If you listen to Al Gore you might think that the future of our economy is in ‘green jobs’. But here’s a number to remember when thinking about those jobs: 37
It is said that at their very maximum efficiency, windmills are only 37% as efficient as a coal-fired or nuclear power plant. This makes sense. After all, the wind never blows 24 hours. Some days it does not blow at all. And did man not abandon sailing ships as soon as the steam engine came along because sail power was so inefficient?
This 37% is very low and something we cannot afford in our electrical generation system. We need to produce energy efficiently in order to maintain our standard of living.
Thus if you need to install 1,000 megawatts of electrical production with a nuclear plant, you simply put up a 1,000 megawatt reactor. But to get the same power from windmills you would need to install several thousand megawatts of windmills since they are so much less efficient.
That does not sound like a very efficient way to produce jobs, does it? And that is the hoax behind ‘green jobs’. Because ‘green jobs’ are created out of inefficiency, not efficiency. And every ‘green job’ that is created is going to cost our economy two or three regular jobs.
Think of it this way: Railroad steam locomotives required huge amounts of labor to load up the coal and the fill the water tank; fire the boiler; warm up the engine slowly because it cannot be heated too quickly; fire the engine during its run which required a separate worker from the engineer; stop periodically to refill the water tank; dump out and cart away the ashes after every run; grease every bearing after each run; clean the firebox routinely to keep it working efficiently etc. This cost huge amounts of money in labor, which is why the railroads quickly converted over to diesel locomotives that you switch on and drive like your modern automobile.
But imagine somebody says, “The railroads should switch back to steam locomotives so as to employ more people.” This would never work. Because it is so inefficient and would cost so much in labor to run the locomotives that the railroads would go out of business.
Or imagine somebody suggesting that we shut down all the John Deere tractor plants so that farms would have to go back to human labor again, creating all those jobs. That would destroy our abundant and inexpensive food supply and put farms out of business.
This is precisely how ‘green jobs’ work – through inefficiency. And ‘green energy’ will kill our economy if we come to rely on it.
It is crucial to understand the difference between ‘creating jobs’ and ‘creating wealth’. Because they are two different things. For instance even criminals can create ‘jobs’ for thugs by hiring them to break the legs of store owners who do not pay protection money. But that does not create any wealth.
You create real ‘jobs’ when you ‘create wealth’. And you ‘create wealth’ in only one way – by manufacturing things efficiently. You create wealth by taking a resource like iron ore out of the ground (which has no intrinsic value) and making it into a product that people need like a car or railroad locomotive (that has a value). And the more efficiently you do this, the more wealth is created and the more real jobs are created.
And today manufacturing is leaving our shores because the same environmentalists who want to put up windmills everywhere are using the government to thwart manufacturing through restrictions on resource extraction, through lawsuits against business, through rabid enviro regs on production, and through crushing taxes on corporations.
And then when you create ‘jobs’ through inefficiency like windmills, you actually thwart the creation of real ‘wealth’ because manufacturing will cost so much more. And this creates a downward spiral which will be the result of inefficient ‘green jobs’.
In wind energy, we have a perfect example. Imagine a 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant. Then imagine that you install 2,500 separate windmills to generate the same amount of electricity.
Just imagine all the labor you need to maintain all those windmills. You have to go out and inspect each one on a regular basis and maintain its bearings. And if you need to replace parts, you might need to get those parts up to a mountaintop where the windmills are located, perhaps requiring an expensive helicopter to get the parts in. The windmills also require new roads and power lines in wilderness areas.
Doesn’t this not sound like a steam engine, with all its extra maintenance requirements?
In a 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor, the plant is always located near a highway, and has only a handful of generators all located inside the building. So maintaining those few generators requires a fraction of the labor of maintaining all those individual windmills. And everything is right there where you need it, under a roof where you can work on it.
Then consider that windmills are exposed to high winds, ice, snow, rain, sleet. This causes a huge strain on the windmills, leading them to have more problems than the generators that sit inside a building, out of the weather, at a coal-fired or nuclear plant.
Now think about another ‘green’ energy source – solar panels to heat hot water for your home. People were surprised that Al Gore’s electricity bill actually increased after he put solar panels on his house. But the truth about solar collectors is that they first consume large amounts of energy and then produce little energy in return.
Solar collectors are supposed to replace your hot water tank and the electricity needed to heat the water in the tank, or the fuel oil in your oil burner needed to heat hot water. But actually heating water with the sun is a very inefficient system. Here are the reasons that you should avoid it:
First any decent carpenter will tell you that you should never poke big holes in your home’s roof. Yet people go poking big holes in their roof all the time in order to install solar collectors. If you do this, you are asking for trouble because this gives rain a way to get into your house that it does not normally have.
Second, if you have solar collectors installed and you need to replace your roof, you have to pay skilled technicians a lot of money to disconnect the collectors, lower them to the ground, and then re-install them after the new roof is complete. This can be very expensive. Because those collectors are very heavy. And any mis-step can cause an injury to a worker or other problems including damage to the collectors. If it is not done right, it can cause major problems for you home by harming the roof.
That is extra labor like all the extra labor required for the 24,000 individual mirrors at the solar power plant in the desert at dusty and windy Lancaster, California. Every mirror has to be cleaned regularly because the dust kicks up regularly.
Third, solar collectors are very expensive, up to $10,000 for your home. The only reason most people install them is because they get a taxpayers subsidy. But by themselves, they are very inefficient and expensive.
Fourth, and this is critical, solar energy consumes large amounts of electricity to work, which is why Al Gore’s electricity bill went up 10% after he installed his solar collectors. Because whenever the sun is high, an electric pump has to pump your collector fluid from the basement hot water tank up to the roof to get heated by the sun in the collectors. This uses lots of electricity because even small pumps are big energy hogs.
Fifth, despite all the claims that solar energy is a ‘simple’ and ‘low tech’ energy source, many thousands of collectors that were installed with government help back in the late 1970s no longer work and are sitting derelict on homes throughout the US. Because the owners did not want to invest in repairing them.
Sixth, after a snowstorm, the collectors need to be cleaned off before they can operate. Often they are so inaccessible that they cannot be cleared for days or weeks. Or they do not work until the snow clears itself naturally after a warm spell or a windy spell.
And seventh, those solar collectors produce the most hot water in the summertime when you are often away on vacation and generally use less hot water. One collector owner explained that he needed to dump hot water down the drain all summer to prevent his collectors from overheating.
Yet environmentalists tell us that installing solar collectors will create many jobs. What they do not tell you is that those jobs are created through inefficiency and waste. And for the future of our economy, we should stop investing in wasteful technologies now and start to think rationally about creating real jobs through the best means possible – the efficient production of energy.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.