The Difficulties Of Powering The Modern World With Renewables

In the May 12, 2015 “G7 Hamburg Initiative for Sustainable Energy Security”, the energy ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said this:

An increasing number of countries are following the path of a rapid expansion of renewable energy. There (are) a number of challenges as energy systems change and related greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, one of which is how to integrate growing shares of variable renewable energy into electricity systems.

The G7 energy ministers are correct in their assessment. Integrating growing shares of variable renewable energy into electricity systems is indeed a challenge – and so far one without a good solution.

A few quick facts before proceeding. In 2013 renewables supplied the world with 21.7% of its electricity, according to BP. Take out hydro and they supplied the world with only 5.3% of its electricity. Then take out “other” renewables such as biomass and geothermal and the percentage falls to 3.3%.

Why take out hydro and “others”? Because their growth potential is limited by resource availability – too few good hydro sites, too few high-temperature geothermal fields, not enough wood to make biomass pellets etc. – and for these reasons they may never make a significant contribution to future global energy needs. Their growth performance since 1997, the year the Kyoto Protocol set the renewables bandwagon rolling, has certainly been less than impressive, as illustrated in Figure 1. “Others” have gained market share, but at a painfully slow rate, and hydro has actually lost ground:

Figure 1:  Percentage of world electricity generation contributed by different renewable sources, 1997-2014 (data from BP)

Not so, however, for wind and solar, which aren’t resource-limited (the amount of solar energy hitting the earth in a year, for example, vastly exceeds annual global energy consumption). They show rapid growth since 1997, although from small beginnings.  Clearly they are the energy sources the world must concentrate on developing if it is ever to “go green”.

And why shouldn’t continued rapid growth in wind and solar allow the world to go green? I’ve discussed the reasons piecemeal before. Here I summarize them all in the same post:

Intermittency

Intermittency, or non-dispatchability, is the Achilles heel of wind and solar. So far it hasn’t caused widespread problems because wind and solar still contribute only a small fraction of total power generation in most countries. Integrating wind power into the UK grid in February 2013, for example, was not difficult because wind only supplied 5% of the UK’s electricity in that month:

Figure 2:  UK electricity demand and wind generation, February 2013 (data from Gridwatch)

But if in February 2013 the UK had had enough installed wind capacity to generate 50% of its electricity from wind Figure 2 would have looked like this:

Figure 3:  UK electricity demand and wind generation with wind supplying 50% of demand, February 2013

Now it’s a different ball game. How do we match a generation curve like that to demand, or at least smooth it out to the point where it becomes manageable? There is in fact a way of doing it, but we’ll get to it later. First we will discuss the options that won’t work.

Energy Storage

This is the obvious solution; store intermittent renewable energy during periods of surplus generation and release it during deficit periods. But the only existing technology that can do this at the scale necessary is pumped hydro, and as discussed at length in previous posts here, here and here the amount of pumped hydro storage needed is enormous. At only moderate levels of solar & wind penetration the UK would need several terawatt-hours of storage, maybe as much as a hundred times the capacity of its existing pumped hydro plants, while Europe and the US would need tens of TWh each and the world proportionately more. There is no realistic prospect of bringing this much new pumped hydro – or even conventional hydro, which can also function in an energy-storage mode – into service in the foreseeable future even if enough suitable hydro sites could be found.

The alternative is battery (or flywheel, or compressed air, or thermal) storage. These technologies are so far from deployment on the multi-terawatt-hour scale that they can be discounted. (According to Wikipedia total world battery + CAES + flywheel + thermal storage capacity still amounts to only about 12GWh, enough to fill global electricity demand for all of fifteen seconds.)

Another option that’s been mooted as a potential solution to the storage problem is electric vehicle batteries, which can be charged from the grid during periods of generation surplus and discharged back into the grid during periods of deficit. But this option also founders on the rock of scale. Assuming a 100% charge/discharge capability and no energy losses during the charge/discharge process we would still need 12 million 85kWh Teslas (or 42 million 24kWh Nissan Leafs) to get a single terawatt-hour of storage.

Grid Interconnections

It’s frequently assumed that a smart grid covering a large enough area, like the proposed European supergrid, will be able to smooth out local spikes and troughs in renewables generation and provide “reliable electricity” to all. Unfortunately it won’t. Figure 4, reproduced from Wind Blowing Nowhere compares 2013 wind generation in Spain, the largest producer, with combined wind generation in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Germany, Spain and the UK. Combining wind generation from all nine countries doesn’t flatten out the Spanish spikes or fill in the Spanish troughs. It just moves them around:

Figure 4 : 2013 wind generation in Spain versus combined wind generation in Spain and eight other countries (data normalized)

What about solar? Seasonal and diurnal variations in solar generation can be smoothed out by combining output from different areas, but the European supergrid would have to link up with New Zealand to do it.

Combining Generation from Different Renewable Sources

It’s also been claimed that because the wind and the sun blow and shine at different times we will get smoother power output when we combine them. That doesn’t work either. Figure 5 re-plots the Figure 2 case with the UK getting 40% of its electricity from wind and 10% from solar instead of 50% from wind. Adding the midday solar spikes, which lead evening peak demand by about five hours in the winter, if anything makes things worse:

Figure 5:  UK electricity demand and wind generation with wind supplying 40% and solar 10% of demand, February 2013

Demand-side management

A lot of faith is pinned on the potential of DSM, which instead of matching generation to demand seeks to match demand to generation, or at least to match it as closely as possible. But there’s no way demand could be matched to the generation curves shown in Figures 3 or 5. The best that could be hoped for is an incremental improvement, maybe a flattening of the daily demand curve and/or a reduction in total demand, but the larger problem of how to smooth out bursts of intermittent power into a manageable form would remain unresolved.

And then there’s the great unexploited renewable resource:

Tide Power

It’s predictable, infinitely renewable and has near-unlimited potential. What’s not to like about it? As discussed in the Swansea Bay post (link above), quite a lot. Arguably the best indicator of tide power’s lack of potential, however, is that almost fifty years after the world’s first tide power plant went in at La Rance in France it still supplies less than 0.005% of the world’s electricity.

So if energy storage, supergrids, combining output from different sources, demand-side management and tide power won’t work, what will? Only one thing:

Fossil Fuel Backup

The concept is simple: use load-following fossil fuel capacity – I’m going to assume gas turbines – to generate the electricity needed to meet demand whenever renewable energy can’t generate enough. The approach requires no storage and imposes no theoretical limits on the level of wind & solar penetration, as discussed in How much windpower can the UK grid handle and Wind power and the island of Denmark. Figure 6 illustrates how it would apply to the 50% wind penetration case shown in Figure 2:

Figure 6:  Combined wind and backup gas generation matched to UK demand, February 2013

Inevitably, however, there are problems. One is that there are times when wind generation exceeds demand and has to be curtailed, and as a result the UK gets only about 47% of its electricity from wind instead of 50% in the above case. Another is the generation curve the gas turbines would have to follow to fill demand when wind generation can’t, which looks like this:

Figure 7:  Generation curve gas turbine generation must achieve to balance UK wind generation fluctuations, February 2013

Tracking this erratic generation curve would severely stress the gas turbines (and probably the grid operators too). Wear, tear, downtime and generation costs would all increase, as would fuel consumption because of the constant start-up and shutdown, thereby offsetting some of the CO2 emissions reductions generated by the wind energy.

And that’s with 47% wind penetration. At higher levels the system becomes progressively more inefficient until at 80-90% penetration it’s running at load factors as low as 10% and well over half of the wind generation has to be curtailed (more details in the tables in the How much windpower post linked to above). We can therefore anticipate that this approach will also eventually run up against the hard wall of reality, if only because sooner or later it will occur to someone that it would be a lot easier to keep the dispatchable gas generation and do away with the non-dispatchable wind generation altogether.

But the way things are going there’s a good chance that this point will never be reached. Why? Because of a problem that’s rarely taken into consideration:

Lack of Investment

Every year UNEP publishes a chart of annual global investment in renewable energy, the lion’s share of which (92% in 2014) goes to wind and solar. Here’s the latest version:

Figure 8:  Global investment in renewable energy, $ billion, reproduced from UNEP

Total investment in renewables since 2004 now exceeds $2 trillion – a lot of money, but it’s still far short of what’s needed to stimulate growth to the point where renewable energy, assuming it can be made to work, eventually powers the world. The $232 billion invested in renewables in 2013 was dwarfed by the $1.6 trillion total global energy investment in that year reported by IEA, and of the 235GW of new generation capacity installed globally in 2012 only 76GW was wind or solar, according to EIA and BP. If investments in conventional generation continue to dominate to this extent then wind and solar are doomed to remain also-rans. A very substantial transfer of investment from conventional generation to wind and solar will be needed if they are ever to become the dominant players, but the investment climate needed to achieve this just isn’t there.

Another question is whether global renewables investment might not already have peaked (as shown in Figure 8, it’s certainly flattened out). Renewables investment is still increasing in the developing countries – notably China – but it’s been essentially flat in the US since 2008 and in Europe it’s been declining since 2011. Europe in particular bears watching because if the decline continues at the rate shown in the Bloomberg New Energy Finance chart below it won’t be long before Europe will have had all the clean energy it’s going to get:

Figure 9:  Investment in clean energy in Europe (graphic from Bloomberg, first quarter 2015 data from Reuters added by RA)

And finally the big problem. Even if the world succeeds in developing wind and solar to the point where they supply 100% of its electricity the job is still less than half-done because electricity supplies the world with only about 40% of its energy. The remaining ~60% comes from the oil, gas and coal consumed in transportation, heating etc. How to decarbonize that? Again no solution is presently in sight.

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66 Responses to The Difficulties Of Powering The Modern World With Renewables

  1. Willem Post says:

    Roger,

    I just love this post, because I, and many others, have been saying this for about the past 10 years.

    It is a total fools game to think wind and solar, and some other measures, will do the trick after fossil runs out.

    Here is a recent Stanford University study that perpetuates the fool’s game.
    http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pdf

    In figure 1, extrapolating to 2100, wind and solar energy would be about 20% of global energy generation, hydro 16%, and other 6%, for total of 42%, and we will have largely run out of fossil energy for the rest of our energy generation and for our OTHER needs.

    The only measure that can save us is a steady, worldwide build up to about 70% nuclear.

    BTW, in the paragraph above figure 5, you state figure 4, but it refers to figure 5.

    Here is an excerpt from this article which shows Ireland’s energy system runs so inefficiently due to balancing, etc., that wind energy annual CO2 reduction is only 52.6% effective at 17% annual wind energy.

    Eirgrid’s energy specialists were in denial about this for years, but finally changed their minds (the evidence was just too overwhelming) and INFORMED Brussels it could not meet CO2 targets. Why this has not yet been published in the media is beyond me.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated

    Summary of CO2 Emission Reduction Effectiveness: Government officials and wind energy promoters, such as the EWEA, BWEA, etc., usually claim one MWh of “clean” wind energy offsets one MWh of “dirty” fossil fuel energy, which is true regarding energy, but not regarding CO2 emissions, because of the inefficient operation of the other generators on the grid due to wind energy.

    Below is summary of wind energy CO2 emission reduction effectiveness versus annual wind energy percent, for various grids:

    1.0 at 0% wind energy on any grid.
    0.97 (my assumption) at 1.0%, New England grid.
    0.70 (calculated by Dr. LePair) at 3.36%, the Netherlands grid; based on at least 10 years of actual fuel and production data.
    0.706 (calculated by Dr. Udo) at 12.6%, Ireland grid; based on deficient EirGrid data.
    0.526 (calculated by Wheatley) at 17%, Ireland grid; based on SEMO data of individual generators, including increased start/stop CO2 emissions, and increased capacity and hours of spinning plant CO2 emissions, i.e., better than Eirgrid data.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent
    http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
    http://docs.wind-watch.org/BENTEK-How-Less-Became-More.pdf
    http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo-okt-e.html
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo-curtail201205.html
    http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html
    http://docs.wind-watch.org/Wheatley-Ireland-CO2.pdf

    Wind energy CO2 reduction effectiveness of Irish Grid = (CO2 intensity, metric ton/MWh, with wind)/(CO2 intensity with no wind).
    Ireland = (0.279, 17% wind)/(0.53, no wind) = 0.526, based on SEMO data.

    If 17% wind energy, promoters typically claim a 17% reduction in CO2, i.e., 83% is still left over.

    If 17% wind energy, actual performance data of the Irish grid shows, 0.526 x 17% is reduced = 8.94%, i.e., 91.06% is still left over.

    • Willem Post says:

      Addition:

      Your post is a lot more realistic than the above-referenced Stanford study, which I think is total blarney, and a waste of time and money. It merely demonstrates the extent of near-universal lack of insight.

      Germany’s ENERGIEWENDE has cost well over $500 billion for direct investment and subsidies, and has caused household electric rates to increase 100% during the first 12 years, and will cost that much in the next 12 years.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/338781/high-renewable-energy-costs-damage-germanys-economy

      The Stanford study should have started with the German experience and extrapolated from there. It would have been a lot more realistic. But doing that would have exposed their folly and fantasies right from the start.

      Germany’s GDP is only a few percent of the GWP, and Germany has the money to make something happen, unlike almost all other countries, i.e., Germany is wasting its time and money regarding saving the world from the evil doers (fossil fuels).

      Nearly nothing will be done by the rest of the world. However, there will be much feel-good/grand-standing lip service in Paris; it will certainly boost Paris’s tourism income.

      NOTE: Vermont has a fantasy of getting 90% RE of ALL its energy consumption, not just its electrical energy consumption, by 2050; the RE may be from in-state, or, if necessary, out of state sources. That fantasy may be chucked after Governor Shulman leaves in 1.5 years and a Republican is finally elected to undo the damage of the past 10 years, and shrink Vermont’s government budget to the right size, say 50% smaller.

      – The $232 billion invested in renewables in 2013 was dwarfed by the $1.6 trillion total global energy investment in that year reported by IEA. Excluded from the $1.6 trillion are:

      – Grid integration costs of about $0.5 trillion
      – The costs of operating the other generators less efficiently due to that integration
      – The costs imposed on OTHER sectors affecting the prices not just of energy, but of all OTHER goods and services.

      – The 235 GW of new generation capacity installed globally in 2012, INCLUDED 76 GW wind or solar, according to EIA and BP.

      At that rate of “progress”, the Stanford fantasy study looks silly indeed.

      SHIFTING AWAY FROM LOW-COST FOSSIL TO EXPENSIVE RE: The more we shift from low-cost fossils to expensive RE, the more we shift the US and world wholesale price of the energy mix on the grid from the current 5 c/kWh* to about 10 – 15 c/kWh.

      * Kept low in the US because of an abundance of inexpensive, domestic natural gas, and worldwide, because of the use of low-cost coal.

      That trend of increasing wholesale prices would be more visible, if many of the RE changeover costs were actually charged to the US and worldwide energy system.

      Instead, they are “socialized” by POLITICIANS by means of taxes, fees, surcharges, feed-in tariffs, bond issues, grants, etc., because they do not want to be blamed for raising the cost of electricity and harm their re-election chances.

      NOTE: A perfect example of such deceptive follies is the wood chip-fired, Montpelier District Heating Plant in Vermont, a money-losing project made possible by politicians taking $20 million of scarce government funds to provide a benefit to a favored urban area in Montpelier, VT, at the long-term expense of all other Vermonters.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2225851/economics-and-co2-emissions-montpelier-district-heating-plant

      Those various costs, due to increasing RE in the US and the world, will have a MAJOR impact on making much more expensive ALL goods and services, not just energy, as is already happening in Germany, although many of its RE proponents and politicians blame it on other factors; somewhat like Miss Piggy: MOI?

      In fact, rich Germany, THE economic engine of the EU, has experienced slowing economic growth, due to the growing expense of its ENERGIEWENDE, during the past five years. The economies of poorer EU countries are significantly affected by the German economic slowdown.

      Germany and other EU countries losing part of the very lucrative Russian market and throwing billions each year into a black hole, a.k.a., Ukraine, is an additional headwind.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/338781/high-renewable-energy-costs-damage-germanys-economy

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

      • Willem Post says:

        Roger,

        In 2013, investments in fossil MW was $141b (estimated to decrease to about 65 MW by 2025) and RE MW was $143b (estimated to increase to about $242b by 2025).

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-14/fossil-fuels-just-lost-the-race-against-renewables#media-1

        • Willem. That Bloomberg graph is worth showing. It’s yet another example of the dangers posed by those who think that all we need do to decarbonize global electricity generation is build lots more solar farms and wind turbines:

      • roberto says:

        “Here is a recent Stanford University study that perpetuates the fool’s game.
        http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pdf

        Just to put things in the right perspective… Mark Jacobson is a completely discredited researcher… even from a completely different point of view of mine I could appreciate most of his research papers of few years ago… but since a couple of years something has happened to him, and he’s come to a total nonsense-type of conclusions… he had already stated basically everything he’s saying in this paper in a 2-part study published in Energy Policy 2 years ago (I think to remember)… with De Lucchi et al…. at that point he discounted nuclear on the basis of the thousands of people killed by… a nuclear exchange caused by proliferation of Pu/U made with commercial nuclear power plants!…

        … recently, just to add strangeness to his professional behavour, he has published another greenwash propaganda paper with several co-authors… two of which are his daughter and son… who are high-school students!…. sorry, I’ve nothing against 18-year olds… but this is too much for me to take his research as anything more than reading in bed to get asleep… or loughing out loud.

        Cheers.

        R.

    • roberto says:

      Excellent comment to an excellent post!

      Coming to your “Why this has not yet been published in the media is beyond me”… it is because the greenwash propaganda machine will NEVER EVER admit that they are wrong, no way!

      R.

  2. Willem Post says:

    Roger,
    I posted a comment but it disappeared

  3. Willem Post says:

    Roger,

    Here is part of my comment:

    Excerpt from this article.
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated

    Summary of CO2 Emission Reduction Effectiveness: Government officials and wind energy promoters, such as the EWEA, BWEA, etc., usually claim one MWh of “clean” wind energy offsets one MWh of “dirty” fossil fuel energy, which is true regarding energy, but not regarding CO2 emissions, because of the inefficient operation of the other generators on the grid due to wind energy.

    Below is summary of wind energy CO2 emission reduction effectiveness versus annual wind energy percent, for various grids:

    1.0 at 0% wind energy on any grid.
    0.97 (my assumption) at 1.0%, New England grid.
    0.70 (calculated by Dr. LePair) at 3.36%, the Netherlands grid; based on at least 10 years of actual fuel and production data.
    0.706 (calculated by Dr. Udo) at 12.6%, Ireland grid; based on deficient EirGrid data.
    0.526 (calculated by Wheatley) at 17%, Ireland grid; based on SEMO data of individual generators, including increased start/stop CO2 emissions, and increased capacity and hours of spinning plant CO2 emissions, i.e., better than Eirgrid data.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent
    http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
    http://docs.wind-watch.org/BENTEK-How-Less-Became-More.pdf
    http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo-okt-e.html
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo-curtail201205.html
    http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html
    http://docs.wind-watch.org/Wheatley-Ireland-CO2.pdf

    Wind energy CO2 reduction effectiveness of Irish Grid = (CO2 intensity, metric ton/MWh, with wind)/(CO2 intensity with no wind).
    Ireland = (0.279, 17% wind)/(0.53, no wind) = 0.526, based on SEMO data.

    If 17% wind energy, promoters typically claim a 17% reduction in CO2, i.e., 83% is still left over.

    If 17% wind energy, actual performance data of the Irish grid shows, 0.526 x 17% is reduced = 8.94%, i.e., 91.06% is still left over.

  4. Donb says:

    Nice to see all these issues brought together.

  5. Matthew Nayler says:

    Another renewables problem is their resource requirements – solar PV panels use plenty of silver and this is normally found in association with copper, lead and/or zinc so each year we mine about 25,000 tons of silver in association with 15 million tons of copper, 4 million tons of lead and 11 million tons of zinc. You do not get the silver without the other stuff, so solar PV is a part of the massive, fossil-fuel powered economy not a replacement for it. In the last decade, silver has been easily available because photography has gone digital. Thin film PV uses gallium (found in association with bauxite – hence 50 million tons of aluminium a year), indium (sphalerite – zinc) and tellurium (copper and lead) whilst wind turbines need neodymium. Try to switch to other materials and the efficiency gets worse.

  6. Peter Mott says:

    That is a really great post – I am full of admiration!

    I learned just yesterday that Siemens had landed a giant contract with Egypt, so I poked around a little to see what Egypt was planning for its energy development.

    They get power cuts a lot, especially in summer and need to increase electricity generating capacity – in fact they plan to double it by 2022.

    Siemens is going to build three 4.4GW CCGT (gas) power stations for them and up tp 2GW of wind.

    Also two 2.65GW coal fired power stations (not by Siemens) are proposed, one near Suez and the other half-way down the Red Sea near the port of El Hamarawein where coal from India and South Africa will be unloaded.

    A further 6GW coal power station is also planned developed by Tharma an Egyptian utility company. It will be the biggest coalfired power station in the world.

    Cement companies in Egypt have been instructed to switch from gas to coal generation and are doing so.

    So we have some 25GW of gas and coal proposed along with 2GW of wind.

    Present Egyptian production is 91% oil and gas (apparently old and inefficient) along with 8% hydro and the remainder mostly wind.

    You cannot power the modern world with renewables – as far as Egypt is concerned they are not even trying

    • Willem Post says:

      Peter,
      “You cannot power the modern world with renewables – as far as Egypt is concerned they are not even trying”

      Neither is the rest of the world with few exceptions.

      Here are some excerpts from
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2146376/renewable-energy-less-effective-energy-efficiency

      Worldwide Energy Generation: As a result of gross world product, GWP, growth, world energy generation increased from 16,174 TWh in 2002 to 23,127 TWh in 2013, an increase of 43.0% in 12 years, about 3.0%/yr over 12 years. Analysis of the data shows:

      …………………………………………………………..2002…………..2013
      – World energy generation…………………..16,174…………23,127
      – Nuclear energy, near-CO2-free…………..16.5%…………10.8%
      – Fossil energy…………………………………….65.0%…………67.3%

      – Hydro energy, near-CO2-free……………..16.7%…………16.4%
      – RE*…………………………………………………..1.6%…………..5.3%

      As a result of RE build-out investments of about $1,700 billion from 2002 to 2013 (excluding mostly “socialized” investments for grid adequacy, capacity adequacy, etc., of about $400 billion not mentioned in the report), worldwide RE generation increased from 1.6% to 5.3%, a 3.8% addition, of which:

      ………………………………………..2002…………..2013
      – Wind……………………………….0.3%…………2.7%
      – Biomass…………………………..0.9%…………1.8%

      – Solar (PV + CSP)……………..0.0%…………0.5%

      – Geothermal………………………0.3%…………0.3%

      – Marine; tidal, wave……………0.0%…………0.0%
      – Total………………………………1.6%…………5.3%

      It matters rather little what the US does, because it is only 20% of the world energy pie. What the WHOLE world does is MUCH more important regarding GLOBAL warming.

      Total WORLD generation (excluding nuclear):

      Hydro + RE………………. 16.7 + 1.6 = 18.3% in 2002
      Hydro + RE………………..16.4 + 5.3 = 21.7% in 2013

      The 3.8% addition over 12 years of worldwide RE generation required investments of 1.7 + 0.4 = $2.1 TRILLION from 2002 to 2013. The report data shows, the 12 – year trend of RE investments to reduce fossil energy generation and replace it with renewable energy generation would take many decades.

      According to the report, worldwide RE investments were distributed as follows:

      Year…………………….2011………2012………….2013
      Europe…………………114.8………..86.4…………48.4

      US……………..………..53.4………..39.7…………35.8

      China…………………….51.9………..59.6…………56.3

      Asia, Oceania……..….25.3………..29.5………..…43.3 (incl. Japan, Australia, etc.)

      Other……………………33.6………..34.0.…………30.2
      World Total……………279.0……….250.0………..214.0

      From the above table, we can make the following observations:

      – Worldwide RE investment has declined in the last 2 years, primarily in Europe.

      – RE investment in Europe has collapsed, largely due to budget constraints resulting from about 12% unemployment, stagnant real household incomes, near-zero economic growth, near-zero inflation, and higher energy prices due to expensive RE policies. IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, stated “a diet of high debt, low growth and high unemployment may become the new normal in Europe”.

      – China became the largest RE investor, only because of RE investment backsliding by Europe and the US. China is catching up on RE investments, i.e., backsliding is not an option. Whereas China’s per capita GDP is low, its GDP is greater than of the US, on a purchasing power parity, PPP, basis.

      – Other countries account for about 14% of the worldwide RE investment, which is of minor relevance regarding GW impact.

  7. Leo Smith says:

    “The only measure that can save us is a steady, worldwide build up to about 70% nuclear.”

    Well, exactly. It’s just taking a long time for that basic truth to sink in.

    • Save us from what? Climate change? I’ve yet to see any good evidence that the world is seriously threatened by it, leave alone that it’s caused by man. Peak oil? Right now we’re awash in the stuff. What we really need saving from are the people who think that wind and solar can power the world all by themselves.

      As for nuclear, fine, but with fast neutron reactors. We don’t have enough uranium to power the world for long with conventional pressurized water and boiling water reactors. (http://euanmearns.com/do-we-have-enough-uranium-to-go-nuclear/)

      But even with 70% nuclear we’ve still only decarbonized electricity, which supplies less than half of the world’s energy. How do we decarbonize the rest?

      • Douglas Brodie says:

        An excellent article but at risk of being dismissed by the politicians because it makes no mention of carbon capture and storage, still their favourite magic bullet no matter how often it is debunked as being hopelessly inefficient and impractical.

        I agree that man-made global warming is a non-existent problem, see http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/EET_Security_of_Supply_Submission.pdf

      • Willem Post says:

        Roger,

        “How do we decarbonize the rest?”

        With very great difficulty!

        – Most of transportation could be electric, except air transport and sea transport.

        – Most of building heating and cooling could be electric, provided the buildings are designed to be near-zero energy or energy surplus.

        That leaves quite a chunk for which I have no answer.

        The world consumed about 550 quads of primary energy, the US about 95 quads, in 2012.

        Total electricity production was about 20,000 TWh x 11,000 Btu/kWh = 220 quads, in 2012.

        About 220/550 = 40% of primary energy was for electrical.

        More renewable primary energy is needed from nuclear, bio, hydro, wind and solar.

        • – Most of transportation could be electric, except air transport and sea transport.

          Powering up to a billion vehicles with electricity instead of gasoline & diesel will require a huge increase in electricity generation. Where is it to come from?

          • Willem Post says:

            Roger,
            From a lot of fast neutron reactors.

          • Willem Post says:

            Addition,

            What about my lawn mowers, snowblower, power saw, leaf blower?

            There must be a billion of those around the world as well

      • Willem Post says:

        Revision to my comment after checking the BP spreadsheet

        In 2012: 22630 TWh x 11000 = 249 quads

        Primary energy for electrical = 249/550 = 45%. Yikes.

  8. A C Osborn says:

    The only head of the G7 countries who has any sense of reality is the Canadian Harper.
    The rest have invested Billions, if not Trillions by now, with no drop in CO2 output for most of them.
    In fact the only one that has really reduced emissions is the USA and that has absolutely nothing to do with Renewables.

  9. MikeW says:

    Wind and solar power require vast amounts of fossil fuel energy to prop up their inefficient and unreliable energy production. Energy Return on Investment (EROI) for wind and solar is too low to power anything but a low-energy society, which wouldn’t have the resources to support a wind and solar infrastructure in the first place. That’s why wind and solar power can never rise above 20% penetration, even for a highly advanced society like Germany.

  10. It doesn't add up... says:

    Two points: I have recently found a very informative paper on tidal schemes (topical after yesterday’s decision by Amber Rudd to proceed with Swansea) and added a comment here:

    http://euanmearns.com/a-trip-round-swansea-bay/#comment-9587

    Second: the new BP Statistical Review of World Energy has just been released within the past few hours, so we can now update to 2014 data. Direct download link for the 1.6MB file is here:

    http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/excel/Energy-Economics/statistical-review-2015/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2015-workbook.xlsx

    • IDAU: Thanks for the link to the 2015 BP review. We’ll update the link in the Energy Data box.

    • A C Osborn says:

      Yes they are only talking about wasting £1Billion on the Tidal Lagoon, with a few more of those and you will be talking about some serious money.

  11. William says:

    The German Fraunhofer Institute studied 100% electricity/heating in 2012
    http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/veroeffentlichungen/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/studie-100-erneuerbare-energien-in-deutschland.pdf

    Storage relied on power-to-gas and warm water (for domestic heating). The study also assumed significant efficiency gains from building refurbishment (to reduce energy needs for heating).

    • William says:

      That should have read 100% *renewable* electricity/heating.

    • Willem Post says:

      Fraunhofer?

      That is like the fox recommending the design of the lock of the chicken coup.

      • William says:

        Meaning that it is not objective in its assessment? I have no idea about that – Fraunhofer is highly respected in Germany.

        I thought it worth noting though that power-to-gas is an option not mentioned by Euan and that excess electricity can also be stored using hot water for domestic heating supplied by local utilities, as is done in Germany and other countries. Such heating would probably be impractical to retrofit to the UK.

        • William: A link to an English version of the Fraunhofer post would be helpful.

        • roberto says:

          “Meaning that it is not objective in its assessment? ”

          To realize that the answer to your question is a “no, they are not objective” all you have to do is to go and read their paper “Recent facts about photovoltaics in Germany”… where they flatly state that PV is NOT subsidized and NUCLEAR is!… all the while “forgetting” that each gram of enriched uranium used as fuel in Germany’s nuclear power plants is taxed by 125 Euros (I think) in order to… finance the scandalous “incentives” of PV and other renewables!

          http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/publications/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien-en/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/recent-facts-about-photovoltaics-in-germany.pdf

          R.

        • William says:

          Roger, I can’t find a translation.

          Roberto, support for PV etc is, apparently, technically not a subsidy but instead a ‘surcharge’. I find it hard to see a practical difference – both subsidy and surcharge improve the economics of whatever they apply to. But they do give some detail about what they mean and I’m not sure their choice of language invalidates their research. Support etc is of course widespread throughout our economies, to many technologies benefit either in infancy or even in maturity (e.g. the current £5bn annual cost of cleaning up UK nuclear facilities).

          • roberto says:

            “(e.g. the current £5bn annual cost of cleaning up UK nuclear facilities).”

            The part of the cleanup related to electricity production should have been included in the cost of the electricity, like done in France, Sweden, USA, Germany, etc… if they didn’t do it then it’s another problem…
            Anyway, most of the cleanup in the UK, like in other countries who have the bomb, is related to MILITARY nukes, so technically nothing to do with civil nuke.

            R.

          • Willem Post says:

            William,
            “…both subsidy and surcharge improve the economics of whatever they apply to.”

            Economics 101: Whenever one entity gets a subsidy, another entity has to pay for it; there is no free lunch.

            Charging the subsidy to the national debt merely spreads out the pain until the debt becomes so large the pain becomes unbearable.

          • William says:

            Roberto, I think a UK civilian nuclear program would have been unlikely without the military side. The two are joined at the hip.

            Willem, clearly support improves the economics only from the supplier’s perspective. No free lunches, as you say. “Charging the subsidy to the national debt…” – which subsidy are you referring to?

          • Willem Post says:

            William,

            “Charging the subsidy to the national debt…” – which subsidy are you referring to?”

            Spain was charging its RE subsidies to its national debt, which was OK until 2008 when its real estate sector collapsed.

            Household and business electric rates were not raised to reflect RE costs, as they are with the ENERGIEWENDE in Germany.

            The Spanish people thought they were in RE heaven.

            Spain a leader, a model for the rest of the world, they were told.

            Special interests making out like bandits.

            It all came tumbling down.

            National unemployment rate about 23%; about 50% for people less than 25.

          • William says:

            Willem, yes Spain screwed up. But renewables seem to have been only a small part of the problem.

  12. ristvan says:

    Roger, GE and Siemens have newer CCGT units that operate 61% net efficient at rated load, and amazingly 58% at 40% rated. These are rated 500 MW and up. They don’t operate below 40%. So the main cost hit is not fuel efficiency, its capital. Running a rated facility at 50% doubles its capital cost per unit output.
    These units could flex to accomodate your wind scenario, but at more than doubled generation cost. Assuming, of course, natural gas was available in the first place at a reasonable price. US, yes. Japan, no. UK, not until it gets on with fracking its Bowland basin shales.

    • Unfortunately the gas turbines in my wind scenario are going to have to spend a lot of time running below 40% (Figure 7). But at least Siemens haven’t yet given up trying to sell CCGTs in UK, like they have in Germany.

      • Willem Post says:

        Roger.

        ” lot of time running below 40% (Figure 7)”

        They would not, because they would not operate in a stable manner below 40 – 45%.

        Many smaller units would be needed in spinning mode with sufficient capacity, MW, to be ready to operate at about 75% of rated output to ramp up and down as needed for balancing.

        That would mean some very major changes to the existing generator population.

        • Willem Post says:

          Addition,

          The only reason Denmark has a lot of wind turbines is because it has access to nearby hydro plants for balancing.

          Denmark’s own energy system could not physically balance the larger quantities of wind energy, especially on more windy days.

          Battery systems could be substituted, at great expense, and they would have a useful service life of about 10, may be 15 years.

          Nuclear plants last about 40 to 60 years, hydro plants about 100 years, coal plants about 40 years, gas turbine plants about 35 years.

    • William says:

      I think if you look at the figures, generators in the UK do on average run at about 50% capacity and have done for years, since before the increase in wind turbines. I’ve never heard anyone saying that is an issue before. Germany must be similar as they have had overcapacity there for years. Generators are not 100% reliable (far from it, considering how often they trip), so to be sure of cover 24/7 and for peak load, excess capacity is needed. Average load is way below peak.

      • Willem Post says:

        William,

        You appear not to be an energy engineer.

        The 50% you mention is an annual average CF.

        Gas turbines typically become unstable when operated below 40 – 45 percent of rated output. That means the balancing RANGE is about 50 to 100 percent.

        For balancing purposes, they likely operate at 75% so they can go up and down, which is what balancing is all about.

        And when a gas turbine does that, i.e., operate at part load AND up and down, Btu/kWh goes way up, CO2/kWh goes way up, meaning the wind energy is not saving fuel and reducing CO2 as touted by RE aficionados.

        That type of inefficiency is quite similar to operating your car, except for gas turbines it is much worse.

        That is why in Ireland with only 17% annual wind energy on the grid, and balancing with gas turbines using EXPENSIVE IMPORTED gas, wind is about 52.6% effective!! Yikes.

        I am sure it more or less works that way elsewhere in the word, as the laws of physics are a constant.

        Let us feel sorry for the misled Irish people who are paying for this folly.

        See my above comment.

        • William says:

          Willem, that may be true (I can’t judge) but it is not really relevant to what I said. ristvan commented that, “Running a rated facility at 50% doubles its capital cost per unit output.” If the overall capacity factor has historically been 50% then this was already true. For that calculation, it doesn’t matter how the load is distributed between machines. If generators complained about low capacity factors before the rise of wind, then they might be taken seriously now. If not, they are not credible.

          • Willem Post says:

            William,
            You are further demonstrating you are not an engineer, so there is no point my further commenting.

          • Graeme No.3 says:

            William:
            Are you allowing for the difference between closed cycle such as Willem is talking about, and open cycle which is used as a fast acting balance to wind?
            The latter only run about 10% of the time, as they are expensive to run and maintain (especially if run more than about 10%). They also release far more CO2 because they are inherently inefficient.

            I have seen claims elsewhere by engineers that cyclic running of closed cycle GT below 65% of output causes expansion/contraction stresses.

          • Willem Post says:

            William,

            “Running a rated facility at 50% doubles its capital cost per unit output.”

            You comment is not relevant to Roger’s article which is about balancing increasingly larger quantities of VARIABLE wind and solar energy with increasingly smaller quantities of fossil energy.

            It cannot be done without significant storage, plus many other measures, which I and others have been saying for about 10 years.

            Storage, other than hydro, is not viable, and the other measures are slow and expensive to implement.

            Several analyses of Ireland’s grid data proved, the more wind energy, the less effective it becomes regarding reducing CO2, when the balancing is done with gas turbines; balancing with coal plants is worse. See my above comments.

            That means increasing wind and solar would NOT be an effective solution to reduce CO2 going forward, because they cause the rest of the power system to operate less efficiently.

            A much better approach would be to have at least 70% of the world’s electrical energy from near-CO2-free nuclear. Balancing and intermittency would not be an issue.

          • William says:

            Graeme, I was just referring to overall averages. I’m sure some units runs at higher CF than others. My guess also is that OCGT were installed to act as fast acting balance for grid supply/demand in general, not specifically for wind.

            Willem, the ironic thing about 70% global nuclear is that the countries most able to install and run them safely, rich democracies, are unwilling to do so. This is partly because in order to reassure electorates of their safety, governments and industry have inflated costs. Countries where nuclear will be installed may be unable to apply these high safety standards and hence are the most likely to get into trouble.

            I am not against nuclear if it can be done cheaply and safely, but I don’t see the huge existing designs as the right approach. Small, sealed, pre-assembled, proliferation-safe, return-to-factory modular units seem a much more attractive proposition.

            But I’m also suspicious of the anti-renewables lobby. The degree to which anti-wind/solar opinion correlates with “skepticism” of the greenhouse effect leads me to dismiss a lot of such opposition. For a layman, it is difficult to know where truth ends and industry sponsored propaganda begins on both sides of the argument. The problem I see with renewable solutions is more, as David Mackay says, that they need to be country sized, not the undoubted technical challenges.

  13. A C Osborn says:

    At leat one MP gets it right, see this video on Bishop Hill.
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/6/11/david-davies-does-climate-change.html#comments
    Using IPCC Report to put down warmist MPs.

  14. Willem Post says:

    Roger,
    I took the data from the latest BP spreadsheet.

    Worldwide renewable energy generation, TWh, increases about 1% per year.

    …………Solar……Wind……..Geo-Bio………RE………Hydro…..RE+Hydro….Generation……..%
    2012…..96.7……..525.1……..451.4…….1073.2…..3515.5…….4588.7……….22630.4……..20.28
    2013…134.5……..640.7……..475.4…….1250.6…..3685.0…….4935.6……….23184.0……..21.29
    2014…185.9……..706.2……..508.5…….1400.6…..3807.8…….5208.4……….23536.5……..22.13

    http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/excel/Energy-Economics/statistical-review-2015/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2015-workbook.xlsx

    • Willem Post says:

      Roger,

      Here are some more data:

      Worldwide fossil energy generation, TWh, is increasing, but it is decreasing as a percent of total generation. However, nature does not care about percentages.

      …………Nuclear…………RE+Hydro…………Fossil………Generation……..%
      2012…..1964.3…………….4588.7………….16077.4……….22630.4…….71.04
      2013…..1975.8…………….4935.6………….16272.6……….23184.0…….70.19
      2014…..1988.0…………….5208.4………….16340.1……….23536.5…….69.42

    • Willem Post says:

      Addition:

      Worldwide CO2 Emission Reduction, million metric ton, due to RE investments:

      ……………World CO2…….RE…….kg CO2/kWh…..Reduction……..%

      ………………………………..TWh

      2012………35435……….1073.3……….0.7……………..751.51………2.12

      2013………36100……….1250.6……….0.7……………..875.42………2.42

      2014………36900……….1400.6……….0.7……………..980.42………2.66

      The $2.1 trillion of non-hydro RE investments over 12 years, plus the $270 b plus in 2014, increased the production of RE to 1,400.6 TWh of electricity in 2014, about 5.95% of total energy generation.

      The addition of RE to the grid primarily displaces oil, gas and coal energy. If we assume all of the displaced energy in 2014 had CO2 emissions of about 0.7 kg/kWh, or 0.7 mmt/TWh, then, in 2014, the CO2 emission reduction would have been 0.7 x 1400.6 mmt, or 0.7 x 100 x 1400.6/36900 = 2.66%. See above table.

      The 2.66% significantly overstates because:

      – Biomass, while claimed to be CO2-neutral, is in fact not so

      – Gas energy has CO2 emissions of about 0.55 kg/kWh

      – Balancing generating plants are operated less efficiently, i.e., emit more CO2/kWh

      – The RE build-outs had embedded CO2 emissions

      – Most of the RE build-outs have short, less than 25 year useful service lives and need to be partially replaced causing additional embedded CO2 emissions.

      NOTE: The increase of world CO2 emissions of about 800 mmt in 2014 occurred despite the (overstated) reduction of 0.7 x 1250.6 = 875 mmt due to RE in 2014.

  15. roberthargraves says:

    This is a great summary, but you do write “The remaining ~60% comes from the oil, gas and coal consumed in transportation, heating etc. How to decarbonize that? Again no solution is presently in sight.”. Earlier today I noted elsewhere…

    We can, indeed, generate much more clean, safe electricity from advanced nuclear power at half the cost of coal-fired power generation [details at the end of this post]. Beyond that we can use more electricity to substitute for other fossil fuel uses. For examples:

    Electricity in batteries can power light vehicles such as the Tesla autos on hundred-mile trips.
    Carbonaceous fuels are nearly essential for powering vehicles such as airplanes and large trucks, because their energy density is so high. The US Naval Research Laboratory has demonstrated extraction of CO2 from seawater combined with electrolysis-produced hydrogen to manufacture jet fuel at $5/gallon.

    We can similarly get the carbon needed for plastics by extracting CO2 from seawater as described above.

    Ammonia, NH3, can be produced from air and water with cheap energy. It’s the essential ingredient for fertilizers for food production. It’s also a demonstrated vehicle fuel, substituting for gasoline or diesel fuel, though at only half the energy density.

    Steel is made from iron made from iron ore by removing the oxygen using carbon (coal). The coal is also typically used to heat blast furnaces, releasing much CO2. The direct-reduction process limits carbon use just to reducing iron ore to iron.

    Aluminum is “liquid electricity” because 60% of the cost is electricity. Lowering the cost and providing CO2-free electric power means this infrastructure essential can be produced with less CO2.
    Cement manufacturing is the 4th largest source of CO2 emissions, but with (considerable) investment the high-temperature process can be economically achieved with plasma arc heating if electricity is inexpensive enough.

    Residential heating can be accomplished with inexpensive electricity just by resistive heating; it’s cost-effective and environmentally sound for buildings that are draft-sealed and efficiently insulated. Up to three-times more efficient are air-source heat pumps that can also provide cooling.

    The point is that we can substantially decarbonize our energy consumption by expanding the use of electricity, not limiting it. This requires clean, inexpensive electricity cheaper than coal, as described in the book, THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal. An emerging firm, ThorCon Power, has a nearly complete design for a hybrid thorium/uranium molten salt reactor than can generate enough inexpensive electricity to decarbonize not only the electricity supply but other applications as well. The proof is at thorconpower.com.

    • A C Osborn says:

      The trouble with your Thorium idea is that the Political, Business and Scientific world are not listening.
      There is just too much Power & Money to be made from the Climate/Green Scam for them to do what is actually needed in terms of finding a replacement for Fossil Fuels.
      Not that I think for one second that CO2 is any kind of a problem, it is Plant Food, so as far as I am concerne the more we make the better.
      If it does have a very slight impact on Global Warming then all the better for reducing the cooling period coming over the next 40 to 50 years.

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  19. Raj says:

    While discussing the option of “Fossil Fuel back-up”, you rightly conclude that the erratic generation will severely affect the gas turbines and result in higher maintenance, start-up costs and higher CO2 emission. However, there’s another gas-based generation technology – large internal combustion engines- that are far more flexible, are modular and made up of multiple units, can start/stop any number of times without maintenance penalty ( think of your car), retain the same high thermal efficiency at any plant load and can start/stop in less than a minute and ramp up to full load in 2 minutes. Many such plants are operational in the US. By ability to quickly come on line when wind drops, and backing down when it blows again, they are ideal for balancing the variability of RE and to avoid any curtailment. This white paper explains the concept and the economics. http://energyexemplar.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/2014_EnergyExemplar/Power%20System%20Optimization%20by%20Increased%20Flexibility%202014.pdf

    • Many such plants are operational in the US.

      Apparently not enough in California, where utilities are warning of potentially unachievable ramp rates by 2020 if much more rooftop solar is added to the grid. The ramp rate problem is summarized in the California “duck curve”:

  20. Peter Lang says:

    Roger Andrews,

    This is an excellent post and excellent summary. I have a questions and a comment:

    Question: Why didn’t you consider the option of say 75% nuclear and 25% flexible fossil fuel and hydro (as France has been successfully demonstrating for at least the past 30 years)? Regarding unlimited, sustainable transport fuels, as Robert Hargraves stated above, with cheap reliable electricity and cheap hydrogen from high temperature nuclear power plants, we’ll be able to produce unlimited hydrocarbon transport fuels (petrol, diesel, jet fuel, etc) from seawater. Therefore, I suggest, if we want to reduce global GHG emissions from fossil fuels, the most viable option is with nuclear power.

    Comment: You said:

    … costs would all increase, as would fuel consumption because of the constant start-up and shutdown, thereby offsetting some of the CO2 emissions reductions generated by the wind energy.

    In fact, the offset of emissions reductions savings is enormous. Almost no one seems to understand the magnitude. Here are a few examples:

    – Republic of Ireland, 2011, at 17% wind energy penetration, CO2 abatement effectiveness* by wind was just 53% [1]
    – Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM), 2014, 4.5% wind energy penetration, CO2 abatement effectiveness* by wind was just 78% [2]
    – Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM), 2020, projected 15% wind energy penetration, CO2 abatement effectiveness* by wind projected to be around 60% (linear projection and all else unchanged) [3]

    * CO2 abatement effectiveness = % CO2 saved / wind % of total electricity. [2]

    The consequences of this for the CO2 abatement cost of wind power are very high. The CO2 abatement cost with wind in the Australian NEM at 60% CO2 abatement effectiveness (i.e. at about 15% wind energy penetration) would be about 67% increase on the estimates that do not take CO2 abatement effectiveness into account. [3]

    I explain the above in a short post yesterday [4]. Excerpt:

    The cost of CO2 abatement with wind power in Australia in 2020, under the [Renewable Energy Target (RET)] as currently legislated, is likely to be (refer to costs in Table 1):

    – 2 to 5 times the carbon price which was rejected by voters at the 2013 election
    – 4 to 8 times the Direct Action average price at the first auction
    – 6 to 12 times the current EU ETS price
    – 100 to 200 times the international carbon price futures to 2020

    The [2014 RET Review] estimated the cost of abatement under the LRET at $32-$72/tonne CO2 in 2020 ….

    But the actual cost is likely to be much higher because the estimates apparently do not take the CO2 abatement effectiveness into account.

    Wheatley estimated wind energy in the NEM was just 78% effective at abating emissions in 2014, and would be about 70% effective if wind power’s share was double.

    Under the current RET legislation, wind energy would have to supply about 15% of electricity in 2020. At 15% share, wind is likely to be about 60% effective.

    At 60% effective, the CO2 abatement cost would be $53-$120 per tonne CO2

    References:

    [1] Joseph Wheatley, 2013, Quantifying CO2 savings from wind power,/i> http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513007829

    [2] Joseph Wheatley, 2015, CO2 Emissions Savings from Wind Power in the National Electricity
    Market (NEM)
    http://joewheatley.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/sub348_Wheatley.pdf

    [3] Peter Lang, 2015, Submission No 259 to the ‘Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines’ http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Submissions

    [4] Peter Lang, 2015 (June 22), What’s the cost of CO2 emissions abatement with wind turbines? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=17447

    • Peter: Thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay in posting it.

      Why didn’t you consider the option of say 75% nuclear and 25% flexible fossil fuel and hydro (as France has been successfully demonstrating for at least the past 30 years)?. Nuclear/gas is in fact our preferred option, and we’ve addressed it in a number of previous posts, such as:

      http://euanmearns.com/energy-matters-2050-pathway-for-the-uk/

      But the people who make energy policy have decided to pursue renewables instead, and this has focused our attention on the question of how renewables might be made to power a modern society. So far we’ve not been able to come up with a workable solution.

      In fact, the offset of emissions reductions savings is enormous. Almost no one seems to understand the magnitude.

      There are some who understand this, but unfortunately they don’t seem to include the people who make energy policy.

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