Shocker: Top Google Engineers Say Renewable Energy ‘Simply won’t work’

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

google-greenA research effort by Google corporation to make renewable energy viable has been a complete failure, according to the scientists who led the programme. After 4 years of effort, their conclusion is that renewable energy “simply won’t work”.

According to an interview with the engineers, published in IEEE;

“At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope …
Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/what-it-would-really-take-to-reverse-climate-change

There is simply no getout clause for renewables supporters. The people who ran the study are very much committed to the belief that CO2 is dangerous – they are supporters of James Hansen. Their sincere goal was not to simply install a few solar cells, but to find a way to fundamentally transform the economics of energy production – to make renewable energy cheaper than coal. To this end, the study considered exotic innovations barely on the drawing board, such as self erecting wind turbines, using robotic technology to create new wind farms without human intervention. The result however was total failure – even these exotic possibilities couldn’t deliver the necessary economic model.

The key problem appears to be that the cost of manufacturing the components of the renewable power facilities is far too close to the total recoverable energy – the facilities never, or just barely, produce enough energy to balance the budget of what was consumed in their construction. This leads to a runaway cycle of constructing more and more renewable plants simply to produce the energy required to manufacture and maintain renewable energy plants – an obvious practical absurdity.

As a review by The Register of the IEEE article states.

“Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear. All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.”

I must say I’m personally surprised at the conclusion of this study. I genuinely thought that we were maybe a few solar innovations and battery technology breakthroughs away from truly viable solar power. But if this study is to be believed, solar and other renewables will never in the foreseeable future deliver meaningful amounts of energy.

[Post updated at Eric’s request to correct the source of the second quote – Anthony]

413 thoughts on “Shocker: Top Google Engineers Say Renewable Energy ‘Simply won’t work’

  1. This is one of the very few times I was pleased to see someone buying hook, line, and sinker the Warmist’s claims. It means they were really motivated, and gives them some street cred in saying renewable policy needs to be reconsidered.

    • Yes, I have been at presentations by Google where they take the government-led Corporatist planned economy as a given. This admission means that much of the rationale for a planned economy–the CAGW threat and the need to force Green Energy on everyone–is impossible.

      Now if we can just get Google to relinquish its vision of transformative K-12 education since it too is tied to the planned economy/collectivist future vision once we dig into the cites.

      • Tsk Tsk
        November 22, 2014 at 8:26 am

        Contrary to their motto, Google have been evil for a very long time.

        They, among other big corporations on the left coast, are contributing sponsors to the Khan Academy.

        https://www.khanacademy.org/about/our-supporters

        That can’t be all bad from what I saw of Khan’s teaching website a few years ago. Big corporations have a couple of faces. They’re beginning to show their conservative one now. I’m guessing they’re anticipating a moderate corporate tax reduction in the next few years, and a bigger one after 2016.

      • Even if Google believe in collectivism, they are still a company who need educated people who actually know how to do things. That mission is completely different to public education as currently practiced.

      • Tsk Tsk:

        You accuse Google of doing evil for a very [long] time without bothering to cite a singe example (nope, I’m not an employee; just a frequent user).

        You appear to have won the trifecta with a content-free, anonymous, corporate ad hominem.

        Thank you for adding exactly zero value to the discussion.

    • Nuke the Greens

      sounds like the old joke about losing $ on each sale and making it up with volume

      Now — All we need to do is convince some of the icons of Lefty Capitalism such as Google that the future is Nucular [as W would say]

      i.e. Nuke the Greens and then we can return to a productive use of our innovation skills [love those self erecting windmills — but perhaps they just needed some Green Viagra]

      • Nuke the greens? Do you realise how much energy there is within the atoms of a greenpiss campaigner? If only we could somehow break them down, the energy provided is more than the sum of their parts. E=mc2. Finally, finally, a greenpiss campaigner would actually be of use.

      • West – you got it right. Some of us have dug into the scary stuff greens put out about nuclear power, and like the Google research into renewables, their claims do not pan out. Pencil out the human injury and death from each power source and nuclear comes out far superior. The US Navy saw through bogus green fear mongering sixty years ago and has not looked back since.

        Thousands of Navy crew have worked, ate, and slept just feet from powerful reactors with not a single radiation injury, let alone a death since 1950 when the nuclear Nautilus sub set sail.

        But big “environmental” organizations like Friends of the Earth are going all out to close Diablo Canyon. Given complete lack of evidence of damage, some are starting to look at this feverish opposition more carefully. The Washington Examiner reports groups like the Sierra Club take “millions” from fossil fuel (natural gas). Read Forbes about the far greater safety of nuclear power (“How Deadly Is Your Kilowatt? – 6/10/12)

      • “Nucular”. I have listened to him saying that word over and over – and never been able to work out what he was actually saying. It was like an optical illusion that I could not fathom. Thankyou.

      • “losing $ on each sale and making it up with volume” is correct.

        There is a lot of misunderstanding about energy. We would make better choices if it were more widely understood that no one “consumes” energy. By the 1st law of thermodynamics, energy is neither created nor destroyed. What we’re actually consuming is orderliness, or negative entropy, or neg-entropy. The most central cost analysis relates to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, the law of entropy.

        Understanding neg-entropy is important because different energy sources do not have the same negentropy density by any means. In particular, the renewables such as wind, solar, wave etc. are typically are far more dis-ordered at the source. This makes it intrinsically very difficult to cost effectively harvest renewable energy.

        In fact, this whole question has deep similarities with the age old attempt to make a perpetual motion machine. In both cases, there is a fundamental underestimation of the centrality of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

        West’s last comment is also on target. The energy source that has far and away the highest neg-entropy is nuclear. In the 1950s the prediction was that nuclear energy would be “too cheap to meter”, and on a thermodynamic basis that should still be true. The bulk of the cost of nuclear power lies in satisfying safety and environmental regulations.

      • “Nucular” was the term used by Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander diring WWII. As such, a huge percentage of the population learned that pronunciation, at the dawn of the nuclear power era. Many people in the industry have used both pronunciations, depending upon where they live. Like words such as pop and soda, different areas of the US use the different pronunciations as normal variations. It only became a “big deal” when left-wing political propagandists were looking to it as yet another issue to divide people and foment hatred.

    • It’s well worth your while to click through to the direct link to the IEEE Spectrum article, and look at the comments. Essentially all of them are calling BS on the article — not for finding out the obvious, which is that it costs more to harvest distributed energy and make it useful than you can get back, but for blindly ignoring nuclear power as a rational option.

    • Three good things about this.
      1. As you say, since the study was produced by True Believers, it suggests that the arguments are extremely compelling. Those of us who are not experts in the field can feel that we are not being too foolish if we tentatively accept their conclusions.
      2. Accordingly, we can stop wasting resources and effort in trying to make the “renewables” work.
      3. And it is encouraging to know that there are still people who follow the argument where it leads, even if they don’t want to go there. Kudos for intellectual honesty.

      One bad thing.
      1. Renewable energy isn’t going to work. Bugger.

  2. It was always obvious that renewables could never overcome the laws of physics. We can never get more energy out of a system than we put into it. Kudos to google for putting their best brains into examining this and reconfirming the obvious though.

      • We published a similar conclusion to the Google engineers – 12 YEARS AGO.

        Every sensible decent person is an environmentalist – contrary to green rhetoric, nobody has a monopoly on the moral high ground.

        However, I suggest that to be a “stalwart environmentalist”, one must first get one’s facts straight.

        A few hints for the good folks at Google:
        1. CO2 is the basis for all carbon-based life on Earth – and Earth is CO2-deficient.
        2. Based on the evidence, Earth’s climate is insensitive to increased atmospheric CO2 – there is no global warming crisis.
        3. CO2 LAGS temperature at all measured time scales – we do not even know what drives what.

        Happy US Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

        Regards to all, Allan MacRae
        ____________

        “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
        PEGG debate, reprinted at their request by several professional journals, the Globe and Mail and la Presse in translation,
        by Sallie Baliunas, Tim Patterson and Allan MacRae – PEGG, November 2002
        http://www.apega.ca/members/publications/peggs/WEB11_02/kyoto_pt.htm

        “At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope … Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”– Google Engineers – November 2014

    • Actually, I am by no way a Green, but thegobby*****’s comment on laws of physics is one of the most stupid things I have seen on WUWT. Renewables get their energy from the Sun, which is continually adding energy to our system, fortunately about as fast as we are losing it to space. So there is no question of us having to put energy into a system in order to get some out.

      Rich.

      • Well let me try and explain the study in simper terms for you.

        The amount of energy that has to be put into the infrastructure to capture and distribute the energy from the sun is larger than the energy captured from the sun.

        Now do you get it?

      • Rich the issue is all about the concentration of energy in order to do useful work

        You can plot human achievement and quality of life over millennia on a single exponential plot of energy density that a person could command

        Begin with human muscle power — not much different than an Ape — spend all your time looking for enough food to survive — not much time composing Sonnets or developing Differential Geometry

        Breakthrough Zero was harnessing other animals — to do our work for us

        Unfortunately for the Greenies — wind and direct use of the sun are way back in the Dark to Middle Age period — with water power in there somewhere a bit later — note in simple terms — water beats wind because its denser so a 5 M/s wind is ignorable — 5 M/s flowing water can be life threatening

        Major human breakthrough number one was to introduce coal to make steam and replace water to power our factories and gave us the first real non-muscle powered land transportation network

        number two — oil / natural gas replaced coal for transportation and we got diesel trains, cars and aircraft

        number three nuclear has given us gave us the potential for essentially unlimited electricity on-demand to replace all the earlier for nearly everything

      • WestHighlander well said, what you left out was before we harnessed animals for power the elites did have time to “not much time composing Sonnets or developing Differential Geometry” they did it on the labor of slaves. Present day elites are working to take us back to those times with their devious(i was going to say stupid, but they probably not stupid) energy plans.

      • That comment, in a nutshell, is why people keep getting suckered into these “something for nothing” schemes.

      • I have read here in one the the articles that 3.8 million .5 MW wind mills would be needed. Now think maintenance, trucks people going from site to site for routine maintain; the need to stock pile replacement parts, lubricants. Now think about that same maintenance , but now for the infrastructure you have just created to maintain the wind farms Oh and don’t forget labour costs. and on and on. And you still need coal,gas, and oil as back ups. And you would need trained staff to operate them. That means you have to pay them to sit around playing cards until they have to fire up their power station. Ack.

        Michael

      • Fossil fuels get their energy from the sun also. The trick is that they add the dimension of time to concentrate solar energy that has been collected over eons in far greater quantities than can be collected over spatial dimensions. We should all be quite concerned about the environmental consequences of trying to collect comparable amounts of solar energy in real time, thereby diverting it from its normal impact on the planet. I don’t see where that has been very well thought through.
        On the other hand, we have plenty of uranium laying around that is doing nothing but decaying.

      • Indeed, Jeff. The very notion that thousands upon thousands of square miles of solar panels, which are specifically engineered to capture as much sunlight as possible, would heat the world less than a small uptick in a trace gas in the atmosphere is thoroughly ridiculous.

      • davidmhoffer: “Now do you get it?”.

        Yes, I got it all along, but perhaps didn’t make that clear. My only complaint was thegobbysh***’s comment “We can never get more energy out of a system than we put into it.” Whilst that is true, it has nothing to do with efficacy of renewables powered by the sun, i.e. the subject of the whole thread. That is an engineering problem, which may be beyond us to solve, which is apparently the conclusion of the Google engineers. But is there a physical law which says that the energy to build a renewable energy installation must exceed the lifetime output of that installation? I don’t think so.

        One parallel, perhaps dubious, is the engineering problem faced in the 19th century: can we build a steam locomotive of 90% efficiency instead of the 7% or whatever efficiency is actually achieved?

        Anyway, thanks go to you and to the other respondent for further stimulating the discussion.

        Rich.

      • ““We can never get more energy out of a system than we put into it.”
        =========================================================
        Why is that a true statement, if the energy we are getting out, was put in place by nature. We just need to be efficient about it.

      • ” But is there a physical law which says that the energy to build a renewable energy installation must exceed the lifetime output of that installation?”

        Well, no, not a physical law. But, if you’re not getting more out than you put in, why go to the trouble?

      • Not to pile on, but I just thought of another good example. Ethanol is made from corn, which is essentially captured energy from sunlight. However, getting the corn processed into ethanol takes considerable energy. But ethanol is itself a source of energy right? So, in theory, you could use the ethanol produced from your first batch of corn to process the next batch of corn into ethanol, and the surplus ethanol produced during each cycle would be sold at profit. Okay, so how many ethanol producers power their conversion plants with ethanol? Zero. Why? because the surplus energy produced is tiny (if it even exists at all). Instead they mostly use coal to provide energy to ethanol power plants. So, in essence, ethanol from corn is simply used as a means to convert coal to a liquid motor vehicle fuel. Or to put it another way, ethanol is being used to greenwash coal.

        In the same exact way, coal power is used to provide power to create solar cells, which in turn slowly supply the power back to the grid over 30 years. After 30 years (when the solar cells wears out) your net return is actually negative.

        I wonder if there isn’t some sort of economic or physical law at work here? There must be a direct relationship between energy density and economic value, right? It seems that it would be directed related to entropy – after a certain level of diffusion all energy sources are uneconomic, with “economic” simply being a measure of energy gain over time.

    • It’s the really sad thing about electric cars: fantastic in principle; unrealistic in practice. Too expensive, and too limited in range. I would buy one tomorrow if those two things weren’t so.

      • Actually Ghost, Tesla gets ~500km/charge

        http://www.teslamotors.com/en_CA/goelectric

        I had a ride in a Tesla from Quebec City to Ottawa (440km) about a week ago). It takes 30 min. to charge at Tesla charge station (~300v, 350 amps)

        Also, a new phenomenon has been occurring regarding charging. Businesses, hotels, etc are offering free charging for guests. They are low power charges but if you are staying overnight, you will be charged up by morning. Even fancy coffee/sandwich places can give you 20 to; 40 km worth if you stop for lunch. Already you could drive from Montreal to Miami for free. This is a far more attractive incentive than the subsidies given to buyers – it is a bigger game changer than originally thought.

      • @Gary, Really !! you think hotels are going to give you the equivalent of a free tank of Gas, how long do you think a loss leader like that will continue ??

      • Talking of Teslas – Amsterdam Schiphol Airport now has 167 Tesla taxis. Yup, 167 of them.

        http://cleantechnica.com/2014/10/21/amsterdam-airport-enlists-167-tesla-taxis

        They look and sound great, but I am left wondering how they can do usual taxi milage, without running out of elections.

        The book range of the S Class is 420 km per charge, which should be enough for local work, but not much more. We often take a taxi from Schiphol to Brussels, which is 205 km. So by the time the driver has done one round trip, the car is dead. What then?

        A driver will normally do two trips like this in a day. So are they taking the dead cars back to base, and taking out another? i.e.: two cars per driver? Now that is EXPENSIVE. Or do they refuse to do long journeys, and pass you onto the usual Mercedes diesel?

        And what about winter? How are they going to heat the cabin, when it is -10º outside?

        Ralph

      • ralfellis

        Submitted on 2014/11/22 at 12:24 pm | In reply to The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley.

        Talking of Teslas – Amsterdam Schiphol Airport now has 167 Tesla taxis. Yup, 167 of them.

        They look and sound great, but I am left wondering how they can do usual taxi milage, without running out of elections.

        Now, one part of good news. While waiting for new riders in those very, very long “taxi – herds” lined up before the cabs are loaded with the next passenger, the electric cabs will not be running (idling) and thus, will not be discharging their batteries.
        Now, the bad news. They will also NOT be charging either! (Because they are in constantly refilled queue moving slowly forward at irregular intervals.) Nor will they discharging their batteries (ie, heating up their interiors and drivers while waiting in the snow and ice half the year, or running their air conditioners the h other half the year.
        Lights on? Battery drain.
        Heater on? Battery drain.
        Radio on? Battery drain.
        A/C on? Battery drain.
        Fan on? Battery drain.

        But, so long as the enviro’s control their propaganda through the biased, lying media, I fear they will never run out of elections.

      • >>It takes 30 min. to charge at Tesla charge station (~300v, 350 amps)

        Not according to that Tesla website, you cited. 30 min of charge gives you an extra 20-40 km of range, depending on the charger type. Just enough to limp to another cafe.

        But I don’t believe this website.

        The range at 110 kph and 20ºc, is 372 km. But if you raise the temp to 40ºc, and put the air-con on, the range goes up to 378 km? Eh? Are they implying the air-con uses no energy? Or are they saying that the batteries are more efficient at 40ºc?

        Conversely, if the temp goes down to -10ºc, the range goes down to 316 km. That is not very much degradation, considering the batteries are much colder and the cabin heater is on.

        Are these trustworthy figures?

        Ralph

      • >>Nor will they discharging their batteries (ie, heating up their interiors
        >>and drivers while waiting in the snow and ice half the year.

        Yeah. During the winter the drivers normally run their engines to keep warm. And yes, there are no taxi recharging points because they have to move up the rank-queue. I cannot see how this is going to work, during the winter, or when the battery is 4 years old. In fact, with the milage that most drivers do, I cannot see it working in the summer, either.

        I did ask the driver about the car, and he said it was great, with no problems. But he was from a region where they happily say that jet black is actually brilliant white, to con tourists out of their cash.

        R

      • It seems odd that a business supplying DC powered vehicles names itself after Nikola Tesla whose major achievement was getting away from the limitations of DC to AC.

      • Those are the reasons Thomas Edison gave for getting out of the electric car business over a century ago! The batteries and electric motors weren’t advanced enough.

      • It takes more power energy to recharge the batteries in these electric cars than it takes to operate a Humvee the same amount of miles. A real good strategy.

    • So you don’t believe in coal mining, oil and gas extraction, or nuclear power either? Because ‘We can never get more energy out of a system than we put into it’. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s one of the silliest things I’ve read on a comments thread here, which is saying something.

      • The quantity you are describing is measured by the Energy Return On Investment (EROI). Ike Kiefer explains this in “20th Century Snake Oil”. http://phe.rockefeller.edu/docs/Kiefer%20-%20Snake%20Oil2.pdf
        Bio-fuels involve less energy out than energy in due to the use of fossil fuel based fertilizers. Apparently when the costs of production plus the cost of transmission makes solar and wind energy inefficient. As opposed to fossil fuels that produce 8-12 times as much energy output as energy input. Only such efficient energy sources provide a sufficient energy base to yield a modern society. The result of adopting so-called renewables will result in destruction of modern societies.

      • An honest attempt at accounting must include the externality costs the public is left with in dealing with AGW. Renewables out compete fossil fuels in that regard. Of course you probably think AGW is a hoax so that makes you irrelevant to the discussion.

    • Nor economics. Opportunity costs for land use (or ocean use) are tremendous. 10% of California power produced by wind turbines would require 2500 square miles of ocean from the Oregon border to the Channel Islands, because only off shore winds could support the generation capacity needed. The 33% capacity factor means you need to build 3x the name plate capacity to produce the amount of energy required. Operation and Maintenance will cost even more than construction over a reasonable operational life of the facility. Offshore wind generation requires corrosion resistant cables and components. Furthermore, the power delivery system has to be constructed along the entire coastline. All this to meet only 10% of our power needs. Whereas, 24 San Onofre scale reactors could be built on 3 square miles of land to produce 100% of our power needs. Or better, 240 modern modular units, preferably integral fast reactors, and California might become the 3rd largest economy in the world after the US and China.

    • it’s not so much the physics as it is the imperfection of the power source and the economics of that. There’s no actual physical science reason why power can’t be harvested from the Sun. It’s just that the expenses associated with harvesting it are significant and the reliability of the source (night, clouds, etc) is just not there. Same goes for the wind. In the free market, the fact that something is costly means that it has high costs to society overall and the price without monopolistic benefits simply reflects that cost (don’t worry about who owns and who pays – not relevant to this comment). Plants have been able to harness solar energy and do so by biological processes. There are dyes that can produce electricity without highly processed semiconductor materials (pvs). Unleashing self replicating nanotechnology or super altered genetic plant life (think electric jungle lol) might possibly overcome that high cost to society present in human manufactured electrical and mechanical renewables and maybe even overcome the need for turning backup electrical supply needs. The risk of that sort of solution is super dangerous. Anytime man has played with simple biology, catastrophe ensues. Doubtful there will be any improvement with more complex biological manipulations.

  3. “This leads to a runaway cycle of constructing more and more renewable plants simply to produce the energy required to manufacture and maintain renewable energy plants”

    Everybody knows that the more windows you break and replace, the better off society is as a whole. It’s a multiplier thing. ;) I mean, Google may not get any better at what they do, but all the window makers and their suppliers will be.

  4. Well, there is a solution, and I’m sure that an eco-wacko will point it out shortly: mass suicide of the human race will save Mother Earth. I almost guarantee that some variant of such will be proposed.

    • Population control advocates almost never discuss methods, since most people find all of them abhorrent.

      • Population control advocates never want to lead by example, either. One wonders why if it’s such a good idea, the proponents wouldn’t want to be first.

      • …Population control advocates almost never discuss methods, since most people find all of them abhorrent…

        But every so often they let the mask slip. The 10:10 ‘No Pressure’ film, for instance…

      • I have heard the idea that some people want to drastically reduce the global population. I can’t seem to take it seriously because it is one of the few ideas were everybody loses.

        In the socio-economic sense, the only people that would not be knocked down the ladder are those at the very, very top and those people didn’t get to the top by undermining themselves. The more people there are buying barbeques and outboard motors, the more money, power, and stature there is for the people at the top of the socio-economic food chain. The good news is; these would not be the people getting eliminated from the gene pool.
        This brings us to the middle class, lawyers, economists, professors and such. Most of the people in this group should survive the cut as they are mostly intelligent, alpha-type personalities.
        Lastly, we have the working sods. If we are to have any kind of functioning society we still need people to build space-heaters, make the water potable, and clean up vomit in the restroom. Unfortunately, these will probably be the first to go, and the more people that get eliminated from this group, the more people from the previous group will have to fill in. I can imagine someone in this alternate future saying, “I used to be a stock broker, now I clean toilets and take out trash for a living”.

        From a technological standpoint this idea also makes no sense. Right now we (as a species) are making dramatic strides forward in every major field of study and the technological innovations that follow are revolutionizing everything from cosmology to nuclear medicine. Eliminating a large part of our population would slow progress proportionally (perhaps logarithmically as proportionality assumes low interaction). I read somewhere that technology is currently doubling every seven years, if that gets knocked down to seventy years or more we could be well into the next glaciation before we have the technology to survive with an intact civilization or to prevent the glaciation itself.

        From an environmental standpoint this is also a losing proposition. An environment that is well managed is a more productive habitat for all living things, including people. As someone who has both studied environmental science and lived in the wilderness for years on end, I can say definitely that environmental management is better for the ecosystem than environmental chaos. Also, there was a reason for the low life expectancy and high infant mortality before modern civilization and if we lose the population we could easily slip back to that point.

        That is why I can’t believe that anybody capable of driving this absurdity, actually would. Even political systems are largely population based, a monarchy could never survive a high population situati……….. Wait a minute.

      • The ecoFascists have proposed a method involving a box and a red button. Pressing the button will blow up a Gaia-polluter. This is what’s in their hearts and minds. Implementation will certainly follow if they’re given the power: killing men, women, and children in the service of Gaia.

    • Mass extermination is already part of The Plan. Why do you think that the Green Blob tries so desperately to deny cheap energy to the Third World and advocates policies to send the First World back to a Medieval technology and standard of living?

      • You don’t need mass extermination because declining TFR’s will eventually reduce the human population dramatically. There is argument as to when populations will peak, but with global TFR at or near replacement (often stated as 2.2, but probably higher), the peak is within a few decades.

        The Malthusians will likely celebrate the peak, but post-peak isn’t likely to be a happy time. Demographic decline will be something entirely (although Japan provides a nice preview).

      • AGW will hit the bottom two billion a lot harder than the top 5 who can afford to adapt. Coal fired plants could never reach those two billion anyway out in the boondocks where they live. Like with cell phones, they need a technology like solar that leap frogs the need for a centralized grid.

    • Took me a few tries:

      The conclusion isThe conclusion is now available in the technical development and knowledge framework a healthy and sustainable conclusion. More does not need to be added.

      I guess a Swedish form of “res ipsa loquitur”.

      • Swedish text for good latin: Saken talar för sig själv…

        One problem… what scientists say is a healty and sustainable conclusion always has an aber of what next generation of scientist might find that completely alter the paradigm of today 2014…
        but apart from that: You are right.

  5. >Top Google Engineers Say Renewable Energy ‘Simply won’t work’

    This is a “reverse Gruber”, recognizing the common wisdom in most people, who already know that Green energy schemes are mostly stupid, designed to distribute wealth to the un-wealthy.

    • Amen. Big Government is very inefficient in distribution of wealth, and creates little or no wealth on its own. (e.g look at the BHO regime). By stifling free enterprise with excessive regulation and taxes, they tend to kill, in effect, the enterprising geese that create wealth in our modern world.

      • True. But would you like a feudalistic society where wealth is never redistributed at all? Nobility, knights and serfs? For a thousand years or so? Dark ages ad infinitem? I will take inefficient government redistribution any day. But seems like to me we are headed back to the dark ages of nobility, knights and serfs. We just don’t call ourselves nobles, knights and serfs.

      • David, I guess you missed the experiment called the United States of America. (The left did not miss it they are however changing it as rapidly as possible.) We are all getting equal, equally poorer, except for some very small few.

        A feudalistic society is not the only option to large central Government.

      • >”…would you like a feudalistic society…?”
        No, that would be even worse. That’s why I specified “excessive” regulation and taxes.

        It’s the Goldilocks principle. Government now is “too big” and “too powerful”. A feudalistic government would be “too small”. What we need is to “regulate” the size and authority of the government so that it both protects and serves the nation and its people. “Just right”

      • To David A: Being an attorney for thirty five years I am pretty familiar with the experiment we call the USA. But my point is that the USA is looking more and more like it is reverting to the kinds of government it was designed to replace. I just read that in this last election four billion dollars was spent on the campaigns and that entire sum of money came from .2% of the population. Even if that figure is off by ten times that amount, it pretty much means our government is pretty much bought and paid for by a handful of people, a/k/a/ the new nobility. This is not a new phenomenon; it just seems to get worse with every election.

        I doubt that any of the posters on this site would consider themselves members of the modern noble class. This site just doesn’t strike me as a hangout for the royal class.

      • The Left don’t like the idea of a nation where the talented and hard-working are rewarded. It is simply not fair. And they are right, because the concept of “fair” is subjective, and can be defined any way you like. Just watch House of Cards. You learn money is not as important as power. The game is to reward those who make a difference as they play along with government. Let the Judas Goats live, and harvest the rest at will.

        Starting with Teddy Roosevelt, no person or private entity would never again be allowed think they could ignore the Administration. Since that time, the big winners and losers have been selected by regulation and prosecution. Free enterprise is a nearly mythical concept that hasn’t seen the light of day for decades. Freedom is at odds with government power. However, it is alive and well in the underground economy practiced by millions working off the books. Strange how we are becoming more like China under Mao. Which country is winning since Nixon and Kissinger went to Beijing? Eventually, China realized it could not restrain its underground economy, not if it wanted to have a chance at fulfilling its own concept of China’s destiny.

        If we continue to let public education rot the minds of our young people, we will become another third world nation. Of course, that’s the plan. With meaningful education, more bright ideas could be created and they might have a chance to grow. It may be stereotypical, but the winners in China are better educated and they insist their children study hard and learn real skills. It’s still generally true of Asian-Americans and a few other sub-cultures here too, despite our bad schools. Shamelessly, state universities are trying to prevent hard working ethnic Asians from taking “too many” seats and interfering with the student body diversity envisioned by officials using an outcome-based strategy.

        When you value basketball and rap, or football and death metal, or reality TV, and let government take care of you, you wind up with modern Detroit, not Motor City, USA.

      • At Johanus. Define excessive. Because every one has a different opinion as to what is excessive based on who’s ox is being gored. In my experience, businesses don’t like competition and all want to be monopolies to ensure a profit. And the larger they get, the more clout they have in getting legislation that favors them and works a hardship on their competitors. Much of this so called excessive legislation is designed to squeeze out the little guy but it is done by the big guys who can afford it. But as I pointed out above, if all of the campaign contributions come from .2% of the population, who do you think is really responsible for this “excessive” regulation. As they say, “follow the money.”

      • @davidgmills: … Define excessive. …

        From a system engineering POV there can be no answer to the question “How big is ‘Big’?” without some notion of reference metrics related to the system’s goals. Then the Leaders should try to optimize the system define metrics for all the critical parameters for measuring the success or failure. And tweak for maximal Success while trying to minimize Failure.

        But there’s that nasty Hobbesian Dilemma to deal with, which states that any ruler with enough power to prevent or end war will also have the power to start war for his own purposes.

        In the U.S his dilemma is nicely mitigated by “separation of political power”, where the executive is the commander and chief of the military, but cannot make or change laws without the approval of the U.S. Congress.

        Oops.

  6. The key is “replace coal”. Or oil. They work anywhere, and transport and use are cheap. Wind needs windy places – and where the hoi polloi don’t mind their views to be altered. And lots of dead birds. Solar needs the sun, so puget sound and western Michigan aren’t good candidates. Then there’s night.

    There is another adjective on the renewables they looked at: Intermittent. Nuclear is constant, problematically so. Fossil fuels are on-demand. Geothermal might work but is more expensive and isn’t being looked at.

    Hydro is the renewable that works, but you have the problem of the dams creating lakes, and altering the ecosystem. And it also has to be where the gradient will create enough pressure and there is enough water.

    Conversely, if you need to power air conditiining with extra power on sunny days, it fits.

    • It’s entirely feasible to design nuclear power plants that can load follow, indeed most existing plants can to a greater or lesser extent; France load follows with its PWR power stations. The problem is that their efficiency drops off quite quickly and the marginal cost of the electricity generated rises rapidly(it should be pointed out that coal- and gas-fired generators lose efficiency when load following also). New designs such as Molten Salt Reactors or High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactors could offer greater flexibility to load follow, but outside China, Russia and India there’s little budget or political will for developing these technologies into fullsize commercial power stations.

      • Indeed, China’s main increase in non fossil fuels is nuclear, and hydro, not something the greens in the west will allow.

    • Molten Salt Reactors is the nuclear solution, they can’t blow up or melt down; are walk away safe and are about 200 times as efficient than our current PWR fleet. Problem is our DoE Has given China the keys to ORNL’s MSR design and is actively prevent US firms from working with ORNL on the MSR design. http://www.energyfromthorium.com

      Green energy’s waste stream of Rare Earth Elements tosses away enough of the super fuel Thorium yearly that can power the entire planet using MSRs.

    • Western Michigan does have one of the few storage facilities,

      “The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant has proven its value over several decades of service, providing millions of Michigan electric customers with outstanding performance and dependable reliability,” Consumers President and CEO John Russell said in a prepared statement. … The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is a 1,000-acre site four miles south of the city of Ludington. The facility includes a 842-acre reservoir perched atop the bluff that is able to hold 27 billion gallons of Lake Michigan water. Ludington Pumped Storage Plant to receive $800 million upgrade over six years

      that seems both effective and economical. Add that to the near constant wind off lake Michigan, I figure if wind has a change any where it’s in Western Michigan. It’s not that renewables are impossible, it’s a matter of finding the right mixes, the correct amounts and in the places, fine points often lost on the megalomaniacal eco-loons.

      • Pumped storage is fine to even out intermittent power sources, but it is not a net-power producer — it actually uses some power.

      • I work in generation. Pumped hydro is a net economic plus. It is not, of course, a net energy plus, because there are losses associated with pumping the water uphill. You simply do so when the cost is cheap (middle of the night, usually) and then run the water through the turbines during peak hours, when the cost of electricity is high. It makes money for the company (my employer included), but it is not in any way, shape, or form energy efficient.

    • Here is Google’s Eric Schmidt in September.

      Wall Street Journal – Sept. 30, 2014
      Google’s Climate Name-Calling
      Terrified at being called a ‘denier,’ it flings the accusation at others.
      …..”Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.”……..

      In the Salem witch trials, the best defense against being called a witch was to call someone else a witch. Hey, it was the coward’s way out but it was still a way out…….
      http://online.wsj.com/articles/holman-jenkins-googles-climate-name-calling-1412119264

      • ”Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.”

        So what they’re saying is that people in favour of adapting to climate change are wonderful. And those fighting it by extremely expensive, and ineffective measures, are hurting our children and grandchildren, and are also liars. For once I agree with them. Giggle.

      • “They’re just literally lying.”
        Eric Schmidt is no dummy. He knows better. That the CEO of one of the world’s most powerful company, a company with more data than any other on all of us, would debase himself by saying such things should send a chill down the spine of free people everywhere.

      • Yea, like the lenr people…

        “Got promising results, we need just a little bit more money to get this free energy generator to market! It would be a killer app if it we can just afford building a commercial version. We have already a Nigerian investor who is ready to invest $510m, but we need more partners. Wanna join?”

  7. Imagine if all the hundreds of billions, if not trillion dollars spent on fabulous renewable energy and CO2 mitigation schemes were spent on making nuclear energy safe, even for gree nuts.

    • Yes, they could have done a lot of good with the resources wasted on “green energy”.

      Or they could have used the massive support they had to promote conservation or adaptation. Instead they grabbed for the loot, with carbon trading and crony energy schemes. A lot of conservation could have been done for very little govt cost, and savings for the populace.

      Civilization and populations will collapse when liquid fuels for transportation and agriculture become too expensive/ unavailable. How much battery would a semi truck, or farm tractor need? Would it be practical – hell no.

      They could have:
      -Reduced highway speed limits. Fuel used is the square of velocity.
      – Changed the rules for using nat gas as vehicle fuel.
      – Put a stop to shipping raw materials to the far side of the world, and shipping crap back.
      – More harvesting of renewable material and fuel (logging), rather than “let it burn” and road closure, which results in expensive airborne fire fighting, or none.
      – An energy tax, or a ration card would mean that Al Gore would be paying for his exorbitant use, and those who use little would save lots.

      They could have gotten wider support, and done a lot of good. They grabbed for loot instead.

      • This sounds like a nice receipe to return to the Dark Ages circa 500 CE — we give up: the Roman “global” trade system, modern interoperable currency [as long as you like the emperor]; and predictable legal process [see as long as the emperor likes you]

        In exchange we get: locally sourced food [when there is any and given good climate]; green transportation [walking or riding a horse] on unpaved green paths; marrying your cousin [you will live your entire life within a couple of days walk of one place]; and regular famines

      • Seriously, more rules and regs from the asswipes already micromanaging our lives? Thanks to fracking we are now #1 in oil production. The back-to-the-past greens need huge government subsidies for their loser projects and still they FAIL.

      • Fuel use is not the square of velocity. You need to look at mpg not miles per minute. Highway driving is the most efficient for mpg because stopping and starting are wasteful. This is the kind of silly idea that caused Carter to give us the frustrating 55mph speed limits for no savings in oil.

      • Agree with Craig. Highway travel speed limits are a bad answer. Adding absurd bridges and cloverleafs at major intersections to eliminate stop lights would be more effective and just as dumb.

  8. That’s what I have been saying for years. Renewables are no substitute. Unviable and unaffordable.

    I hope people at Google will start doing some reseach on AGW too. These guys and girls are very smart; they should be skeptics in less than an hour if they seriously looked at that failed theory .

    • Unfortunately ‘Smart’ and ‘Intelligent’ are not on the same continuum as Common Sense and Stupid.

      “Strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and higher education positively fortifies it.”
      Stephen Vizinczey, An Innocent Millionaire

      Any engineer working in academia for a period will attest to the quote

      These smart Google engineers were sent on a fools errand and did not realize it. Simple back of an envelope calculations would have shown the impossibility of the task.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/03/14/germanys-green-energy-disaster-a-cautionary-tale-for-world-leaders/

      But when bankers are told that governments will “guarantee a return well above current market levels to invest in ‘green energy’ the engineers get steam-rollered into coming up with solutions that they know will not work and have a lifetime cost that exceeds the implementation cost by orders of magnitude. In come the starry eyed brilliant academic scientists with no real world engineering capability and failure is guaranteed.

      http://notrickszone.com/2014/09/11/spiegel-germanys-large-scale-offshore-windpark-dream-morphs-into-an-engineering-and-cost-nightmare/

    • They are very smart but their boss, Schmidt, has sold his soul for 30 pieces of political silver so the engineers are smart enough to play along. They do the research, dot every “i” and cross every “t” and present their results. I would not put it past the people who did this study to have done it just to show unequivocally the folly of green energy.

  9. The real problem is that these people (warmists) began with the goal of renewable energy replacing so-called fossil fuels.

    Once this was firmly in their minds, they than needed to vilify current energy generation. As the engineers had already developed and installed virtually pollution free systems for coal. oil and gas this proved to be a most difficult task.

    Finally the consensus of AGW folk (with what seems to be limitless funds), struck upon CO2 as the prime culprit.

    All that was needed then was to collude, obfuscate, forge and otherwise lie about CO2’s supposed role.

    This “bull by the foot” process is what pollutes much bad science.

    Start with a “problem” than proceed to find a culprit.

    The facts however are:
    By all trial evidence and arguments in this kangaroo court, CO2 is found to be 100% innocent.

    Over these decades of debate and prosecution, there is NO perpetrator and NO crime.

  10. Regardless of how you feel about the use of fossil fuel energy, regardless of the new technologies that may extend their use for hundreds of years, they will eventually run out. We had better have an alternative in place. Any reasonable scientist will agree that solar and wind won’t work. I’m of the opinion that controlled fusion is the only energy source that has the potential to power a multi-trillion dollar economy.

    • Controlled Fusion works just about as well as wind and solar, and has even less likelyhood of improvement.
      I did engineering studies in the 1960s on fusion and realized that it CAN NOT work. Solar and wind in the 1970s same result and I was in the solar business! there is NO net benefit. No matter how much I like them these “Green” alternatives can not work for industrial levels of energy production. pg!

      • What you found is that thermally initiated fusion can not work. I agree. The Tokamoc et. al. are dead ends. However a bimodal beam-beam reactor has promise. I like Polywell Fusion.

    • Controlled hot fusion has not shown promise of being practical yet, and is looking more and more as a non solution. However, several fission processes do work (Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors, and some intrinsically safe Breeder Reactors) and can be made safe from dangerous runaway, and have low amounts of dangerous waste products that need to be secured. In addition, LENR, or other so called cold fusion processes, do seem promising. There will be solutions in the future, but very likely not hot fusion.

  11. There are renewable power sources that may work. Wind and solar are not among them. Geothermal heat for residential heating works in many areas, there are a few places where tidal waters can be used, the world’s greatest hydroelectric power source, the Congo river is yet to be tapped – and they don’t even have to build a dam! Other than that, the best future source is Thorium based nuclear power, with a million years supply of fuel available. Nothing else comes even close.
    http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-based-nuclear-power-generation/
    http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-more-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-as-nuclear-fuel/
    http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/nuclear-power-and-earthquakes-how-to-make-it-safer-and-better/
    http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/nuclear-power-why-we-chose-uranium-over-thorium-and-ended-up-in-this-mess-time-to-clean-up/

    • True. Geothermal and Geoair both work. Russ Finch has been running the citrusinthesnow.com and more recently greenhouseinthesnow.com shows how simple stuff works. Greenhouses (16×80 feet) in Nebraska operating for $500 a year to heat (and cool if required).

      But lets waste more money on Solyndras because they offer kickbacks.

      • Perhaps a little more precisely, they offer democratic campaign contributions, and the Government offers the kickbacks.

    • It is the specter of limitless energy available to the common herd, with a million years supply that is the reason that the Malthusians in government are so against Thorium. The last thing that those in power want to see is limitless energy.

  12. Not because of supposed AGW, alternative sources of energy production will happen but not with current materials technology. Just not there yet and to ignore the facts as presented is like trying to drive a square peg into a round hole and going broke doing it. The best is yet to come as the EPA force the retirement of older generation coal powered power plants while implementing regs that prevent replacement power plants being built and operated in the false “hope” that alternatives will take up the slack.

    • Newsel — a realistic EPA would “Force the retirement of the solar and wind give-aways which have diverted innovative people from productive innovation into gov’t-facilitated scamming of the taxpayer and the utility rate payer with the special assistance of the ignorant political and media “inteligencia”

      So how do we start to undo the damage of the past forty or so years — which began circa Earth Day
      :
      1) Restrict Taxpayer dollars to fund research on energy only — no more subsidies — no more Solyndrias
      2) stop forcing Green wealth transfer scams on rate-payers — no m ore selling Green Electricity production by taxing the ratepayer
      3) Return all licensing of Federal Lands for energy production and shipment to the resective lands’ caretaker and aggressively license energy production and transportation infrastruicture
      4) trim the EPA back to a research agency — all enforcement of environmental regulations will be relegated to states, or voluntary regional state cooperative groupings
      5) require the cost of any new regulation be rigorously investigated before implementation

  13. Another solution
    I once read that 500 grams of pure Kriptonite ( Superman’s home planet ) would contain enough energy to power Earth for 1,000 years, Now where is my grant money ?????

  14. “To this end, the study considered exotic innovations barely on the drawing board, such as self erecting wind turbines…”

    Oh…the visual of that…and an entire hilltop…ROTFLMAO!!!!!!

    • “self erecting wind turbines”

      I can see the cartoon of a couple looking out of their window. “Oh, no. Another patch of windmills has sprung up on the lawn again. Get the weedkiller out.”

      • So if the turbine fails to self-erect would we call it turbinerectile dysfunction? And would the repair folks have a sign on their van saying “Does your turbine fail to erect? Call 1-800-HARD and we will get it up again in minutes, not hours.”

        (Warning: If your turbine fails to lose its erect position during windless days, seek immediate attention.)

  15. So I guess the solution is therefore complete de-industrialization. We can all go back to scratching out our subsistence from a rocky patch of ground.

    Except, of course, for the elites, who will still have their iPads, jet aircraft and Google (for the benefit of “the people” to be sure).

  16. For genaral base load capacity with 240vac appliances, yes, renewables (Solar/Wind) don’t work. If you have a small site, a single domestic site with renewables (Solar, wind and hydro) it works. However, as I have posted before here at WUWT, whatever system is used to GENERATE the power it has to be *matched* with the appliances. So, 6, 12 or 24vdc must be matched with 6, 12 or 24 appliances for maximum benefit, least waste and maxium reliabitity (When I did my research a 12vdc “family sized” fridge would cost me NS$12,000, that was in about 2000). Inverters are better these days but they are still not good for appliances that need proper sinusoidal sinewave AC. None. I have not seen any yet that can work that well. Unless you are wealthy enough to bin your 240vac appliances on your “home grid” regularly!

    I have spoken to people over the years and they say that a car’s power system in 12vdc. I say that is true, but the alternator is producing 110vac, 3 phase, which is rectified to 12vdc. I am met with blank looks on their faces.

    • A number of technical issues here: for one, an auto alternator does not produce 110vac, but much lower. The real issues have more to do with the quality of the generation in terms of its “dispatchability.” A small bit of solar is somewhat correlated with peak demand times and contributes more value to the grid than its raw KW/$ would indicate. Wind is cheaper, but terribly bad to dispatch as it is anti-correlated and must be paired with backup generation such as gas turbines to compensate for windless days. A safer nuclear technology or deep geothermal must be considered to replace fossil fuels as wind and solar clearly have limited applicability.

    • I looked for that, too. The article the first link took me to did not seem to arrive at that conclusion.

  17. During this whole renewable little attention has been paid to improvements in efficiency. A typical home can be made about 40% more efficient, at a cost that’s recovered in 6 to 8 years. Honda has technology to build a 240 hp engine, in a midsize car, that gets about 40 mpg. The incremental cost of building the engine, according to someone I trust on stuff like this, is about 2000 bucks, again the cost in saved fuel is recovered during the first five years of vehicle life. Greens don’t want efficiency, they want an absolute change. There all into this “transformational” thing, (if I hear one more school teacher use that term I might go berserk). Even though I believe that AGW is contrived bullshit it just makes sense to lower our dependency on fossil fuel, and quit spewing so much crap into the atmosphere. The Fed’s focus on renewable energy is a great fraud to the taxpayers when it distracts from real and meaningful steps that we can take now

    • I worked for Honda in Swindon, UK. And I can tell you, having dated a girl from the purchasing department, their costs were much less than you think. As an example, an automagic 4sp gearbox, cost to an owner to be fitted was about at that time about GBP800 (Excluding the actual fitting). Cost to Honda, about 80 quid to make. This was in 1994. Thankyou Sian and Sato San!

      If anyone wants to see what individual power gennies and the pollution it creates, go to Lagos in Nigeria!

    • My Honda 2012 FIT gets 35 MPG using trustworthy, non- revolutionary technology and will last me 15 years with care. With good driving habits, my energy savings will pay for half of it compared to a mid size sedan. My total cost per mile compared to any green nonsense on the road can’t be beat.

      • I had to work/fix a Kanji IBM PS/2 that was used to run a program on a machine to test crank/main bearings at the Honda plant. I fixed the PS/2, all in Kanji, and showed the operator that swapping the program for each bearing set that was run from a 3.5″ diskette and pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL sped up the process!

      • The Honda Fit is called the Jazz here in the UK. Many moons ago I had a correspondence with a guy on the other side of the ‘Pond’ who told me that vehicles are routinely re-tuned for the US market to reduce their economy markedly. My Honda Jazz, bought in 2007, returned 63mpg on its first long run and even today gets way over 50mpg in everyday use. You, my friend, are being well and truly shafted!

      • TonyK you miss the fact that the normal octane level of fuel in UK is 95 while ‘Regular gas’ in the USA is 87 octane. Then (thanks to the USA having 16 fluid ounces to the pint rather than the UK 20 fluid ounces) the US gallon is 3.8Li rather than 4.54Li. So yes the engines in the USA tend to be longer stroke and tuned for lower grade fuel compared to the short stroke oversquare engines in Europe that need higher grade fuel; and the quoted fuel consumptions ‘per gallon’ are all 25% lower as they are not ‘imperial’ gallons.

    • I don’t know much about the technologies that might make my home “40% more efficient”, but let’s look at that engine that gives 40 MPG in a midsize sedan. I spend roughly $150 a month to drive to and from work, a distance of almost exactly 45 miles round trip, in a vehicle that gets about 23 MPG. (As a check, if gas is $3.50/gallon, and I work 22 days per month, I get $151 per month. Okay, I’m in the ballpark.) Assuming that the 40 MPG is highway, that is comparable to the 30 miles per gallon my car could get if I never drove it on surface streets instead of only on the surface streets. So, I would get roughly 31 MPG in my daily commute, assuming the mileage increase is proportional. (It’s not, but I don’t want to try to build a more complex model, and a proportional increase should be good enough for BOTE calculations like this.)

      That would reduce my monthly gasoline cost to $112, giving me $38 left over. Okay, ignoring opportunity cost, it takes 53 months to pay back $2000 at $38/month. So far so good. The question I have: Is that $2000 the cost to Honda, or the cost they would charge their customers for the technology? It’s not made clear by how you phrased it. If it’s the cost to Honda, then the customer isn’t trying to recover $2000 at $38/month, he or she is trying to recover substantially more than that.

      Let’s assume it’s end-user cost. My vehicle is a 1998 model (with 226,000 miles on it.) If I got a more recent midsize car, something I hope to do real soon now, then I would be comparing 35 MPG to that 40 and the repayment time gets longer. Running the numbers for the midsize cars of several different manufacturers, I get payback times in the 29 to 150 month range, with the Honda Accord having the longest payback?

      Did the person that you trust about such things render an opinion about why Honda wasn’t already manufacturing and selling that engine in their vehicles? It looks to me like they may already have done so.

      • Jonathan,

        Good analysis.

        Also, if you’re buying a new car, here’s my recent experience. I bought a Mazda3 for only about $16K. Very good gas mileage, has all the bells & whistles of many more expensive cars, top-rated in it’s class by Consumer Reports, good power, etc. I was astonished at what that small purchase price bought. It’s every bit as good as a comparable Subaru, which cost $5K – 6K more for essentially the same thing. Better than the comparable Honda coupe, which I thoroughly checked out. Mazda is a real sleeper. I liked it so much I bought my wife one exactly like it. Same color even. Just my experience, FWIW.

      • 150 month payback – how long will you keep your car? I tend to keep mine around 180 months, but I am very unusual.
        I once had a discussion about fuel mileage with a very nice lady in Lyme Regis. She new her mpg, and I knew mine, and she was proud to say she was getting better milage than a Yank, since we all waste energy. It finally occurred to me that she was using Imperial gallons, while I am using US gallons, and we were actually getting exactly the same mileage.
        Maybe I’m being a bit pedantic here, but if you are going to talk about mpg, please tell us which gallon you are using.
        Thanks.

    • I drove one of the larger Hondas across country with three other adults and 2 children and much luggage and got 39MPG on a 5-speed transmission. No hybrid, no anything fancy, and speeds up to 80MPH on the Interstates.

  18. Interesting that these true believers can use the terminology ‘catastrophic climate change’ and it has only one meaning for them, an increase in temperature caused by increasing CO2.

      • Oracle? (Yes, I know we bought Sun….) Did you forget the smiley?

        http://www.itworldcanada.com/article/google-considering-building-its-own-chips-rumour-says/87683
        says:

        Building its own chips would allow Google to better manage the interaction between hardware and software, an unnamed source told a Bloomberg reporter.

        This would be a blow to chipmaker Intel Corp., which is heavily dependent on server processor sales to make up for a flattening market for personal computer chips. Google is possibly the world’s largest single purchaser of server chips; estimates of the number of servers Google has range from 2.3 million to 2.6 million. Bloomberg says Google accounts for more than four cent [sic] of Intel’s server revenue.

        A job posting for a position as a digital design engineer at Google in Mountain View, Calif., had attracted 98 applications by press time. The ad specifies experience designing application specific integrated circuits (ASICS).

        “You develop from the lowest levels of circuit design to large system design and see those systems all the way through to high volume manufacturing. Your work has the potential to shape the machinery that goes into our cutting-edge data centers affecting millions of Google users,” the ad reads in part.

        See also http://www.wired.com/2012/09/29853/Intel Confirms Decline of Server Giants HP, Dell, and IBM, it has several notes about Google.

      • Do a search on Google Cluster Architecture.

        IMO, they will fail if they get into the business of making their own computer systems, particularly down to the chip level. They will probably also garner federal attention regarding monopolistic practices (not that I agree, that’s just how things work in the US). Large-scale vertically integrated operations (when they make the things that make their things) don’t seem to do well. They become inefficient. Eh, who knows…

        Mark

    • Google are a technology company not just software, consider google glass or even the loon project. They also have futurists such as Kurzweil working for them. If they can’t make it work I would take that very seriously.

      • That doesn’t mean anything. An appeal to authority is just as fallacious as the argumentum ad hominem tactic so many alarmists prefer. This is a big “problem” they are trying to come up with a solution for (in their minds), and they began with several fundamentally flawed assumptions to begin with. I tend to question how “top” these engineers really are.

        Mark

    • Do you have to go to hexagonal bolt school [to] design hexagonal bolts, or is a general mechanical engineering degree enough? It is you who are appealing to authority to suggest a gang of well funded engineers are unable to study anything but their bachelors degree.

      Math and data are math and data. Ive had enough shifty analysis from phd sociologists and poly sci with self-certified climate science honors and no apparent science skill.

  19. “This leads to a runaway cycle of constructing more and more renewable plants simply to produce the energy required to manufacture and maintain renewable energy plants – an obvious practical absurdity.”

    That’s called the Energy Trap.

  20. This is welcome timing. One big reason I haven’t be as active here as I have been in the past are several wind projects targeting New Hampshire. The latest has submitted their turbine locations for FAA review, so we know they’ve settled on 29 turbines, each 499′ tall (probably GE 2.85 MW systems), some will be in a town I own property we intend to retire to.

    The selectboard will be talking about this next week, having documents like this will be very helpful to stop the “do it for the environment” assertion.

    • Good luck Ric. I really hope your endeavor will be fruitful. In any case, just be sure that your land and view is located several ridges/miles downwind from this site to mitigate the impact. If not, then sell out now as there really is no way of stopping the beast. I don’t know about New Hampshire, but in Vermont, the local governments have no say over siting issues. It is all decided at the state level.

  21. Shipping became cheaper, faster, safer and able to use bigger ships when rowing changed in sailing, sailing changed in coal and coal changed into diesel.

    Going ‘green’ is an economic disaster and will only create human misery because enormous amounts of resources and money are wasted only to enrich a very small (corrupt) part of the human race while the overwhelming majority only gets poorer .

    You would think they do it on purpose.

  22. ALL renewable energy renews at <1350 Watts·meter^-2, some on geologic timescales like fossil fuel. To consume at any greater rate indebts the future.

    • Not geothermal, which is ultimately running off the heat generated by radioactive isotopes still present in the earth from the time of its creation from the debris created by supernovae prior to the formation of the solar system.

      • Errm, so those would renew on cosmological timescales, beggaring, quibbling my geologic timescale? Same as fission fuel as a barely-renewable.

    • Some times you have to use more energy than is available to get to a more sustainable point. See starter, automobile. Fossil fuels are our starter battery.

  23. Here’s the thing… and I know this might ruffle a few feathers, but that’s better than burning them to a crisp on the wing as they try to fly over a giant Google-financed solar farm:

    Google, and for that matter, Apple, are complete and utter crap. Their products are toys at best, their target audience are people who have been programmed since childhood to believe in fantasies and pay for them. Both companies are HUGELY financed but produce little in the way of tangible product or benefit. The majority of their business was built on free software that OTHER PEOPLE BUILT, and they cynically stole it and used it to build giant empires. And not surprisingly, both companies have a few multi-billionaires and a whole lot of hippy-inspired experience-lacking drones working on lowest-common-denominator product.

    While we’re watching the slow-motion collapse of Microsoft, a company that was hated and despised and even sued by a group of companies for doing the exact same thing that these companies are doing, remember that there will not be anyone replacing them. The entire industry has fragmented and degraded into armed camps on both sides. Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen. But the days when a profit oriented company controls the hardware and direction of software are gone, never to return.

    Today, the entire high-tech industry is focused on content… most specifically, advertising. That’s right, the trillions we spent running fiber and ethernet, installing backbones and cable distribution, getting servers and server farms operational, building OS’s, databases, applications, and more, and the largest (by far) use of all of this is Netflix, YouTube, and advertisers. My own sites are hit more often by SEO scammers than actual users, it’s a constant chore just keeping them out since new ones appear weekly. All we’ve done is built a new format of billboards and newspaper ads. Nothing has advanced, nothing is better. We’re even more inundated with disinformation, outright lies, and it’s even more transparent than ever that he who has the gold makes the rules.

    Google has squandered billions and billions of dollars to learn something that I, and almost every other WUWT regular, could have easily told them. And I agree with the comments above stating that this money would have been far better spent building nuclear plants or something useful. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history… are apparently completely unaware of the energy crisis in the 70s and the resulting windmill/solar boom, which ENDED because they will never, ever work like the fantasy says they should.

    I never bought Google stock, and my reasons for staying away from it remain. They have no more tangible reason for existing than Bre-X or Madoff… eventually the walls will come tumbling down and they’ll be replaced by the next starry-eyed deluded idealists, out to change the world and save the planet on someone else’s dollar.

    • Interesting that you mention Bre-X. Steve McIntyre played a significant role in exposing that company’s misdeeds. I suppose they also called him a denier.

      • Since I live in Calgary, Bre-X is on my mind. I used to strenuously argue that people should pull ALL of their money out of it. It was something of an open secret that it was all fake, but money was flying around like crazy toward the end and everyone was hoping to still have a seat when the music stopped playing.

        I used to do some contract work for a web design company that leased a lot of the old Bre-X building. It was an astonishing amount of concrete.

    • Best comment on the thread. The internet has been a bust just like cable TV. We are always promised information, art, and culture but all we get is advertising and disinformation with enough violence and soft porn to get people to look. Every “upgrade” of Google is just to track your traffic better to target adds for junk no one needs; Apple has always functioned as a cartel to control access to entertainment for people with more money than sense. Sites like this one are too few are far between; just exceptions that prove the rule.

      • The internet has not been a “bust” and this excellent site proves no rule. There are probably more points of interest online to continue my education than I could absorb in the remainder of my lifetime.

        But I agree as regards “far between.” The worst garbage and misinformation is repeated ad nauseam and it’s often difficult to get past the junk to find what’s being searched for.

        A couple of things I’ve found to make browsing more pleasant: (1) turn off auto-play of videos in the browser. (2) If you have Windows, install a junk-filtering “hosts” file:
        http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

        .

    • Comparing Google to Madoff is far fetched and not even close to accurate. Nor is calling their and Apple’s products toys at best. Google’s bread and butter is search, and that is not going away anytime soon. While you may consider iPhones to be toys, 170M people per year like them enough to buy them. And Microsoft is not in slow motion collapse. While Windows may be in slow decline, Office is doing well, especially the cloud versions, and their business software division is growing like a weed. Their cloud computing revenues are growing rapidly as well, albeit from a small base.

      • Sigh… he did not “compare” Google to Madoff. Learn how analogy works. This is no different than d****** Mann saying Steyn compared him to a child molester.

        Mark

      • Chris, I have a Nexus 5, last year’s flagship Android phone. Although there is now a Nexus 6, the Nexus brand is the showcase, the pure Android experience, yadda yadda. And this week we got Android 5.0, which to be honest I wasn’t even expecting.

        Guess what I found within about 10 minutes of installing this 500 megabyte upgrade? That’s right, bugs. How is it possible that a company with their financing, their wide ranging and publicly accessible beta program, could possibly not have noticed the things that I did in the first few minutes? Did nobody else try the things I do with it? Like, for example, making a phone call?

        iPhones, Android phones, and the tablets built on them are toys. Reality check, Chris: they’re PHONES. The goal is to use them to talk (or text), and any other functionality is a bonus. While 170 million might buy iPhones, 315 million spit on Apple’s closed source draconian control and choose Android devices. In “emerging markets” those numbers are Apple:95 million, Android: 930 million. Apple will never, EVER stay relevant and open source will crush them.

        I’m puzzled what your MS connection is that you feel the need to vigorously defend them… I’m actually not an anti-MS person. I’ve defended them through the years, hollered at Janet Reno over the TV while watching the Clinton administration do Apple’s bidding, and stayed with IE up until it was clear that they were never, ever going to get it. But cloud computing and Office are not going to slow their descent to irrelevance. Most companies that I’m dealing with these days are migrating to OpenOffice, which is interoperable and free.

      • Mark T, please enlighten me and explain to me the validity of the analogy between Google and Madoff. I do understand the word analogy, here is the definition: “a thing which is comparable to something else in significant respects.” I know that CodeTech is not implying that Google and Apple are committing large scale fraud and misleading investors. Madoff pitched a completely fabricated investment return story. Google makes money when people click through to a paid ad, Apple when people buy their products. I just don’t see the analogy between the two – one is selling an expectation of future returns (based on on falsified data), the two companies are selling real products/services. RIM and Nokia are living proof that if you don’t products the market wants, you can be gone very quickly.

    • I wonder if CO2 could be reduced more by cutting spam, marketing, and ads traffic by 50% than all renewables combined.

      Wonder why Google has not researched this, oh never mind, their financial model relies on spam, marketing, and ads traffic.

      Wonder if I can get a grant to research this……I know how to use Excel…..which is apparently about 90% of what you need for research now a days.

    • Both companies are HUGELY financed but produce little in the way of tangible product or benefit. The majority of their business was built on free software that OTHER PEOPLE BUILT, and they cynically stole it and used it to build giant empires

      There is so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start. Without Apple you wouldn’t have things such as GUI (no, they didn’t stole it from Zerox, they licensed curiosity that nobody cared much for) for Windows, Mac and any other system, iPhones, iPads, iPods, zillions of similarly looking smart phones and tablets, watching movies on computer (Qucktime) and many other technologies. What they make (both in hardware and software) is very tangible.
      I am not quite sure what is so innovative about Google, but their product is certainly provides extremely tangible benefit for me when I am looking for information.
      Whatever money Google squandered, they squandered their own money. You should direct your ire at people who confiscate (with force) other people’s money and then squander it – i.e. government.

      • What ire, Udar? I’m not angry, just pointing out facts.

        BILLIONS of dollars are wasted. Don’t think none of that came with government backing or tax credits. And NOBODY else on this planet can make money on advertising, since between Facebook and Google there is no other advertising market. So the crushing of actual innovation and smaller business continues, only the players have changed.

        Apple did, in fact, steal the entire Lisa interface from Xerox PARC, Jobs was very clear on that. And if nobody was shamelessly using open source software for their businesses, why did Heartbleed affect almost the entire internet? Hardware devices, browsers, servers, Linux, Windows, Apple, everyone was using the exact same exploitable code. Is there not something wrong with that???

    • Microsoft has 16 separate billion dollar businesses. Microsoft is currently the second most valued corporation worth over $400 billion. I admit that I am a big fan of Microsoft, bought Windows 3 on the very first day it came out. I turned into a independent Microsoft developer starting out with the betas of Windows NT (and Window 95). I had to buy a system with sufficient memory to run NT, paying $500 for 16 MB of RAM. That’s megabytes people, compared to todays gigabytes. I consider my area of expertise on the future of computing to be better than Kurzweil’s.

      • Kurzweil?

        I also was a fan of MS, I always thought it was a GOOD thing to have a single guiding entity during the IT industry’s biggest years, and unlike those who felt Bill Gates’ wealth was a problem, I thought it proved that he wasn’t “in it for the money”. He was a pragmatic idealist. I’m sad to see him throwing billions at dubious charities and “climate change” causes, but it’s his money. I too spent huge money for what is now a few cents at Walmart… and since I worked at a Tandy Computer Center through the 80s I watched it all go past, back in the glory days. I had Windows 2.11 on my desktop, and was at a really cool rollout event for 3

        I’m not even arguing. But MS’s role is past, and they will fade into the past, the same way that IBM is no longer running the show and Intel is no longer the only game in town. The degree of mismanagement over at the Windows divisions has been breathtaking…

      • Kurzweil? :
        I was kinda replying to some other commenters as well. I couldn’t really afford a computer much before Windows 3 came out. I lusted for an apple machine, but they were even more expensive than PC machines. I still have my Commodore 64 machine. It took a couple of minutes to repaginate a 5 page document.
        Microsoft has the best software development tools in the business. And on my birthday they made one of their premier software development products free (previously several hundred to purchase) for everyone except large corporations :
        http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/visual-studio-community-vs.aspx

    • Spam and pop-up ads, not to mention virus adware, needs to be strongly criminalised with bankrupting fines and long prison sentences for the spivs and deviants who churn out all the unsolicited advertising. The law needs to step in, or people are going to simply turn their backs on the whole technology.

    • You’re correct . For a politician the reason it did not work is because not enough taxpayers money was invested in the project.
      That’s why stimulating the economy printing more money will never work. You can’t fill a hole digging it deeper. The economic crisis has just started.

      • People are clueless about fiat money. Let me give you a 16 trillion dollar hypothetical. You have a license to print money. All you want. Do you ever need to borrow and go into debt? Do you need a source of income? Do you need to budget? Of course not. You would simply print the money for what you need or want.

        If the federal government can print money why then does it have sixteen trillion in debt, have to tax for income and have a budget?

        The answer is that the federal government never needs to go into debt, never needs to tax and never needs to budget because it can print whatever it needs. There is a new economic theory called MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) that understands this is what all sovereign governments can do. One of the proponents of this theory suggests the federal government mint a sixteen trillion dollar coin and pay off the federal debt. These are very serious and prominent economists by the way.

        Both Edison and Ford knew this well. Ford used to say if the American people ever understood the scam they would be rioting in the streets the next day.

  24. I find it strange that this article did not mention the investment made by Google in solar energy.
    Google is a project owner in Ivanpha, currently the largest solar project in the world.
    It will be interesting to see if they will come to the same conclusion about 3 years from now.
    For an update on this project, see the site:

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/11/top-five-things-people-cant-seem-to-remember-about-the-ivanpah-csp-plant?page=all

    • That’s a puff piece by the owners. In reality Ivanpah is not meeting expectations:

      http://breakingenergy.com/2014/10/29/at-ivanpah-solar-power-plant-energy-production-falling-well-short-of-expectations/

      “Output did pick up in the typically sunny months of May, June, July and August, as you might expect, with 189,156 MWh generated in the four-month period. But even that higher production rate would translate to annual electricity output of less than 600,000 MWh, at least 40 percent below target.

      Another sign of the plant’s early operating woes: In March, the owners sought permission [PDF] to use 60 percent more natural gas in auxiliary boilers than was allowed under the plant’s certification, a request that was approved in August.”

      • There is no difference between the site I posted and the site you posted.
        Simply, this is the beginning. Some problems. Nothing new when starting any new plant and both sites stated the early difficulties.
        Projected time to reach final output is about 3 more years.
        Since Google is a project owner in this plant we can expect them to evaluate performance in a few years and render an honest opinion.
        This plant has no energy storage with it. However storage is planned for a proposed similar plant in Nevada.
        I am willing to wait and give them a chance.

      • Don’t forget rare-bird “streamers” and other lifeforms deemed “endangered” before Obama eviscerated the Endangered Species Act:

        http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/220735-obama-on-protecting-endangered-species-habitats-no-we

        To hell with raptors whose previous demise prompted over-banning of DDT. Critical habitat needs to be freed up for crony-corporatist, sprawling monstrosities like Ivanpah, which would still be an inefficient abomination even it lived up to the hype that can’t possibly be realized.

      • Well, to nutso fast:
        It is a sprawling monstrosity to you, the new term is optic pollution. There was absolutely nothing there before. Just nice plain desert. Plenty more available.
        As for the birds, no problem at all.
        You are now using energy. You will not quit using energy. So give us your sources of energy.
        I you do not like this plant, stop using Google.

        The problem with this plant is simply energy/cost efficient. It is an “experiment”, but a huge one.
        We have to solve this problem first, always the same:EROEI. If it works we can then think about the birds, transmission, storage etc., otherwise it will simply die.

      • Ivanpah.

        $2.2 billion initial cost, $1.6 billion of which is a taxpayer guaranteed loan.

        A 20-year California-guaranteed inflated price for its “green” electricity, of which a significant quantity is actually fossil-fuel generated.

        Primary investor NRG energy has requested a $537 million taxpayer grant to avoid defaulting on loan payments.

        Just one part of a massive redistribution of wealth to already-wealthy political contributors.

        But “we” have to do this to find out if it works?

        Methinks “RD50” is a pseudonym for Nancy Pelosi.

        (And, no Nancy, disliking government corruption doesn’t obligate me to avoid Google, which invested a relatively-paltry $168 million in this plant.)

      • nutso and rd50, with the new natural gas allotment to generate 200 MW per year, the Ivanpah plant may hit 800 MW of which 1/4 would be fossil. Also solar thermal has always been lower EROEI than photovoltaic and the differential is getting worse since photovoltaic has room for improvement, but mirrors with tracking motors do not. I think that is established fact now, and won’t change in three years.

      • To all the replies below.
        Yes, say what you want.
        I have no problem with your opinions, I read them and value them.
        I certainly will not contradict you. I know, you are all against me (not really against me, just saying).
        Are you willing to give me a chance?
        I am just asking, give me (Ivanpah) a chance.
        Ivanpah is REAL. It is EXISTING.
        Don’t you get it?
        If after 2 or 3 years it does not work you can sell your shares in Google.
        But what if it works and you shares in Google ……………..
        Bottom line is did you make money or not with Google investing in this experiment.
        Google share holders will decide, not engineers, scientists, climatologists…….
        The experiment works = you made money = the plant goes on
        The experiment does not work = you lost money = the plant shuts down.

      • It is no wonder,why Ivanpah is not meeting expectations. Their announced solar resource, 2717 kWh/m²/yr, is the total available solar energy including ultraviolet, visible and infrared radiation. From this only 42% is usable thermal energy, which can be used to heat plant’s boilers. See
        http://konitohtor.blogspot.de/

    • They did claim that with their efforts Google offices and installation achieved a CO2 net balance of zero – they saved as much CO2 as created or something like that.

      But that’s not the point. The point is renewables will have no measurable impact on CO2 even in the most fantastical best case adoption of renewables. I am amazed by the naivete or blind optimism required for them to take so much money and time in figuring this out.

      BTW of the renewable, solar is the worst practically and financially. Wind surpasses solar by a large margin and of course gas surpasses wind by an even larger margin in efficiency and practicality.

      I like the idea of renewables, I like the idea of moon colonies, I like the idea of sending a manned mission to Mars, I like all of this stuff, but I understand it is not practical or realistic. Maybe in 10, 50, 100 years it will be, who knows. If renewable technology advanced at the same rate as computing power, we would all be on renewable at this time. But it hasn’t, not even close, it’s still way too expensive, problematic, and unreliable. At best renewables are like the guys who run food service for a large movie production, important but a tiny part in a large production.

    • Would this be the same Ivanpah co-owned by Google that received a $1.6 billion construction loan from US tax payers and are now applying for a $539 million US federal grant (again from the US tax payers) to help pay off the construction loan?

      • Since the media started exposing the reality of Ivanpah, NRG has been touting Google as co-owner. But Google’s investment is just 7.6% of the total cost. At this point, it appears the real owner of this abomination is the entire U.S. citizenry that guaranteed $1.6 billion of government funding to see electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.” And it’s built on “our” land.

        BTW, wasn’t Ivanpah begun early enough for NRG and Google to get a 30% tax credit on their investment?

        Will Ivanpah be the last of its kind, as even some diehard catastophists contend? There are others proposed, including the much larger Palen facility, and Governor Moonbeam has a $22 million war chest to promote them. He’s got to keep U.S.-taxpayer-funded employment up to preserve the appearance of a healthy economy, and the high-speed rail line alone isn’t going to do it.

        There are millions of acres of roofs and parking areas that can hold solar panels, forgoing the infrastructure needed for boondoggles in the boonies. The environmental destruction from industrial-scale wind and solar projects has got to stop.

        Yes, Ivanpah is a done deal. But reminders of its shortcomings need to continue.

    • Agreed. The EROEI for solar and wind was a quantified catastrophe many years ago. The fact that Google engineers frolicked in this technology space in apparent blissful ignorance of the hard engineering facts says a lot about Google.

      • With the warmists, doing is more important than being, Google went through the motions, that’s what counts the most. They can always blame failure on “big Oil” colluding to keep “200MPG carburettors” off the market or some analogue of that theme.

  25. This article may create a credibility issue for WUWT. The ‘money quote’ :”According to the IEEE article; “Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass,…” is nowhere to be found in the actual IEEE article. This appears to come from a uk site. On that site is is not attributed.

    • Charles Davis is right about the “money quote”, nothing even resembling it appears in the IEEE article. Nothing they say implies that renewables can’t work or that they take more energy to build than they produce. The problem is that nothing can meet Hansen’s ridiculous target of 350 ppm. But we don’t need any “geniuses” from Google to tell us that.

      Mike M.

      • HEADS-UP Anthony Watts and/or Eric Worrall Agree with both MikeM and Charles Davis. I ctrl-F looked for the money quote in IEEE article, could not find it. Either it never existed OR it was scrubbed from IEEE article OR it belongs to Register article that references the IEEE article.

  26. The Google folks should have read Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry ,Richard Smalley’s article “The Terrabyte Solution” which made the case that solar was the only Terrabyte solution for our long term energy solution. However, monies spent on large solar farms will be wasted until research monies attack to the 2 biggest problems — 1) a new transmission wire that prevents the great losses that now occur & 2) both large energy storage devises and small mass market washing machine storage devises that can be used to facilitate distributed storage capability. Mass market devises will drive the price down so that consumers will save monies by storing energy during the peak energy generation period to use when needed.

    • Bill, these two biggest problems are not solar related. If you solve the problem of energy loss along transmission lines, efficiency will increase for all forms of energy, not just solar. If you develop an efficient method of energy storage this would benefit all forms of energy, not just solar. In fact solar might have an even greater problem competing. But don’t look for these two problems to be solved any time soon.

      • garymount

        Submitted on 2014/11/23 at 3:58 pm | In reply to Steve from Rockwood.

        You can reduce transmission line losses by making the wires thicker.

        Slightly. Very slightly.

        But!

        At a tremendously increased cost in material weight: That increases as the volume of copper (high enough already!) or aluminum cable, which is cross-section area x length. Increase diameter, area goes up as the square of radius, weight goes as the square. Towers have to be replaced, cables torn down before they can be replaced or the new cables interfere with the old and are too close for voltage limits. Worse, electrical resistance doesn’t go down all that much. A little yes. But by much? No.

        So, while you are essentially throwing away the worthwhile (still useable!) high voltage lines just to replace them with new cables and new towers, you are adding nothing. No net benefits to the taxpayers, power users, or company. Just throwing away billions of dollars. And thousands of tons of copper and steel – all of which has to be re-manufactured costing even more energy!

  27. We’ve had an Industrial revolution, we’re in the information revolution, now we need the (Thorium?) energy revolution. If we don’t do it, the Chinese will. Life is like an intelligence test.

    • Life IS an intelligence test, but collectively or individually, and measured how? Why ignore we who have excelled by every objective measure?

  28. I’ve never heard of an engineer that believes any of the catastrophism angle of the alarmist message, and only a few that actually buy the anthropogenic angle at all. Where did they find these “top” engineers?

    Mark

  29. I have great news for them. It doesn’t matter in the slightest that renewables “don’t work”. They were never meant to do anything but rob people, destroy economies, and cause untold human misery. Kudos to them for “finding out” what countless people already knew, and more importantly, reporting it. Maybe now, even True Believers will have second thoughts about so-called “green” energy.

  30. Don’t understand the hatchet job on the RE<C quote. From the article, "Trying to combat climate change exclusively with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach."

    • Not sure I would agree with the exact numbers there (other sources have different numbers) but certainly they make us think and a long way to go for the “renewables”.

  31. Hello, 1st post here. I am an engineer from the US. I am not a climate scientist nor a physicist, just a simple engineer. I am a skeptic in the sense that CO2 is the cause of “climate change” but a full believer in the notion that the climate changes, has always changed and always will change do to natural variability. Has mankind influenced the climate? Absolutely. In small geographic areas throughout the world we of course have changed it. Building a city the size of New York for example changes the local climate and that is what I mean. Now that is my introduction here (I read WUWT multiple times daily but have always been a lurker) I would like to comment on this story:
    I applaud any scientist or engineer that tries to challenge the conventional wisdom of anything. People who assume that renewable energy is a viable plan just because someone said so are ignorant of the facts. These guys set out to prove, or disprove, this concept and they succeeded! The truth is, and I’m sure everyone will agree, fossil fuels of all types will eventually be gone. It might be in hundreds of years but eventually they will no longer exist if we keep using them at our current rate. We NEED “white paper” or “green fields” or “blue ocean” or simply “outside the box” thinking. The Google engineers just gave us a place to start and that is current renewable energy ideas will not replace fossil fuels. Many commented that “we have always known that won’t work” but have any one of you actually tried on the scale these guys did? I’m pretty sure they went into this project with an open mind to determine if renewable energy can replace our fossil fuels. They succeeded and should be applauded. Now that they have definitively proved this concept won’t work gives everyone a starting point for fusion or any other technology that currently only exists in the minds of our brightest people. Thanks for reading.

    • Welcome to joining the WUWT commentator side. Always room for another sensible engineer.

      One comment, on human influences – I think agricultural development has had a much greater impact than city building. The transitions from forest to orchards or row crops, from prairies to circular irrigation, etc all bring measurable changes.

      It is nice that Google allowed (encouraged?) this to be made public.

      One quibble (pretty big quibble, actually) that I haven’t seen a comment on is:

      A 2008 paper by James Hansen [PDF], former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change, showed the true gravity of the situation. In it, Hansen set out to determine what level of atmospheric CO2 society should aim for “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” His climate models showed that exceeding 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere would likely have catastrophic effects. We’ve already blown past that limit. Right now, environmental monitoring shows concentrations around 400 ppm. That’s particularly problematic because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for more than a century; even if we shut down every fossil-fueled power plant today, existing CO2 will continue to warm the planet.

      Engineers learn to look at all possibilities, but in causes and solutions. Google seems to have missed the possibility that at 400 ppm, we have an 18 year pause in the satellite temperature record. They should be taking a step back to look at their underlying assumptions.

    • It is a great point about New York city changing the local climate.

      We of course do affect our environment, locally or regionally much more so. If I dumped all my garbage in my backyard, after a while the eco-system around my home will change and the repercussions will affect me and my neighbors health and safety.

      On a global scale we also affect the climate as every living creature and plant does from microbes to the largest mammals. Where climate science has gone off the rails is in extrapolating that simple understanding to concluding we control the global climate and therefore everything on the planet.

      When put that way, I can’t help but think that level of grandioise thinking points to a mental disorder. God complex comes to mind.

    • Re: Energy Return On Energy Invested EROI
      Greg
      Re: “These guys set out to prove, or disprove, this concept and they succeeded!”
      As another engineer, logically they (ONLY) found that the solutions they were testing were not technically/economically feasible because:
      “The key problem appears to be that the cost of manufacturing the components of the renewable power facilities is far too close to the total recoverable energy”
      i.e. Energy Return On Energy Investment (EROEI or EROI) is below 3 (or even below 1).
      See Charles Hall, Energy and the Wealth of Nations
      and studies on EROI.

      e.g., See David Murphy and Charles Hall: Year in review—EROI or energy return on (energy) invested
      That does not negate other solar options – only those that they tested.
      EROI is critical. Petroleum EROI has fallen from > 100 to ~ 12.

      We need sustainable replacement fuels with EROI >> 30.
      Bioethanol only has ~ 1:1 which is <3 and << 10 and << 100
      Fusion might be one option.
      Solar may still be doable.

      Ask the Designer.
      “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2-3

  32. Your second quote is not from the Google article, it’s from Lewis Page’s article about the Google article. Actually, I could not find a reference to the energy needed to construct renewable power generation in the Google article, so I don’t think Page is reporting accurately, which, actually, he is somewhat known for.

  33. To maintain the hot object’s original set point temperature after adding insulation only half the heat flow, i.e. 0.5 kW. Without a thermostat to reduce the original heat input of 1 kW, the hot object is going to get hotter. Without a thermostat…… (a straw man conditional, btw) (see realscience)

    The house thermostat is set at 65 F, it’s 30 F outside. I do all those activities to cut my energy loss in half. To maintain the 65 F set point the furnace now has to deliver half as much heat. If the furnace continues to fire at the same rate w/o the thermostat, the house would get really hot.

    I’m outside in my shirt sleeves. It’s 30 F. I’m losing heat and getting cold. I wrap a blanket around my body & get warmer. And a second. And a Mylar survival blanket. And a $350 Hudson Bay 100% wool, cream colored with red and yellow stripes. And guess what? I start to overheat so my body’s thermostat turns on the water vapor cooling/refrigerator – I begin to sweat.

    Let’s stick with the green house analogy. I’m going to hazard a guess that as the day warms up and sunlight streams into a greenhouse the relative humidity increases as the water vapor cooling/refrigerator thermostat operates. As the day cools, clouds appear, overnight, the relative humidity fluctuates.

    So, kiddoes, here’s your science fair project. Two identical glass or Plexiglas boxes, maybe 3’ cubes. One is empty, the other has a pan of water in it. Set them outside in the sun. Track the internal temperatures and relative humidity. The hypothesis is that the empty dry box is going to get really, really hot while the box with the pan of water will stay much cooler as the relative humidity increases, the water vapor cooling/refrigerator thermostat at work.

    The earth’s atmosphere has climate thermostat called water vapor cooling/refrigeration.

    The problem with the GHE as used by AGW/CCC advocates is that it is a dry greenhouse, without water vapor, considering only the LWIR, SWIR, jumping electrons and only the sensible heat.
    The greenhouse with water vapor modulates the internal temperature using Miatello’s water evaporation/condensation cooling/refrigerator thermostat.

    It’s a matter of simple observation, doesn’t even need thermo or differential calculus.

    http://principia-scientific.org/publications/PSI_Miatello_Refutation_GHE.pdf

  34. Renewable energy, as currently understood, is just a dream.
    The real renewable energy is our Sun.
    Orbit vast solar energy converters; beam power down to microwave collectors.
    Cheap. Lasts forever.
    But hopelessly impractical: can be turned into a weapon far too easily.
    Most computations do not include all the quantifiers, such as the amount of water needed, the treatment needed of wastes, the amount of land needed, all the associated costs of raw materials, and the real life expectancy of the devices.
    But it sure made money for Al Gore.

    • I even studied the Orbital solar power station concept for real power production. Same problem, the energy cost to create it exceeds the output. We can’t even get there from here! So I now work on the solution to true space propulsion. Roman Candle propulsion is showy but not practical and will never result in true space travel. pgtruspace. pg

  35. Talk about having your head stuck up a dark place! Others have been screaming about this for years! Years!

    Though you should give these Google engineers credit for honesty — the fact is that they never bothered PERSONALLY to even consider this rather obvious problem. Someone at Google had to order this study — undoubtedly expecting different answers from the ones the engineers gave.

    The engineers who did this were big green supporters and over the years never bothered to PERSONALLY question any of this? it took an order from the boss to make them think? No thinking about green propaganda unless the boss orders it?

    Having had this startling lesson about green propaganda will these engineers start to PERSONALLY reconsider the green horror stories about evil CO2? Will they start investigating CO2 propaganda on their own?

    That is doubtful. They pulled their heads out of their green asses and got a glimpse of daylight — and undoubtedly it frightened them so much they have stuck their heads back up there even further then before. Probably they have been going to green rallies and shouting in support as loudly as they can. (Shouting loudly prevents you from thinking. Can’t do two things are once you know. Gating behavior.)

    And their boss is never going to order any new energy studies from them. They have probably now been ordered to study new garbage management systems. (God help them if they report that doing it the green way is a major energy loser.)

    Will these engineers ever visit Watts Up With That? No. That would be uncomforting.

    Eugene WR Gallun

    • Hey, Eugene! Have you never worked in the corporate world? Have you ever worked for a billionaire -or just any boss- who couldn’t be wrong?

      It’s the way we’re wired… we have a need to be right that can lead us and others to ruin, if left unchecked. Brin, et al, are not immune from that which afflicts us all.

  36. How could the google “engineers” have been so dumb? Any savvy engineer w/basic thermo knowledge should know the energy density of solar or wind is way too low for modern society requirements.

    Wind-power is for pumping well-water into storage tanks in the 1800s, and solar is for directly warming your house in winter w/properly-located windows. That’s about it.

  37. A laugher for us old timers who were around during Apollo:

    MIT engineers constructed the lightweight and compact Apollo Guidance Computer, for example, using some of the first integrated circuits, and did this in the vacuum-tube era when computers filled rooms.

    I started at CMU in 1969. Computers filled the room, but I never saw a vacuum tube computer there. Later at DEC, I saw pieces of

    The first transistorized computer was built in 1955, Lincoln Lab’s TX-0, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TX-0

    The authors might be thinking of the computers used in the SAGE air defense system from the 1950s to 1980s, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-Automatic_Ground_Environment and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AN/FSQ-7_Combat_Direction_Central . Only the government could afford to keep those systems running that long.

    Sigh, kids these days….

  38. Looks like Captain Obvious got a job at Google. So much money has been wasted installing energy systems into the grid that are not efficient. Taking them out one day will cost a fortune. I’m waiting to see what happens to those who have to reshingle their roof when it’s covered with solar panels. The cost to remove, the cost to reshingle, the cost to reinstall…

    • Reshingling–I bet that cost wasn’t / isn’t accounted for!
      (It’s best to have a metal roof anyway.)

      • Thatched!

        R-value, green, pound for pound carbon sequestration. Gotta do something with GD Phragmites.

  39. Thanks, Eric.
    “The key problem appears to be that the cost of manufacturing the components of the renewable power facilities is far too close to the total recoverable energy” is a stroke of genius.
    But the real key problem is that CO2 and H2O are benign gases, in fact indispensable for all life, not pollutants.

    • I would say that makes them both benevolent, not benign. ;)

      Mark

      MODS: sorry about the @google.com in my previous post email. It was… dunno.

  40. “Large wind and solar power farms have the economics to go toe-to-toe with the cheapest fossil fuel-based power supplies in the United States according to the venerable financial advisory firm Lazard Ltd. Thanks to falling costs and rising efficiency, reports Lazard in an analysis released this week, utility-scale installations of solar panels and wind turbines now produce power at a cost that’s competitive with natural gas and coal-fired generating stations—even without subsidies.”

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/renewables/someday-is-now-for-solar-wind-power-says-lazard
    http://www.lazard.com/PDF/Levelized%20Cost%20of%20Energy%20-%20Version%208.0.pdf

  41. Everyone should read the piece. They don’t really recant. At the end their argument goes something like this:

    1) Assume you fall off the Earth if you travel too far (400ppm CO2, the “Hansen Limit”).
    2) Assume that if we just did more R&D in a perfectly coordinated portfolio that we would have new technologies to do what the authors couldn’t.
    3) Wait on your unicorn farm for some stupid benefactor to fund said vision.

  42. OK, one more time. Climate Change IS happening, There’s not a doubt of it. Climate change has happened ever since this planet has existed, and it will continue as long as this planet exists.

    The only real questions are to what extent humans are responsible for the present changes, and what— if anything– we can do about the present changes. I submit that so far, the choices of what we can do have been laughable. Do you REALLY think that changing incandescent bulbs out in favor of CFLs is going to make that big a difference to be noticeable? Electric cars? Great, but the problem is that they have to get power from somewhere, and right now that still seems to mean coal-fired powerplants for the most part. Hmmm, that’s going to need a little bit of work. This thread is showing just how poor a return we get from solar and wind power. Wind is great if you’re propelling a tall ship across the ocean, it seems to leave something to be desired to power a city the size of Chicago.

    If you want to live like it’s the 21st century, we’re going to have to use fuel–no getting around that for a good long while.

  43. This is the Money Quote:

    [quote]
    We decided to combine our energy innovation study’s best-case scenario results with Hansen’s climate model to see whether a 55 percent emission cut by 2050 would bring the world back below that 350-ppm threshold. Our calculations revealed otherwise. [b]Even if every renewable energy technology advanced as quickly as imagined and they were all applied globally, atmospheric CO2 levels wouldn’t just remain above 350 ppm; they would continue to rise exponentially due to continued fossil fuel use. So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change[/], with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others.
    [/quote]

      • Actually, that is the money quote. A stark admission that the ultimate effect of renewables is to increase the very CO2 levels they are trying to reduce:

        Even if every renewable energy technology advanced as quickly as imagined and they were all applied globally, atmospheric CO2 levels wouldn’t just remain above 350 ppm; they would continue to rise exponentially

    • They have learned this lesson the hard way:

      ” After already receiving a controversial $1.6 billion construction loan from U.S. taxpayers, the wealthy investors of a California solar power plant now want a $539 million federal grant to pay off their federal loan.

      “This is an attempt by very large cash generating companies that have billions on their balance sheet to get a federal bailout, i.e. a bailout from us – the taxpayer for their pet project,” said Reason Foundation VP of Research Julian Morris. “It’s actually rather obscene.”

      The Ivanpah solar electric generating plant is owned by Google and renewable energy giant NRG, which are responsible for paying off their federal loan. If approved by the U.S. Treasury, the two corporations will not use their own money, but taxpayer cash to pay off 30 percent of the cost of their plant, but taxpayers will receive none of the millions in revenues the plant will generate over the next 30 years.”http://reason.com/blog/2014/11/11/solar-plant-wants-to-pay-off-massive-gov

      • “The plant went online in December of last year. After operating for most of 2014, the plant seems to have hit a significant problem. It’s only producing about a quarter of the power it has promised. That could present a bit of a challenge paying back its loan. So what are they doing? Why they’re asking for a federal grant, of course. That is to say, they are asking for taxpayer dollars to pay back the loan that they got from the federal government that is guaranteed to be paid back with taxpayer dollars should the project fail.”…

        …”And one final, somewhat amusing note: How is the plant making up for problems with collecting sunlight to produce energy? It has gotten permission from the government to use more natural gas than it had originally planned, potentially meaning that the biggest solar thermal power station in the world may depend on fracking to supplement part of its operations.”

        When dreams hit reality head on. Not a pretty sight.

  44. Somehow these would-be energy exsperts managed to avoid any mention of the solution their hero, James Hansen made more than a year ago – use nuclear, stupid!

    • That’s the bush they were beating around, but they couldn’t quite spit it out.

      The whole thing was a big tight rope walk.

      What they really, really need, to save the planet, is MAGIC. But failing that, nukes will do.

      • But that data takes no account of the costs of living, which is high in all Scandinavian Countries ( and I have lived in Norway,and Sweden, and visited Denmark many times)..

        When I lived in Norway, my rule of thumb was that if something was only twice as expensive as it was in the UK, it was cheap, and only if 3 times as expensive as in the UK would I even begin to look around to see whether I could buy an item cheaper somewhere else. Obviously alcohol, especially dining out is very much more expensive than 3 times ratio..

  45. I feel like the title of this article does not convey the intent of the Google author’s IEEE piece. It implies that RE won’t work in an economic sense, but when the point is made in the article, it is about something entirely different. The two authors explored whether widespread deployment of RE could bring CO2 levels down to 350 ppm. Their conclusion was it would not, not with current RE technologies such as wind and solar. But in their conclusions, there are no words about abandoning RE research efforts – in fact, they press for a “moon program” level of effort to find new solutions that can help us not just reduce increases in CO2 emissions, but reduce them.

    • “in fact, they press for a “moon program” level of effort to find new solutions that can help us not just reduce increases in CO2 emissions, but reduce them.”

      Which is what Lomborg has been saying since forever. (I.e., put the money into research, not into mass production yet.) It may also spur funding of mini-fusion gadgets like the one Lockheed is working on.

      This Google finding will start an examination among some warmists about the real costs of renewables. If they begin to realize that they have been sold a bill of goods by utopians like Avory Lovins et al., it may start to turn the herd.

  46. Simple physics and natural (read scientific) laws prevent such. This is a cash-cow hoax akin to getting taxpayers to fund a perpetual motion machine.
    Ever heard of “Conservation of Energy” and “resistance” in power transmission?

      • True, genuine scientific study and experimentation will eventually find a way. Our current level of technology was unthinkable 30 years ago except in science-fiction literature.
        Perseverance will succeed but time is required as well as real (as opposed to junk) science experimentation and testing. Until the “ah-ha!” moment occurs and the breakthrough can be tested and validated, keep the politically motivated half-steps and financially foolish requirement to rely only on ‘renewable’ or ‘clean’ energy at an acceptable cost (really cheap, roughly 50% below the cost of coal-fired energy). All the energy reliant technology the world now relies on must be fed and the first really efficient and cheap method of generating cheap and reliable energy will make the discoverer wealthy beyond their dreams.

      • Paul
        Yes Perseverance is needed. And funding the RD&D to achieve it.
        See Bjorn Lomborg & Copenhagen Consensus. on energy & RD&D.
        Agree on initial goal of 50% below coal-fired energy, and challenge goal of better.
        PS Re “beyond dreams” – Dream bigger.

      • While we’re waiting for this deus ex machina, can we not turn out the lights and revert to living in caves for the duration?

  47. Reminds me of a study by the University of Oregon a few years ago. They found that many of the people who elected to use doctor assisted suicide suffered from depression. Shocking.

  48. The only inaccuracy in the story was that Greens “admit” that it is true. Even the article linked shows that it is not an “admission.” That renewables cannot power our civilization is their entire premise. It is our civilization that has to go, in their explicit view (quoted in the linked article), and cutting off any viable energy source, especially a clean, cheap, abundant one, is they wish to achieve it. They are right about that. It will destroy us. But that is their goal.

  49. The article actually ends on a more hopeful note than Worral would have us believe. I see it more as a “call to arms” than raising a white flag, but maybe that’s the optimist in me. The authors, naturally being engineers, focus only on the technical-supply side, and not the social-demand side. As the effects of climate change become more apparent, I believe we will see a sharp drop in energy use and demand for fossil fuels, even in China (where they need to do something about air pollution, fast)

    • First, there will be a greater demand for energy in China as the world cools for somewhere between 30 and 120 years, depending on what the Sun does. There is no global warming, but global cooling requires energy in order to resist its effects. Also, it makes no sense that you predict that there would be a sharp drop in energy use if there was global warming.

      Second, China is well aware of their current air pollution and is working to catch up. Right now they are behind in fitting the proper scrubbers and precipitators on their coal-fired power plants, but they intend to catch up eventually. The demand for energy outweighs the temporary pollution, and they are aware of the effects on their people. And, do not forget, CO2 is not pollution but is PLANT FOOD, and we need more not less, particularly as the planet cools and food production slows; CO2 can counter this effect.

      The big difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives realize what is practical and feasible and are willing to live with the reality and limitations the world has given us. Liberals, on the other hand, want to personalize the issues and make them social goals regardless of whether what they want is practical, feasible, or logical, always making it an emotional issue. They simply have the attitude that the real world will do what they want because it’s what they want, a very immature attitude.

      Sure, it would be nice if everybody could have everything, but, in the real world, that is simply impossible. The best substitute for this pie-in-the-sky impossibility is to allow everybody the freedom to pursue and earn all of the things they want (free enterprise and capitalism). There will always be some who simply do not want to work or cannot work. There are safety nets for those who cannot work, but there should be none for those that do not want to work—the realistic conservative approach to this problem.

      The liberal solution, in place of a free market, is to impose socialism on everybody but the ruling elite (somebody has to impose the socialist policies, making it Communism). There would be equal poverty for everybody, as without capitalism, there is no wealth production and limited wealth to spread around. Liberals refuse to recognize the wealth production of capitalism and like to pretend that there is a limited amount of wealth out there. They ingenuously contend that, if somebody gains wealth, it must be taken from others, who then become poorer. With capitalism, wealth grows and even the poor get wealthier—we have the wealthiest poor in the world, such that they are part of the 1% the liberals like to demonize. As Margaret Thatcher said so succinctly, “Socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money.”

    • even in China (where they need to do something about air pollution, fast)

      Curiously the [Umayyads] solved the problem a 1000 years ago.
      But for cities of a modern scale they will need electricity to power desalination plants.

      And then fountains.
      Lots and lots of huge fountains as tall as sky-scrapers, scrubbing the air of dust and SOx and NOx.

      It won’t be cheap to turn Beijing into Rivendell but the Rainbow City would have breathable air.

  50. @ “Patrick” – 6:14am – Pure Sine Wave inverters are commonplace now, and the efficiency is on a par with the older “Modified Sine Wave” units. Also, you cannot simply rectify 110v AC down to 12v DC, and you won’t find a transformer in a car alternator. The windings generate at low voltage (either 12 or 24 volts) and this is directly rectified for the output.

  51. The old man sat quietly before the job interviewer, obviously humbled by life, but with fire still in his eyes.

    Human Resources Mgr. asks, “What is your biggest weakness?”

    Old Man: “Honesty”.

    Human Resources Mgr: “I don’t think honesty is a weakness. ”

    Old man: “I don’t give a damn what you think. “

  52. Solar energy is most useful at the end-user where it would decrease the end-user’s load drawn from the grid. As a major source of energy, it is simply impractical, such that “green jobs are essentially all in manufacturing or in the constant maintenance even solar panels require. And, of course, the sun sets and we have no good way to store that energy that is economical. Wind energy, as with solar, has a huge land footprint, requires an extensive infrastructure, is not high quality energy, can only be reasonably distributed 50 miles, has many maintenance issues, and relatively short lifetimes, all negatives, not including the fact that the wind dies, the turbines affect each other and the surrounding environment by changing the wind speed, and the human health and bird and bat problems. The fact that both solar and wind turbine energy is so much more expensive than other sources bespeaks to the un-sustainability of these energy sources. The requirement for rare metals itself is a stake through the heart of these strategies for producing energy. And, then, imagine the added problems of putting wind turbines offshore, with the footings, the wind, the waves, and the saline corrosion problems that go with it. It’s just plain insane, and indicates that there must be somebody profiting big time from such a stupid endeavour. We are back to crony capitalism being a driving force to these ideas.

    • Please don’t use the phrase “crony capitalism.” There is no such thing. Capitalism abhors government involvement, which is what the “crony” intends to convey. It is a smear, by the left, of the true threat to their existence: capitalism. They need to tar capitalism in the same fashion they tar every other opposition to their control. Indeed, they are simply trying to pass make their fascism look like its roots are in their true enemy, capitalism.

      Mark

  53. Remember:

    Progressives LOVE alternative energy – as long as it doesn’t work!

    Wind, solar, unicorn tears, whatever. But, find an alternate way to drill that works like a charm – fracking – and they become completely unhinged.

  54. Could have saved Google four years of effort and millions of ill-spent dollars with a few calculations on the back of a large envelope. ENERGY DENSITY!

  55. Nuclear,Coal and Hydroelectric power production are examples of HIGH mass power producers.Solar,Wind and political hot air are examples of LOW mass power production,that is why it can’t compete in the market as it delivers too little energy in return for cost and land use.

  56. It took those clowns 4 years to find out renewables simply won´t work.

    Had they ‘Googled’ the subject it would have taken them three minutes to find out.

    This way it’s going to take them half a century to find out CO2 is not a problem and climate change is not caused by humanity.

    One visit at WUWT……

    • …and think of the raw material left rotting by untold thousands of comedians who could have made mega bucks with this stuff over the past 4…no make it 10…no make it 20 years. If they start now it will only produce groans by the audience and shouts of, “It’s a little late in the game to suddenly see the stupidity doncha think?” by disgruntled concert goers. Mr. George Carlin, ya died too early.

  57. Reducing food waste >> renewable energy
    Pragmatic Reality & Priority:

    the United States throws out about one-quarter of the food it produces.50 Since the food system uses about 20% of our national energy, we could save 5% of our total energy use by not wasting food (D. Pimentel, personal communication). This is nearly 10 times more energy than we generate now from all windmills and photovoltaics

    Year in review—EROI or energy return on (energy) invested David Murphy & Charles Hall

    Waste Not Want Not

  58. It appears those Google engineers forgot to memorize and abide by …… The 1st Law of Engineering Design.

    If it don’t work on paper, ….. you just forget about it ever working when put to practice”.

    • Samuel
      An engineering researcher turns that around to ask: What will be needed to make it work?
      Then proceed to solve the problems.

  59. Rather oddly the article itself sits alongside numerous trailers for other renewable stories all extolling the recent or imminent successes of wind, solar, wave etc. I particularly liked the idea of wind turbines flying high over Alaska – but hope that Cameron has not seen it. He is always looking for new ways to waste taxpayers’ money and has only 6 months left to do so.

  60. The take-away here apparently for most commenters on the Goggle article is that renewables can’t solve the “problem” of AGW, so let’s just do nothing. Besides, there is no AGW. Maybe you all should actually click the link and read the article. What I got from it was that in addition to what we are doing with renewables today, “we need how to foster innovation in the energy sector and allow for those breakthrough inventions”. That is a very differently message than renewables are a failure. Presently, about $1.2 trillion is spent every year simply looking for new sources of fossil fuels whereas, only $200 billion is invested in renewable technology. AGW is real and we need to do something about it.

    • And your proof is…. the lack of hurricanes or powerful tornados? The lack of ‘severe and pernicious’ warming over the past 18 years? The record ice in Antarctica? The massive comeback of ice in the Arctic?

      I’m cooking dinner, anyone else want to step in and keep listing?

    • No, the takeaway is if AGW is real then we shouldn’t be looking at reducing emissions to fix it.

      Read the research. No conceivable form of power generation will be cheaper than using the existing (capital already spent) power plants. Coal and Gas are cheap – and very cheap if you’ve already bought the power plant.

      They took the disaster predictions at face value. They saw that the guaranteed emissions are going to breach the “DOOM POINT!!!”
      Luckily for me I’m more scientific and sceptical so I don’t panic like that but if you do take the disaster predictions at face value…

      Then do not support wind and solar. Instead go for new energy; thorium nuclear, hot fusion (still), tidal barrages, solar updraft towers… something new.

      Or, just in case climate can change without man’s input, invest in adaptation.

    • The take-away is that relying on the unreliable is a fools dream , in the end there is no way that the intermittent nature of renewable can be got around , worse its availability often drops when energy is most needed , i.e winter . Hence why there is a need to build back up power sources , so you spend the money twice and ironically cause more environmental damage so you can pursue an idea you know cannot work.
      But at least you get a ‘nice warm feeling’ about how green you are , shame that will not help keep you warm in winter.

      • I get a nice warm feeling in the winter and save money with the photovoltaics on my roof. The transition system of having the power companies grid to store what I generate during the day to back me up at night works quite well in the interim. I think we must continue to innovate and transition away from fossil fuels any way we can. It’s not a problem for you if you just deny the physics of the greenhouse effect. For those of us who think we have a problem, we can’t just sit around and do nothing. The kids deserve better. Besides, contrary to what you all say, innovating new energy sources is good for the economy.

    • “AGW is real and we need to do something about it.” Yeah sure, just keep repeating that ad nauseum. Eventually someone might believe it.

      $1.2 Trillion usec in fossil fuel exploration, the figure sonds phony, but let’s assume that it is true. The money would be spent by people that stand to progit from the discovery of oil so it’s built into the cost of the product.

      $200 billion used to prop up “renewables” paid for by taxpayers.

      • Many successful industries we take for granted today began as startups using help from the government. Off the top of my head, I think fracking technology is one. What would the oil industry be without the highway system paid for with taxpayer money. Even viagra came out of a government lab and there are countless other examples. If we had a moon shot effort at renewable energy we could get off fossil fuels. If it happens, it won’t be with help from you as you don’t even see the issue.

  61. Solar and wind may not work in a traditional big way, but it works well in a small way out in the middle of nowhere. In remote areas of India, Pakistan, and Africa, a solar panel, a wind generator, a battery, and a radio can bring big improvements to life. As in rural USA the wind generators and wind powered well pumps, improved the life of the Farmers out in the prairie.

  62. Whether or not it “works” depends on what it was supposed to do. The first step in a solution is making certain you have the correct problem.

  63. I see no mention here of the “alternatives to the alternatives”, beyond LENR (beyond the joker Rossi; the original Cold Fusion team were maliciously set up to fail yet their work has been quietly repeated and developed year after year) and beyond thorium. I went to a whole conference in 2013 run beautifully by the “breakthrough energy movement” BEM – a fairly new term for things which work but which bypass the accepted laws of physics therefore tend to get rubbished a priori by academia, and/or hijacked by the secrecy departments. This whole area of development often carries real death threats to those who push the boundaries too far too fast – as people like Eugene Mallove learned, as it were, too late.

    I had to seriously take on board the spiritual and ethical dimensions. The keys are maybe “love thy enemies” – that we have to work together on this planet if we want a future – and “the truth will set you free” – but the truth is not in the MSM nor even here nor even in all the sites purporting to “disclosure”, but can be found with persistent digging and checking. That’s all I want to say.

    If you don’t know or remember me, check my website for climate science awareness. Though I haven’t touched it for a couple of years, and I closed the forum and email link, I think it is still pretty correct and relevant. Discovery of the BEM world was one reason I finally moved on from what used to be my daily visit here. I think the challenge there is even more serious than here.

    Yet I would not have appreciated BEM without my tremendous apprenticeship here, before and right through Climategate. And if there were 48 hours in the day I would still be working for the wiki (#1 info points to match SkSci’s gotchas, and Connolley’s wretched legacy at Wikipedia) that skeptical Climate Science needs, to help turn the tide of Bad Science that Pat Frank et al so rightly point to.

    • Lucy Skywalker, welcome back – long time no see.

      I was a lurker when you were a regular so you won’t know me (but you may know my father RichardSCourtney).

      It was your example of being so (in my opinion) wrong and unjustified in part and yet so right and logical in other parts and above all compassionate that taught me not to be simplistic in listening to people – in judgment.

      You are way, way far from me but a good person and in no way stupid.

      Thanks for coming back and letting me say that.

    • Lucy, Welcome back indeed and you are so right, correct on the ball.

      Here we have the high priests saying renewable s dont work nor can not work yet they ignore it, close ranks, look for lights at the end of a closed tunnel.

      it is not rocket science, just simple maths and fraud. It is no illusion that the countries with the most installed “renewables” have the most expensive electricity bar far. To see the fraud just check out in Germany, lignite use, co2 emissions and percentages.

  64. No one surprised here. The frustrating thing is that all of the $ And effort could have been invested in fusion research, a real solution. Yes I know we aren’t there yet, but it is a scalable technology economically vice 53 million wind turbines.

  65. A missing part of all of this discussion is this : do “conventional” energy generators recover the energy put into building them?

    How long do you have to run a nuclear power station before you have recovered both the cost of building it, and, equally importantly, allowed for the cost of decommissioning it?

  66. “A research effort by Google corporation to make renewable energy viable has been a complete failure…”

    Complete failure? Not so. I respectfully but very emphatically disagree!

    In my opinion this is an amazing landmark study. It was performed by highly respected engineers whose credentials are beyond any suspicion of an anti-renewable biase. It conclusively determined that renewables are the wrong path for Earth’s governmental entities to take in any efforts to control CO2’s impact on climate change

    I predict that this study will have a profound seminal influence not only on the history and evolution of climate science, but also on the acceptance of fracking and horizontal drilling, and also on the use of energy as a tool in international politics.

  67. About that second quote, which a couple of people have pointed out does not appear in the IEEE article :

    Typing “Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, ” into Google (irony!) reveals that is appears in 3 places, one is here, another is at FreeRepublic and the third and possibly the original source is at TheRegister,
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/renewable_energy_simply_wont_work_google_renewables_engineers/

    It is not presented as a quote there, and has no links to indicate its source.
    Its source should be given correctly here if possible.

  68. Looks like the fun (subsidies, tax breaks) has run out on RE>C for Google. Since those two engineers appear to be intelligent men, they could have done the energy density and materials flow analysis in a weekend and concluded the same thing. The only difference between doing that years ago and this week, is that they now get to use Hansen as an excuse to disengage from this venture, and keep whatever money was provided by the taxpayers. If they were telling the truth, they are incompetent in their trade due to the fact that they confused technology for a primary energy source. Treating engineering with such contempt is reason enough for them to seek other employment, such as animal husbandry.

  69. Wow, google does have some of the top engineers in the world… At least this research shows that their understanding of engineering and science has not be compromised by their own beliefs (unlike most of the renewable energy folks and climatologists)!

    • Yep, but they must’ve figured a different angle that is more profitable.
      Not that there is anything wrong with that.
      Just wait for it though.

  70. The quote from the article: “Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation…. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.” is no longer on the website link to the article. Is the link accurate or has the article been amended?

  71. More/different/green/renewable electricity will not solve all of the energy challenges. As noted above, exactly what energy problem(s) were renewables going to solve?

    • Your amusing they want to solve them rather use them , crisis often bring ‘opportunities’ for those are are ‘looking ‘ for them.

  72. Uh, this should be sobering for the green crowd.

    “Our reckoning showed that reversing the trend would require both radical technological
    advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the
    atmosphere and sequestering the carbon.”

    So, we have to find an unknown as yet source of “zero-carbon” energy, abandon fossil fuels (which currently provide over 80% of the world’s energy), AND remove billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere or we are doomed to Hansen-ageddon.

    Oh, is that all?

    I feel better already.

    • I have a six acre woodlot and plans like yours. The the NEW insurance company discovered my wood burner and immediately sent a strongly worded letter. Back to diesel, propane and electricity.

  73. I have a question.

    People who believe that Climate Change theory is true, and thus that more water vapor and clouds will block the Sun in the future, chose to switch us from fossil fuels to solar cells, which arent nearly as efficient on cloudy days?

    • To Larry Fine:

      Oh no, the claim is that more water vapor in the air will NOT result in more clouds. Or
      if it does, the clouds will be at an altitude where they contribute a net warming.

  74. What I cannot understand is how these same engineers know so little about Fourier that the have not questioned the fundamental basis of climate patterns that show it has not deviated more than usual from the general trend. In the UK even first year undergrads have to learn this. It is not as if Fourier is new either, as since it has been around since 1750 it has had time for the method to be accepted.

  75. 1. I think the premise from which the engineers began this research was flawed. If you begin some research with a goal for overnight transformation, an attempt to change everything, everywhere immediately, of course that will require huge amounts of resources, and you will get a runaway cycle. It’s obvious. Of course there will be huge amounts of resources required to achieve that overnight switch. But what about a phased or gradual switch? One industry at a time; okay, we’ll start with public transport, in particular buses, replace the current ones in one city with electric ones. Then after buses, a years later – after we’ve studied the impact, we’ll change half of our street light into solar powered street lights, then, 2 years later, we’ll install some of those electric generators which operate using waste material in half the hospitals across a region, say the North west of England, and study the impact. In about 4 years, we’ll begin installing ground heat harvesting systems to power the heating in our primary schools, again in a specified region, say the South East. As that is rolled out across the country, we’ll increase our investment in LPG engines and technologies and give subsidies / tax breaks to motorists who switch, ahand in hand with encouraging the development of wind power technologies made from recycled materials. Oh, and what about a law that says that solar roads must be installed in all new residential and industrial road development sites across the South East and South West? If this kind of approach is replicated across other countries, there will be savings achieved. That kind of approach is precisely what is going to reduce our reliance on petroleum… NOT a theoretical overnight switch.
    2. Secondly, the model assumes that you will be operating with the currently known materials. Now, I know you probably ‘currently’ can’t get away with NOT USING copper, glass, carbon fibre or neodymium to construct your solar cells, but what about finding alternatives of these. In other words, Google engineers are assuming that cheaper perhaps more natural alternatives will, or cannot be found inthe future. That’s a dangerous, if not arrogant assumption.
    3. The approach is centralised and industrial, and that’s one of the problems. Instead of having this massive centralised approach to move away from petroleum, what about small individual increments, by individuals. So to give a small example, a Local council in an area (or a US State) can decide to grow bamboo in an area, and in 4- 5 years time begin to build houses using that bamboo as part of the raw materials, saving them money on using conventional materials that are more expensive. As the project develops they can incorporate other recycled items which are readily available, like used tyres, composite materials, etc…ewhich although not exactly sexy, or cheaper and cleaner on the environment.
    4. It may be Google Engineers who have undertaken the research, but it doesn’t mean they are always right. How many things have Google got wrong in the past?

    • Your reasoning is flawed, and frankly, idiotic. Doing something that is stupid and costly on a gradual basis is still going to be, over time, stupid and costly.

      • Bruce, you can get personal if you like but I stand by my comment. You cannot prove something is unworkable by parading erroneous results that are impractical in real world. Let them go back to the drawing board, and calculate what a gradual phasing out would cost, and the cost-savings it would achieve, then maybe sensible people will believe them.

    • “One industry at a time;”

      sounds reasonable, but please read len’s comment (November 23, 2014 at 4:00 am) below yours. He is improving his own energy mix with his own money. Your fatal assumption is that politicians will do something positive. More likely they will give your tax money to a political contributor who will spend it on energy intensive goods and produce a relatively small amount of conventional energy savings.

  76. I will have to read the source article but it really doesn’t matter. I am in full geek mode. All these new toys and I don’t have to pay a hell of a lot for them, but they are scaring the large utilities in Arizona and elsewhere (net meters are a mistake, distributed generators need to pay for the grid – ancillary services are critical). So I can have my solar panels, plug in hybrid, smart meter (micro wind even as a novelty doesn’t make sense for me) at a nominal cost. Still have to think about deep cycle batteries and an inverter. After two decades of being a ‘first adopter’ of electronic junk, it’s good to have something meaty to chew on … now that we are in the ‘device’ era for dummies. LED lighting, IP Cameras, smart garage openers don’t give much back. All this and I still have the benefit of living downwind of 4 GW of Coal Generation, I swear it is greener because of it. The only regret is the legislation covering this activity in my jurisdiction won’t allow me to put in a nat gas recip (reciprocating engine) and hook it up to all this – or use the plug-in car as a generator. The recip’s are getting quite efficient and reasonably priced at a wide range of capacities. Just researching it is a lot of fun … start pulling the trigger in the spring.

  77. What a misleading headline. This sort of media is the start of confusion. Watts, you need to read papers without any bias and being objective, read the papers as they are. Notice how different the story you paint here:

    Your quote:
    “At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s RENEWABLE energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope …
    RENEWABLE energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”

    What the whole section says:
    "At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed. As we reflected on the project, we came to the conclusion that even if Google and others had led the way toward a wholesale adoption of renewable energy, that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. Trying to combat climate change exclusively with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach."

    So if I quote this one single line: "Trying to combat climate change EXCLUSIVELY with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach." it changes the whole picture.

    We need to change our way of living to be able to live sustainably. We have to reduce the energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.

    Please tell the whole truth, and don't spread the false notions of your misinterpretations as a result of being biased due to a lack of understanding of the problem.

    You suffer from being biased on the offset.

    • “EXCLUSIVELY with today’s”
      Today is the only day we have.
      If RE solutions available today do not meet societal energy needs, then Eric Worral’s take on the Google admission is 100% correct and justified.

      There are too many irresponsible calls for good energy solutions like nuclear to be scrapped in favour hypothetical future green technologies which may or may not ever exist.

    • ‘We need to change our way of living to be able to live sustainably. We have to reduce the energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.’
      Which is the real green agenda , taking society in to some ‘mythic golden’ past through creating energy shortages. Renewable cannot work and opposition to all other forms of power generation is the toxic mix to be used . Although its no longer said in public in reality the greens still regard energy has to easy and to cheap so wish to change that and did so long before AGW became the new faith , indeed has with others AGW is merely a a band wagon they have jumped on to forward an agenda that already existed.

      Oddly the number of green prophets that are willing to live totally of grind , no longer fly nor use motorise transport is zero , but we understand how important it is for them to fly around the world attending conferences and demonstration so its OK for them but not for the little people .

    • well said. Also note the line …”that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emission” So THERE WILL BE REDUCTIONS IN CO2. Right? As AN Engineer implies, the trick is to increase that REDUCTION… to make it SIGNIFICANT

  78. Its all basic engineering about power intensity. With wind and solar its just not there. Add intermittency and it becomes even more like “chasing the wind”.

  79. NOTE — I am not a warmist — just a realist — COAL will be gone in 200 years, and why on earth would the US, UK and Europe put their energy security in the hands of Russia, Kazakhstan and Australia ( they have Uranium we don’t)

    THE TITLE OF THIS THREAD IS DISINGENUOUS

    The Google initiative only specifically addressed a 1GW renewable plant that is cheaper than a 1 GW coal fired plant.

    The article cited simply stated that they don’t think switching to renewables will stop AGW — it never addressed the actual feasibility of Renewable energy.

    Furthermore, as CO2 based AGW is total bollocks, their entire study was fatally flawed from the beginning.

    They started using 2007 tech, and ended in 2011.

    Anthony — with all due respect — at least cite articles that refer to subject matter that is current, and not based on analyses using data going on a decade old.

    AS FAR AS CURRENT DATA: (not AGW just economics $ and cents)

    For Plants that would start construction today (2015 with 4 years construction time) 1GW of wind is cheaper than coal per Mwh according to the EAI

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

    Table 1. Estimated Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for New Generation Resources, 2019
    U.S. average levelized costs (2012 $/MWh) for plants entering service in 2019

    Levelized cost for coal =95.6

    Levelized cost for Wind = 80 (there is no more subsidy)

    For all those proposing nuclear – get real. Wind is cheaper even with the Nuclear subsidy taken into account.
    Levelized cost for Wind = 96.1 (without subsidy, 86.1 with)

    Go to the nuclear industry’s own website and you will see current U3O8 cannot even meet demand for the current set of reactors worldwide.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Facts-and-Figures/World-Nuclear-Power-Reactors-and-Uranium-Requirements/

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Facts-and-Figures/Uranium-production-figures/

    Requirements 68,000 tonnes Production 53,000 tonnes.

    Even 20 years of infrastructure enhancement wont make up for the shortfall considering adding any additional reactors.

    Thorium is a non-starter, they have been screwing around with it for 40 years and still can’t get a commercial reactor design that works.

    Renewables are the ONLY feasible energy source for the future, and

    That’s it.

    • If renewables were competitive economically with fossil fuels, they wouldn’t need the enormous subsidies they receive and without which they would never have been built.

      “Levelized costs” are computed based upon current rebates and subsidies. They’re not meaningful in the real world. Given the interruptions to power output from wind and solar, the LC also don’t account for the much longer time it would take for their lifetime energy to be produced.

      There is simply no comparison between fossil fuels and renewables economically and in terms of energy reliability and availability. Even solving storage problems won’t close the gap. Green Energy, so called, also incurs greater environmental costs.

      Humanity probably won’t need to rely on fossil fuels for the next 200 years, but even if we do, turning to “renewables” now only causes gross misallocation of resources.

  80. Avery Harden – so, tell me exactly where it is that the power companies store the energy that your solar panels produce?

  81. @ phlogiston

    The power density of the wind increases as the 3rd power of velocity — so it is there

    Stanford has concluded that multiple linked wind farms can contribute BASELOAD POWER of at least 33% nameplate capacity

    http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/aj07_jamc.pdf

    “Supplying Baseload Power and Reducing Transmission Requirements by
    Interconnecting Wind Farms”

    @ mrmethane nanopore ultracapaitors — look them up on kurzweil ai, or compresed air energy storage, also stealing the adiabatic heat of compression.

    @mrmethane – why would power companies be involved?, distributed solar WILL INEVITABLY be the home power source of the future — you can get UL panels for 58 Cents a watt, non UL slightly imperfect
    FOR 24 CENTS per watt

    A 20KW rated solar power system for the home = $4800 for the panels, plus another $5K for inverters, installation and intertie

    http://sunelec.com/

    • So the wind power increases as the wind speed cubed.

      So if the wind speed drops in half (50%), you just lost 87.5 % of your design capacity.

      And if the wind speed doubles (2x), both the axial thrust (drag) , and the torsional loads (lift) go up by a factor of four, as does the wind shear vibration , so the damn thing will shake itself to pieces.

      In fact you can’t let it run, in wind speed double the design wind speed, so you have to shut it down, feather it, and lock it down till the wind subsides.

      That is the problem with virtually ALL renewable energy besides hydro-electric.

      With hydro, the real energy source is gravity, and you only need to supply as much gravitational energy flow, as required to deliver the current load factor.

      Now if you use wind to turn a 24 or so bladed “windmill” that operates a water pump, and pumps water (for the cows) when the wind blows, then that has been proven to work ok.

  82. @ mrmethane — the batteries in my PRIUS charge and discharge multiple times a day, they are warranted for 150,000 miles – or approximately 15,000 – 20,000 charge discharge cycles — that’s 30 years of daily charge, then overnight discharge

    The replacement cost for a 2012-2014 Prius Battery is $2500

    • I heard somewhere that Prius batteries get replaced when they have degraded only 20 percent and still retain 80 percent capacity. That 80 percent has a potential second life as energy storage in a home photovoltaic system. Anyone one here know anything about this?

    • “approximately 15,000 – 20,000 charge discharge cycles”

      Sure, if you discharge and recharge them one or two percent. With 10% discharge you will get about 4,000 cycles. With 100% discharge you will get about 400 cycles.

  83. If they were used for Solar energy overnight discharge at home, you would likely want the newer Li Ion batteries that are rated at a minimum 20,000 charge discharge cycles, new developments have led to a cost of $500 to $750 per kWh. So a house using 15 kWh overnight (average) would need a $7500-$11k battery pack that would last almost 30 years — with current Lithium Ion tech.

    • ” newer Li Ion batteries that are rated at a minimum 20,000 charge discharge cycles”

      I don’t see that anywhere. It will be developed eventually, but I don’t think it has yet.

      • 20k cycles with a supercapacitor: http://www.ecnmag.com/news/2014/11/dual-purpose-film-designed-next-gen-energy Those store static charge and will eventually last for a million cycles in theory. With chemical batteries the breakdown is the limiting factor with a few thousand full cycles top. The highest numbers I can find is for relatively small specialized batteries. Here’s the scoop on automotive batteries:

        http://www.ecnmag.com/articles/2014/10/taking-power-you

        “The automotive industry, for example, has a particular sensitivity to wear-out mechanisms and, as a result, operates NiMH and Li-Ion traction batteries very conservatively to extract operating lifetimes well in excess of 10 years. They accomplish this only by using a small fraction of a traction battery’s capacity, never allowing it to fully charge and only permitting discharge a few tens of percent of total capacity.”

        So I was wrong above, discharging “a few 10’s of percents” is good for 10 years. Sizing the battery for more storage (e.g. a house) just means using more space which you would not have in a car.

        [And the weight of a battery in a car is even more important than size. .mod]

  84. I think that most of those who say that solar and wind power cannot compete with fossil fuels are short sighted and biased. They only see this as “Greens” vs skeptics. Of course Google engineers says its not viable because it is not profitable on a large scale. the real forte of using renewables is in the small (e.g. household) level. A lot of people are starting to look at renewables to cut their bills and it is working for them regardless of government support. Graphs are good on paper but what’s important is what works on the ground. BTW, if most of you are in the North or South tough luck. I guess that these renewables are fitted for us in the tropics near the ocean. They are more than economically sound investment. They are life savers.

    • Then if it works for them “regardless of government (taxpayer) support.”, then why don’t they remove the subsidies. Hydro-electric is about the only renewable source that has worked, and it is extremely limited in capacity, and quite destructive environmentally.

  85. We were briefed in our local community club on solar energy for our homes. The price tag was $30,000. With energy tax breaks, maybe a payoff in 5 to 10 years.

    My monthly payments for energy in Florida in the pass have been about $120. That would equal about 250 months of energy at this time or nearly 21 years of service.

    I am 61 years old, plus 21 = 82. As the man left the briefing after introducing his produce, I thought to myself and told those sitting around me, I might as well buy an RV and go enjoy the USA before Obama and Hillary destroy what I can enjoy.

    Paul Pierett

    • Mr. Pierett, if it takes a 30k system to cover your usage, maybe your low hanging fruit for saving money would be in conservation. Lots of us get by with photovoltaic systems significantly less than 30k, but we also focus on conservation. I bet the carbon footprint for air conditioning in Florida is substantial.

    • Well the corporate tax rates are 35% or so. So that means a corporation must make a $3 profit to pay $1 in taxes to subsidize your $30,000 solar system.
      Average profit of all US corporations is about 4%.

      So on average, a corporation has to sell $75 worth of goods and services, to subsidize you at $1.

      That $75 worth of enterprise will of course be done with fossil fuels, and most likely coal.

      So the environmental cost of subsidizing your “renewable” is staggering, and a really big waste of energy we already have available.

      Clean green free renewable energies are obtained on the backs of profitable enterprises, that use existing energy sources, and it’s just a big waste of energy and a big extra pollution load, we don’t need.

  86. Global warming can be stopped and reversed after all.
    The atmospheric carbon dioxide(CO2) can be combined with hydrogen to produce methanol(CH₃OH):
    CO₂ + 3H₂ → CH₃OH + H₂
    The hydrogen can be obtained from electrolysis of water:
    H₂O + (286kJ/mole) → H₂ + ½O₂
    And the electric power for the electrolysis of water can be produced by an aneutronic fusion reactor with no neutron emission, no radioactive waste, reducing the CO2 concentration and increasing oxygen in the atmosphere, and making available hydrogen for fuel cells and methanol for vehicles. http://youtu.be/u8n7j5k-_G8

      • But the CO2 (carbon dioxide) is from atmosphere to produce methanol by (neutron-free) fusion-powered chemical reactions within small land usage; consequently, establishing a CO2 virtuous circle that can stop the climate change.

    • So why not do: CO2+2H2 –> CH3OH +1/2 O2 That only needs 2/3rds of the amount of hydrogen, and makes oxygen available.

      Where do you get the energy to make to hydrogen anyhow. The idea in making methanol, is to get a fuel not to use up other energy sources, we already have.

    • Why would you want to remove beneficial plant food from the air, which has greened the planet and possibly slightly warmed it?

  87. Well my comment to Google, and their revelation would be:

    “You may not do very good work; but you sure are slow ! ”

    You see, not only will renewable energy not work (to 100% sustain us), but it also would have no positive impact on either the environment, or for that matter, the climate of the earth.

    And the same goes for your silly out of control automobiles !

    Tonopah is California’s monument to self delusion.

    • The negative environmental effects of “Green Energy” are worse than for fossil fuels, with pollution emission controls.

      Solar panel productions pollute the environment with toxic chemicals and use rare and valuable resources in inefficient ways. Windmills not only rely on concrete, the production of which releases CO2 (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but massacres birds and bats, which means more insect pests requiring more chemical pesticides and lowering crop yields.

      There is no free energy lunch, but fossil fuels are still the cheapest and most nutritious lunch available.

  88. So much for educated idiots, I have been involved as inventor,designer of high technology for the last 35 yrs ,and have no degrees but have worked for many different institutions . I have designed a new type of renewable energy using an Atomic Hydrogen Reactor process.When someone listens to what we have to say we might solve a lot of major problems in the world.

  89. The authors of this study did not consider that the costs of solar are coming down at exponential rates. Sure, you couldn’t get it to work on a cost basis with just a 4 year time frame. But it will be doable in just a few decades:

    Futurist Ray Kurzweil isn’t worried about climate change.
    By Lauren Feeney
    February 16, 2011
    [quote]
    Ray Kurzweil: One of my primary theses is that information technologies grow exponentially in capability and power and bandwidth and so on. If you buy an iPhone today, it’s twice as good as two years ago for half that cost. That is happening with solar energy — it is doubling every two years. And it didn’t start two years ago, it started 20 years ago. Every two years we have twice as much solar energy in the world.
    Today, solar is still more expensive than fossil fuels, and in most situations it still needs subsidies or special circumstances, but the costs are coming down rapidly — we are only a few years away from parity. And then it’s going to keep coming down, and people will be gravitating towards solar, even if they don’t care at all about the environment, because of the economics.
    So right now it’s at half a percent of the world’s energy. People tend to dismiss technologies when they are half a percent of the solution. But doubling every two years means it’s only eight more doublings before it meets a hundred percent of the world’s energy needs. So that’s 16 years. We will increase our use of electricity during that period, so add another couple of doublings: In 20 years we’ll be meeting all of our energy needs with solar, based on this trend which has already been under way for 20 years.
    People say we’re running out of energy. That’s only true if we stick with these old 19th century technologies. We are awash in energy from the sunlight.[/quote]
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/environment/futurist-ray-kurzweil-isnt-worried-about-climate-change/7389/

    Their claim that the infrastructure would also be impossible also seems dubious. An average middle class home could supply all its power needs, electricity, heating, cooling, simply from solar panels attached to its roof. The reason it’s not is that for most families the costs are prohibitive. But the costs are coming down to such an extent that even middle class to lower middle class families could afford to be completely energy independent through solar within a 20 to 30 year time frame.

    Bob Clark

    • In a few decades everything is doable.
      Fusion power.
      Teleportation.
      Cheap space flight…
      Everything is doable in a few decades. And that has been true for a few decades now.

  90. The key point it’s not a technological advancement. It’s purely a matter of price. The price for solar power has been decreasing exponentially for 30 years. We are well familiar with this kind of drop in price in regards to computers and consumer electronic devices in general by Moore’s Law. The same level of price drop has been occurring for solar power for decades.

    It is quite key to note, this means we will convert to solar power not because of governments passing laws forcing us to do so but because it will be cheaper for us to do so.

    Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore’s law apply to solar cells?
    By Ramez Naam | March 16, 2011 |

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/16/smaller-cheaper-faster-does-moores-law-apply-to-solar-cells/

    Bob Clark

  91. I always thought that the Sun had a job to do – like heating up and give “energy” for plants and gras to grow.
    If entire California was coverd by solar Panels, all other “life” die – thus no People would¨/could live there ?
    Am I completly off ?

  92. @ Sten_Gral

    current solar panels are 20% efficient

    In places like California, Arizona, etc the Incident Solar energy is ~1000 watts per square meter

    Accounting for inverter, hysteresis and other losses, you would get approximately 150 usable watts per square meter.

    that means a square kilometer of panels would be a 150MW power station

    a square 100km on a side (4000 square miles) would equal a 1500 GW power station — the equivalent of 1500 Nuclear power plants

    California and arizona combined are 273,000 square miles.

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