‘Garbage’ Research on Renewables Shows Bias, Misses Benefits
“Garbage In, Garbage Out” is CleanTechnica’s assessment of three U.S. studies in the last week, all seeking to undercut confidence in the growing cost-effectiveness of renewable energy.
A paper by the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy, a group linked to the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, claims fraud in the U.S. solar industry that should disqualify the technology from taxpayer support. On its website, the group also claims a positive response for its idea of the Watermelon, “green on the outside like environmentalism, red on the inside like neo-communism or neo-socialism.”
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The second study, a critique of Louisiana’s net metering program produced for the state’s Public Service Commission, was produced by a consultant with “a history of lobbying against renewable energy subsidies while simultaneously making the case for enhancing fossil fuel subsidies,” Casey writes, citing the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association. “If you’re looking for an unbiased study about the effects of net metering, this one doesn’t seem to make the cut.”
Exhibit #3 is a Koch-funded study that “attempted to show that wind energy is a money loser for Kansas and other states,” she writes. The study apparently used outdated cost figures and missed the benefits of Renewable Portfolio Standards that “create hundreds of jobs and save consumers tens of millions of dollars.”
Since the renewables and fossil industries both fund research, CleanTechnica says the big issue is credibility. “When it comes to reporting on energy studies, we’re more likely to put our confidence in works that carry the weight of actual professional affiliations in addition to disclosure of funding sources,” Casey argues.
But in this case, “none of the three reports touched on the 800-pound gorilla in the room—namely, the benefits of renewable energy in the context of risk avoidance and improved public health resulting from reduced dependence on fossil fuels.”