In addition to peddling a radical environmental agenda, the Sierra Club also lobbies for subsidies and tax incentives for solar energy; now it’s looking to cash in on the resulting artificial demand. It is partnering with the solar panel company Sungevity, founded by a former Greenpeace activist, to receive a $750 kickback every time a Club member purchases Sungevity’s panels.
“Every home that we get to go solar, Sungevity gives us $750 back,” said Sierra Club Chief of Staff Jesse Simons. “This has been a great revenue-generating tool for the Sierra Club.”
But while the Sierra Club and Sungevity scratch each other’s backs with a taxpayer-funded backscratcher, the luster of solar energy is losing its shine. No matter how much its proponents, many of whom have a financial interest in its success, push solar as the vanguard of the energy industry, the facts refuse to back up this narrative.
Solar energy makes up less than half a percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This miniscule amount has not changed much over the past hundred or even thousands of years. In fact, solar panels were used on New York City rooftops as far back as 1884, eight years before the Sierra Club was founded.
So why has solar power never materialized? As physicists explain, given the laws of thermodynamics, solar energy is very inefficient – the best panels only capture around 35 percent of potential energy. And, as a fourth grader could explain, solar is very unreliable, given that the sun needs to shine for it to work effectively.
And solar’s dirty little secret is that it is not great for the environment. One type of solar energy system kills hundreds of thousands of birds that get burned to death by flying in front of mirrors that have an 800 degree Fahrenheit reflection. At the taxpayer-funded, $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar power plant in the Mojave Desert, workers call these fried birds “streamers” because they ignite in midair and plummet to the ground trailing smoke. Top ecologists worry that the environmental impact extends far beyond birds, however, given their important role in the ecosystem.
Nevertheless, the Sierra Club is happy to sell out its members in this solar scheme to further its financial and political ends.