Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing: Energy Facilitators Turn Into Energy Inhibitors

Written by Vijay Jayaraj on June 29, 2021

Global energy organizations originally formed to aid and help countries to better utilize and access energy resources are now doing the opposite.

One such organization, the International Energy Agency (IEA), has become a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It advocates against fossil fuels instead of promoting their use as the abundant, affordable, reliable energy sources they are.

Can the IEA be trusted anymore as an independent analyst of the global energy sector? Or has it joined the long list of international organizations that are on the anti-fossil warpath? Its recent track record suggests the latter.

The IEA is an autonomous intergovernmental organization, formed in response to the 1973 oil crisis. It was established in 1974 under the framework of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to enhance oil security.

However, the organization’s focus has expanded since then. In recent years, it has been advocating for renewable energy use. Today, it has made a complete U-turn from its original objective and has become an open advocate of policies that seek to end fossil fuel use.

The Ludicrous NetZero Roadmap

In its most recent report, NetZero by 2050, the IEA recommends an unprecedented transition to renewable sources of energy.

As a starter, the policy recommendations call for governments worldwide to sacrifice their main source of primary energy, fossil fuels. “Policies should limit or provide disincentives for the use of certain fuels and technologies, such as unabated coal‐fired power stations, gas boilers and conventional internal combustion engine vehicles,” reads the IEA report.

It also calls for “scaling up solar and wind rapidly this decade, reaching annual additions of 630 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) and 390 GW of wind by 2030, four‐times the record levels set in 2020.” It explains that, “for solar PV, this is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day.”

On the transportation front, the IEA says such a transition forecasts that “Electric vehicles (EVs) go from around 5% of global car sales to more than 60% by 2030.”

These recommendations are not only impossible but suicidal for any functional economy. Fossil fuels are the world’s primary energy source and met 85 percent of the world’s energy needs in 2019.

The IEA’s proposed alternatives in renewables, including wind and solar, accounted for just 11 percent of global energy needs despite billions and billions of dollars invested in them over the past two decades.

Besides, these renewables are unreliable because unavoidably spewing intermittent and sometimes non-functional (solar at night time and during cloudy days, and wind turbines when the wind doesn’t blow).

An example of their flaws, and their inability to supply energy when it’s most needed, was showcased during the recent blackouts in California (during wildfires) and Texas (during a snowstorm).

Wind and solar’s intermittency mean that as they increase their share in the electric grid the price of electricity rises because backup generation from non-intermittent sources—mainly natural gas, coal, or nuclear—must be kept online 24/7 so it can replace lost wind and solar power at a second’s notice. Even advanced economies like Germany and California are witnessing significant rise in power purchase costs for customers due to inclusion of renewables.

When it comes to electric vehicles, the problem again is with the supposed benefits that arise from them. Firstly, the electricity required for electric vehicles is still largely generated from fossil fuel sources. Secondly, the emissions from manufacturing e-cars are much higher than the emissions from manufacturing conventional combustion-engine cars.

Research on emissions from e-car manufacturing found that “the minute an electric car is produced, up to 17.5 tons of carbon dioxide has been emitted in batteries of standard size.”

In order to achieve the same emission as that released during the battery manufacturing process of a Tesla, a person who owns a petrol or diesel car would need to drive his fossil fuel powered car for 8.2 years! In other words, a single Tesla battery accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than a petrol or gas car would emit during 8 years of operation.

People hardly own the same car for 8 years in today’s age, and their short-term gas car could be a more emission-friendly option than the so called environment-friendly electric cars. To term e-vehicle transition as a moral obligation to save the planet is simply misleading, and the metrics fail on all accounts.

In essence, IEA’s recommendation that countries undergo a rapid transition to renewable energy by 2050 and switch to e-transportation has little to do with facilitating efficient energy policy. Instead, it has more to do with the climate philosophy that seeks to limit fossil fuel use globally.

By espousing the climate-driven renewable agenda, the IEA has technically become an inhibitor of energy access, antithetical to its original intentions of safeguarding the production, supply, and affordability of fossil fuels.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), is a Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and resides in Bengaluru, India.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), a Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.