Why today’s renewables cannot power modern civilization

By Dr. Lars Schernikau

Dr. Lars Schernikau has founded, worked, and advised many organizations in the energy, raw material, and coal sectors in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. Lars finished his PhD on the economics of energy, commodities, and the global coal business and published two industry trade books (Springer, available on Amazon) in 2010 and 2017.


· Costs for renewable power generation have dropped fast, but they will not improve 10-fold anymore… physical limits will be reached

· Common comparisons of renewables vs. conventional power generation are misleading. One cannot compare marginal costs for intermittent power with costs for base power

· Adding wind and solar to the power grid beyond a certain point is not only uneconomical but hurts the environment

· Gas’ GHG emissions from production to combustion are essential the same as coal, replacing coal with gas will achieve nothing but increase costs

· The material needs and the environmental impact of today’s renewables far out-shadow those for conventional power

The reason renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could.” (Forbes, May 2019).

I am all for renewable energy. Our long-term future will need to be all renewable… but is what we are currently doing good for our environment?


Figure 1: Graph on global energy[1]

The world today is inhabited by close to 8 billion people and we feed our hunger for power to almost 80% with hydrocarbons (coal, gas, oil). Wind and solar make up an estimated 2% of 2017 primary energy, the remainder largely comes from nuclear, hydro and some biomass. Only a 100 years ago we were 2 billion people. Of today’s 8 billion people there are at least 3 billion with no or only erratic access to power… and global population will increase by another 3-4 billion within the next 50 years.

Now look at Figure 1 and extrapolate to the future. Do you believe that non-hydro renewables wind and solar will give us the energy we need? Can they sustainably and environmentally friendly power the future?

Solar and wind power are not new. However, over the decades we have improved their efficiency. The Betz Limit states that a blade can capture maximum 60% of kinetic energy in air – modern windmills have reached 45%. The Schockley-Queisser Limit states that at maximum 33% of incoming photons can be converted into electrons in silicon photovoltaic – modern PV reaches 26%. “The era of 10-fold gains is over[2]. There is no Moore’s Law in energy. It is time that we are take a whole-system view when looking at solar and wind.


Figure 2: Global prices for power – power in Germany is the most expensive[3]

Wind and solar are inherently intermittent means for power generation. They only work when the wind blows or the sun shines. We need to account for the cost of batteries or the cost of conventional power as backup for wind and solar when comparing the cost of power. None of the current Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) measures account for this. Neither do standard LCOE measures account for (1) the additional cost of interconnections required, nor (2) the cost of managing networks with highly volatile energy inputs, nor (3) the efficiency losses resulting from keeping coal, gas, or nuclear power as backup. Number (3) is interesting and actually explains why the total cost of power goes up the more wind or solar you install beyond a certain point. What that certain point is depends on the country and region, but one thing is sure: Germany is beyond that point, illustrated by their high-power prices (Figure 2).

Only recently has the IEA developed a new way of measuring cost of electricity with what they call Value-Adjusted Levelized Cost of Electricity (VALCOE). In February 2019, the IEA writes “In India … using VALCOE… as the share of solar PV surpasses 10% in 2030, the value of [solar] daytime production drops and the value of flexibility increases.” Figure 4 below illustrates the misleading cost comparisons that the current LCOE would give vs. the more correct VALCOE.


Figure 3: Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and value-adjusted LCOE (VALCOE)
for solar PV and coal-fired power plants in India[4]

Germany has become aware that they need conventional power despite its huge wind and solar capacity installed (Germany’s installed wind and solar capacity by the end of 2018 was 59 GW for wind and 46 GW for solar or 51% of total German capacity; Germany’s wind and solar share was 17% for electricity and only 4,6% for primary power in 2018[5]). You might have heard that Germany decided to exit coal power in addition to exiting nuclear. Wind and solar will not suffice, thus Germany decided to build new gas-fired power plants instead. We know that gas is typically more expensive than coal, more difficult and expensive to transport than coal requiring pipelines or LNG, and generally more difficult and sometimes dangerous to store. What is the reason that Germany shuts down its existing coal-fired power plants and builds new gas-fired ones? Correct, the reason is green-house gas emissions. It is a very well-known fact that gas emits about half the CO2 per kWh during combustion than coal.

What appears to be a less-known fact is that gas emits/leaks methane (a 28x more powerful green-house gas than CO2 over a 100-year horizon and 84x more potent over a 20-year horizon6) during production and transportation. This has been documented in several studies including Poyry 20166. Figure 4 illustrates this fact and compares direct emissions (direct = during combustion) with indirect emissions (indirect = during production and transportation):

– Gas emits about half of CO2 compared to coal during combustion

– Gas emits more CO2eq. (mostly in form of methane) during production and transportation

– Total gas CO2eq.emissions are on par with coal, depending on the type turbine and the location of the power plant


Note: CO2eq Emissions for LNG or shale gas are significantly higher than for pipeline natural gas (PNG)

Figure 4: coal vs. natural gas – green-house gas emissions during partial load operation[6]

Batteries have become far more efficient and the recent move towards electrical vehicles has driven large investments in battery “Gigafactories” around the world. The largest known and discussed factory for batteries is Tesla’s USD 5 billion Gigafactory in Nevada which is expected to provide an annual battery production output of 50 GWh by 2020. Such factories will provide the batteries for our world’s electric vehicles and are supposed to provide backup batteries for houses (see Tesla’s Powerwall6).

Figure 5 below summarizes the environmental challenge of today’s battery technology. The problem with any known battery technology has to do with two main issues:

1) Energy density

2) Material requirements

Energy density: Hydrocarbons are one of the most efficient ways to store energy. Today’s most advanced battery technology can only store 1/40 of the energy that coal can store. This already discounts for the coal power plant efficiency of about 40%. Energy that a 540 kg 85 kWh Tesla battery can store equals the energy of 30 kg of coal. The Tesla battery must then still be charged with power (often through the grid) while coal is already “charged”.

In addition, you can calculate that one annual Gigafactory production of 50 GWh of Tesla batteries would be enough to provide backup for 6 minutes for the entire US power consumption. Today’s battery technology unfortunately cannot be the solution of intermittency.

Material requirements: Next comes the question of the inputs and materials required to produce a battery. It is expected and conservatively calculated that each Tesla battery of 85 kWh requires 25-50 tons of raw materials to be mined, moved and processed. These required materials include copper, nickel, graphite, cobalt and some lithium and rare earths. We will likely also need some aluminum and copper for the case and wiring. Additionally, energy of 10-18 MWh is required to build one Tesla battery, resulting in 15-20 t of CO2 emissions assuming 50% renewable power.

I am not even considering the overburden that needs to be moved for each ton of minerals mined. The overburden ratio can be estimated 1:10. Thus, you can 10x fold the numbers above. One Tesla battery requires 500-1.000 tons of materials to be moved/mined compared to coal which requires only 0,3 tons – a factor of 1.700 to 3.300!


Figure 5: case in point: Tesla‘s batteries – energy density & environmental impact[7]

This article cannot discuss the details of global warming. However, it is very worrying that young people are taught in school to fear the warming created by fossil-fuel burning. We had 1 degree of warming in the past 200 years. The “human cause” has much more to do with the heat that our existence (energy consumption) produces and releases to the biosphere rather than with CO2. The majority of warming is natural, caused by the sun as we are coming out of the Little Ice Age that ended about 300 years ago. We are not heading into a catastrophe, but we need to worry about real pollutants to our environment and the waste we create. This is where we should focus our attention and spend our resources.

Wind and solar – while certainly being appropriate for certain applications such as heating a pool, and thus earning a place in the energy mix – cannot and will not replace conventional power. We need a “New Energy Revolution”. To reach this New Energy Revolution we need to invest more in base research and at the same time invest in, not divest from, conventional power to make it efficient and environmentally friendly.

[1] Note: Primary electricity converted by direct equivalent method; Source: Data compiled by J. David Hughes. Post-1965 data from BP, Statistical Review of World Energy (annual). Pre-1965 data from Arnulf Grubler, “Technology and Global Change: Data Appendix,” (1998).

[2] Mark Mills “The New Energy Economy”, Manhattan Institute, March 2019

[3] Note: This statistic shows electricity prices in selected countries worldwide excl VAT; Source: Statista 2019, Release Date October 2018

[4] Sources: IEA; WEO Analyst; February 12, 2019 by Brent Wanner

[5] Frauenhofer ISE 2018 reported in Clean Energy Wire April 2019

[6] 1) CCGT operation without bypass (incl. operation of the steam turbine); Source: Poyry 2016; German Study on “Comparison of greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired and gas-fired power plants”

[7] Note: 1 kWh = 860 kcal = 0,086 kg oe = 3.600 kj; 1 kcal = 4,1868 kj; 50 GWh = 50.000.000 kWh = 317.500 tons batteries

(1) Tesla‘s Powerwall has a usable capacity of 13.5 kWh and weighs with frame 125 kg. Assuming 100 kg is net battery weight this means 0,135 kWh/kg, so even less effective than Tesla‘s battery

(2) Tesla battery 90% efficient = 76,5 kWh; assuming 5.500 kcal per kg for coal, 40% power plant efficiency to generate 76,5 kWh requires 191 kWh or about 30 kg of coal

Sources: Author‘s Analysis and Research based on Mills „The New Energy Economy, an Exercise in Magical Thinking“, Manhattan Institute March 2019; Matthew R. Shaner et al., “Geophysical Constraints on the Reliability of Solar and Wind Power in the United States,” Energy & Environmental Science 11, no. 4 (February 2018): pp 914–925, pictures taken from: https://www.tesla.com

247 thoughts on “Why today’s renewables cannot power modern civilization

  1. Brilliant article. I do wish the author had been able to discuss the subject of efficiency of the Tesla batteries in cold, and extreme cold weather.

  2. Great essay

    “The majority of warming is natural, caused by the sun as we are coming out of the Little Ice Age that ended about 300 years ago. ”

    ..I thought the LIA ended in 1850 ? (169 years ago ?)

    • The Little Ice Age peaked negatively around 1650-1700 and the planet started warming then. 1850 is considered the end of the LIA.

    • “..I thought the LIA ended in 1850 ? (169 years ago ?)”

      I think that should be: “The LIA bottomed out about 300 years ago”. So temperatures have been rising, though not smoothly, since then. I often see this confusion.

  3. Solar and Wind energy generation are each a function of Earth’s surface area. For this reason they are each not scalable for human energy consumption.

    “There is no Moore’s Law in energy.”

      • I interviewed for laser fusion work at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore and Tokamak at UT Austin in the mid ’70s. I found the scope of the work too confining and the arrogance / elitism of the staffs unbearable. 44 years have passed and most of the geniuses are retired with great pensions, and have passed the torch to another generation of hubris, with little achievement to show for the billions of dollars and millions of hours invested. I often question whether they are really seeking success or just a continuation of the gravy train. Kind of like our politicians who keep running on the same issues they never solve.

  4. Renewables, bah-humbug.

    It’s obviously RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST ACTIVISM that will power the future!

    After all, I saw a handful of activists shut down all shopping traffic at one of the busiest ports in America!

    That’s power!

  5. No surprises here but you wonder why people still believe solar and wind can provide large scale grid level power on their own. Running reserve and baseload are the best kept secrets that when people understand them they “get” the futility of renewables.

    • I wonder which oil company these blokes work for, it sounds like the cigarettes campaign all over again, you burn coal and gas once, you reuse the battery over and over charged by wind and solar for twenty years.

      • I know right, 6 minutes is actually quite okay. With 48 factories over 5 years the entirety of the US can be applied electricity on a day of no sun, no water power and no wind at all (which is unlikely). Water up and down pumping can be added to decrease the necessary batteries somewhat and for longer term energy storage.

      • 1. The batteries use large amounts of rare earth and have to be replaced every 10 years or so.

        2. Batteries are mostly charged with fossil fuel generated electricity

        3 . If there are no fossil fuels and there is no wind at night, you cannot charge batteries

      • That “oil shill” slur has aged out of existence since most of the major oil companies have gotten on board with the “climate crisis”. Why? To make $$$$ off the renewable’s sector. After all they are essentially energy sellers.

        The skeptic side has 1% of the funding that the fake “Climate Crisis” has from Governments, and the United Nations. Trustworthy sources right?

      • Ianwil, so costs be damned?

        Wind and solar are too intermittent to both provide base load power and charge up batteries.

    • The reason is because the media never tell the truth in anything related to global warming, energy, or climate change.

  6. “The reason renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could.” (Forbes, May 2019).

    Good grief!

    None ever thought that they could. They were to be CLAIMED to power modern civilisation, and then when they were found wanting, modern civilisation was to be scaled down to suit the energy generation.

    That was always the Green agenda – to collapse modern civilisation so that humans were no longer a major species on the planet…

    • Actually there are Greens who actually believe that the Earth would be better of if humanity went extinct.

        • So true Me! The number of wankers on here who want imminent extinction of our species is mind boggling!

          • I think it’s time you were banned from this site,and or at the very least moderated, do you really think you can be taken seriously with your use of foul language, its offensive to any side of a debate, your lack of maturity is certainly showing.

        • Agree with you Me; Modern humanity thinking GROWTH is paramount on a finite planet guarantees extinction. For other species the sooner ours is gone the better.

          • Ah so we are advocating genocide now, another classic from the AGW camp, your better than the rest of humanity are you, set yourself above the rest of us, why dont you lead by example and show us how easy it is to sacrifice yourself in the name of global warming , you and your kind take AGW as a religious belief, your enviromental terrorists of the lowest order.

          • Ah so we resort to thinly veiled foul language, this thread including myself have shown you there is no global warming,you dont respond to direct questions aimed at you on the science, you have no science, instead you demonstrate a belief, using words such as “EVIL ” Advocates genocide, you are ignorant and a extremist, who’s belief is based on 40 years of failed predictions ,you havent argued any science because it directly contradicts your beliefs,you have been brainwashed, which is not your fault,you are a symtom of a biased education,a left induced propaganda machine,that has by it’s own addmission excluded a balanced debate,as the agenda propaganda machine keeps pumping its lies out,we see the result you, a only to eager lost soul finding a new religion to grasp hold of,you are to be pitied as a symtom of a degenerate society hell bent on destroying any reasonable debate,

          • Thought experiment:

            You sitting in a room with the attendees at the Wannsee Conference January 20, 1942.
            You all would not agree with the 15 attendees target of their exterminations.
            Your target is much broader. (Everyone).
            But, your thought processes are remarkably similar.
            A common thought that a group of innocent people become designated as mortal enemies of the object of your protective feelings ( them the German Volk, you “nature” )
            A common ability to contemplate the murder / “disappearance” of millions-billions of people to achieve the goal.
            I’m not trying to demonize you. But, I want you to examine what you said yesterday, then look up the reality of Sobibor. That started with thought, progressed to talk, became State Policy, then walked to the greatest darkness the western World has ever known to date.

          • I see ZERO similarity between a 1942 conference to determine best way to exterminate Jewish population and a world population, part knowingly, part uneducated or in denial of science rushing into extinction via starvation, fire, flood, or the ultimate war against those that didn’t try harder to prevent the outcome. Australia is fast locking itself into being a candidate for the latter.

          • “For other species the sooner ours is gone the better.”
            Robert Edgerton, September 19, 2019 at 3:01 am

            This was you. Try to hide behind the “they are making it happen” ruse all you want. But, occasionally your real wish slips through.

          • Morally WTF is wrong with my statement? Our species is solely responsible for the rate of CO2 release that will wipe out many others. No superior being is going to save them or us unless we change tack rather rapidly.

          • You really dont seem to get it.a tiny rise in co2 a minor atmospheric gas, does not correlate with any temperature rise,I explained this to you in a post here which you ignored ,what is morally reprehensible is people like you who have been conned to believe co2 is a killer,you dont show any ability to argue your point, the best you can do is sound like a scaremongering news headline, that shows me and every one else you dont read the science from any point of view you just repeat what your high priests in the global warming temple hope you will repeat, that’s exactly what your doing. Your being used to drive a agenda you dont even understand. Congratulations.

          • YOU B d Clark are so out of touch with reality regards the CO2 mankind has released via fossil fuel combustion since circa 1970. And regards its near exact correlation with global surface temperature rise in that period. CO2 had not exceeded 300ppm for 400,000 years but we have rocketed past that to 400ppm recently. The globe’s unprecedented weather and fire events (and frequency thereof) are indisputably due to the extra heat energy in the atmosphere and oceans from the resultant greenhouse effect. Feel free to live in your science free bubble but please don’t influence the school kids today trying to save the planet from humanity’s greed.

          • Am I Robert still not answered any of the scientific questions I posed to you, googling a biased media dont cut it

          • Correlation is not causation.

            The real large changes in the earths temperature are wholly solar / cosmic in origin. That’s why the CO2 warmists dishonestly flatten out the BIG peaks, and troughs of the Roman Warm Period, the Maunder Minimum, the Little Ice Age etc. in the historic temperature graphs.

            If you want to make an existential crisis out of the sand and pebbles on the road ahead of your target audience, you sure don’t want anyone to look behind them at the mountains.

            Holocene, and paleo-climate graph make instant mockery of CO2 warming. A smart elementary school kid could figure out the lie with two looks and a minutes thought.

          • You do realize that Michael Mann LOST the civil case he laid against Climatology Professor Tim Ball. He didn’t have the cojones to even attempt to defend his own hockey stick graph in a Court of Law.

          • Shucks I wasn’t going to come back to this thread but checked your Dr Tim Ball’s “victory”. Ha Ha and the judge said:-
            “… despite Dr. Ball’s history as an academic and a scientist, the Article is rife with errors and inaccuracies, which suggests a lack of attention to detail on Dr. Ball’s part, if not an indifference to the truth.”
            Later in the judgment, Justice Skolrood wrote,
            “the Article is poorly written and does not advance credible arguments in favour of Dr. Ball’s theory about the corruption of climate science. Simply put, a reasonably thoughtful and informed person who reads the Article is unlikely to place any stock in Dr. Ball’s views, including his views of Dr. Weaver as a supporter of conventional climate science.”

            Think I’ll stick with the “conventional” view of REAL climatologists and leave you wankers to support of destruction of humanity.

          • You do realise that the case has been going on for ten years,what you posted was from a previous hearing years ago, but it does not negate the fact mann lost because he would not produce his so called evidence he played ball and the court,sharpen up Robert

          • This my final word sendergreen as you totally mis-understand my motives and morals. It is a fact that we are wiping out other species, some but not all of which may have departed anyway. Our present trend, possibly already inevitably, will make human race extinct. That will benefit any species that out survive us and is a fact of life (NOT YOUR INTEPRETATION OF IT BEING SOME DESIRE ON MY PART). Simply put our present activity, and growth in numbers, is to detriment of most other life forms. My desire is that we fix that but if we fail and become extinct it will be to benefit of many remaining species.

          • You advocated genocide,in fact you welcomed it,you have been asked here to debate,you have not done so, you have used foul language and not answered one single question put to you , you are brainwashed into a false belief, you understand this, if you cant debate cant answer a question ,show no proof, for your belief then your acting hysterically you have no reasoning apart from you are right, and your quite happy for kids who have no understanding of atmospheric physics to fly the flag for your cult masters, your a great example of how the global warming cult work,

          • You have already advocated genocide,this is not unusual from global warmests, yet your still here Robert,are you going to lead by example,or will you let the kids who you and your kind have needlessly frightened lead the way,is that your aim start with the young, manipulation of the young to do your bidding, we really have to thank you Robert for showing us how you and your kind think, you advocate genocide ,you manipulate children who are unable to make a informed decision about themselves let alone the complexity of atmospheric physics, you as a cult dont have the ability to debate, ignore questions put to you, you display by your lack of any participation a hysterical I’m right your wrong stance.if you cant debate the science you make yourself look a fool,and you have no credibility what so ever,

          • You B d Clark and your ilk are the one’s advocating genocide by support of the status quo with fossil fuel combustion. I am simply pointing out that fact. That is it. I am unsubscribing from this BS before I am tempted to charge you with character assassination.

          • yeah you unsubscribe you genocidal freak , you carry on manipulating kids, you carry on being in denial of the real science your a sad loser who does not have the ability to debate Bye

          • “Morally WTF is wrong with my statement …”

            Hubris. With hubris you’ve charted the extinction of all of mankind. If there are people in your life you care about, and who care for you … do they know you positively contemplate their deaths, disappearances, and with them their future generations in a quest for “saving the other species?” Robert… do they know?

            Hubris. You denigrate the posters here with little to no real respectful debate. Long ago in my first high school football game I got knocked down, and the guy who did it at the end of that play, reached down to help me up. That’s the spirit of real discussion here. Hit hard with facts, and treat the other debaters with respect because by debating they are not my enemy. They are giving me an opportunity to LEARN, and hone my debating tools. Modern universities are intellectual garbage bins. If you are one of their victims, you have an opportunity to learn here. what is suppressed there. Free thought.

            Hubris. You are so self assured of your position (that others have prepared) that it has become dogma. Dogma is antithetical to science. Example, your quote “regards the CO2 mankind has released via fossil fuel combustion since circa 1970. And regards its near exact correlation with global surface temperature rise in that period.” You end thought there. I mean end thinking. I wouldn’t advance a statement like that … even if they were true facts, because I’ve been shot down long ago with a simple counter that “Correlation is NOT causation” It isn’t. I learned. You simply go to another page in the warming playbook. You don’t seriously ever contemplate the idea that you could be wrong.

  7. Well, the Report of the Club of Rome also demonstrated overwhelmingly that we would have run out of vital resources by the year 2000.
    There may not be a Moore’s law in energy but new materials may be discovered and developed that we do not even guess what they can be.
    I do not believe that the climate is going to kill us but at the same time I believe that capturing energy from the sun or radio activity is a darn good idea and we have to give technology a chance to catch up with our dreams.

    • coal: “a black or dark-brown combustible mineral substance consisting of carbonized vegetable matter”

      ‘vegetable matter’ will be our doom?

      • 1. The batteries use large amounts of rare earth and have to be replaced every 10 years or so.

        2. Batteries are mostly charged with fossil fuel generated electricity

        3 . If there are no fossil fuels and there is no wind at night, you cannot charge batteries

    • Every mass delusion eventually collapses. I’m really curious how the collapse of the climate crisis hysteria will pan out. What happens to a society when the central core of so many people’s totally emotional world view vaporizes in a period of weeks, months, surely less than a year ? that would be a good question to run past Dr.Jordan Peterson. His response at Cambridge to a climate believer was incredible. Nothing like that has happened to Western Culture since the Kennedy assassination.

      • “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” –Charles Mackay (1814-1889) author, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.”

        • “A riot is an ugly thing und once you get one started there is little chance of stopping it short of bloodshed. I think before we go around killing people, we had better make damn sure of our evidence.”

          -Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars) in “Young Frankenstein” (1974) Screenplay : Gene Wilder/Mel Brooks

          : )

    • “coal shill”
      There’s a somewhat different version of Shernikau’s bio here:
      Dr. Lars Schernikau is Independent Non-Executive Director at Continental Coal Ltd.
      He is on the Board of Directors at Continental Coal Ltd.
      Dr. Schernikau was previously employed as Vice Chairman-Supervisory Board by Ichor Coal NV.

      • 2003

        By 2003 the gang are on top of the world. Michael Mann's famous 'hockey-stick' temperature reconstruction has appeared to be the irrefutable Sign, Oh Lord, of mankind's guilt which they have hoped to find with such Biblical fervour. Predictions of effects of warming have become increasingly hysterical. Governments are alarmed and the grants are bountiful.

        Privately they will still admit to problems, uncertainties, how much they don't know; they will even gently or not so gently query the reliability or value of each other's work, sometimes appear to have difficulties reproducing it for themselves; and sometimes say bluntly it is worthless. But they adopt a stern policy of pas devant les domestiques and to the media present a united front of complete confidence and mutual esteem.

        They are still curious and inquiring, try to resolve the problems; but it genuinely never seems to occur to them that the answers may lie outside the theory of man-made greenhouse warming, or that they may not be problems at all without it. Every apparent contradiction must be fitted into that paradigm with crowbar or blowtorch.

        More, it never occurs to them that anyone else could question the theory in good faith. Any scientist who raises doubts is automatically dismissed, and slandered, as having been paid to do so by big oil.

        This is ironic when in fact... well, see for example 0962818260, 0973374325, 0968367517, 0968691929, 0947541692, or the separate Shell_Memo document, for illustrations of how CRU themselves are only too eager to accept oil money. Or the article quoted at the bottom of 0965750123, for an indication of how many years ago (1997) the oil companies started to jump on board the AGW bandwagon.


        • Mann’s and Jones’s emails are damning evidence of complete failure even then.

          So they now find poor Greta necessary, as every other trick dumped.

          So the climate modellers ride the amazing celebrity tide, with Greta scolding Congress this week.

          When that tide goes out, what will they resort to – armed anarchy?
          Because their financial system is about to blow, sheer desperation will drive utter depravity.

          Time to read Percy Shelley’s
          The Mask of Anarchy:
          Written on the Occasion of the Massacre at Manchester

      • OMG Nick! He ‘s on the BOD of a coal company! Great sleuthing — you should get the Pulitzer prize!

        Now that is completely different than someone working for a gooberment agency, academic institution, media or NGO where they are completely unbiased and show absolutely no leaning on the issue of climatastrology, right? Their “careers” don’t depend on them towing the warmist line, do they? Their fellow associates wouldn’t mind a bit if they don’t espouse to CAGW, would they? It’s those evil, greedy capitalists in private industries that don’t care if they destroy the world, aren’t they? We all know that they are.

        /sarc for the totally clueless

    • Poor Steve, he’s so far behind that he no longer even tries to make sense.

      Using Steve’s standard, nothing he says should be paid any attention to since he gets his income from the global warming activists.

      • The AGW/CCers would rather slander others than address the issues raised with actual science. Since their argument is so weak and they are too scientifically illiterate or, bought or, True Believers, that’s all they have.

    • Steve, you are a Columbia, climate change and Renewables shill. I will bet you make more money off of your Shilling than Lars does off of his.

      Why don’t you provide a counter-argument rather than name-calling anti-intellectualism?

  8. Very well done, except for a couple of nitpicks…

    I am all for renewable energy. Our long-term future will need to be all renewable… but is what we are currently doing good for our environment?

    Our future will never “be all renewable.” It might be all nuclear.

    It’s like finger nails on a chalkboard to this petroleum geologist. “A life without fossils”??? I don’t think ever. Maybe Dr. Schernikau is lampooning the #FossilFree loons… In which case, it’s very good sarcasm.

    However, a life without fossil fuels is centuries, not decades, away.

    Otherwise, very well done.

    • That and the bit about natural gas being more expensive and emitting more “GHGs”. The price is highly dependent on the market and the bit about leaks is absurd – selective use of junk science.

      • Agreed. And the exaggerated “26x as powerful as CO2.”. They get that by comparing the gases by weight rather than volume, which is the proper metric for radiation capacity.

    • Our future will never “be all renewable.” It might be all nuclear.

      Many technical challenges to solve to go all nuclear, not to mention there lots of current governments I wouldn’t want anywhere near a reactor; much safer for everyone to let them burn coal.

      Going “all renewable” would require returning to the 17th century; I’ll pass thank you.

    • Life without ‘fossil’ fuels is only possible when you restrict yourself to hydrocarbons of Earthly biological origin. Methane is primordial and our solar system has more of it then we could ever consume in any conceivable future. We already have the technology to synthesize whatever hydrocarbon we want out of methane and do so in industrial quantities. It would require moving past chemical rockets, but that should happen long before we run out of Earthly hydrocarbons.

      How about a future of cars powered by gasoline synthesized from methane harvested at Titan.

      • Increasing CO2 in atmosphere above 500ppm IS EVIL and inevitable if we keep burning fossil fuels; extinction of our, and many other, species only possible outcome. Dave Middleton needs to update his thinking too.

        • AHHA a classic case of alarmism, we all see a very small rise in co2 it does not correlate with rising earth temperatures, take Spencer’s UAHV6 nearly 41 years of observed data shows the cyclical nature of lower atmosheric temps,there is no linear trend of CAGW,we see around a 0.55c rise in temps over 40 years easily explainable by natural variance, el Nino 2016 spike in world temps, closely followed by a drop in world temps that have never recovered, why has c02 not kept earths temps even static to the 2016 spike,again look at1998 example from the same source,I can not see c02 playing any part in rising earths temperatures, I cant see any rise in earths temperatures that cant be explained by natural cyclical events,solar maximums ,la nina. Try reading the real data ,try not believing in what MSM tell you and question there motives and sources, do you think for yourself, do you question what your supposed to believe, or do you just have faith.

        • No Robert, you need to step away from the Kool-Aid and get doomsday alarmist end of world fantasy nonsense deprogrammed from your brain.
          The Earth has, for the vast majority of the time life has existed, been far warmer and with far higher CO2, with the effect being that there were no frozen polar wasteland dead zones, and deserts were far tinier.
          Global warming alarmism and CO2 as a poison gas are the dumbest ideas ever to be believed by millions of people.
          The idea that warmth is somehow fatal is so idiotic it means one has turned the brain off to full dead stop.
          Cold is fatal.
          Warmth means life.

          • Yeah, I agree Nicholas, Robert shows the classic signs of CCS (Climastrology Cult Syndrome). Remember, 500 ppm CO2 is EVVVIIIILLLL!!!!

        • While it would probably be wise to try to hold atmospheric CO2 below 1,000 ppm, there’s no evidence at all that 500-600 ppm would be a significant problem,

          And the only way to hold CO2 below 1,000 ppm and still power modern society is to ramp up the use of nuclear power, natural gas and carbon capture, storage & utilization.

        • Prairie fertilizer. The room you’re sitting in likely has higher CO2 levels than 500ppm. And, betcha a cheeseburger the plant in the clay pot in the corner is growing faster as a result.

      • Are you being serious?
        Have you done the math of the energy needed to get a rocket from Earth to Titan, and then lift mass out of the gravity well, and the delta bee to return it to Earth?
        Are people in these freighters? How long does it take?
        Are you familiar with the distances and relative orbital velocities and gravity wells?
        What about time?
        What for the rocket’s fuel? Methane?
        No energy to be had unless you also have an oxidant.
        Then the energy needed to make it into gasoline.
        In think it would take thousands of times more energy to get methane from Titan to a gas tank of a car on Earth, than is obtainable by burning it once it for here. Maybe tens or hundreds of thousands times more.
        Having to land and take off from there increases energy required by at least one and more likely two orders of magnitude.
        A one way trip to Mars for a 1.5 ton lander in a low energy, and hence several years long, route, takes nearly 1000 times as much fuel as payload.
        But Titan is in Orbit around Saturn, not the sun.
        So the delta vees required are far higher than just to get to Saturn.
        And just to get to Saturn takes over 5 times the delta bee of getting to Mars.

        Saturn’s orbit is 17 times farther from Earth than Mars.
        The length of a round trip at anything like what we have now would be most of a lifetime.
        So, land and gather liquid and take off with no people there?

        Titan and Saturn have large gravity wells.
        Escape velocity from Titan is about the same as Luna, (1.1x more), but Saturn is 95 times more massive than Earth.
        Escape velocity is five times higher than for Earth.

        Forget about thousands…energy expended to get methane from Titan may be several million times what could be obtained by burning it.
        Even Mars is a one way suicide mission.
        There is no known way to should from solar and cosmic radiation in interplanetary space. Not cost effectively anyhow.
        Any weight for shielding means thousands of times as much fuel to get that shielding to Mars, Not including coming back. A thick atmosphere, a magnetic field…those protect us here. It takes a large planet with a molten core to have it.
        Until we have something much better than chemical rockets, and something like a space elevator to get mass into orbit, sending even one person to Mars, let alone the outer solar system, will be a monumentally expensive one way ride if there will be a landing.
        Without at this point unknown shielding tech, it would be a stroke of amazing luck to get halfway to Mars alive (a CME and bye bye), IMO.
        Making liquid fuel is no big deal. It just takes energy input.
        Scaling up a manufacturing process for enough gas for billions of people? That will be a neat trick.
        If we (humanity)were being thoughtful and rational, we would be building bike plants as fast as we could do so safely.
        But a huge number of influential people are preventing anything like a mere glimpse of rationality from being a reality.

          • I was going with all the bikes…

            ” I am riding on my bicycle and I’m having a good time”

            Petunia, The Bicycle Song

        • Chemical propulsion is barely viable as a method for reaching space and not at all viable for exploiting space-based resources. Field propulsion powered by electricity is the future which will make it far easier to traverse gravity wells by reducing the energy requirements to that of the hypothetical space-elevator as well as enabling much faster effective travel speeds.

          • He3 at a planetoid near you, called the Moon by Earthlings , is a far more usefull fuel than the methane Seas of Titan (must be a movie somewhere).

            Anyway interplanetary travel needs weeks at 1G acceleration, reaching 10% light speed.
            Suddenly we are looking at relativistic spacetime.

            Looking out from such spacecraft will change the perspective dramatically.
            The “fossil” economy will look redshifted, like distant stars are.

            Think relatistically about the future – something Malthus could’nt even concieve of.

        • Back in 1997 I was blessed with an opportunity to meet and talk with James “Jimmy” Doohan. He had been in my late dad’s arty regiment. I wish I’d been able to ask him your questions. I’m sure he’s have known the answers.

      • Nuclear seems imminently sensible to me.

        Mike Ellwood August 19, 2019 at 2:00 pm
        Breeder (fission) reactors could keep us going indefinitely, in principle, so no need for fusion.
        Check out, e.g. “Prescription for the Planet” by Tom Blees (there is a PDF version freely available online).
        Besides which, the prospect of fusion energy becoming a reality may be an illusion:
        * By contrast, Argonne National Lab proved that the Integral Fast (-breeder) (fission) reactor was perfectly feasibly (they ran it for 10 years, and its predecessors much longer), was safer than LWRs, and could use fuel from present day conventional reactors as fuel (thus providing a way to make our existing spent fuel much easier to dispose of).
        * Nuclear power in France
        * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_France
        * Any isotopes that manage to persist ten’s of thousands of years into the future will probably be indistinguishable from those found in Oklo, Gabon.

        • Environmentally, nuclear wins by orders of magnitude. Especially Gen 4 Nuclear which will be much safer than today’s reactors that have killed nobody, outside of Chernobyl (reactors built without containment!).

          Potential nuclear fuels are readily available. “Spent” Uranium is already above ground and Thorium require no additional mining since Thorium is unearthed in abundance during rare earth mining operations. Thorium requires no expensive processing to isolate fertile isotopes.

          A person’s lifetime of energy (all of it…including transportation) could come from a fraction of a pound of Thorium with short lifetime radioactive isotopes in the spent fuel that lasts less than 300 years and takes up less than a cubic inch of volume (buried in deep below water tables in granite formations where you could never find it let alone be injured by it). Compared to a few hundred to a thousand tons of mining for coal, wind, or solar…with wind and solar also having significant waste products that last forever (heavy metals are poisonous forever…unlike high level radioactivity of nuclear waste).

          Wind and solar will need to cover thousands of square miles of earth’s surface, and they kill wildlife. Renewables are not very eco-friendly. And they are UGLY.

          There is no comparison.

          But that will never happen until we have adults in our decision making positions, and I don’t see any coming.

        • Missing the point, even with good info on Oklo.
          The key is energy flux density and to expand the physical economy.
          Notice how this measure over the last 6000 years has steadily increased per capita, per hectare, and really takes off after WWII.
          Fusion is of course no reason to stop coal, gas or fission. It takes the point in development. The others will benefit from the tech breaktroughs (such as high temp materials)
          Just for example Britain’s UKAEA new Rotherham site for new fusion materials.

          And all that “waste” , think high neutron flux processing.

    • Correct, Dave. I also disagree with his characterization of the potency of methane as a GHG. My understanding was that CH4 occupies the sam radiative band as H20, and so H20 overwhelms the CO2. I also don’t believe that high a percentage methane is leaked during production. Your thoughts/

      • Dang autocorrect on my Kindle Fire changed delta vee to bee …
        This thing is worse than an iPad for that.

      • Yes, the potency of CH4 is significantly over-stated. As a fraction of its total effect, doubling has a large influence, however; its effect is so small to begin with and none of its absorption lines are even close to being saturated. CH4 only has a few narrow sets of lines, ozone has a few more, CO2 has even more than that and water vapor has the most of all. CH4 doesn’t significantly overlap with much, while CO2 and water vapor have significant overlap, especially where CO2 is mostly saturated., although there is a relatively weak continuum H2O absorption that overlaps everything. Even if the CH4 lines were saturated, the absorption by CH4 would still be less than the current absorption by CO2 or H2O and probably even O3.

        • Not just that — methane rather quickly oxidizes to CO2. IIRC, it has a “half life” in the atmosphere of something like 5 yrs, so nothing to worry about. It all just scaremongering.

    • In centuries hence we may not rely upon petroleum for sources of fuel, but it will still be a very useful supply of raw materials used to manufacture many other products.

    • This video shows the problem with Renewables in California. Warning – you need to get a few minutes into the presentation to get past the Global Warning/Climate Change stuff.

      • Nice photography, but sickening to see such graphic waste of limited capital. Thousands of solar panels and more being installed every day when we already have to “curtail”/export. I live within a few miles of Diablo and share the belief that a premature closing is “questionable”. Actually it’s totally ludicrous. This video clearing shows that the answer for California energy is not more wind and more storage. The answer is stop this renewable insanity NOW. I fully expect my $200 month power bill to double within five years. That’s not too bad. But if we follow Germany’s lead and go all in with wind and solar and triple our power bills I’ll “notice” it. Not to mention what it’ll do to the rest of our economy. Einstein was definitely right about the universe and human stupidity.

        • You do know what the California legislature will do to you when prices rise do fast that a large portion of the population will not be able to pay ? If you decide to escape, don’t take any of California’s insanity with you into your new jurisdiction. It’s how Y.pestis spread.

    • * GODFATHER Of Global Warming Alarmism James Hansen Admits Renewable Energy Is A “Nice Idea” Though Useless
      * http://bit.ly/2P5L6Y1
      Shocker: Top Google Engineers Say Renewable Energy ‘Simply won’t work’

      Grid Reliability: DOE Throws Down Red Flags On Unreliable Wind And Solar

      Bottom line, there are Law of Physics which so-called Renewables can never, ever overcome.

  9. You realize for any foreseeable future that nuclear is “renewable”, right? We can simply extract uranium/thorium from the ocean. I’m sure plants bred/engineered to take it from the water it would be quickly developed to make it an almost trivial matter to gather enough. But as fast as we pull it out, it will keep dissolving since its saturated and constantly resupplied by erosion. In the average cubic kilometer of eroded material there is enough uranium/thorium to provide for the current energy needs of the planet for over a year.

    This will continue for hundreds of millions of years, if not billions.

    • Lloyd,
      I am not sure “simply” is the right word. Nobody has come up with a practical scheme to extract
      uranium from sea-water. I am not saying it is impossible but as with fusion it would appear to remain
      a pipe-dream rather than a reality. And the suggestion that we could genetically engineer plants to
      extract uranium from sea-water seems rather far-fetched and even more unlikely than any other proposed scheme.

        • Hi Capell,
          Again it is like fusion — people have been trying it for years and have yet to
          demonstrate it at scale and to make it practical.

          • Sunbeams from cucumbers perhaps? Excellent post, thanks, some trivial arithmetical errors I believe but they don’t really detract from the overwhelming case against 100% wind, solar, hydro and bio. That’s before we start discussing SF6 in all the extra switchgear.

          • Nigel,

            Biomass is beyond stupid. The same people promoting biomass, promote planting trees while they are busy chopping down millions of them.

            The Obvious Biomass Emissions Error
            February 7, 2019

            Green Shock: Entire Forests Being Murdered to Produce Wood Pellet Biomass


            Greens have discovered to their horror that producing renewable wood pellet biomass requires a large supply of dead trees.
            Hardwood forests cut down to feed Drax Power plant, Channel 4 Dispatches claims
            16th April 2018
            A Dispatches investigation has uncovered evidence of hardwood forests being chopped down to provide ‘green energy’ for the UK. Experts say unique habitats rich in wildlife are under threat as Britain’s power stations switch from burning coal to wood, writes BRENDAN MONTAGUE
            Huge areas of hardwood forest in the state of Virginia are being chainsawed to create ‘biomass’ energy in Britain as the government attempts to reach targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in efforts to tackle climate change, an investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches has found.
            A key part of government efforts to hit its green energy targets is to switch from generating electricity from burning coal to burning wood – or so-called biomass. It’s a policy that is costing taxpayers more than £700 million per year through a levy on their electricity bills…

          • KcTaz, I agree 100%, Drax is a shocking scandal, made worse by the fact that it was deliberately sited on a huge coalfield. Apologies to Dr. Lars Schernikau, it was my arithmetic that was at fault, I was confused at first by the multiple units. SF6 is another useful stick with which to beat the warmistas although I suspect that the latest panic is really a sales pitch by a rival switchgear manufacturer.

    • Lloyd B, I applaud your comments about nuclear is “renewable”, however your comments about uranium/thorium extraction from seawater suggests to me that you have never stood on an outcrop of uranium oxide with the scintillometer screaming “over-dose, get away!”. Go Nuclear!

      • I didn’t imply that would be our first method. I was pointing out the incredible stretches of time that over which we can rely on nuclear. We likely have thousands of years of “easily” mined uranium/thorium before we have to start “mining” the ocean. Plenty of time to work out the details of…pretty much everything.

        Oh and the next time someone says “The problem is safe waste disposal” remind them that the only way to get sealed containers of waste out of a site a kilometer down is for something so energetic to happen (volcano/meteor strike) that you wouldn’t even worry about the waste.

        • Problem with this is keeping it sealed. Water has a nasty habit of getting into things as don’t forget it likely has to stay that way for hundreds of years.

          • How long does it take water to penetrate glass?
            A lot longer than a few hundred years.
            Even if it does manage to penetrate, the radiation is still thousands of feet down.

            Regardless, reprocess the stuff, that gets rid of all the long half life elements.
            The stuff left is gone in a few decades.

    • “Renewables” in the sense it is used in energy policy doesn’t include fossil fuels or nuclear power. Regarding uranium, thorium and other fission fuels, conventional resources are abundant. Should we ever harness fusion, the resources are effectively infinite.

      • David, you have a case of the “supposed to’s”. Fissile materials could be reasonably placed within the “renewable” category just as we do sources harnessing energy from the sun, which will eventually die.

        And by the way, its entirely possible that fusion will always be a horrible idea. While I know there could be advancements nobody has ever imagined lurking on the horizon, the fact is fusion takes insane amounts of power to start and has to deal with such insane extremes that it likely won’t ever have the same energy density that could be achieved with a fission reactor. And because they deal in materials at thousands of degrees instead of hundreds of millions, its easier to interface them to the generating system.

        • It’s just reality It’s simply how generating sources are classified. By your reasoning, fossil fuels could also be classified as renewables.

          People don’t get to fabricate their own individual classification systems. This would defeat the entire purpose of classification systems.

          • I am very confused by Fusion. I’ve read that after WW II, much successful research was done in fusion and that it worked well. It seems fusion was abandoned for fission about 10 years into the research and, now, we only have fission. Is it possible that if research dollars were moved into Fusion, it would deliver as promised back in post-WW II time?
            I don’t have the scientific background to asses this but I sure would like to hear the thoughts of others who do.

          • There is a lot of fusion research going on – Wendelstein 7x in Germany, the NIF in Livermore, Eric Lerner’s IPPFusion , and now ITER in France. Plenty more in Korea, China, Russia.

            When Bush and Obama took twice $700 billion out of the economy to “rescue” the financial casino in 2008, they said it was necessary to save us all.

            Fusion is necessary to expand the economy. It is a political and social question really.

  10. A great article, particularly the part about the costs of storage batteries.

    We need to encourage the construction of conbined-cycle natural-gas fired power plants, which do lower emissions (not only of GHG, but also of SO2 and particulates) relative to coal-fired plants.

    Fossil-fuel power will be needed for the foreseeable future, but they may run out eventually (within a few centuries). The best energy source for replacing them will be nuclear power, not solar or wind power. Yet so many countries are stupidly shutting down their nuclear power plants while subsidizing wind and solar–has anyone there done the math?

    • I fear that many of the folks proposing all-renewables (we don’t need any stinking nuclear) have avoided maths from the very earliest date in their education. Note that some of this anti-technology activism may just be a revenge of the liberal-arts majors, as they control the media and are the “opinion-makers”.

    • I suspect we will continue to use hydrocarbon fuels and feedstocks even if we have to make them. They have high utility.

  11. “Our long-term future will need to be all renewable”.

    Yes, and I trust free markets for hydrocarbons and fissionable elements to give us plenty of warning as “long-term” approaches. If you disagree, whom or what do you trust?

    Otherwise, a clear and logical summary.

    However, as shown by Global Prices for Power (Fig. 2), power choices are largely political. Will this summary strengthen or diminish the claim of moral authority essential to the political class? Will it ease or obstruct the appropriation of funds to govern?

  12. As I understand it, methane has little effect as a ghg due to it’s spectral lines being covered by the more common ghg, water vapor. That said, it will eventually break down into water vapor and CO2, giving it some minor effect as a ghg.

  13. “One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could.” (Forbes, May 2019).”

    Because the GreenSlime billionaires paid people like Professor Mark Jacobson to concoct deceptions to make it look like renewable energy could replace reliable grid power from fossil fuels and nuclear power.

    Starting with CC alarmism itself, it is all just lies piled on top of lies. With trillions of dollars at stake for the GreenSlime, what’s a few hundred million dollars here or there to run propaganda campaigns and fantasy engineering studies?
    Some billionaires throw their money away on futile attempts at solving world hunger, tropical diseases, or building space ships. But GreenSlime billionaires like the Rockefeller family, Steyer, and Bloomberg spend their billions trying to get more billions in the renewable energy hustle that will screw the middle class. That the politcal power-hungry Marxist-Socialists are passengers on the Bus of Big Lies is just part of the GreenSlime’s “deal with the devil.”

    The GreenSlime funnels their renewable hustle pay-off money as tax-deductible donations to enviro-NGOs, and then big dollar grants are passed multiple times thru 3rd party intermediaries to hide the source of the cash to the academics to concoct their deception. But the expectation is clear: produce rigged engineering studies to claim wind and solar can go above 50% with no problems. Then they accuse Big Oil of doing what they are really doing in deflection. When in reality it’s all to bring political power to bear to restructure the energy economy toward the wind and solar tax-payer funded, crony capitalism schemes they are heavy, early investors in.

    • BRAVO, Joel. WUWT should have you writing some of their articles. I can’t even count the number of your comments I’ve copied for use elsewhere as they are so intelligent and informed and well=stated.
      May I ask about your background and educational training? I presume it’s in science but it’s rare for scientists to be able to express themselves as well as you do and to have such command of language.

      Anyway, thank you so very much for your insight, intelligence, wisdom and writing abilities. I envy all of those and, while I can’t master your expertise in any of the fields I mentioned, I can certainly admire your mastery of them and I do.

  14. The USA price would be significantly lower if it weren’t for every gov agency imaginable taxing it for some reason or other — just look at the bills.

  15. Factor in water use and land use to renewable cost. Also factor in cost of disposal (solar produces toxic waste, costs to make and dispose of wind turbines), dispose of panels, etc.
    And then there are the rare earths.
    That’s why electric cars never caught on.
    Renewables is a scam.
    We have the Sun; use that directly. Trees, anyone?

  16. Interesting that the IEA is using a value calculation than one of cost for energy types. Good on them.

    The graphs in this post appear to highlight the results of German economist L. Hirth whose research paper in 2013 showed that higher penetration rates of wind and solar lowered their value, and hence the affordability of large projects with the view that sun and wind may be over-sold.

    “We find the value of wind power to fall from 110 percent of the average power price to 50-80 percent as wind penetration increases from zero to 30 percent of total electricity consumption. For solar power, similarly low values levels are reached already at 15 percent penetration. Hence, competitive large-scale renewables deployment will be more difficult to accomplish than many anticipate.” L.Hirth, Energy Policy

  17. 13¢/kWh in the US? I wish it was that cheap here in southern California. Peak rates for SDG&E are 51¢/kWh if you hit max during the peak 4pm to 9pm period.

    Do the projections for future electrical generation requirements include the huge number of electric cars that would be needed if ICE are phased out/outlawed?

    • Using hydro power:
      From central Washington State
      Residential rate, monthly
      Facilities Charge . . . . . $21.25
      Energy Charge … . . . . $0.0908/kWh

      Not really fair because the dams were built years ago, are multipurpose, and built with federal tax monies.
      I see numbers for kWh from other places, but never do I see a monthly facility charge.
      We are 6 miles from the nearest gas line, could use propane, but our house is 100% electric with a wood stove, if needed.

  18. The mistake is twofold , first to consider this issue is unknown and secondly to consider it viewed as a problem .
    In reality this is not a fault but a ‘feature’ of this approach, for example you hate the idea of people owning cars of any type . Well give them choice between energy for their car and for their house , because a shortage means they cannot have both , and most would go for their house and you got want you wanted an end to car ownership without the problems of banning car ownership.

  19. A back of the envelop calculation seems to indicate that during the lifetime of an installed (and serviced) solar panel, it does not generate the energy needed for its fabrication (including mining/procurement/transport of the needed material), transport, installation, maintenance, replacement and disposal (at the end of its life). So things are fine as long as solar panels are made and maintained using fossil or nuclear power, but with time, if fossil and nuclear power is abandoned, solar panels would not produce enough energy to even run the solar panel factories and the associated energy required to fabricate and maintain them. And that doesn’t even consider storage (which implies we simply don’t use solar produced power when the sun doesn’t shine). The same is about the same (probably slightly better) for wind power.

    If so, no further analysis is needed.

    I’ll be curious to be proven wrong.

    • Michael,
      Have a look at the four papers listed below. They show that the payback time of solar cells is significantly less than the lifetime of a solar cell.

      1)Life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and energy payback time of current and prospective silicon heterojunction solar cell designs. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 23, 1406–1428 (2015).
      2)Energy payback time and carbon footprint of commercial photovoltaic systems. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 119, 296–305 (2013).
      3)Update of energy payback time and greenhouse gas emission data for crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules: Broader perspectives. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 23, 1429–1435 (2015).
      4)Photovoltaics: Life-cycle analyses. Solar Energy 85, 1609–1628 (2011).

      • Thanks Izaak, I’ll certainly look at all those.

        I want to add that I am talking of the whole life cycle, no only the fabrication and usage on the spot: often solar cells are transported a long distance and installed in hard to install and service locations. And then don’t forget the energy storage (batteries) and ultimate disposal/replacement. But then I haven’t read all your referenced material yet, so let me get educated before further discussions.

        Thanks again though!

      • But then there’s
        F. Ferroni, R.J. Hopkirk
        Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation
        Energy Policy, 94 (2016), pp. 336-344
        which shows an EROEI of 0.8 for solar – and that will be the case in the UK. Ferroni and Hopkirk are criticised for including storage to mitigate the intermittency of solar – seems reasonable to me.

      • Solar does pretty well when the utility company is mandated to install solar, solar has grid priority and the utility company has to pay retail prices for solar even if the utility has to dump it to Arizona because solar arrives when it is least needed. (watch the video).

  20. “I am all for renewable energy. Our long-term future will need to be all renewable… “

    The one sentence I disagree with in an otherwise excellent article. It gives succour to the ijits who promoted this great green boondoggle.

    Let’s get this one thing straight, shall we? Nothing is renewable, in the strict sense of the word. It is a word used to deceive the ignorant.

    The energy of the sun is not renewable. It is forecast to run out in only a few billion years. Nuclear fusion energy would like last us as long as the sun. Nuclear fast-breeder fission energy might only last, say, a few tens of million years. Fossil fuels probably brings us rapidly down into thousands of years. Everything else is chicken feed. It can’t do the job that humanity demands.

    Pick your energy source and pick your time scale, but there is no such thing as renewable. Never was. never will be.

    • “Long term future all renewable”. Give Lars the benefit of the doubt. In a few hundred years we’ll have fusion power, and it will be needed, and he knows it….and it’s close enough to being renewable…million years or so.
      The great thing about the paper:
      Value-Adjusted Levelized Cost of Electricity (VALCOE)
      Every serious student of electrical power knew that the reason wind and solar power can not compete is it’s not dispatchable and storage is too expensive..is now and forever will be. Now the extent of the worthlessness of wind and solar has been quantified. Too bad for Germany and Australia…little late.

  21. This seemed like a sensible article until I reached the portion: “We had 1 degree of warming in the past 200 years. The “human cause” has much more to do with the heat that our existence (energy consumption) produces and releases to the biosphere rather than with CO2.” This is just nonsense. People have calculated
    the heat caused by human energy consumption and it is less than 1% of the heat caused by rising CO2 levels.
    See “Integrating anthropogenic heat flux with global climate models” by Mark G. Flanner for details.

    So if some of the authors calculations are out by two orders of magnitude why should I trust the rest the

    • I read that and, perhaps generously, assumed the author was attributing it to human effects on urban thermometers. Otherwise, I completely agree with you. It does seem foolish.

  22. I highly doubt there is much of a future for renoobles, short or long-term. They will go in the dustbin of history, and museums.
    “Daddy, daddy, did people really use these things”? “Indeed they did pumpkin, strange as it may seem. Those were very strange times, though.”

    • so Bruce,
      what do you think people will use for energy in 500 years time? Other than renewables
      what options are there? Have a look at “Sustainability without the hot air” at
      it points out quite clearly and simply that non-renewable resources can’t provide
      enough energy for the next 1000 years and like it or not we will have to move to
      renewable energy sources.

      The only caveat to that statement is if people manage to either efficiently mine Uranium
      from seawater or get Deuterium-Deuterium fusion working. And the later is almost certainly

      • What will they be using in 500 years time?
        There will still be hundreds of years worth of coal left in the ground in 500 years.
        There will be thousands of years worth of uranium still in the ground as well.
        By then we might even have fusion going.

        Regardless, when you compare the world of 1519 to the world of 2019, only a total fool would try to predict what technologies would be available 500 years from now.

  23. Those who think we can use fossil fuels for centuries don’t understand basic biology. All animals, including us, must breath out CO2 to live. If we can’t, we suffocate. CO2 levels that would be reached on fossil by the end of the century, double those today, would exceed those that cause mental cognition deficits in humans. They would be higher than any on earth since 28 million years ago, when the smartest animals were small monkeys. Even if climate did not change by 0.1 degree, we would need to stop fossil fuels before then.

    Yes, solar and wind can’t do it alone. We need fusion energy to provide cheap clean unlimited energy. The fusion energy research program has been spending on average 1/25th of what the Apollo program spent annually. A crash program for fusion, funding all available routes, not just one big experiments, would get eliminate fossils by mid-century.

    • Greenhouse operators routinely artificially pump up CO2 levels in greenhouses to 1200-1700 ppm, because plants grow faster, and the produce is larger. The state bureaucrats that monitor worker safety would be all over that industry if your claims that cognition problems appear in humans at the range of 800ppm CO2. I’d be interested if you have any documentation ?

      Second is the innate hubris of your positing a “normal” CO2 level ? Is it pre-industrial 250-300ppm? Why? Because in geologic time we are IN an ice age, the Quaternary Ice Age that has lasted fort he past 2.3 million years. We exist in a brief inter-glacial period, and are as of now well past the average length of time inter-glacials last. If one were to compress on glacial / inter-glacial cycle into one calendar year we would be “warm” only from about December 1st-7th to December 31. From January to December there would be 1-3 miles of ice above the spot where many of us are posting from.

      Next, in the depth of the most recent glaciation CO2 levels dropped to about 200ppm. That’s only about 50 ppm above the levels where plants cannot survive. They suffocate from lack of CO2. Plants, the basis of the earths entire food chain have hovered near the Plant Death Zone ( like humans would be 8000 meters above sea level ) for 2.3 million years.

      • Scientific studies show that cognitive function declines with exposure to as little as 900 ppm CO2 for as short as a day. : https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.1510037. No one know what damage lifetime exposures could cause.
        A bit of basic chemistry—the reactions that support all animal life depend on a high ratio of oxygen to CO2 (reactant to product) in the atmosphere. Cutting that ratio by 50% (doubling CO2) inevitably has a big impact on metabolic efficiency.
        As life has evolved on earth, the biosphere has pushed the oxygen to CO2 ratio higher and higher, allowing the evolution of organisms with higher and higher metabolic rates—including humans. The last big transition was 28 million years ago, when CO2 fell from 800 PPM to around 400 PPM. This fall allowed the evolution of anthropoid apes, humans, elephants and other big-brained animals whose brains used up lots of extra energy. That energy was possible because of the greater ratio of oxygen to CO2. Sure, life has existed with far higher CO2 levels—but just not humans.

        As for worker safety in the US agricultural sector (or anywhere else)–give me a break! OSHA enforcement is a joke–funding has been cut to the point where most businesses can expect an inspection once every 400 years. US workers are exposed to all sorts of injurious conditions right now, but at least they can step outside at the end of the day to get some fresh air. With CO2 at 800 PPM, they won’t be able to do that.

        • Eric, Submarine crews spend months at a time breathing air with CO2 at 3500 PPM or more while operating exceptionally complex equipment in an extremely hazardous environment, and have been doing so since before you were born. Given the inherent danger of a nuclear powered vessel with multiple nuclear armed missiles aboard, if there was any noticeable mental impairment from that environment, something would have been done about it decades ago. No impairment has ever been detected.

          • There are lots of studies showing impairments. Here’s a review with lots of citations:
            The US and other governments routinely subject armed forces personnel to conditions that impair judgment or even cause long-term health damage. Since they assume people have signed up to risk their lives, health risks become acceptable. To take the most innocuous example, do you think there is any doubt that prolonged sleep shortage impairs judgement? Yet this is routine in many deployments(and among hospital residents in civilian life as well.) It is evidently not practical to reduce CO2 levels in submarines to levels that don’t cause impairment. If the choice is having nuclear submarines, and tolerating high levels, or not having nuclear submarines, which do you suppose the US and other navies chose?

        • Increasing CO2 levels from 280ppm to 500ppm would reduce O2 levels by around 0.01%.

          As to your whines about government not having enough power over the rest of us, these CO2 levels have been common in submarines and greenhouses for decades.

    • CO2 levels routinely get to over 5000 ppm in submarines.
      The odds of CO2 levels getting much above 700ppm is quite low.

    • Seems very few read the NASA Apollo 13 transcripts now available on the web. As far as I know they hit 60,000 ppm CO2 before symptoms appeared, and had to connect a round filter to a square with a sock.
      And the Navy trains at 5-6000 ppm, as many noted here.

      The reason for Fusion, and that’s great work over there at IPPFusion, is not to “avoid” CO2, but to power a productive physical economy.

      Running from a devil that Greta can actually see, is just not becomming for serious fusion physicists.

  24. ‘We need to account for the cost of batteries or the cost of conventional power as backup for wind and solar when comparing the cost of power. None of the current Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) measures account for this.’
    Well that’s not exactly correct. We’ve been doing this since 2011.
    We provide spreadsheets for several generation technologies that include system integration costs: the capital cost of any new transmission costs, and the capital and revenue costs of providing backup capacity (based on renewables capacity credit). A recent addition to the sheets has been the development of a new sheet for storage (not yet published). Using storage as a solution for intermittency results in costs much higher than using OCGTs.
    We have also costed some of National Grids Future Energy Scenarios, and because our LCOE sheets are load factor sensitive (obviously) we can cost these scenarios accurately following the reduced load factors of gas and coal. The renwables scenarios are always far more expensive than a gas or nuclear dominated renewable scenario.
    This work was carried out between 2011 to the present day. As a headline observation, in the UK, the system integration costs for onshore and offshore wind are greater than the generation costs for CCGT generation, so wind has no possibility of under-cutting gas.

    • I noted in the appendices to National Grid’s final report on the August 9th blackout they claimed that running with higher levels of inertia would cost billions a year. I presume they are talking about very large scale grid batteries, or assuming that we would be paying out £150/MWh on massive volumes of wind curtailment. The idea that we could use conventional generation at far lower cost is now verboten.

  25. RE methane emissions from gas production and thus parity of CO2 emissions with coal.

    I looked at this for the UK and I think it’s misleading because gas leakage is referenced to ALL gas consumption, and not just the gas consumption for generation. In the UK we use far more gas for heating and cooking and industrial processes than we do for electricity production.

    And in recent years I’ve seen figures for methane leakage being corrected downwards.

    • Since we have about 1.8 ppm methane in the air and by a factor of 80 this is equivalent to 144 ppm CO2. The effect of 120 ppm CO2 increase since about 1950 on temperature is negligible, so what?

  26. I think I must take a somewhat more level-and-futurist stance, fellow WUWT-ers. There are several things written in the synopsis header that have deeper answers, less concerning to whether solar and aerodynamic energy might conceivably become the majority of a (our) nation’s power.

    First, I believe it to be the author’s coal-is-great centric conceit to blithely complete the “but it doesn’t work at night or when the wind stops” with “thus needs batteries”‘. As another site has often published, there are a LOT of ways to store opportunistic overproduction that don’t require “batteries” per se. Most of us know this, but in brief:

    • № 1 — compressed air (“thermodynamic” power storage)
    • № 2 — rail transported masses up mountains (“gravitational” power storage)
    • № 3 — … and coastal oceanic undersea gas-bags (variation on compressed air, more ‘constant pressure’)
    • № 4 — electrochemical AKA “aluminum smelting” and “sodium reduction” and so forth
    • № 5 — reverse dams. Pumping water up to store energy, back down to recover it.
    • № 6 — conventional prismatic batteries
    • № 7 — unconventional “flow” batteries
    • № 8 — steampunk inertial storage (HUGE flywheels. Ridiculous things….)
    • № 9 — über-nanotech inertial storage (way smaller flywheels. Carbon nanotubes.)
    • № 10 — reverse CO₂ sequestration-to-liquid-fuels processes

    There are others but these pretty much cover it. № 10 has been getting a LOT of press because of the appeal-to-the-obvious-reasoning-greenwitch argument, “but, but, but! We could take the Bad Old CO₂ out of the atmosphere and RECYCLE it into motor fuels, making them clean and green!!!” yah, right.

    Some may remember that I am a UCBerkeley edumacated Chemistry / Physics / Maths / Computer Science goat. With enormous (and it turned out somewhat misguided) emphasis on chemistry. Thermodynamics, organic synthesis, physical chemistry, computational chemistry, that kind of thing.

    The thermodynamicist in me balks loudly at the idea that № 10 … could be made efficient enough to be a PRACTICAL energy-storage idea. The reasons abound, but come down to the fact that CO₂ really, really hangs into the oxygen, requiring rather prodigious amounts of energy to break those bonds, to reform carbon compounds of lower oxidative state. As an example, plants … with a billion years of evolution … have NOT figured out how to reduce CO₂ to the sugars and proteins necessary for life, at better than 0.7% solar-to-biological energy conversion. It again is a marvel, a conceipt to expect that chemists and thermodynamicists will conjure a way to get 70% conversion turn-around by this route.

    The remaining methods are NOT exclusive, either. In fact, they’re rather complimentary. If you are near mountains, shipping enormous masses (or water!) up the mountain is a pretty good way to store significant power. Gravitational storage. You need a BIG hill though.

    Compressed air is pretty good … when there are a lot of large, deep underground exhausted-or-deprecated mines that could be repurposed. Compressed air exerts enormous net pressure on the overburden though, so to keep such facilities from exploding, the pressure cannot be more than the mass of the stuff above. Yet that still leaves a lot of power to store. And thermodynamically, it can easily offer 70% or higher turn-around.

    № 4 is obvious, and all the objections to it as the ENTIRE way to store short-term energy are true. But having the other 9 as complimentary alternatives … kind of defuses that argument line.

    № 5 is a variation on № 2 and № 3.

    № 6 isn’t really much different from № 4: separating oxides or halides from their highly reactive elements and physically isolating said elements to recombine under battery-like conditions is just really another form of fuel cell. But prismatic batteries are what we think of mostly: all in one, self-contained electrochemical energy storage technology.

    № 7 like № 10 has been the doyan of the press (episodically). Using redox (reduction-oxidation in chemical engineering parlance) liquids instead of solids (AKA “plates”) allows the possibility of really large electrochemical storage facilities with large tanks to hold the reactants. It answers a long-standing problem with fuel cells: transportation, hopefully continuously, of the energy-holding reactants into, and the byproduct out of the cells.

    … Conventional reactive-gas fuel cells (the Grand-daddy of them all being hydrogen-oxygen gas, on platinum plates) have a serious problem of “gasses aren’t conductive”. Hence why the only efficient gas-flow cells so far have required some variation on platinum, iridium, other ‘noble metals’. Which are frustratingly rare, expensive and non-renewable resources. Liquid reactant ionic-fuel cells ‘fix’ that replacing the non-reactive, non-conductive gasses with electrically conductive fluids. Thus, theoretically WAY easier to implement on a mass-scale without rare catalysts.

    The “steampunk” and high-tech inertial storage ideas have been around for a hundred years. Not long after physicists and mathematicians hooked up to figure out the maths of how inertia and momentum, kinetics and springy-things worked, it was realized that flywheels were GOOD at storing energy. Not great, but still quite good. Many a War-of-the-Worlds era Science Fiction deployed city-sized flywheels to be the energy-storage mechanism for the then-deep-future, the 1990s LOL.

    The one really helpful thing about flywheels is that so long as their bearings are kept well lubricated, for the most part they don’t degrade over time. This in particular suits them well for shortest-to-not-very-long storage. Repeated cycles of charge/discharge. Potentially so, many times an hour. Or per minute. But certainly many times a day.


    The authors also suggest that PV and/or wind power generating technologies are not going to get 10× cheaper, in the foreseeable future. I didn’t see citations to buttress that, but to me it doesn’t ring true. We just purchased and had delivered “320 W” solar panels, all wrapped in boxes on a pallet, retail, for 78¢/watt. That’s remarkable, given that not all that many years ago, it was 20× that.

    Likewise, as the Great Windmills have become breathtakingly ginormous, their per-watt-delivered costs continue to drop. Drop to the point where they’re viable competition for fossil fuels within the usual exigencies of a year’s worth of Mother Nature’s zephyr caprice.


    I’m not trying to say that we could go 100% wind-and-sun, as America the nation, or Europe, or the World. While we certainly could overbuild PV (especially) and sufficient-build Wind to comfortably create the degree of excess opportunity-generation capacity to keep those 10+ energy storage mechanisms “topped up” for the most part, there are things that petrological energy extraction and generation do that really don’t yet have an equal from an alternative potential energy perspective.

    The most important of which is JET FUEL (and aviation ‘gas’). Commercial, Shipping and Military aircraft depend critically not just on the energy-density of jet fuel, but on the lightening-of-the-load as it is consumed. This is how a 747 can carry basically 4 swimming pools of jet fuel half-way around the world in one shot. Because it gets lighter as it burns up. Batteries, apart from not having anything close to comparable energy density, also don’t get lighter as the trip wears on. Oh sure, one could imagine a steampunk ejection-and-parachute-recovery system to accomplish that, but … ah … no, I don’t think the FAA will dig it.

    The next most important is diesel fuel, especially for long haul trucking and heavy construction equipment. And for “portable power” generation, such as would be rented-and-installed at a large stadium to power the huge sound equipment and lighting power requirements. While we might imagine that batteries could do it … all it takes is just a larger diesel tank, and/or more frequent replenishing top-offs of the tank by the servicing company. Not so with batteries. Especially not so with № 1 thru 10, as well.

    Trains? Well, as has been repeatedly demonstrated in Asia, Europe, and the subways of our cities everywhere, electricity itself is a viable, clean, reliable, relatively uncomplicated power transportation and utilization technology. Large batteries can (and will) work for transitioning from non-electrified rail lines to their eventually pantograph-supplied overhead power configuration. Kind of like the old “coal cars” of steam trains, having the coal to burn and the water for the steam. Instead, the first few railcars will be the battery railcars. Conveninently, can be unhooked and swapped, permantly answering, “but, but, they need to be recharged and they’re huge!” problem.


    Personally, I hold that as much as 70% of the total energy-consumption infrastructure of a large industrialized nation will be convertable to some combination of PV, wind, geothermal and large-scale biological (akin to solar!) … PLUS STORAGE … technology. I don’t see 100%, nor do I even see a need for 100%. Rather, I see the need to conserve the millions-of-years-in-the-making treasure of Earth’s supply of crude oil and coal, and to use it strategically instead of wantonly.

    Which seems WAY more balanced, to me.

    Doing the right thing isn’t easy.
    But it is easy to understand.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

    • GoatGuy

      Thanks for the appreciated comment, even if a little bit too lenghty for easy digestion.

      I agree with you: mass storage of renewable energy is really feasible, even if it sounds too expensive at a first glance.

      Here in Germany, we have a similar acceptance problem, especially because the coal lobby is extremely powerful, across all party lines.

      The lack of mass storage for electricity, and the lack of high voltage power lines from the North sea down to the great power users in Germany’s South (which were delayed since 20 years), are really amazing.

      To your list of storage techniques let me add this for the sake of completeness:

      The idea of this guy was very ‘en vogue’ 10 years ago but vanished inbetween.

      The idea was to cutoff a very big piece of rock elevated by water pressure energy coming from electricity energy overhead, and vice-versa.

      Too expensive.

      But… what does mean ‘too expensive’ in comparison to the dismantling costs of all nuclear plants which appear, in these plants’ profit and loss accounts, at some 20% of reality?

      J.-P. D.

    • There’s a reason why nobody is building any of the things that you mention, despite the fact that all of them are being pushed by someone or other.

      The reason is that they are all either economically, or physically (if not both) infeasible.
      Gas compression losses at least half of the energy stored when the heat generated by compression is lost to the surrounding environment.
      Moving weights up mountains consumes a lot of iron and a lot of land, but provides very little actual energy storage.
      Pumped storage is being used, where ever it is practical. The problem is that the number of places with both sufficient elevation changes AND sufficient water supply are very few in number.

    • You forgot hydrogen, and its derivatives, for some reason. It is somewhat as #10, but better in energy terms. Some push for that golden hydrogen society wheee everything blows up and leaves only water droplets on the remains…

      Jokes aside, any storage means loss of energy. None of the proposed mass storage technologies will be above 50% in real life, so the idea of capturing excess energy for later use is kind of moot. You need dedicated energy production for storage, in addition to what is there to power society in the first place.

      Now, to add to confusion some people advocate for the possible future where we use less energy than today, even with a growing population. This is apparently due to electrification and higher efficiencies. So you have to know where people are arguing from, their assumptions.

      A wise former colleague of mine used to say that to assume is to make an ass out of u and me. Most of the time I find he is right.

    • I can heartily recommend the analyses of storage methods (including all those you cite) and requirements using renewables at Euan Means’ site.

      Perhaps the biggest factor is simply the shere quantities of storage required to bridge seasonal and international year shortages. The only vaguely feasible way to do this is with hydro schemes, if your country has suitable geography.

      Start here


      • Perhaps the biggest factor is simply the shere quantities of storage required to bridge seasonal and international year shortages.

        That’s assuming our goal is 100% renewable power sourcing. In reality, as I think I said, achieving 60% to 80% renewable (which necessarily includes hydroelectric dams), and the remainder “more conventional” — whether more like France with a bunch of nuclear, or like the USA, with well distributed natural gas generation — certainly sidelines your point.

        With a fairly sophisticated and carefully vetted model of the stochastic piecemeal generation of power and energy by a mix of PV, Wind, Hydro and both natural gas and baseline nuclear, it becomes “a remarkably long computer run” to find the optimizations that quantify sufficient conventional generating capacity to make up for both seasonal and international demand changes. However, the results become pretty defensible: stable power grids are possible with mixes of renewable energy upwards of 70% of the total power generating capacity of broadly-industrialized countries.

        Moreover, one can … with not too much tweaking of the driving economics of the model … also determine that build-out above 70% is essentially futile absent a sudden (and not historically encountered) rise in the prices of conventional backstop fuels, be they nuclear or natural gas … or coal for that matter.

        That 70% drops to 50% optimization limit when one also (rightfully) considers the presently irreplaceable utility of commercial aviation jet fuel. So far at least, there is no competent alternative to jet fuel for comporting people and goods the billions of air miles per year. But both the industry and I personally have hope that some alternative to jet fuel may someday be conjured that compactly, efficiently and safely allows electricity to be stored in large-and-low-mass quantities for electric aircraft use.

        Meanwhile, 50% optimization is about the limit for renewables. Eventually it could rise as high as 80% or more, especially when civilization decides to abandon nuclear fission as a safe-enough, cheap-enough, potent-enough and resource-for-the-forseeable-future compliment to the more expensive mass-storage technologies presented herein.

        Just saying,
        GoatGuy ✓

        • Not sure I agree. I’ve done 30 year simulations at the hourly data level, and looked at Europe wide data that reveal Europe wide lulls in renewable generation because weather systems such as stationary winter highs can cover almost all the continent. The plain fact is that you need 90+% of peak demand as dispatchable capacity. You can of course reduce storage requirements through massive overbuild of renewables capacity with the corollary that marginal capacity is increasingly curtailed, which effectively makes it expensive.

          While in South America hydro is easy come by, it’s not so simple if you lack convenient mountain ranges.

  27. This is the key point in the article.

    · Adding wind and solar to the power grid beyond a certain point is not only uneconomical but hurts the environment”

    The mainstream media fed by fake left engineering studies pushed a urban legend that sun and wind gathering will work. We can get to zero Co2 emissions if only more money was spent.

    It does not matter how much money is spent there is a point and Germany has reached that point where installing more sun and wind gathering causes more environmental damage that stopping the insane scheme.

    Making electricity more and more expensive made sort of made a little sense if there was an environmental reason.

  28. … I am all for renewable energy. Our long-term future will need to be all renewable… but is what we are currently doing good for our environment? …
    That is just the ritual genuflection that usually accompanies articles like this, maybe simply to get published, or maintain peace with colleagues, friends and on the ‘home front’.

  29. Excellent article. I wish the writer had touched upon the issues associated with the disposal of spent solar panels, batteries and wind turbines. They are (will be) quite considerable.

    • One could reasonably ask WHY?? Consider that it didn’t occur for much of the existing fossil fuel industry. Around the world we have numerous communities looking at massive cleanup costs following abandonment of various mines and power stations.

      • Massive clean up costs you say, as a person who has more than a passing interest in old so called toxic mine sites, I can tell you nature adapts very well to these environments, Natural regeneration including grasses who thrive and adapt to metal particles, while growing extract metals and store them, lichens that have adapted to grow on mine dumps,down stream insects thzt only survive in these environments because they have adapted ,growing rushes in discharge areas that thrive and harvest minute amounts of metals, of course nature takes time to adapt,but it does and thrives once adapted,time to do some real research Robert,nature it would seem without getting hysterical gets on and thrives,

          • Once upon a time, long, long ago in what is now South West Africa, a natural nuclear reactor ran for a couple of million years. It self moderated in a very interesting fashion until the fuel ran out. We’re still here. Who knows, perhaps we are here because of it.

        • Erosion over millenia has exposed the same “natural resources” to the surface environment, and seas since … forever. Our continents were recycled many times over before we ever were.

          Hike down the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River. At the bottom look up ask yourself “Where did all the rock that used to be above me go ?”

    • There is more than just “disposal pollution” involved with solar. If panel enclosures are broken, not rare at all, toxic and carcinogenic cadmium gets leached out of the panels by rainwater and into the ground and then into the ground water.

      Panels are ALWAYS broken when tossed into landfills.


  30. WRONG ON EVERY COUNT … Author does not include the JMCC WING Generator which does 1) increase energy from the wind by a factor of 10 (and more) with generators up to 250 MW per unit. 2) Reduces cost of energy by more than a factor of 10 over the planned obsolescence 3 blade wind monsters and even more so over solar. 3) With the McCanney “Distributed Energy” design and large 100 MW JMCC WING Generators we CAN power the USA from the wind with a minor supplement from Natural Gas ONLY (eliminating nuclear … every nuclear plant is leaking in the USA today – Nuclear IS NOT GREEN !!!). 4) A single 100 MW JMCC WING Generator will replace 125 of the 3 blade disasters or 600,000 solar panels with less than an acre of land footprint – WITHOUT government subsidies. The author Shernikau bit the “Myth of Renewable Energy” hook line and sinker as outlined in McCanney’s 2009 book. This amounts to collusion of GE/Siemans and the central power company (government oversight) monopoly to push for massive government subsidies of crap that they knew would never work and most importantly would never compete against the central power company monopoly (GE and Siemens core business). When the public finally woke up to this … the Nay sayers would rush in to claim that we have to return to coal – Natural Gas – nuclear and petrol based energy (ala Dr Shernikau and a host of others including the ignorant wattsupwiththat editors who post this tripe). The only truthful statement in the entire article (aside from the standard charts and graphs) is the Forbes statement “The reason renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could.” (Forbes, May 2019). The 3 blade monsters and solar panels were never meant to replace the central power company in fact they were designed NOT TO. The only problem is they never counted on an independent thinker like James McCanney to design the system that would replace the central power companies.

    • I just had a look at the
      JMCC WING I could not help thinking,how many Guinea pigs do you have running around in there,

          • And to be fair you are here to try to promote your own product,blatantly. Your e-commerce web site is just that.as to the “blade” no doubt you have researched and come up with a interesting product, but you seem to emphasis criticism of the wind lobby ,which I dont disagree with ,but should you not be EG explaining the advantages and figures of the blade demonstrated,If the wind industry have blackballed you, how? if they feel so threatened by your blade,have they not offered to buy you out?you haven’t been trolled you have been questioned over a blatant sales pitch,with very little technical information.

          • So anyone who can see through the nonsense you are trying to scam off on others, is just a government troll.


      • I’ve taken a look at your video. I didn’t see anything that was tried and rejected generations ago.
        BTW, since you are planning on replacing centralized power generation, how do you intend to get around the problem of wind being an intermittent source.

    • In every generation, there will always be a con man trying to sell 100 mpg carburetors to the general public.

      If this thing was as good as you claim, power companies would be beating down your door to license it.

  31. Eventually, we’ll need to exploit resources from off-planet sources. “Eventually” might be a half a billion years or it might be much sooner, but eventually, we’ll run out of the crucial elements needed to produce -any- of the existing sources of power. Crude oil, coal, natural gas, rare earths, lithium, uranium, thorium, copper, etc., none of these is unlimited on this planet. They are going to run out. Even if they did not, the Sun is going to burn through the hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, … etc, … and the Sun will expand into a Red Giant phase. At that point the Earth will be burnt to a cinder because it will be inside the Sun surface. Our time here is limited by these indisputable facts.

    All life on this planet requires that we develop space technology and establish extra-terrestrial resource surveying and acquisition capabilities. Then we need to expand out into the rest of the solar system, and beyond. Let’s get to it before we run out of the crucial elements needed to sustain space technology.

    • That’s assuming humans outlive all the resources we can extract. The evidence suggest to me the resources left will still be here when we are all gone.

      • Exactly Patrick; there’s a lot of climate deniers here who can’t see or refuse to believe the published data re global temperature rise versus fossil fuel combustion. There is a very narrow window remaining for survival of humanity. When I look at data since 1980 I suspect may already be too late.

        • First off Roger, it’s isn’t polite to come in someone else’s home and whiz on their carpet.
          “Denier” is a cheap insult that really means “heretic”. The cry of “heretic” historically preceded persecution, followed by mass murder. There’s NO science in your current ideology.

        • Temperatures have gone up, down and sideways all while CO2 levels have gone up.
          There is no correlation between CO2 and temperature.
          Not in the last 200 years, not in the last 120 million years.

    • Things like rare earths, lithium, copper etc are never “used up”.
      When they are worn out and thrown away, they get put into dumps. Where they sit until the price goes up enough to make it worth mining the dumps for all the raw materials being stored there.

    • Exactly.

      They are intended to power a population of 1 billion max. As Dr. Schellnhuber CBE, mekes perfectly clear.
      Collateral damage – 6 billion people. But as Lord Bertrand Russell wrote in Impact of Science on Society, the really high minded say what of it.

  32. Wind not only suffers from low wind speeds but also high winds speeds and it is the high winds and turbulence that cause gearbox and other failures in the whole structure. A decent line of very severe thunderstorms can totally destroy any wind or solar farm and the evidence is there to see in Puerto Rico where Hurricane Marcia left those systems unusable. Wind and solar cannot provide extra power when the grid is put under load and are not able to provide reactive power into the grid where it is needed, and at night and early morning large grids still need around 80% of day time base power to keep modern cities and industries operating.

  33. “thus Germany decided to build new gas-fired power plants instead”

    That statement is absolutely untrue. The Germans are not replacing coal with gas, certainly not building gas to save on CO2. They are replacing their electricity generation across the board with renewable energy.


    further, when citing power plants, it is misleading not to show the percentage of ELECTRICITY generation from renewables in Germany separately, but only to bundle it in with heat and transport.

    German electricity was 40% of total electricity in 2018 – more than coal

  34. A listener asks the question “how do you account for intermittent wind” with the JMCC WING Generator system. This is all explained in my 2009 book “McCanney WING Generator – World Energy Project” (with addendum “The Myth of Alternative Energy” where I expose the corrupt energy industry). Everything I predicted in that book has now come to pass exactly as predicted. Intermittent wind is a problem with the failed 3 blade turbines which are a bandaid at best. To solve the intermittent wind problem you 1) need a system that works down to low wind speeds and up to very high wind speeds (the WING does this), 2) you need distributed energy (there is always wind blowing somewhere … my studies show the national average wind energy is a constant), 3) you overbuild the wind segment of the energy system so the distributed WING units are working at partial capacity (something again the 3 blade things could never do), 4) (and most importantly) you remove the control of the voltage from the hands of the central power company. The control of voltage is a defacto control that no one has ever questioned. Who ever gave the central power company the mandate to control the voltage ??? They do a terrible job of it and with increasing alternative sources of energy they fail miserably (ask the poor mates down under in Australia if you have any doubts). ALL OF YOU have a UPS or many of them in your house or business BECAUSE THE POWER COMPANIES CANNOT CONTROL THE VOLTAGE. The Nikola Tesla designed power grid was never meant to have a constant voltage. The best place to control the voltage is locally. You are already doing that ALL OF YOU with your UPS power control units at every computer/TV/etc etc. Do you want to continue to charge your electric cars with coal and nuclear electricity? The WING moto is “The Jet Age of Wind Energy”. And about another comment above that the power companies would be beating my door down to get this technology. Actually they have done everything possible to prevent it from emerging. The controlled Wind and solar groups like AWEA and CWEA look at who runs those … GE AND SIEMENS !!! get a clue folks and quit repeating the misguided BS you learned in the planned obsolescence wind and solar industries. As my uncle Ben used to say … “Open up your big brown eyes and see what’s going on in the world around you”!!!! PS. to the comment of whether there is a guinea pig running inside the WING … actually yes we put one there to fool people like this into thinking it is a little animal and not the wind.

      • A bit more logic may help too! The outcome for many households if voltage becomes quite variable is a bit scary. Oh, and I’m in AUSTRALIA with very stable voltage supply. Well, in Queensland anyway.

    • Absolutely no data, just constant whine about how powerful people are trying to shut you up.

      Anyone who actually believes that the power companies can’t control voltage levels either doesn’t know enough about power generation to talk intelligently, or he’s hoping everyone else is.

      Total scam from the get go.

    • Odd, I thought Tesla won the battle with Edison, and AC became world standard.
      To control the frequency is the key, and the recent English windy blackout involed exactly that.

      Notice the high tension lines for windy power are megavolt DC..

      Which is why in Germany, they say Fidget Current has replaced AC.

      Running a grid on Fidget Current gives me the shivers!

  35. “I am not even considering the overburden that needs to be moved for each ton of minerals mined. The overburden ratio can be estimated 1:10. Thus, you can 10x fold the numbers above. One Tesla battery requires 500-1.000 tons of materials to be moved/mined compared to coal which requires only 0,3 tons – a factor of 1.700 to 3.300!”

    That is some fudge factor, and as someone who has working in every phase of the iron and steel industry (mining to mill), is pretty inaccurate. Of course some basis should be given for such a large adjustment.

  36. You describe the importance of methane production by gas on the case for coal vs gas. I have always wondered whether methane has an impact. If you look at the infrared spectra of methane and compare it with the dominant spectra of water (for instance on page 291 of ‘Climate Change, the Facts 2019’), it seems that the absorption band of methane at 1200 to 1400 (cm-1) is right at the edge where water starts to absorb. Water concentrations vary greatly in the atmosphere, of course, but such is its dominance as a green house gas that, if it does overlap with methane in this way, methane would have virtually zero impact on global warming. (CO2 is different, of course, as one of its lobes is in the 2200 to 2400 range where water transmits.)

    Is any of this right? Someone must have more accurate spectroscopic spectra for water and methane and can tell me if they do indeed absorb at the same wavelengths.

  37. Batteries can transpose energy from onehour of the day to another, but they cannot stre vast amounts of energy required when the sun stops shing for days or weeks or the wind stops blowing for days or weeks. Batteries DO NOT transfom an unreliable power generation technology into a reliable one.

    • KcTaz

      “Why no mention of nuclear?”

      Are you aware of the costs of
      – the dismantling (and not: decommissioning, of course) of a 1GWel plant?
      – the final treatment and the secured disposal for centuries of
      — the contaminated parts of the plant (reactor kernel, primary cooling system)
      — the used fuel rods?

      Do you know that 40 years ago, the dismantling of a French 4G plant (“Superphénix”, 1.2 GWel) had been estimated at 300 million French francs, i.e. about 50 million US$ ?

      20 years later, as the maintenance costs bypassed anything imaginable, the plant was shut down, and the dismantling costs were suddenly reestimated at 1.5 billion French francs (increase factor 5).

      The dismantling started 12 years ago, with a cost estimate of then 1 billion Euro (increase factor 20), and is intended to be completed in 2027. They needed 10 years to process the 5,500 tons of highly contaminated liquid sodium used in the plant’s cooling system. The reactor’s kernel, the rods and the breeding blankets still await final processing.

      The billion Euro estimate? Hmmmmh.

      Inbetween, the ASTRID project intended to be the next rebirth of the French 4G tech was prematurely abandoned.

      And… there are in France 58 tradiational, U235-based nuclear plants (Westinghouse tech) awaiting their dismantling and the final processing of all the waste they produced during the last 40 years.

      New nuke plants? Gracias no…

      • But you dont come up with any alternative do you,how about thorium reactors ? Smart,safe, can be built to any size, be it a rural community to a large city, power to the people in a real sense.but that would never do would it,cant have the monopoly broken, bit to much gloom and doom on this thread this morning.

        • B d Clark do you have knowledge of a single thorium reactor actually in use providing a decent sized city with power? My understanding is that it still theoretical but with good possibilities. Not taken up by major powers because it doesn’t provide waste product viable for atomic weapons. So much for our kids’ future!

          • Of course your wrong about thorium power plants being theoretical, you need to do some real research the technology was tried and tested in the 1950s,ttry doing some research extremist, do you see the blaring contradiction in your post

          • Did it cross your mind theres enough u235 across the world to make enough bombs to last for centuries,we dont need conventional reactors to create fission material.except you come up with the green party line as a excuse not to use any form of n reactor, a cheap,safe and easily adaptable form of energy that can supply energy indefinitely, of course this goes against your genocide beliefs.

      • Great to know there are some sane and sensible posters on this thread! 🙂
        Our species may have a longer term albeit very expensive future.

    * Date: 23/04/19
    Thorium can give humanity clean, pollution free energy | Kirk Sorensen | TEDxColoradoSprings

    __Are we headed for a solar waste crisis?
    Dirty Secret Behind Wind Turbines, They Need Lots Of Oil. http://bit.ly/2NiMJnZ
    Just installing the foundation of a single offshore turbine can consume 18,857 barrels of marine fuel during construction, according to calculations published by Forbes Wednesday. Offshore wind farms often have over 100 wind turbines, meaning that building them requires almost 2 million barrels of fuel just to power the ships involved in construction.
    “You can’t even construct or operate offshore wind turbines without oil,”…
    Big Wind’s Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Lakes and Radioactive Waste
    The Clean Power Plan Will Collide With The Incredibly Weird Physics Of The Electric Grid

    Wind farm turbines wear sooner than expected, says study
    Britain’s wind farms are wearing out far more rapidly than previously thought, making them more expensive as a result, according to an authoritative new study.

    You can’t diet by eating more diet snacks. Likewise, you can’t reduce fossil fuel usage by using a lot more fossil fuel to do “green” things.
    * “Ignorance can be fixed, ……. stupidity is permanent.”

    • Wake up you fool! That can only be true if your batteries are produced with fossil fuel power generation and even then extremely sus depending on lifetime of battery.

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