The stark reality of green tech’s solar and wind contribution to world energy

Summed in in one graph that says it all.

Roger Andrews writes:

If decarbonization is to be achieved by expanding renewables the expansion will have to come in wind, solar and biomass. So let’s take hydro out and see how far growth in wind, solar and biomass has carried us along the decarbonization path so far:

solar-wind-worldenergy

Clearly they still have a long way to go.

Source: http://euanmearns.com/renewable-energy-growth-in-perspective/

About these ads

149 thoughts on “The stark reality of green tech’s solar and wind contribution to world energy

  1. Cut the world’s energy consumption by half, and the SWBO portion will jump dramatically. Then cut it some more, and SWBO becomes significant.

    See, we can go to renewable energy right now!

  2. If we all become cave men (uhm cave people to be PC in the new world order), we will have achieved the ultimate goal of some who self loath.

  3. @Gamecock,

    Your idea intrigues me.

    It’s a well known maxim that you tax what you want less of and subsidize what you want more of.

    I propose we implement your idea by creating a tax on energy, and subsidize SWBO.

    Oh, wait…

  4. philjourdan says:
    July 18, 2014 at 10:40 am
    They have centuries to go. What happens when they run out of windy places, and wide open spaces?
    bearskins

  5. One day we will realize that we need to build more nuclear power facilities and hydroelectric dams, but for now we continue to waste trillions of USD on wind and solar.

  6. Here in “green” Ontario, Canada one can see in real-time the contribution of wind, solar, etc to the province’s grid at the Independent Electricity System Operator web site http://www.ieso.ca/

    According to the web site, as of this moment (July 17, 2014, 1:00PM EDT), a glorious sunny day across the province, Ontario’s current demand is 16,715 Megawatts (MW). Wind is currently providing 30 MW or roughly 0.002% of demand. Solar and biomass are so low it’s lumped into the “Other” category.

    Fail!

  7. The top graph is very deceptive. It starts in 1965. That is much too late.

    It should really start in 1665. THEN wind, water, and biomass were nearly 100% of world energy consumption. By the way, where is hydro power on that chart?

    It was in the 1700’s that humans learned how to replace charcoal with mined coal and wind and biomass were began to take a backseat to fossil and nuclear power.

  8. To be fair though: It’s not like they’ve been working on it for several decades or that renewables are very expensive.

    Plus, if you like the taste of birds of prey, just pop up a wind mill and wait!

    All fossil fuels are good for is base load power. (No votes or awards in that)

  9. Grid-scale storage is the key enabling technology. If that clicks into place, then that graph WILL end up looking like a hockey stick.

  10. @Stephen Rasey:

    If you want to live like it’s 1650 then by all means wind, biomass, and hydro power are all you need. Best of luck to you.

    Hydroelectric was left off because its development is not being pushed for by the green zombies, they are actually opposed to it — for some good reasons — despite it being one of the best ways to generate electricity.

  11. Awww….Geeez…c’mon folks!…this isn’t about saving money, or about saving the planet, or about any of that crap. It’s all about MOVING money. Doesn’t matter what banner the politicians find to do that under. If you take CO2 away, they’ll have to dig through all the drivel to come up with some other banner that allows them to MOVE MONEY.
    If you can’t MAKE money, MOVE money, which means politics. Climate Change is nothing but a banner for them, with a great marketing message provided by the great many folks who all benefit from supporting the “cause”.
    We’re trying to treat a cold with VaporRub. It’s the pols who are the problem, and if that was all undeniably proven in the next 24hrs, the pols would STILL be the problem, because they’d just find another way to MOVE MONEY.

    It’s what they do.

    Jim

  12. @ PaulH –

    Be fair to them… their motto is “Power to Ontario. On Demand.”

    There’s really no good way to fit wind and solar into that model.

  13. Actually, terrestrial wind is the cheapest power, at the plant. It’s even cheaper than hydro. Really, the issue is dispatchability, and that’s entirely a matter of storage.

  14. But the political brownie points chart is still impressive. It’s enough to bully science types and make up things at the podium or read scripts from the advocacy groups.

  15. If any of you campaigned against the current administration and subsequently got a Federal contract to provide or research wind or solar power please post comments below.

  16. The big problem in cities in 1905 was horse poop. No solution was in sight. A few years later…solved. You never know what the future holds. Perhaps in 10 years, renewables will be 99% due to a major innovation

  17. It’s interesting that the more techie we become, the more power is consumed. Imagine current computing being processed through tube technology. Based on that thought, we use very little power to compute our daily activity.

  18. Janice Moore says:
    July 18, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Hey Sweet Pea!
    Thanks for the vids/links!
    Hope all is well with you.
    Any ‘bites’ from the resume’ readers?
    Mac

  19. @ Jake J

    Grid scale, energy efficient and affordable electricity storage will be a game changer for renewable energy flows. I will never say never, but I think it is likely to be a thermodynamic impossibility. Pumped storage is efficient but difficult / impossible to scale. Hydrogen is scalable but spills 70% of energy and is expensive. Flow batteries I dare say will one day be scalable but I guess are not free.

  20. In addition to their high costs, “green” energy has some terribly negative environmental consequences, making them doubly stupid.

  21. @Robert W Turner at 10:53 am
    @Stephen Rasey:
    If you want to live like it’s 1650 then by all means wind, biomass, and hydro power are all you need.

    Which is precisely the point. The only way for wind, biomass and solar to approach any substantial fraction of 100 percent of energy consumption is to reduce our energy consumption to pre-industrial revolution, agrarian, water-driven sawmills and wind-driven grain mills and water pumps. When the well-off had a mule and the rich had a horse.

    The graph should not miss the point. Wind, solar, and biomass used to be 100 percent of our consumption a couple centuries ago. We grew out of that. The chart should show that reality and history.

  22. How does biomass count as renewable? OK, I get it’s renewable (to an extent), but what is the twisted logic to argue that it is carbon neutral (I presume they believe this in order to lump it in with solar/wind)? Last I checked, burning organic matter also gives off CO2. I don’t get how the watermelons can be in favor of burning an inefficient fuel like biomass, but be against burning an efficient fuel like coal…but then again, logic has never stopped them before!

    And is hydroelectric counted in “other”, or has hydro fallen completely out of favor by the greenies now?

  23. BTW, it’s presently 68°F here in Nashville, TN at 1:50 pm CDT on July 18th hen it’s usually in the high 90’s. Is this the start of the next little ice age? Should I be laying in a few chords of firewood for the coming blizzards?

  24. Hi, Mac the Knife!

    You’re welcome for the links — thank you for saying something!

    Thank you for asking — nuthin’. Absolutamente nada. I’m okay, though.

    Hope all that tension at work you mentioned a few weeks ago is working out…

    Hope summer is going well (hurrah for our 3 whole weeks of sunny, warm, weather — woo-hoo),

    Janice

  25. ” Last I checked, burning organic matter also gives off CO2. ”

    It’s “carbon” neutral if you grew it rather than digging up something that grew 20million years ago.

  26. Those lines hugging the bottom of the chart look pitiful. To add some drama, include a line depicting percent of research monies wasted on those fools’ errands. A hockey stick for sure!

  27. William R: burning biomass counts as “neutral” because if you don’t burn it, it will rot, thus producing the same amount of atmospheric carbon just on a longer time-scale. These guys are not stupid.

    Why is coal different than biomass? We know that atmospheric CO2 is increasing, and we presume that is at least partly because carbon that has been buried deep under ground for millenia is now participating in the carbon cycle. Whether that is causing warming is another question.

    Personally, I’m all for searching for ways to leave deep-earth carbon where it sits, so that future generations can use it. Just don’t know how to do that without destroying the economy.

  28. The trouble with the “carbon neutral” concept (aside frome its inherent idiocy) of biomass is that it never is, unless they conveniently “forget” to add all the “carbon” resulting from the manufacturing process and transporting it.

  29. Hydro and geothermal (which for some reason wasn’t mentioned) are quite different from solar and wind – they are, except for drought conditions and hydro) controllable, and can even function as peak energy providers (with caveats for hydro). But there are few sources for new hydo and geothermal, as currently extracted, is pretty much all being used. So no new capacity from those sources. Solar makes the most sense if you have a handy desert close by. Even there the cost is
    prohibitive and it’s still basically a 8 to 10 hour daily producer, requiring total backup.

  30. I was ay a coffee shop that has a daily trivia question and it said thus; In what year is wind and solar expected to be the dominant energy source worldwide?. Their answer was 2025….😁

  31. philjourdan says:
    July 18, 2014 at 10:40 am
    They have centuries to go. What happens when they run out of windy places, and wide open spaces?

    That one is all too easy
    We simply become mole people. Rebuild cities DOWN instead of UP and open the tracts of land currently covered by Urbanization to Generation and Agriculture
    (?) (!)

  32. @col mosby

    Geothermal is lumped in with the biomass and other, as noted in the post. The amount of energy it generates isn’t significant in global terms.

  33. Folks, solar panels have been around for some 60 years now having been invented in 1954: http://energyinformative.org/the-history-of-solar-energy-timeline/.

    Yet the govt’s EIA website tells us that, as of last year, solar provided a mere one-quarter of 1% of our electricity needs in the U.S. (0.23% to be exact). That pretty much tells me what I need to know about solar’s ability to make meaningful inroads into the U.S. energy market. If it were capable of making meaningful progress, it wouldn’t take in excess of 60 years for it happen. Nuclear power plants certainly didn’t take that long to go from drawing boards to reality and provide a meaningful percentage of our electricity needs now did they?

    Trying to explain to the believers of so-called “green renewables” what wind and solar’s problems and shortcomings are that preclude them from making any real progress in the energy market is like talking to a brick wall–nothing sinks in. What keeps CAGW, wind and solar and other campaigns alive is nothing more than blind faith in them (along with $$$ from govt)–they are all nothing more than religions. The lack of science and other evidence to support any of it means nothing to the true believers.

    And to top things off, you have the hypocrisy and double standard that allows wind turbines to legally kill avian wildlife–something that is not allowed with any other energy source. This includes protected species like our national symbol, the American Bald Eagle. Totally disgusting.

    KILL WIND TURBINES, NOT AVIAN WILDLIFE.

  34. Let green-leaning governments invest all they like in wind solar etc. Some actions in life directly entrain their own punishment. The catholics have a word for it – “attrition” I believe. This was the theme of the movie “Seven” with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.

    Those same governments will have plenty of time to decide what to do with a pile of unreliable super-expensive green electricity generating hardware cluttering the countryside; just what a country needs during a period of globally slowing growth and intensifying competition.

  35. If the windmill companies had to pay the normal fine for killing eagles and other birds, they would be shut down immediately, thereby reducing the wind contribution to zero. If the giant solar farms out west had to pay the fines for “cooking” stray birds, they would shut down too.

  36. The problem with power storage is … well … power. Takes a h— of a lot of it. Electric cars have 50-80 KWh batteries and occasional problems (like Fisker) and that’s peanuts compared to a small city. There we will need megawatt hours or gigawatt. Anything goes wrong and you get a might big arc. (or “Rapid Self Disassembly”) Transmission lines run at up to 300 KV. (More for DC lines) Batteries don’t do that. At 3.5 volts per cell, takes a lot of lithium. The Tesla Roadster battery needed over 6000 individual batteries. Each.
    Pumped storage makes the most sense and as others have noted, requires geography not common in many places. Plus opposition from anyone even slightly green.
    Thorium nuclear may work, but (by my third law) if it were that easy, someone would have done it. A number of small reactors around the world, few if any really useful ones.
    So (in this case) we will p— away money we don’t have on solutions that don’t work for problems that really do exist.

  37. A few commenters mention biomass. Wood burning stoves in a rural setting are great! Converting 2GW coal fired power stations to run on wood chips which is what they are doing in UK right now is totally bonkers (US wood chips by the way). Its bonkers from an energy perspective and bonkers from a CO2 emissions perspective. Sure, if you have straw, which sucked C out of the atmosphere this year and burn it this year it is carbon neutral, once you account for the diesel used to gather the straw and transport it to the power station. But 200 year old hard wood forest IS fossil fuel.

  38. Yes, indeed, CD (at 12:44pm) : “KILL WIND TURBINES, NOT AVIAN WILDLIFE.”

    In memory of one valiant little heart that stopped beating,
    slammed to the ground by an Enviroprofiteer’s windmill,
    just a little over a year go, I reproduce my June, 28, 2013 post (here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/28/imagine-the-outrage-from-environmentalists-if-it-had-been-an-oil-derrick/#comment-1349768)

    ********************************************************************
    In Oscar Wilde’s short story “The Happy Prince,” a little swallow sacrifices his life to bring warmth and food and joy to the poor of the city, and the angels come and carry him away.

    I am a staunch believer in free markets, private property, and am a U. S. Constitution originalist. I am for peace through military strength. I am, in short, a “conservative.” I also have tears rolling down my face as I write this. I love animals. I love them so much.

    Little swift, soar through blue sky,
    sunlight glinting in your eye,
    free at last to Live and cry,
    “I laugh at windmills — watch me FLY.”.

    I dedicate this video to the memory of a little bird that closed its eyes for the last time this week.

    (Yeah, the bird in the video is “only” a seagull. I hope the message still comes through.)

    “Be” — sung by Neil Diamond

    “‘… sparrows … not one of them is forgotten by God.’” Luke 12:6.

    The EXCELLENT posts above …
    (Here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/28/imagine-the-outrage-from-environmentalists-if-it-had-been-an-oil-derrick/)

    … illuminating truth and destroying lies are a living memorial;
    that little swift did not die in vain.

    Rest in peace, little swift, rest

    in peace.

    Janice Moore

  39. I will never say never, but I think it is likely to be a thermodynamic impossibility. Pumped storage is efficient but difficult / impossible to scale.

    I completely agree about pumped storage. Too expensive. But I tend to be on the optimistic side as it applies to grid-scale batteries. We’ll see.

    Yet the govt’s EIA website tells us that, as of last year, solar provided a mere one-quarter of 1% of our electricity needs in the U.S. (0.23% to be exact). That pretty much tells me what I need to know about solar’s ability to make meaningful inroads into the U.S. energy market. If it were capable of making meaningful progress, it wouldn’t take in excess of 60 years for it happen.

    Solar has reached maximum efficiency only recently, and then it took another decade for manufacturing scale economies to kick in. I think we’ll see solar being fairly important over time, at least in lower latitudes.

  40. “tom s says
    I was at a coffee shop that has a daily trivia question and it said thus; In what year is wind and solar expected to be the dominant energy source worldwide?. Their answer was 2025….”

    Close. You are off by only 1 digit out of 4. I’d guess carbon as predominant for the next 30-60 years, maybe thorium (who knows?) after that…then solar in….

  41. @ philjourdan says:

    “They have centuries to go. What happens when they run out of windy places, and wide open spaces?”

    Centuries? Build the solar farms on Jupiter and laser it back to collectors along the equator.

    • @KevinM

      Centuries? Build the solar farms on Jupiter and laser it back to collectors along the equator.

      Why not just build them on the sun? it is closer, has more real estate(?) and would get a higher concentration than a planet 5 times further from the sun than Earth.

  42. @ tom s says:
    “I was ay a coffee shop that has a daily trivia question and it said thus; In what year is wind and solar expected to be the dominant energy source worldwide?. Their answer was 2025….😁”

    Jeffrey Sachs wrote a best selling book in 2005 claiming Earth will be poverty free that same year. I’m glad I’ll still be almost young enough to party.

  43. That much!?!? I thought I’d need my 10X magnifier to see the contribution but it’s clearly visible with just my reading glasses.
    Anyway, that’s about twice what I figured, so I guess those couple of trillion dollars spent on green energy weren’t a waste after all, eh?
    (/sarc really necessary?)

  44. Biomass is carbon neutral, as pointed out above, because the carbon recirculates into the biomass, the air, plants (biomass), the air when burned, biomass…
    In which case, fossil fuels and ONLY fossil fuels are “superrenewable” because they, too recirculate endlessly after you burn them the first time.
    What is more important: fossil fuels and only fossils make MORE LIFE on Earth. We are carbon based life forms.
    We can argue about economics. We can praise nuclear (ignoring Sternglass’ research), but none of those increase life. Only fossil fuels.

    To be honest, I don’t think even the life-increasing effect of fossils will ever impress the greens. They are afraid of carbon dioxide. They know that planets use CO2 and give off oxygen while people breathe in the oxygen to burn sugars and fats, releasing carbon dioxide. So they think CO2 is a waste product and therefore harmful. The reality is that CO2 has been part of the environment of life since we were bacteria in the Hadean seas. Most previous eras had far more carbon dioxide that the recent ones, so most of our physiology is selected for higher levels. It is not only plants, but humans as well, that are carbon-dioxide starved. When we get THAT across, then all the folks worshiping politicians as “the scientists” will finally discover that WE are the scientists, and understand what we have been saying.

  45. Statistical data points are wonderful things, they can be made to mean anything to anyone. So a green head (not the fly) can joyously explain how green enregy has increased by over 300% since 1980 and then enjoin foolish humanity to repent and worship at the temple of green energy. Of course this view misses the greater context and scale but is a common fault in Climate Change Activism, er I mean Climate Science.

    Whats funny, if we could have just stopped the fantastical growth of junk mail since 1980, we might have reduced more energy pollution than all of the green energy initiatives combined.

  46. I’ve been fighting this battle for 30 years. (The solar/wind/renewable drum beat.) Some times I get TIRED of doing it. Could we divide the United states down the MIDDLE? All the refineries, coal plants, etc. on one side (probably East of the Mississippi) and all the wind power and solar to the West. (Now the paradox here is the boat load of 100,000,000 left leaning zombies on the east coast who would have to move to utopia, i.e. west of the Mississippi)…however it would be such a wonderful proposal. Those EAST of the M, would take all that nasty OIL and COAL away from those in the WEST of the big M, “cleaning” the land of those nasty materials. To the west of the Mississippi would be nothing but blue sky, flowers, love and peace. Meanwhile, those on the East of the Mississippi would have to “die” from their own deadly (AKA CO2) releases and “chemicals”…with the overflow going off into the Atlantic, and Europe and Africa. Who, in a rational world, would essentially threaten the people East of the Mississippi with WAR, because of their “poisoning” their air/water.

    However, in the REAL WORLD of the passive, unable to do anything militarily, Europe and Africa, there would be NO reaction at all! Of course, silly me, I forgot all that “deadly” polution (CO2) coming from CHINA! TO which the people west of the Mississippi should also respond with “deadly force”. BUT WAIT, the people west of the Mississippi are now all “flower children”, left wing “negociators and lovers”. Not a fighter amongst them. So the Chinese (and Indians) can do whatever they want. SO, I have SOLVED IT! The perfect solar, conservation, wind, renewable society…living in peace and harmony, and the terrible warmongering, fossil burning, enviromentally destructive neandrethals, “isolated” on the Eastern 1/2 of the USA.

    One problem, I have not be able to solve: When the “Westerners” convert all their agriculture to making ETHANOL, they will have food shortages and deaths from mal-nutrition. However, again a marvelous, self presenting “cure”. If they are all completely DRUNK, they won’t feel a whit of pain as they pass on, out of the way. I am SUCH a GENIUS!

  47. Jake J says:
    July 18, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Grid-scale storage is the key enabling technology. If that clicks into place, then that graph WILL end up looking like a hockey stick.

    I thought maybe I was missing your intended sarcasm but view several subsequent comments I have to conclude you really believe that.

    No. Even if we had a scalable, cheap, safe grid storage technology it would only make wind power marginally less awful. It would not change the other problems with wind. (1) practical wind energy recovery is limited by location (as is hydro). The best locations get built first and there is a decreasing return on later locations. (2) Wind turbines produce useful power only within a certain range of wind speed; to little and they don’t spin fast enough; too much and they have to be feathered to prevent damage. Wind turbines at even the best locations seldom average above 25% of their nameplate capacity over a calendar year. (3) the offical EIA figure of a 25-year service lifetime has not been achieved by turbines in use to date. Major service procedures are difficult and quite expensive. In other words, the capital cost per megawatt hour is significantly higher than the official EIA levelized cost accounting (4) Even with the best turbine technology there simply isn’t that much energy in wind — about 1 watt/sq. meter of swept blade area.

    And besides, if the hoped-for grid storage technology does become a reality, there is a much better use for it than backup up for intermittent sources like wind. Use it instead to eliminate or at least reduce peaking plants, which are less efficient than base load sources. Keep those big thermal and nuclear plants running at capacity and store the excess at periods of low load to release back onto the grid as needed. We’ll need fewer power plants overall and we can keep the most efficient ones 100% busy between their scheduled maintenance intervals.

  48. @Max Hugoson (July 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm)

    I think pretty much all recoverable uranium in the US is west of the Mississippi. Actually there are 21 states where uranium has been found. Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia would join the COG states in your scheme (Coal, Oil, Gas) and all the rest would be with the flower children.

    I wonder where the recoverable thorium deposits are?

  49. @ Jake J, I agree that solar PV and solar thermal may have a great future in sunny places. The cost of solar may continue to fall and the cost of FF may continue to rise. It is the mandatory, subsidised deployment at present that is the problem. Where I stay (Aberdeen Scotland) the Sun seldom shines and solar PV is deployed with random orientation – because it really makes little difference. We reckon load is about 8% and the energy used to create panels is never recovered.

  50. Bjorn Lomborg: Facebook Photo 2013.
    Renewables share of Global Energy, 1800-2035 (projected)

    From Lomborg’s comments:

    Data for graph: “A brief history of energy” by Roger Fouquet, International Handbook of the Economics of Energy 2009; Warde, Energy consumption in England and Wales, 1560-2000; http://www.tsp-data-portal.org/Energy-Production-Statistics#tspQvChart, and EIA data (DOI: 10.1787/enestats-data-en)

    “Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and [the] Tooth Fairy.” – James Hansen

  51. Retired Engineer says:
    July 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    The barriers to entry for nuclear power were/are sufficiently steep enough to have prevented any alternative to the current Light Water Reactors (LWRs). Please note that LWRs were chosen, not because they were the best fit for commercial power reactors, but because they were the best fit for the nascent nuclear Navy. The commercialization of this technology was enabled by the Navy’s choice. A shift from LWRs to Thorium, SMRs, or any other competing nuclear technology, has an uphill commercial/regulatory/industrial battle…but not necessarily an uphill engineering battle.

    Max Hugoson says:
    July 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Would we be allowed to take our filthy oil money to the West for tourist-type activities? I kinda like the rockies…

    rip

  52. Jake J says:
    July 18, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Grid-scale storage is the key enabling technology. If that clicks into place, then that graph WILL end up looking like a hockey stick.

    =================

    You are caught up in the fable. There is no need for action now. In a few hundred years, maybe so. But the people then and there will deal with it. Creating a 21st century solution to a 24th century concern is ridiculous.

  53. “The fastest growing energy sector of the 21st century”.

    (AKA complete tripe. But it sounds good if nothing else)

  54. Frodo says:
    July 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Oh, I see you meant just in Murica…

    Mr Google came up with this:

    Sadly, that places the vast majority of thorium depots in the West-of-the-Mississippi flower-children states as well.

  55. LeeHarvey says:
    July 18, 2014 at 11:04 am
    @ Mario Lento –
    I think they actually want us to die, not to live like cavemen.
    ++++++++++
    At the very best, we’d need to live like cavemen. I do not disagree with your sentiment based on evidence from many of “their” statements.

  56. philjourdan says:
    July 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm
    @Mario Lento – then the polar bears will REALLY be endangered!
    +++++++++++++
    True that… :)

  57. It is the mandatory, subsidised deployment at present that is the problem. Where I stay (Aberdeen Scotland) the Sun seldom shines and solar PV is deployed with random orientation – because it really makes little difference. We reckon load is about 8% and the energy used to create panels is never recovered.

    I can’t imagine too many places where it’s dumber to deploy solar panels than in Aberdeen, or anywhere in Scotland, or the entire U.K. for that matter. I’m thinking of rooftops in San Diego and Las Vegas.

    It would not change the other problems with wind. (1) practical wind energy recovery is limited by location (as is hydro). The best locations get built first and there is a decreasing return on later locations. (2) Wind turbines produce useful power only within a certain range of wind speed; to little and they don’t spin fast enough; too much and they have to be feathered to prevent damage. Wind turbines at even the best locations seldom average above 25% of their nameplate capacity over a calendar year. (3) the offical EIA figure of a 25-year service lifetime has not been achieved by turbines in use to date. Major service procedures are difficult and quite expensive. In other words, the capital cost per megawatt hour is significantly higher than the official EIA levelized cost accounting (4) Even with the best turbine technology there simply isn’t that much energy in wind — about 1 watt/sq. meter of swept blade area.

    First, I need to say that I’m very, ver far from a hair-to-his-ass hippie when it comes to this stuff. There are aspects of wind turbines that I definitely dislike, chief among them being the destruction of scenic vistas. But …

    (1) We’re not even remotely close to exhausting the windy locations, at least in the United States, (2) The levelized cost estimates account for the factors you mention (3) Not only will this get better, but there’s enough slack to still make wind economical if cheap grid-scale storage is developed (4) There’s enough to matter. No one — certainly not me, anyway — ever would argue that we would or should depend on one method of generation.

    And besides, if the hoped-for grid storage technology does become a reality, there is a much better use for it than backup up for intermittent sources like wind. Use it instead to eliminate or at least reduce peaking plants, which are less efficient than base load sources. Keep those big thermal and nuclear plants running at capacity and store the excess at periods of low load to release back onto the grid as needed. We’ll need fewer power plants overall and we can keep the most efficient ones 100% busy between their scheduled maintenance intervals.

    Ultimately, this will be a matter for the invisible hand. One big upside of cheap grid-scale storage could be the elimination of subsidies.

  58. Why take hydro out? Did its inclusion invalidate the argument?

    Even so, it seems to me that the trend will reach about 50% by 2040 and then make fossil fuels obsolete by 2050.

  59. Jake J, if what you claim is true, then we CAN get rid of subsidies NOW. So come on, put your own money (not mine) where YOUR mouth is and call for an immediate end to subsidies. If you can’t, then you’re just spewing hot air.

    Cheers all.
    Alex

  60. I think hydro is pretty much fully developed, for one thing. Maybe some more rivers will be dammed, who knows, but it’s not going to grow in a big way. It’s old, established technology. Maybe there can be more efficient turbines with superconductors? I dunno.

    The action, so to speak, is in wind and solar, where there have been big technological developments in the last 20 years, and where there’s lots of room to grow. But not (in my opinion) without much better storage. It does occur to me that maybe micro-level storage (each home) could work for solar panels in some applications.

  61. Ray, the hydro is out because the Greenies are already calling for removal of many existing hydro plants and absolutely oppose any new hydro. So, it’s out. Blame the Greenies, not us rationalists.

  62. Jake J, what is your proposed method of micro-storage that doesn’t have all of the materials/safety/cost realities that preclude such a thing now? What is there that even has a realistic development horizon?

    It’s an awesome wish-dream, but nothing more than that unless I’m ignorant of some amazing new tech I’ve missed over the past decade.

    How am I wrong?

  63. Re: This bit of wishful thinking by Jake J(1:13pm): “…it took another decade for manufacturing scale economies to kick in.”:

    There are NO known manufacturing efficiencies
    TECHNICALLY POSSIBLE
    to the farthest horizons of the most optimistic view
    of the foreseeable future
    which can bring solar meaningfully close
    to supplying the world’s energy needs.
    NONE.

    [5:25 – 6:22 ] Solar Cells cost per KWH does NOT go down over life of installed cells – this is an illusory claim {a.k.a. “false advertising”}:

    (1) taxpayers or customers of other types of power are paying the bulk of solar’s costs;
    and
    (2) [6:00] That the costs of some of the raw materials which comprise small amounts of solar’s total cost-of-production are going down, e. g., polysilicon (less than 5% of total), will never reduce cost of production to break-even.

    {Source: This Ozzie Zehner lecture at referenced times above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–OqCMP5nPI
    — Note: not all of this lecture is helpful; lots of Zehner’s personal anti-consumerism philosophy (not based on science, just his belief — and that’s okay, but, that isn’t the useful part of his lecture)}

  64. Wind and solar will never meet our energy needs. The eco-freaks know this. That is why there is a wing of the environmental movement that is pushing for massive “degrowth” as the only way of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 as a number of European countries have pledged to do. My back of the envelope calculations puts that at a 30 per cent drop in GDP. To put that in perspective, the last time we saw a drop that steep in GDP was during the Great Depression, which saw 27 per cent unemployment. There is not a single country in the West that could afford to keep people on welfare and also pay for health and defences. In the U.S., for example, welfare costs some $360 billion with an unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent. The U.S. government is already running a deficit that is more than twice as large and has an accumulated debt of $17 trillion. Every Western country is carrying massive debts as well. Degrowthers are quite mad, yet they are gaining momentum.
    The true irony is that CO2 can be used as a feedstock for so many things — fish food, glucose and even synthetic gas. Governments would be so much better off working at encouraging co-production at existing power plants. But that sensible approach doesn’t quite jive with the worldview of the environmental movement which seeks to vilify oil and natural gas. More’s the pity.

  65. I think I’m with Jake on distributed storage. Our PUD neighborhood suffers from alphabet block architecture, but we managed to get a small (c. 2KW) solar installation on part of our roof. It went into service 3 years ago last month, and over the ensuing time, it has produced over 500KWH more than we have used.

    We get credited kwh for kwr on the daily in-and-out usage. But we get stuck with state energy tax,
    local utility tax, power coast adjustment, and electric user tax on whatever comes in through that meter, even though we replace it the next day. The actual cost is more than fair for the use of the grid as a virtual battery, even though it is a crazy way to collect it. Even so, I would cut loose from the grid tomorrow if the economics of battery storage made sense.

    One big advantage of solar is the potential for distributed generation. Eliminate the transmission lines running across the countryside, save the energy losses in transformers and line resistance, etc. But utility level transmission/storage simply throws away this potential. I wonder if we might see totally independent residential power develop over time in stages, with the first move to battery buffered grid connections. Right now, a modest amount of battery storage in my garage (no more than 20KWH) would bring my draw from the grid to nearly zero and almost totally eliminate the above mentioned taxes. But current battery costs and limited battery life make it un-economic for the present.

    But hey, a guy can dream….

  66. We have two populated islands that are off the grid….they all have wind and solar
    …and a diesel generator….diesel is delivered by barge

  67. There is not one engineer who can build a building with an intermittent worthless power source, and claim that a back up will be developed later, who would not lose his license and be disbarred from practicing.

    The cost of these future back ups and the effectiveness is not calculable, and therefore, all progressive scientists hawking renewables and talking about sustainability are grey foxes making false promises to the unfortunate young people who listen to them. These young hipsters would be totally shocked by products that are extremely expensive or that don’t work, which used to be plentiful and reliable. They would be shocked by shortages and black outs.

    But Boomers would love to claim their one percent power source is fine (or will be), or that organic agriculture, which also happens to only provide one percent of our food, would support our country. But as places like Vermont get more worthless wind turbines strung across the hills and mountains, even the deep thinking progressives can figure out that coal is really not emitting much! and the country would be littered with them in order to provide more than 1% of the electricity.

    You’ll get insects in your cans of food, toxins from mildews in your juice, and soy replacing your beef if you do not pay attention to what that other one percent of the economy, the organic growers, are also doing to the rest of the commercial growers. It is a stark and striking parallel with the renewables activists shutting down coal.

  68. phlogiston says:
    July 18, 2014 at 12:47 pm
    Let green-leaning governments invest all they like in wind solar etc. Some actions in life directly entrain their own punishment. The catholics have a word for it – “attrition” I believe.

    “Contrition” sounds more likely.

    A fifth downside of wind is its distributed generating points, and their distance from power lines. That requires expensive wiring. Further, there are power loses in transmission from those power lines to the places where the power is consumed.

  69. For those of you not politically tuned, Mr. obama’s EPA just released a proposed rule regarding existing fossil fueled power plants. Says he wants a 30% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030. The skinny is this: his plan is to do away with the industry standard of “economic dispatch” and replace it with an “environmental dispatch” ala Europe. This means “affordability” is secondary.

    The man said he would use his pen and phone and he has.

    Go to “Tellepa.com” and comment.

    My apologies, Anthony, but the reality is the EPA is moving forward despite the science and lack of warming.

    Cheers.

  70. Correction: organic growers provide 1% of the food grown – not 1% of the economy.

    Yes and like renewables receiving the almighty government waiver, organic growers also get waivers from laws protecting workers from bending over to weed. And like renewables, they are extremely loud and obnoxious and ubiquitous activists, but produce much much less yield at much greater cost.

  71. Wind, Solar, and Biomass are all just Solar energy in one form or another. So-called ‘green tech’ is simply an attempt to replace the Battery (stored solar energy in the form of fossil fuels), with the trickle-charger for that battery. It is never going to work to maintain the RATE of energy use required by current civilization. And, the fossil fuel battery is running out. That’s what all of this ridiculous CAGW nonsense is aimed at~ the Peak Energy Resource Extraction Rate. The Rate is the important factor, not how much is potentially recoverable. Those pushing CAGW from the top are attempting to mitigate the inevitable decline in energy production by scaring the populace into using less, while attempting to condition the populace to accept legislation that would legally limit energy consumption~ all in the heroic quest to ‘save the planet’. I don’t think ‘they’ will win, because their science charade is falling apart, but the underlying reason for their deception is firmly rooted in reality. Their form of mitigation is geared toward keeping themselves at the top while civilization continues on its downward slope (the standard of living in my country, which can be otherwise stated as energy per capita in the US, has been dropping steadily since the early 1970’s, when US domestic oil production peaked). Our civilization IS going to fall because the battery will exhaust itself~ or rather, the extraction rate will fall too low to maintain living standards and necessary infrastructure. A strange ‘package deal’ has emerged among those on the Internet. Those that agree that ‘peak oil’ is real (it’s really peak energy extraction rate of a finite high density energy source) also tend to agree that CAGW is real. This point of view is entirely nonsensical, because CAGW is a political campaign pushing a false idea with the aim to keep the remaining energy production focussed within the richer nations, and towards the elite of those nations~ so logically, agreeing with both is to agree with a truth and a falsehood simultaneously, without realizing that the two are intimately connected. The parsimonious connection between the two is absurdly simple, yet out of reach for many supposed intelligent people. The other side of the ‘package deal’, is that both ‘peak oil’ (peak extraction rate of a finite high density energy source) and CAGW are hoaxes. The general feeling in this crowd is that CAGW pushers are just communists/collectivists vying for power over the population for its own sake, and that ‘Big Oil’ is trying to create artificial scarcity in order to drive up oil prices. This group makes more sense than the former, superficially, but is still coupling a truth with a falsehood. An energy producer may restrict production in order to raise prices, but that would only reduce the ability of the population to buy energy, because the energy is more expensive. There is evidence that energy producers are shutting in some production, but that is evidence in favor of peak energy extraction rate rather than a simple game to try and increase profits. Higher energy prices contract the economy overall. The energy extraction rate powers the modern economy, and is the foundation of the so-called fiat currencies~ primarily the Dollar. When the extraction rate of energy drops, the value of currency drops, because currency must then be created faster than the energy extraction rate in order to cover interest within a debt based economy. Debt-based systems are exquisite frauds to be sure, but can only exist when energy extraction rates continuously increase. If energy extraction rates start to go flat (which they are by any measure), the debt-based system will start to collapse, which is exactly what is going on right now. In conclusion to my ramble, ever look for parsimonious relations between seemingly disparate ideas, because the ‘package deals’ of belief circulating currently are completely erroneous. CAGW is completely false, but the general idea of Peak Oil is true (given my more accurate description). And, the only legitimate, or parsimonious place to stand, is one that unites the two ideas, because they are intimately connected. In short, the supposed elites are trying to drag us down just as the shit hits the fan, but they are just ordinary people, and probably won’t survive what is coming. They are simply trying to maintain some semblance of power, and are now trying to start a war to hide the failures of their economic system. I tend to ramble, but I am right.

  72. Jake J, what is your proposed method of micro-storage that doesn’t have all of the materials/safety/cost realities that preclude such a thing now? What is there that even has a realistic development horizon?

    I will write the three rarest words ever seen on the Internet: I don’t know.

    I live in Seattle, which has absurd subsidies for solar panels, a technology unsuited for these parts. If I lived in the Southwest, I’d investigate it in detail to see whether it’d make sense there. I’m not sure it would. I have read, from time to time, that some people use lead-acid batteries, and that others use lithium-ion batteries that have degraded too much for use in EVs.

    Maybe, over time, smaller-scale forms of molten-metal or salt-transfer batteries will work at the household level. Whether any of that makes sense, well, “I don’t know.” Hell, given the uncertain reliability of the grid where I am, if I could buy a battery that would store a week’s worth of juice for, say, $5,000, I’d do it. A whole-house natural gas generator costs $15,000.

    To me, it would be entirely a cost-benefit calculation. If the numbers worked, I’d do it. If not, I wouldn’t. I’m not any kind of evangelist for any of it. I have an EV, but I have it because I got a screaming good deal in a bankruptcy close-out. It’s a great city car for my purposes, and gets a yea-’round average on last calculation of 106 mpg-e. But the savings are trivial.

    Ray, the hydro is out because the Greenies are already calling for removal of many existing hydro plants and absolutely oppose any new hydro. So, it’s out. Blame the Greenies, not us rationalists.

    There’s one part legit environmentalism and nine parts politics on this. Some dams produce so little power that there’s really no justification for reuining this or that river. As these dams reach the end of their useful lives, I’ve got no problem with pulling them out. But the campaign among some of the whack-job environmentalists — believe me, we have a large surplus of these Smugista Posers where I am — to remove the big dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers is another kettle of unendangered salmon.

    A fifth downside of wind is its distributed generating points, and their distance from power lines. That requires expensive wiring. Further, there are power loses in transmission from those power lines to the places where the power is consumed.

    That particular devil is truly in the details. Transmission losses in the grid are 6-1/2% nationally. The utility in the suburbs of Seattle, Puget Sound Energy, gets 1/3 of its juice from a coal plant in Montana that’s 900 miles away, and a whole bunch of power from the Columbia goes more than 1,000 miles to Los Angeles.

    On the Columbia, at certain times of year, the windmills and dams have to be throttled back because the power can’t be used. This genuinely baffles me, and seems like an opportunity for grid-level storage if — and only if — it can be cost-effective. Definitely a big “if.” This doesn’t exist now, but hell, even this blog has featured items about that subject.

    Being doubtful of the AGW hypothesis doesn’t mean — to me, anyway — having some knee-jerk aversion to technological advances on the renewables front. If they can be cost-effectively integrated into the system, what’s not to like?

    One big advantage of solar is the potential for distributed generation. Eliminate the transmission lines running across the countryside, save the energy losses in transformers and line resistance, etc. But utility level transmission/storage simply throws away this potential. I wonder if we might see totally independent residential power develop over time in stages, with the first move to battery buffered grid connections.

    This is the sort of millenialist eco-evangelism that drives me up a wall.

    First off, no one is going to “eliminate the transmission lines.” It’s complete horseshit to even suggest that this will happen in the next 100 years and probably a lot longer. The idea that each user will have their own power source is crap. With cost-effective storage, it could work in some places, for some users. It can be a part of the future system, if the technology gods are smiling.

    Secondly, the larger idea of “totally independent” anything is horseshit. We live in an advanced industrial economy that is based, among other things, on specialization and trade. (See Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, for more detail.) We are linked together in myriad ways. It makes us collectively more efficient, and improves countless individual lives in countless ways.

    Yes, if it made economic sense, I’d be happy to unhook from the power grid. Not to be “independent,” but to save money that could be deployed in other ways. And remember what all money actually is: a claim on labor. When you “save money,” you are saving labor, which then can be put to more productive use. Money is merely the medium of exchange, and a score-keeping mechanism.

  73. For those of you not politically tuned, Mr. obama’s EPA just released a proposed rule regarding existing fossil fueled power plants. Says he wants a 30% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030. The skinny is this: his plan is to do away with the industry standard of “economic dispatch” and replace it with an “environmental dispatch” ala Europe. This means “affordability” is secondary.

    Stay tuned on that one. In practical effect, I think the major impact will be to shift from coal to natural gas. This makes me laugh at the Eco-Smugistas who praised Obama’s order. These are the same people who oppose fracking. Idiots!

  74. CAGW is completely false, but the general idea of Peak Oil is true (given my more accurate description). And, the only legitimate, or parsimonious place to stand, is one that unites the two ideas, because they are intimately connected. In short, the supposed elites are trying to drag us down just as the shit hits the fan, but they are just ordinary people, and probably won’t survive what is coming. They are simply trying to maintain some semblance of power, and are now trying to start a war to hide the failures of their economic system. I tend to ramble

    Yes, you do tend to ramble. And like so many ramblers, you do it all in one paragraph. Tell us, were you staring out the window that day in the fifth grade?

  75. Seems to me that you are in most need of power during weather emergencies. Considering the blizzard I went through in Michigan last January, I would like to know how much power I would get from wind turbines encased in ice in sub-zero F temperatures, and solar panels covered with two feet of ice and snow. Go to Google Images and search “solar panels snow,” and contemplate clearing panels of snow and ice in sub-freezing temps and gale-force winds. Then consider what happens to a turbine when its blades become unbalanced from ice build-up. Finally, check out what happens to battery efficiencies when subjected to very low temps.

    Solar and wind are such a non-starter in a large part of the world that you have to wonder about the mentality of those who say those technologies will replace fossil fuels.

  76. Wind and solar will never meet our energy needs. The eco-freaks know this. That is why there is a wing of the environmental movement that is pushing for massive “degrowth” as the only way of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 as a number of European countries have pledged to do.

    To quote my dear departed father, who had his smart moments: Never say never.

    But that much said, I don’t think the Germans will hit their goal, at least not without economical grid-scale storage, or massive price increases beyond what they’ve already implemented. If there’s one place other than the U.K. where solar is a joke …

  77. Considering the blizzard I went through in Michigan last January, I would like to know how much power I would get from wind turbines encased in ice in sub-zero F temperatures, and solar panels covered with two feet of ice and snow. Go to Google Images and search “solar panels snow,” and contemplate clearing panels of snow and ice in sub-freezing temps and gale-force winds. Then consider what happens to a turbine when its blades become unbalanced from ice build-up. Finally, check out what happens to battery efficiencies when subjected to very low temps.

    All of this is true enough, which is why renewables are a long-term proposition to be integrated on the basis of cost efficiency. Anyone who thinks the whole grid will go to renewables any time soon has spent too much time shopping at the medical marijuana store.

    p.s.: I sure wish this site had a comment preview feature so I’d be able to catch my coding mistakes.

  78. Well, thank you for the honest answer, Jake. Refreshing. And no animosity. :)
    If you figure out the storage thing, you’ll make billions. Until then, drill baby drill and kill all subsidies for all this stuff other than very basic stuff, such as fusion, materials research, etc.

    Cheers Jake.

  79. Whenever a “new” energy source requires a subsidy up front, and/or a subsidized cash flow to equal the cost per KWH of a “traditional” source, then wealth has simply been destroyed in an amount equal to the present value of those required subsidies (and lets just not consider the additional potential financial risks which are unknown and unknowable with any new technology).

    Perhaps one day it will not be the case, but for now almost every green energy installation is an engine of wealth destruction. Small-scale roll-outs to help develop and refine the technologies are one thing, but massive implementation is a loser’s game. One cannot make up a loss on every transaction by increasing volume!

  80. Jake J: First off, no one is going to “eliminate the transmission lines.

    Quite true, I should be more explicit when I write. I have in mind specifically the new lines that are being constructed to serve utility scale projects. Come on down to S. Calif and I’ll show you around. You can see for yourself the huge new lines that are cutting across the cities of the San Gabriel Valley to bring wind power in from Tehachapi. We can drive out to Desert Center and look at the brand new lines being constructed to bring in power from the ranch sized solar installations that are levelling our deserts. On the way, we can enjoy the Banning Pass wind farms, which have created an instant industrial slum just north of Palm Springs.

    This is the sort of millenialist eco-evangelism that drives me up a wall.

    Well, no, the millenium isn’t here yet. But our little installation is producing more power than we use. My electric bill last month was $5.60. I would be undiplomatic to suggest that yours was higher. So I won’t.

    Yes, if it made economic sense, I’d be happy to unhook from the power grid.

    Agreed. And stipulated that it does not currently make economic sense. But for some of us who see the risks of blind collectivism, there is intrinsic value in being independent. When the ground shakes, the wind blows, the chaparral burns down the side of the mountain…you don’t necessarily want to have to rely on Azusa Light and Water….
    : > )

  81. Hydro, once installed, is (more or less) forever. Sadly we aren’t building new hydro and are busy ripping out what we have. Possibly this will change some day.

    The cost of solar and wind continues to come down, much faster than previously anticipated. Neither provides base load energy, but the energy they do provide is energy that doesn’t have to come from burning fossil fuels. Just as energy intensive industry relocated to be near hydro plants, over the long term energy intensive industry will move to where solar or wind is best generated, and will adapt to it’s intermittent nature.

    Lighting technology is rapidly switching from incandescent technology (60 watts for a typical bulb) to LED (9 watts typical), an amazing reduction. And the cost for LED bulbs continues to drop.

    The 1 MFLOP CDC 6400 supercomputer of the 1960s used 30kw of power. Today an Apple iPad-2, also 1 MFLOP, uses 10w, and only when charging.

    Today I can put $8k of 21% efficient solar panels on the roof of my 120 sq ft shed out back and $2k or so of other hardware and generate enough power to cover all my energy usage, if I use LED lighting, efficient appliances, and power devices only when actually needed. And efficiency will continue to go up, and costs down.

    The point is that technology is giving us options that we never had before. Yes, we will likely need to adjust how and when we use energy, but many of us do that already. Technology will continue to improve, costs will continue to go down. No one item is the solution, but each element is piece of the solution: Hydro, Solar, Wind, Nuclear, colocation, adapting time of energy use to availability, implementing base-load power and peaking plants where needed,

    Some say solar only generates 0.85% of the electricity demand on the planet. True, but today that is 139 GW, or roughly 139 nuclear or fossil fuel plants that didn’t have to be built. We’re making progress, we have some work to do on the technology, but we’re getting there…

  82. If you figure out the storage thing, you’ll make billions. Until then, drill baby drill and kill all subsidies for all this stuff other than very basic stuff, such as fusion, materials research, etc.

    The subsidy issue is a toughie. Look, the U.S. has a long history of subsidizing new technology, starting with turnpikes and canals. It’s always been complex and highly debatable, and subject to political manipulation, crass and subtle.

    Generally speaking, though, it’s worked out pretty well over time. I differ with some subsidies, be it for solar panels in Seattle and Maine, or for ethanol. But I’m okay with the current EV subsidies, even if a spiff for the buyer of a Tesla Model S makes me grind my molars.

    I think that, insofar as wind is concerned, the issue is storage. That, I’d consider certain subsidies, at least for technologies that can come down the cost curve — as opposed to, say, pumped storage, which I see as a dead end.

    I don’t worry about carbon emissions. The more I look, the less I see, threat-wise. But there are definitely other, much more negative effects from burning mined coal, methane, petroleum, and uranium. It’s what we’ve got to do now, but if we can cost effectively go to “renewables” in increasing prportions over time, as it becomes more feasible, then in principle I think it’s a winner all the way around.

    I doubt I’ll be Warren Buffett from it, but if M.I.T. or some lone inventor in East Dogshit, Tennessee cracks the code, let him or them have the house on the hill. We will all benefit. Skepticism about bthe AGW hypothesis should not, in my view, congeal into opposition to a fundamental engine of economic growth and therefore human progress — technical improvement.

    Done right, subsidies are not evil. I’m a huge believer in market forces, but you’d have to be blind to think that the market is the answer to everything, all the time, everywhere. It’s not all-or-nothing. There are judgment calls along the way. We’ve made them before, and hopefully we’ll make them again.

    • @Jake J – “Canals” and “Turnpikes” are not subsidized. They are paid for. As that is the role of government. The infrastructure that benefits many, but is hard to extract payment for before being used is one of the prime reasons for government. Picking and choosing winners in a market place however is NOT the role of government.

  83. @GregM, If you are a homeowner, there may be some advantages to installing solar units, but the initial outlay of money is fairly prohibitive and there are upkeep costs to consider as well. The payback is not reasonable from what I’ve seen. For renters, however, it is not even possible. In NY, renters are 50 per cent of occupants. In LA, they are 42 per cent. Across the US, they are about 35 per cent. They need to rely on utilities that can supply relatively cheap electricity.

  84. Stephen Rasey:

    It should really start in 1665. THEN wind, water, and biomass were nearly 100% of world energy consumption. By the way, where is hydro power on that chart?

    Correct, I have a couple of posts this last week that chronicle the history and use of energy by Man. There may be some graphics in there of interest. “Back to the past”. Hydro is removed from the series of charts since it is a very worth while renewable energy store – if you can set aside the displacement of folks by flooding valleys. All too often these days renewables advocates who are really talking wind and solar puff up their numbers with hydro.

    Energy and Mankind part 1
    Energy and Mankind part 2

    And this chart that I have not yet posted (coming Monday) summarises global energy consumption from 1830:

  85. Jake J

    All of this is true enough, which is why renewables are a long-term proposition to be integrated on the basis of cost efficiency. Anyone who thinks the whole grid will go to renewables any time soon has spent too much time shopping at the medical marijuana store.

    In Europe it is the policy makers who have spent too much time in cafes in Amsterdam. In Scotland (where I happen to stay) the renewables target is 100% of electricity equivalent by 2020. Denmark 100% of all energy by 2050. Germany, don’t know what the target is but renewable are killing the companies and grid that built Germany.

    I think there may well be a large place for Solar in sunny climates in future since production does follow diurnal load, but not annual load. In Scotland, the Sun hardly ever shines and we reckon the load on solar PV is close to 8%. At that level the panels never pay back the energy used to make them. But the CO2 emitted to make them is out there today causing the planet to boil ;-)

  86. Reblogged this on Maley's Energy Blog and commented:
    I would need to check the numbers to make sure they properly accounted for the use of cow dung in Africa, but this is consistent with what I’ve been saying for the last 10 years. We have yet to address whether these technologies are truly cost-effective, and whether we really want to deal with the impact of scaling them up to handle a meaningful %-age of our energy demand.

  87. This will work because Al Gore wants everyone in the developed world to go back to living in grass huts in a hunter/gatherer lifestylle. Gore, of course, will continue to live in his mansion in Tennessee.

  88. Jake J says:
    July 19, 2014 at 1:11 am

    I think that, insofar as wind is concerned, the issue is storage.

    I think the real issue is coal, which has been demonized. Forget the batteries, we have the coal.

    Once the artificial restraints on coal are removed, there is no need for wind power.

    Wind turbines are expensive, complicated, high maintenance, short-lifetime, real estate gobbling, bird-chopping eyesores, whose racing shadows and low-frequency vibrations disturb neighbors and wildlife alike, and whose cost far exceeds their value.

    The whirligigs are good only for underwriting scammers, destabilizing the grid, and wrecking economies.

  89. It’s actually worse than we thought.

    Roger Pielke Jr – 9 July 2013
    “Clean Energy Stagnation

    Growth in Renewables Outpaced by Fossil Fuels

    The world was moving faster towards reducing its reliance on carbon intensive energy consumption in the 1970s and 1980s than in the past several decades. In fact, over the past 20 years there has been little if any progress in expanding the share of carbon-free energy in the global mix. Despite the rhetoric around the rise of renewable energy, the data tells a far different story……

    The figure above shows the proportion of global energy consumption that comes from carbon-free sources. These sources include nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass……

    However, since 1999 the proportion of carbon-free energy in the global mix has dropped slightly…….”

    http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/roger-pielke-jr/clean-energy-stagnation/

  90. Greg M. says:
    July 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    The cost of solar and wind continues to come down, much faster than previously anticipated

    But the cost of maintenance, and of the supporting infrastructure (towers, transmission lines, etc.) and land, isn’t. I’ve read that those costs are two-thirds or more of the total cost of those renewables.

  91. William R says:
    July 18, 2014 at 11:42 am

    And is hydroelectric counted in “other”, or has hydro fallen completely out of favor by the greenies now?

    ==================================================================
    Hydro never was in favor with the greenies. It upsets the breeding habits of the freshwater seaunicorns. Since TVA built all those dams in the southern US you hardly see them anymore.

    (Of course, if you do see one you have other problems that need to be addressed.)

  92. Gee, that’s not a bad result for the trillions spent. Talk about cost benefit analysis at a glance.

  93. If you are a homeowner, there may be some advantages to installing solar units, but the initial outlay of money is fairly prohibitive and there are upkeep costs to consider as well. The payback is not reasonable from what I’ve seen.

    The subsidies are very heavy in Seattle — 8 times the retail electricity rate — and even then the payback is 8 to 10 years and the yield is pretty low. The yield is at least 2-1/2 times as high in the southwest, and that’s not counting the interference from trees, rain, and occasional snow up here.

    In Europe it is the policy makers who have spent too much time in cafes in Amsterdam. In Scotland (where I happen to stay) the renewables target is 100% of electricity equivalent by 2020. Denmark 100% of all energy by 2050. Germany, don’t know what the target is but renewable are killing the companies and grid that built Germany.

    I think there may well be a large place for Solar in sunny climates in future since production does follow diurnal load, but not annual load. In Scotland, the Sun hardly ever shines and we reckon the load on solar PV is close to 8%. At that level the panels never pay back the energy used to make them.

    I completely agree with you. Some of the stuff being done in Europe is just nuts.

    Wind turbines are expensive, complicated, high maintenance, short-lifetime, real estate gobbling, bird-chopping eyesores, whose racing shadows and low-frequency vibrations disturb neighbors and wildlife alike, and whose cost far exceeds their value.

    I agree with the eyesore part, anyway. It’s my biggest objection to windmills, even if the storage issue were to be solved. But to be fair, there are lots of eyesores out there.

    But the cost of maintenance, and of the supporting infrastructure (towers, transmission lines, etc.) and land, isn’t. I’ve read that those costs are two-thirds or more of the total cost of those renewables.

    Right. And coal plants don’t need maintenance? Nuclear waste doesn’t need disposal? We can go on and on. I maintain that storage is the main issue remaining. Crack that nut, and renewables are going to gallop out of the gate regardless of what anyone here might think.

  94. As I believe was pointed out on this forum (can’t remember if I learned it here or not) in the late 1800’s people were worried that main streets in cities like London and NY would be 5-6 feet deep in horse manure and unlivable by some time in, IIRC, the late1930’s or 40s. Gee, what happened?.

    Also, in that time frame, people began to worry that all the whales would be killed for their oil. Well, something better was found – which is now being demonized – see the pattern?

    In each case, what took the place of people power (horses) and then horses (cars) and whale oil (oil) was much better/economical then what it replaced.

    And in each case, the new vastly-improved successor (horses and other animals for people., cars for horses, ground oil for whale oil) was 1) a vast improvement that was not adopted through government coercion, scientific fraud and propaganda, , but through the normal course of things, and popular demand of the public, and, then, subsequently 2) considered a major eco-hazard by the white wine drinkers of society. Even when the eco-hazard was in some part legitimate, the genius of mankind not only solved the issue, but made things better in every sense – more efficient, more economical, batter overall for mankind.

    Maybe wind and solar will become an overall better solution than carbon – many DECADES from now. I tend to doubt it, and suspect something like thorium will replace carbon as #1, with wind/solar lagging – but I certainly could be wrong. But they sure aren’t the best/most economical/most efficient solution on any widespread, global scale at present. If people want to use it to power their houses or private businesses, great. If corporations want to put them in and fund them with their own seed corn, fine. But it’s NOT fine for this technology to be forced upon a public that is being lied to and scared half to death solely for political reasons. In the developed west, it’ s increased costs that people don’t have the money to afford right now. In places like Africa, it’s literally life and death. This fraud should make anyone angry – any Aussie, any South Korean, any African, any Eriadoran, any Murican, any Englishman, any Scandahoovian, any Irishman, any – well, o.k,, maybe not the French.

  95. Bruce Cobb says:
    July 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    The trouble with the “carbon neutral” concept (aside from its inherent idiocy) of biomass is that it never is, unless they conveniently ““forget” to add all the “carbon” resulting from the manufacturing process”

    The manufacturing process that creates biomass does so by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. They call it photosynthesis.

  96. I posted:

    rogerknights says:
    July 19, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Greg M. says:
    July 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    The cost of solar and wind continues to come down, much faster than previously anticipated

    But the cost of maintenance, and of the supporting infrastructure (towers, transmission lines, etc.) and land, isn’t. I’ve read that those costs are two-thirds or more of the total cost of those renewables.
    PS: And Installation. (separate comment.)

    Jake J. posted:

    Right. And coal plants don’t need maintenance? Nuclear waste doesn’t need disposal? We can go on and on.

    The costs of coal and nuclear plants are mostly in the front end. Compared to them, ongoing maintenance costs are low, relative to the ongoing maintenance costs of wind and solar. (Solar panels need to be wiped clean of dust regularly for best performance, I’ve read, and weeds in solar farms need to be cut back.) So it’s not accurate to suggest that renewables are on all-fours with coal and nuclear in this regard.

    My main point was that increases in efficiency in solar and wind don’t reduce their overall cost that much. It’s not only maintenance that’s expensive–the front end costs are significant too: land (for wind) and installation (for both). Also, wind and solar have half (or less) the lifetimes of coal and nuclear. And their efficiencies degrade over time, unlike coal and nuclear.

    I maintain that storage is the main issue remaining. Crack that nut, and renewables are going to gallop out of the gate regardless of what anyone here might think.

    That surely would make a great difference. Research into advanced battery technology should be a priority. But even a twice-as-good battery wouldn’t be enough, except for autos (four times better would be more like it). It would have to be ten times as good for electrical generation, per my SWAG. And if it were, there’d be a danger of it shorting out, with catastrophic effects.

  97. Not all kWhs are equal. Prices fluctuate and unreliable wind and solar kWhs might be the cheapest kWhs. Generators burning gas are cheaper than storage batteries.

    Saturn’s moon Titan has methane. Is it fossil fuel?

  98. One thing I should perhaps mention before interest dies is that Figure 6 of my post, which plots the percentage contributions of wind, solar and biomass to world energy consumption, doesn’t allow for the fact that wind and solar are intermittent and non-dispatchable and in many cases hinder rather than help efficient grid operation. When we plot only dispatchable renewables (i.e. biomass) there’s nothing left. Well, almost nothing

  99. Ah, the mistake every one makes with this is the presumption that the green-power ‘economy’ (if we can call it that) and global development and civilization levels will replicate and also redevelop the current economy and capacity.

    Sorry, this has never been the intended end-point. The intended endpoint is where the current economy fails and collapses from an incapacity to fund any more unaffordable and economically impairing and crippling pet greenish alleged ‘power plants’.

    I suppose there are many here who watched the recent ABC 4-Corners report on greenish power generation? Well, I’ve never been so disappointed in the ABC, nor in 4-Corners (though I’ve been disappointed in 4C a lot lately) and in particular I genuinely had no idea at all that Stephen Long is a dishonest one-eyed idiot. I’d honestly assessed and thought that he was one of the very few at the ABC who actually had a clue and jealously guarded their integrity and honesty.

    Stephen Long, hang your head in shame mate, you’re nothing but an ideological hack, who stunningly took every opportunity to ignore and avoid the thoroughly impossible and ruinous ECONOMICS of the green power economy and its power ‘industry’, and its uber-con lobby industry.

    Stephen Long is an alleged professional ABC ECONOMICS ‘journalist’ and commentator. You’re report was an amateurish shameless fraud Stephen.

  100. rogerknights says:
    July 19, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Research into advanced battery technology should be a priority.

    ====================

    Nobody has been working on it. Wait . . . what?

    Batteries can’t help wind power. It will still be intermittent.

  101. The costs of coal and nuclear plants are mostly in the front end. Compared to them, ongoing maintenance costs are low, relative to the ongoing maintenance costs of wind and solar. (Solar panels need to be wiped clean of dust regularly for best performance, I’ve read, and weeds in solar farms need to be cut back.) So it’s not accurate to suggest that renewables are on all-fours with coal and nuclear in this regard.

    True enough that wind turbines need more maintenance, but not a whole lot more than nukes. That said, the fuel for wind turbines is free, just as with solar and hydro. Combine the fuel cost with maitenance, and wind turbines do well. See page 10.

    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf

    That much said, I’m not an evangelist about it. Until we have grid-scale storage, the non-dispatchable technologies can only be a supplement. And each of them have their negatives.

    But even a twice-as-good battery wouldn’t be enough, except for autos (four times better would be more like it). It would have to be ten times as good for electrical generation, per my SWAG. And if it were, there’d be a danger of it shorting out, with catastrophic effects.

    I don’t know enough about the details of grid-scale batteries, or even household-sized ones, to do anything more than offer a vague hope that someone else will crack the code. I simply believe it’s self-evident to a reasonable intelligent and inquisitive person that storage is the key.

    As it concerns EVs, though, I know quite a bit more. And I regularly piss off other EV owners by pointing out that, as novel as our cars are, they are not as world-saving or as efficient as the various evangelists claim, nor are they ready for mass adoption at this point.

    Now, I don’t care about CO2 emissions, but just for the hell of it I did track down the number. Per mile driven, at the U.S. mix of electricity generation sources, an EV emits 60% of the CO2 that a gas car does. Then there is the efficiency issue, which is a matter of the conversion of the heat energy in fuel to vehicle motion. To make an accurate comparison, the efficiency of the electricity production processes have to be included. Do that, and EV is about 1.65 times as efficient as a gas car of equivalent weight and about 1.5 times as efficient as an equivalent diesel car.

    As for the batteries, the best way to look at it is to imagine the battery as a “gas tank.” A typical EV gets a bit more than triple the “gas mileage” of a gas car, so to have the same average range, an electric “tank” could hold one-third the equivalent fuel. A car that would go 350 miles before prudent refueling at the 20% full level, getting 25 miles per gallon, would need a 17.5-gallon tank (and please — don’t spout higher European fuel economy at me, because it doesn’t matter for purposes of this exercise).

    To get 350 miles of range on average throughout the year, on 80% of the “fuel,” an EV would need a 145 kWh battery. (This “80% range” would actually be closer to 460 miles in a coastal California summer without air conditoning, and 285 miles in a mild-ish winter.) At today’s battery costs, that “gas tank” would cost about $50,000. Within the next decade, manufacturing scale economies will bring this down to $30,000.

    You can see that an electric car with the same range as a gas car is not going to be cost-feasible any time soon. Jerry-rigged solutions such as so-called “fast chargers” are mainly publicity stunts. Where EVs will make much more sense, much sooner, will in the city commuter car market, where short ranges — 75 or 80 miles, not 350 miles — can reduce battery costs.

  102. “Within the next decade, manufacturing scale economies will bring this down to $30,000.”

    You completely made this up. You do not know the future.

    “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” – George Orwell.

    Jake, you give us pure wind. All of your posts are gross speculation.

  103. Gamecock says:
    July 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm
    “Within the next decade, manufacturing scale economies will bring this down to $30,000.”\

    You completely made this up. You do not know the future.

    “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” – George Orwell.

    Jake, you give us pure wind. All of your posts are gross speculation.

    This is a bit of calumny, methinks. I don’t detect much of any politics in Jake’s posts, and while admittedly speculation, to me it’s intelligent, rational speculation based on reasonable observations. None of us knows the future of technological innovation, but we can certainly look at the present and make reasonable estimations of possible future directions.

    That progress in so-called ‘renewable’ energy depends on what may be fairly called a revolution in storage is not unreasonable. Which is not to say that some development might turn everything around. An inexpensive way to get back and forth from space, for instance, might suddenly make solar-power satellites in geosynchronous orbit entirely feasible. And actually, there is a possibility: mag-lev rocket launchers. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarTram

    /Mr Lynn

  104. So I looked at Janice Moore’s video by Ozzie Zehner. I watched for 5 minutes. By that time, nobody had actually said anything. For TV stations that sell their time, I give them 5 seconds, to actually start to say or do something; then I’m at the next channel.

    Problem with solar energy, is the sun. Astronomical amounts of energy available. But the power level is miniscule. 100 W/m^2, and if you are lucky, Solar City, might get you 15% of that, in middle USA at equinoctial noon.

    So the energy is free; gathering it is not. Let the biosphere do it, and convert it to stored chemical energy, and ultimately fossil fuel.

  105. I would love to have my own solar energy plant.

    Why don’t I build YOU one for free; PV or wind, so you don’t have to worry about the cost. I just told you it’s FREE !

    Then I want the first duplicate of that plant, that you are able to make, using your FREE energy from YOUR plant.

    Well of course in addition to your FREE energy, you will need materials to build the plant.

    Don’t worry about that. The universe is full of materials. That’s where I got the materials to make your FREE plant. So go get them; well using your FREE energy of course.

  106. “””””…..Janice Moore says:

    July 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Re: This bit of wishful thinking by Jake J(1:13pm): “…it took another decade for manufacturing scale economies to kick in.”:

    There are NO known manufacturing efficiencies
    TECHNICALLY POSSIBLE
    to the farthest horizons of the most optimistic view
    of the foreseeable future
    which can bring solar meaningfully close
    to supplying the world’s energy needs.
    NONE…….””””””

    Right on Janice.

    The problem with solar PV is NOT cost. Gee, the US domestic suppliers are already whining that they can’t compete with the Chinese dumping prices. So if prices are already too low for domestic suppliers; how is it ever going to get economical.

    Well the problem is technological’ not economical. You just don’t get much power from the sun.

    So if Elon Musk is such a great Technocrat, with his rocket ships, and Tesla cars, and Solar City PVs, why doesn’t he get off the backs of the taxpayers, who subsidize his schemes. Oh yes it’s clever business; but taxpayers were never asked to go along for the ride. Well Silicon Valley is full of so-called entrepeneurs, who never can get their hands on enough taxpayer welfare to support their life style.

  107. Jake J:
    (Solar panels need to be wiped clean of dust regularly for best performance, I’ve read, and weeds in solar farms need to be cut back.)

    This is easily solved Jake. We have a Government program called, “The Green Corps” here in Oz, who are young unemployed youth (no, not a green version of the Hitler youth, this is actually involuntary) who are required to work in ‘green’ projects, under the supervision of ‘volunteer’ private green organisations. “Conservation Volunteers Australia” is one of these many Government funded contractors.

    And these organisations are paid by the State to provide supervision of these people in greenie projects. Thus any future greenie-coalition ‘government’ (if we could call it that ) just mandates these alleged ‘volunteers’ be tasked with wiping down the solar panels, and use brush cutters, to defoliate the excessive greenery … lol

    Or else, no gruel for them!

    No, I’m not joking, the youth ‘Green Corps’ actually exists:

    https://employment.gov.au/green-corps

    And they would indeed have to do this, at tax-payers expense. Just think of it as another Government subsidy to the green-energy ‘industry’, given these kids may/will never get a real job once and if coal-fired real power plants are shutdown.

    PS: That Stepen Long ABC 4-Corners report video I slammed above is here, if any one wants to see it:

    Streamed video and full transcript and references:

    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2014/07/07/4038488.htm

  108. @Jake J


    That much said, I’m not an evangelist about it. Until we have grid-scale storage, the non-dispatchable technologies can only be a supplement. And each of them have their negatives.

    Energy policy makers will not and cannot understand that wind and solar are intermittent and supplemental (plus expensive and unreliable) energy sources. They are all AGW activists without scientific understanding.

    Try to explain to them these issues with renewables and all they will hear is

    bla bla bla moon landing faked
    bla bla bla holocaust didn’t happen
    bla bla bla area 51 cover-up

    No, the only way out of this monstrous error will be when the green-washed population finally wakes up to the fact that their government has covered their countryside with expensive useless junk.

  109. BP have stated there’s 53.3 years of the black stuff left if used only at this rate.
    This is excluding the fact the worse stuff has a higher “carbon footprint” to process it into usable oils and gasses.
    .
    I also have an issue with this graph including biomass. Many homes are now fitted with wood stoves but not creating electricity with it. In fact most of the world cooks with wood.
    .
    Solar has been expensive and will stay so while the easy money is being thrown at it. The price to order and fit these for oneself and neighbours in a single order is so low as to wonder why people are not doing it.
    .
    Shock horror. I have an electric car. It does 5 miles per KWH on a run so no, it is not a Tesla hyper car. This has about 15KWH usable energy in the real world and the only reason I’ve done over 80 miles in a single run, was, because I can.
    .
    It takes over 6.5KWH to refine, per gallon and that number is increasing year on year. So I’m excluding the middle man who hates us and the nation need not build new power stations because of me. We all refine our oil at our respective nations.
    .
    As goes Lithium car batteries. Keep ‘em cool, keep ‘em middling and they will last you out. Get a smashed Leaf or similar. The Voltage is around 360 and so. Perfect for mains electricity at night. Solar panels are like 50c/watt now. The smashed cars inverter will give you three phase mains. Enjoy. Your kids will love you for the legacy you left them…. and they will need.

    Wind farms? Are a load of……

    http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

    GARBAGE!

  110. @Unmentionable 7/20 at 10:22 pm
    We have a Government program called, “The Green Corps” here in Oz, who are young unemployed youth (no, not a green version of the Hitler youth, this is actually involuntary) who are required to work in ‘green’ projects, under the supervision of ‘volunteer’ private green organisations. “Conservation Volunteers Australia” is one of these many Government funded contractors.

    There is yet hope!
    I cannot imagine a more healthy government program in the long run.

    These youth are being given a simultaneous education in:
    Slavery, Government Project Management, Green Graft, Green Economics, Green Physics, with as side order of Green Politics.

    Are the minds of these youth going to wind up “Green Washed”?
    Certainly some will. But many others so inoculated will be given life long immunity to Green BS.

  111. Within the next decade, manufacturing scale economies will bring this down to $30,000.”

    You completely made this up. You do not know the future.

    McKinsey & Co. is the guilty party. They project $200/kWh by 2020.

  112. I might add: I don’t think $200/kWh is anywhere close to cheap enough to compel broad aceeptance of EVs. I don’t know what the magic number is, but it’ll have to be a lot lower than that. I think there are some good reasons to want EVs to succeed, but the battery issue (cost and energy density) is a very big gating factor.

    As for manufacturing economies, that’s long observed. As you scale up volume, cost per unit drops along a well-known curve. That’s not some “EVangelism” talking. It happens with products of all kids, everywhere.

  113. I have an electric car. It does 5 miles per KWH on a run so no, it is not a Tesla hyper car.

    The only way you’re getting 5 miles/kWh is if you’re “hypermiling” that car or perhaps using some battery we’ve never heard of. The E.P.A. tests EVs, and I’ve found their numbers to be pretty accurate. The average EV gets about 2.9 miles/kWh, which is a very long way from 5 miles/kWh.

    To put it in different terms, you’re claiming 170 miles per gallon equivalent. The actual average for EVs is about 100 miles per gallon equivalent. Your posting is an example of the sort of “EVanglizing” that drives me, an EV owner but also a realist who’s completely data-centric, absolutely up the wall.

  114. We have a Government program called, “The Green Corps” here in Oz, who are young unemployed youth (no, not a green version of the Hitler youth, this is actually involuntary) who are required to work in ‘green’ projects, under the supervision of ‘volunteer’ private green organisations. “Conservation Volunteers Australia” is one of these many Government funded contractors.

    That’s horrible. Truly, truly horrible. I support some “green” stuff, if it’s well designed and makes sense. But something like that? Never, ever in a million years. EVER. Just so you know.

  115. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Via Bjørn Lomborg :

    Many climate campaigners like to point out that renewables are getting so cheap that they can compete with fossil fuels.

    Except they keep needing subsidies (because wind turbines can only compete when the wind’s blowing).

    Australia is a good example. The government is thinking about scrapping the huge subsidies, and even before it is announced, the renewable energy industry grinds to a halt, as Sydney Morning Herald tells us.

    Tellingly, they say that reductions could “potentially affect the viability of even existing investments.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australias-renewable-energy-industry-grinds-to-a-halt-20140716-ztio2.html

  116. Mary Brown says:
    July 18, 2014 at 11:16 am

    The big problem in cities in 1905 was horse poop. No solution was in sight. A few years later…solved. You never know what the future holds. Perhaps in 10 years, renewables will be 99% due to a major innovation

    By 2020 or so, renewables will be economic roadkill. Check out LPPhysics.com for how. Its designs, once tested, will be licensed to all comers for a small fraction of build cost. Generators anywhere and everywhere, no waste (a little He4), 5¢/W to build, 0.3¢/kWh output, instantly dispatchable. Fuel available at about $5/MWh at 10X current total world demand for a few billion years.

  117. Mary Brown says:
    July 18, 2014 at 11:16 am

    The big problem in cities in 1905 was horse poop. No solution was in sight. A few years later…solved. You never know what the future holds. Perhaps in 10 years, renewables will be 99% due to a major innovation.
    +++++++++++
    Two things wrong with your statement Mary:
    1) Road Poop was a problem, CO2 is NOT.
    2) Problem was solved by capitalism, a car company that sold a product that had value. So-called renewables on the other hand only get purchased by taking other people’s money forcibly, and paying off the winners to make a product that has negative value.

  118. By 2020 or so, renewables will be economic roadkill. Check out LPPhysics.com for how. Its designs, once tested, will be licensed to all comers for a small fraction of build cost. Generators anywhere and everywhere, no waste (a little He4), 5¢/W to build, 0.3¢/kWh output, instantly dispatchable. Fuel available at about $5/MWh at 10X current total world demand for a few billion years.

    Ah yes, the fusion evangelists. Can I trade that for a thorium perpetual motion machine?

    Australia is a good example. The government is thinking about scrapping the huge subsidies, and even before it is announced, the renewable energy industry grinds to a halt, as Sydney Morning Herald tells us.

    Having helped deploy a buck or two, I’d suggest that uncertainty might be a bigger culprit. Kinda tough to make a direct investment when you don’t know what the rules will be. But in the larger scheme of things, I return to the idea that economical grid-scale storage really is the holy grail in the long run.

    If they made me high emperor, I’d be deploying lots ‘n lots of research in that direction. The generation isn’t all that big a deal anymore. It’s much more a question of dealing with dispatchability. Until that nut is cracked, renewables will have a tough row to hoe.

  119. I so much indisputably will make sure to do not overlook this site and give it a glance on a constant basis|regularly

  120. Jake J:
    “Kinda tough to make a direct investment when you don’t know what the rules will be.”

    But it’s simple for them Jake, assume the worst case of zero subsidy and try to make the structure work economically if it goes away. If it still does not make a profit the doors will close, problem solved, learn learned. If they took out credit on the presumption that this massive subsidy quota was always going to be present then business is a tough place to learn that conditions change. Same goes for any foolish creditors. I expect you see it the same basic way.

    I had to balance my accounts every week for years and it taught me some hard lessons. If people can’t hack the reality of making their own ends meat and being their own boss, all of the time, which is independence, then they have zero place in business in the first instance – what were they thinking?!

    Govt, or rather people’s taxation money should not be propping-up a facade of feigned policy ‘success’ in front of a failed and pretending ‘replacement’ energy industry. How bereft of intelligence is it? Something so fundamental to the very core of society’s ability to even function and eat and these stupid Labor and Green ‘politicians’ and ‘leaders’ wanted to lie and steal and waste and misrepresent what it could and did, and would actually be able to achieve – purely for petty party-political and personal career gain!

    Can you think of anything more treacherous and unsound? Maybe this little rant gives people a sense of why we’re p*ssed about all these liars and crooks in left/green of politics and the treacherous warped ABC bed-wetters and fear-mongers.

    And thank goodness for the mental toughness, capacity and facility of WUWT, and Jo Nova, and the conservative journalists like Bolt and several others like him, for standing their ground with such resolution.

    It made all the difference in exposing their thoroughly uneconomic green-energy subsidy scams.

  121. @Unmentionable, with respect to alternative energy in Australia, the devil’s in the details. My comment about uncertainty was a general statement made without specific knowledge of the details there. I can easily imagine, to use a word, an investment “hiatus” while a new playing field is defined.

    As for subsidies, it’s a complex issue. Fact is, every tax code has implicit subsidies and penalties. This isn’t to justify every stupid boondoggle, but rather to say that simply shouting “subsidy!” in a crowded theater isn’t going to make me run out. I’ll stick around for the rest of the movie. Or to put it differently: I’m a free-market kinda guy, but I try not to be too naive about it, either literally or for rhetorical effect.

  122. To look at it from another angle, in the West, we tend to be free-markety at the firm level but not so much at thew sectoral level. There is heavy gov’t involvement in telecom, energy, food, mining, shipping, education, health care, and housing as sectors, including not just direct regulation but financial carrots and sticks.

    Rail, rant, and rave if you will, but it’s true. Always has been, always will be. The fights are mostly around the edges. It occurs to me that the “climate change” fight might best be viewed as a fight within the energy sector.

  123. Jake J,
    Solar cell take more energy to produce then they ever will produce, It like spending $2.00 to earn $1.00. You are just like the farmer that was raising buffalo, I work for a bank which has many rural locations and we do finance farmers and ranchers. We had our agricultural lender ran the buffalo farmers numbers and came across of insurmountable fact, for ever $1.00 of feed fed into the buffalos the framer was only getting back $.73, the farmer solution to the problem was to feed up the buffalo up some more before he took them to market. Of course most of us know that would only increase his losses. The same is true for solar no mater how we ramp up solar that fact will always remain, we will only ramp up the loses.

    As to you peak oil people, let us remember the web site the Oil Drum, they were a peak oil site. They were a lot of fun to read you could learn a lot, but alas it became obvious to them the peak oil is a very long way off, not years off but hundreds of years off. So they closed up shop, the site is no longer maintained it you can find it at all.

Comments are closed.