I agree that fusion is a good way to go, but really wind turbines don't have to be efficient. Wind is a free resource so there really isn't a way to waste it.
You're not thinking economically. That doesn't mean just dollar signs and government lobbies: It means planting crops using seeds from your last crop yield.
Think of it this way: There is a process, call it a machine, that creates energy or "work" at the cost of pollution.
You add 1 point of "pollution" for every 3 "working" points created, at a very reliable rate. It takes 1 "working" point to repeat this process by making a new machine. One pollution point can therefore create another 3 machines. The energy ratio is 3 work for 1 pollution, and 1 work for 1 machine.
Regardless of the pollution that you are generating, there is a surplus of energy created: it is possible to expand this "economy" by building one more machine while having 2 work points left over. This is "sustainable" from a civilization standpoint, at a ratio of 1 pollution for 2 work, assuming you are constantly building 1 more machine at every stage. It can not only expand, but provide for non-machine needs (aka Everything else).
Take this and apply it to the green energy source:
You have a green machine. It creates no pollution, but only generates 1 "work" point, and only some of the time. It takes 2 working points to create another green machine, because it is a very demanding and unreliable system. The net pollution will always be zero, but what is the net of the system?
There is not enough surplus energy to even replace the machines generating the work. The "work" points also expire
and are time-sensitive to their use, whereas the machine that pollutes can generate it on demand and store it away when it is not required. Even in the best case, if it generated 1 work point reliably, and the cost of making the machine was brought down to 1, there is still no surplus for anything else: Nothing else could exist except for the supply chain that kept this green machine running
. Compound this with the work points expiring and it's a dead end.
This is a diminishing return. The high cost in "money" for most of these systems isn't just an arbitrary number due to fossil fuel lobbies (who are actually being ruthlessly shut down in the coal department): it is a reflection of the cost in "work" required to get it up and running in the first place, plus the amount of "work" required to offset the energy you won't be generating!
You can't call something a "sustainable" energy source because it's ostensibly "free." All
energy sources require the investment of existing energy and work to create them. As such, sustainability is also a function of the source's ability to sustain itself. If that efficiency level is 1:1, you can at least replace your machines, but if it's not above 1:1 you can't have a civilization
since there is no surplus to build it from, and if it's below 1:1 then you are literally throwing energy into the wind.
On a macro scale, this is a massive waste of time and effort. It's a diversion. People have conflated "green" with "sustainable" because they are only thinking about the pollution generated, not the human civilization within the environment in the first place
. If you pursue these inefficient systems full-bore, then you will inevitably reach a point where, without fossil fuels making up the slack (which they are right now), your civilization contracts
in on itself and starves the "excess population" of energy. But the net energy created by this process is negative: The "excess population" will also continue to grow with each passing year, until you're down to the last ditch and there's no energy to mine the silicon that goes into the chips to make the windmills function properly, and nobody left to do the mining, or print the chips, or install them in the first place.
From this perspective the choice is absolutely clear: Damn the environment
. If you destroy civilization there won't be anybody left who cares about the environment in the first place, whether that's through gross climate change or an asteroid impact somewhere down the line. Project this long enough into the future and it would be better if mankind did "destroy" the Earth so long as we survived outside of it and therefore bought the time necessary to develop better technologies and not screw over our next inhabited world.
Fearing for the environment is pointless: If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, was it worth the eventual extinction of humanity for that tree to grow?
The living standards in the industrial West are better than they have ever been in human history. The amount of pollution generated by fossil fuels and those machines directly burning them is lower than their original technologies created by a startling degree. We're buying more time right this instant
. Spending that time running in circles is a waste, and inefficient "green" systems are perfect examples. If you wish to argue about the poor allocation of resources, you have every reason to argue against such systems in the first place.