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Jul 31, 2013

Debunking the Renewables “Disinformation Campaign”

 

According to Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, renewables are successful in Germany and not in the U.S. because Germany has “got a lot more sun than we do.” Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded during her now-infamous flub, "but here on the East Coast, it's just not going to work." (She recanted the next day while adding new errors.)

Actually, Germany gets only about as much annual sun as Seattle or Alaska; its sunniest region gets less sun than almost anywhere in the lower 48 states. This underscores an important point: solar power works and competes not only in the sunniest places, but in some pretty cloudy places, too.

A pervasive pattern

The Fox Business example is not a singular incident. Some mainstream media around the world have a tendency to publish misinformed or, worse, systematically and falsely negative stories about renewable energy. Some of those stories’ misinformation looks innocent, due to careless reporting, sloppy fact checking, and perpetuation of old myths. But other coverage walks, or crosses, the dangerous line of a disinformation campaign—a persistent pattern of coverage meant to undermine renewables’ strong market reality. This has become common enough in mainstream media that some researchers have focused their attention on this balance of accurate and positive coverage vs. inaccurate and negative coverage.

Tim Holmes, researcher for the U.K.’s Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), points out press coverage is important because it can influence not only “what people perceive and believe” but also “what politicians think they believe.” PIRC’s 2011 study of renewable energy media coverage surveyed how four of the highest-circulation British daily newspapers reported on renewables during July 2009. A newspaper’s balance of positive and negative renewables coverage tended to align with its editorial ideology. The difference was astounding. In one instance, negative coverage of renewables was just 2.5 percent; in another, upwards of 75 percent.

A follow-up 2012 study by public relations consultancy CCGroup examined five of the most-read newspapers in the U.K. during July 2012. Researchers found more than 51 percent of the articles featuring renewables were negative, 21 percent positive.

In case that seems lopsided, the U.K.’s opinion climate is probably the most anti-renewables in any major country. That’s largely due to a longstanding campaign by nuclear advocates fearing competition, especially from windpower, whose British resources are the best in Europe. Sir Bernard Ingham, former Chief Press Secretary to Prime Minister Thatcher and later Britain’s leading spokesman for nuclear power, reportedly claimed to have personally stopped two-thirds of Britain’s windpower projects. At over 80, he’s still at it.

Such ideologically correlated bias, and a growing body of misinformed and disinformational negative media coverage in other countries, prompted the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) in 2012 to launch an Energy Fact Check website for journalists, policymakers, and the general public.

Discrediting job creation

Charles Lane, a Washington Post opinion writer, proclaimed in October 2012 that “expensive electricity is bad for industry, as Germany is discovering. Fact is, subsidies for green energy do not so much create jobs as shift them around.” Yet a recent study commissioned by Germany’s Federal Environment Ministry found that the renewable energy sector provided around 382,000 jobs in 2011, up four percent in a year, and more than doubled in seven years. More jobs have been created than lost in Germany’s energy sector—plus any jobs gained as heavy industry moves to Germany for its competitive electricity.

Yet a myth persists that countries lose more jobs then they gain when they transition to renewables. This upside-down fantasy rests largely on a 2009 study from King Juan Carlos University in Spain, by an economist reportedly tied to ExxonMobil, the Heartland Institute, and the Koch brothers. His study asserted that, on average, every renewable energy job in Spain destroys 2.2 jobs in the broader Spanish economy. This story was picked up by news media around the world and is still promoted by U.S. anti-renewables groups. But its methodology and assumptions were promptly demolished by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Spanish government, among others. A 2012 report for the International Labour Organization (ILO) even cites Spain, which built a renewable export industry, as a counterexample: “The green economy presents a good opportunity to increase competitiveness, promote the creation of quality employment and reduce the economy’s environmental impact,” says Joaquín Nieto, who heads the ILO Office in Madrid, especially “when Spain needs to kick-start its economy.” Sure enough, despite new electricity taxes and a halt to subsidies for new renewable projects, Spain’s latest solar projects continue to be built to compete without subsidy.

The disinformation campaign about job creation is not limited to Europe. A Cato Institute article claimed that if people believe a commitment to renewables will fuel job growth “we’re in a lot of trouble.” Yet in 2012 alone, more than 110,000 new U.S. clean-energy direct jobs were created, and in 2010, the U.S. had more jobs in the “clean economy” than in the fossil-fuel industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that direct employment in May 2012 totaled 181,580 for oil and gas extraction, 87,520 for coal mining, and 93,200 for iron and steel production. BLS doesn’t similarly classify solar or wind jobs, but reputable analysts have determined from bottom-up industry surveys that in September 2012, for example, the U.S. had 119,016 direct solar jobs (89 percent full-time, the rest at least half-time), up 27 percent in two years—more than in steel-making or coal-mining. Had you heard that before? Why not?

The cost of disinformation

The sad truth is that the debate on clean and renewable energy is unbalanced, and seldom by accident. The CCGroup’s study showed that only 10 percent of articles focusing on renewables even contained comment from a spokesperson from the renewable energy industry. This violates basic journalistic standards. Renewables must be a part of their own conversation. Much of the conversation on renewables is misinformed and misrepresented. And when bad news does happen, says ACORE president and retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, opponents of renewables are pushing it “as if it’s the only news. They are dominating the conversation through misrepresentation, exaggeration, distraction, and millions of dollars in lobbying and advertising.”

This misleading coverage fuels policy uncertainty and doubt, reducing investment security and industry development. Disinformation hurts the industry and retards its—and our nation’s—progress. As Germany has shown, investing in renewables can grow economies and create jobs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions even in a climate as “sunny” as Seattle. We just have to get the facts right, and insist that our reporters and media tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Join the Discussion


Showing 1-10 of 12 comments

August 8, 2013

Subject: PRODUCTION OF WIND MILL ENERGY FROM EXHAUST OF A/C PLANT



I am suresh kumar, an income tax officer in chandigarh.
I am working in a building which is centrally A/C .I got the idea of using the exhaust wind of Air conditioning plant to rotate the turbine for producing energy .If my idea of producing electricity from windmill which can be rotated by the exhaust of A/c plant comes true ,then there will be an Energy revolution in the areas where there is no wind mill due to lack of constant flow of wind. Till date the wind mill works in only coastal areas and not in places away from coastel regions .
The A/c plant works for at least 12 hours and that means the the wind mill can generate energy daily for twelve hours without need of natural wind . In off duty hours if there is natural wind ,the wind mill can produce energy, but for at least twelve hours the exhaust air can rotate the wings of windmill and the air can be utilised for energy production which is otherwise going waste.

This is an idea to produce energy by using the exhaust air from Air conditioner in A/C buildings which is otherwise going waste.I just want to let the world know about the utility of Air from Exhaust of Air conditioner which is going waste.By my calculations we can produce energy equal to 12-15% of the total energy consumption in a building having an A/C plant . The cost of Wind mill turbines can be recovered in three years and after that the energy is produced free of cost . In this way we can produce energy in the places far off from coastal areas where till date no wind mill energy is working due to lack of constant flow of wind .


By implementing this technique of horizontal wind turbine we can produce 26% cost of the energy of the investment which is needed to start this project and the production is totally green , there is no carbon emmission,no smoke,no pollution and we are only using the wind that otherwise is going waste all over the world.

The wind turbine is not going to effect the efficiency of the A/C plant,rather it helps the A/c plant



If you so desired ,i can send my project report .It is for all and i want to implement it for the benefit of mankind.
Thanks and regards,
suresh kumar
sureshkito@yahoo.com
0091-9316100764

0091-9468300450


August 8, 2013

I have been trying to get MSNBC
(who should be sympathetic)
to cover the Reinventing Fire story for years.
No dice.
In fact there is not really a way for the public to get a message to them at all !
talk about media insularity !?
Maybe Amory could talk to them directly?
esp. Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ezra Klein, Alex Wagner


August 8, 2013

The established energy producers have long financial tentacles and so they are able to buy support for their agenda, Unfortunately their agenda is based on their near-sighted view of the future,

We need more articles like this reaching the public by any, and all means possible.

Sadly, the electric vehicle (EV) is faced with the same media bias against its adoption as renewables are.

Our founding fathers would be heart broken to see their hard earned freedom of the press so eagerly being sold to moneyed interests.

As we abandon our principles, so do we abandon our freedoms.


August 8, 2013

With the low cost of negawatts through energy saving programs and solutions, I still feel that renewables are much more expensive. If it takes a solar panel 2-3 years to make as much energy as it took to make it + construction energy to place it, that means we are using 2-3 years of future energy today. My opinion is that it is much more prudent and efficient to first invest in creating capacity through negawatts than build renewables. I suppose there is more money to be made erecting renewables and attention goes to where there is more money subsidized by taxpayers.


August 8, 2013

emre_one ZW9779zwba,

This is not an "either or situation". We need to embrace both energy saving strategies and renewable energy production, just as Amory and the RMI have preached for years.


August 9, 2013

Amory Lovins is right on, and understands the issues

The green energy disinformation situation is related to the "control of production," with regard to renewables. This phrase could be brought up to date by saying "control of energy distribution." The length of time it took to get new tariff and feed-in laws in California is an example of the problem, as well as the fight over electrical power and grid deregulation.

One of the big such fights in California was in the 80s, over electrical energy de-regulation. A friend of mine, who worked at Southern California Edison installing power transmission systems, before the de-regulation, put it this way: "They want to force us to give up either our energy production [electrical power plants]--or give up the grid. We won't give up the grid, since this is where we make our money [metering]. So we will be forced to give up the power plants. When we do, you will see a lot of 'energy' companies [Duke, Enron, etc.] move in and jack up the rates [the three large California utilities had been regulated to keep the price of kilowatt hours to at-cost, plus an allowed well-regulated rate of profit]. Then, it will look we [SCE, and the other big utilities] are to blame, since we will have to pass on the new cost that the 'energy' companies will charge us, when we buy electricity from them." What was meant to be a good thing, which was to help the promotion of alternative and renewable energy sources, in many ways, backfired, because of the monetary bottom line. The "bottom line" concept needs to be changed from money to the source of our existence, the attributes of the physical word we live in. "Natural Capitalism," by Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawkins, and Amory's and RMI's "Reinventing Fire" provide solutions.

This illustrates that the "control of energy distribution" has merely changed hands from large utilities over to large "energy" companies, who have the advantage of metering [and making money hand-over-fist], without the responsibility of the complex maintenance aspects of the grid as a machine.

The awful and destructive Keystone Pipeline project represents an attempt to build another grid--for metered energy distribution--owned by the gigantic "energy" cartels, in a strange reconstruction of control, political and environmental, which is harmful and unnecessary. The analogy to the electrical grid is obvious. Combined with hydrocarbon, mineral-fossil fuel fracking, the Keystone Pipeline project would physically shatter our continent like a piece of glass, like a windshield hit by a pebble. We would also lose political and physical control of our land and society with the Keystone gridwork, and hypostatize a bleak future that even Big Energy can't control.

Building-integrated photovoltaics [BIPV], for instance, and careful on-site green energy production undermines this business model, by dispersing energy production and use in a new (out of control--which has other problems, though) way. Too, it is far better to make buildings efficient, and use on site, built-in energy sources, than to destroy public lands by handing them over to huge "energy" cartels.

The electrical grid is an important stabilizer of our society in several ways, both practically, by serving everyone near town with electrical power, and politically by controlling access to electricity. The grid is so big that it even regulates clocks--the averaged fluctuations of the 60 hertz grid frequency is so stable that the grid is more accurate than the use of atomic clocks for standardized time keeping. (Recently the grid, as an efficient machine, has been undermined, for economic reasons: http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-9/iss-5/p8.html) So, the politicians are in the middle of a muddled control issue with business people--of whom both groups are being force by we-the-public to clean up, be responsible, and reduce our tremendous energy-use related impacts [entropy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy] on our world.

We are entering the third reformation of our energy world, where we reduce the need for energy production and consumption by means of efficiency and on-site distribution-with-careful-environmental-regulation; and re-thinking control of the meter, while maintaining the important, useful aspects of the grid. We can save the land, water, and air by doing this. We have to make a careful, effective model for efficient, reliable, distributed, on-site energy production and use, with conservation being the keystone.

As Rocky Mountain Institute demonstrates, it is possible. We can have a beautiful, clean, healthy world based on careful and conservative energy use, through the use of distributed green renewable energy, with no need for new transmission lines, electrical or chemical.


August 9, 2013

Amory Lovins is right on, and understands the issues

The green energy disinformation situation is related to the "control of production," with regard to renewables. This phrase could be brought up to date by saying "control of energy distribution." The length of time it took to get new tariff and feed-in laws in California is an example of the problem, as well as the fight over electrical power and grid deregulation.

One of the big such fights in California was in the 80s, over electrical energy de-regulation. A friend of mine, who worked at Southern California Edison installing power transmission systems, before the de-regulation, put it this way: "They want to force us to give up either our energy production [electrical power plants]--or give up the grid. We won't give up the grid, since this is where we make our money [metering]. So we will be forced to give up the power plants. When we do, you will see a lot of 'energy' companies [Duke, Enron, etc.] move in and jack up the rates [the three large California utilities had been regulated to keep the price of kilowatt hours to at-cost, plus an allowed well-regulated rate of profit]. Then, it will look we [SCE, and the other big utilities] are to blame, since we will have to pass on the new cost that the 'energy' companies will charge us, when we buy electricity from them." What was meant to be a good thing, which was to help the promotion of alternative and renewable energy sources, in many ways, backfired, because of the monetary bottom line. The "bottom line" concept needs to be changed from money to the source of our existence, the attributes of the physical word we live in. "Natural Capitalism," by Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawkins, and Amory's and RMI's "Reinventing Fire" provide solutions.

This illustrates that the "control of energy distribution" has merely changed hands from large utilities over to large "energy" companies, who have the advantage of metering [and making money hand-over-fist], without the responsibility of the complex maintenance aspects of the grid as a machine.

The awful and destructive Keystone Pipeline project represents an attempt to build another grid--for metered energy distribution--owned by the gigantic "energy" cartels, in a strange reconstruction of control, political and environmental, which is harmful and unnecessary. The analogy to the electrical grid is obvious. Combined with hydrocarbon, mineral-fossil fuel fracking, the Keystone Pipeline project would physically shatter our continent like a piece of glass, like a windshield hit by a pebble. We would also lose political and physical control of our land and society with the Keystone gridwork, and hypostatize a bleak future that even Big Energy can't control.

Building-integrated photovoltaics [BIPV], for instance, and careful on-site green energy production undermines this business model, by dispersing energy production and use in a new (out of control--which has other problems, though) way. Too, it is far better to make buildings efficient, and use on site, built-in energy sources, than to destroy public lands by handing them over to huge "energy" cartels.

The electrical grid is an important stabilizer of our society in several ways, both practically, by serving everyone near town with electrical power, and politically by controlling access to electricity. The grid is so big that it even regulates clocks--the averaged fluctuations of the 60 hertz grid frequency is so stable that the grid is more accurate than the use of atomic clocks for standardized time keeping. (Recently the grid, as an efficient machine, has been undermined, for economic reasons: http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-9/iss-5/p8.html) So, the politicians are in the middle of a muddled control issue with business people--of whom both groups are being force by we-the-public to clean up, be responsible, and reduce our tremendous energy-use related impacts [entropy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy] on our world.

We are entering the third reformation of our energy world, where we reduce the need for energy production and consumption by means of efficiency and on-site distribution-with-careful-environmental-regulation; and re-thinking control of the meter, while maintaining the important, useful aspects of the grid. We can save the land, water, and air by doing this. We have to make a careful, effective model for efficient, reliable, distributed, on-site energy production and use, with conservation being the keystone.

As Rocky Mountain Institute demonstrates, it is possible. We can have a beautiful, clean, healthy world based on careful and conservative energy use, through the use of distributed green renewable energy, with no need for new transmission lines, electrical or chemical.


August 12, 2013

An example of "disinformation" highlighted in Amory's article.

http://www.thegwpf.org/benny-peiser-europe-pulls-plug-green-future/

It is of no surprise to find such a story given the source, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, but still. The audacity of the boldface lies and blatant untruths leave me scratching my head. Who is the target audience for such, I don't know what to call it?

A study of articles in newspapers about renewable energy? How about a study of the global financial sector and the massive amount of money currently in renewable energy?

The most obvious falsehood - Last January, in Germany, during a prolonged overcast period, some of the solar PV panels stopped working. ?!?!?!

Exciting times, indeed.


August 12, 2013

Actually I think to have less jobs, in the average, is better.
It means that we are more efficient.
To have less jobs, means that employed people could distribute their labour hours among the non-employed and all work less.


August 15, 2013

If they stopped al, subsidies to OIL, COAL,NG and Nuclear we would all see how low cost and sustainable Renewables are, The Sun runs my home and car that are 100% electric and still helps the local power company by over 1,100 kWh a year right during Peak Time Of Day and with no water or pollution.

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