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back to article Wind, solar could provide 99.9% of ALL POWER by 2030

A group of researchers has released a study that claims to shoot down the common perception that clean, renewable energy from wind and solar sources is all well and good, eco-wise, but that it's too uncertain, sporadic, and pricey for widespread use. "These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too …

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Let's do it.

Sounds good, let's do it!

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Re: Let's do it.

"Sounds good, let's do it!"

I'm quite sure that you meant to say "Sounds too good to be true, and it probably is, so let's do it and - assuming with no real reason that this is not merely another example of Schneiderism or that these people are not out-and-out shills - let's see in how many ways it turns out to be the most expensive and spectacular failure ever produced by the stupidity of academics."

That's what you meant, right?

A person has got to be pretty damn credulous to believe research like this.

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Re: Let's do it.

The obvious weakness, from a British point of view, is that the USA is big. This may well work out for mainland Europe, but the variations in weather over the UK may not be enough to keep everything going.

It isn't hard to see the other assumptions, but I think this is done well enough to be a counter to "we can't afford it". A power plant built today will be needing replacement by 2030. Whatever the replacement is, it will cost money. And renewables, done right, look a plausible choice.

But this sort of large-scale planning isn't something that a fragmented, privatised, electricity generation system is likely to do well.

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Re: Let's do it.

The UK isn't big, but it is connected to a grid that covers Europe and North Africa, which is quite big. We quite often import electricity from France at the moment, and that won't change.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's do it.

Industry AC back again, replying from a UK perspective.

I doubt that this really stacks up. There's caveats in here about carbon taxes and other eco-optimism that simply don't seem credible. UK electricity industry was asked by DECC to look at how much wind power actually contributed on the 100 coldest days of the year in aggregate. The answer, to DECC's horror was 6% of rated capacity. So although wind works, it doesn't work when you might really want it, which also tends to be night time, or in winter when the low azimuth of the sun reduces the capacity of solar even when the sun does shine. Geographic distribution helps a little, but the problem with low wind is that it is routinely associated with relatively stable high pressure systems, these can be large enough to cover most of Europe and persist for many days (hence the 100 day study above).

The US study accepts fossil back up, but given that you need to cover combinations of peak winter demand with virtually no wind or solar, and the claim is that they can normally run the system entirely off renewables what you need is the following recipe:

- 100% of peak demand covered by fossil or nuke plant (or cutting off industrial users)

- A combination of wind and solar that can actually deliver around 150% of peak demand (so enabling this to cover normal demand, and feed into storage at the same time). Note that because wind is always intermittent, the load factor is at absolute best 35%, so to cover half of the 150% with wind means you'd need to build 3x75%, or more than double the peak network demand capacity.

- Storage capacity of around (and I'm guessing this) 40-60% of peak summer demand.

If you look at that on a very rounded basis that approximates to paying for your electricity capacity four to five times over. So, yes, it could be done. But it will not be "at the same cost as fossil plant", but rather at the "same cost as fossil plant after we've rigged the system to pay for the EPA's eco-toys of which we'll need huge amounts more".

Two minor points of further detail:

One, a power plant built today (even a cheap and cheerful CCGT) could still expect to be working in 2040 or even 2050. Power plant CCGT are much bigger and slower spinning than aircraft engines, and built for long life and durability.

Two. You comment that a privatised electricity business won't plan this well. In the UK network performance has been far better since privatisation, and there is a single central system operator, National Grid plc. It isn't a set of random power stations being built and generating when they feel like it. In terms of the mess of energy policy, that is the fault of government. But unfortunately government are taking more and more control (despite their proven incompetence in all such things), so expect the situation to get worse, not better.

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Re: Let's do it.@Jonathanb

"We quite often import electricity from France at the moment, and that won't change"

It may well. The German nuclear shutdown will eliminate surplus capacity in the one market that historically was Europe's largest exporter of power, and the swing producer. Factor in the large combustion plant directive closures across Europe, and the likely closure of most French fossil fuel capacity, and there is going to be a distinct lack of surplus capacity in most markets. The Swiss have opted to close their nuke plants, the Belgians have, Italy is building no more....

As for connected to North Africa, that's a pipe dream - the Desertec consortium have proposed this idea, but the rapidly growing Arab world is probably going to want power for local needs, creating big political risks of expropriation even if they built the thing.

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Only for americans

This study really does need say it's specific to the USA, it really doesn't work elsewhere in the world.

Friends in the 'States tell me that their electricity consumption is higher in SUMMER than in winter. Air conditioning is considered a necessity and is expensive to run - a situation that simply doesn't feature in the UK or wider: in continental Europe. Given that is when solar PV is most plentiful, the american model doesn't fit a european climate.

Secondly, take a look at the power generation prediction website http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php

This allows you to click a point on the map and get an estimate of the amount of leccy a "1KW" solar array will generate. Even in the sunny south-east of the UK, you'll get on average 1kW*Hr per day per kW of installed capacity ... and on half the days, less than that! Brrrrr.

Thanks to the power company, we know that chez Pete 2 uses about 10 kW*Hrs of electricity a day. A quick peruse of last winter's gas bill shows that from October - March, we used just over 9,000 kW*Hr or 50 kW*Hr per day for heating/HW & cooking. So reckon on about 60kW*Hr of energy usage per day that would have to be supplied by solar and wind. And then let's ignore wind power as there are many windless days.

Going back to the aforementioned website and selecting Daily Radiation tells us that an average day in January will produce PV electricity for 8 hours at a maximum rate of 100W / m², or roughly 400Watt*Hours of electricity per day. Thus, we'd need 150m² of PV panels to supply our daily needs - assuming the sun shines during January. That figure would require the entire back garden to be filled with solar panels, plus a few more on the roof. Even if the PV generation is located remotely (rather than each household having their own), this would double the amount of land needed to support each house - and then more to supply industry and yet more for power conversion / storage and transmission.

Somehow, I don't think this is going to work ...

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Re: Only for americans

Today, with 1 hour and 57 Minutes sunshine at 14:00 local time, I had 0.26 KWh per m^2 with 36W per m^2, lots of expresso from free energy :)

So yes, it won't feed all of my electrical needs but it helps a bit.

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Re: Only for americans

I forgot, I'm in Bremen, Germany.

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Re: Only for americans

>This study really does need say it's specific to the USA, it really doesn't work elsewhere in the world.

It doesn't need to say that, because it made it clear that the data came from the US grid and weather.

>Air conditioning is considered a necessity and is expensive to run - a situation that simply doesn't feature in the UK or wider

Even termites can construct structures that only vary by 1ºC over a 24 hour period, and they're insects. Can't we build a little smarter? If we looked at Moorish architecture, with courtyards, water features and thick walls, we would be doing better than just erecting another condo with a hundred Mitsubishi air conditioning units hanging out of the windows. I'm not saying we currently have the solution, but we can do better than "we need air con, so let's give up now". Still, what with Florida being filled with AC-dependant senior citizens, and their enthusiasm for voting, it could be a struggle...

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Re: Only for americans@Pete 2

Whilst agreeing with your other comments, I'd just comment on the US specificity. They have indeed limited it to the US, and the data is as well, but Europe is a larger area than the US, covering similar latitudes. If the claimed solution will work in the US, we might reasonably expect it to work in Europe. Equally, if this is pumped up pseudo science aiming for a good headline and a pat on the head from the EPA, then it won't work in the US, and it won't work in Europe.

So I think this is relevant to Europe - just a pity it isn't going to work.

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Re: Let's do it.

@Turtle: and a person has to be damn bullheaded and close-minded to dismiss research before reading it, merely because he's already decided that he knows all he'll ever need to know.

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Re: Let's do it.

"@Turtle: and a person has to be damn bullheaded and close-minded to dismiss research before reading it, merely because he's already decided that he knows all he'll ever need to know."

The very first comment in this thread was very enthusiastic about the report. Yet you failed to write "a person has to be damn gullible to believe research before reading it..." but I suppose you didn't write such a comment because 1) you yourself were gullible to believe this "study", and 2) you're a hypocrite.

Would that be about right?

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A new meme

" ... cost sweetener in their calculations, however: their cost estimates for that comparison includes the costs related to the human health effects of fossil fuel–caused air polution. "

This meme has been showing up lately. Projections ( for which read modelling ) of putative death-rates associated with any activity is now calculated at $2.5 meeellion per head. This makes really stupendous sounding ecocomic propaganda. Without deprecating the ascription of that value to a human life I'd be interested to see a take on the impact of, say, electric vehicle accidents, latte-induced kidney failure, fugu fatalities, bicycle doorings, solar-panel installer accidents to say nothing of open fires - I think you see where I've headed here. Ignoring duplication cost, networking is the problem with renewables as they stand.

If CO2 is the problem, the answer is nuclear.

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FAIL

Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

" Each of those 28 beeeelion combos were tested against four years of actual hourly weather data, along with electricity-demand data .... Big enough sample for ya?"

And they found how many were able to handle the job? One? That could equally generate the following heading:

'Billion to one chance of renewables powering a country'... which is about right....

Separately, I notice that the whole process was a model, with assumptions like 'renewables will drop greatly in price'. Let me run a billion variations of a model while allowing me to input assumptions, and I'll 'prove' to you that I can power a country from unicorn droppings, all the way from North Korea...

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Paris Hilton

Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

I'm not sure if this is how they did it, but when I read "28 billion combos" my first thought is that it's probably easy to arrive at this solution by using a genetic algorithm. Probably more likely that they had some big, un-environmentally friendly compute cluster brute-force searching the entire solution space, though :(

I'm not sure how to react to your criticism of their models, to be honest. Yes, models can be unrealistic, but on the whole I'd rather have them than not. Then you can start picking apart the basic assumptions (the one you mentioned "renewables will drop greatly in price" wasn't even in the article text, so I don't know if you're just making that up or not) or otherwise criticise/falsify it. But to what end? Just to be negative, or to make a better model? In either case you can't criticise a model just for being a model...

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Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

Frum, the Reg article mentions that one of the study's assumptions is that the capital cost of both wind and solar will drop by 50% by 2030. That sure seems like "renewables will drop greatly in price".

Sadly, the article is behind a paywall; not being able to read the article, here are a few other likely problems with the study:

1) Does it also assume natural gas prices will drop by 50% by 2030? This is certainly likely due to the fracking revolution, but I would guess the study authors didn't include that assumption.

2) It's plausible to claim that distributing wind generation over a large geographical area will even out the peaks and troughs of the availability of wind-generated electricity, but we now have some years of real-world data from actual windfarms. Did they use the real-world wind-generation data (which seems to indicate much less even availability than predicted), or just simulate it from a single value?

3) What is the dollar value of the assumed credit for avoiding air pollution and how does that compare to the predicted dollar cost of the wind/solar power? If the credit were small, that would strengthen the study's conclusions; since the authors find it necessary to include it while excluding most other externalities, its magnitude is likely large compared to the actual cost of the electricity, thus weakening the study's robustness.

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Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

No, it isn't a billion-to-one chance. Now that we know the right combination, we can use it. Apparently, their discovery is that to have just barely enough wind and solar generation capacity to meet average demand would require too much storage - so, instead, have lots of excess capacity, so there will have to be a great lack of wind before one needs to turn to batteries.

But, hey, even if they're all wet, there's still nuclear, so it is true we don't need carbon.

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@MondoMan

Solar dropping in price by 50% is not at all unreasonable. Solar had dropped by much more than that from 1980 to 2005 when interest in it was renewed (no pun intended) due to rising oil/gas prices and there has been a lot of investment in it lately. Prices have fallen enormously thanks to that added investment and economies of scale. According to this, module prices have dropped by around two thirds since 2009. Installation tends to dominate pricing for smaller installations (but not the type a utility would install) but that is now getting more attention and it will eventually be integrated in building materials, at least for commercial/industrial scale buildings.

Is it so unreasonable think solar prices will fall by half again in the next 18 years considering how much they've fallen over the past three decades, and especially the past three years? Wind should benefit from economies of scale if production were ramped up massively as would be required if you wanted to replace all usage with solar and wind. But I have no idea if that helps it by enough because of their size and the logistical issues to transport and assemble them on site.

As for your first point from your list of three: Natural gas prices have a floor, and are already at a place in the US where some wells are shutting down because their cost of production exceeded the cost they could sell the gas for. The US had record gas inventories after last year's warm winter, and there were fears that if production continued at then-current rates, storage capacity would run out and its market price would drop to near zero. That never happened, but the market can't sustain gas prices half of what they are currently in the US. Per unit of energy it is far cheaper than oil, which is what matters for switching parts of the transportation infrastructure from diesel to natural gas (i.e. trucks, trains, buses)

Will prices fall by half in the UK? Definitely, once they get cracking with fracking (pun intended that time)

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Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

"1) Does it also assume natural gas prices will drop by 50% by 2030? This is certainly likely due to the fracking revolution, but I would guess the study authors didn't include that assumption."

The last thing I saw for fracking said it would last 15 to maybe 60 years for the UK. What then? Is it just me that sees that as just enough time to get a decent non-fossil fuel based system in place rather than "hey, cheap fuel for everyone, let's party!"?

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FAIL

Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

..hen you can start picking apart the basic assumptions (the one you mentioned "renewables will drop greatly in price" wasn't even in the article text, so I don't know if you're just making that up or not)

"While the idea of a large, geographically diverse renewable-energy grid might seem heinously expensive, the paper's authors contend that if current estimates are correct that by 2030 wind and solar capital costs will be about half of what they are today.."

That seems clear enough to me. And it's in the text.

..In either case you can't criticise a model just for being a model.....

It may have escaped your attention, but I was criticising the model because it was unrealistic. We have actual data about the performance of 'renewable-energy' systems, from Denmark, Germany, Spain.. All these show that initially there is no difficulty adding these systems, but, as the proportion of renewables mounts, a whole set of problems arises - typically due to dispatchability.

If you pick a lot of different inputs and demand scenarios, you can probably find some that can match, which is what they appear to have done. But this does not show that renewables can work in reality, and presenting this as proof when we actually have real data which shows the opposite is ludicrous...

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@Doug

Good points, thanks! My general objection was that the article seems to assume arguably possible price drops for the modes (wind and solar) it is arguing for, but not for those (gas/oil/coal) it does not favor. Fair is fair, especially since it seems that at least some of the benefit from wind is assumed to come from having it replace some gas use; if gas prices are lower than assumed, that savings is also reduced. Again because of the paywall, I don't know what level of gas prices were assumed in the article. I'm sure you would agree that whether they chose 2005 prices, 2010 prices, or some other value would make a big difference in the analysis.

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Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding? @Dodgy Geezer

I look forward to your other headlines based solely on the number of unworkable combinations of components - "Trillion to one chance of heavier than air flight", "Infinitely small chance of life evolving", "Five to one chance of using correct orifice when eating" and so on.

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FAIL

Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

And they say Evangelical Christians are irrational.

Keep believing. Just keep believing.

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Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

Oops. I just reread the article and I see the point you were making about greatly reduced costs. It was late and I guess I glossed over that entire sentence/paragraph just reading is as "all without government subsidies". Sorry about that.

Still, I'm heartened by what another commenter said above that the assumptions might be reasonably realistic for the US states the model was looking at, even if it's probably not applicable here in the west of Europe. It's nice to get some positive news on this whole issue, even if it is only applicable there.

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Re: @Doug

I think it's reasonable to assume price drops for technology that is not widespread and should reasonably have some benefit from greater economies of scale, which is true for both wind and solar. Additionally for solar in particular, there is a lot of money being poured into research to make it more efficient and/or cheaper to manufacture beyond those economies of scale. I suppose that's true for wind as well, but the gains from making a better windmill are rather more limited than the gains from making a better solar cell.

On the other hand, I think it is reasonable to assume not only lack of price drops for fossil fuels, but increases in price over time. A considerable amount of money has been applied to it for decades, so there is less chance of a major breakthrough in either finding massive undiscovered reserves, ways to get it out of the ground more easily, or better efficiency from engines, turbines and boilers. There are certainly future breakthroughs possible here, as the fracking revolution demonstrates, but as it is by definition not renewable, it faces continual pricing pressure as every bit you use reduces the amount remaining. It is only if you reduce usage (via efficiency or use of renewable energy) or can increase reserves (by finding more or being able to produce more from existing reserves) that this pricing pressure lets up.

I believe it's safe to make a general assumption that renewable prices will trend down in the future, strongly in the best case and down a little even in the worst case, while non-renewable prices will trend up, strongly in the worst case and down only in the best case possibly due to some major technological advances but more likely simply because we eventually use less of it.

That "using less of it" is kind of the devil in the details for renewable energy. If renewables are "too successful", they make fossil fuels more competitive by reducing their price. We'd need an order of magnitude increase in renewable energy before that even became a possibility, and I think just about everyone except those heavily invested in Exxon or BP stock believes that would be a nice problem to have.

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Meh

Re: @Doug

Doug, fracking DOES massively increase reserves of gas (and less massively for oil IIRC), because those gas deposits were previously thought not to be produceable, and now they are produceable quite cheaply. This has happened already in areas in the US where it has been used, and should similarly happen in other areas of the US and world when fracking is used there. The fact that a given fuel isn't renewable over human timescales doesn't really matter in practice if new supplies are accessed that will last for many decades or even hundreds of years at current consumption rates.

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Coat

Alternative energy AND an alternative plan

Nice to see (at face value at least) a radically alternative strategy. Nice balance to the nay sayers.

Might need my coat for winter though

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alternative energy AND an alternative plan

You'll also need a horse and some hay

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Meh

estimates, models and reality

Uh,huh, another set of modelling and estimates. Proof ? Improving efficiencies, great, but what is not stated is how long are warning lead times to flash up the fallback coal/gas/nuclear units to fill in gaps. If greenies allowed hydro-electric plants short lead times are fine. Coal plants take a long time to fire up, as do current nukes. Gas turbines take a lot less,so would be feasable. Any mention of the cost of keeping this hardware on standby ?

Already NIMBYs are stopping windmill farms and no doubt, solar farms of whatever kind eventually.

Given the unarguable depletion of conventional power fuels, getting cost effective alternative supplies of energy is a sensible priority. However, relying on hope and estimates is not good enough for serious multi-decadal planning. I want engineers doing real sums on real known costs and benefits before getting that most verminous of emotions, enthusiasm, loose in the political sphere. I can't believe I am typing this, but, where are the competent cost accountants/ quantity surveyers and auditors when you need them ?

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Anonymous Coward

15 minutes

The answer is 15 minutes. Gas, no coal, no nuclear. If you can run the grid with 99% renewables you wouldn't use coal or nuclear.

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WTF?

Computer Models!

Why do they need computer models? You simply look up the costs of wind and solar, and you find they are so high they need huge subsidies. Even nuclear is better.

Whose idea was it to use reporters from San Francisco? The Reg has really gone downhill since.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Computer Models!

Genuine question. Which has had the most investment, Nuclear or Solar and Wind power?

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Re: Computer Models!

Genuine answer. Which can guarantee to keep the lights on, Nuclear or Solar and Wind power? Ok, so its a question.

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Re: Computer Models!

Be careful about subsidies. Some of the subsidies for fossil fuel are quite well-hidden. If the pollution causes health problems, who pays that bill? In the British system, everyone ends up paying a little more, even the power generator. In the US system, the power generator hardly pays any of that bill. Either way, you can call it a hidden subsidy, because the power generator doesn't pay anything like the full costs of the pollution.

Yes, I know the customer pays, in the end, but the way it works today, it never gets onto the books, and so the costs of fossil fuel are reduced when making plans.

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Boffin

Re: Computer Models!

Um.. Do you mean 'which has had the most money spent on it?'

That would obviously be Nuclear, because money has been being spent on that since about 1944, while money only started being spent on Solar and Wind in the last few years.

Or do you mean 'which provides the cheapest energy per pound put in?'. That would be Nuclear again, without a doubt.

Or do you mean something else? You should note that, all other things being equal, the most successful, practical and useful method of generating energy will tend to attract most investment...

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Meh

Re: health costs

Natural gas is quite clean, so doesn't cause any significant health problems. Also remember that the benefit to plant growth of increased CO2 starts immediately, while climate consequences take a long time to appear. Thus, on a multi-decadal timescale, fossil fuels benefit world-wide agriculture, and deserve a credit for that if we're going to try to analyze net externalities.

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Mushroom

@DG

Money has been spent on wind power for hundreds of years. Net present value of all those investments from the Middle Ages is probably pretty big by now.

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Re: Computer Models!

"Whose idea was it to use reporters from San Francisco? The Reg has really gone downhill since."

Environmentalism is a religion, a kind of Doomsday Cult. It is probably the most popular religion in San Francisco.

It is Evangelical by nature - the Faithful can't stop preaching, and the Faithful need to keep reassuring each other. Computer models come in very handy since you can "prove" anything with modelling.

The entire article is a triumph of Faith over reason. The giveaway in the headline is "all power" - which implies transportation (air, car) energy will be provided by renewable sources. Battery powered planes and fighter aircraft. Uh, huh.

Leave the Faithful like Rik to their fantasies. They probably can't hear us laughing at them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @DG

>Natural gas is quite clean, so doesn't cause any significant health problems.

Not directly, but it has kept Putin in power in Russia. Natural gas didn't directly lead to a man dying of polonium poisoning over the best part of a month, or a female journalist being shot dead as a birthday present to dear Vladmir...

Okay, we in the UK have other sources of natural gas, as does the US, but much it does give Russia some clout in Europe.

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Re: Computer Models!

>Environmentalism is a religion, a kind of Doomsday Cult. It is probably the most popular religion in San Francisco.

Do you mean that ALL people who are concerned about the issue are zealous nutters? I'm an atheist, yet I do not kill, do not steal, and keep the clean separate from the unclean (food safety). Similarly, I'm not a member of Greenpeace or whatnot, yet if I were a town planner, I would sooner approve a building that was kept at the desired temperature through the use of design and materials over one that relied purely on fuel heating and powered air-conditioning.

Just as there is a lot of common sense in the scriptures, (on how not to get food poisoning, on how not to depress yourself by coveting your neighbour's wife's ass, or creating ill-feeling over the above) there is some common sense in being less wasteful and at least studying potential alternatives. This isn't faith- how long have aluminium smelting plants been built near hydroelectric plants? For decades.

Trying to tar all environmentalists, or even the the yet-undecided, with the same derogatory brush is like comparing your local vicar with Jim Jones of suicide cult infamy or the Spanish Inquisition. Not every concerned citizen is a Swampy, just as not every climate change doubter is a Koch brother. If your argument can be made on it merits, lets hear more of you, and often; but please don't pollute the discussion with name calling.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swampy

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_family

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Computer Models!

@Cartman: ah, those damn San Francisco reporters are not toeing your Conservative party line, eh? For shame, for shame: someone dares to provide an alternative viewpoint!

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Re: Computer Models!

"Do you mean that ALL people who are concerned about the issue are zealous nutters?"

No, that's a straw man argument you invented.

I know sensible environmentalists who are not prepared to sacrifice human welfare for "the planet". Many back nuclear power, for example.

There is also a strand within environmentalism that sees humans as the enemy and wants people to be wiped out, so the planet can survive. There are others who engage in wishful thinking, like the author of this article, and advance dishonest or innumerate arguments for "the cause". This is cult-like, religious, and irrational.

It is you who is trying to tar all environmentalists - try advancing an argument in its merits.

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Anonymous Coward

Spellcheck on Aisle 4!

Rik, you really should run a spell checker on your stuff before you copy and paste it into the CMS. I count several...

Sorry to be pedantic.

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Boffin

I always gotta ask the naysayers... what's the plan? Well-meaning biologists rack their brains to come up with schemes like oil-producing algae, or alcohol-producing bacteria, and they're just like... pssh, that'll never work, but oil lasts forever!

Are they waiting for fusion to pan out, or what?

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Waiting for something that is actually grounded to reality and could possibly work. With this the requirement is a world wide grid requiring all countries in the world to sing Kumbaya in a drum circle,.as a country in the chain could throw everybody else awry. Countries would have to give up their ability to manage their energy policy and have one that everybody will just "play nice", most countries maintain their own oil, coal, etc repositories so when a country starts going crazy it won't throw their country into complete chaos.

That doesn't even go into the possibility of a global wide electrical brown out, which would be a distinct reality. What caused half of the entire US to lose power in 2003? A mistake by a single human forgetting to not restart a monitoring tool in a small powerstation in NY... That small powerstation malfunction caused a ripple affect throughout the entire US. Just recently think about what occurred in India a failure in a relay occurred that ended up taking the power out from over half a billion people.

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@Insanegeek

"With this the requirement is a world wide grid requiring all countries in the world to sing Kumbaya in a drum circle"

...no it isn't.

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@scarshapedstar

"Are they waiting for fusion to pan out, or what?"

There is no plan. But there is also no shortage of hydrocarbon fuel sources, some more difficult to collect than others. Gas hydrates contain unimaginable energy reserves, but we currently don't have a scooby about how to collect it (as we didn't have for shale gas a decade or two back). There's massive coal reserves, particularly offshore, again a few problems around gathering it in (although surmountable at a cost). North American oil shales contain volumes of oil that compare to the Middle East - waiting on a means of getting it. Tar sands and oil sands are viable at present round much of the world, although the EROI is worryingly low with current technologies (meaning that too much energy is used collecting the stuff). Oil producing bacteria are feasible but not at current fuel prices.

When you talk about the naysayers, you seem to assume that everybody likes fossil fuels and wants to use more. On the contrary everybody would be delighted if renewable/sustainable energy were available (even oil companies, because who do you think will run, for example, biofuel synthesis plants?). But at present the technologies we have don't amount to a solution and rather than do more science to get a better solution (and this report isn't science IMHO), the powers that be are building out windmills and solar panels that have no benefits unless we crack the storage problem.

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Boffin

Interesting but...

Just read an article from 1931 describing 1 hour flights from NewYork to Berlin (before WW2 they were good friends) for the public.

Eerst zien, dan geloven! (popular Dutch expression)

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Bronze badge

We should not subsidise any renewable energy projects.

(That is why our costs are going up so much).

Just build lots more fission until we have something better.

The only renewable stuff worth having is stuff like the Aswan Dam.

(I don't really agree with filling the sea with all our junk).

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