Russian trolls: Wind’s unlikely allies in Twitter wars

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Richard Heap
March 22, 2018
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Russian trolls: Wind’s unlikely allies in Twitter wars

Russian hackers have been waging war on the US energy grid. That’s the finding of an alert put out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security last week, though it didn’t give detail about whether they’ve succeeded.

Meanwhile, Russian trolls are fighting an aggressive social media campaign to try to shape the views of Americans about different power sources, and affect US energy policy. That’s the conclusion of a US House of Representatives report this month.

Naturally, both should be a concern for those investing in the US wind sector, and it may be tempting to see the first as the bigger issue. Undoubtedly, if hackers can disrupt the electricity system then that could hit production at wind farms, or cause blackouts in the whole grid, and have a significant impact on wind farm owners.

We’ve written before about why investors must take this seriously.

However, given all the discussion this week about the use of social media to influence elections, we’re more intrigued by the trolls.

The House of Representatives investigation says that the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency – a troll factory – put thousands of posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 2015 to 2017 in order to stir up controversy about US energy policy. The aim was to help Russia to achieve its geopolitical goals.

And this is where it gets interesting for wind investors. On one hand, the Russian government has been looking to these trolls to promote messages that support de-carbonisation, which includes talking up the potential of wind farms; and, on the other, it has been looking to ramp up the debate about climate change by showing it as a ‘liberal hoax’. Why take up these two conflicting positions?

Well, Russian foreign policy is never simple, but we'll give it a go.

In supporting de-carbonisation, the trolls were looking to make the case for ‘alternative’ sources, including wind and solar farms, in a bid to head off US support for shale gas fracking. This includes amplifying messages from green groups that it felt might be able to stop the use of fracking – and so keep the US reliant on Russia for fossil fuels. This may be beneficial for the wind industry but it still makes sense to be aware of who are friends and why.


Not that it worked. Since 2014, the US shale gas revolution has helped to drive down crude oil prices from over $100 a barrel to under $60, which has hit Russian energy interests. And the wind sector has also seen strong growth in the US since the extension of the production tax credit for the wind sector in late 2015. These are turning the US from a net energy importer into a net exporter.

Meanwhile, in spreading doubt about climate change, the trolls were seeking to sow discord in the debate about US energy policy; and breed public discontent in policies being pursued by political ‘elites', including fracking. It’s a familiar trope from recent UK and US elections, and this battle will continue. Despite the evidence, there will be an enduring debate about climate change and the extent to which human beings are responsible for it.

But there are steps that can be taken to protect energy investors. The US government is aware of Russian attempts to influence the energy market, and said it’s committed to running a market free from overseas interference. This doesn't mean the government can control the discussion, but at least it's aware of the threat.

The other good point for wind investors is that support for wind and other renewables is not just about climate change any more. The falling cost of wind power means the industry’s prospects are now tied far more to price and reliability than simply green concerns.

It won’t stop the Russian state-backed information war – but, for now, should give US wind operators some protection from it.

Russian hackers have been waging war on the US energy grid. That’s the finding of an alert put out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security last week, though it didn’t give detail about whether they’ve succeeded.

Meanwhile, Russian trolls are fighting an aggressive social media campaign to try to shape the views of Americans about different power sources, and affect US energy policy. That’s the conclusion of a US House of Representatives report this month.

Naturally, both should be a concern for those investing in the US wind sector, and it may be tempting to see the first as the bigger issue. Undoubtedly, if hackers can disrupt the electricity system then that could hit production at wind farms, or cause blackouts in the whole grid, and have a significant impact on wind farm owners.

We’ve written before about why investors must take this seriously.

However, given all the discussion this week about the use of social media to influence elections, we’re more intrigued by the trolls.

The House of Representatives investigation says that the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency – a troll factory – put thousands of posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 2015 to 2017 in order to stir up controversy about US energy policy. The aim was to help Russia to achieve its geopolitical goals.

And this is where it gets interesting for wind investors. On one hand, the Russian government has been looking to these trolls to promote messages that support de-carbonisation, which includes talking up the potential of wind farms; and, on the other, it has been looking to ramp up the debate about climate change by showing it as a ‘liberal hoax’. Why take up these two conflicting positions?

Well, Russian foreign policy is never simple, but we'll give it a go.

In supporting de-carbonisation, the trolls were looking to make the case for ‘alternative’ sources, including wind and solar farms, in a bid to head off US support for shale gas fracking. This includes amplifying messages from green groups that it felt might be able to stop the use of fracking – and so keep the US reliant on Russia for fossil fuels. This may be beneficial for the wind industry but it still makes sense to be aware of who are friends and why.


Not that it worked. Since 2014, the US shale gas revolution has helped to drive down crude oil prices from over $100 a barrel to under $60, which has hit Russian energy interests. And the wind sector has also seen strong growth in the US since the extension of the production tax credit for the wind sector in late 2015. These are turning the US from a net energy importer into a net exporter.

Meanwhile, in spreading doubt about climate change, the trolls were seeking to sow discord in the debate about US energy policy; and breed public discontent in policies being pursued by political ‘elites', including fracking. It’s a familiar trope from recent UK and US elections, and this battle will continue. Despite the evidence, there will be an enduring debate about climate change and the extent to which human beings are responsible for it.

But there are steps that can be taken to protect energy investors. The US government is aware of Russian attempts to influence the energy market, and said it’s committed to running a market free from overseas interference. This doesn't mean the government can control the discussion, but at least it's aware of the threat.

The other good point for wind investors is that support for wind and other renewables is not just about climate change any more. The falling cost of wind power means the industry’s prospects are now tied far more to price and reliability than simply green concerns.

It won’t stop the Russian state-backed information war – but, for now, should give US wind operators some protection from it.

Russian hackers have been waging war on the US energy grid. That’s the finding of an alert put out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security last week, though it didn’t give detail about whether they’ve succeeded.

Meanwhile, Russian trolls are fighting an aggressive social media campaign to try to shape the views of Americans about different power sources, and affect US energy policy. That’s the conclusion of a US House of Representatives report this month.

Naturally, both should be a concern for those investing in the US wind sector, and it may be tempting to see the first as the bigger issue. Undoubtedly, if hackers can disrupt the electricity system then that could hit production at wind farms, or cause blackouts in the whole grid, and have a significant impact on wind farm owners.

We’ve written before about why investors must take this seriously.

However, given all the discussion this week about the use of social media to influence elections, we’re more intrigued by the trolls.

The House of Representatives investigation says that the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency – a troll factory – put thousands of posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 2015 to 2017 in order to stir up controversy about US energy policy. The aim was to help Russia to achieve its geopolitical goals.

And this is where it gets interesting for wind investors. On one hand, the Russian government has been looking to these trolls to promote messages that support de-carbonisation, which includes talking up the potential of wind farms; and, on the other, it has been looking to ramp up the debate about climate change by showing it as a ‘liberal hoax’. Why take up these two conflicting positions?

Well, Russian foreign policy is never simple, but we'll give it a go.

In supporting de-carbonisation, the trolls were looking to make the case for ‘alternative’ sources, including wind and solar farms, in a bid to head off US support for shale gas fracking. This includes amplifying messages from green groups that it felt might be able to stop the use of fracking – and so keep the US reliant on Russia for fossil fuels. This may be beneficial for the wind industry but it still makes sense to be aware of who are friends and why.


Not that it worked. Since 2014, the US shale gas revolution has helped to drive down crude oil prices from over $100 a barrel to under $60, which has hit Russian energy interests. And the wind sector has also seen strong growth in the US since the extension of the production tax credit for the wind sector in late 2015. These are turning the US from a net energy importer into a net exporter.

Meanwhile, in spreading doubt about climate change, the trolls were seeking to sow discord in the debate about US energy policy; and breed public discontent in policies being pursued by political ‘elites', including fracking. It’s a familiar trope from recent UK and US elections, and this battle will continue. Despite the evidence, there will be an enduring debate about climate change and the extent to which human beings are responsible for it.

But there are steps that can be taken to protect energy investors. The US government is aware of Russian attempts to influence the energy market, and said it’s committed to running a market free from overseas interference. This doesn't mean the government can control the discussion, but at least it's aware of the threat.

The other good point for wind investors is that support for wind and other renewables is not just about climate change any more. The falling cost of wind power means the industry’s prospects are now tied far more to price and reliability than simply green concerns.

It won’t stop the Russian state-backed information war – but, for now, should give US wind operators some protection from it.

Russian hackers have been waging war on the US energy grid. That’s the finding of an alert put out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security last week, though it didn’t give detail about whether they’ve succeeded.

Meanwhile, Russian trolls are fighting an aggressive social media campaign to try to shape the views of Americans about different power sources, and affect US energy policy. That’s the conclusion of a US House of Representatives report this month.

Naturally, both should be a concern for those investing in the US wind sector, and it may be tempting to see the first as the bigger issue. Undoubtedly, if hackers can disrupt the electricity system then that could hit production at wind farms, or cause blackouts in the whole grid, and have a significant impact on wind farm owners.

We’ve written before about why investors must take this seriously.

However, given all the discussion this week about the use of social media to influence elections, we’re more intrigued by the trolls.

The House of Representatives investigation says that the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency – a troll factory – put thousands of posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 2015 to 2017 in order to stir up controversy about US energy policy. The aim was to help Russia to achieve its geopolitical goals.

And this is where it gets interesting for wind investors. On one hand, the Russian government has been looking to these trolls to promote messages that support de-carbonisation, which includes talking up the potential of wind farms; and, on the other, it has been looking to ramp up the debate about climate change by showing it as a ‘liberal hoax’. Why take up these two conflicting positions?

Well, Russian foreign policy is never simple, but we'll give it a go.

In supporting de-carbonisation, the trolls were looking to make the case for ‘alternative’ sources, including wind and solar farms, in a bid to head off US support for shale gas fracking. This includes amplifying messages from green groups that it felt might be able to stop the use of fracking – and so keep the US reliant on Russia for fossil fuels. This may be beneficial for the wind industry but it still makes sense to be aware of who are friends and why.


Not that it worked. Since 2014, the US shale gas revolution has helped to drive down crude oil prices from over $100 a barrel to under $60, which has hit Russian energy interests. And the wind sector has also seen strong growth in the US since the extension of the production tax credit for the wind sector in late 2015. These are turning the US from a net energy importer into a net exporter.

Meanwhile, in spreading doubt about climate change, the trolls were seeking to sow discord in the debate about US energy policy; and breed public discontent in policies being pursued by political ‘elites', including fracking. It’s a familiar trope from recent UK and US elections, and this battle will continue. Despite the evidence, there will be an enduring debate about climate change and the extent to which human beings are responsible for it.

But there are steps that can be taken to protect energy investors. The US government is aware of Russian attempts to influence the energy market, and said it’s committed to running a market free from overseas interference. This doesn't mean the government can control the discussion, but at least it's aware of the threat.

The other good point for wind investors is that support for wind and other renewables is not just about climate change any more. The falling cost of wind power means the industry’s prospects are now tied far more to price and reliability than simply green concerns.

It won’t stop the Russian state-backed information war – but, for now, should give US wind operators some protection from it.

Russian hackers have been waging war on the US energy grid. That’s the finding of an alert put out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security last week, though it didn’t give detail about whether they’ve succeeded.

Meanwhile, Russian trolls are fighting an aggressive social media campaign to try to shape the views of Americans about different power sources, and affect US energy policy. That’s the conclusion of a US House of Representatives report this month.

Naturally, both should be a concern for those investing in the US wind sector, and it may be tempting to see the first as the bigger issue. Undoubtedly, if hackers can disrupt the electricity system then that could hit production at wind farms, or cause blackouts in the whole grid, and have a significant impact on wind farm owners.

We’ve written before about why investors must take this seriously.

However, given all the discussion this week about the use of social media to influence elections, we’re more intrigued by the trolls.

The House of Representatives investigation says that the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency – a troll factory – put thousands of posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 2015 to 2017 in order to stir up controversy about US energy policy. The aim was to help Russia to achieve its geopolitical goals.

And this is where it gets interesting for wind investors. On one hand, the Russian government has been looking to these trolls to promote messages that support de-carbonisation, which includes talking up the potential of wind farms; and, on the other, it has been looking to ramp up the debate about climate change by showing it as a ‘liberal hoax’. Why take up these two conflicting positions?

Well, Russian foreign policy is never simple, but we'll give it a go.

In supporting de-carbonisation, the trolls were looking to make the case for ‘alternative’ sources, including wind and solar farms, in a bid to head off US support for shale gas fracking. This includes amplifying messages from green groups that it felt might be able to stop the use of fracking – and so keep the US reliant on Russia for fossil fuels. This may be beneficial for the wind industry but it still makes sense to be aware of who are friends and why.


Not that it worked. Since 2014, the US shale gas revolution has helped to drive down crude oil prices from over $100 a barrel to under $60, which has hit Russian energy interests. And the wind sector has also seen strong growth in the US since the extension of the production tax credit for the wind sector in late 2015. These are turning the US from a net energy importer into a net exporter.

Meanwhile, in spreading doubt about climate change, the trolls were seeking to sow discord in the debate about US energy policy; and breed public discontent in policies being pursued by political ‘elites', including fracking. It’s a familiar trope from recent UK and US elections, and this battle will continue. Despite the evidence, there will be an enduring debate about climate change and the extent to which human beings are responsible for it.

But there are steps that can be taken to protect energy investors. The US government is aware of Russian attempts to influence the energy market, and said it’s committed to running a market free from overseas interference. This doesn't mean the government can control the discussion, but at least it's aware of the threat.

The other good point for wind investors is that support for wind and other renewables is not just about climate change any more. The falling cost of wind power means the industry’s prospects are now tied far more to price and reliability than simply green concerns.

It won’t stop the Russian state-backed information war – but, for now, should give US wind operators some protection from it.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.