there is nothing “clean” about renewables. There is the heavy-metal pollution created by the production process for wind turbines, along with their noise and flicker effects. There is the large problem of solar panel waste. There is the wildlife destruction caused by the production of renewable power. There is the land use both massive and unsightly, made necessary by the unconcentrated nature of renewable energy.
And above all: There is the increase — yes, increase — in the emissions of conventional effluents caused by the up-and-down cycling of the conventional backup generation units needed to avoid blackouts caused by the unreliability of wind and solar power.
In Specialization and Trade, I make the point that sustainability is best measured by profitability at market prices. The attempt by environmentalists to second-guess prices is misguided. Recycling, if measured at market prices, is not sustainable. The use of renewable resources for energy, if assessed at market prices, is not sustainable. It is likely that from a strictly environmental point of view, practices like buying local and subsidizing renewable energy have adverse effects.