Renewable Incoherence: The Calls for a Green Grand Challenge

de-icing-wind-turbine

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

If current generation renewables are a viable replacement for fossil fuels, why are so many greens calling for lavishly funded “Grand Challenge” projects and “Apollo Projects” to make them work?

Renewables need a grand-challenge strategy

Launch a global clean-energy initiative to set priorities that galvanize researchers to deliver breakthroughs, write Alan Bernstein and colleagues.

Public spending on research into renewable energy is too low to meet even the modest targets set at the Paris climate talks last December, let alone decarbonize the world economy. It stands at about US$6.5 billion a year, or less than 2% of total public research and development (R&D) spending, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

In 2005, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington — with the Wellcome Trust in London, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Foundation for the US National Institutes of Health — targeted issues surrounding neglected diseases, which affect most of the world’s population (H. Varmus et al. Science 302, 398–399; 2003). Fourteen priority topics included developing a genetic strategy to incapacitate insects that transmit agents of disease, such as the mosquito vectors of yellow fever, dengue and Zika virus (D. A. Joubert et al. PLoS Pathog. 12, e1005434; 2016).

“Scalability, affordability, uptake and dissemination need to be addressed.”

Renewable energy calls for a broadly similar approach. It is a difficult, urgent global problem that has been neglected in terms of public research and investment. It requires big thinking, multidisciplinary approaches and supportive policies to compete with existing systems. And it is tightly coupled to other global challenges, such as food and water security, poverty and health.

Read more: http://www.nature.com/news/renewables-need-a-grand-challenge-strategy-1.20717

Back in September last year, WUWT reported on prominent British Green David Attenborough’s call for an “Apollo Project” to make renewable energy viable.

In 2014, a Google Corporation engineering team concluded there is no way with current technology to make renewables a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Naturally these voices of discord are creating a backlash – in December 2015, Naomi Oreskes accused James Hansen of being a “Denier”, for suggesting that renewables by themselves weren’t up to the job of decarbonising the global economy.

The utter uselessness of current generation renewables is becoming increasingly difficult to deny. As the renewable driven instability which caused the South Australian State Wide Blackout demonstrated, any serious attempt to add more than a token renewable presence to the grid invites catastrophe.

The AEMO, the government body tasked with oversight of the Australian electricity grid, predicted back in August that renewables would increase the risk of blackouts.

Given the calls for major research efforts from committed greens, it seems reasonable to conclude that there are serious outstanding problems. How can politicians not be aware of these problems? Perhaps the main motivation for continuing to support renewables has become the immense embarrassment abandoning the effort would create, for the politicians who facilitated this colossal waste of taxpayer’s money.

Those same politicians may be tempted to support a renewable “Apollo Project”, to try to salvage some value out of the mess they created. But there is close to zero probability of a meaningful near term breakthrough. All such grand research efforts will achieve in any reasonable timeframe is the squandering of yet more taxpayer’s money on the renewables pipe dream.

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136 thoughts on “Renewable Incoherence: The Calls for a Green Grand Challenge

  1. I’ve always been amazed these people keep spinning this idea as something new and untried that needs some encouragement…and lots of money. I’ve listened to this stuff for nearly thirty years, but I suppose there is always a new crop of young and idealistic people, or cynical “progressives” who see a political tool..

      • MarkW
        They’ve been building windmills for close to 300 years.

        No. Windmills have been built and used well before the Middle Ages across many areas of Europe.
        Windmills have been used in many areas worldwide for water pumping in rural areas, for power generation, and for hand-tools on farms across the US.

        And windmills – IN EVERY NATION and ACROSS EVERY TIME – have been immediately replaced with grid power AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. As soon as the copper can be run, windmills were replaced by our ancestors. Because our ancestors are far smarter and far more realistic and pragmatic than today’s enviro’s, bureaucrats, and internationalists/socialists.

      • >>Wind was never the power source of choice,
        >>water mills were far more reliable.

        Indeed. All the fabric mills of England were powered by water, which is why the mills clustered on both sides of the Pennine hills. Wind was pretty useless in comparison. Can you imagine a vast mill with 300 looms and 1,500 workers waiting for ten days for the wind to blow?

        R

      • My Automobile runs on fossil fuel. When I am driving but not stuck in stop and go traffic, my car is running on cruise control. It can get better gas mileage automatically, than I get with my foot on the gas pedal. But even with my foot doing the driving, I can sense demand load changes, and add power to maintain my speed when I encounter a slight or even a steep rise. Responding to load demand changes is very precise.
        Up in Washington, State, they have this impressive edifice called the Grand Coulee Dam, (and power station). It is RENEWABLE energy source of electricity generated by turbines. These turbines are driven by water flows including the kinetic energy of dropping a lot of water down a pipe and through the turbine impellor.

        If I turn on my Stove in Spokane, an automatic computer controller automatically increase the water input to that gravity tube by a few thimblefuls per second, out of a BIG lake with trillions of gallons of water in it.

        Hydro-Electric is just about: if not THE most precisely controllable renewable energy electricity generating method there is, and also is reliable and dependable. I have never heard of a Siemens or Westinghouse Hydro turbine falling off its hinges. They never seem to wear out.

        So now compare that precise load response and reliable dependability to the electricity supplied from wind turbines; also a renewable energy electricity source.

        If it was possible to design a renewable energy electricity generating machine that is less controllable and less dependable or reliable, than a wind turbine, and less responsive to load demand changes, I have no idea how the hell you would go about doing that.

        You have an available power source that varies as the cube of the wind speed.

        You have absolutely ZERO control at all over that wind speed. There is NO spigot to turn the wind up or down a bit when Hillary Clinton fires up her hair dryer.

        A one megawatt wind turbine designed for full design load at a wind speed of say 10 km/hr, becomes an 8 megawatt wind turbine at just 20 km/hr wind speed, and a change like that can occur in a few minutes. Well it is not likely that a turbine designed for one megawatt full load, would survive for long running at 8 megawatts level, so for just a 2X wind speed increase, you are forced to feather the prop and shut the turbine down, to prevent it from running amok, and destroying itself.

        But what if the wind speed drops to 5 km/hr; just half of the full load design wind speed.

        Well now you have a 125 KW wind turbine, which will grind to a halt if Hillary turns on her hair dryer. You won’t be able to maintain phase lock, so once again you will have to shut the turbine down and take it off the grid.

        Like I said, I don’t know how to go about designing a less controllable load demand responding renewable electricity generating plant than a wind turbine.

        Charlie Brown’s kite doesn’t just crash because he doesn’t know how to make a kite.

        Nothing wrong with his kite, it’s just that neither he, nor Lucie have control of the wind.
        There is lots of energy in the wind.

        We have no control over wind speeds, so such power plants need effective 100% back up generation capacity from some reliable source, such as fossil fuels, or even a hydro-electric power station.

        Eventually we will learn just how Rube Goldberg wind turbines are.

        Well come to think of it, they are probably more practical than scams like Ivanpah.

        G

      • They have been building mechanical watches for 300 years also.

        Quartz crystal watches, either analog or digital, are infinitely superior to any mechanical watch.

        Yes it’s nice that Swiss Tinkers can make such miniature mechanical marvels; they are works of art.

        g

      • Much, much longer.

        And they didn’t use wind if they could use water.

        And then they didn’t use water when they could use steam.

        Etc.

      • George – most new cars in Europe now auto cut the engine at stop lights and then instantly pick up as you want to move off….

      • Griff: “most new cars in Europe now auto cut the engine at stop lights and then instantly pick up as you want to move off”

        Making stuff up again, Grifter?

        MOST new cars are nothing of the sort. SOME new cars offer it as an option.

        Also, as it is commonest on Japanese imports, it is equally common in the USA too.

        There is some evidence it is not altogether desirable.

      • and then instantly pick up as you want to move off

        Good grief, Griff, …… are you saying that “most new cars in Europe” …. are EVs, totally electric?

      • @ Samuel C Cogar

        I would take what Griff is talking about to a stop-start system,
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Start-stop_system

        It is common but I don’t know that it is fitted as standard to most new cars.

        AFAIUI, these systems rely on the fact that a hot engine will restart very easily. However it does take quite a bit out of the battery.

        My new car has such a system and it stopped working after a few months. The dealer said that the battery has to be over some threshold charge (85% maybe) for the system to work. As we mostly do town driving the battery is under this value (not by much) and so the electronics don’t let the stop-start system work.

        If we do a long drive the stop-start system will then work for a day or two and then stops working again, hence I assume the steady state of my battery is not far below the threshold value.

        A friend who knows something about this area told me that teh battery life is shortened quite a bit and the fuel gains are small and that to cost in the engine needs to stop for two minutes at a time, but that most stops are quite a bit shorter than this.

      • george smith says:

        It can get better gas mileage automatically, than I get with my foot on the gas pedal.

        Yes, I get slightly better mileage on cruise. Better than that, tho, is drafting behind an 18-wheeler.

      • Griff, that’s great, right up till the time it stops working. Then you are stuck at an intersection trying to get your car restarted while worrying about becoming a victim of road rage.

      • @ James Bolivar DiGriz – October 7, 2016 at 5:11 am

        Excerpted from you cited Wikii link:

        On a manual transmission vehicle, stop-start is activated as follows: Stop car & press clutch – move gear lever to neutral – release clutch – then the engine stops. The engine restarts when the clutch is pressed prior to selecting a gear to move the car. </blockquote-

        James B, the above instructions was penned by a “silly” person because, iffen ya “Stop the car & then press clutch” …….. the engine will have stopped iffen ya didn’t press the clutch first. But otherwise, I don’t think the above is “practical”, and neither will thousands of others.

        Cars with automatic transmissions shut down upon braking to a full stop – the shut down is activated the footbrake pedal being in use when the car comes to a halt. </blockquote-

        James B, in “stop n’ go” traffic you’ll soon run out of battery power. And in “winter” locales with lots of “snow n’ ice” covered roadways, …. me thinks those cars with “start-stop” systems are just …… accidents looking for a place to happen.

        And James B, has anyone calculated how many gallon of gasoline is wasted ….. with all that “stopping n’ starting” of the ignition source that keeps the engine working?

        Ps, only with “electronic fuel injection” could the above noted “gasoline wastage” be prevented.

      • @Samuel C Cogar

        I have no idea what point you are trying to makeIf you want to say something then you should say it, putting in nested quotes with highlighted parts is obscure to say the least

        Griff talked about cars that “instantly pick up as you want to move off”, you though that this was a reference to EVs and I explained that I thought it was actually a reference to stop-start technology

        All I get from this is that trying to help you will result in something that is, at best nonsense and more likely abuse So I have made a mental note to to try and clarify anything for you in future

      • @ James Bolivar DiGriz – October 8, 2016 at 11:53 am

        ……. putting in nested quotes with highlighted parts is obscure to say the least

        Right you are, James B D, and “my bad” because I missed 2 “blockquote” terminator “/”. So, here it is again with corrected punctuation, so iffen you close one (1) eye and squint the other one then hopefully you can comprehend the context of my commentary, to wit:

        Excerpted from you cited Wikii link:

        On a manual transmission vehicle, stop-start is activated as follows: Stop car & press clutch – move gear lever to neutral – release clutch – then the engine stops. The engine restarts when the clutch is pressed prior to selecting a gear to move the car.

        James B, the above instructions was penned by a “silly” person because, iffen ya “Stop the car & then press clutch” …….. the engine will have stopped iffen ya didn’t press the clutch first. But otherwise, I don’t think the above is “practical”, and neither will thousands of others.

        Another excerpt from your cited source:

        Cars with automatic transmissions shut down upon braking to a full stop – the shut down is activated the footbrake pedal being in use when the car comes to a halt.

        James B, in “stop n’ go” traffic you’ll soon run out of battery power. And in “winter” locales with lots of “snow n’ ice” covered roadways, …. me thinks those cars with “start-stop” systems are just …… accidents looking for a place to happen.

        And James B, has anyone calculated how many gallon of gasoline is wasted ….. with all that “stopping n’ starting” of the ignition source that keeps the engine working?

        And ps, only with “electronic fuel injection” could the above noted “gasoline wastage” be prevented.

      • @Samuel C Cogar

        And I still have no idea what point you are trying to make. As I told you before, if you want to say something then you should say it. Commenting on a Wikipedia article that I did not write is pointless.

        Again as I told you before, Griff talked about cars that “instantly pick up as you want to move off”, you though that this was a reference to EVs and I explained that I thought it was actually a reference to stop-start technology.

        If you disagree with that technology that is your prerogative, but addressing your comments at me is obviously pointless. Let me tell you again (as telling you once does not seem to sink in) I did not write that article. I just linked to it to to try and help you understand what Griff was talking about.

        As all you are doing is being a jerk by having a go at me for an article that I did not write I will ignore anything else that you say.

      • @ James Bolivar DiGriz

        You cited that Wikii article, ….. NOT me, and NOT Griff, …..and now you want to CYA by claiming you are ignorant of its content. It’s pure stupidity to cite printed commentary as “proof or evidence” when one is utterly ignorant of its context or content.

        And J B DiGriz, here is another example of your miseducated and pathetic juvenile silliness:

        Again as I told you before, Griff talked about cars that “instantly pick up as you want to move off”, you though that this was a reference to EVs and I explained that I thought it was actually a reference to stop-start technology.

        DiGriz, there is no vehicles, gas, diesel or electric, … that INSTANTLY picks up speed when one wants it to move forward. And “NO”, I didn’t think Griff’s comment was in reference to EV’s.

        Your reading comprehension is “piss poor”, so best you re-read my QUESTION for Griff, …. again.

        Then you can “go hide” somewhere.

      • As RACookPE1978 points out windmills are a lot older than that. The landscape paintings of the Dutch Masters that feature windmills are from the 17th Century. But, the technology was old in the low countries then.

  2. Since the year 2000, nearly $3 trillion has been spent worldwide on renewal energy, mainly wind and solar. Enormous fortunes must have been made as a result. Now ask yourselves how much of this would have occurred if the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ had never entered our consciousness.

    I rather suspect that much of the impetus for the climate change religion is being funded by the renewable energy moguls. They have both the means and the motive to do so. Naturally, anything that causes people to look askance at wind and solar energy, such as the recent South Australia blackout, is going to stir up the renewable energy moguls. Calls for more public sector spending are just what I would have expected.

    • One need only ask those who make their living from energy to realize the renewable birth has taken off and is now entering mainstream. Those would be the utility companies that have provide the world’s energy and the engineers who work for them and need to build the reliable, cost effective system. In state after state, country after country the renewable energy revolution is occurring. Just saw a report where costs for energy declined as renewables not only are cost effective, but also dampen the demand for coal and oil and thus drive cost declines in those industries as well, despite increasing global energy consumption.

    • Never ONE word is ever said about the reason for windpower!!!?…which was/is to reduce CO2!!
      When construction CO2 is taken into consideration AND backup fossil fuelled power plants
      Running on idle and producing lots of CO2 are considered there is NO CO2 saving AT. ALL!!

    • and I’m happy to tell you its still working fine today Mark.

      a detailed look at the report from SA confirms that it was transmission line issues which took out wind, not theother way round.

      • Griff: “a detailed look at the report from SA confirms that it was transmission line issues which took out wind, not theother way round.”

        No it doesn’t.

        Stop making stuff up.

        Oh, sorry, that’s what you’re paid to do, isn’t it?

    • Grand Project? Anybody who has driven on the Oregon plateau of the upper Columbia River can see for miles and miles the “Grand Project” of windmill generation. If a nuclear plant cooling tower had so much as been visible in the same location it would have been opposed for soiling the view of the great Columbia Gorge. “Green Power” is not beautiful or small impact.

    • Bruce…exactly+1000. It will also require the trampling of history, culture, and science the same as the other one led by Mao. Oh and if they succeed there will be corpses; many many corpses the same as the one led by Mao!

  3. The only hope for unreliables is effective/economic storage in order to compete with nature’s battery in the ground and on that score the whole history of mankind is pitiful with regards energy storage, apart from pumping water uphill and in the form of calories. Without some monumental breakthrough with electrochemical storage, unreliables are mere clock springs in time. That’s because unreliables rely on dilute and fickle energy from the sun and thankfully it is 93mill miles away, but we don’t need rocket science to work out exactly where and how that energy is not dilute or fickle.

    It’s like this dumbos. You cannot make a reliable electrical energy generation and distribution system with lots of unreliable and correlated generators.

    • This idea that energy storage will enable unreliable power generators to be reliable makes no sense.
      Energy storage can only store (finite amounts) of energy – it cannot create energy. There is no time limit
      in force for a renewable generator to be non-productive or sub-normal productive. And when the renewables start providing power again , what is going to replenish that stored energy capacity?

      • It depends on what the meaning of reliable is. Solar and wind don’t have any inertia, so the grid has to be stable before they get attached. And a few hundred milliseconds of frequency instability will cause them to drop off the grid. This is what apparently happened in SA. If some storage capacity of anywhere between an hour and a day’s worth of output could be managed economically, that could provide the inertia needed to keep the renewables from being an immanent threat to the grid. That doesn’t address the other uneconomical aspects of renewables, of course.

      • Well major hydro-electric electricity power plants rely on energy storage, the gravitational energy of large bodies of water. They also are exquisitely controllable.

        g

      • What, so now we have to have battery storage to prop the system up during fluctuations , plus still have 100% back up anyway to maintain power longer term. Can it get any more expensive and pointless?

  4. Because left leaning thought, (if left leaning and thinking really go together), is always focused on change. They are the ones for whom the phrase is “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” was first coined.

  5. In Nature News: http://www.nature.com/news/renewables-need-a-grand-challenge-strategy-1.20717

    Eric Worrall makes a big fuss about this money going into RE R&D but many of the 7 authors are long-time pro-nukes. They mention Bill Gates twice and his foundation is already spending a lot of money on energy research; much of that on nuclear power which needs a very long time-frames to develop new technology. Gen IV, and advanced nuclear power won’t get a lot nearer with vastly more money spent because the _factors holding it back are_: over-regulation, a wrong view of radiation harm (no safe dose), regulating the wrong things (itsy bitsy emissions rather than concentrating on fundamental safety), an ultra conservative nuclear power industry (the same who gave us the EPR to be built at Hinkley), spooks – out to spike breeder reactors because they don’t understand what they’re doing, luddites & neo-Malthusians (AKA The Greens). Almost forgot: the fossil fuel and renewable energy industries. New nuclear power does not need vast amounts on R&D. Just a few billions on R&D for molten salt reactors. That will happen anyway – climate change or not.

    As for RE: it’s mostly pointless. Spending vastly more money on RE R&D can’t alter the laws of physics. Won’t improve pathetic power density, and energy density, can’t get rid of intermittency. Will hardly make the sow’s ear of CCS into a silk purse, nor turn energy storage into a white knight.

    • “As for RE: it’s mostly pointless. Spending vastly more money on RE R&D can’t alter the laws of physics.”

      But they will continue to try because it is never their money at risk. If only those wealthy celebrities would dump a few million dollars each into their beliefs they may have a little bit more credibility. But we know they won’t.

    • When your world is controlled by irrational regulators, being ultra conservative is the only rational choice.

      • I accept your point; I’ve heard these mindless-regulator, horror stories. The nuclear industry needs a long-term as well as a short-term view. PWRs are not a suitable long-term option. MSRs and thorium are. Ultra-conservatism brought us the European Pressurized Reactor, EPR, which costs too much (so making its electricity too expensive), takes too long to build, and does not address intrinsic safety nor “nuclear waste that lasts for tens of thousands of years”.

  6. Why the “Grand Challenges” and “Apollo Projects”?
    The answer is right in front of us.

    there is no way with current technology to make renewables a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

    People keep talking about technology and research. The obvious reasoning is that if the problem is technology, then it is reasonable to work for a technology solution. Fair enough.

    Alas, the problem is not technology, it is the science which dictates what is, and is not, possible. Particularly Thermodynamics, which can be a real B*tch when it comes to useful energy production. The energy budgets are just not there.
    The Apollo Project was a success because it *was* a technology project. There was no fundamental reason why the project was fundamentally physically impossible.
    There is a fundamental difference between limits imposed by technology, and fundamental limits imposed by science. I do not think we will ever get to the point where politicians can be made to understand the difference.

    • You are exactly right. Suppose, for the moment, that the world had never developed the concept of rockets, but managed to come up with heavier than air flying craft. No amount of development work could get a Sopwith Camel or DC-3 to the moon. That requires a different technology. It’s the same with renwables. They need a different technology.

    • Also the Apollo project was a freebie. The astronauts just went along for the ride.

      The project came off under budget, and sooner than intended, and all of those funds were recouped in less time than the project too simply as a result of the reduced crop losses in the south East United States because of the much better weather prediction capability provided by the global weather and communications satellites that were a mandatory part of a manned program.
      If Apollo had been a totally robotic instruments mission, there would have been no need for uninterrupted round the globe communication and weather reporting.

      And then there was all of the fallout technologies that were developed in the process.

      Well World Wars, also create lots of technology spin-off (for the survivors).

      • Everything “developed” by NASA was already in the works.
        The absolute best that can be said of NASA is that it accelerated the development of some technologies by a few months to a few years.

      • Yes and Maybe.

        Both the Manhattan Project and Kennedy’s space challenge had a unique organizational advantage that most governmental agencies and industry groups completely lack.

        I.e.; Most governmental agencies consist of little turfdoms where the people in charge despise anything they didn’t invent.
        These same folks in charge would rather endure failure than admit anyone else has an idea they could use.

        The Kennedy space teams brought in engineers and scientists who developed lists of what can be done and what can not be done. They were not adverse to bringing in anything that might solve a problem, then putting into items of interest into concentrated research.

        That research developed the additional products needed to make space flight for humans possible.

        That quality of open mindedness has apparently evaporated from NASA/NOAA. Now they hire contractors who tend to be very good at doing exactly what they’re told to do and not one whit more.

      • “””””…..
        MarkW

        October 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm

        Everything “developed” by NASA was already in the works. …..”””””

        Yes Mark we know that. The military wanted the Atlas Rocket to carry thousand megaton hydrogen bombs. And the air force wanted space suits so their fighter pilots could fly higher than the Russians..
        We had so much stuff in the works at over a million companies all over the world and that was just to keep the Congress from knowing that people were spending money that Congress had never authorized or even heard about, let alone approved as part of the annual budget.

        That ” we were already doing it. ” fairy tale has been told and retold so many times Mark, that some people still believe in it as well as the Roswell Area 51 autopsy.

        I was working in the high tech industry all through that project Mark, and we were not developing a thing for manned space travel, and we were working on some of the fanciest electronic technology there was. We used things called valves which glow in the dark. Philco was working on pnp germanium transistors that were good enough to help you build a Japanese transistor radio.
        I actually imported the very FIRST silicon transistor that was ever imported into New Zealand; in fact I imported two of them from Phillips in Holland. OA202 was their type number.

        We had to get a special permit from the NZ Parliament to import them because we had screwed up and not imported any of them in 1945, which was the base year for our import licence requests.

        Yeah, we were already doing it Mark, and just in time for NASA to snatch and claim they thought of it.

        G

  7. “Renewable energy calls for a broadly similar approach. It is a difficult, urgent global problem that has been neglected in terms of public research and investment. It requires big thinking, multidisciplinary approaches and supportive policies to compete with existing systems.” [we need big mobs of Gummint grants like Bill and Melinda Gates are doling out]
    ” And it is tightly coupled to other global challenges, such as food and water security, poverty and health.”
    [the grants possibilities are humungous and endless]

    • Rudy @ 9:04

      I think the Spanish perfected that technology a few years ago…until the police arrived, that is.

    • Don’t need to .

      LEDs are good enough now to use to see the solar panels in the dark. You can even run them off the solar panels.

      g

  8. Renewable power via wind turbines, solar PV are already economic in many areas due to steady innovations.

    Costs to install for both wind and solar continue to fall yearly.

    Grid-scale storage is also here and steadily improving in size, cost, and reliability.

    The Wizards of WUWT (WOWUWT) deny all these obvious facts, but the engineers and investors refuse to listen to WOWUWT.

    It’s great entertainment though.

    Buggy-whip mentality prevails amongst the renewables deniers: “Nothing can be better than a reliable horse and a smooth-running buggy”.

    All should hope that the innovators, engineers, and investors continue to build bigger, more efficient, and more reliable wind turbines, because cheap coal is fast running out worldwide.

    That single fact is the pressing problem: how to replace 40 percent of the world’s electric power production within 20 to 30 years before coal runs out.

    It won’t be with nuclear. Nuclear Takes far too long to build, would triple electricity prices if the plants were built, would consume valuable fresh water, and create needless cancers in nearby populations.

    Rather than condemnation, renewable advocates deserve praise.

    Now watch the howls of indignation from the WOWUWT.

      • Tragic how these people who call themselves environmentalists are so dedicated to blighting the landscape, polluting, and killing avians. I guess it must be because they’re not really environmentalists. They are Luddites, neo-Malthusians, poverty-promoters, and sociopaths.

    • Silicon Valley itself is a result of government spending. It grew up from WWII into what it is today. But from 1940 to the 1970’s, more than 80% of the revenue for the Valley came from the federal govt., mostly the DOD. Wasn’t until the 1980’s when consumer products started generating more than 50% of the revenue for tech companies in the valley.

      One can argue that it would have happened anyways, but the R&D expense of the world we now take for granted was mostly funded by the USA’s federal govt.

      • Somebody once worked out that if the industry could improve the efficiency of coal fired power plants at just ……. 3% per CENTURY ……. , that is 0.03% per year, that the US coal reserves would last for EVER. We only had enough for 400 years at that point.

        The miracle of exponential growth, or compound interest if you will.

        G

      • There were these upstarts of industry, such as IBM, and “Ma Bell” who were doing it for their own selfish monopoly interests.

        As I recall, the US government didn’t have a thing to do with Ma Bell or Western Electric of the Bell Telephone Laboratories.

        Well they did later, when the bureaucrats decided to destroy Bell Labs, for the good of the world.

        Yep it woz the gummint that did it all for us.

        G

        PS. Solar renewable energy is ethereally diffuse. The sun provides us with one KW per square meter, or 100 watts per square foot; excuse me, I forgot that Kevin Trenberth can only find 250 watts per square meter, well reduced from 342.

        But the earth’s atmosphere and oceans collects that 250 W/m^2 and they spread it out over a much wider area, so they call it “wind energy” But it really is solar energy, which is why it is removable, and it is even more evanescent than solar energy is, which is why a windmill is actually a gas turbine engine, using air as the medium and the sun to heat it to make wind.

        It takes square miles of intake duct to funnel the wind; when there is wind, down onto the 1/2 acre or one acre or whatever the windmill sits on, and then you need an even larger outlet duct to allow the heated air to expand as it cools on the downwind side of the region. The Carnot efficiency of the wind turbine, operating with a Temperature drop that you can count on the fingers of a baseball mitt, is a real feat of engineering marvel.

        PV solar panels, I can even cheer for; provided the owner pays for them himself, and leaves the taxpayer out of his calculations.

        But wind power fits the Supreme Court definition of obscenity.

        It is completely without any social benefit whatsoever.

    • ‘Costs to install for both wind and solar continue to fall yearly.’

      So now they only cost 4 times other sources. Your statement is puffery containing no information.

    • Coal is not running out, Genius.

      ‘Based on U.S. coal production in 2014 of about 1 billion short tons, the U.S. estimated recoverable coal reserves would last about 256 years. The actual number of years that those reserves will last depends on changes in production and reserves estimates. ‘ – eia.gov

    • “Grid-scale storage is also here and steadily improving in size, cost, and reliability.”

      No it isn’t.

      Stop making stuff up.

    • Let’s look at El Hierro (population around 10,000), a poster child for renewable power.

      From 2011:
      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/19/canary-island-renewable-energy-lehir

      “The construction work is almost complete. “After a trial period at the end of 2011 the system should come online in 2012,” Padrón said.

      El Hierro will be able to shut down the oil-fired power station on which it currently relies for electricity. It will save 6,000 tonnes of fossil fuel a year, all delivered by boat, and reduce emissions, in particular 18,000 tonnes of CO2.

      But this green energy comes at a price. The whole project represents an investment of €65m ($93m), just over half of which was funded by Madrid. But long-term economic gains will augment the immediate environmental benefit, according to Javier Morales, the deputy leader of the Canarias council tasked with sustainable development. “Once the investment has been paid off, sales of electricity will earn €9m a year,” he reckons. “Even allowing for upkeep and replacement of the machinery, that leaves plenty of money that can be ploughed back into the local economy.””

      April 2014:

      http://www.businessinsider.com/a-spanish-island-is-about-to-be-the-worlds-first-energy-self-sufficient-island-2014-4?IR=T

      “The smallest and least known of Spain’s Canary Islands, El Hierro, is making a splash by becoming the first island in the world fully energy self-sufficient through combined water and wind power.

      A wind farm opening at the end of June will turn into electricity the gusts that rake the steep cliffs and green mountains of the volcanic island off the Atlantic coast of Africa.”

      “El Hierro wants to extend its environmental credentials even further by ensuring that by 2020 all of its 6,000 vehicles are run on electricity thanks to an agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance.

      The wind power plant cost 80 million euros ($110 million) to build.”

      Oct 2015:

      http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34424606

      “The smallest and most isolated of the Canary Islands, El Hierro, has a way of combining hydro and wind power that may allow it, one day, to get all its energy from renewable sources. In August it went for two hours without using its diesel power station at all – but this could be the start of a bigger green transformation.”
      and
      “If you are thinking of visiting though, remember that it’s windy 80% of the time – so if you have long hair, you may need a big bottle of hair spray.”

      Now:

      http://euanmearns.com/el-hierro-september-2016-performance-update/

      “During September the hybrid wind-hydro Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant achieved 58.2% renewables generation, comparable to the 55.6% achieved in August and far higher than the 19.9% achieved in September 2015. This was largely a result of the fact that the wind didn’t die early in the month as it did in September 2015. Total renewables generation since full operations began at GdV on June 27, 2015 is now 40.1%, up from 38.7% at the end of August.”

      Doesn’t seem too impressive to me.

    • Risking sounding indignant, how much bigger can the turbines get????

      And as for creating needless cancers … I agree, creating needless cancer(s) is a bad idea. I don’t agree that a well designed & run nuke generator would create any cancers at all; needless, needed or any other sort.

      I’ll leave all of the other exaggerations without specific comment.

      When you, Mr. Sowell, feel the need to exaggerate so as to make your point, then you must know subconsciously that there is something terribly wrong with your point of view.

      • For DonM, there is zero exaggeration in any of my statements. I deal with actual data.

        Sandia National Laboratory has a 50 MW unit in the works, with flexible blades mounted downwind of the support tower. These blades allow the turbine to operate in much higher winds than do fixed blades.

        http://energy.gov/articles/enormous-blades-offshore-energy

        As to cancers from nuclear plants, it is well-established that the rate of cancers fell significantly near the California Rancho Seco nuclear power plant after it was shutdown by federal order. Several studies show the cancer rate increases near nuclear plants.

        My blog article on this has details, referencing the article “Long-term Local Cancer Reductions Following Nuclear Plant Shutdown,” Biomedicine International, 2013, 4: 12-25, authors Joseph J. Mangano, Janette D. Sherman, Radiation and Public Health Project, New York, NY, USA

        http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/nuclear-radiation-illness-in-japan.html

      • Referencing cancer as “needless cancer” is an exaggeration. Tell me about the “needed cancers”. Tell me about the” needed cancers” in terms of current nuclear plant design (not the shuttered plants that had the design established by people that wouldn’t be running or responsible for the plants).

        The bigger turbine research that you reference costs a lot. Saying that the “costs to install of wind and solar continue to fall”, while ignoring the subsidies that allow for the direct cost to appear/look better, is an exaggeration.

        Saying that coal will run out in 20 to 30 years … more of an outright lie than an exaggeration.

    • Sorcerer Sowell is still pretending that the more falsehoods he spreads, the more people will believe the faith.

      Others have already pointed out your largest fabrications.

      “…The Wizards of WUWT (WOWUWT) deny all these obvious facts, but the engineers and investors refuse to listen to WOWUWT.

      There is quite a plethora of engineers, scientists and investors who visit WUWT regularly. The first two are not fooled by bad science and false claims. Investors are still attracted to renewables because of the massive returns based on ridiculous electricity fees.

      Nor do readers of WUWT deny facts. Facts that are clearly defined and competently placed within the entire cost fabric.
      That last little bit is where renewables really fall over the cliff. Virtually little news about renewables is trustworthy.
      Renewables:
      • fail to provide quality consistent quality power; suitable for industry, mining, smelting, fabrication.
      • Have not embraced their entire cost structure from mined minerals, fabrication, transportation, construction, grid upgrades, maintenance, actual lifespan, actual electrical production.
      • Rely on skewed cost structures which reward investors, but penalize residents.
      • are an environmental disaster: chopping up birds, bats, condors, eagles, whooping cranes, owls, etc.
      • Are public sound nuisances.
      • Are public visual nuisances.
      • Render huge areas of ground as unsuitable for anything else.

      Sorcerer Sowell says:

      “All should hope that the innovators, engineers, and investors continue to build bigger, more efficient, and more reliable wind turbines, because cheap coal is fast running out worldwide.”

      Given the bearing failures rampant in the largest wind turbines, what fool would build bigger ones? i.e. besides the greedy contractors who’ll build any fool thing for a buck and don’t plan to stay in the business under the same name long.

      Sorcerer Sowell says:

      “That single fact is the pressing problem: how to replace 40 percent of the world’s electric power production within 20 to 30 years before coal runs out.”

      What!? Did you happen to dig up a coal resource report from the 1950s?

      Did you also forget about the other fossil fuels? e.g. natural gas, oil sands, oil shale, and just plain oil?
      Incorrect coal reserves, ignored oil reserves, natural gas reserves, oils sands, oils shale reserves; what happened Sorcerer Sowell? Did you just forget, or are the oversights on purpose?

      Have you ever wondered how much fossil fuel has been squandered by the eco-loons and government building the false renewables?
      All of that money, manpower, equipment and energy could have been contributed to useful products and ventures.
      Instead, the eco-loons screamed and got greedy gullible politicians to waste trillions of dollars on a scam.

      How much of the blame for that huge loss, will you take Sorcerer Sowell?

    • Sowell says:

      Grid-scale storage is also here and steadily improving in size, cost, and reliability.

      Links? The only significant “storage”, AFAIK, is pumped hydro-storage, and nobody in the US can build more of them of any significance.

      • See the DOE Global Energy Storage Database at

        http://www.energystorageexchange.org/

        Tesla recently won an award for 20 MW, 80 MWh battery storage project from Southern California Edison, to be installed on the grid in Los Angeles, California. The news is full of articles on this.

        Others are already operating in grid service, as shown in the DOE database.

    • I love the way you consider something that has to use massive subsidies in order to survive as economically successful. And that’s even without adding the huge cost of grid scale storage.

      • For MarkW, re

        “I love the way you consider something that has to use massive subsidies in order to survive as economically successful. And that’s even without adding the huge cost of grid scale storage.”

        Note that almost all forms of electric power generation in the US receive massive subsidies: Nuclear via Price-Anderson Act for meltdown and radiation releases, nuclear via loan guarantees, nuclear via direct payments for new power for first 10 years of operation (at 2.3 cents per kWh) – same as wind as it turns out, nuclear via relaxing safety standards, nuclear via forbidding almost all lawsuits during construction, nuclear in New York State obtaining special subsidies, nuclear construction in the SouthEast obtaining funding via increased billings to existing customers while the plants are being built; then coal subsidies in the US by being exempt from air pollution laws for decades, hydroelectric built almost entirely (75%) with federal money.

        “PS coal reserves are somewhere between 400 and 1000 years. Not 20. Stop lying.”

        Coal is a mineral; as such it has various definitions for reserves. Ultimate resources in the US is all the coal that is in the ground, that is hundreds of years. No one knows exactly how much. DOE estimates 478 billion tons for this number as of January, 2015.

        Reserves is the coal that can be mined and brought to the surface with present technology, without regard to price. That is a smaller number than Ultimate Resources, and also is on the order two hundred years. DOE estimates 255 billion tons for this number as of January, 2015.

        Recoverable reserves is the subset of Reserves that can be mined and brought to the surface with present technology and at a profit at current prices. That number, per DOE and relying on the coal companies themselves, is 19.4 billion tons (short tons) as of January 2015 (source: DOE). With annual production in the US historically at 1 billion tons, one finds less than 20 years coal remaining. Recent shutdowns of coal plants reduced annual production to something on the order of 700 to 800 million tons, which still leaves approximately 20 years of economically mine-able coal.

        http://www.eia.gov/coal/reserves/

        Now, never call me a liar again.

      • Roger Sowell: “Now, never call me a liar again.”

        Roger, you really don’t have a clue, do you?

  9. Molten salt reactors are practically just around the corner – totally safe, non-proliferating, able to produce the cheapest power of any technology, able to burn up most of our nuclear wastes, able to load follow (ramp up and down rapidly and take care of demand variations), etc etc. The great technology these greenie beanies are foolishly praying for is already here. They are truly ignorant about energy technology, and non-carbon technology at that. Complete morons, nothing more, nothing less.

  10. … Launch a global clean-energy initiative to set priorities that galvanize researchers to deliver breakthroughs, …

    As the article says, there is nearly zero chance that meaningful breakthroughs will appear in the near term.

    One of the books that policy planners should read and understand is Why Greatness Cannot be Planned.

    If, in 1907, we had spent the entire world’s income trying to build a cell phone, we would have failed. The required technology was not in place. Lee de Forest had just invented the triode vacuum tube. Using that, the circuitry necessary for a cell phone would have taken up a whole building. It would have used so many tubes that, because of their MTBF, it probably wouldn’t have operated for long enough to be useful.

    Semiconductors, transistors, and then integrated circuits were necessary before cell phones became a practical reality. Nobody in 1907 even knew what the eventual path would be and what was required to get there.

    So, how did de Forest invent the triode? That’s not what he started out trying to do. His initial inspiration was that some gaslights flickered when he experimented with a spark-gap transmitter. The rest was serendipity and hard work.

    Our results oriented funding agencies practically guarantee that serendipity will not occur, and if it does, it will be ignored anyway.

    The best way to get breakthroughs is to fund curiosity based research.

  11. I guess the calls for another Marshall Plan have finally been coded as bad marketing strategy. Keep changing the names and it might work some day.

  12. Unfortunately we now understand that human stupidity is more infinite that the Universe which is limited by the Speed of Light.

  13. Never mind the national debt and realization of slowing trend growth to pay for it. Never mind the savings deficit of families and rising benefit costs, crumbling health insurance schemes, and neglected infrastructure. The Silo Mentality is alive and well.

    • What was it seaice said the other day?
      Oh yea, it’s only a small fraction of GDP, so what right does anyone have to complain.

  14. If every dollar that was being spent on renewables and climate research was instead spent on desalinization plants and irrigation to fertilize the Sahara, CO2 output from humans would be completely offset, and likely all starvation in Africa would be eliminated as a bonus. But from the leftist politician’s viewpoint, Global Warming isn’t about curtailing CO2 output. It’s about maximizing taxes on fossil fuels in order to minimize their opponent’s political donations from these companies.

    • You’ve nailed desal and irrigation as the only viable use of unreliable, intermittent wind turbines, but naturally if you’re going to commercially invest in such enterprises, you tap the emotion of those in charge of tapping our hard earned-
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundrop_Farms
      Sundrop Farms have stitched up a contract to supply Coles supermarkets with tomatoes (they along with Woolworths deliver something like 80% of retail in a small market like Australia due to their vertical integration and economies of scale) so the little guys can get stuffed again as usual.

      Now SA could use wind power for its Adelaide desal plant quite effectively, rather than stuffing up the power grid, but alas once it was built by the central planners for the Tim Flannery, et al climate predictions of no runoff to fill our dams, down she came like Noah and not NOOA.

      An interesting aside here is to note how the Sundrop Farms initial proposal was to tap the salts from the desal sea water, ostensibly to keep the greenies happy, but that was never a goer with all our salt lakes and now they tip it back in the Gulf. (rational folks don’t have a problem with that as it occurs with the natural hydrological cycle, but you can see how these things work with emotional investing and green nepotism)

  15. The “green grand challenge” is a proper characterization of disruptive, nonrenewable energy converters favored by politicians, environmentalists, and their industry patrons.

  16. Whilst here in the colonies three states are planning to spend $40 + billion on achieving the green goal of 50% renewables .

  17. We will never know what the opportunity cost is for all this. The things we could have achieved with the billions spent and talent wasted on these projects, and now they want to ramp it up.

  18. Oh, the boondoggle aka Grand Challenge will go on for some time yet.

    More research grants, prototypes, assistance with commercialisation, roll-outs to existing grids for such things as:

    – Wind power modifier systems which cause asynchronous generators to appear/act as though synchronous to grids. (The SA experience, as AEMO sagely noted way back when, is that plenty of synchronous generation is a requirement for grid frequency stability. Out-of-frequency events will cause islanding and load-shedding for preservation.).

    – solar PV power central monitoring (at present, solar grid-tied PV is largely or even completely opaque to/uncontrollable by grid network operators)

    – SCADA and greatly enhanced control algorithms to enable numerous, small, distributed, intermittent and out-of-phase power sources to be properly integrated into grids that were designed and built for few large-scale synchronous generation sources.

    In short, Send Munny. Lots. Now.

  19. I think the greatest mistake the environmental movement ever made was to align themselves with the anti-nuclear movement. Nuke is green. It is as green as the human race is ever going to get.

  20. Well I suppose that will teach Bjorn Lomborg a lesson that it does not pay to get ahead of the pack as many a free thinker has found to their cost throughout history.
    For some time Mr Lomborg ( who has been dubbed a “denier’ even though he accepts the arguments for AGW ) has argued that we should first be spending money on research and development into making renewables more cost competitive with coal and gas-before rushing into investing in them.
    For his pains he has been abused with the tag “denier” and for good measure ostracized by the “free thinking” academics of Australian universities because he would not accept that wind and solar were perfect just as they are at present.
    Now the International Energy Agency plus Google Engineering and others are joining in with Lomborg in arguing for more research into renewables !
    Its the ultimate irony that James Hansen who started all this climate alarmism is also now under attack with the universal epithet “denier” by Naomi Oreskes because he dared challenge the orthodoxy that the sanctified renewables wind and solar can adequately replace carbon-based and other energy forms ie nuclear and hydro.

    I am intrigued by the way that many of the left latch onto given technologies (which after all are only a means to an end) and make them into an end in itself, with other alternative technologies being cast as the work of the devil ( eg Nuclear or Hydro). Curious mind sets of a quasi -religious cast- which makes them impervious to reason or even adverse experience eg the SA blackout’

    Chris Uhlmann of Australia’s ABC made a good point when he said that if the Greens and their fellow travellers can’t accept that there are problems with integrating intermittent and unstable wind power into existing electricity grids, and are not prepared to agree to seeking solutions,( which may be lower proportions of such renewables) that the public, who are not prepared to accept frequent blackouts and or skyrocketing power charges, will lose patience with climate change and the Greens etc will have lost the argument.

    But given that in Australia the Greens have already successfully blocked an Emissions Trading Scheme proposed by former PM Kevin Rudd (which one might have thought was in their espoused interests, I suppose we may expect more such stupidity from them by their continuing to defend and demand more wind power in our electricity grids.

  21. And an Iowa utility is building a wind farm which will supply 85% of its customers energy needs. And Chile and Bahrain have signed GW solar installations which will provide energy at below 3 cents per kwh. For reference, NG fired plants in the US, with some of the cheapest natural gas prices in the world, provide US power at 4.6 cents per kwh. King coal is at 5.4 cents per kwh. The entire coal industry in the US just went bankrupt over the last 18 months. Petroleum producers will likewise go bankrupt over the next 20 years. It is just the obvious progression of technology. What happens when solar in Nevada can provide energy at 1.5 cents per kwh? Carbon based energy sources roll over and die.

    • “It is just the obvious progression of technology.”

      Rubbish! If the Govt mandates the grid takes all the unreliable energy first and/or subsidizes the capital cost of wind turbines and solar then that’s what we get in the short/medium term. The only question being what will we get in the long run when such legislative fiat has deliberately closed the last reliable generator, bearing in mind that South Australia needed a certain amount of thermal power up and running before the grid could handle adding in the unreliables.

      So we know now 100% unreliables cannot restart the grid, the only question remaining is, at what level can Govts bankrupt thermal power down to before the grid cannot be restarted, period. In SA the Govt is trying to find out the answer for all your benefit. That’s very big of them BUT…

      • Yeah right. Just look at the kilowatt hour costs. In another three years solar will deliver electricity an one half of the cost of NG and one third of the cost of coal. You do realize this is all market driven don’t you?

    • You have a lot of trouble with reading comprehension NorEastern?

      85% of customer energy needs? A completely meaningless number without context. Cost is not stated, land required is not stated, loss of local land value is not stated, ad infinitum …

      Chile and Bahrain… blah blah blah. More useless claims. Come back and tell us the true cost per Kwh when they’re fully constructed and actually functioning, if ever.

      The entire coal industry went bankrupt because many of their customer were legislated out of business and many of their mines were also legislated out of business.
      If the market was not gutted by the government and was still allowed to be free market where the cheapest most efficient power could be sold, those coal businesses would be prospering!

      Without Despot Obama and his corrupt EPA to force the oil industry into bankruptcy, there is zero chance of oil companies going bankrupt.

      Solar in Nevada will never provide power that cheaply. Nor are the solar farms operating all that healthy and Ivanpah is a massive bird fryer and apparently a desert tortoise killer too.

      Next time, sNortEastern, instead of just celebrating the news bytes and titles; try reading deeply into what is actually going on!

    • NorEastern:

      Go up a bit and re-read

      tobyglyn
      October 6, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      One of so many failures.

      Go read about how Ontario energy prices are putting companies out of business and putting retirement homes on the verge of bankruptcy and forcing people to choose between electricity and food.

      Renewable are fine. When used appropriately. Like for charging a car battery or an electric fence, running a remote sign or charging a computer in the bush – all of which I do. Run a house in the winter in northern climes – not so much. Say Propane. We need oilcos to survive. Carbon based life forms will roll over and die without Carbon based energy sources.

      PS – how do you think all those solar panels and wind turbines get manufactured and delivered and what do you suppose they are made of? Can you say petro-chemicals?

      Ah well, Ignorance is bliss – with apologies – as you probably already know all this. How old did you say you were?

    • Here’s the solar FIT scheme details for South Australia where I get paid 44c/kwhr plus another 6.8c from my retailer or 50.8c total when the most I pay for peak power from the grid is 33.8c and off peak (overnight hot water) is only 14c retail
      http://www.sa.gov.au/topics/water-energy-and-environment/energy-bills/solar-rebates-and-payments#minimumretailerpayment
      and if you look at those various Group 1-5 payments(expand ‘Solar feed-in scheme’ heading) then you can see how they’ve had to slowly wind back the largesse over the years until the max you get nowadays is only 6.8c and if you want USD then multiply those prices by 0.76 currently, although they are exclusive of GST so we actually pay another 10% GST on that plus network charge.
      Yes my largesse is 50.8c /kwhr right through to June 30, 2028, all paid for by any lacking neighbours. That’s socialism for you where some are more equal than others as you know from that old dead white guy with the beard who knows what’s best for us all apparently. Well in any case that’s how his disciples interpret him so who am I to argue under the circumstances?

  22. I guess I just got banned from WUWT. Remarkable how an actual scientist with a PhD in CS and a masters in statistics could be banned from a site that purports itself as being “scientific”.

    • No, you didn’t get “banned” your posts just go held for moderation. It happens due to certain word combinations. Your comments are approved. Please don’t jump to conclusions.

  23. Have just perfected a perpetual motion 500 giggle watt generator that uses nothing more than Co2 as fuel , please send munney and lots of it .

  24. Today in Australia, federal and state energy ministers have met and agreed to appoint an independent panel to be chaired by chief scientist Alan Finkel to review the National Electricity Market. The panels is to provide a blueprint for energy security across the grid. Sadly, Finkel has been an advocate for renewables in the past so we may just get more white washing of the deteriorating situations.

    The state governments are still determined to meet their ridiculous, not to mention completely unnecessary, renewable energy targets so unless this panel gets real and produces a report that properly shows how incapable and costly renewables really are, then more blackouts are on the way.

    http://www.afr.com/news/politics/coag-energy-ministers-meet-after-sa-wakeup-call-20161006-grwp9q

    The good thing for the rest of Australia is the huge lead that South Australia has in transitioning to renewables. Their grid will black out several more times before any other state grid reaches the danger point. This is especially likely if Victoria forge ahead on the stupid path dictated by the current Marxist government and the brown coal power plants start to close (sorry Hazelwood – you served us faithfully for 2 generations are now you’re out). If there is a reduction in capacity of the Victorian grid, then it’s bye-bye to the crutch that’s been propping up South Australia since May when the Northern coal plant was closed.

  25. why the grand project?

    well renewables work and the rate of uptake of them is increasing…

    but this is about ensuring there’s enough renewables soon enough to forestall the projected temp rise and hold it to a 1.5 or at worst 2 degree limit.

    you should note that there are many advances – in solar PV efficiency, solar film for office block windows, larger wind turbines, floating wind turbines, tidal turbines, battery storage, other storage methods (a whole heap of those!) – already under test…

    • Renewable energy sources all have their place, but base load for a nationwide electricity system is not one of them.

      Solar is great for small scale or local installations. Many small remote villages in Africa and Asia are installing solar for lighting and small devices because it is way too expensive to lay copper over long distances to server a few dwellings.

      Wind is OK for applications where slow and intermittent does not matter. Perfect for gradually pumping water out of a drainage ditch into a canal or water from a well into a reservoir or water tower.

      Hydro is great for load balancing as it is so quick to switch on and off, but there are simply not enough high mountains and lakes with sufficient rainfall to guarantee base load.

      Wave power has yet to prove itself, and probably a bit like wind power – it simply does not produce enough power for the infrastructure and capital needed to deploy it.

      Tidal power is promising but usually has huge negative local environmental effects.

      That leaves fossil fuels and nuclear. Regardless of your views on CAGW, nuclear is about the only long term electricity generating option.

    • Forget all about technology improving the efficiency of solar. Take my 2100W roof system the day of the SA blackout and on that overcast wet day it was putting our 55W at midday and just before the blackout around 4pm the inverter readout showed it had shut down completely for the day. Currently such solar generators are around 16-17% efficient at turning the sun’s energy into electricity. Now imagine my 2100W system was 100% efficient- abracadabra- your physical nirvana has been reached Griff, so what do I have? An installed capacity around 6 times what I have now ie 12600W and I would get 330W on that same midday and then zero again at perhaps 4.15 or 4.30pm. Now do you get it Griff? You’ve defied the laws of physics with 100% efficiency and all you’ve ended up with is SIX TIMES THE DAMN VARIABILITY stoopids, just the same as if you made those damn windmills 100% efficient at catching the wind’s energy.

      Battery technology??? I’d remind you we’re still using essentially the same lead acid battery technology in our cars that dear old Henry was plonking in the Model T. Have you for one minute considered why that is Griff? Duh!

  26. Good grief, these green-dream technologists seem an unimaginative lot! The problem of renewable power instability and the need for grid-power storage to buffer that instability arise only because the system is designed to feed the power from renewables directly into the grid. Why don’t they simply use the renewables output to manufacture a convenient type of chemical fuel which can then be burned in conventional power stations instead?

  27. I’m always floored when supposedly intelligent people throw around the phrase “decarbonize the world economy” as if it’s a perfectly rational thing and without being called out on it.

    The concept is completely absurd.

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