It’s only been a half year since blackouts spread across California during intense summer heat. Those blackouts were immediately blamed on renewable energy; of course it turned out later on that a string of failures in the state’s gas plants were to blame. In fact, it turned out later on that a major part of those blackouts was an instance of a misheard verbal instruction issued to a gas generator. Instead of turning up as instructed, they decreased their output. And it’s five years since South Australia’s 2016 blackout, in which precisely the same sequence of events occurred. A pattern is now clear.
Major blackout events, usually instigated by grid stress related to climate extremes, become opportunities to attack renewable energy. Media articles, political pronouncements, tweets, Facebook posts, everything – the entire media ecosystem assumes that renewable energy must have done it and runs hard with it. And of course, later, it comes out that fossil fuel failures played a significant or even majority role in the cluster of causes of the event – none of which is covered with the intensity of the original stories.
Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.