Money wasted on solar and other ‘renewable’ energies could have been used to solve the housing crisis
By Michael Blair, Substack, Dec. 11, 2023
At the current state of the technology, about 80% of energy used to generate electricity through solar panels is lost to heat. The other 20% is captured in the form of electricity and converted to work. We can estimate how much quite readily.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says 179 Terawatt hours of electricity were generated from solar last year. Presumably that is ~20% of the energy reaching the solar panels that created that power. Regardless, the IEA tells us how much solar power was generated and I have no reason to challenge their estimates. Curiously, the climate nutters who claim that CO2 “traps” energy from escaping to space ignore the inescapable fact that solar energy converted to work through the medium of electricity is by and large “trapped” and cannot escape to space. It is an insignificant quantum so don’t think it leads to much “warming”.
Global electricity consumption is estimated at 25,300 Terawatt hours (2021 data). Solar comprises less than 1% of total electricity generation. How many billions of dollars have been spent on solar? Actually, trillions according to Bloomberg who report in the decade ended 2019 $2.5 trillion dollars was spent on “renewables”, primarily solar projects.
Solar not significant source of energy
What is clear is that solar is an insignificant source of energy and has displaced no measurable amount fossil fuels the use of which continues to rise. Luckily, fossil fuels are harmless, reliable, plentiful and low cost.
Humanity has many problems and “mankind-caused warming” is not among them. But we do have a housing problem. At a construction cost of about $300,000 to build and equip a 1,000 square foot home, the money squandered on “renewables” was enough to build 8 million homes and deal a blow to the growing homelessness problem in North America.
Leftist leaders would rather spend our taxes on pet projects of no value than free that capital to build homes desperately needed. Get rid of the needless policies that hamstring developers, eliminate toxic “zoning” laws, and expand serviced land. At 8 homes per acre (not very dense) 8 million homes would take 1 million acres, a tiny fraction of the over 2 billion acres of undeveloped land in North America. But we have activists, protesters, NIMBY nutcases and leftist politicians who insist on trying to control every tiny aspect of life.
With fewer government regulations, homes could be affordable again
My family built their first home in Moose Creek, Ontario in 1850, a log cabin. The structure, built before Canada was a country or a “building code” or “zoning restrictions” existed, is as square and sound today as when it was built 173 years ago.
Many homes built since we started imposing building codes and zoning restrictions are falling down today. Codes become the minimum standard, encouraging builders to skimp on all aspects of construction rather than build well-engineered residences. We don’t need governments to hold our hands to build homes, just the freedom to do so. People free to build their own homes without government interference will build homes they actually want to live in, not ones they think they can palm off on unsuspecting buyers and walk away.
I have designed and built four homes. Lacking certification I was compelled to cut in a “builder” rather than just hire the necessary trades and (fortunately) I found a sensible builder who could add value. Here are a couple of the homes I built and could have built without help.
This French country style home I built in Aurora had six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a home theatre, a recreation room with bar and pool table, a wine cellar, a three car garage and a tennis court.
This log cabin I built in Collingwood has five bedrooms, five baths and a two car garage.
Both homes relied on traditional construction – wood, masonry, stucco, etc. The skills to build these homes existed hundreds of years ago. They don’t benefit from government interference. Both homes were completed at a construction cost well below $300 a square foot and both are exceptional in their beauty and functionality.
Home prices today reflect policy choices, not construction costs. A 1,500 square foot three bedroom home should cost not more than $350,000 but in Ontario would likely be priced north of $1 million. Oddly, in Edmonton, Alberta, new homes of high quality can be purchased today for prices half of those in Collingwood or the GTA
It is long since time our governments stopped their “climate change”charade and made a serious effort to expand the supply of new homes. The ad shown above is for three or four bedroom homes with two car garages. New townhomes in Edmonton or lane homes (i.e. no garage) are priced from below $200,000 to under $400,000. There is no reason this could not be the case in Ontario.
The original of this Substack article is available at this link.