, whereas the figures these people use were taken from the DECC number for the average energy use per household. Try this:- find the wind farm/solar farm/etc total output for the year in MWhr and divide by 8760 (24hrsx365) to get the continuous maximum MWs. Then divide THAT by the number of lucky households. The end figure is usually between 0.4 and 1 kilowatt. How can that be deemd to “power” a house? Most kettles use 2 or 3kws. The current RegenSW report ( reckons England generates 54,962 GWh of renewable energy, enough to power 14.5 million homes. By my reckoning that is 0.43kw or 432watts per home.

February 7, 2018 9:56 am
February 8, 2018 1:01 pm

Many of you commenting here favoring renewables are just dreamers. It’s obvious you don’t have the data to back your hasty statements. More power to dreaming, but renewables are almost dead because reality is about to set in. Once the subsidies expire renewables will melt away, save those few that embrace reality, hydropower, geothermal, wood waste. Renewables have a place when no other options are available. The big mistake I see in dreamers writing about renewables is they conveniently ignore the dispatchability, unreliability, inefficiency, lifetimes of facilities, very high cost, peaking capacity, need for full-time backup for a second full-time power source, and intermittency of renewables. Few reliable sources on overall costs are also available which further camouflages their real costs. The EIA cost studies are useless. The other problems with wind turbines are very serious and almost never addressed are the health concerns, the need for setback to nearest residence, threat to property values, bird deaths, thuggery employed by wind providers and inattention of legislators who pass renewable mandates that deliver peril upon residents who must live with wind turbines. Life-shattering problems in Europe, Australila, U.S., UK and Ontario are well addressed at,, and Wind turbines near homes are destroying peoples lives.
Here in Washington, data on the 46 wind farms (hundreds and hundreds of turbines) shows that they are still–produce no power–for 50 or 60 days in the first six months of the year. In 2015 the “no power” days in the first four months were 36.8 days which include a 2-week period of high-pressure weather conditions when no turbine turned at all. On the best day, the 46 farms produced power at 99% of capacity for 25 minutes. For 25 days in January 2014 all of the 46 wind farms didn’t turn a rotor. The data is available at bonneville power administration to verify. These problems go conveniently unnoticed because of the full time backup by hydropower.
Two of most serious problems with wind and solar never addressed are the resources needed to build them and the area required. To serve all power needs for the US from wind turbines would require condemning an area twice the size of Texas just for wind turbines. People cannot live near them due to severe health consequences from infrasound. The second severe problem is the resources needed. Steel and aggregate needed for foundations is 2,115 times and 696 times larger resp. than the world production of steel and aggregate in 2015. The need for copper, steel for turbines and neodymium for magnets in rotors is 3280 times 61,000 times larger than the world production in 2015 of these materials. And then there is coking coal, iron ore, bentonite and the resources to build the ships and mines and bunker fuel to make this all happen.
Today, renewables in the world have not exceeded 0.3% of world’s energy demands according to IEA. At the same time we could provide the power needed in the US with 7200 supercritical coal plants, with lifetimes 3 times that of wind turbines that could be built in an area smaller than Manhattan. Renewables is in effect, a dream beyond reality.

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