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back to article IPCC report: Renewables can never meet energy demand

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued teasers ahead of an upcoming report into renewable energy. The IPCC says that "close to 80 per cent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century". However this is derived from the most optimistic possible scenario for renewables, and …

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JDX
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Nuclear it is then

After all the oil won't last forever.

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Re: Nuclear it is then

Is that "nuclear power for electricity generation" or "nuclear weapons to correct over population"??

I guess either will work :)

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Which won't help

Since developing nations can't afford to buy reactor technology anyway.

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Black Helicopters

RE: Which won't help

Besides, even if they did we'd claim they were using it to create weapons and use it as an excuse to invade them and take their remaining oil :)

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Go

Go team nuclear!

How about we just build a few nuclear plants now and funnel all the remaining money into fusion R&D. The fact that policy is informed by the cowed public who live in irrational fear of nuclear metldowns and secret WMD hoarding is pathetic. Bring on the meritocracy and lets have the civil engineers make the decision on what to build.

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Boffin

You do know that nuclear is limited too.... right?

Nuclear fuel will get us in the same problem than oil, but with a lot more troubles and for a shorter time (if we go full nuclear).

nuclear energy is a crazy stupid solution.

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Nuclear it is then

Actually, once the "Oil Crunch" hits, after we reach "Peak Of Production of Conventional oil", we shall be struggling to ensure the supplies of fuel needed to maintain all nuclear plants.

However, due our personal / political inabilities and outright refusal to plan ahead for such matters:

Our inability to then secure and maintain perpetual access to such supplies argues for a continuous repeat of accidents in nuclear plants leading to many "Chernobyl" type situations.

"Woe!" said Pogo, "We have met the enemy and it is us!".

To a safer, saner and more caring world.

To Duty.

Daniel J. Lavigne

"The Tax Refusal"

http://www.TaxRefusal.com

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Dead Vulture

Again?

Analysis based on a press release and not the actual data used to generate thy figure?

Bored now!!!

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Even the press release admits defeat

The point is that a press release, which attempts to spin it in the best possible way, still confirms that it's not possible any time soon to have a "renewable future".

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FAIL

Pot/Kettle carbon coating much?

Flame based on your guess of the content of the article?

Perhaps you missed the first line?

"The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued teasers ahead of an upcoming report into renewable energy."

Notice the word "teasers" ?

Notice the word "ahead"?

Notice the word "upcoming"?

Did you follow the link and look for a full document?

No thought not.

0/10 could do better.

Go froth elsewhere.

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Well, of course!

Given that the report is not being made available until the end of the month, one cannot do anything else.

The linked press release and "Summary for policy makers"* is it until then.

You'll notice that El Reg has looked at the raw data of other sources, and that they've used the figures given in the press release so it seems quite reasonable to note the obvious assumptions that must have been made to get the numbers they're claiming.

*I find it disgusting that they have published the summary for policy makers before publishing the actual report itself. At best that's disingenuous - how can such policymakers check that the summary is valid and not deliberately or accidentally misleading?

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Yes, I did.

It was more interesting than the article itself.

In summary it said it's possible, but politically hard.

How that got turned into "it's possible, but we either have to kill loads of people or keep them poor" seems to be based upon the a figure not actually contained in the release.

Lewis takes the actual figure reported, and says "this can't be accurate" finds another figure that is nearly double the IPCC and uses that to proclaim doom!

Then somehow, after I get chided for supposedly not reading the release, other commenters somehow read the release as admitting it can't achieve the actual thing the first line of the release said it could.

I would have been more impressed if Lewis had said made greater play on the fact that this was merely a release, with no varifiable data to check against - instead if going into full blown attack mode when he had nothing.

This shows the level of unproffessionalism that gets called into play when this subject gets covered.

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It isn't all or nothing

If energy demand is likely to increase, and renewables can supply most of that increased demand, we should go for it.

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The press release says all you need to know in one line:

that by 2050 renewables will produce 3 times the amount of energy the US produced in 2005. Anybody stupid enough to put that in a press release let alone an "official" report needs to shot post haste. They are producing to much wasted carbon and need to be removed from the production pool.

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Renewable vs sustainable

So non-renewable energy is going to make up a larger and larger fraction of an ever increasing demand. That's got to end well.

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But looking at it from the long term...

...by definition every finite source will run out eventually. So while in the medium term (couple of thousand years) it may make sense to look at nuclear in the real long term renewables are the only way.

Besides which, there's nothing like necessity for driving invention. So rather than "Renewables will only ever provide above half the world's supply in some grim future where the great majority of the human race is either wiped out within a generation or remains in grinding, miserable poverty" how about "renewables will provide about half the world's supply in a happy future where technology is incredibly efficient". (This may not happen by 2050 mind....)

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Energy technology in 3050

"So while in the medium term (couple of thousand years) it may make sense to look at nuclear in the real long term renewables are the only way."

I'd be disappointed if they hadn't solved the nuclear fusion problem in a thousand years' time, which would probably buy us another another hundred thousand years to figure out the "real long term" solution.

There is no way that we should be subsidising the development of renewables today.

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Unhappy

@Suboptimal Planet

"I'd be disappointed if they hadn't solved the nuclear fusion problem in a thousand years' time,"

Me too.

But somehow *not* surprised.

Seriously nuclear fusion has been the "We'll have it done in 10 years or so" energy source since the 1950s.

The test machines keep getting bigger (and *lots* more expensive) but IDK "somehow" breakeven still remains *far* away.

And as for *collecting* that energy and generating electricity with it (which seems to be a pretty core component of an energy system) no one has seriously looked at that problem yet.

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Unhappy

examone the ter renewables

I think you'll find without the sun, solar, wind and geothermal(eventually) may run out too.

World poverty is a matter of the choices we make in the west, sadly so far not enough of us choose to give a fuck.

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You remind me why...

@naughtyhorse

...I rarely read the comments. What an asinine comment. Government corruption/incompetence elsewhere is what keeps many parts of the world impoverished. Zimabwe was the breadbasket of southern africa which offered education for all (black and white). Now it's just basket case. It has not been a decision of the west to impoverish Zimbabwe the leaders did all by themselves (while still getting aide from those nasty westerners). And this is but one of many cases.

Stop with the self loathing and self flagellation. Or if you must do it, do it in private and stop foisting your fetish on others.

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Grenade

So...

The sooner we start to build, on a large scale, Tidal power plants, Solar furnaces and ocean based Seawater electrolysis plants to generate H2 the better then?

Nuclear might be a cheap, short term option to 'fill' an 'energy gap' but it is just that - short term.

Pollution and danger are significant components of any energy source but our fusion generator is off planet in the case of many re-newables.

Be aware that the limiting factor in human continuation is not water, pollution, disease or food but energy. If our usage exceeds that supplied by the Sun humans, and possibly the planet, are history.

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Boffin

AC@12:01

"Be aware that the limiting factor in human continuation is not water, pollution, disease or food but energy. "

Plausible assertion. Depends how that energy is used.

If our usage exceeds that supplied by the Sun humans, and possibly the planet, are history."

Crikey that sounds pretty dire.

So let's see how much the sun puts out.

1 AU (mean distance between Earth and Sun) 149,597,870.7Km.

Solar constant 1.366Kw/m^-2 (although it's anything but constant IRL).

4 x Pi x r^2 = 3.84 x 10^26 J

Or *roughly* 543 *thousand* times more than the maximum figure to give *everyone* on Earth a US/European standard of living.

Now *collecting* a substantial fraction of that won't be easy but I think it puts the problem in perspective, does it not.

So I'd say your hand grenade is a bit of a dud.

Perhaps you were thinking about the Earths ability to radiate *waste* heat into space was exceeded.

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I guess your figure is about right.

I understood the figure to be about 10kW/m2 at geostationary orbit with about a 95% loss in the atmosphere.

For equilibrium we radiate what we receive less (what we use + what we store). As a planet, we're in marginal equilibrium?

As you note, if we capture and convert a small proportion of the received energy then we're in business - so to speak - and we don't need to go down a nuclear route. However, the big issue/problem is getting governments and enterprises to take seriously the idea of solar power in its various forms. Unfortunately the nuclear lobby and fossil fuel lobby employ far more people who are 'taken seriously". They've been at it much longer....

Why is the hand grenade a bit of a dud here.

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May i suggest

some kind of heat sink....

a big one

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Boffin

@Maurice Shakeshaft

"I understood the figure to be about 10kW/m2 at geostationary orbit with about a 95% loss in the atmosphere."

No the figure above the atmosphere is the one I listed. In solar energy terms it's called Air Mass 0. At sea level where ground based solar operates (more or less) its' AM1 and is c976 Watts per sq metre. Your figure is grossly wrong. For rough calculations assume 1000 W/sq metre.

"As you note, if we capture and convert a small proportion "

Make that a *very* small proportion, a very small fraction of 1% at the mean Earth orbital radius.

"However, the big issue/problem is getting governments and enterprises to take seriously the idea of solar power in its various forms."

Well a Californian solar company is launching a 200Mw solar power satellite as a test. That seems pretty serious to me.

Ground solar in the UK seems an exercise in harvesting subsidies, rather than improving energy security.

"Why is the hand grenade a bit of a dud here."

The claim was the human race would be in trouble if our energy usage exceeded the output of the Sun. No explanation of *what* that trouble would be. I've merely worked out the numbers to demonstrate how far away we are. I *suggested* the poster *might* have meant the Earths ability to re-radiate heat would be a problem to out energy growth, but that would was just an idea.

As for credibility the space solar project was run at NASA in the 1970's by JPL with Ratheon as a prime contractor. They did substantial work on space antenna construction and constructing phased arrays using microwave oven magetrons (historically considered too electronically noisy to be viable phased array elements).

Not exactly the proverbial crackpot in a garden shed.

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Alright Jack

I doubt that I will live to 2050, so no worries.

In the meantime, the tariff for my rooftop solar photovoltaic panels has just increased to 44.8 pence per kWh (index linked), and I find that the yearly estimate the installers put on the installation was very conservative. I paid less than £200 for electricity last quarter (well down as some is coming off the roof) but they are paying me over £400 for the electricity my roof gathered (over 1000 units) in a similar quarter (overlapping but not the same period). So I am doing my bit and reaping the rewards. I hope those who of you who believe the global warming guff don't mind paying for it.

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Re: Alright Jack

"I hope those who of you who believe the global warming guff don't mind paying for it."

Umm, I don't think belief in the guff comes into it. The ones paying for it are firstly those who are too poor to own their own homes and so can't take advantage of the scheme, and secondly those whose consciences don't permit them to screw the first group, despite the high hopes of the last supposedly socialist government that this was what we'd all be rushing to do.

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FAIL

I might have to join them:(

I really hate the way that renewables get long-term subsidies like this - I really don't want to have to pay the subsidies out of my taxes/leccy bills. However, if I don't want to do that, I have to go grab the subsidies for myself:(

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Anonymous Coward

This is going to be interesting.

Gah, the IPCC. Why do people keep on taking them seriously when their numbers ever seem to have such trouble adding up? But anyway.

I'd expect that even with a "comparatively clean" solution like nuclear -- assuming new plants will be made fail-safe and result in less need-to-store-forever waste and all that -- prudence will force us to look at doing to our energy needs as we're doing for electronics and size. We need to achieve more with less.

And if the dear transpondians want to keep on claiming to be "first" with any right, they'll have to be the first to figure out how to get by with that 2/3rds of "one european energy" equivalent, or perhaps more like a half to allow for some growth, at the same standard of living, and then not only show it can be done, but do it too.

Get to it boys and girls. Done with the fancy "for darkest africa" prototypes. Let's make it happen at home.

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Anonymous Coward

Why are they using Joules per year...

...instead of the rather more standard Joules per second (i.e. Watts)?

407 exajoules/yr = an average of 12.9 TW, I think.

Then again, the electricity companies use kilo-joules-per-second-hours instead of joules...

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Energy .vs Power

Since we are discussing the total energy used in a year, Joules is appropriate. Watts are a rate - how many Joules in a second. Interestingly, the way the power company measures electricity is in kWh - which is back to energy - not a rate. This is because they charge you for how much you use, not how fast you draw it.

Anyway, I agree with the author, there is no way renewables will supply the majority of humanity's energy needs - unless there is a whole lot less of us, or our standard of living is greatly reduced.

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Unhappy

re nuclear

Thats the best hope i guess, but there aint really enough time . It takes about 20 years bring a nuclear power plant online.

Not mention converting all the lorries that bring us our pot noodles, and all the tractors that sow and reap our weetabix - to run on electricity

any civilisation is 3 meals away from anarchy

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Re: Nuclear

"It takes about 20 years bring a nuclear power plant online"

And that's just the public enquiry. *Then* you've got to train up a new generation of engineers who can build the thing.

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I am always wondering

I'm always cutrious with these stories as to exactly what the Independent Police Complaints Commission has to do with climate.

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Usual solution that nobody really wants to look at

I'm with David Attenborough and the Optimum Population lot on this one - there are a huge range of increasingly significant issues affecting the human race that could all be solved by there being less people. Ideally this would have been realised quite some time ago. A responsible, carefully managed programme of human population reduction would do this planet a world of good, it isn't completely ours after all and to keep using all of it's space and resources is a good demonstration of our arrogance as a species. If we don't start a careful voluntary programme now then there may well come a point where resources will run out, people will become desperate and then disease, war, famine and natural disasters will probably reduce our population for us in a far more unpleasant way.

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Thumb Up

The problem with a cull

is how do you decide who dies?

My suggestion is get rid of all Health and Safety legislation and let Darwin sort it out.

Let's see what sort of reduction we get with that.

Keep the telephone sanitisers though... we know how that ends.

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Terminator

Have a look at...

Game Control by Lionel Schriver.

Not the best ending, but an entertaining look around the debates.

I can't remember the details of the artificial disease they create to enact the necessary cull, but if someone did do such a thing I'd hope it would be activated by low neural density.

If playing god to substitute for loss of natural selection, at least choose criteria that could steer our evolution somewhere more positive than the dribbling goons voting on instruction from Murdoch, and littering maternity wards with premature, smoke/drink damaged, no-hope meat-sacks.

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It tastes the best because

it's made of people.

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Stop

Nobody is suggesting a "cull" or anyone "dying"

If anything, those two are more likely outcomes of an overstretched planet eventually running out of resources. All that's being suggested is more voluntary childlessness and less stupid people creating huge families resulting in a net reduction of the human population across the world. Or as my old Geography teacher used to call it, "incentivising people to put a bit of plastic on their peckers"

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@fixit_f

"All that's being suggested is more voluntary childlessness and less stupid people creating huge families resulting in a net reduction of the human population across the world."

And the incentive for the "stupid" people being?

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Thumb Down

A brief note on how to lower runaway population growth.

Family size without indoor toilets, running water, access to birth control, state welfare and decent housing 10.

Mortality rate at 5 yrs. 50%.

Family size wit indoor plumbing, access to birth control, state welfare and decent housing. 2

Mortality rate at 5 yrs. 0%.

Not a 3rd world country.

The East End of London in the early 20th Century.

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Silver badge

But if you notice statistics...

...the dumber a person, the more likely they are to have multiple children to compensate. And the inverse is also true. Also, by reasonable logic, the dumber a person, the less likely they are to follow instructions. So to be frank, leaving idiots to their own devices may simply result in the urge to breed more idiots. Under such a scenario, some form of eugenics may prove to be necessary. But that's a moral line no one wants to cross because the other side is a slippery slope.

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IT Angle

Re: solution that nobody really wants

"A responsible, carefully managed programme of human population reduction..."

All the historical evidence is that educating and empowering the women in society is the single most effective way of halting population growth. But yeah, the world appears to be full of fundamentalist pricks who really don't want that.

IT angle: things like mobile phones and internet connections appear to be quite effective against such ignorance, so if you come back in 20 or 30 years time then the world might be ready to start tackling these problems.

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incentive

That's a real toughie. In this country it's a fairly simple question of stopping child benefits, having less large council housing to be given to families with out an of control breeding problem and better education. You could even push it in the direction that it could become expensive to have children so a parent would have to pay a "carbon tax" for their own offspring - we're probably not at that point quite yet. In less developed cultures children are seen as an asset as they can be put to work for the family so in these areas you'd struggle to reverse that perception more.

Given that we need to hit high carbon producers first, we could start with the western world and (much like drink driving) start to help make people realise that it's socially unacceptable to produce large families anymore.

It sounds draconian, but I honestly believe that not having children is the most beneficial thing it is possible to do for the planet. The reproductive instinct is an entirely selfish thing.

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Flame

Good idea. How about

we start with all the warm-mongers.

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fixit_f

You don't encourage smaller families by simply making life worse for larger families. All of your solutions simply punish the children who have no choice in the matter, who will grow up to violently overthrow your perfected society.

People should replace themselves, carry on their gene line, and leave it at that. Some people will be infertile, some people won't make to child bearing age for various reasons. If people only replace themselves, then the population will slowly start falling. Genetic diversity is a good thing, it's not selfish. If all the people who are smart/educated enough to realize population decline is a good thing just completely stop having children, I think the result for humanity is obvious.

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Confused

"If all the people who are smart/educated enough to realize population decline is a good thing just completely stop having children, I think the result for humanity is obvious."

Wouldn't the result be that the world is populated by the offspring of those who didn't realize that?

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Grenade

quite the contrary.

If smart/concerned couples have fewer children, but morons, etc continue to have 2, 3, 5+ children, this just means that the average intelligence of the species will slowly decline*, right up until the lip of the catastrophe curve, at which point it won't matter any more.

* Niven/Pournelle, don't remember which book, and I'm sure that I didn't quote them exactly.

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Alert

Here you go then !

http://www.vhemt.org/

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Silver badge

Easier example.

Watch the movie "Idiocracy." Sure, it's a comedy, but it's based on the ideas about population.

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