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Page added on May 18, 2017

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Can Renewables Power the World?

 

Is the net energy of renewables high enough to actually power human civilization? Or will replacing fossil fuels prove too difficult on an energetic basis? What is the state of the art in net energy analysis, and can biophysical economics yet prove to be policy relevant, and not just an arcane field of study that only interests academics? What’s the trajectory of EROI for various fuels, and what’s the right way to compare them?

If you’ve heard that the net energy of renewables is too low to run society, and that as a result the renewable energy transition is destined to fail…then you need to listen to this interview with net energy researcher Rembrandt Koppelaar and check out his new research. His findings will probably surprise you.

Geek rating: 8

Guest: Rembrandt Koppelaar is a Research Associate at the Institute for Integrated Economic Research (IIER), where he works on spatial supply and demand modelling of resource flows in city-regions within the disciplines known as urban metabolism and energy economics. He is also a doctoral research student at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy, where he is working on improving the accuracy of electricity system simulations. Rembrandt holds an MSc in Development Economics and Management, and a BSc in Economics, both from Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

On Twitter: @R_Koppelaar

On the Web:

Rembrandt’s personal site

Rembrandt’s faculty page at the Imperial College of London

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6 Comments on "Can Renewables Power the World?"

  1. penury on Thu, 18th May 2017 2:08 pm 

    Of course renewable energy can power the world, they have done that for eons. What they cannot do-is power the dreams of humans especially the residents of “first world” nations with dreams of what ever they think is important.

  2. Dredd on Thu, 18th May 2017 2:44 pm 

    The term “renewable energy” is non-sense according to the laws of thermodynamics.

    Not knowing what energy is leads to predicaments.

    Natural, non-toxic fuels is a better term.

    For extra credit, learn where you are (You Are Here).

  3. Cloggie on Thu, 18th May 2017 3:38 pm 

    Koppelaar was one of the folks behind peakoil.nl.

    When that site closed down I moved to this site, Jan 2012.

    Heard him speak on peak oil at Delft university in Holland, probably around 2008, at the same time he had made it to national television wit his peak oil message:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klFtVZ_bs60

    We were all “peak oil = disaster” believers at the time.

  4. Ghung on Thu, 18th May 2017 5:15 pm 

    “”We were all “peak oil = disaster” believers at the time.”

    No Clog, we weren’t. There were plenty of us who thought that society could go on robbing Peter to pay Paul’s fuel bill for quite some time. Peak everything will catch up to civilization at some point, when societies can no longer extend and pretend, then the age of triage will overtake the age of excess, and humanity’s current extreme hubris will fade into history, or we’ll off ourselves for good.

    We’re running out of planet to exploit at current levels, whether or not you choose to admit it.

  5. dave thompson on Fri, 19th May 2017 8:35 am 

    Love this promo bullshyt, become a member and pay us money so you to can be informed first hand about the end of human civilization.

  6. rockman on Fri, 19th May 2017 9:10 am 

    “Or will replacing fossil fuels prove too difficult on an energetic basis?” And once more an example of the “perfect” being the enemy of the “better”. Same old worn out example: Texas alt development. It was never proposed or implemented as a “replacement” for all of our electricity consumption. Forget 100% replacement: it wasn’t developed to abandon even 1 Btu of current fossil fuel sourced power capability. It developed as a substitute for NEW generating capability.

    And not done to “save the planet”. Those investments were made to generate a profit. Which they are obviously doing since the huge build out over the last 10 years has proven it. The example of Georgetown, Texas: though it voted for the entire town (not just government services) to go 100% green with a combination of NEW solar and wind farms it DOES NOT fit the replacement theme: none of the ff powered generation currently supplying the city will be abandoned. The reason those folks voted to pay a HIGHER ABOVE MARKET RATE was to guarantee long term supplies at below market rates. By doing so the economics of the NEW power capacity was sufficient for the PRIVATE investors to generate an acceptable profit.

    Georgetown is substituting alt energy for fossil fuel energy…not replacing that capability: those lignite/NG burners are not being torn down. And doing so for the benefit of consumers and investors. And also for the world: if our alts had not grown every Btu of that NEW capacity would have come from building more fossil fuel fired plants.

    Texas is big and is by far the biggest electricity consuming state. But compare it to China and India and the electricity growth potential of each. And even as alts are growing in China it’s adding to capacity at the same time new coal fired plants are Bering built. And obviously if the alts weren’t being built more fossil fuel fired capacity would be built.

    In that sense Texas and China are the same: both will increase electricity consumption in the future. Just a question of the source.

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