From the Famously Failed Prediction Files: "Nobody Will Be Using Coal in 2017"

Guest post by David Middleton

Failed_Predictions.PNG

IN BRIEF
  • In the midst of a coal shortage in 1917, one writer predicted that solar energy would replace coal by 2017.
  • Coal is still very much in use, but perhaps his premonition was just a few decades short of the target. Solar power is growing at such a rate that we won’t have to wait another 100 years for the prediction to come true.

LOOKING AHEAD

In the course of a century, people made a lot of predictions about the future of technology.

Some were right—like H.G. Wells who, in 1903, described metal-hulled warships on land that could be considered the precursor to military tanks today; or George Orwell’s vision of 1984 (written in 1949), where the world was monitored by an interconnected web of security cameras; even John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar, who wrote his version of 2010 back in 1969, and it basically described the reality of 2013.

Others were way off—like Ken Olsen who said no one would ever want a computer in their home back in 1977. Or the President of the Michigan Savings Bank who said horses were here to stay and automobiles would be nothing but a fad.

Some, however, foresaw a future that stood at the cusp of possibility; like the writer who wrote a piece for the Lincoln Evening Journal called Looking Forward. In it, he describes 2017 as a world that is no longer dependent on coal for energy. The author envisioned a future where technology would be able to harvest energy from the sun and run it through pipes for electricity.

Obviously, we’re not quite there yet.

[…]

Futurism

The rest of the article is just a bunch of nonsensical babble about climate change and solar power.  However, the irony of the “In Brief” bullet points is simply priceless: Including a future failed prediction in an article about a past failed prediction!

Coal is still very much in use, but perhaps his premonition was just a few decades short of the target. Solar power is growing at such a rate that we won’t have to wait another 100 years for the prediction to come true.

 

data

This is what Data laughing at you looks like.

Three fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have provided more than 80% of total U.S. energy consumption for more than 100 years. In 2015, fossil fuels made up 81.5% of total U.S. energy consumption, the lowest fossil fuel share in the past century. In EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2016 Reference case projections, which reflect current laws and policies, that percentage declines to 76.6% by 2040. Policy changes or technology breakthroughs that go beyond the trend improvements included in the Reference case could significantly change that projection.

In 2015, the renewable share of energy consumption in the United States was its largest since the 1930s at nearly 10%. The greatest growth in renewables over the past decade has been in solar and wind electricity generation.Liquid biofuels have also increased in recent years, contributing to the growing renewable share of total energy consumption.

[…]

In EIA’s Reference case projection, petroleum consumption remains similar to current levels through 2040, as fuel economy improvements and other changes in the transportation sector offset growth in population and travel. Coal consumption continues to decline, especially in the electric power sector. Natural gas consumption increases in the industrial sector and the electric power sector.

Some electric fuels, such as nuclear and hydroelectric, remain relatively flat in the Reference case, with little change in capacity or generation through 2040. Biomass, which includes wood as well as liquid biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel, remain relatively flat, as wood use declines and biofuel use increases slightly. In contrast, wind and solar are among the fastest-growing energy sources in the projection, ultimately surpassing biomass and nuclear, and nearly exceeding coal consumption in the Reference case projection by 2040.

[…]

US EIA

eia02

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, Annual Energy Outlook 2016

Based the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s, Monthly Energy Review, Annual Energy Outlook 2016, it looks as if coal will still be in use well into the 22nd Century…

failed_predictions_2

Ooops!

Of course, the EIA’s forecast included Obama’s soon-to-be-erased Clean Power Plan.

And the EIA forecast is just for these tenuously United States. The rest of the world will also continue to burn coal..

xom03

Wind and solar won’t be providing 85% of the world’s electricity in 2040. Coal will still be generating twice as much electricity as wind and solar. Source: ExxonMobil

Wind and solar won’t be providing 85% of the world’s electricity in 2040 and coal will still be generating twice as much electricity as wind and solar.

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Griff

Coal has peaked and is in decline though…
And by 2050 the EU intends to be on 80% renewables… Hawaii and Seden will be 100% by then.

michel

The EU could get to 80% renewables. All it would have to do is build this much generating capacity and generate regardless of need. Then claim you are running off it.
In fact what you are doing is running a conventional grid with renewable on the side as a minor adjunct.
Don’t ask how much renewable, what percent. Ask how much emissions have fallen. And take a look at Germany. Or China.
You can install as much as you want of renewable, but the emissions don’t fall, because the renewable is a sort of useless spare wheel.
The problem is dispatchability and intermittency. Well, the other problem is denial.

MarkW

In Griffies world, desire is sufficient to make anything possible.

BobM

“Well, the other problem is denial.”
+1

D. J. Hawkins

“Our main problem is dispatchability and intermittentcy.
Out two main problems are dispatchability, intermittentcy, and denial.
Our three main problems are dispatchability, intermittentcy, denial, and a fanatical devotion to Energiewende.
Our four, our four main problems are…”

Paul Penrose

DJ,
Too funny. And all too true as well. Bravo!

Auto

BobM
Agreed.
Auto

michel

And Sweden could go, on this measure, 100% renewable. And still be emitting as much as it is today.

Eustace Cranch

“intends to be”
Ah, that road paved with good intentions. Its destination is well known.

Auto

Ah – the extra-global warming has a place. [Anthropogenic? Burnt souls . . . . so it m i g h t be !!]
Thank you for reminding us of that, Eustace.
Auto

MarkW

Coal is declining because frakking has made natural gas less expensive.
That will change over time.
One constant with Griffie, any trend that is moving in a way he likes, is predicted to continue forever.

commieBob

Exactly. On the graph the projected decrease in coal consumption exactly matches the projected increase in natural gas consumption. If natural gas quits being cheap, coal will rise again. For most of my life coal reserves have been measured in hundreds of years. When petroleum and natural gas are gone, coal will still be there. After that … thorium. 🙂

Chris

“Coal is declining because frakking has made natural gas less expensive.
That will change over time.”
Why will it change? Frakking technology keeps improving.

MarkW

Chris: Try reaching out to the real world. For once.
1) The coal industry is also working on reducing costs.
2) There’s only so much gas out there. Eventually it will start to run out. When that happens gas prices will rise.
PS: I’m making no predictions on when it will happen, be it a couple of decades or a couple of centuries.

Lancifer

Sorry Griff, but by 2050 the EU may no longer exist.

Gloateus Maximus

Ojala!

Hans-Georg

Funny, so wet dreams look like. But, you are right in remote areas of New Zealand there were already 50 years ago lead batteries, small windmills on the roof and electricity from 9-12 mornings and from 15-17 afternoons. But in those remote areas there were people who had nothing to work, were old, and lived from their retirement. No one else.

Tom in Denver

Hawaii renewables are less than 15% of total current energy usage, http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=HI
There is no possible way they can get to 100% by 2050, unless they invent solar airliners.
As for the mythical land of Seden, I’ve never been there, is it possibly located somewhere near Atlantis?

AllyKat

Considering that Hawaii cannot support its population without massive imports and exporting their trash, even if they managed to get to 100% “renewables”, their environmental impact would still be terrible.
Actually, one might be able to argue that their impact would be worse, as they would no longer be contributing (or at least contributing less) CO2 to green the planet. For shame.

Steve Fraser

Let’s not forget tourism. How might people get there and back renewably? Bio jet fuel made from pineapples?

Auto

Tom in Co
Seden – a possible mistype – O can do they – for Sedan, a French city that invented, or popularised, or had a name linked to the Latin for ‘seated’ – the Sedan Chair, a variation on the Turkish tahtırevan.
This link is to the great God Wiki, which even I can edit; it may, perhaps, still be slightly informative: –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litter_(vehicle)
Auto – still on two feet.

Darrell Demick

Good one, Skankhunt42. Given that there is approximately 100 years of remaining coal reserves left on the planet, I don’t see us moving away from using it any time soon. These so-called renewables, all they do is renew the bank accounts of those who control their construction, and the end-user pays for it.
Crawl back into your hole, troll.

MarkW

Closer to 1000 years.

Retired Kit P

I would be interested to know why Griff, or anyone else for that matter, thinks calling something ‘renewable’ makes it better.
I suspect that advocates anything have never bothered to read any life cycle analysis for producing power. The three most important factors of LCA are location, location, location.
I have been making electricity with steam since 1971. Our job in the power industry is to make electricity when and where people need it.
Notice time and location is a key factor.
In the US, we are required to produce power with insignificant environmental impact. We can and we do. It is hard to beat insignificant. Therefore, protecting the envoroment is not a justification for ‘renewables’.

$120 Billion Euros Germany spent for 5% of its energy after shutting off Nuclear…progressive insanity; http://notrickszone.com/2017/01/27/germany-120-billion-euros-for-5-electricity-supply-and-huge-new-green-movement-against-wind-power/#sthash.leVtp5gq.dpbs

I really liked how Obama killed Coal’s stock prices and then Soros swooped in and brought large shares of coal for pennies on the dollar….

Oh Obama gat into that one as well , don’t worry. As did a number of other Billionaire “environmentalists”

Johann Wundersamer

Griff / occupie:
Griff on January 31, 2017 at 5:55 am
Coal has peaked and is in decline though…
And by 2050 the EU intends to be on 80% renewables… Hawaii and Seden will be 100% by then.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Jakarta

Peak coal will be in about 2070 after which access will drive up the price.

MarkW

Too soon by several hundred years.

Sheri

Only if current usage continues. If we switch to NG and leave the coal for later, the whole estimate is off. As estimates are notoriously off. Ever had your power bill “estimated” or your income taxes “estimated”? Need I say more?

Sheri

And this and that and in the future and blah, blah, blah. Always move the rabbit just ahead of the greyhounds or they won’t run around the track. Works great with the dogs. Would work great if humans had the same behavior as dogs. Fortunately, many are much smarter and realize the rabbit can never, ever be caught.

John F. Hultquist

Griff,
Have a look at this chart, updated every 5 minutes.
I’m glad my heating and refrigerator do not depend on wind.
https://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx
I made a copy of the chart about 2 weeks ago — it was worse than this week for wind power.

richard

I wonder how many forests will have to be chopped to achieve this dream. I doubt that every spare inch of the Uk with a turbine on it would provide any serious source of reliable energy.

BruceC

Griff says, “Coal has peaked and is in decline though…”
Only in your own little world Griff …. meanwhile, in the real world where I live;
Coal has remained the powerhouse for the port, representing 96 per cent of the total trade in 2016. Coal exports jumped by 2.2 per cent to a new record of just under 161.4 million tonnes. In 2015, the port recorded 158 million tonnes in coal exports. The 2016 trade value of coal alone was almost $15.28 billion. 
The strong 2016 figures saw the year end on a high, with a new monthly record for coal exports of 15.94 million tonnes in December.

Newcastle Herald, Jan 18, 2015
http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4409305/coal-comeback-drives-port-to-trade-record/

BruceC

Sorry, Newcastle Herald, Jan 18, 2015, should be ‘Newcastle Herald, Jan 18, 2017

AndyG55

chuckle.. morning Bruce.. I was typing when you posted. 🙂

AndyG55

“Coal has peaked and is in decline though”
ROFLMAO
There was a slight down-turn in China, coal prices dropped.
But now that coal price is sky-rocketing.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-17/contract-coal-prices-spike-for-march-quarter/8188066
Once this anti-science anti-CO₂ stupidity is gone, coal will be king again, because it is the cheapest, most efficient, most widely available, with the massive added benefit of adding carbon back into the carbon cycle.

BruceC

Morning Andy …. bit better today than yesterday, thank goodness. My AWS registered 42.8C @ 2:15pm.

Gunga Din

Remove CAGW’s (Obama’s?) “War on Coal”…where’s the peak? And let’s not forget Bill Clinton’s declaring that area in Utah with a large deposit of “clean coal” a national something or other so that it couldn’t compete with the Lippo Group’s deposit.
True, natural gas is a genuine competitor of coal, but remove political and “Green” motivated Government regulations and restrictions and the “peak” for coal is way off in the distance.
PS Griff, what powers the grid where you live? “Renewable”? What kind of backup does it have? Are all of the wires of your grid disconnected from coal fired plants? If not, why haven’t you climbed a tower and cut them?
Not quite ready to meet reality?

Gerry, England

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And hell is a good place to send warmists and I hear it is fuelled by coal. Keep those fires burning Satan.

Leo Morgan

I remember being told in 2012 that oil had peaked.
I must see some more evidence of this wolf you keep crying about before I can take you seriously.

Oil, gas and coal (plus nuclear) will dominate until a truly revolutionary energy source is developed. It will not be wind or solar. We may have to wait another hundred years or so, but it will happen.

Paul belanger

Dear Griff
Right, a few more refugees and they will be getting most of their energy from Camel dung patties.

DHR

Yogi Berra may have said “Its tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” but he was not the originator. The saying is a Dutch proverb sometimes attributed to the physicist Nils Bohr but the true origin is lost.

Evan Jones

“I never said a lot of the things I said.” — Yogi (attrib.)

TA

I’m betting Yogi arrived at that thought independently.

Gloateus Maximus

comment image
‘Nuff said.

Gloateus Maximus

That was coal production in China. Here is India:comment image

Chris
Gloateus Maximus

Chris,
Only because of the economic downturn in China. It will rise again.
Windmills and solar need reliable FF backup.

MarkW

Chris is a lot like Griffie. Any trend that is moving in his preferred direction, no matter how short term, is both permanent and accelerating.

Sheri

But it can’t decline. The trend line is UP and UP. And a trendline going up can NEVER go down. We learned that from climate “science”.

Chris

MarkW, it’s good to see you being consistent as always. Another post with no supporting links.

Chris

Gloateus Maximus, except that China’s economy is not declining, it grew by 6.7% last year. China just announced they will be spending $360B on new renewable energy projects by 2020. And they canceled 103 coal fired plants that were under construction or planned.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/beijing-to-spend-300bn-on-clean-energy-as-children-choke-in-class-9509swwnz
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-coal-idUSKBN151090

michel

But both are leading the world in the fight against climate change, and are doing this by increasing their emissions dramatically as well as increasing coal use.
Yes, you have to be a climate scientist to understand that one. Takes years, no decades of study. Its a whole different language.

Gloateus Maximus

China sells us bird- and bat-massacring windmills and solar panels which can’t be made in the US because of terrible pollution, while increasing output of its dirty, low BTU coal. And we can’t sell them our clean, high BTU coal because of “death trains”.
Insanity.

Chris

Coal fired plants kill far more birds than wind or solar.

Gloateus Maximus

Chris,
No, they don’t. Per unit of power generated, FF is far less damaging to wildlife than so-called renewables.
Hydro dams, true renewables, have however harmed fish. And windmills in the Pacific NW interfere badly with optimum use of hydro.
Wind and solar are environmental nightmares, in production, construction and operation.

Johann Wundersamer

Chris,
give the renewables 100 years = another 100 years for coal
to nominate the real bird batters.

MarkW

Chris, why do you feel the need to make stuff up?

DonM

If you feel the need to exaggerate to make your point, there is probably something wrong with your point.
(Chris, please print this, paste it to your computer, and read it before you click ‘post comment”)

Chris

MarkW said: “Chris, why do you feel the need to make stuff up?”
That’s rich, coming from a guy who never provides supporting links for his statements or positions. You come from the “it’s true because I say so” school. That’s not one I subscribe to.

Chris

Gloateus Maximus said: “No, they don’t. Per unit of power generated, FF is far less damaging to wildlife than so-called renewables.”
Nope. Avian death rates for wind farms are .27 fatalities/GWhr. For nuclear, .6 and for fossil fuel powered, 9.4.
Another paper I found had wind and nuclear at essentially the same – .3, while coal was at 5. Either way, FF plants are far more damaging per gigawatt hour than renewable.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251342644_The_Avian_and_Wildlife_Costs_of_Fossil_Fuels_and_Nuclear_Power

Hans-Georg

The electric motor (1834, Jakobi,) is older than the internal combustion engine (the first useful internal combustion engine was invented by Lenoir in 1858 as a stationary motor). Why did not he? Because it lacks the most important part of an engine that is to be mobile. The economic storage of the required energy supply. With the combustion engine, this was achieved with tanks for gas, gasoline and diesel. However, there is a lack of an electric motor, despite all the technical improvements to the batteries in the recent past. It is still a toy for fans despite Tesla. For it is still lacking in economic efficiency as one of the pillars of energy storage. And as long as that is the case, fossil energy is still needed as a storage medium. Also as permanent storage for power stations. Power generation from wind and electricity still lacks continuity and reasonable storage possibilities. At any rate, if one lives in a civilized and industrialized country. Other countries may have different customs and bushmen have no electricity at all.

Gregory White

Those graphs in regard to renewables are wrong, none of them are an independent energy source, they are redundant sources to a reliable source.

TRM

Given the amount of coal in the world why don’t they focus on burning it cleanly? A pure oxygen combustion at a high enough temperature gives as little pollutants as natural gas. Given the number of countries that have coal it will be used. Let’s use it cleanly. First step is to stop classifying CO2 as a pollutant.

Ben W.

Ever heard of nitrogen oxides??
Pure oxygen combustion is only a fantasy — combustion in the real world is done with air which contains nitrogen — and is the reason that Diesel trucks now have tanks of urea — to remove the nitrogen that has been oxidized from the exhaust.

schitzree

So, remove the Nitrogen (and water vapor, CO2, and other trace gases) from the Air as it is suckered into the power plant. Pure oxygen that will let the coal burn hotter and cleaner, with no heat wasted warming up atmospheric gasses.
No, I have no idea how hard it would be to do. I assume very hard, as no one is doing it yet. But worth looking into. Technology is always advancing, and you never know when something will change the game.

Ben do you have a link to that process? I thought urea was nitrogen already. So why a tank of the stuff to begin with?

Paul

“First step is to stop classifying CO2 as a pollutant”
Whoa, then how can they justify a carbon tax?

Google supercriticalfactsheet.pdf for info on existing coal plants approaching 45% efficiency for electrical generation. That is above regular natural gas plant efficiencies.

Dave O.

How many fossil fuel power plants have been displaced by solar and wind in the U.S.? Don’t know of any but could be wrong.

Gloateus Maximus

Even if any have been, they wouldn’t have been except for subsidies.

Gunga Din

If there is any (large) spot on the globe where FF and nuclear power plants have been displaced by wind and solar without FF or nuclear backup then then they should stand out from space.
Kinda’ like North Korea does.

Hivemind

It has been done in South Australia. They had a state-wide power failure. In fact, it was so successful that Victoria plans to follow suit.

Rhoda R

Didn’t South Australia shut down and dismantle their coal burning power plants. Wasn’t the blackout problem earlier caused by them not having any backup in state when their neighbors cut off their electricity to save their own plants.

Sheri

I thought it was because an interconnection was asked to draw more power than it was rated for after the wind turbines shut down. The connection shut down and took out all electricity. Maybe it was to save the electricity of those who still had lights on, but it seems it was more due to the lack of capacity and overloading a connection. An electrical reality. You can only draw so much power before the circuits shut down.

MikeW

Optimistic solar power contribution statistics are always political, i.e. false. The statistics are based on their own inflated “design capacity”, which is never actually realized. Even these inflated results only continue as long as corrupt governments subsidize the economically parasitic solar power companies. These companies always lose money because their operations and labor force consume more energy than they can ever produce. Since energy is their only economic product, they always spend more money than they take in, unless they are subsidized. Their environmental record is even worse. Their operations destroy wildlife habitat, and they produce highly toxic rare-earth metal wastes that pollute the environment. There is nothing “green” or “economic” about solar power.

Retired Kit P

Mike is lying for dramatic affect. ‘wildlife habitat’ give me a break. Is that like moles in your front yard?
All methods of producing power have environmental cost which is offset be the benefits of using electricity for such thing sewage treatment.
The key performance indicator is impact/kwh. Nobody is building Chernobyl type reactors or 70s wind turbines anymore.

Sheri

That would be like the desert tortoise, gila monster, etc that are losing habitat to the bird frying solar plants. Only a non-scientist could believe that acres of giant spinning propellers and heat-absorbing glass panels could “not affect wildlife”.
It doesn’t matter if you make wind turbines kill 50% less birds and then put 500% more turbines over what were up in the 70s.
Then there would be the hypocrisy of slaughtering eagles with wind turbines while fining Native Americans for killing one eagle for a religious ceremony. Wildlife is valuable to greens only as long as it blocks what they oppose. The ESA blocks farming but not skyscraper height spinning propellers. That is, quite frankly, insane.

MikeW

In addition to the habitat lost directly to solar panels and wind farms (as mentioned by Sheri), rare earth open pit mines destroy millions of acres of wildlife habitat. Lithium is the prime rare earth metal used by both solar and wind power plants. Lithium is also highly toxic, and its waste disposal creates a major environmental problem. All this for erratic, inefficient and unreliable energy production that benefits very few people. The impact/kwh for wind and solar are far and away the worst of any of the power sources.

jake

A quote: Our cities didn’t end up being buried in horse manure (Malthus), the industrial revolution didn’t starve itself out by 1900 because of the shortage of coal (Jevons), we didn’t starve to death by 2000 and run out of mineral resources (Club of Rome, Holdren, Ehrlich) nor did we freeze to death by that date with the imminent man-made new ice age on the way (by the same people). That there are still apparently well-educated persons making such doomster predictions is evidence more of their misfit psychology than the application of sound methods (Hansen, Gore). “Computers” predicted global warming. When no warming occurred, it was renamed global climate change. The whole affair was possibly the biggest hoax ever imposed on gullible folks, that also impoverished all the non-wealthy among us. And made those with political connections ala Al Gore very wealthy.

banging head

jake:
I liked your answer! Short, sweet, concise!
Could you explain to me why My condo insurance renewal
says, “While the effects of climate change have impacted
our home insurance rates we still aim to offer excellent savings
opportunities”? Thanks in advance.
PS. This is no joke!

Gunga Din

Al has a relative in the insurance business?

Evan Jones

That there are still apparently well-educated persons making such doomster predictions
In the late 1970s, Herman Kahn said that over 90% of intellectuals believed that utter nonsense. (I know he said that because he said it to me.)

Middleton ==> Truth be known, we all want petroleum and coal burning to go away as the major sources of [electrical] energy. The are dirty sources of power — in the burning and in the drilling and mining of them.
The problem being: There is no ready, easy, cheap alternative available today, except nuclear, which is blocked by ill-founded fears (probably stirred up and maintained by vested interest groups and certainly by enviro-nuts).
If the governments get serious about investing in energy research there will come a breakthrough. All our efforts should be towards seeing that government research funds go towards REAL energy research that will lead to [eventually] that breakthrough.

Retired Kit P

Sorry Kip you are wrong about nuclear power. The only thing limiting nuclear power is cheap fossil fuels.
Pandering to irrational fear is not a design criteria. The NRC hold public meeting near where new nuke plants are proposed. Local people are happy to have them. The usual suspects come from cities far making the same claims.
The NRC listens but fear is trumped by science.

Samuel C Cogar

The only thing limiting nuclear power is cheap fossil fuels.
Don’t be talking trash, ….. it outs you as being a gullible mimicker of garbage commentary.
Lawsuits are the limiting factor preventing an increase in nuclear power generation.
Would you seriously consider building yourself a new house if you knew for a fact that it would take you 10 to 15 years of COSTLY “court battles” just to get a “building permit” approved?

MarkW

And no guarantee that you will win your case, no matter how solid your evidence.

Kit P ==> Two nuc plants have been ordered shuttered in the last year — one in California and one in New York.
Where are the new ones? Name one community that was happy to have a new Nuclear Power plant built in their backyard.
Science should trump fear — but it does not trump societal pressure.

Here’s my solution:
* Build a huge international human-hamster-wheel infrastructure in developed nations, whereby the wheels are connected as electric power generators.
* Establish a United Nations panel to oversee each country’s commitment to run (or walk, … or crawl) on those wheels at given times of the day for a given standard duration.
* Allow people a chance to get into shape on a schedule that will enable developed countries to phase out fossil fuels for electricity production.
* Increase the mandated duration of activity on the wheels to a level that will sustain power supplies to meet demand.
* Limit population density in such a way that more farmland can be created to grow more food to meet the greater caloric expenditure of now more active people. Oh wait, I just killed a lot of the CO2 that would benefit that increased crop demand for more food to feed the human generators. No, wait, I said “developed countries”, so undeveloped countries might still produce enough CO2 fertilizer.
I’m still working out the details.

MarkW

Most treadmills actually consume power.
What an opportunity we are missing.

Bill Illis

It is interesting that coal, oil and natural gas are just so inexpensive right now. The cost per energy generated is just so small.
Its too bad that solar energy did not work out. But it don’t. You can’t take photons and make electricity on an efficient basis.
Unless you were a plant many millions of years ago, who took those solar photons and did the all the hard work on this front and left us with an amazing cheap energy source produced initially from solar photons.
You would have to be a dumbas not to use that gift.

Retired Kit P

The problems with wind and solar is not initial cost. It is how much they do not make.

Retired Kit P

As an engineer, I am very good at predicting the future within a narrow area of expertise. We used to listen to equipment for abnormal sounds. Now electronic monitors send signals to computers and analysis the data.
My prediction is that wind and solar power generation will be zero 2040. All that equipment installed now will be junk by then. It does not work for producing power when we need it and the political benefit of pictures will be met.

Wind and solar won’t be providing 85% of the world’s electricity in 2040 and coal will still be generating twice as much electricity as wind and solar.

And if we have any sense Nuclear will be 2 or 3 times higher. I’m currently at either 35 or 40% nuke.
By 2040 there will be landfills full of this trash, figure after 10 or 12 years, even a 5% failure rate is a huge number of panels that have to be replaced. There is no formal industry based life testing of solar panels. They live in just about the worst environment you can put electronics in. And sooner or later that will catch up to them. And they have a very limited output capacity, no magic future technology is going to fix that.

K. Kilty

And where do we place all the fatigued-out wind turbine blades?

Sheri

From AltFuelsNow:
“Mechanical recycling of wind turbine blades produces two types of recyclates – fine and coarse. The finer recyclates have an especially low density which helps reduce the mass of its new construction, but the finer pieces also absorb more resin than others, which ultimately diminishes their performance. Though coarser recyclates absorb less resin than finer pieces, it is impossible to eliminate all of the resin residue. As a result, coarse recyclates have difficulty bonding with new materials. Return to Top
What is Thermal Recycling of Wind Turbine Blades?
Through the thermal recycling method, wind turbines are burned. The polymer within the turbine material is combustible and, when burned to 500 degrees Celsius, produces solid substances or liquid hydrocarbon products that can be turned into energy for the production of electricity. Leftover glass fibers may be used in glue, paints and concrete. Leftover carbon fibers may become part of new composite materials.”
Not sure how environmentally friendly incinerating the blades is, nor precisely what “liquid hydrocarbon products” are produced and what it takes to turn then into energy, but this was the latest I found. Since turbines are wearing out at higher and higher rates, what to do with the blades has suddenly caught the attention of people. One problem may be that many people have no idea just how huge the blades are.

As a composites engineer I can assure you that wind turbine blades will never “fatigue out.” Below 55% of ultimate stress fiberglass fatigue life is essentially infinite.

Gloateus Maximus

Except for all those bird and bat strikes and blasting by sand and dust.

Are they stressed less than 50%? I think I’ve seen pictures some failures.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

I realize these figures are for the US, but worldwide approximately 15% of the coal mined in a given year goes into steel production. Not only is this not going to stop; it’s going to continue increasing. Every metric ton of new steel requires (IIRC) ~787 kg of coal. So you can take world steel production projections and translate those directly into coal requirements. According to this resource, world steel demand in 2030 will be 2,290 million metric tons, an 80% increase over the 2010 actual production of 1,270 million metric tons.
Steel production has shifted mostly out of the US and mostly into China, Japan and India, but it is still going to be produced somewhere and wherever that is will require coal.
Sorry to disappoint Hansen and McKibben, but those “death trains” are going to keep rolling.

RWturner

The EIA predicts? I’d sooner believe tarot cards than the EIA.

MarkW

Tarot cards have a better track record.

Clif westin

It’s been explained to me over and over but I still don’t get it. Why isn’t hydro considered renewable?

Paul

“Why isn’t hydro considered renewable?”
It is when quoting that energy amount from renewables.
It isn’t when planning new renewable projects.

Retired Kit P

With a few exceptions all of the large hydro in the US is being used. Another dam is possible between Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. Although it was proposed, the new lake would extend into Grand Canyon.
One of the benefits of hydro is unlimited recreation. Out west there is more land than people will to drive dirt roads. We are headed for Lake Mead for a few days this afternoon. We have gone to numerous places around Lake Mead, Lake Powell, and Gooseneck State Park. From the top of canyons, you can tell if the water is deeper for the purposes of making electricity.
‘Small hydro’ is still considered renewable in principle. There are also lots of opportunities. That is opportunities to find out what the billing rate for environmental attorneys.

MarkW

Hoover Dam is north of the Grand Canyon.
Any dam between Hoover and the canyon would also be north of the Canyon and since the Colarado flows south through that area, I don’t see how the lake would back up into the Canyon.
I remember reading that there was discussion about making Hoover Dam several hundred feet higher, but since they were already pushing the technology of the day, the decided not to.
Now that they have the new bridge finished that opens up the possibility of a taller dam in the same area.

Gloateus Maximus

Mark,comment image

Darrin

According to the greenies in the NW, hydro is not green because dams block salmon runs from returning and kill smolt as they migrate to the ocean. There’s other reasons they use too but salmon is the main argument. I like to make their heads explode by asking how can making smolt protein drinks be considered bad when chopping up birds/bats can be considered renewable.

Retired Kit P

Salmon runs are blocked upstream of the Snake River in Idaho.

Gloateus Maximus

The Grand Coulee Dam, built without fish ladders, wiped out an entire subspecies of salmon, the June Hogs, which spawned in BC.

Gloateus Maximus

OTOH,
Aluminum smelting and plutonium extraction powered by the Columbia River dams won WWII.

Sheri

Another “new” argument—reservoirs emit more methane than we thought.
Actually, any power that would allow the capitalist system to flourish is NOT renewable, no matter what it is. This is not about energy, it’s about killing capitalism. Every source that works “suddenly” has all these down sides. Ones that fail and cost a fortune are exempted from any criticism and have no problems.

Rhoda R

Because if it were considered a renewable a lot of the renewable ‘targets’ would already have been met and the environmental grifters couldn’t reeve your pockets of your money.

Stuart Tyson

You are right .It’s a PC thing.Political.The Bonneville Power Administration is prohibited by the Department of Energy from counting hydro as renewable.BPA ends up dumping water from dams because DOE regulations require preferential purchase of renewable energy , here a bouts mostly from wind farms.When the wind blows water is “spilled ” without going through the turbines.100% inefficient.

DonM

“Why isn’t hydro considered renewable?
politics, market manipulation, lies.
Utilities are required buy a certain percent of “renewables”. Some utilities would not have to have changed their practices at all.
Bonneville (BPA) would have been given more subsidy through the fake demand of renewables. Hydro power would have been worth another 20% overnight because it would have been peddled to Utility companies that needed to buy their quota of overpriced crap energy.

Anyone who has problems predicting power from the revolutionary nuclear molten salt reactors cannot be taken seriously. I guess they actually have to start installing these reactors before
prognosticators as stupid as these guys finally see the future. The future is molten salt, Period. Cheapest, safest and can burn up most of our nuclear wastes. Can be built in factories and installed on land which requires minimal preparation. Three companies have designs in the testing phase and the Chinese are rushing pell mell to develop as well. Exactly how can these people claim to be experts on the future of energy and be so utterly ignorant of future energy technologies? Amazingly dopey article.

Retired Kit P

“be so utterly ignorant of future energy technologies?”
How stupid is arthur? Everyone is ignorant of the future, it has not happened. The second reason aurthur is stupid is that he is ignorant of current technologies.
Griff and arthur have something in common. They repeat baseless opinion.

Johann Wundersamer

The real problem:
http://br.de/s/ysnNHo
why are we still here / when will start the real problems

Retired Kit P

According to Cohen, transportation is the most significant safety factor in making power. However, “death trains” are not all that significant.
I did read of a coal truck rolling through a lunch room when the parking break was not properly set and wheels not chocked.

MarkW

When I lived in Tampa, a tanker truck carrying gasoline crashed under an interstate bridge.
The Interstate was closed for about 6 months while they replaced the bridge.

Retired Kit P

Gasoline is a transportation fuel. Power plants using oil or gas have pipelines.
The safety criteria for making electricity is much more stringent. Think of it this way. Banning gasoline tankers on road with gasoline cars would not make any sense.

Leo Smith

by 2050 I expect there to be little or no ‘renewable’ electricity generation left.
Apart from hydro and waste burners.

K. Kilty

We went through a sort of “peak coal” in the U.S. probably once before when coal powered the trains and then the railroads switched to Diesel. We have ghost towns out west where once coal was king.
Just the other day we read on this site predictions that fossil fuel usage will be in decline within a decade or two. But decline does not mean end. Not for coal and not for fossil fuels. It is possible to use electric vehicles for consumer transport, and short haul trucks, and even railroads, but we will be using diesel for the next century at least in applications like long-haul trucks, farming and construction, and JP fuels for aircraft. There are no realistic alternatives.

Jerry Henson

It is not fossil fuel, it is hydrocarbons and it is renewable. The only thing fossil
about it is Western thinking about its origin.
The Russians understand hydrocarbon’s origin and exploit the West’s
failure to understand by supporting the watermelons’ attempt to convince
us not to exploit the best and cheapest form of portable fuel. They
have traded on our ignorance for years and they do not want it to stop.
http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/30/intelligence-report-anti-fracking-enviros-are-funded-by-vladimir-putin/
The greens and big oil have had a common although probably unspoken common
interest in people thinking that hydrocarbons are rare and finite. Big oil’s interest is
convince us that their product is worth more than it really is, and greens say that we
are running out anyway, so we need to find an alternative.

Caligula Jones

I was purging some old magazines (remember them?) a few years ago, and came across some futurist one from 1999, making “millennium” predictions. All big thinkers, all geniuses, and all, mostly, wrong.
BTW, here in Ontario, Canada, our Liberal government spent the first part of its current mandate blaming US coal use for our pollution. Then they banned coal here and claimed that the air is clear because they banned coal here.
I don’t expect consistency from these guys, but this was blatant…

Caligula , and that is not even the worst your lib “government” as far as their “energy” policies are concerned are a total disaster! ( I won’t even start on what they have done to the manufacturing sector)

subtle2

David Middleton
You mentioned a quote from 1917 about running out of coal.
Can you provide the source?
This was during one of the great commodity booms in history when there were critical shortages.
The big commodity boom previous to that maxed out in the 1860s. A leading Brit economist, Jevons, had a personal vision that the world would run out of coal. He had detailed numbers to prove it. And concluded that civilization would fall back to a “subsistence” basis.
His book, the “Coal Question” (1865) has some wonderful quotations about shortages and disaster.
Thanks,
Bob

Timo Soren

I enjoyed the incorrect attribution to our Mr Berra. The Yogi Berra quote should really be called a re-quote. It is possible he said it, he was a humorous man. But no-one actually can find a precise time he did. It is probably a poor attribution. And hence why i like seeing people repeat it, as I then explain that the knowledge of the commons is frequently entirely wrong! Much like climate science.
HOWEVER, the origin of the saying is in Denmark, of all places, and we have record of it from Quote investigator:

The Danish politician Karl Kristian Steincke authored a multi-volume autobiography, and the earliest evidence known to QI appeared in the fourth volume titled “Farvel Og Tak” which was released in 1948. The title in English would be “Goodbye and Thanks”. The pertinent section of the book was called:
Og saa til Slut et Par parlamentariske Sprogblomster
And finally a couple of parliamentary howlers (English translation)
A remark made during the parliamentary year 1937-1938 was presented although no attribution was given. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
Det er vanskeligt at spaa, især naar det gælder Fremtiden.
It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.

Jerry Henson

Timo, Yogi also said,”I didn’t say all those things they say I said.”
That being said, he was my favorite philosopher. I especially like
“When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”

Bill Treuren

As a starter don’t let the government decide the winners.
If that had been the case fracing would never have happened. Even from within the oil industry up until just a few years ago there was considerable skepticism that it would work.
Can you imagine the current world without fracing.
Oil at $120/bbl
Gas $16/Gj or more everywhere.
Coal demand huge everywhere prices also
renewables would be even more the flavour.
Etc.
Let the commercial imperatives prevail.
Oh and Putin the leader of the world just forgot. Ah the watermelons would rejoicing in a new Marxist planet.

Gunga Din

As a starter don’t let the government decide the winners.

I’d have no problem with Government deciding the winners if Government didn’t have so many politicians in it. (Along with all those other people.) 😎

Les Francis

If oil as at $120.00 a barrel then the world would be in a financial mess.
Many of the worlds economies couldn’t stand with oil that price.

Jerry Henson

David Middleton If you are the DM of plant stomata, I have some information
for you. The reason that plant stomata vary greatly around the world as an
indicator of CO2 uptake is that CO2 is not well mixed in the atmosphere.
Plant stomata reflect an amount of CO2 that is mixed but mostly they reflect
the CO2 which up wells from the topsoil immediately under them.
The very rich topsoil in Kansas, for example, is very rich due to the amount
of natural gas up welling from deep in the earth being eaten by microbes,
oxidized, making the soil rich, fertilizing the plants once. The oxidized hydrocarbons
(CO2) enrich again through the stomata, causing people who translate
stomata to CO2 ppm confusion.
Look at world soil maps as an indicator of ongoing hydrocarbon enrichment
and a predictor of CO2 immediately available to plants.
The above are absolute proof that hydrocarbons up well continuously
and always have, a constantly renewed resource.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Jakarta

Coal consumption in Central Asia as a domestic heating fuel is on the rise. Concomitant with this trend is the development of extremely clean burning stoves that are being widely praised for functionality – not just smokelessness. Whatever the claims were for ‘health impact’ they are about to be disrupted. The in-home generation of electricity using TAG’s and TEG’s is also on the rise. Given the right opportunity, these changes may arrive a lot sooner than sector experts expect.

chadb

In 1917 coal use meant something particular – furnaces. In all fairness by that description nobody uses coal anymore. Second, we produced approximately as many short tons of coal in 2016 as in 1917, but the population has more than tripled. So nobody has coal in their houses, and the per-person use is 1/3 what it was.
If you are feeling generous to our WWI era counterparts they really didn’t miss the mark by all that much.

I can understand predicting solar power would replace coal back in 1917.
Solar power was a fairly new technology back then. (Yes, solar power dates back before the turn of the 20th Century.)
But doing so after the technology has had 130 years to mature?
We’re talking about technology introduced while Queen Victory still ruled the British Empire. Writing about Victorian era technology running the world is fine in a work of fiction (it’s called Steam Punk), but it doesn’t work that well when tried in reality.

Retired Kit P

“ordered shuttered”
Exactly who ordered what, Kip? Some states have not provided financial incentives to overcome cheap natural to keep some nukes operating past original design life. The operators of these plants made preparations necessary to keep them open.
Just for the record, I do not think politicians in California and New York represent the views of the people living near the plants.
Watts Bar 2 just came on line, two reactors in S. Carolina, and Two in Georgia are under construction. Places that welcome new nukes plants include Richland, Wa; Hollywood, Al; Berwick, Pa; Calvert County, MD.
The NRC responds to ‘Science’.

Beta Blocker

Retired Kit P: “The NRC responds to ‘Science’.”
RKP, do you think Donald Trump, Rick Perry, and the Republicans in Congress will restart the Yucca Mountain project, or will they instead do the sensible, the practical, and the affordable thing and send our spent nuclear fuel to an interim storage facility on the surface; and send our defense wastes to the WIPP facility in New Mexico?

Retired Kit P

Having worked on Yucca Mountain reviewing much of the science to ensure that meets the NRC criteria (e.g. traceable and traceable), my opinion is that there are many solutions.
I personally would divide it between the backyards of Harry Reid, Obama, Clinton, and Jane Fonda.
Give me the money spent by DOE and I could make it disappear and no one would ever find it. Me my co-conspirators would keep the left over money.
However, the courts told Obama that even POTUS must follow the laws enacted by congress or get congress to change the law. From a practical point of view, what better place to put it than where we did underground nuke weapons testing.

Beta Blocker

Retired Kit P: “However, the courts told Obama that even POTUS must follow the laws enacted by congress or get congress to change the law. From a practical point of view, what better place to put it than where we did underground nuke weapons testing.”
Just my personal opinion here, but as things stand today, it makes no sense at all to be burying our spent nuclear fuel underground — anywhere, at all, for any reason.
Ninety-percent of the original fuel’s energy is still left in it, and the true dangers of storing spent nuclear fuel on the surface are minimal and easily managed.
Now, it is quite true that twenty, fifty, or even a hundred years may pass before reprocessing and recovery of our civilian SNF’s remaining energy content becomes economic.
But so what. Using deep geologic storage as a means of interim SNF management is massively more expensive than storing it on the surface. And for what actual gain in nuclear risk reduction?
None that is worth the enormous trouble and expense.
Sure, the Obama Administration’s decision to shut down Yucca Mountain was a violation of the Nuclear Waste policy Act (NWPA). But the Congress was complicit in that decision by not funding the NWPA. The Republicans could have restored funding for Yucca Mountain in 2014, but they chose not to.
It’s better they didn’t, because the NWPA is an unworkable law. It mixes valueless defense wastes with civilian material that is a combination of valueless waste and potentially valuable spent nuclear fuel.
The waste management approach embodied by the NWPA is a sure prescription for failure and has been recognized as such by many nuclear advocates in and out of government.
Let’s store our valuable spent nuclear fuel on the surface in one or more localities that want to host it, and let’s send the valueless civilian and defense wastes to the WIPP geologic repository in New Mexico for permanent underground disposal.

Retired Kit P

“Colarado flows south”
Rivers flow downhill last I checked. How checking the elevation MarkW. The general direction from Lake Powell to through Grand Canyon is west, then the river curves north before turning south after the Hoover Dam.

nn

And abortion rites normalized in liberal societies. I wonder if anyone predicted that a moral and cultural Renaissance would progress to human sacrifice.

Coal and oil will always be pulled out of the ground as long as it is there because unlike wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear sources of energy, coal and oil also give us a huge slew of other useful products from plastics to cosmetics, lubricants, solvents, paints, fabrics, dyes, and yes, even air and water purification devices. The list goes on for miles. As long as we continue to make those products, we might as well use the byproducts for making energy.
Fossil fuels are a miracle in that they give us so much in energy and products while never depriving any living thing on Earth because plants and animals have no use for it.

Gloateus Maximus

Some other organisms do use fossil fuels, but there is plenty to go around, and we make more of it available for them. That includes those which have recently evolved to consume FF products, like nylon-eating bacteria.