Is going green realistic?

Almost 10% of all new car sales in the U.S. is electronic and the number is moving up slightly each year. The main hurdles for a more environmentally friendly car are still several such as more expensive to purchase, timely to charge, lack of charging stations, more expensive repairs to mention a few. To make a green choice is not easy for most people as the key factor in their decision is money. A majority is favoring what is the cheapest option. In terms of overall energy supply, despite us constantly being told that solar and wind are the cheapest forms of electricity, governments around the world spent $1.8 trillion on green transition in 2023.

The infrastructure for more environmentally friendly energy is extremely costly, but many argue that is worth it to live in a clean world. This argument is used by any green lobbyists, activists, and politicians around the world. Opponents say it is all too costly and if major polluters like China, India and Russia keep polluting, what is the point?

Other problems are that wind and solar energy only produce power when the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing. The rest of the time, their electricity is infinitely expensive, and a backup system is needed. This is why global electricity remains almost two-thirds reliant on fossil fuels and why we are still far away from fully going green.

It is often reported that large, emerging industrial powers like China, India and Indonesia are getting more power from solar and wind. This might be true, but they are also getting a large amount of their power from coal. In 2023, China got more power from coal than it did from solar and wind combined. India got three times as much from coal and Indonesia 90 times more from coal. The green trend might still be a fact, but with a slow and costly development.

A new study looking at the United States shows that to achieve 100% solar or wind electricity with sufficient backup, the U.S. would need to be able to store almost three months’ worth of annual electricity. It currently has seven minutes of battery storage. Just to pay for the batteries would cost the U.S. five times its current GDP. And it would have to repurchase the batteries when they expire after 15 years. Globally, the cost to have sufficient batteries would run to 10 times the global GDP, with a new bill every 15 years.

Another reason for higher costs is the recycling of turbine blades and exhausted solar panels. To push an environmental agenda, governments need to lead the effort as long as the cost is too high for voluntary transfers. They will have to establish rules and regulations to force a behavioral chance. For consumer and corporations not to be too economically burdened and overwhelmed, a slow development is better than no development.

A continued effort to invest in energy research and development is also important. This can bring about the technological breakthroughs that are needed such as reducing trash, improving battery storage, safe nuclear use and reduce green energy costs. However, as long as fossil fuels are much cheaper, this will be the prime source for the average consumer and for major economies. There will still be incremental change towards a greener economy as governments keep investing and keep adding regulations. The pace will likely be much slower than anticipated, but the green movement will not slow down. Going green might not be realistic any time soon, but the key is not to go green, but to go greener, and this development is happening, one step at the time.

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