Bob Maistros writes for Issues and Insights about a long-overdue reassessment of renewable energy sources’ pros and cons.

It’s not just that renewables are so intermittent and unreliable that they must be legislated and subsidized; eat up land; will require more storage than physically possible; have nearly bankrupted and blacked out Germany with little emissions improvement; and are doing the same to California and other jurisdictions adopting mandates. 

Despite these indisputable truths, the White House’s policy remains “a carbon pollution-free electricity sector” by 2035 and “net-zero emissions economy-wide” by 2050.

Yet three additional existential threats must and will lay the renewables narrative bare. The first was reflected in Joe Biden’s recent signing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Forty-five percent of the worldwide supply of solar-grade polysilicon stems from China’s Xinjiang region, where it is reportedly largely produced by enslaved Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic Muslims. (China overall produces three-quarters of polysilicon and 95% of solar wafers.) 

According to the administration and former detainees, abuse of these “workers” has included  “extrajudicial imprisonment, forced sterilization, high-tech surveillance, forced family separations and cultural and religious repression” as well as “systematic physical harm such as starvation, sexual abuse, rape and torture.” 

In other words, a conflict of values – climate absolutism vs. criminal justice and #metoo – even the wokest Green New Dealer can’t sweep under the rug. Hence, the legislation bans imports from Xinjiang unless businesses can prove items were made without forced labor. …

… But wait! There’s more. Besides slave labor, as a Wall Street Journal headline puts it, “Behind the Rise of U.S. Solar Power (is) a Mountain of Chinese Coal,” as “the solar industry’s reliance on Chinese coal” makes it “one of the world’s most prolific polluters.” …

… Then there’s Factor 3 dropping the bottom out of the renewables narrative: an equally unmanageable mountain of domestic waste.