Reform USAID energy aid policies now!

President Trump should direct USAID to support coal and gas, not just wind and solar

Paul Driessen and David Wojick

Apparently unable to grasp the cruel irony, USAID Commissioner Mark Green boasts that “electricity enables access to refrigeration to store fish, milk and vaccines. Electricity brightens the night and helps schoolchildren study. Electricity allows businesses to stay open later and makes communities safer.”

Abundant, reliable, affordable electricity absolutely does all of this, as developed countries prove daily. Expensive, intermittent power does none of these things. Unpredictable, on-and-off power cruelly promises refrigeration, heat, light, factories, businesses, jobs, modern schools and hospitals, better living standards, longer and healthier lives – then takes them all away, for hours, days or weeks at a time.

Right now, the average Sub-Saharan African enjoys the blessings of modern electricity 1 hour a day, 8 hours a week, 411 hours a year – at totally unpredictable times, for a few minutes, hours or days at a stretch. Under Mr. Green, the US Agency for International Development would “improve” this horrific situation by ensuring electricity maybe 25-30% of the year: 7 hours a day, 50 hours a week, 2,628 hours (110 days) a year, still at totally unpredictable times, thanks to wind turbines and solar panels.

That’s because the USAID won’t support real energy. Its Deep State Obama era policies should have been deep-sixed the day President Trump took office. Instead, three years later, they still impose cruel and unusual punishment for Africa’s “crime” of being the last continent to modernize with 24/7 electricity.

USAID runs a program with the promising, grandstanding name “Power Africa.” It began six years into the Obama presidency. And yet, five years later, it has delivered less than 3,500 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity. Total installed US summertime electricity generation capacity is 314 times that: 1.1 million MW, to support less than one-third as many people as live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Even worse, this minuscule improvement includes no coal-fired and no nuclear power. It’s mostly wind, solar and natural gas electricity generation, plus a tiny bit of geothermal and even a bit of heavy oil power generation – even though this still “dark” lights-free continent has enormous coal deposits. In fact, some 60% of Power Africa financial aid goes to relatively wealthy Nigeria and South Africa, not the numerous really poor countries – and countries receiving funds for wind and solar are not getting money for gas-fired power. Many countries get no energy aid at all; each of the others receives only a little.

It’s all because USAID’s “flagship” energy program is centered around and obsessed with “low-emission economic development.” Emissions in this context of course mean plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide or CO2, the trace gas (0.04% or 400 ppm of Earth’s atmosphere) that makes life on Planet Earth possible.

So even under President Trump, USAID remains locked into the notion that manmade CO2 is the primary or sole factor in climate change, and any climate or weather fluctuations will be catastrophic. Indeed, USAID brags, climate change plays a central role throughout the entire agency’s development efforts and throughout its partnerships with other federal agencies and multiple developing countries.

USAID claims its programs “help countries achieve self-reliance while pursuing clean economic growth and resilient development.” That’s complete, self-serving, carbon-colonialist garbage.

First, there is nothing clean, green, renewable or sustainable about wind and solar (or battery) energy. Wind and solar require 200 times more raw materials per megawatt than fossil or nuclear energy – and electrifying Africa, the USA or the world with wind and solar would require the biggest expansion of metals, minerals and limestone mining in human history. To end their intermittency, you’d need billions of expensive 100-kWh battery packs, still more mining – and vastly more child labor and slave labor.

Moreover, economies powered by insufficient, intermittent electricity cannot possibly be “resilient.”

USAID’s “lights on” slogan is just as phony. Solar provides zero electricity at night and powers society maybe 30% of the time year-round. A 600-MW coal-fired power plant generates 600 MW pretty much around the clock; 600 MW of solar capacity provides maybe 200 MW of power in bits and pieces, amid clouds, rains and nighttime. Battery backup for cities or countries is prohibitively expensive.

Wind is even worse. It typically takes sustained winds over 30 mph to generate full power, which rarely happens in most of Africa. Yet Power Africa boasts almost 2,500 MW of highly intermittent wind farms.

USAID programs to bring electricity to people for the first time means all Africans will get is intermittent electricity. This is cruel and unfair – a stupid, callous, eco-imperialist way to spend billions of aid dollars.

USAID’s anti-fossil-fuel, anti-development, anti-people policies are cloaked in lofty virtue-signaling language. Greenwashing PR guides and justifies policy. The agency claims it shares its “world-class knowledge, data and tools” to “help countries predict, prepare for and adapt to” climate change and “lay the foundations for sustainable growth powered by clean, reliable energy and healthy landscapes.”

These claims fail every factual and humanitarian test. They may make Deep State, UN, IPCC, World Bank and EU technocrats – and their environmentalist allies – happy. But they will keep Africa mired in poverty, disease, misery, despair and needlessly early death for generations.

USAID’s “Low Emission Development Strategies” do not “forge partnerships” with poor countries. They impose “partnerships” that provide inadequate funding for insufficient supplies of intermittent energy – while doing nothing to “mitigate” climate changes that are no different, more frequent or more intense from what Africa (and the world) have faced numerous times throughout history. And most of the aid money ends up in the bank accounts of ruling elites and wind and solar manufacturers.

The lives of impoverished families improve little, and only at the margins. The electricity that the USAID, World Bank, EU banks and even Africa Development Bank (AfDB) so grudgingly finance cannot possibly support modern homes, hospitals, businesses, factories, communities and nations.

These climate-centric, anti-development policies force African nations to turn increasingly to Chinese banks and mining companies, accept the onerous preconditions often attached to their contracts, and live with the horrific conditions that exist in their mines and processing plants. America, Europe, Canada and Australia – and their laws, regulations and operating standards – will be relegated to the sidelines.

As to assertions that carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” have replaced the Sun and other powerful natural forces that actually govern Earth’s climate and weather: with China, India and dozens of other countries building new coal and gas generating plants every week, and driving millions more cars and trucks every year, USAID’s “low emission” policies and strategies will make no difference.

Africa’s families and communities are not threatened by fossil-fuel-induced climate or weather that differs little from what they have confronted and survived numerous times throughout history. They are threatened by climate alarmist policies that keep them impoverished and energy-deprived – with few prospects for ever enjoying the living standards, health and longevity they dream of – and deserve.

It’s time to reform or end USAID’s inhumane policies. The agency should finance coal, gas and nuclear electricity projects in destitute African countries, insist on state-of-the-art controls for real pollution, but drop all CO2 emission rules. This would transform economies and save lives. If Africa’s own banks and governments would finance coal, gas and nuclear power, they too would create jobs, growth and revenue.

President Trump should demand this via an executive order – and withhold US funding from the World Bank, AfDB and other anti-development banks until they also support coal, gas and nuclear power. He would stand tall as a true world leader on energy, climate change, prosperity and human health – a leader who finally terminated the global financial aid community’s deadly carbon-colonialist policies.

Support for abundant, reliable, affordable electricity is good policy not just for the United States, Europe, Asia and other industrialized and developing regions – but for the poorest continent on Earth. This policy change would be the best New Year’s present Africa’s desperate people ever received.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and author of books and articles on energy, climate change and economic development. David Wojick is an independent analyst specializing in science, logic and humanitarian principles in public policy.

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29 thoughts on “Reform USAID energy aid policies now!

    • Pat, you might not have an idea how chilling your comment is, re China. As someone who lives where they are making inroads I can assure you they have their own playbook and it does not include political correctness, it is focused on results.

    • USAID is doing God’s work, saving the planet and, in the process, reducing the life of Africans. China is committing crimes against humanity by helping poor countries build coal fired power plants./sarc. They have also helped Pakistan build nuclear power plants. Load shedding was a common occurrence in Pakistan until last year, when there were very few instances of load shedding thanks to China.

    • Yep,
      China will provide…
      CHEAP Jewelry containing cadmium
      CHEAP Children’s toys containing lead
      CHEAP solar panels that overheat and cause fires ur require replacement in less than a decade
      CHEAP wind turbines that break down in less than a decade
      CHEAP CRAP

      • Most likely a difference in enforced, on site quality controls (as by Apple) versus a low regulation Chinese company and possibly things made in Hong Kong (better standards?). But because of past issues, stopped buying any thing from China connected with human or dog food and some child’s toys (by the way Smithfield’s/pork/sausage products are owned by a Chinese company & is another I don’t buy from).
        Some things one can’t get anywhere else (repair parts for the old WII for example). Sometimes “cheap crap” is OK, for example a power tool used once a month instead of on the job every day. Not so much for items that need high reliability like windmills & solar panels.

  1. Couldn’t agree more – masterfully expressed and on the money. Time for wind mill and solar panel makers to be “out of a job.” They don’t produce anything useful anyway.

  2. Careful, China might make more money and employ more Chinese people furnishing and installing solar panels.

  3. The socialists embrace another paradox “From each according to ability” – except for energy sources. Then just forget the need, OK?

    • It’s always been the case that the party determines what each individual needs.
      Apparently those who run the asylum need so much more than everyone else.

  4. The Extreme Environmental Falsetto from USAID and New Leader Mark Carney

    Thanks to Paul Driessen and David Wojick, the falsetto of the international renewable choir is revealed to be a hollow echo chamber for the billions of people living in some form of economic and energy poverty.

  5. Thanks Paul Driessen and David Wojick for a very well and easily understandable article.
    The Green West does not understand that the only reason we still have 24/7 electricity in the west, is because we only have wind and solar as an addition to our coal, gas, nuclear and hydro.

    So start by building real base power in Africa. Thereafter the Africans can add wind and solar if they feel like virtue signalling and pay more for the electricity. But by then wind and solar could have gone out of fashion.

  6. For the same cost fuel based resources as opposed to more costly “green” options could significantly improve the quality of life and enhance development and modernization in poor countries. This should be weighed against the impacts of increased CO2. Evidently, contrary to rhetoric, the needs of third world inhabitants don’t carry much weight. This is a cruel and hard “green” win.

  7. There should be really no surprises about strategies keeping the populations of “Darkest Africa” in the dark.

    UN-aligned agencies mostly subscribe to the tenets of the Club of Rome population alarmism, and so want to keep undeveloped populations from developing.

    (How’s that for a deep-conspiracy” observation?)

    • The elitists are using climate change as a red herring. They want “climate control” to fail so they can implement “population control” in countries who aren’t powerful enough to fight them, without appearing to be racist. It’s a hypothesis….

    • They draw their philosophy from Malthus. He was wrong and they are wrong. link

      But Malthus embraced a zero-sum fallacy. In reality, each person born into the world uses his or her God-given talents to increase technological progress, increase human capital, and improve life for every other human being. As population has risen sharply, so too have global food supply, dietary supply adequacy, and life expectancy while infant mortality rates dropped.

      Buckminster Fuller got it right. We can do more and more with less and less. One of my favorite quotes has our old buddy, Al Gore, acknowledging that fact.

      It never ceases to amaze me the things people know but then stupidly ignore. It takes a lot of education to be able to do that. Education reform is desperately needed.

  8. I’m speechless. This is so fine I have nothing to add.

    Only joking! Here is a piece of my 2016 letter to candidate Trump. I think Trump gets it.

    No rational parent has ever decided their own children deserve less infrastructure and modern convenience than they. We must help the world to attain our North American blueprint of technology by perfecting it and helping them build it. We must ignore arrogant fools who imagine that Africa needs to be managed like some National Park; and ignorant fools who believe energy austerity would lead to some Medieval paradise of 7 billion people.

  9. Excellent article.

    It’s time for US citizen WUWT readers to write to Trump, Senators, and Representatives concerning USAID dollars being spent on inefficient/expensive energy and that this money could best be spent on less expensive and more stable systems that will truly make a difference in developing countries.

    I think Trump’s is already in the right mindset on this philosophy. However he probably is just not aware of USAID expenditures focus.

    I went to USAID website, and they didn’t advertise any of their actions on green energy. They also do not have a direct method to communicate with administrator Mark Green.

    Wikipedia has a big write up on USAID. They have a $27 billion/year budget, not pocket change. Also describe their environmental goal as:

    “Environment
    Among these global interests, environmental issues attract high attention. USAID assists projects that conserve and protect threatened land, water, forests, and wildlife. USAID also assists projects to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and to build resilience to the risks associated with global climate change.[11] U.S. environmental regulation laws require that programs sponsored by USAID should be both economically and environmentally sustainable.”

    The emphasis on this organization goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be reframed, but that may require some US environmental regulation laws?

    • “U.S. environmental regulation laws require that programs sponsored by USAID should be both economically and environmentally sustainable.”” If the law requires “environmental sustainability”, then the President can’t just change their program with an EO. Congress has to change the law. At least, that is supposed to be how it works. “Course,, I’d like to see the reference to the law(s).

  10. Decades ago it was the DDT ban. Millions have died. Now coal. The world keeps the heeel of their boot on Africa

    • Michael….

      Not the world, but rather the eco-warriors who ignore science in favour of their largely-flawed, collective beliefs……while all the time feeling self-righteous about their dangerous, I’ll-informed dogma! They are the ones keeping the boot on Africa

    • It really annoys me when people refer to the continent of Africa as if it was a country, or even as a group of countries that somehow get along together. Generally, the whole place is a giant mess, and just throwing money at it, no matter how well intended for any purpose, won’t work. I spent over a decade working for a large oil service company all over Africa from the early 80’s until the early 90’s. I’ve been in literal crossfires in the Sudan, Angola, and Gabon. I was in a field camp in Tripoli, Libya when it was bombed in 1986. I’ve had other very unpleasant experiences in Chad, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola. The entire continent is mired in corruption, religious and tribal conflicts, and largely run by maniacs. Here’s a short list, by no means complete:

      Dos Santos (Angola) Until 2017, but worth a look.
      Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea)
      Al-Bashir (Sudan)
      Deby (Chad)
      Museveni (Uganda)
      Afwerki (Ethiopia)

      Just Google some of these people. Most of them are still in power.
      There are, arguably, a few countries in Africa that function to a degree, but most don’t. (Last time I checked, 22 of the 25 poorest countries in the world are in Africa. ) That doesn’t mean any of its leaders are poor, however.
      If someone handed me the task of “electrifying” Africa with ANY technological option on the table,and unlimited financial resources available to me, I would not know where to begin. I wonder how USAID will make out with its silly “renewables”, given that it would be a stretch to organize the development of ANY kind of large electrical system, where it doesn’t already exist in Africa. I wouldn’t worry about China taking over. Africa will chew them up.

  11. Well said. Intermittent electrical power is the PROBLEM not the solution. I spent years doing humanitarian work in the Dominic an Republic where the electrical grid is intermittent even in the capital — in the countryside it is a joke. Nearly all the problems of the people there can be traced back, in some ways, to the lack of dependable electrical power.

    Whenever we funded a health clinic, we had to include a generator and fuel for the generator in the bargain — or the investment would have been almost entirely wasted. Modern medical equipment needs electricity — clinics need refrigeration for vaccines.

    Homes need refrigeration so they can buy food for more than a single day at a time and store that food safely in a tropical environment — refrigeration requires dependable, 24/7 electrical power.

    Small business — the backbone of developing economies — need 24/7 electrical power — or at least dependable day-time power.

    FAKE electrification — occasional power — or one-light bulb/one-outlet power — is not sufficient to raise these countries out of poverty.

  12. Thank you all for these positive and informative comments. Paul and I have just scratched the surface of this ongoing horror story. We hope to keep scratching.

  13. If anyone wants to ping on USAID their staff directory is here:
    https://www.usaid.gov/staff-directory

    Links to groups of top people are on the left where you can get names to use in the directory. The directory listing includes that persons email.

    In particular Richard Parker serves as the Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs:

    riparker@usaid.gov

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