Greenpeace and the IPCC – The Edenhofer Excuse

Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer

Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer - Image via Wikipedia

Guest post by Shub Niggurath

It has been a recurring pattern that the most dramatic of conclusions arrived by the IPCC, are shown to arise from unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims in literature put out by environmental pressure groups. The latest addition to the list is the Greenpeace-generated factoid that ‘80% of the world’s energy demand could be met by renewable sources’ which found its way onto the IPCC pedestal.

The responses that issued from the IPCC official organ – via statements from Ottmar Edenhofer – followed particularly predictable lines. It may be useful to review these because Edenhofer, in a recent opinion piece in Nature Climate Change reiterates and expands the same points offered previously. Unoriginally one might add, writer Kyle Niemeyer in ArsTechnica paraphrases and reproduces exclusively ‘the Edenhofer Excuse’.

What is the Edenhofer Excuse?

Ottmar Edenhofer’s arguments supporting the IPCC, though multifarious are plainly contradictory to each other and are easily seen to violate commonly-understood academic standards. Addressed here however is part of his defense; a paraphrasing of which follows:

  1. ‘the problem of conflict, if any, is very limited’, ‘Teske was just one author (and not the lead author)’, ‘it is a multi-authored report which went through ‘many’ rounds of review’, ‘the SRREN is a massive effort with hundreds of pages’
  2. the Greenpeace’s scenario was ‘just one of one-hundred and sixty four scenarios’ evaluated
  3. Sven Teske was just one of the authors of the Greenpeace scenario
  4. The Greenpeace scenario was actually performed by the German Aerospace Agency DLR. Greenpeace only just commissioned it.

The Dilution Argument

The ‘argument from dilution’ of problems arising from Sven Teske’s authorship is indeed regrettable. It establishes immediately, that those who defend the IPCC in this episode perceive fully the nature of the problem in front of them. Consequently, it negates their other defensive arguments.

More importantly, this approach – of containing damage to the IPCC by emphasizing the supposedly limited nature of Greenpeace’s involvement –is plainly wrong as will be shown. It is noteworthy that Mark Lynas, in his comment in the same journal, buys into this argument as well thus providing for a casual dismissal by Edenhofer:

At issue was the selection of four ‘illustrative scenarios’ in chapter 10 of the SRREN, one of which was based on a Greenpeace campaign report called Energy (R)evolution, a later version of which was also published in the journal Energy Efficiency.

Examination of the IPCC’s report quickly establishes facts to be otherwise. The Greenpeace-EREC scenario featured prominently in almost every chapter in the report – and not just Chapter 10 – where it became the de facto high-end scenario. In these chapters, it is presented as a ‘just another’ viable alternative, providing a point of contrast with other studies. On more than one occasion, the Greenpeace scenario features as the only scenario offering numerical data, with no matching data points from any other for ‘comparison’.

1) In Chapter 3 – on direct solar energy, the IPCC makes the claim that solar energy growth “is anticipated to accelerate dramatically in alternative scenarios that seek a more dramatic transformation of the global energy sector towards lower carbon emissions.” It supports this by a layout of the different Greenpeace scenarios as shown:

Talbe 3.7 p545 IPCC SRREN

Three different scenarios from Teske et al 2010 are ‘compared’ to one from the IEA, which even lacks basic projected estimates for adoption of solar heat, photovoltaic and concentrated solar panel electricity. The table and the underlying IPCC conclusion on future adoption of direct solar energy, in effect, are drawn directly from the Greenpeace-EREC report.

2) In Chapter 5 – on hydroelectric power, where estimates for ‘levelized cost of electricity’ (LCOE) drawn from the Greenpeace-commissioned Teske et al 2010 and Krewitt et al 2009, are presented.

Table 5.7a p 676 IPCC SRREN

Table 5.7b p 677 IPCC SRREN

3) In Chapter 6 – on ocean energy (which includes ocean thermal, tidal and wave energy), where the Greenpeace scenarios, once again, are almost the sole sources for estimates of the world’s adoption of ocean energy in the future

Table 6.5 p 743 IPCC SRREN

4) In Chapter 7 – on wind energy where Greenpeace estimates of global total wind energy deployment and its ‘regional breakdown’, are compared to two other scenarios:

Table 7.7 p 836 IPCC SRREN

5) In Chapter 4 – on geothermal energy contributions, where the Greenpeace estimate of 4.59 exajoules/year – a figure that is greater than seven-fold greater than a comparable IEA estimate, is quoted by the IPCC to be reached by the year 2030.

6) In Chapter 4 – on geothermal energy contributions, where the Greenpeace-commissioned Krewitt et al 2009 is quoted for the IPCC’s claim that geothermal energy as a source of electricity generation could experience  an “annual growth rate of 10.4%” between the years 2005 and 2030.

7) In Chapter 7 – on wind energy, where IPCC makes the claim that “scenarios literature [also] shows that wind energy could play a significant long-term role in reducing global GHG emissions”, citing Teske et al 2010’s estimate of a 31 exajoules/year contribution by 2050, in its support.

8) In chapter 10 which is the IPCC chapter on cost and ‘mitigation potentials’, the Greenpeace scenario is not just the source for the ‘~80% of the world’s energy to be derived from ‘renewable sources’ claim, but a whole host of other comparisons and resulting conclusions. In terms of its estimates on how renewable energy would contribute to future heat generation, in transportation sector estimates, in its estimate of how different regions of world would adapt renewable energy sources, in gigatons of CO2 ‘saved’ per year globally, and in estimates of global costs in billion US dollars/decade, the IPCC repeatedly cites individual figures drawn from the Greenpeace – EREC scenario.

What can we conclude about Greenpeace in the SRREN?

From the above it is clear that the IPCC drew upon the Greenpeace-commissioned literature for an across-the-board range of claims on a variety of renewable energy sources, in several chapters. Rather than being confined to Chapter 10, the Greenpeace scenario becomes the basis for several minor and major conclusions and comparisons throughout the 1544-page report. Indeed many of the involved passages, in addition to citing Greenpeace scenarios iteratively refer to the key chapter 10 to bolster the made claims.

Therefore the Edenhofer representation – that the Teske et al-authored Greenpeace scenario formed just one small part of the IPCC report on renewables, is not sustainable. So are arguments that it was purely a ‘matter of a wrongly-framed IPCC press release’.

Edenhofer states that in “all IPCC assessments, teams of leading experts consider large bodies of literature”, and that the IPCC decision to analyse the Greenpeace scenario “in greater depth” amongst the 164 studied, “was made by the team, not by any single author”.

Contrarily however, it is amply evident that a similar decision to highlight the Teske et al-derived scenarios was made, not only by the authors of Chapter 10 of whom Teske was one, but by author teams of almost every chapter as well. In Chapter 10, the same trend only worsens. Authors across several chapters must have surely analysed ‘large bodies of literature’, but they all consistently chose to make prominent conclusions from a narrow body, i.e., those derived from the Greenpeace papers.

Further down, Edenhofer gently advocates letting activists some room in the IPCC as there are safeguards in place. “The structure of author teams and the writing and review process”, he declares, “prevent viewpoints of any single author from dominating the assessment”. The structure of several writing teams and the review process appears to have worked little to mitigate against quoting Greenpeace.

This speaks to a report-wide phenomenon in its approach toward Greenpeace literature in the IPCC SRREN, and material from advocacy fronts in general.


IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs‐Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Teske et al Energy Efficiency (2011) 4:409–433

Krewitt et al Energy Policy 34 (2009) 5764–5775

Different views ensure IPCC balance Edenhofer O, Nature Climate Change Jul 2011 (Online at

Conflicted roles over renewables Lynas M, Nature Climate Change Jul 2011 (Online at

Latest climate change kerfuffle pits expertise vs. conflict of interest Niemeyer K, Arstechnica Jul 2011 (Online at

The IPCC renewables controversy – where have we got to? Lynas M, blog Jun 2011 (Online at

Responses from IPCC SRREN McIntyre S, Jun 2011 (Online at


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Brian H

Clearly, the report and its contents and sources were “shaped” from the get-go by the Greenpeace-polluted management team. The IPCC position is entirely disingenuous, and designed to obfuscate.

Dennis Wingo

Interesting and all in keeping with the philosophical underpinnings of the limits to growth scenarios.
What none of these estimates of solar energy take into account is the amount of energy that it takes to make a panel. This starts from mining the silicon dioxide, to the refinement, to the melting and doping for the semiconductor, to the panel construction, to the distribution network required to move the panels to their favored locations.
An estimate that I did from available sources shows that there is a huge energy subsidy of solar energy by coal and oil based forms of energy and production. Without this subsidy, the lifetime energy gain from a solar panel is only about 1.5-2, which makes it non viable as a mass replacement for oil.

Doug in Seattle

It is just hard to believe that Greenpeace and the UN IPCC would conspire to dominate the climate agenda.

Call immediately Don Quixote, he with his faithful Sancho will tear down all those winged monsters!


Given the amount of “entryism” that Greenpeace have been indulging in, maybe it’s time to rename the IPCC to GPCC?


Politics trumps science.


Can we just call it what it is? The Edenhofer Lie.

Great work.
No surprise, though. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment (the driving force behind IPCC SRREN and the funders of IPCC WG3), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Edenhofer’s employer) and Greenpeace are really close.

John David Galt

These charts sound less like predictions than plans: how much energy (and civilization) the barbarians of “Greenpeace” are going to allow the world to keep, once they consolidate power.
The real question is how far along the path of destruction we’ll let them go before we rise up and take back control. The world needs more progress, not regress.


The problem here is that too many environmental groups have somehow managed to portray themselves as credible scientific organizations instead of the political organizations that they are. Too often the media asks organizations such as Greenpeace and The David Suzuki Foundation for their “science” based opinion on some particular environmental issue, as if they are actually an objective research oriented organization. The lines have become so blurred between environmental lobby groups and true science that we end up with situations like this. Worse still is the rise of “environmental” studies in universities which further blurs the line. It’s perfect for the environmental movement who hide behind this cloak of credibility, when in reality it’s nothing but opportunistic politicians using “science” to meet their own agenda.

Edenhofer has the moral character of a common thief:
“one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy… One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”
~ Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair, UN/IPCC wg3


It’s been said before, we COULD produce 80% of our energy from renewables IF we legislate and regulate most other energy sources out of existence. Therefore, the contention is correct


Smokey says:
July 24, 2011 at 11:01 am
is that a genuine quote??


At first I miss-read SRREN as SIREN.
I guess it got locked in my thoughts since the substitution did not introduce a conflict into the prose and may have actually clarified the logic.
So what I read was:
“the SIREN is a massive effort”
“What can we conclude about Greenpeace in the SIREN”
In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirēn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirēnes) were three dangerous bird-women, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.


Smokey (says at 11:01am)- “…….This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.” Thanks for the quote!
I wonder if the head of CARB would agree with Ottmar’s statement for CA’s intrastate climate policy……………

It’s Edenhofer’s own words, but not the entire quote, which can be found here. “Climate change” is just a cover story for confiscation of the West’s assets.


“Nuke says:
July 24, 2011 at 11:03 am
It’s been said before, we COULD produce 80% of our energy from renewables IF we legislate and regulate most other energy sources out of existence. Therefore, the contention is correct”
The number of people a given amount of land can naturally support is directly related to the energy content of the land. Thus, in the tropic the land can naturally support more people per square mile than can the arctic.
By adding energy, largely from fossil fuels, we have overcome this basic limitation and allowed large populations of people to move away from the equator towards the poles while maintaining a high standard of living. Prior to the introduction of fossil fuels, this was limited by the number of trees available for burning. This is a fundamental problem with renewable energy supplies that is overlooked by most studies on this subject.
Solar and wind power have very limited capacity to do the same, as they must take energy from one piece of land and move it to another piece of land, thus limiting the land available. Even hydro power has limits as it must necessarily take energy away from one piece of land and move it to another. Fossil and nuclear energy are the only large scale energy sources at present that do not simply take energy from one portion of the planet and move it to another.
Our modern cities require huge amounts of added energy to support the population densities that they do. Without this energy the cities will cease to exist and the people will not survive. This was clearly demonstrated by the Khmer Rouge, in just one of many government sponsored killing programs that have been implemented throughout history. Once ideology triumph over practicality, all things are possible, even mass extermination. Why should the UN/IPCC be any different?


Nicely done! On the other hand, it’s quite easy to tell when an IPCC or Greenpeace official is lying: their mouths are open.

We need more to save this Planet! GreenPeace alone can not save our Planet!


Robert says:
July 24, 2011 at 10:40 am
“The lines have become so blurred between environmental lobby groups and true science that we end up with situations like this. ”
Doubtlessly, many of the activist scientists are Greenpeace (et al) members themselves, i wouldn’t call it blurred lines but the Enviro-Scientific Complex.


I’m glad you guys covered this. I was reading about it on RealClimate, and, they were making you sound bad. So, good counterpunch. However, the last argument that Greenpeace just commissioned the report is still on the table. If DLR did the report, were they just laundering money for Greenpeace. One of the oldest tricks is to hire a contracting company to hire your buddies. That way, you can funnel government money to whomever you want and at increased pay grade. So, were Greapeace cronies hired by DLR to do this study?

Roger Knights

Typo? Shouldn’t “presented” be “not presented” in the following?

In these chapters, it is presented as a ‘just another’ viable alternative, providing a point of contrast with other studies. On more than one occasion, the Greenpeace scenario features as the only scenario offering numerical data …

Kevin Kilty

While it is trivially true that we must eventually make use of “sustainable” sources of energy, that day is a long way off. If one looks at potential investment, plus infrastructure, without even looking at economics, we can use solar+wind+hydro to do no more than almost heat, light, and cool our homes–that’s all. And that is about all from here to 2030 or so.
With regard to optimistic energy scenarios, refer to the Sierra Club Battle Book entitled “Energy: a crisis in power”, which I suppose means to imply the crisis is one of using energy too quickly, written by John Holdren in 1972 or so. In it one finds boundless enthusiasm for fusion and solar, derision of fission, and the statement that wind cannot supply enough energy to even bother discussing. Reading that book causes one to consider how it is that solar has not even managed to invade the one market at which it could excel which is domestic water heating. Fossil fuels are cheap and effective.

Billy Liar

Greenpeace is selling energy in Germany:
Probably explains why Teske is so keen on renewables. Greenpeace have a corporate involvement in the business.
Conflict of interest anyone?
Par for the course for the IPCC.


Thanks Shub,
Maybe, thought – this is relevant:
“AGW campaigners often assert that their opponents are in the pay of Big Energy. And it’s certainly true that Brussels is a honeypot for lobby groups of every kind. Yet by far the most intense lobbying in advance of the vote came not from Big Energy, but from Greenpeace, Christian Aid and the WWF.
It’s a funny thing. Internet discussion groups are often dominated by people who believe that large multi-national organizations are subverting the democratic process. Yet they rarely notice the most flagrant examples of such organizations, namely the giant NGOs.”


An independent evaluation includes discussions of issues which are show stoppers or fundamental limitations. For example, as solar and wind are intermittent power sources energy storage or alternatively backup natural gas powered generation stations need to be included in the economics. The transmission power losses and the cost to construct new high power transmission lines, to transmit power large distances must be included in the economics for both solar and wind. The IPCC report ignores fundamental limitations and uses fairy tale cost estimates for the facilities that are included.
The IPCC report appears to filtered out or excluded the independent evaluation. As the IPCC report progresses any independent researchers have been excluded from the team.
If by a miracle billions of dollars did appear, the true cost and benefits will become apparent and all funding will dry up.


Greenapces reports most suited the main objective of the IPCC and so was selected most often . That purpose was not to show the best knowledge in the area , which is what the IPCC claim , but to meet the political outlook of the organization.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

@ Kev-in-UK & Smokey:
The Edenhofer interview was covered here on WUWT. You may remember it Kev-in-UK as you were one of the first commenters back on November 18, 2010.
But a problem has developed. The originating material for reports found here, at Smokey’s Newsbusters link, and many other places, comes from an English translation of this NZZ Online article in German (Deutsch) posted by Dr. Benny Peiser at the GWPF site. Which has gone missing. This is the link to the full interview given here on WUWT and at Newsbusters and elsewhere, but it’s throwing a “404-Not Found” error. Without the source, does the quote still exist?
However a search at finds it to be moved to here. Someone at the GWPF needs to be responsible and at least put in a page redirect to keep from breaking everyone’s links to the original location. If they can’t be bothered, then someone on the WUWT moderation team should update the link here so at least this site has it correct.
As to the full quote, here is the GWPF translation, with the preceding section included for context:

That does not sound anymore like the climate policy that we know.
Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. Why? Because we have 11,000 gigatons of carbon in the coal reserves in the soil under our feet – and we must emit only 400 gigatons in the atmosphere if we want to keep the 2-degree target. 11 000 to 400 – there is no getting around the fact that most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil.
De facto, this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources. This leads to a very different development from that which has been triggered by development policy.
First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

Before locating the moved GWPF version, I did a Google translation of the original German article for verification. Basically the same, within the limits of such automated translation; here’s the main line:

But one must say clearly that we distribute to the climate policy, de facto, the world’s wealth.

So to summarize with context:
Climate policy is tied to (economic) globalization. Countries have huge coal reserves, which they must not be allowed to use. This is an expropriation (denial of use) of the natural resources of a nation. However the developed countries have already expropriated (claimed for their own use) the global atmosphere that belongs to all countries [invocation of the “we are punishing the guilty for their (global) crimes” theme]. By this expropriation the wealth of the world is redistributed [loss of wealth by denial of use of natural resources is equated with wealth redistribution].
Viewed this way, it is not socialism as it has been portrayed, not thievery. This is far more insidious. This is a homeless man burning down another man’s home leaving both homeless, and declaring it justified as the richer man should have built two smaller houses and given one to the homeless man so both could have a home.
These people must be stopped.


Based on Edenhofer’s honest quote we have to take these guys seriously now.
As he says, climate policy has just been used to hide what’s going on behind the curtain.
Redistributing your wealth.
Happens already on a wide scale, when everybody pays for green investments, safe return for a few.
Ask the Obamas, Merkels, Camerons etc. if they know about and support that purpose?


“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.” – H. L. Mencken


Further down, Edenhofer gently advocates letting activists some room in the IPCC as there are safeguards in place.
I wonder if he advocates including sceptics on the same basis?

David Brewer

Much of the Panglossian optimism of Greenpeace and the IPCC about the potential of wind energy derives from misestimating the value of the electricity produced.
This is hard to see because they are using a traditional metric – levelised costs – which indeed works pretty well for comparing the costs of traditional, “dispatchable” electricity sources.
“Levelised costs” are simply the total costs of the relevant plant, fuel, infrastructure and other necessities, divided by the total energy the installation is likely to produce over its lifetime. No problem with using such costs to compare, say, coal with gas.
However, there are gigantic problems with using levelised costs to assess whether wind is competitive, since its energy is not “dispatchable” – i.e. not available at call, but rather intermittent and unpredictable.
It is amazing how much difference this makes. Because wind power is unpredictable, and in fact, slightly less likely to be available at times of peak demand (very cold or very hot days tend to be still), its value in the actual electricity market is usually far below its levelised cost.
The real value of wind power is almost impossible to specify these days because the existence of mandates designed to force the use of wind if it is available distorts the spot price of electricity. But apparently these prices can even be negative in some markets at times of low demand and high wind. In other words, the actual value of many marginal units of wind power is zero or negative in some current markets.
I have been told that no one has ever managed to calculate typical values of wind power as measured by spot electricity prices at the time of generation, partly because the data are regarded as commercially confidential. However, work by Joskow suggests the value is negligible, and of course the more intermittent wind energy were to be generated in future, the lower its value would be, due to the need for 100% backup to cover still days.
Yet it seems that you never see comparisons of the economic value of wind with traditional sources other than on the basis of levelised costs. This is a long-standing Green trick, which is still gulling policy makers around the world into large investments in wind and other intermittent energy sources that are essentially worthless.
Link to Joskow:”Comparing the Costs of Intermittent and Dispatchable
Electricity Generating Technologies”:

Thanks David.
The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) metric predominates the IPCC’s assessment report.


Smokey says:
July 24, 2011 at 11:34 am
Berényi Péter says:
July 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm
kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
July 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm
bloomin heck – it is amazing how much one forgets in this ever moving ‘debate’! LOL
I confess that I simply cannot remember from 8mths ago! – which is an important point really – we simply have to keep pushing these ‘facts’ to remind people of the background information. It is quite frightening that we (here on WUWT, I mean) get bogged down with the ‘science’ when these basic premises are already in place?

Bill Illis

I’m surprised with 160 different scenarios, they didn’t get up to 1029% energy usage from renewables in one of the scenarios (of course, these individuals would not be the best math people around so a small error or two would be found in every one of the scenarios).
And 160 scenarios?, that is funny in and of itself – couldn’t they get by with 10 or 12 or something (on second thought – there is that mathematical ability again – there probably was only 3 different families – ban, enforce, science of unicorns).

F. Ross

Dennis Wingo says:
July 24, 2011 at 10:01 am
What none of these estimates of solar energy take into account is the amount of energy that it takes to make a panel. This starts from mining the silicon dioxide, to the refinement, to the melting and doping for the semiconductor, to the panel construction, to the distribution network required to move the panels to their favored locations.
An additional cost is litigation of the inevitable environmental lawsuit which ensues wherever the potential solar plant might be sited. NIMBY


What about EREC? This was an EREC-Greenpeace study.
‘EREC – The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) came into existence in the year 2000, as the voice of the European renewable energy industry.’
Increasingly I am becoming more interested in those making money out of AGW and their influence on its’ promotion and propagation. Who moves the movers?

Great post, Shub.

Ottmar Edenhofer’s arguments supporting the IPCC, though multifarious are plainly contradictory to each other and are easily seen to violate commonly-understood academic standards.

It’s also worth noting that Edenhofer doesn’t seem to have much faith in his “arguments” either. As the U.K.’s The Economist reported :

[T]he authors of the IPCC chapter involved declined to evaluate the scenarios they looked at in terms of whether they thought they were plausible, let alone likely. Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist who was one of those in overall charge of the report, gives the impression that he would have welcomed a more critical approach from his colleagues.
Asked at an IPCC event in Brussels yesterday what the most important thing to come out of the report was, Dr Edenhofer said nothing about the prospects of an 80%-renewable world (indeed, in his presentation he didn’t mention it). Instead he points to his discovery of a striking dearth in reliable peer-reviewed data on what it costs to generate renewable electricity and what determines those costs. The report put a lot of effort into developing such numbers (there are huge appendices devoted to the data) but Dr Edenhofer considers what they came up with little more than a start on what needs to be done. [emphasis added -hro]

Source: Renewable Outrage

old construction worker

Redistributing your wealth. or better known as
Privatize the profit, socialize the loss.

John Marshall

The Universiy of Leicester, UK, did a cost analysis of PV solar panels and came up with a not too surprising conclusion. They will last, with regular servicing, 20 years. Iff all the power produced is sold payback comes in 25 years. Conclusion,- don’t bother there are better ways to get a derisery amount of electricity.

richard verney

Kevin Kilty says: July 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm
“… Reading that book causes one to consider how it is that solar has not even managed to invade the one market at which it could excel which is domestic water heating. Fossil fuels are cheap and effective”
Absolutely. I remember my Dad telling me about 45 years ago that solar is good only for low grade heating. In a sunny climate, it will provide all (or nearly all) the hot water requirement and no sophisticated equipment is required. There are many sophisticated water solar heating units on the market, but you only need a large radiator painted black, an indirect heated insulated water tank and circulating pump (whjich you put on a timer and switch off if it is not sunny). A simple system such as that is about 95% as efficient as the pukka systems on the market, and can be built for about £300 (say $500). A simple system such as that will pay for itself in a year. You can even make systems that do not require a circulating pump but then you may need to relocate the hot water tank and that might prove more expensive than having a circullating pump.
In a mild sunny climate, if you have underfloor heating, solar heating may even be capable of providing a substantial part of your winter heating. In the winter, (depending upon lattitude) effective heat is only produced between about 09:30 and 15:30/16:00hrs but with undefloor heating this warms the floor during the day which then acts as a large storage heater giving up low grade heat well into the evenning. You only have to get the floor up to about 30 degc for it to have a substantial residual capacity which enables it to give up heat for many hours into the evenning. On cloudy days, you have to fall back on other forms of heating so a sunny climate is a must. No use for the UK, but southern Spain or north Africa is good, and no doubt many places in the States would be suitable suich as Florida and California.
It would be far more sensible for government policy to focus upon what renewables can realistically provide at a competitive economic cost and only roll out those. With improvements in technology gradually more green solutions will become economically viable and when and only when they are, then those new technologies can be rolled out.
There will inevitably be a huge backlash if the AGW ‘theory’ is proved to be false given the huge wastage of public (and private) expenditure (after all, all public expenditure is paid for by levies/taxes on private individuals). One reason why one may stlll be seeing so many scare stories and even more biased media reporting is that the government is fearful of the backlah that will inevitably erupt when people come to realise that trillion dollars has probably already been wassted. Just think how that money could have been better spent. Governments world wide are no doubt praying that the AGW ‘theory’ is correct since if not the impacts and repercussions for them will be catastophic. .
I am reasonably sure that consumers would be willing to utilise green renewables provided that the expenditure was break even within a maximum of 3 or 4 years. It is silly to push things which have a break even cost of more than 10 years (most green domestic energy products on sale in the UK have a break even cost of 20 to 25 years) since many people will have moved home before the break even period, and sale price of the property may not carry a premium that would recoup the initial costs of outlay of going green. Indeed many purchasers may be put off by green equipment which is more than 10 years old thinking that this could be an expensive liability if repairs are required etc.

It is necessary to be arithmetically challenged to have faith in reduction of fossile fuel use of the order of 50% by deploying renewables.
I don’t know what the average distribution of energy consumption is in the developed world but here in France the breakdown is roughly 20% electric, 20% transport and 60% the rest.
Clearly the first category is bounded above by 20% and because of the intermittent nature of the wind powered supply is probably only half this, ie 10%.
Then there is transport which is mainly hydrocarbon powered and electricity is touted as the replacement. But there are no electricity mines or wells and your EPA would ban them if there were! So electricity production needs to be doubled!
The remaining 60% is addressed by enjoinders to use energy more efficiently but the low lying fruit has already been picked, as buildings insulation etc, already.
So, I cannot see how we can get much beyond 10% and that at the cost of rendering Western nations industrially incompetitive.
I just love Judith Curry’s comment- The answer to global warming is for the Chinese to burn more coal, which is what they intend to do anyways.
Goose, gander?

The latest addition to the list is the Greenpeace-generated factoid that ‘80% of the world’s energy demand could be met by renewable sources’ which found its way onto the IPCC pedestal.
Excellent use of term “factoid”! The suffix “oid” suggests something, due to a deficiency, is not quite what is appears to be. Thus, “factoid” is a non-fact fact! In geology, a mineraloid is a substance that meets some of the prerequisites to be classified as a mineral, such as chemical composition, but lacks certain properties to be a true mineral, usually lacking a crystalline structure. Obsidian, Opal and Limonite all have no crystalline structure, and thus is not a mineral. One of my geology professors used to rail against the constant misuse by reporters and newscasters of the term “factoid”!


David says at 2:58pm on the 24th………,
David- Thanks for the French report on dispatchable energy! You might find this recent report on wind power of interest-
“One of the primary drivers of the significant increase in average prices among 2010 projects is the high prevalence of California projects in the 2010 sample (relative to earlier years), in conjunction with the high price of many California wind power projects. Specifically, California projects make up 19% (438 MW) of all sampled capacity in 2010, compared to just 4% (150 MW) in 2009, 2% (45 MW) in 2008, and 0% (0 MW) in 2007. If the four California projects built in 2010 – each of which is priced over $100/MWh – are excluded from the 2010 sample, the capacity-weighted average price among the remainder of the sample drops to $64/MWh (i.e., much closer to the average price of the sample of projects built in 2009). ” pg 51

As long as the Skeptics refer / believe that: less CO2 = green; please stop blaming Greenpeace. 150 years ago, the CO2 was depleted to critycly low level = insuficiont for prosperous trees / crops. Trees would be much more prosperous on 550ppm than on the CO2 that is today avilable to them. Coral evolved / adopted on CO2 above 2000ppm – that made it louzy carbon colector. Instead of selibrating that CO2 level is increasing; we intend to bury it in the ground at great cost and deny the trees /crops the most esential food…This is all factual, but tomorow lots of active Skeptics will still refer to CO2 as greenhouse /bad gas… Who is the clownt to say that 150y ago was the best amount of CO2 for the vegetation? Both camps, of course. From the Greens is expected to mislead; question is: why are the Skeptics complimenting them? logon