Challenges of the clean energy transition

Reposted from Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

Posted on October 22, 2021 by curryja 

by Judith Curry

This morning I participated Conference on Energy and Decarbonization – A New Jersey Business Perspective.

 New Jersey is a leader among U.S. states in aggressively tackling the transition to cleaner sources of energy (see the New Jersey Energy Master Plan).   So far, they have been doing a better job than California.   The near term challenges of the transition to clean energy are described in this article in the City Journal

New Jersey has a pretty good mix of electricity generation sources:  57.2% natural gas, 37.4% nuclear, 1.6% solar, 1.5% coal, 1.1% biomass, 0.9% non-biogenic waste, and 0.1% hydroelectric & wind.New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard was updated in 2018 to require that 21% of electricity be from renewable sources by 2021, 35% by 2025, and 50% by 2030. 

This Conference was a pretty interesting event.  Here is the agenda and list of speakers:

  • Opening Remarks: Ray Cantor, Vice President, Government Affairs, New Jersey Business & IndustryAssociation
  • The Murphy Administration: Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President, Board of Public Utilities and Shawn M.LaTourette, Commissioner, Department of Environmental Protection
  • Climate Risks and Energy Policy Options: Dr. Judith Curry, President, Climate ForecastApplications Network
  • Energy Demand: Dr. Prasanna V. Joshi, Senior Manager of Corporate Strategic Research, ExxonMobil
  • Reliability Concerns: Elliott Nethercutt, National Regulatory Institute, NARUC
  • Transmission Infrastructure: Bob Martin, Managing Director, Christie 55 Solutions
  • Costs of Decarbonization: Dan Shreve, Head of Global Wind Energy Research, Wood MacKenzie
  • Offshore Wind: Kris Ohleth, Executive Director, Special Initiative on Offshore Wind
  • The Role of Gas Infrastructure in the Clean Energy Economy: Steve Westhoven, CEO, NewJersey Resources
  • Nuclear: Rick Thigpen, Senior Vice President for Corporate Citizenship and PSEG Foundation Chair atPublic Service Enterprise Group (PSE&G)                                                                        
  • Solar: Jim Spano, Managing Partner, Spano Partners
  • Heavy Duty Transportation: Dawn Fenton, Vice President for Government Relations and PublicAffairs, Volvo Group North America
  • Labor Concerns and Workforce: Kate Gibbs, Deputy Director, ELEC 825
  • Challenges for Buildings: Joe Uglietto, President, Diversified Energy Specialists (DES) 

The State administration of NJ assumes that climate change is a code red emergency. Industry leaders and people in the electricity sector are more concerned about energy reliability and cost, arguing for a slower transition. This Conference promoted dialogue among a range of leaders and stakeholders.

I was asked to update the audience on the latest IPCC assessment, topics of specific relevance to New Jersey, and the implications for the clean energy transition.

The slides for me presentation are here (hopefully you can download it?)

Some of the slides I’ve used before, but are included here again for completeness. My verbal remarks are provided below:

Slide 2  IPCC

The climate crisis can be summarized as:

  • Its warming
  • The warming is caused by us
  • Warming is dangerous
  • We need to urgently transition to renewable energy to stop the warming
  • Once we stop burning fossil fuels, sea level rise will stop and the weather won’t be so extreme

Last August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, issued its 6th Assessment report.  In response, the secretary general of the UN stated that

“This is code red for humanity.”

Slide 3 what’s wrong with this narrative

In my talk today, I’m going to present you with a different perspective on the climate change problem and how we can approach solutions.

So what’s wrong with the crisis narrative?  It is my assessment that

  • We’ve vastly oversimplified both the problem and its solutions
  • The complexity and uncertainty surrounding climate change is being kept away from the public and policy debates.
  • Rapid reductions in emissions are technologically and politically infeasible on a global scale, with adverse negative consequences.
  • And finally, the climate crisis narrative gets in the way of real solutions to our problems

Slide 4  97% consensus

Even people that don’t know much about climate science have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree.  But exactly what do they agree on?  Not nearly as much as portrayed by the media.  Everyone agrees that:

  • Surface temperatures have increased since 1880
  • Humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and
  • Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases have a warming effect on the planet

However, there is uncertainty and disagreement on the most consequential issues:

  • How much of the recent warming has been caused by emissions
  • How much the planet will warm in the 21st century
  • Whether warming is ‘dangerous
  • And how we should respond to the warming, to improve human well being

Slide 5 21st century warming

For policy making, the most consequential issue is how much warming we can expect in the 21st century.  This figure from the latest IPCC report shows climate model projections of global surface temperature anomalies over the 21st century.  There’s a large range of warming shown in this diagram, from 3 degrees to 8 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial temperatures.  We’ve already warmed by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit. So whether the future warming is on the low or high end has huge implications for climate policy.  The largest amount of warming is associated with an extreme emissions scenario, SSP-8.5, shown by the purple curve. 

The large amount of uncertainty in 21st century projections of surface temperature is associated with:

  • The amount of emissions
  • The sensitivity of the climate to these emissions
  • And finally, there is substantial uncertainty about the relative importance of natural climate variability.  

Slide 6  Emissions scenarios

On the previous slide, recall that the largest amount of warming was associated with the emissions scenario SSP-8.5.  The IPCC 5th Assessment Report regarded the 8.5 scenario to be our most likely future, and it was referred to as the business-as-usual scenario.

However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the 8.5 scenarios are implausibly high, if not impossible.  The gray lines show emissions projections made by the International Energy Agency out to 2050.  The IEA projections show fairly steady emissions through 2050, that are much lower than the 8.5 scenarios.  The IEA projections are even somewhat lower than the IPCC’s medium emissions scenario, SSP-4.5.

Nevertheless, the most recent IPCC report emphasizes the 8.5 scenario.  Not surprisingly, this extreme emissions scenario is the source of alarming impacts.


The second major source of uncertainty is the sensitivity of the global temperatures to a doubling of carbon dioxide.  For decades, the likely range for climate sensitivity has been between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees centigrade, which is reflected by the assessment from the IPCC AR5 published in 2013. 

The red bars in this figure shows the range of climate sensitivity from the most recent climate model simulations, ranging from 1.8 to 5.7 degrees.  These values are overall much higher than those from the AR5, whose highest value was 4.6 degrees.

In spite of the larger range from the climate models, the most recent IPCC AR6 substantially narrowed the likely range of climate sensitivity to between 2.5 and 4 degrees, indicated by the vertical blue lines, rejecting the highest values from the climate models.  However this narrowing of the range is disputed, particularly on the low end.   The whole issue of climate sensitivity to increasing carbon dioxide remains unsettled

The bottom line here is some good news.  The extreme tail risks from global warming, associated with very high emissions and high climate sensitivity, have shrunk and are now regarded as implausible.

Slide 7  RCP4.5

So, what is our best estimate of the amount of warming expected in the 21st century?  The closest emissions scenario to the projections from the International Energy Agency is the medium emissions scenario, SSP4.5.

The recent IPCC report provides ‘constrained’ projections, that includes only the climate models with values of climate sensitivity between 2.5 and 4 degrees Centigrade.  The IPCC’s best estimate for warming by 2100 is 4.9 degrees Fahrenheit, relative to a preindustrial baseline for the period 1850-1900.  The policy relevant targets of 1.5 and 2 degrees centigrade, indicated by the dashed lines, reflect temperature change relative to this preindustrial period.  We have already warmed 1.3 degrees Centigrade, or 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit.   The IPCC’s best estimate has us crossing the 1.5 degree threshold in about 2030, and the 2 degree threshold in about 2055.  

There are numerous reasons to expect that the amount of warming will be lower than the IPCC’s best estimate.  The current emissions trajectory is running below the 4.5 scenario.  Lower values of climate sensitivity would also delay crossing these thresholds.  The other factor to consider is natural climate variability.  Major volcanic eruptions would have a cooling effect.  A solar minimum is expected in the 21st century, following the grand solar maximum that occurred in the late 20th century.  Natural variability associated with the large-scale ocean circulations is also expected to contribute to cooling in the coming decades.

We need to recognize that how the climate of the 21st century will play out is a topic of deep uncertainty. Once natural climate variability is accounted for, it may turn out to be relatively benign.  Or we may be faced with unanticipated surprises

Slide 8  Is warming dangerous

The next area of disagreement takes us away from science and into the realm of values.  How dangerous is global warming?  The IPCC 5th Assessment Report used a burning embers diagram to portray reasons for concern.  The level of concern increases with the amount of global warming.  Note that the IPCC does not use the words ‘dangerous’, ‘crisis’ or ‘catastrophe’ in its reports; rather it refers to ‘reasons for concern.’ 

Any evaluation of dangerous climate change must confront the Goldilocks principle.  Exactly which climate state is too hot versus too cold?  Some answer this question by stating that the climate we’re adapted to is ‘just right’.  However, the IPCC refers to a preindustrial baseline, in the late 1700’s.  Why anyone thinks that this is an ideal climate is beyond me.  This was during the Little Ice Age, the coldest period of the millennia.  Think George Washington and the horrible winters at Valley Forge. 

While the categories of concern in the burning embers diagram seem a bit nebulous, the 6th assessment report focused on extreme weather and climate events.  Lets take a look.

Slide 8  New normal

The recent IPCC report identified an increase in the intensity and frequency of heat waves, but a decrease in cold waves.  The decrease in cold events is actually very good news. Numerous studies have found that there are more deaths from cold events than from heat events, by as much as an order of magnitude. 

The recent IPCC report also identified an increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy rain events.  The IPCC looked at the period since 1950 in assessing trends in extreme events.  However, looking only at the record since 1950 can lead to weather amnesia

New Jersey is facing the prospect of increased flooding.  New Jersey is rightfully concerned about impacts from hurricanes. But these impacts are not necessarily worsening as a result of global warming. The worst hurricane to strike New Jersey in the historical record occurred in 1821 – a category 4 hurricane with a 13 foot storm surge.

Hurricane Ida recently caused 7 inches of rain in New Jersey over 2 days.  How does this compare with the historical record?  Central Park in New York City has a data record that goes back to the 1860’s.  The highest daily rainfall accumulation occurred during 1883, over 8 inches.

Looking at the historical data of extreme weather events helps us avoid weather amnesia.  Further, it reminds us that even worse extreme weather events have occurred in the historical record, and that elimination of fossil fuel emissions isn’t going to prevent extreme weather events.

Slide 10 hurricanes

The recent IPCC report concluded that it’s likely that the global proportion of major hurricanes (which are category 3 and higher) has increased over the last four decades.   However, the actual number of major hurricanes does not show a meaningful trend that can be distinguished from natural variability.

The left-hand diagram shows the number of major hurricanes that have made U.S. landfall since 1900.  The year 2005 stands out as the highest, which was followed by a period of 11 years with no major hurricane landfalls.  Also, there were a large number of major hurricane landfalls during the first half of the 20th century, when surface temperatures were significantly cooler.

The large amount of natural variability makes it difficult to identify meaningful trends in hurricane activity, and even more difficult to attribute any trend to manmade global warming.

Slide 11  NJ SLR

Sea level rise is an unambiguous impact of global warming.  This figure shows the sea level data record for Atlantic City.  Since 1910, sea level has been rising at a steady rate of 1.36 feet, or 16 inches, per century.  New Jersey’s coastal sea level rise is somewhat larger than the global average, owing to local sinking from geological processes and extraction of ground water.

In 2019, a team of scientists led by Rutgers University prepared a report entitled “New Jersey’s Rising Seas and Changing Coastal Storms.”  By 2100, for the medium emissions scenario, the Rutgers report predicted a likely range of sea level rise to be between 2 and 5.1 feet. New Jersey’s plan for Protecting Against Climate Threats, or PACT, adopted 5.1 feet as the basis for its regulations.

Slide 12  Rutgers 

In January 2021, I was contacted by Ray Cantor of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, to provide an independent evaluation of the projections in the Rutgers Report.

The main conclusion of my report was that the Rutgers projections are substantially higher than the IPCC projections, owing to their method of incorporating extreme scenarios of instability in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Slide 13 Global sea level rise

This figure is from the most recent IPCC Report.  The left column shows projections of global mean sea level to 2050, and the right column shows projections to 2100.  The middle row, circled in red, shows projections for the medium emissions scenario.  Looking at the 2100 projections, the yellow bar indicates the likely range from the latest IPCC report, with an upper value of 2.5 feet.  Accounting for local effects for New Jersey produces a value of 3.1 feet. 

This value of 3.1 feet is substantially lower than the 5.1 feet cited in the Rutgers Report.  The latest IPCC report reinforces my previous assessment that the sea level rise projections from the Rutgers report are far too high.

Slide 14  Adapting

In evaluating the dangers of climate change, it’s important to assess how global societies have dealt with the warming that we’ve already seen. So far, the world has done a decent job at adapting to weather extremes and climate change.  The upper left figure shows the change in yield for major crops, with yields for many crops doubling or even quadrupling since 1960.

The figure in the lower left shows losses from global weather disasters as a percent of GDP.  The spikes are associated with years that showed large losses from tropical cyclones.  Overall for the past 30 years, there has actually been a slight decline in losses.

The diagram in the lower right shows the number of deaths per million people from weather and climate catastrophes.  Over the past century, climate related deaths have dropped by 97%.

Slide 15 IEA

Under the auspices of the United Nations, the world is attempting to reach netzero in carbon emissions by 2050.

This diagram from the International Energy Agency illustrates the challenge.  The blue curve shows expected emissions based on policies that are currently in place.  The yellow curve shows the pledges that countries have made as part of the Paris Agreement.  And the green curve shows the path we should be on to reach netzero by 2050.

There’s a large gap between our current and committed policies versus the netzero target.  There are numerous impediments to reaching netzero: waiting for better technologiescosts of the transition, and politics surrounding natural gas and nuclear energy. But most importantly, there are concerns about maintaining energy security during the transition, in terms of electricity reliability and cost.

Slide 16 Netzero

The path to net zero by 2050 is generally regarded to consist of the following elements:

  • The fundamental premise is to eliminate fossil fuels
  • Then replace fossil fuel generation with clean energy, focusing on solar, wind, biofuels.
  • Nuclear energy remains controversial, although there is a recent surge of support in Europe and Japan.
  • There’s an implication of austerity in terms of using less energy
  • In doing the carbon accounting, it is very difficult to achieve netzero by 2050 without carbon capture and storage.  However, we do not currently have the capability to accomplish this at anything close to the needed scale.

The International Energy Agency finds that there is a possible but very narrow pathway to netzero by 2050, provided that there’s a huge leap in energy innovation and major efforts to build new infrastructure.  Other analysts find that reaching netzero globally by 2050 is a social and technological impossibility

Slide 17 netzero problems

Some countries and states can reach netzero by 2050 relatively easily if they have a large amount of hydropower or an existing base of nuclear power. However, it will be very difficult for most other regions, particularly in the face of growing population and desired economic growth.

But even if we can’t meet the targets, we should try anyways, right? 

Well, the fundamental problem is the level of urgency. I’ve shown that the perception of a crisis and the level of alarm that is often portrayed in the media and by politicians is overblown. Targets that are too stringent lead to decisions that aren’t beneficial in the longer term.

Another key issue is that the demand for electricity is growing.  We need much more electricity, not less.  Going on an energy diet like we did in the 1970’s is off the table.  We don’t just want to survive, we want to thrive. We need more electricity to support innovation and thrivability in the 21st century.

Slide 18 robustness

A more pragmatic approach to dealing with climate change drops the timelines and emissions targets, in favor of accelerating energy innovation.

Once the stringent targets are removed, you have space to imagine what the infrastructure for our 21st century electricity system could look like, with new technologies for electricity generation and a 21st century transmission infrastructure that is more resilient to extreme weather events.

Compare this vision against the current plan for urgently implementing 20th century wind and solar technologies, patching them into the existing transmission grid, eliminating backup power sources of natural gas and nuclear, and then hoping for the best.  This is where urgently working towards NETZERO by overinvesting in wind and solar is leading us.

Nations and states are coming to grips with their over dependence on wind and solar, notably California, the UK and Europe.  In 2021 so far, offshore wind in the North Sea has provided 7% of the UK electricity, compared to 25% in 2020.  Concerns about not meeting electricity needs next winter are resulting in a near term reliance on coal in Europe and Asia. 

You can avoid this situation by hanging on to your existing nuclear and natural gas generating capacity.  Nuclear and natural gas are key enablers for reducing carbon emissions today in the near term.  Natural gas is essential for keeping energy prices in check while we invest in the technology and infrastructure necessary to attain net zero in the future.

We can be sure the future of the 2030’s will look very different from the future of today. In evaluating clean energy technologies, extend your horizon to the 2030’s and build in the capability to adopt new technologies in your planning process.

Consideration of these factors can lead to a better and even cleaner electricity system by mid century, including new technologies, such as small modular nuclear reactors and advanced geothermal.

Slide 20 thank you

The Energy Transition will be one of the most capital- and resource- intensive undertakings in the history of mankind.  It is essential for business and industry to provide a reality check on both technical feasibility and economic realities.

But more importantly, we need to change the focus of conversation, and here is where business leaders can take charge.  Focus on a 21st century vision for electric power infrastructure, with abundant, cheap and clean electricity.  Sell prosperity and thrivability as the motivations for this.  Support innovation. Not greenwashing, which the energy industry is often accused, but come up with a real plan.  Its time to listen to business and the engineers, not the politicians and activists.   Come up with a good plan, and even the climate activists will have a hard time objecting. 

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October 23, 2021 6:09 pm

It is simply lunacy as concisely explained by the latest output from Net Zero Watch

Reply to  Rafe Champion
October 24, 2021 5:44 am

What can you say?
Why aren’t we in prison, ask Insulate Britain protesters (

The Industrial Devolution led by a plethora of dilettantes and poseurs spawned by the very success of harnessing fossil fuel energy..

October 23, 2021 6:12 pm

Anyone using RCP8.5 as a basic planning premise is not dealing with reality.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 23, 2021 7:06 pm

Anyone using climate models and their predictions projections as a guide to future climate is not dealing with reality. Reality no longer counts for anything in Climate World. Reality no longer exists.

Reply to  Smart Rock
October 23, 2021 7:19 pm

Yeah, but RCP8.5 is an extreme case of it.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Smart Rock
October 23, 2021 10:31 pm

It’s all left brain versus right brain stuff. The conflict between the Engineer and the ArtStudent. Between realism and Idealism.

Engineer: The world is what it is, and making up stories about it doesn’t change it.
Art Student: The story IS the world.

Mark BLR
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 25, 2021 5:15 am

Anyone using RCP8.5 as a basic planning premise is not dealing with reality.

From Dr. Curry’s “Slide 6” notes above : “The IPCC 5th Assessment Report regarded the 8.5 scenario to be our most likely future, and it was referred to as the business-as-usual scenario.”

I looked at this when AR6 came out (early September) and produced the graph below.

AR5 came out in 2013, at which point RCP8.5 was the “closest to date” CMIP5 pathway, but for (future, pre-Paris Agreement) planning purposes it was already being questioned as “unrealistic”.
Note that the total “spread” of CMIP5 (RCP) pathways in 2012, when the IPCC “assessed” the emissions situation, was only around 1 GtC.

AR6, however, noted that both SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5 should be considered as “counterfactuals” and concluded that “[s]tudies that consider possible future emission trends in the absence of additional climate policies … out to 2070″ showed that the CMIP6 (SSP) pathway that should be used for what could be called “worst-case planning premises” is probably SSP2-4.5 (section, page 1-110).

At first glance my graph appears to agree with the IPCC (/ “The Science” / the consensus of the experts) …

Bruce Ranta
October 23, 2021 6:22 pm

Climate activists are lunatics. There is no reasoning with them. And they are now in control of the meme. Dark times ahead.

willem post
October 23, 2021 6:45 pm

I think more people should be listening to fewer people.
Forget about these 97% scientists
Just listen to Judith Curry, if you want to stay sane.
Many of those 97% are insane, due to their own biases.
They actually believe what they are ranting about.

It would be VERY expensive to make an energy transition, plus that final result would be similar to supporting a high-maintenance gold digger.



World energy consumption is projected to increase to 736 quads in 2040 from 575 quads in 2015, an increase of 28%, according to the US Energy Information Administration, EIA. 
See URL and click on PPT to access data, click on to page 4 of PowerPoint

Most of this growth is expected to come from countries not in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, and especially from countries where demand is driven by strong economic growth, particularly in Asia.
Non-OECD Asia, which includes China and India, accounted for more than 60% of the world’s total increase in energy consumption from 2015 through 2040.
China, India, and other developing Asian countries, and Africa, and Middle and South America, need to use low-cost energy, such as coal, to be competitive. They would not have signed up for “Paris”, if they had not been allowed to be more or less exempt from the Paris agreements

Obama agreed to commit the US to the Paris agreements, i.e., be subject to its financial and other obligations for decades. 
However, he never submitted the commitment to the US Senate for ratification, as required by the US Constitution. 
Trump rescinded the commitment. It became effective 3 years later, one day after the US presidential elections on November 3, 2020.

If the US had not left “Paris”, a UN Council likely would have determined a level of renewable energy, RE, spending, say $500 billion/y, for distributing to various poorer countries by UN bureaucrats. 
The Council would have assessed OECD members, likely in proportion to their GDPs. 
The US and Europe would have been assessed at 100 to 150 billion dollars/y each.
The non-OECD countries likely would continue to be more or less exempt from paying for the Paris agreements.


The analysis includes two scenarios: 1) 50% RE by 2050, and 2) 100% RE by 2050.
The CAPEX values exclude a great many items related to transforming the world economy to a low-carbon mode. See next section.

50% RE by 2050

World CAPEX for RE were $2,652.2 billion for 2010-2019, 10 years
World CAPEX for RE were $282.2 billion in 2019.
World CAPEX for RE would be $24,781 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 5.76%/y
US CAPEX for RE were $494.5 billion for 2010 – 2019, 10 years.
US CAPEX for RE were $59 billion in 2019.
US CAPEX for RE would be $7,233 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 8.81%/y

100% RE by 2050

World CAPEX for RE were $2,652.2 billion for 2010-2019, 10 years
World CAPEX for RE were $282.2 billion in 2019.
World CAPEX for RE would be $60,987 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 10.08%/y
US CAPEX for RE were $494.5 billion for 2010 – 2019, 10 years.
US CAPEX for RE were $59 billion in 2019.
US CAPEX for RE would be $16,988 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 13.42%/y


World More-Inclusive CAPEX

The above CAPEX numbers relate to having 50% RE, or 100% RE, in the primary energy mix by 2050, which represents a very narrow area of “fighting climate change”. See Appendix for definitions of source, primary and upstream energy.
This report, prepared by two financial services organizations, estimates the world more-inclusive CAPEX at $100 trillion to $150 trillion, over the next 30 years, about $3 trillion to $5 trillion per year
NOTE: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that an average of $3.5 trillion per year will be needed just in energy investments between 2016 and 2050 to achieve the 1.5-degree target.

US More-Inclusive CAPEX
The ratio of World CAPEX for RE / US CAPEX for RE = 16,988/60,987 = 0.279
A more-inclusive US CAPEX could be $27.9 trillion to $41.8 trillion
The US CAPEX could be less, because, at present, the world is adding a quad of RE at about $58.95 billion, compare to the US at about $102.78 billion.
It is unclear what accounts for the large difference. 
Part of it may be due to differences of accounting methods among countries. 

NOTE: The CAPEX numbers exclude costs for replacements of shorter-life systems, such as EVs, heat-pumps, batteries, wind-turbines, etc., during these 30 years. For comparison:
Hydro plants have long lives, about 100 years.
Nuclear plants about 60 years
Coal and gas-turbine plants about 40 years
Wind turbine systems about 20 years
Solar systems about 25 years
Battery systems about 15 years

Geoffrey Williams
Reply to  willem post
October 24, 2021 1:10 am

The lunatic left are now well and truly in control of running the asylum.
Man made climate change / co2 global warming is taken granted by the masses in the west.
My only explanation is that decades of brainwashing have come to fruition and it’s too late to change. Perhaps I will emigrate away from this maddness to a small quiet town somewhere in Siberia say . I will find a cosy little Russian house with a wood burner and ignore all this rubbish from the west. Happy days . .

Reply to  willem post
October 24, 2021 2:00 pm

That is the long-hand way of stating random energy generators are UNSUSTAINABLE.

Urgency will drive the transition to other energy sources. Nuclear fission based on uranium has even a shorter resource life than existing fossil fuels.

Thorium is yet to show any promise. Fusion is yet to show any promise.

China currently uses 4bn tonne of coal a year. Current reserves will be gone within 40 years. India and Africa are only beginning to start their development of energy sources.

The “greenhouse” BS will not even be a consideration in 30 years. People dying from cold winters in the northern hemisphere will highlight how the world has been duped by religious fanatics and the vital importance of energy security.

willem post
October 23, 2021 6:50 pm

This article describes what would likely happen, if we were nutty enough to actually RELY on the Wind, the Sun and the Rainfall to provide the world’s energy needs, 24/7/365, year after year.



Any transition from fossil fuels to low-CO2 sources, such as wind, solar, nuclear, hydro and biomass, could occur only when the low-CO2 sources are: 1) abundantly available everywhere, and 2) at low-cost, say 5 to 6 c/kWh, wholesale, and 3) as reliable as fossil fuels, 24/7/365, year after year. 

This article presents the all-in cost of wind, solar and battery systems in the US Northeast.
Table 1 shows the all-in cost of wind and solar are much greater than reported by the Media, etc.

Much of the cost is shifted from Owners of these systems to taxpayers and ratepayers, and added to government debts 


Simplified Mortgage Method

This method can be applied to Electric Vehicles, Heat Pumps, Electric Buses, Wind Systems, Solar Systems, Battery Systems, etc.

The minimum annual carrying cost of a house, or an energy system, is “paying the mortgage”. 
With regard to a house, all other costs, such as real estate taxes, heating, cooling, maintenance, etc., are in addition.

An energy system must have annual revenues = “Paying the mortgage” + “All other costs”
Any shortage of revenues must be made up by subsidies. 

The less an energy system is able to “pay for itself”, the more the subsidies.
Subsidies can be reductions in the upfront turnkey capital costs
Subsidies can be reductions of some items of “All other costs” 
Subsidies can be paying for the electricity production in excess of market prices

A house, after paying the mortgage, likely is worth more than in Year 1.
However, wind, solar, and battery systems have useful service lives of about 20, 25, and 15 years, respectively. 
Thereafter, they still perform at lesser outputs for some time, but their financial value is near zero.

Complicated Spreadsheet Method

A more exact analysis of the economics of an energy system would involve a spreadsheet with many rows and at least 25 columns (for solar), one for each year. It would involve Present Values, Internal Rates of Return, Levelized Costs of Energy, etc.

GMP, VT-DPS, VT-PUC, etc., have such spreadsheets, as do I. They would be much too complicated to present here. 

Alastair gray
Reply to  willem post
October 24, 2021 1:08 am

I would blike to see your spreadsheet. Any chance. Of say a Dropbox link?

willem post
Reply to  Alastair gray
October 24, 2021 5:48 am

I can send it as an attachment to an email.
Just contact Watt is up with that, etc.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  willem post
October 24, 2021 5:35 am

“Any transition from fossil fuels to low-CO2 sources, such as wind, solar, nuclear, hydro and biomass, could occur only when the low-CO2 sources are: 1) abundantly available everywhere, and 2) at low-cost, say 5 to 6 c/kWh, wholesale, and 3) as reliable as fossil fuels, 24/7/365, year after year. ”

What’s not understood here is that the “greens” HATE biomass. They don’t consider it “clean and green” because they claim it’s NOT a low-CO2 emitter. Michael Moore got this wrong too. In fact, it actually is a low CO2 emitter if you consider that the forests recapture the carbon- well managed forests, while producing timber and biomass, can, over time, have MORE carbon stored in the forest. True, biomass isn’t cheap but if you consider the ecosystem benefits of well managed forests, compared to DESTROYING forests to build wind/solar facilities- the economics of biomass is very good indeed. Also, unlike wind and solar, biomass is not only truly renewable but biomass burners will work 24/7. And, in the US Northeast, having a biomass industry greatly enhances the timber industry because by having a market for “junk wood”- it allows thinning forests to produce superior timber, which is a very valuable product- thus great for rural communities. It’s unfortunate that too many people here think biomass is just another phony “green” energy like wind and solar. Biomass (woody biomass from forests- not biomass from farming) is so hated by the greens that they’re succeeding in killing it off as a viable energy source. They hate those thriving forestry firms in the American southeast producing pellets for Drax. And yes, Britain should go back to using its coal- but unless that happens, burning pellets from a RELIABLE American source is a good idea- better than paving over its limited landscape with turbines and solar “farms”. If you don’t realize how much the “greens” hate biomass- you need to view the web site of the Queen of Biomass hatred, Mary Booth: With her “leadership”, the greens have killed off biomass in the American northeast and they aim to kill it everywhere. They succeeded in stopping Dartmouth from building a huge biomass facility- instead, it’ll just destroy hundreds of acres of forest for solar.

willem post
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
October 24, 2021 5:55 am

Wood-burning power plants are about 25% efficient, or energy into the plant is 4 times the energy out of the plant, as electricity

That means the energy equivalent of 3 of 4 trees is wasted.

Power CAN be generated from trees, but it is very energy intensive, plus Owners have to be subsidized to sell it on the WHOLESALE market at 5 c/kWh, because it takes at least 10 c/kWh to produce that power,

The US or New England WHOLESALE rate is 5 c/kWh.

I wrote many articles on the subject.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  willem post
October 24, 2021 6:08 am

and how efficient is wind and solar?

the energy isn’t wasted- what should forest owners do with “junk wood” in their forests holding back the growth of potentially very valuable timber? Not managing the forests well is very wasteful of a potentially great economic resource. All costs and benefits must be looked at. Good mgt. of forests has many ecosystem benefits NOT counted by our simplistic economics. Destroying forests for wind and solar is a huge negative NOT counted by our economic system. The fact that you’ve written many articles on the subject doesn’t impress me- I’ve spent 50 years managing forests so I know the tremendous benefits to well managed forests- the economic benefits are NOT counted by those looking only at wholesale markets for power.

Willem Post
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
October 24, 2021 4:48 pm

The junk wood should be chipped and spread on the forest floor to provide nutrition to trees. The government should pay loggers to do it.

Taking wood from forests depletes/impoverishes the soil.

If forests were left undisturbed, no wood would be removed, and forests would last a 1000 years or more, and be healthy all that time.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Willem Post
October 25, 2021 2:54 am

wood chips would provide little nutrition

so, you think civilization should abandon wood as a raw material- do you have any wood in YOUR home? Do you use paper products? what will future generations build homes from, cement blocks? plastic? metal? oh, you didn’t consider that issue

as for forest health- you have NO clue- lots of dead trees out there- few trees live more than a few centuries- many only live a few decades

you might learn something talking to foresters who spend their lives in the forests

October 23, 2021 7:00 pm

There’s no “weather amnesia”. The Left totally ignores history because it doesn’t serve their purpose. Just like everything else they want to promote. It’s ‘my way’ or nothing. We’re in the middle of dangerous times with propaganda capturing the narrative.

Frank from NoVA
October 23, 2021 7:52 pm

“New Jersey is a leader among U.S. states in aggressively tackling the transition to cleaner sources of energy…”

Fortunately for NJ electricity customers, their local utilities are all members of PJM, meaning that about 90%+ of their electricity is reliably generated from gas, coal and nuclear. Unfortunately for NJ electricity customers, their local utility bills are larded with surcharges to subsidize unreliable sources of piddle power.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
October 24, 2021 6:19 am

Does New Jersey import electricity from out of state suppliers?

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  PaulH
October 24, 2021 7:46 am

They would need to import any hydroelectric.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  PaulH
October 25, 2021 6:36 am

PJM is a regional (read multi-state) transmission operator (RTO). Across that network, current flows from generation to load according to Kirchhoff’s law. So, yes, even if NJ’s progressives were to go full idiot and ban fossil fuel generation, the state would still be served by gas, coal and nuclear generated energy “imported” from elsewhere in the region. At least until PJM ratepayers outside of NJ woke up and rebelled against subsidizing NJ’s idiocy.

October 23, 2021 8:20 pm

It’s impossible to deal rationally with Well Financed and Well Promoted Bull Crap… supported by incessant lying propaganda from the Press… the Press that’s also controlled by the very same bull excrement inventers…the Globalist Oligarchy…who are only partially hidden behind their Press. Their lies aren’t very good but their power is immense. They control all of Western Civilization’s Institutions (except Law Enforcement and the Rank and File Millitary) and have corrupted all of them.

Reply to  DocSiders
October 23, 2021 8:51 pm

Handmade tales, em-pathetic appeals, and braying, steering to sustain them. A recipe for secular success.

Lorne White
Reply to  DocSiders
October 24, 2021 2:04 am

As usual, the question is, “Cui bono?”

What’s the benefit to the Oligarchs “behind the curtain” who are pulling the strings of the academic and media puppets?
What’s their goal ?

Peter Barrett
Reply to  Lorne White
October 24, 2021 8:47 am

The goal is wealth transfer and the impoverishment and elimination of the western middle class enabling total control of the populace with social credits and other systems. Already started, for those who hadn’t noticed.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Lorne White
October 24, 2021 12:35 pm

Power (political) and control.
From that comes wealth. (People willing to pay 6 figures for some paint your son splashed on a canvas, for example.)

October 23, 2021 8:46 pm

It’s gray, ecologically unfriendly, a blight on the environment, and an intermittent/ renewable source of energy.

Christopher Hanley
October 23, 2021 8:59 pm

Dr Curry uses the first person plural ‘we’ but around 80% of the world population have more immediate concerns rather than adopt First World climate change™ neuroses and are not interested, I think that may become more obvious after Glasgow.
The global geopolitical balance is changing, the old First World particularly the US no longer sets the world agenda and that is entirely self-inflicted.

Reply to  Christopher Hanley
October 24, 2021 6:24 pm

You make a good point, but I agree with Willis that it is more than 80%:

We have met the 1%, and he is us

michael hart
October 23, 2021 9:47 pm

No such thing as “clean energy”.

It’s a weasel phrase invented by people with an agenda to promote, but who generally know nothing, or less, about the technologies of energy and power generation.

Reply to  michael hart
October 24, 2021 8:27 am

Smelting steel is not clean. It cleaner now than when I was a boy, yet the fact the US no longer produces the most steel should tell you something, like clean has a cost most people will not pay. Now cement no way to produce without a lot of CO2, have the greens ever figured in the cost of the steel and cement required to produce a windmill let alone the fiber glass or carbon composite blades. If they were any good at math they would rapidly find out in CO2 savings windmill are a net loss, ditto for solar.

Gunga Din
Reply to  MAL
October 24, 2021 12:49 pm

And don’t forget that the lime (Calcium Oxide) used to make cement is also used to treat the water most people drink.
If you only drink bottled water, look at the label’s fine print for it’s source. If it says “municipal supply”, you are most likely drinking water treated with Calcium Oxide.
(The same goes for beer.)
Lots of CO2 released when Limestone (Calcium Carbonate) is burned to produce Calcium Oxide.
Remove cement roads and asphalt, what will all the EV’s drive on?
But in the Green California Dreamin’ World, reality and practicality have no place.

Leo Smith
October 23, 2021 10:28 pm

Common sense like this will never catch on.

October 23, 2021 11:07 pm

A clear and convincing presentation by Judith – but the alarmists have their ears covered.

Steve Case
October 24, 2021 12:02 am

In my talk today, I’m going to present you with a different perspective on the climate change problem and how we can approach solutions.
Stopped reading right there.

There isn’t a problem, and no solution is needed.

Reply to  Steve Case
October 24, 2021 1:58 am

There is a major problem. It is politics promoting religion; no separation of church and state.
It is not obvious that a solution is possible. Brute force is in play.

Reply to  Steve Case
October 25, 2021 3:42 am

There is a problem. The problem is that the general population, the politicians and the MSM believe that there is one and are promoting impossible solutions. Dr. Curry is trying to promote sensible ideas that might just start some people thinking for themselves instead of accepting the present rubbish, and if people can be persuaded to think for themselves the CAGW scam might start to fade.
I know, if, might etc. but we must hope.

Ireneusz Palmowski
October 24, 2021 12:18 am

Polar Vortex Blockade.
“As the second half of the season approaches, the predominant wind direction will shift across northwestern Europe and become more easterly in nature. Since the core of cold air across the European continent is forecast to set up over the east, an easterly wind will be able to transport that chilly air farther to the west.
These cold pushes of air from the east can lead to significant spikes in heating demands for several days to even a week at a time across northwestern Europe. If energy production and demand issues are still in flux by January or February, these cold snaps may place a significant strain on residents’ wallets.
On top of chilly winds out of the east, the La Niña phase will increase the opportunity for snow across the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as areas from France to Poland, especially later in the season.”

Lorne White
October 24, 2021 2:17 am

Much mining of minerals will be needed to convert from fossil fuels to electricity. Most of these will come from reliable old friend and trading partner… Canada.

Will Canada’s First Nations allow us to continue raping Mother Earth when they suffer most from the tailings pollution? They have Supreme Court of Canada treaty rights to consultation, plus ownership of vast territories.

Already there is a First Nation in Québec, NW of Ottawa that’s trying to prevent a new lithium mine. They predict that selenium in the tailings will destroy their local ecology then flow downstream into the Ottawa River, thence downstream to greatly pollute the water source of our capital city Ottawa. Hmmm.

More importantly mining violates their value of preserving Mother Earth for 7 future generations.

=> How much will it cost to do NetZeroMiningPollution?

Serge Wright
October 24, 2021 3:00 am

If you consider that much of China’s large emissions growth has been created by the manufacture of RE infrastructure and when you consider the scale of converting all energy use to RE, which would be orders of magnitude greater than what is currently deployed and could only be done in the short time frame using fossil fuels, then how does this actually work if FF production gets chopped ? Also, how much FF emissions would be released in this giant RE manufacturing exercise over 30, 50 and 100 years, considering it would need to continue indefinitely ?. Basically none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

Also, when you look at what the UN is selling, which is a halting of FF energy production in the developed countries and a transition to RE on a scale that is beyond being extraordinary in terms of cost and size, then you would need to divert an enormous amount of the remaining and scarce FF energy to the task of making RE, presumably in developing countries, leaving a huge shortfall for food production or anything else.

Tony Sullivan
October 24, 2021 5:54 am

The attendees of this conference didn’t need to wait for Dr Curry to present her slides. All they had to do is start reading WUWT and/or subscribe to Tony Heller’s channel several years ago. The information has always been available.

But, couldn’t see the forest because of the trees?

Barnes Moore
October 24, 2021 6:26 am

I think Dr. Curry’s use of the term “climate change problem” subtly implies that the climate change problem is about climate change politics, not climate change itself. As to getting to net zero by moving to wind and solar without nuclear simply ignores the fact that wind and solar do not generate enough energy to power the machinery needed to reproduce themselves and in fact are 100% dependent on fossil fuels from cradle to grave. Of course, there are many other facts that get ignored by the climatewarmingchange mob. We can only hope at this point in the US that we can stave off the multi-trillion dollar extravaganza that dems are pushing for. Here is a link to part 1 of a 6 part series from Alex Epstein,

John K. Sutherland
October 24, 2021 6:53 am

Anyone who quotes, and gives credence to any ‘97% of scientists believe’ has lost it before they’ve begun.

October 24, 2021 8:11 am

WUWT site nearly unreadable with 2 page full width adverts that are themselves hot buttons to the advertisers website. Pls fix….

Gunga Din
Reply to  DMacKenzie
October 24, 2021 1:09 pm

I run Windows 10 Pro with Google as my browser on my desktop. (I don’t have a cellphone or a laptop.)
I run “Click&Clean”, an Ad Blocker, and set this site to allow all ads. I’ve never experienced what you describe.
(I also close my browser with “Close&Close”.)
Perhaps the problem is not on WUWT’s end?
PS I allowed all ads on WUWT because it generates income for WUWT. I want them to stay up. We need them to stay up!

Reply to  DMacKenzie
October 25, 2021 3:49 am

I run a desktop with Windows 10 on Firefox without an adblocker so far as I know and get no advertisments of any kind unless I stray onto something that uses Google.

Tom Abbott
October 24, 2021 8:33 am

From the article: “New Jersey is a leader among U.S. states in aggressively tackling the transition to cleaner sources of energy (see the New Jersey Energy Master Plan).  So far, they have been doing a better job than California.

The near term challenges of the transition to clean energy are described in this article in the City Journal New Jersey has a pretty good mix of electricity generation sources: 57.2% natural gas, 37.4% nuclear, 1.6% solar, 1.5% coal, 1.1% biomass, 0.9% non-biogenic waste, and 0.1% hydroelectric & wind.”

I would say one reason New Jersey is doing better than California is because New Jersey gets about 95 percent of its electricity from conventional power sources. New Jersey should keep it that way if they know what’s good for themselves.

Bill Everett
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 24, 2021 9:03 am

At around 420 parts per million in the atmosphere the CO2 level is 4/100 of one percent of the atmosphere. Humans are estimated to contribute about 1/20th of that microscopic CO2 presence. Why does this “problem” require any attention?

October 24, 2021 8:38 am

Slide 21: It will be the most inflationary (crisis plus stimulus “opportunities”) and one of the most unproductive investments in human history. It will be on par with world wars and religious crusades.

Tom Abbott
October 24, 2021 8:42 am

From the article: “Surface temperatures have increased since 1880”

If I was writing Judiths commentary, I would change this just a little bit to say surface temperatures have increased since 1850, but have decreased since the Early Twentieth Century.

Otherwise, Judith’s statement gives the impression that there has been constant, steady warming since 1880, when the truth is there has been warming and cooling since 1880.

And the 1880’s were actually a high temperature point, at least in North America, as NASA shows the 1880’s being as warm as the 1930’s, so it is incorrect to say we have warmed from 1880, because going by unmodified charts, the 1880’s, the 1930’s, and the present day are all equally warm. Those periods should all sit on the same horizontal line on a graph.

And now we are 0.4C cooler than any of those temperature highpoints. We are cooling, not warming.

Tom Abbott
October 24, 2021 8:50 am

From the article: “And how we should respond to the warming, to improve human well being”

I know Judith has to talk about “mitigation”, but I’m uncomfortable with looking at things this way since there is no evidence CO2 is actually causing any concerning warming, and therefore, there is no evidence that mitigation efforts are warranted, so talking about mitigation is implying things that are not in evidence.

But, like I said, I know she has to offer this as part of her presentation.

Tim Gorman
October 24, 2021 9:15 am
  • “Its warming

I’m still not sure I believe this.

I finally found an agricultural site that I had used a long time ago. It graphs max temps, min temps, and current temps for specific ag locations around the US. I’ve attached a graph from a station near Des Moines, IA. It’s actually an interactive map so not all the data is available from a screenshot. The big thing to take away is that current max temps have a pretty large, consistent gap with relation to Tmax. So max temps do not seem to be warming. The gap from current temps to Tmin does seem to be growing meaning minimum temps appear to be warming. Most of the Tmax records look to have been set in the mid-50’s, the late 80’s, and some in 2011-2012. The Tmin records are all over the place.

I’ve done the same thing for a site near Forbes AFB in Topeka, KS. It shows the same basic thing. I’ll do the same for more sites as I get a chance.

These two locations seem to be tracking with the heating/cooling degree data which show much the same thing. CDD stable to decreasing with HDD stable to decreasing, i.e. max temps going down and min temps going up.

I realize that one or two data points in the US is not indicative of the globe but if the results from this site consistently match the HDD/CDD results for the US then it would be a pretty good assumption that the degree-day values for other locations on the globe indicate the same as they do for the US.


Tim Gorman
Reply to  Tim Gorman
October 24, 2021 3:54 pm

Here’s the same type of data for Crater Lake, OR.

Most of the record high temps were set in the 20’s or early 30’s. There doesn’t seem to be any indication of any warming in the 21st century that is beyond those temperatures.

Not sure where I see any “global warming” in KS, IA, or OR. I’ll check more sites. You would think that if there was *global* warming that someplace in the continental US would see some of it. I’ll keep trying to find it.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Tim Gorman
October 24, 2021 3:55 pm

forgot the graph

Ed Fox
October 24, 2021 9:34 am

It takes as much energy to produce a solar panel as the panel produces in its lifetime. Subsidies hide this.

It is this lack of surplus power that dooms any country that tries to rely on solar power. All the power produced is required simply to replace aging panels.

Ed Fox
October 24, 2021 9:41 am

Windpower produces enough power to produce 2 wind turbines over its 20 year lifetime. That means you can double the number of turbines every 20 years, but will have no surplus power to run anything else.

To reach the number of turbines required a country will need more than 100 years of doubling the number of turbines, during which time they will produce no surplus energy for the country.

Any country trying to rely on windpower within the next century is doomed.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Ed Fox
October 24, 2021 1:15 pm

They are perpetual subsidy machines.
Cover all the blades with solar panel and they are still perpetual subsidy machines.

October 24, 2021 1:50 pm

She does not mention the strong possibility that Climate Sensitivity could be close to zero. All calculations of TCS and ECS assume that all warming since 1880, or 1850, or some date, are caused by increased atmospheric CO2. There is no basis for this assumption, not scientific in the slightest.

Climate Sensitivity cannot be calculated from First Primciples. Hence, the entire AGW scare may well turn out to be a tempest in a teacup…

Nicholas McGinley
October 24, 2021 8:14 pm

Does NJ consider their nuclear power to be “renewable”?

very old white guy
October 25, 2021 4:44 am

There is nothing clean or green about wind and solar.

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