Rapid Technological Innovation – Not Harmful Renewables Policy – Key to Lighting our Energy Future

From Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

Framework for a robust transition of our energy systems.

Here is the text of my latest oped for Australia’s Sky News:

Australia’s rapid transition of electric power systems away from fossil fuels is introducing substantial new risks to their electric power systems.  A transition of the electric power system that produces less reliable and more expensive electricity acts as a tourniquet that restricts the lifeblood of modern society.

Attempts to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels by restricting the production and use of fossil fuels has backfired by making many countries reliant on Russia’s fossil fuels.  The Russian war on Ukraine provides a stark conflict between net-zero emissions goals versus immediate needs for abundant, reliable and secure energy. European and other countries are struggling with inadequate natural gas supplies, after restricting production of fossil fuels in their own countries.

In transitioning to cleaner sources of power, we need to acknowledge that the world will need much more energy than it is currently consuming – not just in developing countries, but also in countries with advanced economies.  Constructing, operating, and maintaining low-carbon energy systems will itself require substantial amounts of energy, with much of it currently derived from fossil fuels.  Increasing adoption of electric vehicles and electric heat pumps will increase electricity demand.  More electricity can help reduce our vulnerability to the weather and climate:  air conditioners, water desalination plants, irrigation, vertical farming operations, water pumps, coastal defenses, and environmental monitoring systems. Further, abundant electricity is key to innovations in advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, robotics, photonics, quantum computing and others that are currently unforeseen or unimagined.

In the near term, laying the foundation for new energy systems is substantially more important than trying to stamp out fossil fuel use. This should focus on developing and testing new energy technologies. There will continue to be demand for fossil fuels over the coming decades. Countries that restrict fossil fuel production will not only hurt themselves economically. Paradoxically, restricting fossil fuel production in the near term will actually slow down the energy transition, which itself requires substantial amounts of energy to implement.

The best use of the next three decades is to continue to develop and test a range of options for energy production, storage, transmission and other technologies that support goals of reliable, low-cost energy while lessening environmental impacts and carbon emissions. A more prudent strategy is to use the next two to three decades as a learning period with new technologies, experimentation and intelligent trial and error.

Near-term targets for CO2 emissions, such as 75% renewable energy by 2035, drives the energy transition towards using existing technologies in ways that are counterproductive in the longer term. The perceived urgency of making such a colossal transformation can lead to poor decisions that not only harms the economy and overall human wellbeing, but also slows down progress on reducing carbon emissions.

Rapid technological innovation across all domains of the global energy sector continues to accelerate: long-distance transmission and smart microgrids, energy storage, residential heating, electric vehicles and remarkable progress in advanced nuclear designs.  Different countries and locales will use different combinations of these innovations based upon their location, local resources, power needs, and sociopolitical preferences.

Australia’s innovation in the energy transition is the rapidity of implementing wind and solar energy while displacing fossil fuels. In a country with low population density and abundant wind and solar resources, Australia is acting as a fast follower and contributing to the learning curve for rapid displacement of fossil fuels by renewables.  However, Australia’s contribution to the global learning curve is diminished because few countries have the same geographical resources.  Further, the declining urgency of meeting emissions targets (Part I) devalues the global learning curve associated with the rapid displacement of fossil fuels by renewables.

The challenge is to make Australia’s efforts towards transitioning to a 21st century energy system supportive of its economy and efforts to reduce Australia’s vulnerabilities to weather and climate extremes.

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Bryan A
January 20, 2023 10:12 am

The WORST part about intermittent renewable energy production is that it produces electricity “When it Can” and not “When Demand Dictates” it is required.

Scissor
Reply to  Bryan A
January 20, 2023 1:48 pm

Yes, there are reasons why it’s called power “demand” and not power “request.”

Richard Greene
Reply to  Bryan A
January 20, 2023 10:32 pm

The worst part is the electric grids were not broken, so do not need to be “fixed’.

cuddywhiffer
January 20, 2023 10:29 am

We already know how to achieve such a transition and we knew it decades ago. So-called renewables are too expensive and will always need reliable energy on standby for when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow. Biofuels and hydrogen are energy sinks. If you want to get away from using fossil fuels for electricity, the only rational answer… safer than any other… is Nuclear (except for those places where hydro is abundant and assured), but it ties the greens up in emotional knots.

Murphda
Reply to  cuddywhiffer
January 20, 2023 11:59 am

Especially in Australia, which has no nuclear power plants and refuses to build one despite having an abundant supply of uranium.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Murphda
January 20, 2023 10:35 pm

Nature gave Australia uranium and coal but they don’t want to use it. Not a smart energy policy.

cuddywhiffer
Reply to  cuddywhiffer
January 20, 2023 12:37 pm

“The best use of the next three decades is to continue to develop and test a range of options for energy production, storage, transmission and other technologies that support goals of reliable, low-cost energy while lessening environmental impacts and carbon emissions. A more prudent strategy is to use the next two to three decades as a learning period with new technologies, experimentation and intelligent trial and error.”

I could not disagree more with that statement. We don’t have decades, as Germany and the rest of Europe is learning. We know the obvious solution. Get on with it. Use fossil fuels as transitions to get us to 100% nuclear. We’ve already wasted too much time, thanks to stupid politicians (but I repeat myself).

The Dark Lord
Reply to  cuddywhiffer
January 20, 2023 1:02 pm

even at 100% nuke electrical we will still use fossil fuels for transportation … forever …

Leo Smith
Reply to  The Dark Lord
January 20, 2023 10:34 pm

We cannot use them forever. They are not infinite resources.
We may use synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.
Or there may be some breakthrough in quantum physics that allows a highly safe atomic battery to be constructed.

But be assured, where current chemical and physical knowledge rests, there is no alterantive to hydrocarbon fuel to run long distance off grid, and a dwindling supply of it available ready made.

The biggest problem is that the green carpetbaggers have wasted time and huge amonts of money going down a blind alley.
,

Jono1066
Reply to  cuddywhiffer
January 20, 2023 4:06 pm

France thought about it years ago

Richard Greene
Reply to  cuddywhiffer
January 20, 2023 10:37 pm

“Use fossil fuels as transitions to get us to 100% nuclear.”

Why don’t you finance the nuclear plants personally?
You seem anxious to spend other people’s money.
No energy transition is needed.

Richard Greene
Reply to  cuddywhiffer
January 20, 2023 10:34 pm

Too bad so few people realize that an energy transition is not needed and is a waste of money and labor hours.

John Pickens
January 20, 2023 10:43 am

Australia’s innovation in the energy transition is the rapidity of implementing wind and solar energy while displacing fossil fuels”

Yeah, displacing fossil fuels from Australia to China. Wind and Solar systems, when combined with the infrastructure to fill in the gaps of intermittancy, are net energy consumers.
They will never produce as much energy as it took to produce them.

Paul S
January 20, 2023 10:52 am

The purpose of “green” energy is to produce unreliable and very expensive energy that destroys the middle class, destroys manufacturing and our economy and eventually destroys our country.

mikelowe2013
Reply to  Paul S
January 20, 2023 11:12 am

Unless more of those middle-class citizens wake up to the realism of unrenewable “renewables”! Unfortunately this requires a modicum of technical expertise, which is sadly lacking in politicians and the general public!

barryjo
Reply to  mikelowe2013
January 20, 2023 11:38 am

That technical expertise can only come from Accutate, truthful scientific fact. MSM filtering information, politicians prevaracating and general malaise of the public will never bring us to our goal of inexpensive, clean and abundant energy.

Richard Greene
Reply to  mikelowe2013
January 20, 2023 10:40 pm

It will require blackouts.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Paul S
January 20, 2023 10:40 pm

The obvious transition from te current socialism (this is not capitalism anymore folks) to fascism and Marxism requires that the current economic system be ruined first. Nut Zero is the strategy to do that.

Jim Gorman
January 20, 2023 11:18 am

The thought crossed my mind while watching Davos speeches from John Kerry and Al Gore. The rich elite in return for paying higher taxes will be extracting personal freedoms from the middle and lower classes.

The majority of greens haven’t been able to recognize this yet and won’t until it bites their arse’s. Get ready for 1984.

Ron Long
January 20, 2023 11:58 am

“…remarkable progress in advanced nuclear designs.” Sure, There are new designs of nuclear plants, which are getting close to as safe as any large industrial site (see Reyes Jr., et al: National Academy of Engineering, September 16, 2020, where it says: All nuclear reactor designs must satisfy three fundamental safety functions in the event of a significant abnormal event: stop the fission chain reaction, ensure adequate cooling of the nuclear fuel, and prevent the release of radioactivity into the biosphere.) The problem is the ill-advised sectors of the public being against anything nuclear (except nuclear medicine, when needed) and engage in frivolous lawsuits, demonstrations, blockades, and, wait for it: sabotage. So, the only practical solution to energy for a modern society waits and waits.

The Dark Lord
January 20, 2023 1:01 pm

a 21st century energy system ??? … we have a 21st century energy system … or at least the only one that can be created …

martinc19
January 20, 2023 1:05 pm

“Australia’s …. abundant wind and solar resources” ???
Up here solar is still 12 hours fully off, wind is NOT abundant. The formerly over-protected pristine rain-forest and coastal savanna forestof the north-east is now being destroyed for subsidy farms of both types. There have been no real cyclones for 12 years (sinc Yasi) but they will return eventually. Another Cyclone Joy (’90-’91) with a more direct track will reduce the cost of removing all this junk.

michael hart
Reply to  martinc19
January 20, 2023 5:12 pm

Yup. If there was any place in the world where solar should work, it is Australia.

Relatively small population, huge land mass doing mostly nothing except soaking up the sun’s rays in a sunny climate. Zero political risk regarding importing power from a politically dodgy nation. The list goes on.

And yet, the sun still refuses to shine at night.

Richard Greene
Reply to  martinc19
January 20, 2023 10:45 pm

On average during a year, solar energy is strong for only six hours a day — less strong if there are clouds during those six hours .. or no output if the solar panels are covered with snow.

Wind energy is available only 40% of the time, and rarely at full power during the 40% — 60% of the time there is little or no wind energy.

The first windmill is overbuilding
The first solar panel is overbuilding.

HutchesHunches
January 20, 2023 1:21 pm

Of course, all we are getting out of the “elites” at Davos is that we have to stop everything we are doing and go to “net zero” yesterday. When empty suits like Al Gore and John Kerry leading the catcomey of shrill voices, do you have to wonder why everything that come out of Davos is greeted with a big yawn in most of the world. Unfortunately, the “sophisticated” EU is fully under the influence of such nonsense, and they are now facing another round of energy crisis, labor strife, Ukrainian war and migration problems. No wonder those people have a sour disposition…after all the years of peaceful existence supported by the USA, they had to go their own way, in which they put up unelected elites to replace Extremist Regimes and failed monarchies. Their pride keeps them from embracing time tested Democratic Republican style government of the USA that was founded in revolution and has survived 230 years of turmoil, civil war, foreign wars and over the top Democrat politicians who want to use Democracy to corral us all into a modern version socialism like Cuba and Venezuela. No can do! We Americans truly embrace and value our freedom, knowing that once it’s lost there is no recovery of it. This message resounds loud and clear from all the migrants who risk life and more just trying to get here. You never see it going the other way which tells it all.

vuk
January 20, 2023 1:21 pm

… poor decisions that not only harms the economy and overall human wellbeing,
Humans are rapidly becoming obsolete
https://videos.dailymail.co.uk/video/mol/2023/01/19/4193630860410506104/640x360_MP4_4193630860410506104.mp4

Elon Musk claims artificial intelligence program ChatGPT could allow students to CHEAT thanks to its eerily human-like responses 

Gary Pearse
January 20, 2023 1:34 pm

“The best use of the next three decades is to continue to develop and test a range of options for energy production, storage, transmission and other technologies that support goals of reliable, low-cost energy while lessening environmental impacts and carbon emissions.”

Judy, it’s okay to just let go! We haven’t required “society” to gird itself to face future technological needs. The marvels of the Industrial Revolution, the sheer majesty of the modern Electronic Revolution, Space exploration, Agricultural Revolution, … all occurred without Kumbaya planning and direction.

We didn’t need any Niaomy Oreskes, or Nome Chomskys or Boris Johnsons … to guide invention of the locomotive, cars, airplanes, moon rovers, computers or yellow rice.

All that is necessary is freedom of the individual (sadly in steep decline), free enterprise co-opted and crippled by elites, and a sterling education (on its last legs after three or four generations of planned obsolescence and a phalanx of asterisked PhDs, not many fit for purpose). That is what we need to concentrate on over the coming decades. Transition schmansition.

RickWill
January 20, 2023 2:12 pm

This is interesting. I wonder how it came about?

Australian Sky News has presenters who are the most vocal climate realists in Australia. I wonder who else beside WUWT is giving JC air time.

Philip CM
January 20, 2023 2:26 pm

It’s rather a bizarre political desire, this creating expensive energy.

According to a recently released Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report,
The firm found that the number of global millionaires (as measured in U.S. dollars) rose 146 percent to 33.7 million adults from 13.7 million since 2000.

Given this new global dystopian policy of crippling energy there are some statistics that come to a squeaking halt along with petroleum production.

The abundance of, and affordable access to energy, allows for the generation of wealth that enriches communities.

So, I find it particularly odd that the wealthy are all in on this nonsense.

michael hart
Reply to  Philip CM
January 20, 2023 5:29 pm

To be honest, Philip CM, I suspect they haven’t really given it much thought.

Those millionaires probably didn’t make their money through an understanding of how the cost of energy underpins the entirety of our current civilisation. They had their own goals to pursue with their own particular aims and skillsets.
Though somewhat scientifically educated, I probably couldn’t give an adequate technical description of how a TV works, much less make a TV.

What we seem to have lost is something that even the BBC understood in the 1980’s:
That this thing called “black gold” we were piping out of the North Sea in large amounts at the time, was what actually kept the world running, both mechanically and economically.

mleskovarsocalrrcom
January 20, 2023 2:41 pm

Once again, AGW is not about temperature. It’s all about wealth redistribution. Cripple the successful countries by sabotaging their energy production and you remove the reason for people to support Capitalism. The world’s largest CO2 producer, China, announced they will be building many coal powered plants. Did the MSM bring that to the peoples’ attention? No, because they are anti Capitalists (when it suits them) and benefiting from the Western nations committing energy suicide.

Richard Greene
Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
January 20, 2023 10:48 pm

Ditto, except I would have used “CAGW” rather than “AGW”

antigtiff
January 20, 2023 3:51 pm

You are sitting on a technological gold mine – Thorium Liquid Salts Cooled Reactors – 60 years have been wasted that could have been spent on development….past time to get on with it. You are sitting on a gold mine!

Richard Greene
Reply to  antigtiff
January 20, 2023 10:49 pm

I’m sitting on a chair

A gold mine is a hole in the ground surrounded by liars.

michael hart
January 20, 2023 4:45 pm

The fear of being cut-off from cheap Russian gas supplies goes back to the 1980’s when François Mitterrand of France approved it.

As far as I can tell, the Russians upheld their end of the commercial contracts. It’s not because of Russia that Europe is short of cheap gas this winter.

But it is because of USA/NATO that the Russians face a military power that promised not to expand eastwards but has broken that promise about 13 times.

Putin and cronies are not what we would call nice people. But they were at least being not nice within their own borders after 1990 until NATO expansion provoked them to this.
Whatever happened to the idea of “containment”?

Curious George
Reply to  michael hart
January 20, 2023 6:08 pm

“Within their own borders” : 1956 Hungary, 1968 Czechoslovakia, 1994 Chechnya, 1999 Chechnya, 2008 Georgia, 2014 Ukraine, 2022 Ukraine.
The problem is that Russia defines her borders as needed. It still occupies four Japanese islands and a German/Polish city of Koenigsberg. Now it wants the whole Ukraine.

Leo Smith
Reply to  michael hart
January 20, 2023 10:39 pm

If Britain used Russias ‘justifications’ it would invade Dublin and restore its traditional nations befire advancing on Calais, Gascony and Normandy.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 21, 2023 7:11 am

Heck, most Canadians speak English- perhaps America should invade. 🙂

Richard Greene
Reply to  michael hart
January 20, 2023 10:55 pm

I’m surprised this comment did not get censored
Almost every time I comment against Ukraine, it gets censored here.

Russia’s Gazprom would prefer to sell as much gas as possible to the EU

The EU nations started an economic sanctions trade war with Russia

Russia’s Putin responded by telling Gazprom to sell less gas to the EU

So politicians are having a trade war

Private companies in Russian and the EU would prefer to be having an unrestricted trade of Russian gas, but politicians won’t allow it. LNG costs more than Russian pipeline gas. Either the UK or US blew up two Nordstream pipelines to get what they wanted — permanently higher salles of US LNG to the EU.

Curious George
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 21, 2023 10:44 am

Keep commenting against Ukraine. With a little luck, Russian tanks with an experience from Ukraine will surround your home in 2030.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  michael hart
January 21, 2023 7:10 am

A promise is not a treaty. And don’t forget that it’s not about Ukraine and NATO or those poor, suffering Russian speakers in the Donbas- it’s about Putin saying a few years ago that the worst thing that happened in the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union- which he intends to recreate using any excuse he can think of. A few years ago he said Ukraine is not a real country.

If the eastern European nations weren’t terrified of a resurgent Russia, they wouldn’t have joined NATO. Also, you seem to forget Russia’s small wars in Georgia and Chechnya and their interference in Syrian and even Africa. And of course their 10 year war in Afghanistan.

Vincent
January 20, 2023 5:47 pm

This is an excellent article by Judith Curry. When I first began questioning the alarm about human-caused climate change, I became aware of some fundamental principles of modern civilizations that clearly seem undeniable. That is, the security and prosperity of everyone, without exception, is dependent on (1) the supply of energy, (2) the cost of that energy, and (3) the ways in which we use that energy.

If the cost of energy rises, we can compensate for that increased cost, to some degree, by using the energy more efficiently, and/or using the energy in different ways. However, increasing the efficiency of energy use can be a slow process of technological innovation, and the degree of increase in efficiency is limited. Also, changing the ways we use energy requires a change in human behaviour, which is too difficult for many people, or simply unacceptable.

If we accept that a supply of affordable energy is a fundamental requirement for our well-being and economic progress, then it makes sense to investigate the potential, as well as the pros and cons, of all sources of energy, and do our best to exploit those resources in an environmentally safe, clean and efficient manner, through the development of new technology.

Since the main sources of energy are currently fossil fuels, then developing and experimenting with alternative energy sources will require an increase in the use of fossil fuels, which is reasonable. However, what would not be reasonable would be to claim that because we have over a hundred years’ supply of fossil fuels in the ground, at the current rate of usage, there’s no need to bother investigating and developing alternative energy sources.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Vincent
January 20, 2023 10:40 pm

YOU may have 100 years of fossil fuels in the ground.

We used up ours already.

Vincent
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 21, 2023 5:21 pm

Then that’s an even greater incentive for you to explore alternative energy sources in order to become energy-independent. The Russian-Ukraine conflict is lesson to be learned, regarding value of ‘energy independence’.

VantheMan88
January 20, 2023 8:35 pm

It’s like modern education, with all the emphasis on degrees and the number of tertiary graduates, rather than how effective the education actually is.
https://galtsgulch.substack.com/p/the-faust-in-the-academy

It’s amazing how many people I meet who think some showy “reduction” policy means all issues regarding energy are somehow solved. Ironically, they’ll be consuming even more energy using their phones or computers to inform their friends about it.

Richard Greene
January 20, 2023 10:30 pm

Judith Curry is the worst enemy of Climate Realists. She is our worst enemy because she believes CO2 emissions are a serious problem that must be fixed. She never defends that belief — it is just assumed. She may not consider the problem to be the same emergency as the Climate Howlers do, but it must be fixed. That belief is claptrap.

Curry is called a lukewarmer because she believes the “fix” should not be rushed. That sets off the meaningless debate with Climate Howlers over just how fast the energy transition must be. That debate obscures the real issue — why should there be an energy transition?

I stopped reading Curry articles this year because she is a lukewarmer who hates CO2, based on her unproven beliefs, while I have supported more CO2 in the atmosphere, based on scientific studies of plants and CO2 enrichment, of which I have read at least 200 studies since 1997.

In plain English, Curry is a real Ph.D. scientist who does not follow science. Her CO2 beliefs similar to the Climate Howlers!

I just read the first line of a Curry article and stopped reading after that. It takes great talent to be WRONG in the first sentence:

“Framework for a robust transition of our energy systems.”

Judith Curry

THAT IS WRONG THINKING

No Nation needs a “framework”

No nations need an energy transition

CO2 is not an evil satanic gas — it is the staff of life on this planet

More CO2 would support more life on this planet

The current electric grids are not broken and do not need to be fixed

After 25 years of studying climate science and energy as a hobby, I came to a new decision this year. I will continue to provide titles and links for the best articles I read on the subject every day, on my blog, with over 373,000 page views so far.

But this year I decided to go after “conservatives” who are hurting the currently failing effort to refute CAGW climate scaremongering. These online comments are exploding my enemies list and thumbs down votes, but I don’t care.

We Climate realists are losing this climate change war, and part of the reason is the minority of conservatives who:

Automatically reject 100% of consensus science

Reject AGW

Fail to differentiate between AGW and CAGW

Present unique theories of what causes global warming, with no proof

Blame the sun for climate change, while ignoring no change in Top of the Atmosphere (TOA) incoming solar energy

Reject manmade CO2 as a climate change variable

Claim water vapor is a climate change variable when it is really a feedback

Claim CO2 has no effect above 350ppm

Claim there is no water vapor positive feedback

Claim manmade CO2 accounts for 3% of all CO2 in the atmosphere (it’s 1/3)

Cheerlead about electric vehicles, while ignoring their many disadvantages

Most important:

Some conservatives (aka lukewarmers) believe there MUST be an energy transition, just like climate scientist Judith Curry does, but think it should be different, such as going nuclear (in spite of the fact that Climate Howlers will block new nuclear plants, they are way too expensive, and there is no need for an energy transition).

So this year i am going after conservatives who I believe are hurting our justified battle to refute climate alarmism.

If you believe CO2 is evil, then you are my climate change enemy. 

If you believe there must be an energy transition, then you are my climate change enemy. 

With those false beliefs you ought to join the Climate Howlers, because you are not helping the Climate Realists.

bobclose
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 21, 2023 5:50 am

Richard, under your definitions above, I think Im’e a Realist, certainly not a Lukewarmer, but also support a lot of the list you say are Conservative totems, I agree that the current transition is crazy and unnecessary, because CO2 is not now able to drive significant warming by IR absorption. What exactly is wrong with most of these in your list? I would especially like a reference to the levels of human emissions relative to total CO2 in atmosphere, you say 1/3 where does that calculation come from?

Curious George
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 21, 2023 10:55 am

You are making enemies fast. Good luck to you.

ferdberple
January 21, 2023 4:07 am

“Paradoxically, restricting fossil fuel production in the near term will actually slow down the energy transition, which itself requires substantial amounts of energy to implement.”
==========
The most important quote of the entire article.

slowroll
January 21, 2023 12:52 pm

The major maxim that nut zero advocate ignore is the engineering maxim that states “do not replace anything that works well with an alternative that has not yet been proven to work at least as well UNDER ALL CONDITIONS.”

Moreover, even Australia with Ms. Curry’s stated advantages, still has not figured out to use those advantages when the Sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Neither has anyone else.

AGW is Not Science
January 25, 2023 11:09 am

There IS NO “TRANSITION.”

There IS NOTHING TO “TRANSITION” TO, with the exception of using nuclear for electricity generation.

There IS NO NEED FOR any “transition.”

There IS NO NEED TO REDUCE “emissions,” which cause no ACTUAL “problems” and are overwhelmingly beneficial.

Please stop playing their stupid game.

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