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LOMBORG: The True Cost of Wind and Solar Energy

Imagine if a solar-driven car was launched tomorrow, cheaper to run than a gas vehicle. It would be incredibly alluring until you realize that—due to limitations in battery storage—the car won’t run at night or when it’s overcast. If you bought the car, you would still need a gas vehicle as backup. You would have to pay for two cars.

That is exactly the situation we face with renewable energy. Wind and solar energy only produce power when the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing. All the rest of the time, their electricity is infinitely expensive and a backup system is needed. This is the reason that two-thirds of our global electricity needs are met by fossil fuels. And it’s the reason why we remain 100 years away from eliminating fossil fuels from electricity generation.

We are in the bizarre situation where politicians and the green energy industry constantly repeat the refrain that wind and solar are the cheapest forms of electricity. Yet governments are spending $1.8 trillion every year on the green transition—and the real cost of forcing people to use renewable energy over fossil fuels is even higher.

The modern world needs power around the clock. Unreliable and intermittent wind and solar bring large, often hidden costs. This is a relatively small problem for wealthy countries that already have fossil power plants they can use as backup—although it makes electricity more expensive, as intermittent renewables make everything else intermittent, too.

But in the poorest, electricity-starved countries, there is little fossil fuel energy infrastructure to begin with. Hypocritical wealthy countries are refusing to fund sorely needed fossil fuel energy in the developing world. Instead, they insist that people cope with unreliable green energy supplies that can’t power pumps or agricultural machinery to lift populations out of poverty.

For the world’s large, emerging industrial nations–like China, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia– reliance on coal is an inescapable fact of life. Last yearChina got more additional power from coal than it did from wind and solar. India got three times as much, whereas Bangladesh got 13 times more coal electricity than it did from green energy sources, and Indonesia an astonishing 90 times more. They’re not dragging their feet just to be difficult. Reliability matters—especially when you’re focused on growing your economy and helping millions of people to escape from poverty.

The mistruth about the cost of wind and solar is possible because typically, the price that is quoted is the price when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. On that basis, they are indeed comparatively cheap. But once you include the cost of reliability, the price tag explodes—one peer-reviewed study shows an increase somewhere between 11 and 42 times, which makes solar by far the most expensive source of electricity, followed by wind.

Storage technology remains woefully inadequate. Recently, scientists looked at the United States and found that to achieve reliable, 100 percent solar or wind electricity, we’d need the ability to store nearly three months’ worth of annual electricity. The U.S. only has seven minutes of battery storage. Closing the storage gap would cost five times the entire U.S. GDP, and the storage would need to be replaced every 15 years.

And we need to remember that wind and solar technology itself needs replacing at a fairly alarming rate. Already, one small town in Texas is overflowing with thousands of enormous wind turbine blades that cannot be recycled. In poor countries across Africa, solar panels and their batteries are being dumped. One study shows that when we factor in the cost of recycling and safe disposal, this alone doubles the true cost of solar.

If wind and solar energy really were cheaper than fossil fuels, there wouldn’t be a need for billions of dollars in taxpayer spending. This claim is incessantly repeated because it is convenient and because it supports a political narrative.

But the truth is that if we want to fix climate change, we instead must invest a lot more in low-CO₂ energy research and development. Only a significant boost in R&D can bring about the technological breakthroughs that are needed—in reducing trash, in improving battery storage and efficiency, but also in other technologies like modular nuclear—that will make low-CO₂ energy sources truly cheaper than fossil fuels.

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Fly, Eagles Fly; But Are Ticket Prices Too High?

If you are planning to go to a Philadelphia Eagles game this season, whether all 10 home games or just a single game, be prepared to dig deep into your wallet. And you can be sure the future costs will only get higher.

Betway researched which NFL teams have increased their prices most recently. It created the Future Family Fandom Cost Index, which forecasts how much each fanbase will be paying in 2025. Eagles fans can expect to pay the 8th highest prices in the NFL in three years. The team with the expected highest prices was the Las Vegas Raiders and the least costly is expected to be the New York Jets.

It is bad enough in 2022.

Football is the highest-rated sports programming on TV. But being in the stands to cheer on the Birds at Lincoln Financial Field instead of watching on TV requires an investment of time and money.

Apart from the cost of game tickets, fans must pay for parking and food from the concession stands and perhaps a game program. It adds up.

Single-game tickets are scarce. As of this writing, a few are available directly from the Eagles’ ticket office via Ticketmaster. A check on availability for the first regular-season home game against Minnesota on Monday night, September 19, showed prices ranging from $98 for standing-room to $160 to $350 depending on seat location, excluding service charges.

Ticketmaster also offers tickets on a resale basis; resale prices for the opener range from $140 to more than $900 depending on the section.

For the October 16 Sunday night game against Dallas the resale price ranged from $138 to an astronomical $4,950. Those figures will likely change as the game draws closer.

The Delaware Valley Journal explored purchasing a ticket directly from the Eagles for the Minnesota game with a face value of $160. In addition, there would have been $31.85 in fees. And on top of that, fans driving to the game might pay $40 to park. If they spend time tailgating in the parking lot they should expect to spend $50 per person for various refreshments, not to mention the cost of food beverages, or souvenirs purchased inside the building (fans may not bring food inside with them).

Add it all up, and a fan attending an Eagles home game might expect to spend in the neighborhood of $300 for the experience which might include spending several hours outdoors in inclement weather surrounded by fans who may not always be on their best behavior, to say the least.

For some, the experience is no longer worth it.

Gordon Glantz of Blue Bell has Eagles blood running through his veins; his family has had season tickets since he was born. This season he spent $3,066 for two season tickets that include 10 games (this year nine regular season plus one preseason). But Glantz has not attended an Eagles game since 2018, the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Instead, he sells his tickets for a small profit and watches the games from home.

“I remember going to games with my father,” he said. “We’d leave his house in Abington around 11:15 a.m. (for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff). He’d pick up some guys who lived close by and we’d still be at the stadium and in our seats well before kickoff. Now it’s a full day. If you don’t leave by 10 a.m., it’s a problem because of parking and traffic. It’s no longer a game. It’s an event. You don’t get home until 6-6:30 p.m. Used to be 5-5:30 p.m.

“And forget about the night games. I stopped going to those well before the 1 p.m. games. There was once parking at the stadium for a reasonable rate. My dad soon started parking at a nearby church for a reasonable rate that had better access for the getaway after the game. So many spots are taken up by people tailgating.”

Stu Fishman also lives in Blue Bell. He started attending games with friends in 1971 when the Eagles moved into Veterans Stadium. Season tickets were $35 for seven home games. (That was $5 a game.) There were just 14 regular season games and season ticketholders did not have to pay for tickets to preseason games as they do now.

Today, Fishman pays $950 for his season ticket, including all 10 home games (one preseason, nine regular season).

“I have four seats,” he said. “I split them with a friend of mine.”

Fishman notes that because the home schedule features just 10 games, each is a unique event.

“I’m not buying 81 games like the Phillies,” he said. “Or 40 games like the Flyers. It’s like going to a concert.”


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A $900 COVID Test? Taxpayer-Funded Covid Testing Program Failing to Get Off the Ground in PA Schools

An $87 million contract between the state and Gingko Bioworks to provide Covid-19 testing to schools across the commonwealth is floundering, just as Pennsylvania schools are struggling to maintain in-person instruction amidst a major spike in cases of the Omicron variant.

The testing program has distributed about 97,000 swabs, according to state data released Thursday. It’s not known if the number of swabs represents the total number of students and school employees tested, given that some may have been tested multiple times.

But if the 97,000 figure represents a one-to-one ratio for tests, that would mean about 5.7% of the total statewide student body had been tested. There are an estimated 1.7 million children in K-12 across the commonwealth.

This amounts to roughly $900 per test based on the funds allocated to the program thus far, although the cost per test is almost certain to drop before the contract ends in the summer.

Pennsylvania is paying for the program with federal dollars. The contract notes that the $87 million figure is an estimate, but it is not clear how much room there is for that price tag to come down. The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Gingko Bioworks did not respond to requests for comment.

Other information provided by the state indicates that 293 schools are enrolled in the testing program, while another 442 are in the “onboarding” process, something that could take weeks. With roughly 3,100 total schools, the program has only enrolled about 9.5% of the total available, with 14% onboarding.

When state officials announced the contract in mid-August, the Pennsylvania Department of Health was optimistic that the testing contract would play an important role in helping schools avoid virtual learning in the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

“It’s clear that everyone wants to keep kids in the classroom and keep extracurricular activities going,” Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said at the time. “That’s why we’re encouraging all K through 12 schools to take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

Elements of the testing contract document go into further detail.

“Testing is a step in limiting the spread of this virus. While vaccines are still being administered, the vaccines have not been authorized for use in children under 12 years old. Testing is an additional measure to quickly identify individuals with COVID-19 and stop the spread before it becomes a large outbreak and triggers a school to close,” the document says.

In October, Beam also said the state was facing continued hesitation from schools to opt in, according to a report from WHYY.

“Any reluctance on the part of the schools may be because we need to continue educating them on the availability of it,” Beam said during a recent news conference. “And of course, we’ve tried, ad nauseam, to make sure schools are aware of it.”

Last week the Biden administration announced it would begin delivering millions of free Covid tests to schools around the country.

“Though most U.S. schools remain open, some have temporarily closed as the Omicron variant spreads around the country, infecting children and staff,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “President Biden has repeatedly said he wants schools to remain open, and he has advocated for additional testing as a solution for keeping children in the classroom.”

A Monday report from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted that school districts who were already testing would welcome the additional resources, but districts that were not testing planned on holding course.

“Burrell School District ‘is not interested in testing students or staff,’” Superintendent Shannon Wagner told the Tribune-Review.

Likewise, Hempfield Area schools are not testing, nor are Franklin Regional, New Kensington-Arnold, Norwin or Penn-Trafford, officials told the Tribune-Review.

The state webpage with testing data from the Ginkgo program also gives a hint into the bureaucratic hurdles that come with enrolling.

“There is an onboarding process once a school submits a Statement of Assurances which can take several weeks to complete,” the website notes. “This onboarding process includes developing a school and site specific testing plan, communicating the plan with the school community, staff training and ensuring individual consent is received and documented for participants.”

On Jan. 7, the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Federation of Teachers union asked the Wolf administration to mandate stringent mitigation protocols for all schools, or failing that, order a two-week pause to in-person learning.

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty. 

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