The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Don’t blame green energy for the failures of fossil fuels

A coal-burning power plant the city of Baotou, in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on Oct. 31, 2010.
A coal-burning power plant the city of Baotou, in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on Oct. 31, 2010. (David Gray/Reuters)
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Regarding the Oct. 11 front-page article “An energy crisis is gripping the world”:

Global prices for natural gas, coal and oil are increasing. Factors identified as contributing to the trend include constrained supplies from Russian gas pipelines, dozens of flooded Chinese coal mines, poor planning by India’s power companies and coal mines, and increasing electricity demand as the global economy recovers from the pandemic. What’s to be done? Blame renewables.

Although wind and solar power aren’t subject to the volatility and price spikes associated with the global market for fossil fuels, and increased renewable deployment would clearly reduce reliance on power plants, the article puzzlingly framed the key issue as “whether the world is ready for the green energy revolution.”

Amid a blizzard of other factors, the single renewable shortfall mentioned concerned underproduction by wind turbines in the North Sea. Yet there’s no indication that this single shortfall is remotely on the scale of the major disruptions to coal and natural gas outlined in the piece.

It’s not surprising that fossil fuel promoters would seek to blame renewables, but it is disappointing that The Post would elevate such assertions when they’re not sustained by the facts in the article. An accelerated transition to renewable energy and advanced grid technologies will make the entire world less subject to the gyrations of global fossil fuel markets ― and of course is critical to an effective climate response. Getting there will only be more difficult if renewables continue to be blamed for the shortfalls of the fossil fuel economy. 

Gregory Wetstone, Bethesda

The writer is president and chief
executive of the American Council on
Renewable Energy.

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