As 'Green Energy' Fails, a New 'Emergency' Arises

Steven F. Hayward30 Nov, 2023 5 Min Read
Coming our way in 2024.

The swift and startling collapse of the net-zero climate agenda nearly everywhere is leading to political desperation. Don’t be surprised to see the political emergency — especially President Joe Biden’s — become the basis for declaring a formal “climate emergency.” Despite hundreds of billions in new subsides for “green energy” enacted over the last three years in the U.S. and Europe—on top of several trillion dollars spent so far—renewable power projects are being canceled, delayed, or scaled back nearly everywhere.

The green energy lobby, already the beneficiary of some of the most lavish subsidies governments have ever granted for any industry, are saying that the future of green energy depends on even larger subsidies. It was recently revealed that Germany’s off-budget spending for energy subsidies is nearly larger than the regular budget for the entire government, and Germany’s normally deferential Constitutional Court has ruled against the Scholz government’s proposal to divert billions in unspent Covid funds to the green energy rathole.

More expensive mush from the wimp.

The situation in the United States differs only in the timeline. The U.S. is fast catching up with Germany in the sweepstakes for the most green-mad nation, as Biden’s direct subsidies, loan guarantees, tax favors, and green mandates likely exceed $1 trillion in total cost this decade. But already it is running into trouble. One of his largest green slush funds is having trouble spending all the billions, and the projects it has funded are likely to yield the same results as Biden’s favorite green energy project under the Obama Administration’s previous slush fund: Solyndra.

Car buyers aren’t rushing to embrace electric vehicles (that are slated to be mandatory for everyone in a decade), car makers are cutting EV production and canceling planned battery manufacturing plants. Offshore solar wind power projects are being abandoned, and onshore wind projects are facing mounting opposition from the public.

Fanciful claims that renewable energy is cheaper than conventional energy are belied by soaring utility rates in the U.S. and elsewhere. Wyoming, for example, the nation’s leading coal-producing state, is suddenly facing a 30 percent increase in electric utility rates because it foolishly joined the renewable-energy bandwagon. Green energy stocks have collapsed this year. For example, the Invesco WilderHill Clean Energy exchange-traded green energy fund PBW is down 30 percent in 2023, while the S&P 500 is up 19 percent and the NASDAQ is up 36 percent.

While everyone is looking at the mind-boggling green spending totals, a sly move by the Biden administration is drawing little attention outside of the specialized energy press (and Fox News). Two weeks ago President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to divert $169 million in federal funds to expand the production of heat pumps. While $169 million is hardly rounding error in federal spending these days, this move is notable for several reasons.

First, why the mania for heat pumps? Heat pumps can be more energy efficient than conventional gas or fuel oil furnaces in many circumstances, but usually cost more than conventional furnaces or air conditioning, which is one reason why Britain recently backed off plans to mandate widespread adoption of heat pumps in homes whose heating and cooling systems don’t need replacing.

Heat pumps: this is war!

Heat pumps are the latest obsession of the climate cult with any technology that displaces natural gas, which is now public enemy number one. There are plenty of heat pumps on the market today, and consumers are perfectly capable of making intelligent choices about whether future energy cost savings justify a higher up-front price today. Most American consumers are choosing conventional HVAC systems, to the fury of the climate cultists. Making heat pumps mandatory, like the fanatical drive to ban natural gas stoves and forcing us to use dishwashers and clothes washing machines that don’t work, is the next step.

So why does the Biden administration think it necessary to invoke a power meant for national defense emergencies to juice heat pump production? What do heat pumps have to do with national defense needs? Nothing. But the Biden administration justifies the use of the Defense Production Act because expanded heat pump production will bolster “energy security” and help fight climate change. After all, the Pentagon, which has long experience with the art of embracing any cause that will help secure its budget appropriations, has fallen in line declaring that "climate change" is a significant national security threat.

No one should be the least surprised at this cynical misuse of emergency executive power. It is entirely typical of executive lawlessness of recent Democratic administrations, such as Biden’s student loan forgiveness (struck down by the Supreme Court, though Biden is trying again), or Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was amnesty for illegal immigrants in all but name, or Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” (also struck down by the Supreme Court).

The invocation of the Defense Production Act may be a tiny warmup for the next big use of executive power on behalf of climate change. Since Biden took office the most vocal climate cultists have been demanding that Biden formally declare a “climate emergency.” Biden and his followers persist in referring to the “climate crisis,” so declaring a climate emergency would seem the sensible next step in this progression. The news hook to justify this step is already in front of us: the hyped-up claims that 2023 is "virtually certain" to be the hottest year on record:

This year is “virtually certain” to be the hottest year in recorded history, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Thursday at COP28, the United Nations climate summit in Dubai where delegates from nearly 200 countries, including many heads of state and government, have gathered.

The organization said 2023 has been about 1.4 degrees Celsius, or about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit, above the global average preindustrial temperature from 1850 to 1990. The past nine years have been the warmest nine in 174 years of recorded scientific observations, with the previous single-year records set in 2020 and 2016. This comes in addition to record greenhouse gas concentrations, sea levels and concentrations of methane. “It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records,” Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, said in Dubai.

Broken records, indeed: the supposed “climate emergency” coincides with a real political emergency for Biden’s re-election. With polls showing Biden slipping badly among young voters—a key constituency for him and the Democrats—a formal declaration of a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 would be a sop to a cohort of voters that supposedly cares a lot about "climate change," and who tell pollsters that we aren’t doing enough to fight it.

The declaration of a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act could have significantly larger consequences than the diversion of funds to heat pumps under the Defense Production Act. One of the ironies of the green energy drive under Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is that the environmental law and regulations that have been abused to stop development for the last 50 years are currently in the way of wind and solar power installations and aggressive expansions of the electricity grid. Biden could waive or short-circuit a number of these regulatory roadblocks, though a future president named Trump or DeSantis could use the very same power to apply regulatory relief more broadly. This is probably among the reasons Biden has resisted declaring a climate emergency so far. But when you face a political emergency, all restraints come off.

Steven F. Hayward is a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and lecturer at Berkeley Law. His most recent book is "M. Stanton Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom." He writes daily at


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11 comments on “As 'Green Energy' Fails, a New 'Emergency' Arises”

  1. If you believe in anthropocentric global warming, aka the thinly disguised anti-human movement that was forced to change its name to "climate change", you are in a "cult" and you are a "cultist".

    Every one of your cultic priests hysterical predictions have been irrefutably proven to be false ... not just a few, but every one.

    Every one of your cultic priests hysterical assertions have been proven to be false or irrelevant or deliberate lies ... again, not just a few, but every one.

    The list of your cult's predictions and assertions that have been irrefutably proven to be false or irrelevant or deliberate lies is extensive, and each of those have been publicly documented as false or irrelevant or deliberately misdirective thousands of times, if not tens of thousands of times.

    As a cultist, you, you personally, have surrendered all rationality and thinking ability, choosing instead to unquestioningly suck down the rancid pap your cult priests are dishing out.

    As a result of your surrendering all rationality and thinking ability, you, you personally, have refused to investigate, among other issues, the history of atmospheric CO2 content, glaciers or glacial research or planet Earth's ice content, or world wide sea levels or sea level measurements, or continental uplift or subsidence, or, even the simplest of all, thermometers and thermal measurements.

  2. Heat pumps are nothing but "2 way" air conditioners...which means they use a lot of electricity. They work ok in warmer climates, but are not efficient in cold climates and need backup heating elements. Kind of like the green electric plants that need a backup fossil fuel plant when it's dark and/or the wind isn't blowing. In other words, they may be a good consumer choice in Tennessee, but not Minnesotta or New Hampshire. Lefties only like "choice" with abortion, but not consumer preference.

  3. Making a whole Country dependent on Wind and Solar is totally irresponsible and stupid but most Eco-Freaks are driven on ideology not reality

  4. Even without declaring a climate-crisis emergency, the Biden gang will waive the environmental regulations standing athwart the construction of these wonderful renewable energy facilities. They'll just have to do it piecemeal: one at a time instead of wholesale for the whole of them. They don't want to go that route only because it takes time - time enough for States to intensify their lawsuits against the Feds.
    It's aggravating to see that every time government wants something built, the first thing they do is to waive the environmental requirements surrounding that project. Geez, there ought to be a law that if the government waives a regulation, then it is waived FOR EVERYONE.

  5. Of course. Liberals always - always - want to make our lives more expensive and more uncomfortable. They themselves don't have to suffer the consequences of their policies - not while sitting in their Georgetown brick townhouses or jetting around the world in their executive jets (John Kerry) - only we, the Great Unwashed, must feel the pain.

  6. I have experienced the limitations of heat pumps while living in Georgia. Heat pumps are more prevalent in the southern states where it rarely gets truly cold (unlike in Michigan where I currently live). During the rare cold snaps, the heat pumps typically rely on resistance coils to supply the heat necessary to achieve a comfortable temperature. Resistance coils are a big energy drain and my electric bills reflected that. The temperatures that this occurred started in the low 40's. Adopting mandatory heat pumps in the northern states will be a costly disaster and will cause energy usage to rise along with costs. For those of you who don't know what a resistance coil is, this is the same technology as the heating elements on an electric stove. Current is passed through them and heat is generated by the resistance of the material. You basically have a backup heat source that kicks in when the heat pump cannot provide enough heat to achieve the temperature inside your home that you have set. In Michigan, that will be from November through March. Better have some extra power available during those months!

  7. They really dont care if we can afford the heat pumps evs solar panels etc. if you can't afford transportation 30 miles to work that's a feature not a bug. Can't afford to heat your home: move to an apartment

    The goal is for the hoi polloi to dance to the tune the elites are playing. Thats why it has to be inposed by fiat

  8. If I read the above explication of Heat Pump technology from Mr Demorest (thank you, sir) then I gather that Heat Pumps work fine except when it gets cold outside: "Heat pumps lack the power to win this battle once outside temperatures fall." Okay, it looks like I'm keeping my noisy HVAC system.
    As for the executive declaration of Climate Emergency, I don't think the President will go there unless the major Blue States (CA NY MI) go first. President Obiden prefers to lead from behind.

  9. "forcing us to use dishwashers and clothes washing machines that don’t work,"
    and toilets that don't flush well.

  10. Heat pumps are the holy grail for renewable grid managers who are desperate to find the means of taking the burden off of the grid at precisely the time when wind and solar can’t satisfy demand: at night or when it’s cold, cloudy, and the wind ain’t blowing. To understand why, one needs to understand three concepts: Thermodynamic inefficiency; design inefficiency; and power. Like all devices that convert energy from one form to another, heat pumps operate at a certain thermodynamic efficiency.
    In the process of transferring heat through the compression of a gas, they waste energy through mainly friction and irreversible compression and expansion (entropy). No surprise there. What’s more important to understand is their design inefficiency. By their design they rely on an adiabatic transfer of heat process that becomes less efficient as temperatures drop. Importantly, this design inefficiency leads to less energy being removed from the grid, not more. It’s like a windmill that can no longer remove energy from the wind because the wind changed direction and the windmill’s design limitation—its principle of operation—prohibits it from turning its blades accordingly.
    Finally, it’s important to realize that what really matters in the real world is power, not energy. Power is the amount of energy per time. When one is heating a structure, it’s a race between the rate at which heat is added to the structure and the rate at which heat is lost from the structure to the atmosphere. Heat pumps typically lack the power to win this battle once outside temperatures fall. That’s why heat pump owners complain that their pumps run and run on a cold day but their houses remain cold. It’s a confluence of thermodynamic and design inefficiencies that make them unfit for purpose in cold weather; but for the renewable grid manager, it’s exactly what they want because the design inefficiency is like an involuntary kill switch. When the pump runs and runs in the cold weather there will of course be some small demand on the grid to overcome thermodynamic losses, but the major load on the grid necessary to achieve adiabatic heat transfer from atmosphere to structure is, well, out of service. It’s analogous to the central planners who, realizing the limited range of an EV, propose a 15-minute city as a solution.

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