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/

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Looks like the start of a hockey stick.
Or not.

Gamecock

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!

Janice Moore

Windmills will NEVER “GET THERE.”
See: “Electricity Costs: the Folly of Windpower,” Ruth Lea, Civitas (2012):
http://www.civitas.org.uk/economy/electricitycosts2012.pdf
And here’s Ozzie Zehner to tell you why SOLAR, in particular, WILL NEVER MAKE IT.

Mario Lento

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.

Neil

@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…

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

Mario Lento

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

@Mario Lento – then the polar bears will REALLY be endangered!

Robert W Turner

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.

PaulH

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!

Kevin

From their perspective though, it can only go up.

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.

Geoff Connolly

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)

Yeah well that graph only goes through 2013, so your cherry picking doesn’t prove anything!
/sarc

Jake J

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

Robert W Turner

@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.

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

Harold

It’s worse than we thought.

LeeHarvey

@ Mario Lento –
I think they actually want us to die, not to live like cavemen.

LeeHarvey

@ 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.

Jake J

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.

Resourceguy

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.

AllanJ

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.

Mary Brown

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

highflight56433

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.

Mac the Knife

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

@ 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.

Bruce Cobb

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

@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.

Richard Howes

@Harold
Ha Ha. You beat me to it.

William R

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?

And this very small contribution is costing us $Trillions. It’s SO worth it, dontcha think. /sarc

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?

Janice Moore

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

Greg

” 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.

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!

Michael D

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.

Bruce Cobb

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.

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.

tom s

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….😁

Bryan A

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
(?) (!)

Roger Andrews

@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.

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.

phlogiston

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.

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.

Retired Engineer

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.

euanmearns

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.

Janice Moore

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

Jake J

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.

Frodo

“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….
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izQB2-Kmiic?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360%5D

Frodo

Oops, sorry for the double post, maybe that was the year 5050