Hillary’s America: Renewable AND Unsustainable

In Climate Change, Economics, Election 2016, Energy, Environment, Politics, Science, The Big Picture by Kyle Jorstad3 Comments

Having rallied the support of global warming mogul Al Gore, on Oct. 11th Hillary Clinton delivered an impassioned speech riddled with incomplete comparisons, red herrings, and hasty generalizations in an attempt to galvanize support for her energy program.

Amidst Mrs. Clinton’s politically and emotionally charged rhetoric can be found multiple cherry-picked examples of the triumphs of clean energy, such as the electric-powered Chevy Volt produced in Michigan. While a car boasting 53 miles solely on electricity may seem a laudable milestone, it turns out that the Volt’s technological breakthrough comes at a significant cost. The 2016 Volt’s sticker price is $15,000 higher than comparable compact cars (though this price is often reduced over $10K through federal grants and subsidies, meaning your tax payer money). Yet the Volt was only initially produced through millions in aid during production, with an estimated $250 million in government aid behind each 2011 Volt.

The crux of Clinton’s energy plan is the installation of 500 million additional solar panels and the expansion of the United States solar capacity to 140 gigawatts, all by 2020. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US currently rests at only 22.9 GW of solar capacity, a figure projected to expand to 57 GW by 2020. This leaves Clinton with an 83 GW deficit, which the Institute for Energy Research projects to cost over $200 billion.

Don’t be fooled, though; this up-front installation cost is conservative compared to the long-term expense of the system. Solar energy only delivers while the sun is up, meaning supplemental power (typically in the form of natural gas) is required for hours when solar can’t deliver. Additional costs arise in the form of energy lost during conversion, grid modernization for energy compatibility, and the standard slew of incalculable bureaucratic expenses.

unsplash-residentialYet even with this massive investment in solar, Hillary can’t possibly generate “enough renewable energy to power every home in America within the decade.” Given the EIA’s 2015 statistics on residential energy consumption, 500 million solar panels combined with current US solar potential doesn’t come close to meeting projected residential demand.

Solar plants also deliver massive costs in terms of water consumption, not to mention the massive amounts of land required for solar fields. The average solar plant requires millions of gallons of water for cooling processes, preferred over more expensive and less-efficient dry-cooling options. Two plant installations in Nevada by Solar Millennium will require 1.3 billion gallons of water annually, or 20% of the area’s water supply.

As shown by the US Department of Energy, the ideal regions for peak solar output lie along the Southern border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, which coincidentally also happen to be the driest areas in the US. Ironically, Clinton has attempted to use the California drought so support her call for solar energy, seemingly ignorant to the reality that solar plants exacerbate water shortages.

Furthermore, Clinton wants to invest in “cutting-edge research to keep developing cheaper and better clean-energy technologies and…clean-energy infrastructure.” Clinton believes that companies like Solyndra, Abound Solar, and SpectraWatt represent the future of clean energy innovation in America.

If those companies sound familiar, it’s for good reason: those are just three of 34 companies which received federal support from the Department of Energy under the Obama Administration and as of 2012 encountered severe financial difficulties, with 19 declaring bankruptcy.

Hillary claims her clean-energy program will create “millions of jobs,” but a study published in Energy and Environmental Science predicts precisely the opposite, projecting a net loss of over 1.2 million jobs as a product of transition to wind and solar energy.

Mrs. Clinton wholly disregards the current distribution of energy production and utilization in America. According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the cumulative energy production of renewables (solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal) amounted to a measly 5% of our total energy consumption for 2015. Simultaneously, sources on which Clinton pledges to cut dependence (coal, oil, and natural gas) comprise a whopping 80% of our energy infrastructure. Clearly the transition to so called clean energy is more economically, and potentially technologically, insurmountable than the Clinton camp would have Americans believe.

youtube-moneyWith only a history of routinely abysmal failure to show for billions of poorly invested taxpayer dollars, why propose even greater investment in “green” energy programs? The answer is plain: Clinton and the green movement realize that low yield energy sources like wind, and solar simply cannot compete with conventional energy without state intervention. Only through weighty taxes and repressive regulation of conventional energy, accompanied by massive government subsidization programs, will renewables be functionally competitive in the short term.

Hillary’s ‘sustainable energy’ program isn’t nearly as sustainable as she would have us believe. Hillary won’t create millions of green jobs, magically generate megawatts of additional energy, or spontaneously reverse hyped global warming trends. What she will do is sink billions of taxpayer dollars in ventures which will eliminate jobs, suppress efficient energy production, and increase energy prices, all disparately impacting lower and middle class Americans already struggling to make ends meet. And when Hillary promises to “make sure no community is left out or left behind,” she promises that everyone will share in the cost.

Kyle Jorstad is a student at Grove City College studying political science with minors in Spanish and economics. Passionate for writing and educational discourse, Kyle plans enrolling in law school following graduation.


  1. aaprjohn@northnet.org'


    As an physicist and energy expert I say good job on that.

    I would have changed the title to “unrenewable and unsustainable” and the plan depends on very limited resources (like rare earth elements). Send me an email for details.

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