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How clean is ‘clean energy’? Renewables cannot solve the global crisis

Alternative Energy

In this second contribution to our symposium, ‘Pathways to the Post-Carbon Economy’, ecosocialist scholar Saral Sarkar dissects the challenges posed by renewable energy in the context of the environmental crisis of capitalism.

How ‘renewable’, really, are renewable energies?

While we model their feasibility in different ways through scientific studies, do these studies account for the full range of extensive industrial inputs and natural resources required to sustain a renewable energy infrastructure? Do they account for how extensive enough such an infrastructure would need to be to sustain an ever expanding global economy and population, driven by consumerism?

If not, then the answers may involve a much more radical downsizing of business-as-usual than many of us are envisaging.


Aspects and causes of the crisis

The climate crisis is only one aspect of the global crisis. Yet, generally speaking, Western governments, media, politicians, NGOs, and publicists have been trying to make us believe that it is the only dangerous and the only global crisis.

It appears that for them all other crises in the world are only partial or regional problems of secondary importance. But this is a patently reductionist and superficial view of the present global crisis. Consequently, the policies that are being pursued for solving the climate crisis are wrong.

The aforementioned agents of worldwide climate politics plus the UN pressurized nearly all states of the world to sign up to the Paris accord (2015). But no similar global effort is being made to address, let alone solve, the global ecology crisis, the various, seemingly unending civil wars and uprisings in the world, the terrorist attacks of various kinds, increase in crime rates almost everywhere, the unemployment-and-poverty problem in all poor and “developing” countries, and the massive refugee-migrant crises in many parts of the world — in short, the globally growing failed and failing states crisis.

To my mind, this is the right description of the critical state of the world today. The climate crisis is only one part of it, and as a crisis, it is of recent origin. It is, of course, also a major, but not a basic (i.e. deeper), cause of the global crisis.

To justify why I do not consider the climate crisis to be a basic cause of the global crisis, I would like to refer to the present situation in Mexico and Venezuela. They are very advanced candidates for the title “failed state”.

In Mexico, in short, the main cause of this situation is widespread drug-related crimes; in Venezuela it is the totally wrong economic policy of successive governments of a petro-socialist state.

Or take for instance the two cases of South Sudan and Central African Republic. People there are not suffering from any climate-change-related drought or flooding.

Dubious politics of climate politicians

Let us first examine the understanding that climate change is at present the greatest danger to mankind and that, therefore, it should be addressed as the most important task of governments.

Most government leaders and party politicians admit that climate change is a big danger, but they are not prepared to make an all-out effort to avert or mitigate it. Their topmost policy-priority is continuous economic growth.

For stabilizing global warming below two degrees Celsius in the near future, they think it would suffice if the world economy could gradually be made to run on an energy mix of various sources, including some so-called renewables, and that, according to IPCC chief economist Edenhofer,* would not cost the world more than 0.06 percent growth.

But radical climate NGOs and activist groups maintain that the economies of highly industrialized countries such as Germany could run 100% on the basis of ‘renewable energies’. And they say that a rapid replacement of fossil-carbon and nuclear energy industries through renewable energy industries would create many new jobs, thus becoming the main pillar of green growth. They have more or less concrete ideas for the transition, even very detailed action plans for a quick transition to 100% ‘renewables’.

I can here take just one example, only Bill McKibben’s action plan entitled A World at War.(1)

In it he calls for a “war” effort — although “war” is here only a metaphor — as huge as the American military and industrial mobilization for World War II. In naming his enemy, however, McKibben makes the initial big error in analysis. He thinks it is climate change. He imagines this enemy is committing a huge aggression against us. Once he calls it an “enemy as powerful and inexorable as the laws of physics.”

Isn’t it absurd? Any person with some common sense knows that climate change is only the result of global warming. But even global warming cannot be the “enemy”. We know today that it is man-made. For a moment, McKibben also recognized his error. He himself mentions in a half-sentence “our insatiable desires as consumers,” but he does not spell it out as the ultimate cause of the malady.

Anyway, he demanded of the then US government (and its future successors) that it should initiate and organize a huge industrial mobilization to get “a hell of a lot of factories” built in order to turn out “thousands of acres of solar panels, wind turbines the length of football fields, and millions and millions of electric cars and buses.” David Roberts(2) made it vivid:

“Well, have a look at Solar City’s gigafactory, … .It will be the biggest solar manufacturing facility … covering 27 acres, capable of cranking out 10,000 solar panels a day — a gigawatt’s worth in a year. At the height of its transition to WWS [wind, water, solar], the US would have to build around 30 gigafactories a year devoted to solar panels, and another 15 a year for wind turbines. That’s 45 of the biggest factories ever built, every year. That is [even for an American] a mind-boggling pace of building…”

Imagine now the huge amount of shit this gigantic effort would simultaneously produce: the environmental pollution, resource depletion, and waste that has to be dumped somewhere.

We may allow McKibben his war metaphor in the name of poetic license. But if a general makes a wrong analysis of the war situation or, said in the jargon of applied medical science, if the diagnosis is wrong, the strategy or the prescribed medicine may do more harm than good.

McKibben’s prescription, the huge dose of the wrong medicine — i.e. a huge mobilization for the “Third World War” that climate change, he imagines, is waging against us — is actually uncalled-for.

Insight: There can be a much lighter and more effective medicine to cure the severe illness based on his more correct diagnosis, namely his half-sentence “our insatiable desires as consumers”.

Any adherent of the old left (old socialism) of any kind would speak of the capitalists’ insatiable desire for profit and capital accumulation as the main cause of our troubles. She would call upon us to wage class struggle. But McKibben and climate activists like him are not old-leftists. They are not willing to fight against capitalism, but only against climate change.

And this he wants to do, like all past and present old-leftists, by technological means. Blinded by technological optimism, such people believe that a 100% transition to “renewable” energies is possible. They say we need more technology, not less; they assert we could overcome all crises and problems of mankind by means of technology. I already heard in 1984 that the intermittency-and-storage problem of renewable energies can be easily solved, namely by means of batteries and liquid hydrogen.

Critique of technological solutions

Such activists are suffering from some illusions. They appear not to know the most inexorable of all the laws of physics, namely the Second Law of Thermodynamics (AKA the Entropy Law that also applies to matter).

In reality, so-called renewable energies are neither renewable nor clean. One makes this mistake due to a logical error that must be rectified. We have to differentiate between sources of energy and equipments needed to convert them into electricity and heat.

Sunshine, wind, and flowing water are sources that will still be there after Homo sapiens has disappeared from the surface of the earth and will still supply useful energies to the next hominid species– e.g. as driver of sailing boats and as supplier of warmth. So they indeed are renewable and also clean.

But the equipments needed to generate electricity from these sources are made of materials that are nonrenewable. And the energy used to produce these material things comes till today for the most part from fossil-carbon and nuclear fuels, both of which are nonrenewable and dirty.

So how can solar, wind and hydro-electricity be called renewable and clean? And how can electric cars be preferable to combustion engine cars if the batteries made of nonrenewable materials store nonrenewable and unclean electricity?

Moreover, these so-called renewable energies are not viable, although they are feasible. Suppose tomorrow, accepting the demand of the movements, all states decide to leave all the still unextracted fossil and nuclear fuels in the ground. How will then the said equipments be manufactured/built?

And the equipments that have already been manufactured/built and are supplying electricity have a lifespan of 20–30 years. When they are no longer working and must be replaced, the second generation thereof cannot be manufactured/built, because then, we shall not have any fossil or nuclear energy to be used. Either the fossil-carbon and nuclear fission materials are exhausted or our governments have decided to leave them in the ground.

To make the point clear, let me quote an impatient discussant, who, using the pseudonym “foodstuff”, put the following questions to protagonists of the so-called renewable energies:

“I still want to know if the following can be done:

1. Mine the raw materials using equipment powered by solar panels.
2. Transport and convert metal ores, e.g. bauxite-aluminum, using equipment run by solar panels and in a factory built using the energy from solar panels.
3. Make the finished panels in a factory run by solar panels, including building and maintaining the factory.
4. Transport, install and maintain the solar panels using equipment running on solar panels.
All this is presently being done [mainly] with the energy from fossil fuels. How will it be done when they are gone?”(3)

EROEI

Protagonists of 100% “renewable energies” say: we must use a large part of the generated renewable energies for producing the equipment needed for producing the second generation of equipment for producing renewable energies. And so it will go on and on.

Here comes the crucial question of EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Invested or energy balance). Assuming that the first generation equipments do produce some net energy, i.e. EROEI is positive, how large is the amount of this net energy?

Let us remember, hundreds of millions of households and enterprises producing consumer goods will first consume electricity from this source. Will there be anything left for investing in production of all the equipments, i.e. producing and reproducing everything necessary for running an industrial economy?

There is no certainty in this question. Many experts who tried to measure it expressed doubt that the EROEI of solar energy technology is positive. Why is the matter so uncertain?

The gross ER (energy return) part of the question is easy to answer, and correctly, if you have a good meter attached to the solar panel. But how do you measure the EI (energy invested) part of the question? What the experts do is actually guesstimating. Here bias starts playing a role. So I answer the question in a different, and I think more convincing, way:

Since almost all raw materials and energy that are until today used to produce the required equipments are nonrenewable, the old mines and wells of the same gradually get exhausted. Miners must then go to ever remoter and ever more difficult places to extract them out of new mines/wells. That means, energy invested (EI) in fuels and minerals progressively increases. That means EI — not only for energy equipments but also for any industrial product — continuously increases.

Remember, we are not talking of prices and money costs which depend on many variable factors, but of EI, of energy cost of a product. For example, money cost of production of solar panels would fall further, and hence also their price, if production is transferred from China to, say, Bangladesh, where wages are lower than in China.

In case of minerals such as copper and nickel we are digging deeper and deeper and going to ever hotter and icy-colder deserts and polar regions. The copper mine of Chuquicamata in Chile’s Atacama desert is in the meantime so deep that the big heavy trucks that bring the ore to the surface can only be seen like toys down below.

For oil, we are since long boring in deep seabed. Recently, geologists have found a mountain containing huge quantities of extremely rare cadmium telluride, the material that can greatly increase the efficiency of solar cells. But it stands at a depth of 1,000 meters down in the Atlantic Ocean.

If that is the objective situation, no small innovation improving the ER side can, I think, in the long run offset the trend of rising energy costs (EI). For such small innovations cannot overcome the two cosmological constants involved here, namely 1. the intensity of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth at any particular place, and 2. the fact that the sun does not shine in the night.(4)

Conclusion–Perspective on a Future Sustainable Society

I hope now it has become clear to my readers that “renewable energies” cannot play any role in solving the multifaceted global crisis of today and that, on the contrary, investing in these technologies is a waste of time, effort, energy and, most important of all, scarce resources.

If scientists and engineers were honest, they should say that the only really renewable and clean sources of energy, apart from our own physical energy, are wood and other biomass products for fire, wind for sailing boats and wind mills, and flowing water in rivers and streams for water mills — the last two only for generating kinetic energy. And, if we are prepared to exploit other living beings, then also the muscle power of domestic animals.

Humanity has lived for thousands of years with only such energies. In a not so distant future, we may well have to be satisfied with that. But that would be impossible with over 9 billion of us. Let me quote here an impossibility theorem that I formulated some time ago:

It is impossible to fulfill the continuously growing “needs”, demands, wishes, aspirations and ambitions of a continuously growing world population while our resource base is continuously dwindling and the ability of nature to absorb man-made pollution is continuously diminishing. It is a lunatic idea that in a finite world infinite growth is possible.

Our top-priority political tasks today and for a transition period of uncertain duration would therefore be

a) to start a massive campaign for a population control program with the long-term goal of bringing down the world population of homo sapiens to, say, two billions;

b) a campaign for reducing consumption simultaneously with a campaign against the growth ideology;

c) propagating alternative conceptions of peaceful human societies (my own preference is an eco-socialist society);

d) a campaign to let forests and the number of wild animals expand.

These are very broadly defined tasks. Details need to be worked out, which however can only be done if many people show interest.

Medium



46 Comments on "How clean is ‘clean energy’? Renewables cannot solve the global crisis"

  1. boat on Sat, 29th Jul 2017 4:21 pm 

    Keeping the proper air pressure in your tires, using Led lights and changing your air conditioner filter will not solve the global crisis either. But it makes sense. Did greggiet write this trash??

    “I hope now it has become clear to my readers that “renewable energies” cannot play any role in solving the multifaceted global crisis of today and that, on the contrary, investing in these technologies is a waste of time, effort, energy and, most important of all, scarce resources”.

    There are areas that make wind the cheapest btu going. Texas has one big ass independent electric market that loves wind. A large Texas advantage is cheap nat gas to go along with it. As time goes by coal market share will continue to dwindle. Btw solar in Texas is taking off. Did you know the oil capital of the world, (Houston), receantly reached 50 percent renewable for electricity. 11 cent per kw.
    Renewables cannot save the world from climate effects but a much better source for energy where it works. In Texas it’s working. Kansas and Oklahoma are sprouting turbines like weeds.

  2. Outcast_Searcher on Sat, 29th Jul 2017 4:43 pm 

    Regardless of the naysayers and the fossil fuel providers that funds the bulk of them, solar and wind are highly renewable compared to fossil fuels.

    And it appears that they’re in their early days re efficiency, and so can and should get much better.

    So making the imperfect the enemy of the good is a popular doomer hobby, but it’s silly.

    Will any one technology solve all problems in the face of BAU growth (especially if the growth isn’t moderated or stopped at some point)? No.

    Will technologies like solar and wind help greatly over time, if coupled with some restraint on growth as problems like AGW become more apprent? Yes.

    So less complaining and more doing would be the prudent course. Both for voters and the politicians they support.

  3. boat on Sat, 29th Jul 2017 5:17 pm 

    One of the stupidest arguments against wind is some fear that wind over capacity costs money. That’s like blaming a 2×4 stud for being installed wrong.

  4. Harquebus on Sat, 29th Jul 2017 5:22 pm 

    Money costs nothing for those who conjure it.

    “Renewable energy sources are often advocated for their low CO2 emissions at point of use, but the overall product lifecycle is often forgotten about completely. In addition, many chemical products are needed in mining operations, leading to severe long-term pollution.”
    http://climateandcapitalism.com/2016/09/30/are-renewables-really-environmentally-friendly/

    “in other words, if there were only ‘green’ sources of electricity, there would be no grid.”
    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/02/absolution-deceit-and-renewables/

    “Clean energy extracts resources from the earth. What’s clean about that? Clean energy production causes emissions of greenhouse gases, produces toxic waste, and uses up water and electricity. There’s no way you can get around burning fossil fuels and depleting the living planet while producing and transporting these “clean energy” alternatives.”
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/03/the-sacred-c-words/

  5. Kevin Cobley on Sat, 29th Jul 2017 8:58 pm 

    Conservation is the greatest energy resource, too many people live in oversized housing, when cities should be compact English style row housing in walkable neighbourhoods where mass transit is the only transport option.
    Cars are killing the world, that’s including “Electric Cars” whose resource requirements are no different to oil powered cars and suggest that overconsuming lifestyles can be continued with new technologies. The truth is overconsuming lifestyles are going to end in mass death.

  6. jan on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 3:14 am 

    What would replace the fuel to power these beasts?

    http://newatlas.com/shipping-pollution/11526/

    Buy my calculation the 13 million acres of corn planted in the U.S. would power these vessels for only 16 days.

  7. Antius on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 6:10 am 


    Any adherent of the old left (old socialism) of any kind would speak of the capitalists’ insatiable desire for profit and capital accumulation as the main cause of our troubles. She would call upon us to wage class struggle. But McKibben and climate activists like him…’

    She?

  8. Cloggie on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 6:31 am 

    The author is an Indian German language teacher who migrated to Germany and joined the Greens Party. But left the party again after it had become too right-wing (after it joined government and had to compromise).

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saral_Sarkar

    And how he is telling us that we should reintroduce that shabby Soviet plan-economy again. Why don’t you go back to that shabby India of yours, mr Sarkal and introduce central planning there.

    There is nothing wrong about capitalism as a system to generate wealth. In fact it is too successful, because capitalism refuses to take the environment into account.

    The way forward is a TAMED form of capitalism and the taming can only be done by the government. In fact industry doesn’t object against imposed rules, as long as they apply to all parties operating on a given market.

    A good example is the renewable energy policy of the EU. Industry doesn’t protest at all. In the US there is even industry opposition against the pro-fossil measures of the Trump government.

    It is very well possible to have “green capitalism” within government regulations regarding the environment and climate.

    We have seen rather government intervention in Europe regarding “acid rain”, cleaning up of rivers (French kali-dumping practices), ozon layer protection, catalysts in cars, recycling, etc., etc.

    Central planning is NOT the answer.

  9. Antius on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 11:14 am 

    ‘It is impossible to fulfill the continuously growing “needs”, demands, wishes, aspirations and ambitions of a continuously growing world population while our resource base is continuously dwindling and the ability of nature to absorb man-made pollution is continuously diminishing. It is a lunatic idea that in a finite world infinite growth is possible.’

    This statement is essentially correct and no one in their right mind can really deny its logic. But it is difficult to see how a global population reduction programme and global powerdown programme could ever be politically possible or desirable for the people involved.

    From the viewpoint of renewable energy, the one economic advantage that it does have over fossil and nuclear, is its availability everywhere. A house or village powered by the wind or sun could feasibly do away with the grid. That is a big energy investment in itself. For any sort of renewable energy future to be even possible given its inherently poorer EROI, the system architecture must play to its strengths.

  10. Sissyfuss on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 11:51 am 

    Clogscot, if it nae growth, it is nae Capitalism.

  11. Cloggie on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 12:59 pm 

    A group of people sitting together and writing a new operating system doesn’t eat any resources, but definitely counts as economic growth.

    Not all economic activity goes hand in hand with consuming more kWh’s, barrels of oil, tons of steel, concrete, glass, etc.

    There is such a thing as “nice lightweight” economic growth.

  12. onlooker on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 1:32 pm 

    Yes Clog but not all economic growth reflects benefits for people. Creation of jails, drug clinics, more police, cleanup/restoration activity after natural disasters all get computed as part of GDP and hence economic growth

  13. Antius on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 2:51 pm 

    Trouble is you have to pay those people. And they have the annoying habit of wanting to spend that money on all sorts of goods and services.

    Also, the operating system will presumably be produced to operate something. Something that consumes energy. On a global level if you plot GDP against energy consumption, it is basically a linear function that intercepts the y-axis at zero. That’s an inconvenient truth that basically ensures that more expensive energy means less wealth in the long run.

  14. Lucifer on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 3:29 pm 

    Just accept it, most of you are all doomed.

  15. boat on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 5:39 pm 

    clog,

    “There is nothing wrong about capitalism as a system to generate wealth. In fact it is too successful, because capitalism refuses to take the environment into account”.
    Thats a box of rocks statement normally made by a doomer.
    First of all any dollar spent on your so called green capitalisn is still plain o’l capitalism. The contraceptive industry and planting trees are capitalist dollars. And of course the list goes on. Clean up how you your words unless you want to sound like mak.

  16. Sissyfuss on Sun, 30th Jul 2017 8:36 pm 

    Luci in the sky with diamonds, can’t some of us be partly doomed. Feels right to me.

  17. Antius on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 5:30 am 

    Boat et al, out of interest, what would you define Capitalism to actually mean?

    Different people seem to have a different idea as to what this means.

  18. Davy on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 5:51 am 

    “Alphabet Wants to Fix Renewable Energy’s Storage Problem — With Salt”
    “The latest idea from the X `moonshot factory’ is code named Malta”
    http://tinyurl.com/y74zqbn6

    “Two tanks are filled with salt, and two are filled with antifreeze or a hydrocarbon liquid. The system takes in energy in the form of electricity and turns it into separate streams of hot and cold air. The hot air heats up the salt, while the cold air cools the antifreeze, a bit like a refrigerator. The jet engine part: Flip a switch and the process reverses. Hot and cold air rush toward each other, creating powerful gusts that spin a turbine and spit out electricity when the grid needs it. Salt maintains its temperature well, so the system can store energy for many hours, and even days, depending on how much you insulate the tanks. Scientists have already proven this as a plausible storage technique. Malta’s contribution was to design a system that operates at lower temperatures so it doesn’t require specialized, expensive ceramics and steels. “The thermodynamic physics are well-known to anyone who studied it enough in college,” Green said. “The trick is doing it at the right temperatures, with cheap materials. That is super compelling.”

  19. Davy on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 5:53 am 

    “Meet Bollinger Motors’ B1: the first EV off-road truck”
    http://tinyurl.com/y9j43hhq

    “This week saw the announcement of the world’s first all-electric sport utility truck (SUT). But it didn’t come from Tesla or any of the major car manufactures. It’s called the B1 and it’s made by Bollinger Motors, a small startup in upstate New York. With looks that fall somewhere between the Land Rover Defender and a classic Jeep Wrangler, the minimal, boxy truck is capable of 200 miles of off-roading range.”

  20. Cloggie on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 6:15 am 

    Davy is gradually moving into the realm of positive thinking!

  21. Davy on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 6:32 am 

    If only you could move closer to reality and sobriety we could claim victory.

  22. Antius on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 7:10 am 

    Thanks Davy. I think thermal energy storage will ultimately be a better solution than pumped storage for grid balancing.

    It can be employed in any topography (pumped storage is a poor choice without a high head reservoir) and is also much more energy dense: 1kg of water lifted through a head of 2km contains ~20KJ of potential energy, whereas 1kg of salt heated to melting point contains about 500KJ of stored thermal energy. It should therefore be cheaper to build and crucially, it scales much better, as it can be built anywhere and much more quickly, with lower upfront cost.

    The downside is that this is generally a less efficient means of storing energy – it is difficult to build a heat engine that is more than 50% efficient. An S-CO2 power conversion cycle is usually more efficient and more compact than a steam cycle, but to get thermal efficiency of 50%, inlet temperature must be at least 600C. To minimise pumping losses, it is advantageous to transfer heat over the greatest possible thermal range – i.e. a cryogenic cold store and a molten salt hot store. But finding a heat transfer fluid that can work over such a large temperature range is another challenge. I always thought this would make a brilliant phd project.

  23. Cloggie on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 8:03 am 

    I think thermal energy storage will ultimately be a better solution than pumped storage for grid balancing.

    Why OR and not AND?

    Hydro-storage for excess wind and solar electricity. Advantage: high round-trip efficiency of 80%

    Seasonal thermal storage for output from solar collectors (not to be confused with panels).

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/merits-seasonal-heat-storage-breakthrough/

    And since roof space in western Europe is scarce we are going to apply hybrid solar and exploit every little photon that hits the roof:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/hybrid-solar/

    Thermal + electricity from a single panel.

    The possibility of seasonal storage of heat could imply a comeback of the good old solar collector, if necessary in combination with a electric heat pump.

    I visited Intersolar Europe in Munich twice over the last few years…

    https://www.intersolar.de/en/home.html

    …and noticed that it is all solar panels these days and hardly and thermal collector. A pity.

  24. Kenz300 on Mon, 31st Jul 2017 10:01 am 

    How clean are fossil fuels? They are NOT.
    If they added the price of the clean up and the damage to health and the environment to the cost of fossil fuels no one would buy them.

    Wind and solar are safer, cleaner and cheaper than fossil fuels.

  25. GregT on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 12:42 am 

    “Wind and solar are safer, cleaner and cheaper than fossil fuels.”

    Wind turbines, solar panels, all of the gadgets that we use electricity for, and the grid itself, are all products manufactured, distributed, installed, and maintained with fossil fuel energy.

    If anyone has any evidence proving the above statement to be incorrect, please provide it. Otherwise, STFU already.

  26. Cloggie on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 1:14 am 

    If anyone has any evidence proving the above statement to be incorrect, please provide it. Otherwise, STFU already.

    Greg, can I ask you to give me an idea of the level of your formal education.

    And additionally to name me one energy expert (professor level) who claims what you keep stubbornly claiming, namely that we can’t have a 100% renewable energy base as pursued by the EU and supported by European academia and industry? If not, STFU already.

    Prof Hohmeyer:
    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/norway-europes-green-battery/

    Prof Sinke:
    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/prof-sinke-100-renewable-energy-base-feasible-in-2050/

    Mark Jacobson (Stanford) & Christopher Clack:
    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/is-a-100-renewable-energy-base-possible/

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/scotlands-generates-124-wind-electricity-jan-jun-2017/

    Scotland 124% electricity. Huh? Don’t these Scots know that that isn’t possible according to the “GregT First Law Of Doomerism”.

  27. Makati1 on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 1:31 am 

    Cloggie, it is just pure logic that something that depends on FF to exist cannot stand alone, ever.

    You can ref any academic you want but they are all being paid to say what their employee wants said. All of them. What are they invested in? Corporations that make windmills? Solar panels? Installation companies? You ALWAYS have to follow the money trail. ALWAYS. The one who writes the checks that buys their food and pays their bills, is the clue, be it corporation, university, or government.

  28. Cloggie on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 1:47 am 

    Cloggie, it is just pure logic that something that depends on FF to exist cannot stand alone, ever.

    But you are not going to demonstrate that “pure logic”, right?

    Try to get real energy experts here, like nuke-man Antius or oil-man Rockman say that 100% renewable energy is not possible, although both have ZERO professional interest in seeing renewable energy work in their professional lifetime.

    Makati, I am a programmer and not paid by anybody to blog about renewable energy in a positive way (my bank is open for anybody to fund it.lol). Every oil major will admit that (conventional) fossil fuel will be running out this century and that renewable energy will take over, despite the fact that oil funds his paycheck. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden even goes so far to demonstrably drive in an e-vehicle and set his company partially on a renewable energy course! He wouldn’t do that if he saw no future in renewable energy.

    Europe is the origin of science and technology. Leave it to us to get the job done.

  29. Makati1 on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 2:24 am 

    Cloggie, If something depends on something else to exist, and you claim it doesn’t, there is no way to get past your mental block so why try?

    “A man convinced against his will
    Is of the same opinion still” – Dale Carnegie 1936

  30. Makati1 on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 2:29 am 

    Sorry Cloggie, science and tech is past history for Europe. Both Russia and China are way ahead.

    See above quote.

    As for oil running out in this century, so is the human species. End of story. No oil need next century as anyone who survives will be hunter/gatherers. Tech will be junk rotting all over the world. If we don’t commit nuclear suicide, Mother Nature will finish us off. You or I will not be there to see it.

  31. Cloggie on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 2:43 am 

    Sorry Cloggie, science and tech is past history for Europe. Both Russia and China are way ahead.

    That’s ridiculous. They can hardly produce cars and planes. China is a cheap labor factory. They produce their panels with factories bought in the West.

    As for oil running out in this century, so is the human species. End of story.

    That’s just a dogma. You, Greg, Davy and other self-described “students of collapse” have embraced they idea of human extinction like others have embraced Allah or Jesus. It’s all faith-based. No proof necessary.

  32. Makati1 on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 4:31 am 

    Cloggie, i am beginning to believe the other’s claims that you are becoming senile. You certainly are not rational about your dreams of a Techie Europe. Not even close.

    China currently has the fastest super computer in the world, bar none. Not a sign of stupidity. They also have carrier killer missiles and many many satellites looking down on you. Your claim holds no weight.

    Denial of global warming is also a sign of losing intelligence. Look around old man. The signs are everywhere. I don’t have to read articles to see the changes since my youth or the recent increase of super storms, droughts, etc. Do you know any real science or only ones and zeros? Faith based techie dogma is your world, not mine. LOL

  33. Cloggie on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 5:27 am 

    Makati, you are starting to look like Davy; if somebody comes up with opinions you don’t like, launch the “senility” diagnosis.

    Nobody says that the Chinese are stupid. They have 1-2 carriers? Everybody has them. Even tiny Holland had two, until they sold them.

    Your claim holds no weight.

    Which claims? That they can hardly produce a car or plane? They have nothing like Boeing or Airbus. Or Volkswagen, Nissan, GM, etc.

    Russian contribution to renewable energy: ZERO.

    Largest exporter in the world? Germany, not China with 15 times more people.

    Chinese minimum wage:

    (converted in euro)
    France……9.76
    Holland…..9.52
    Belgium…..9.28
    Germany…..8.84
    UK……….8.79

    Canada……7.64
    USA………6.84

    China…….1.78
    Russia……0.62

    Give me a break with your China. They produce a lot of junk and more CO2 than EU and America combined.

    Denial of global warming is also a sign of losing intelligence. Look around old man.

    You are ten years older than me.lol

    Nowhere do I deny global warming. But I have burned myself once before by giving faith to extreme hard-core North-American doomers like Heinberg, Davy, Greg and you (not to mention the ApneaTurd) and their peak-oil and excessive climate change baloney. North-Americans project the doom they correctly feel coming for North-America (for demographic reasons) upon the rest of the world and sell it as face-saving peak-oil and climate doom.

    super storms, droughts

    Oh please. Storms and droughts have been with us throughout history.

    This place is a cult, filled with half-educated laymen and personal psychological issues, projecting their nihilistic inner depressions onto the world.

  34. Hello on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 5:30 am 

    >>>> He wouldn’t do that if he saw no future in renewable energy

    Come on now, Clog.
    It’s a CEO. A CEO always spouts news of grandour, can-do, growth, number #1, best-in-class, etc, etc. And since ‘green’ is cool nowadays, and coal is not, he hopps on the wagon. Very predictable.

    On the funny side:
    The CEO of a Californian high tech company I used to work for spouted in his last ‘all-hands-meeting’ that the company is practically number #1 in all categories, and where it’s not it sure is on its way to becoming number 1.

    2 quarter later the company was bankrupt.
    But the CEO seems to have gotten away with a bag of cash, that’s for sure.

  35. Antius on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 5:59 am 

    ‘Scotland 124% electricity. Huh? Don’t these Scots know that that isn’t possible according to the “GregT First Law Of Doomerism”.’

    Cloggie, for the umpteenth time, Scotland does not get 124% of its electricity from renewable energy – not even close. Wind turbines located in Scotland dump intermittent electricity onto the UK grid that is equivalent (in raw KWh terms) to 124% of consumption within Scotland. Demand in England is so much larger, that it is possible for CCGT plants located there to curtail output to accommodate this. Possible, but not economically beneficial, as those plants lose market share and fuel is only about one-third of their operating costs.

    Presenting Scotland as some sort of gold standard for a 100% renewable energy economy is highly misleading. The lions share of electricity consumed within Scotland is generated by nuclear power and coal, in that order, with relatively minor contributions from wind and hydro. You can get exact figures from Euan Mearns website.

    Even that is not the end of the problem, as electricity cannot power transport or heating requirements without massive changes to technology and infrastructure. These changes would more than double electricity requirements and demand would become more variable, both on a daily and seasonal basis. For densely populated European countries, it is doubtful that sufficient affordable resources exist for a renewable energy future at present levels of energy consumption per capita.

    In short, we are nowhere near being able to implement a 100% renewable based energy system. It doesn’t matter how much you and others believe in it. There are fundamental problems that prevent this from being an affordable solution in anything like the world we presently live in.

  36. Davy on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 6:11 am 

    “And additionally to name me one energy expert (professor level) who claims what you keep stubbornly claiming, namely that we can’t have a 100% renewable energy base as pursued by the EU and supported by European academia and industry?”

    Clog, you are not there yet. You have a long ways to go. The hardest part is ahead. Your Eurotard economy is a shambles that you falsely talk up with manipulated and messaged numbers. Where is it written that with all these challenges a renewable transition will occur? Where is it written that the global economy AND the European economy can maintain affluence? You may get a ways more but 100% is unrealistic considering the demands of modernity and the need for a potent economic component to the global economy. It is the affluence of the global economy that makes all this possible. Your Europe can’t go it alone even though you think Eurotards are giants. I am not saying the renewable revolution does not have legs. I am not saying it is not a good trend. I am here to say Europeans are admirable setting their sights on these lofty goal. What I am saying is be realistic and quit your bragging and fake green talk.

  37. Davy on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 6:17 am 

    “Makati, you are starting to look like Davy; if somebody comes up with opinions you don’t like, launch the “senility” diagnosis.”

    One thing is true you and makat are off the deep end in embellishments, extremism, bigotry, pressured agendas, and fantasy futures. So ya, I call that two old men drifting into senility. I will say you have a longer way to go clog to get as bad as makat. At least you have manners and a polite disposition.

  38. Davy on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 6:19 am 

    “Cloggie, for the umpteenth time, Scotland does not get 124% of its electricity from renewable energy – not even close.”

    Cloggie, Antius is one of the more accredited people here so listen to him. I am a finance guy turned permaculturalist and you and IT programmer with an Alt E obsession. Listen to an expert in the energy field.

  39. Antius on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 6:22 am 

    ‘Cloggie, it is just pure logic that something that depends on FF to exist cannot stand alone, ever.

    But you are not going to demonstrate that “pure logic”, right?

    Try to get real energy experts here, like nuke-man Antius or oil-man Rockman say that 100% renewable energy is not possible, although both have ZERO professional interest in seeing renewable energy work in their professional lifetime.’

    Cloggie, I have no professional interest in anything on these blogs. Nothing anyone says here will make much difference in the real world. The things I say here, I say because I think they are true and I have an interest in continuing to eat and stay warm in the years to come – I don’t get paid to be a keyboard warrior. Everyone here has the same motivation and speaks from their own point of view, based upon what they believe, what they have seen and heard.

    So far as using renewable energy to make new renewable energy is concerned, you are correct that it is not physically impossible. There is no reason why it would be in principle at least. But at present, large amounts of oil and natural gas are used in mining and beneficiating ores. Natural gas and coal are used to reduce those ores into metals. Largely non-renewable electric power is used to power electric furnaces, that convert raw iron into high grade steel. More electricity and natural gas is used in casting and machining components. Large amounts of oil are used for transportation at all stages, including final assembly.

    In theory, we could carry out all of these processes using electricity derived from renewable sources, assuming you find a way to properly balance the grid. But we are a long way from that right now.

    Also, if 100% renewable electricity were used to manufacture renewable energy power plants, the cost of those powerplants would be higher than they presently are, simply because grid-balanced renewable energy is inevitably more expensive (you need 3.5 powerplants instead of just one).

    So in answer to your question, it is possible in principle, but would require large scale systematic changes to every part of the economy to make it possible and would not deliver the cost structure that we see at present. If a balanced renewable energy grid has too low EROI, it may turn out to be technically impossible – that is to say, impossible in practice.

  40. Davy on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 6:34 am 

    Antius gave the physical side of the theoretical story of 100% energy transition. I am showing an example of the financial side in the bellow reference. Europe is sick financially just like China and the US. Is Europe strong enough economically to do something so large and expensive? I am not saying no or yes. I am saying sobriety is in order both physically and economically. As you can see Antius and I agree on this.

    “Europe’s Banking Dysfunction Worsens”
    http://tinyurl.com/ycuvp9os

    “While some Wall Street analysts are encouraging investors to jump into EU bank stocks, the fact is that there remains nearly €1 trillion in bad loans within the European banking system. This represents 6.7% of the EU economy, according to a report and action plan considered by EU finance ministers earlier this month. That compares with non-performing loans (NPL) ratios in the US and Japan of 1.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product, respectively.”

  41. Makati1 on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 7:29 am 

    Cloggie, I AM an old man. So are you. I am an EX greedy, narcissistic, spoiled American and am proud that it is EX, not actual.

    I also do not dream of an impossible techie future like you seem to. It’s ain’t going to happen. It defies the laws of physics in so many ways. You might want to read:

    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/12/machines-making-machines-making.html

    I don’t need to defend reality. It just is, whether you accept it or not. Some here do and understand. Some are deep in denial and will suffer for that belief.

    I like my life. I earned it. I will enjoy it until the end and be happy. No debt. No taxes. No responsibilities. Good friends and family. Good health, A great country to live in. Sufficient resources, etc. I wish you the same.

  42. Cloggie on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 7:43 am 

    Cloggie, for the umpteenth time, Scotland does not get 124% of its electricity from renewable energy – not even close. Wind turbines located in Scotland dump intermittent electricity onto the UK grid that is equivalent (in raw KWh terms) to 124% of consumption within Scotland.

    Are you saying these figures are false?

    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/24/record-june-wind-yields-record-six-months-scotland-wind-energy/

    Look, I’m perfectly willing to admit that this is “raw intermittent power” and that a lot of hurdles need to be taken until the 100%-renewable energy Nirwana has been achieved. But he, this is 2017 and we have given ourselves the time until 2050 (I think it could be achieved much earlier).

    It took us 22 years to set up a global encompassing info-network, the very network we are now using to exchange information and ideas (and insults.lol).

    We have 33 years time to get a carbon-free energy system working, of which all the ingredients basically already exist. It needs to be tied together, production processes needs to be optimized, EROEI, not so much efficiency needs to go up and we need to get storage working, the real remaining bottleneck.

    I’m telling you, it’s going to work.

  43. Cloggie on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 7:55 am 

    Cloggie, I AM an old man. So are you. I am an EX greedy, narcissistic, spoiled American and am proud that it is EX, not actual.

    Perhaps, but only 10 years less so.lol I’m a proud European, with every passing year increasingly so, who smells that the geopolitical wind is turning and that a “new dawn” for Europe and European America is possible and should be pursued. I’m thrilled at the engineering challenge ahead of us, on par with the Moonlanding project, only this time more useful.

    I know the @sunweber link and I have to reject its conclusions. A renewable energy base is very well possible, including for mining machines. Shortages of materials can be addressed with radical recycling or using alternatives.

    I like my life. I earned it. I will enjoy it until the end and be happy. No debt. No taxes. No responsibilities. Good friends and family. Good health, A great country to live in. Sufficient resources, etc. I wish you the same.

    Same here, no hard feelings, neither to you or the rest.

    (tomorrow we are going to throw cream pies at each other regardless.lol)

  44. Davy on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 7:56 am 

    Talk cloggie. You sound like the faithful at he local church.

  45. Davy on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 7:58 am 

    Makat, reread your comment and try to tell me it is not narcissistic. All you do is brag about yourself and bash others as bellow you. Tell me that is not a spoiled brat.

  46. Antius on Wed, 2nd Aug 2017 10:39 am 

    “Antius gave the physical side of the theoretical story of 100% energy transition. I am showing an example of the financial side in the bellow reference. Europe is sick financially just like China and the US. Is Europe strong enough economically to do something so large and expensive? I am not saying no or yes. I am saying sobriety is in order both physically and economically. As you can see Antius and I agree on this.
    “Europe’s Banking Dysfunction Worsens”
    http://tinyurl.com/ycuvp9os
    “While some Wall Street analysts are encouraging investors to jump into EU bank stocks, the fact is that there remains nearly €1 trillion in bad loans within the European banking system. This represents 6.7% of the EU economy, according to a report and action plan considered by EU finance ministers earlier this month. That compares with non-performing loans (NPL) ratios in the US and Japan of 1.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product, respectively.”

    Thanks Davy. I would never describe myself as an energy expert. I am a safety engineer by trade and although I have received training in nuclear and energy systems engineering, for most of my career to date I have worked in the naval defence sector. Contrary to Cloggie’s assumption that I patronise the nuclear industry because I have financial interests in it, the reality is that I do not at present work in it and my qualifications could get me work in most industries, including his beloved renewable energy industries.

    I think energy economics always aligns with financial economics, because finance measures the amount of work done within an economy, which is a function of work-energy expended. There are complications that mean that EROI alone does not necessarily account for financial effects of long construction delays in capital intensive projects and EROI calculations do not always include energy cost of labour, which is basically a function of GDP per capita and energy expenditure per capita in that country. This means that EROI calculations sometimes fail to include inputs that they should, not that the methodology itself is faulty.

    The fundamental reason why I do not believe a 100% renewable energy economy is workable for the world today is poor EROI in a balanced system. The problem that we face is that modern society and all of its systems and infrastructure were built on a base of high EROI fossil energy. High EROI energy makes it easy for an economy to grow, because for each new increment of energy production only a tiny proportion needs to be reinvested in the energy supply to maintain production. That means a huge surplus is available for investment in new growth, scientific research, sedentary populations and plenty remains for generating wealth that people can consume. What is more, at high EROI, any energy invested in new energy leads to high returns and therefore high growth, at relatively little cost.

    If EROI declines, this bountiful arrangement is turned on its head. Up to a certain point, average living standards may decline as the resources needed to maintain the energy supply are withdrawn from other uses. Growth becomes difficult, because the energy resources needed to invest in expanding the economy must compete with maintenance of infrastructure needed to maintain the status quo. To make matters worse, any energy invested in new energy produces poor returns. Eventually the point is reached where the energy returns from a system with declining EROI are no longer sufficient to allow society to continue. At that point, collapse occurs. For most people, the breaking point will be when they can no longer afford food, which is a substantial part of a family budget even in the developed world.

    I am opposed to large scale development of intermittent renewable energy because it cannot achieve high EROI and therefore cannot save billions from poverty and starvation. From our point of view, pouring money into these technologies as a replacement for fossil fuels is a fatal mistake; a diversion into a dead end. Nuclear power is the only alternative high EROI energy source to fossil fuels that we know of at present. We need to prioritise its development and expand it as an energy supply as quickly as possible, before we get too close to the Seneca cliff.

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