At Least the Sheep Are Happier

Peter Smith01 Mar, 2024 4 Min Read
That sheep may safely graze.

Will the bounty of renewable energy ever cease? A case in point concerns a combined sheep and solar farm in a rural region of the Australian state of Victoria. The overseeing farmer explains here that the run-off of dew from the panels creates adjacent rich pasture which the sheep enjoy. Moreover, the sheep are able to shelter beneath the panels to avoid the blazing sun and the rain and hail. And there’s more. The sheep keep down grasses and weeds underneath and around the panels, which might otherwise have to be periodically removed. Think about it, power provided “free” by the sun plus all of these side benefits.

This isn’t just an Australian thing. The United States is also participating in “Agrivoltaics.” Namely, the dual use of land for solar power and agriculture. New Zealand is taking part too and probably other countries with large populations of sheep. Of the ovine kind to be clear, not simply the human sheep-like creatures who were ever eager to pledge fealty to Covid commissars. Incidentally, mention is also being made of the shade for sheep, and presumably other farm animals, provided by wind turbines.

Thanks, "green energy"!

Expect the resourceful renewable-energy empire to go on finding collateral advantages of their products. I can’t help but feel that turbines might also create a cooling breeze for ruminants. Why not? Meanwhile lots of folk are unconvinced and are pushing back.

Protests and the occasional success in blocking a renewable-energy project have hit the news. In Australia, Tanya Plibersek, the federal minister for the environment, recently vetoed a plan to build a terminal off Port Hastings in Victoria, which was to collect and funnel power from offshore turbines. Damage to internationally important wetlands was cited as the reason. Environmentalists hoist by their own petard.

A planned solar eruption just outside of Mudgee, a regional New South Wales tourist town, was canned by the NSW Land and Environment Court. A high-profile planned wind eruption in Chalumbin – an area of wilderness sitting between two national parks (Tully Gorge and Koombooloomba) in north Queensland – is under intense pressure, including from reformed greenies like prominent nature photographer Steven Nowakowski. Originally 200 turbines were planned. This has been cut back, and cut back again, till only 42 remain; and then, probably, there will be none.

There have been other victories and more will come. Still, best not to get too excited. These victories are no more than dogs barking as the caravan moves on. This caravan is a leviathan of vested interests of unparalleled proportions. Reputations, money and power on a vast global scale are on the line; manacled to the mythical threat of CO2 and to its parasitical offspring, "renewable energy." For example, as of 2023, there were more than 300 windfarms in operation, under construction or planned in Australia. And there’s much more to come. Each state government, without exception, has a hyperbolic plan to rid their state of fossil-fuel power. Chris Bowen, the federal minister for climate change and energy, is morbidly obsessed with the fantasy that 82 percent of Australia’s electricity will come from renewables by 2030.

Climate fantasists will not stop, whether in Australia or anywhere else. Sure they’ll adjust around the edges when forced to. Apropos, Rishi Sunak delaying the ban on the sale of ICE cars in the U.K. from 2030 till 2035. And, as Tom Finnerty reports, farmers in Europe are having some success in pushing back against government and E.U. mandates. But there will be no road to Damascus experience; no sweeping recantations. These are True Believers, with well-lined, deep pockets.

Dream on, Oz.

After thirty years and trillions of dollars, wind and solar power accounted for just 5 percent of the world’s energy needs in 2022. Coal, oil and natural gas provided 77 percent. A cause for refection? Not among the net-zero brigade. For them it simply means that more needs to be done. If Australia is any guide, the insidious insertion of unreliable renewables into Western countries' power systems will continue unabated. This is not to say that it will ever work. It won’t. But it is bound to make the West weaker; as it makes China, the supplier to the West of the apparatus to wreak national self-harm, relatively stronger.

People look at national self-harm in terms of economics. That’s valid enough. But national security is even more important. The quixotic quest to cool the planet by installing unreliable and costly energy is the unfolding of a Western civilization suicide note. Industry is moving out to where power is “polluting.” It’s certainly moving out of Australia: from aluminum smelting, to loo-paper manufacturing, to nickel mining and refining, which those unprincipled ESG-denying Indonesians do more cheaply using “filthy” coal power. And it’s moving out of Europe, including out of Germany. As it spreads and gains pace, deindustrialization will inexorably degrade the West’s military capability. Still, for all that, at least the sheep will be happier, sheltered under solar panels as the storm clouds gather.

After a career in economics, banking and payment-systems management, Peter Smith now blogs on the topics of the day. He writes for Quadrant, Australia’s leading conservative online site and magazine. He has written Bad Economics, of which, he notes, there is much.


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One comment on “At Least the Sheep Are Happier”

  1. "As it spreads and gains pace, deindustrialization will inexorably degrade the West’s military capability."
    But that's a feature, not a bug.

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