Green New Deal is Impossible and A Partial Attempt Would Cost Over $50 Trillion

I did not think it was necessary to point out how laughably impossible the Green New Deal was. However, there are actual claims of support for it. Business Insider is citing support via an online poll. I will quantify how the energy and transportation portion will easily cost more than $50 trillion.

Business Insider Had a Survey Monkey Online Poll Which Claims 80% Support Among 1127 People

Business Insider claims there is strong support for the ideas in the Green New Deal according to a Survey Monkey online poll. This goes to show that you should not use Survey Monkey polls as evidence.

Costs are Easily Over $50 Trillion

American Action Forum has a lowball estimate of $5.7 trillion for the USA going to 100% renewable energy for electricity.

Energy storage would be a massive requirement. Currently, solar and wind are backed up by natural gas power generation. It is not just that solar power goes down at night or when it is cloudy. Solar power generates power 25% of the time and wind generates power 35% of the time. Solar and wind power both drop in the winter months to about 10% of summer power levels.

The amount and cost of the storage will go over $350+ billion because of the wide variation in solar and wind power generation.

$350 billion would still be less than 17 over-priced pairs of Vogtle AP1000 nuclear reactors. The two 1.1 GW AP1000 reactors are coming in over budget at about $20 billion for both. Twelve pairs of AP1000 reactors would cost $240 billion even with bad cost overruns and generate over 200 TWh that California needs in electricity.

A study found meeting 80% of US electricity demand with wind and solar would require either a nationwide high-speed transmission system, which can balance renewable generation over hundreds of miles, or 12 hours of electricity storage for the whole system. At current prices, a battery storage system for 12 hours for the USA would cost more than $2.5 trillion.

Recent detailed estimates of the cost of going to 100% solar, wind and hydropower for the United States are over $22 trillion. This is a low estimate that tries to do less than what is proposed in the recent Green New Deal. The $22 trillion was assuming that the conversion would stretch over thirty years and not ten years and that there would be time to create more energy efficiency. The other plan did not include converting all industrial and transportation to solar, wind and hydro. Those other power needs would increase the power to converted by three to five times.

The Green New Deal proposes getting rid of 99% of all cars. This means that there would be no need to replace 270 million gasoline cars and trucks in the USA. The US economy could not be converted to a system without 99% of the cars and trucks in ten years.

A massive high-speed rail system across the US could not be built in ten years. Even an alternate system involving Boring Company tunnels and many electric cars and buses would take longer than ten years.

The inflation-adjusted cost of WW2 is about $5 trillion. A low-ball estimate for the part of the Green New Deal is $50 trillion just for energy and transportation. This does not include the gutting and rebuilding every building.

Compressing the transformation timeline to ten years would mean massive supply chain issues.

Currently, the US can only alter about 1% of the power grid each year because the factories to make large transformers and grid line do not exist. The factories to make the components do not exist. Any plans to use ultra-high voltage power lines to efficiently move electricity around the United States do not exist. Only China has built up supply chains and factories for ultra-high voltage power lines.

Nuclear energy and technological substitution can make the costs lower but the goals are not environmentally sound. It would be far better to work on actions that would lower air pollution.

Short term air pollution causes 0.6 degrees of warming. Fixing most of the short-term air pollution problem could be done in a 10-year time frame.

Fixing CO2 is a harder problem than fixing soot and air pollution. Carbon dioxide is a gas. It is harder to split the carbon dioxide out of a smokestack than it is to filter out soot and particulates. Carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere will stay there for decades or centuries but soot and particulates can come out in weeks.

The short-term pollutants cause half of the warming problem and they are twenty times cheaper to fix. They have lower costs and often cause higher economic and health damage.

Short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and tropospheric ozone, have a powerful effect on global temperatures, and many are also damaging air pollutants. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming impact 86 times higher than that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time horizon. It is also the largest precursor to ground-level ozone, a major component of smog, which can worsen bronchitis and asthma and damage lung tissue. Tropospheric ozone exposure alone is responsible for an estimated one million premature deaths each year.

Methane, Black Carbon (BC), and Ozone (O3) are the most important contributors to current global warming after carbon dioxide (CO2). While HFCs emissions are currently small, they are projected to rise and could be equivalent to 7 to 19% of CO2 emissions by 2050.

BC and co-pollutants make up for the majority of particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) air pollution, one of the leading environmental causes of ill health and premature death. 3.5 and 3.2 million people die prematurely each year from exposure to indoor and outdoor PM2.5 pollution, respectively. Ozone (O3), of which Methane (CH4) is one of the main precursors, is also a major air pollutant.

Here is a report on fixing the short term pollution.

Written By Brian Wang.

2 thoughts on “Green New Deal is Impossible and A Partial Attempt Would Cost Over $50 Trillion”

  1. What we should be discussion is what is the difference is price between building renewable and continuing with fossil. Exploring, producing and burning fossil fuel isn’t free.

  2. I think you’re letting your ideology run away with you, here. Yes, of course it would be expensive, and, of course, ten years is impossible. But so what? The problem we have with climate change will only get worse in a business-as-usual scenario and the ultimate cost of rescuing jobs and agricultural production is going to be unaffordable at some point. So what if it costs $50 trillion over 30 years? Imagine the economic stimulus of such a massive nation-building endeavour. Either this needs fixing or it doesn’t. You clearly believe it doesn’t and you’re happy to bend the figures to support your case – you’ve even been known to champion crazy geoengineering technological fixes – exactly the inverse of the ideological trap you are accusing the Green Deal supporters of.

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