Many who care about the future of this planet are searching for alternatives to our current fossil fuel energy dependency. Bold new approaches have been proposed by the Biden administration, including accelerating offshore wind energy development at a massive scale to create new jobs using so-called “Green Technology.”
However, there has been an incredible failure of the media and those in positions of power to illustrate the true costs and deep corruption embedded in the use of wind and solar energy, specifically wind turbines. From dependency on China’s rare earth metals to reliance on forced labor, the wind energy industry is unjust and deeply unsustainable.
Other energy alternatives are feasible and obtainable, but the public must understand the interrelated web of corruption that lies behind “clean” wind turbines. There are social, industrial, technological, human, cultural, economic, and political factors at play that make this issue complex and interwoven. When looking at the pieces out of context, it doesn’t look like there is a problem. No one is connecting the dots.
In Part I of this exposé, we gave background as to what wind turbines are and how they generate energy. To summarize, wind energy is not a feasible replacement for fossil fuels because they’re non-recyclable, low-performing, high-cost, intermittent energy sources that require massive land usage and need to be supplemented by nonrenewable sources like fossil fuels. The mining and manufacture of solar panels and windmills and their materials are environmentally destructive and have a dangerous human cost.
We also discussed dependency on China’s rare earth supply chain (rare earths are the energy-intensive raw materials that are key critical components to our technology and communications sector, military defense, medical, biomedical, and of course wind turbines.) In the last two decades, China has come to dominate global rare earth production by investing in mining and processing without enforcing adequate environmental safeguards. “Few other countries are willing to copy China’s low-cost, high-pollution version of rare-earth processing,” reports LA Times. There is a reliance on rare earth minerals for almost all forms of wind energy parts.
There is an extraordinary environmental price being paid by the entire planet for the mining, refinement using pollution-heavy diesel factories, and the shipment of rare earth metals and parts that create wind turbines and solar panels.
In our second installment, we detailed the human cost of the unsustainable wind and solar energy industries, from the inhumane labor conditions required of these supply chains, to the subsidies and debt cycles to China. For a more detailed report, click on Part II of our exposé.
Some key areas to note are the numerous reports of severe human rights issues and abuses relating to rare earth mining sites like the Democratic Republic of Congo. In southeastern China, Toxic waste and radioactive materials are also a byproduct of rare earth processing, poisoning water, and soil and leading to abnormal disease rates for surrounding communities. We also detailed the economic impact of wind turbines and solar panels, including the Government subsidies and incentives which hide the actual cost of wind turbines. In reality, solar and wind facilities suffer from a very high capacity cost per megawatt, low reliability, and deficient capacity factors, which result in low avoided emissions and low avoided energy cost per dollar invested.
In order to pay the subsidies for these renewable energy projects, there is now a total debt of $42 billion and growing without a change in policy. Even since our previous installments, other news outlets have begun to shed light on the various negative impacts of these industries. The National Postrecently reported on the ‘solar trash tsunami’ and the economic cost created by unrecyclable solar power waste based on new research out of the University of Calgary. Other outlets are beginning to wise up to the “real cost of wind and solar,” coming to the conclusion that perceived costs and energy outputs just don’t add up.
Corporate and Consumer Consciousness
While many consumers and corporations would like to value environmental and economic sustainability and respect the earth and all human life, there is not always adequate information available to make choices that support those values.
As Amnesty International states, “Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products.”
“It is a major paradox of the digital era that some of the world’s richest, most innovative companies are able to market incredibly sophisticated devices without being required to show where they source raw materials for their components,” said Emmanuel Umpula, Afrewatch (Africa Resources Watch) Executive Director.
As sustainable models are being considered by the Biden administration, Ocean Energy Conversion (Wave, Tidal & Current Systems), should be at the top of their list, in that they all outperform both wind and solar energy by efficiency, cost, land, and materials usage, and (lack of) waste creation.
There is a chance that the U.S. could lead the charge in clean energy and actually create jobs at home which do not harm our planet or communities abroad. The public outcry for alternatives to fossil fuels and the decline of the oil industry provides the perfect opportunity to revolutionize our energy systems.
Mr. Welch Jr. concludes the interview by stating, “The truth will set you free. The problem is that not everyone has the whole story. There is belief and support from teams of people around the world counting on us to win this battle.
“We can change this system of money laundering, slave labor, and environmental degradation into something different. What I want to see is America Strong, Africa Strong, South America Strong. All of our global citizens deserve a planet free from corruption and waste. We need to break through the cognitive dissonance to shed light on the truth, and then move forward with a just alternative.”
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