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The Challenges & Opportunities in the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy

Post Carbon Institute Fellows Richard Heinberg and David Fridley gave a joint presentation to the Security & Sustainability Forum—to share the key findings and takeaways that emerged from the analysis they conducted to co-author Our Renewable Future.

34 Comments on "The Challenges & Opportunities in the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy"

  1. Cloggie on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 7:09 am 

    Talking about shortening the supply lines… when I grew up in the early sixties the only fruit I ever got were apples and pears. No banana’s, pine apple, grapes and other exotics, just local produce.

    In 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, many ordinary East-Germans tasted banana’s for the first time, handed out by the West-German government, leading to crude jokes about “Zonen Gaby and her first banana”.

    East-German joke: “How can you use a banana as a compass? / Place a banana on the Berlin Wall. The bitten end would point East.”

    Morale: you can grow up fine with local produce.

  2. Davy on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 7:49 am 

    “Our Renewable Future.” That future is going to be anything but shiny and comfortable. It is going to be about adaptation and hardship. Economically it will be about managing dysfunction and salvaging the best of the modern and innovating that into how we used to do things. How we used to do things was local and mechanical. It was human and animal power.

    This should be a no-brainer. Where it becomes an issue is those who think we can have it all. They think we can transition to a false energy future. They feel this transition will allow for us to adapt to abrupt climate change and the tandem extinction event. Part of this green techno fantasy is the feeling population will be irrelevant because of development and education. On the racist side there is the feeling the 3rd world will be walled off and they will die off. This is fantasy that is cracking at all levels. We are going to see unstoppable mass migrations. Yet, the end of affluence and the ability to move will also come into play. Why migrate if the destination is not good. Take away modern transport and many can’t do the journey anyway.

    I am going to stick to my thinking that an alternative future is in the immediate. It is a worthy activity. It offers excellent survival opportunities. Alternative energy is one of 1000 things needed to be done in a very short time to face a collapse process punctuated with nasty events. I pulled the 1000 out of my ass but you get the point. For this reason I will only chide greenie-techies. They serve a purpose and are a means to an end.

    I am still going to enjoy pissing on their fantasy because false narratives are so easy to piss on. Just like the fossil fuel cornucopians the benefit of the doubt is mine. You have so much to prove that is daily being eroded. Doom is a master of disaster and disasters are going to multiply. Doom is about facing the reality of an unfolding collapse process. Doom makes sense where fantasy can make sense if you are willing to live with cognitive dissonance that usually results in psychological issues. Depression and anxiety are the result of this. Doom leads to this also but it is well documented that once people choose acceptance they are on the road to healing. If you continue to live in denial your illness can never be mitigated and adapted to. Sure there are chemical reasons for depression and anxiety and this I am not referring to. I am referring to lifestyles that lead to dysfunction.

    I am all for renewables over the absurd development modern man is still engaged in like skyscrapers or new sports parks. If we are going to continue to rape and pillage nature and continue to cause extinctions by our development at least let’s have good reasons for it. Tell me how long a skyscraper is going to last? Once it become unusable the whole area around it will be a danger zone. What could be more absurd than that? Millions spent on a future danger zone. The same can be said about NUK power. China is an absurdity and their NUK power program is part of this.

    My main point is I will promote renewables but not their false message. Lying is not something I will promote. I am not calling greenies liars that know better. I am saying they are lying to themselves. By doing this they are creating a false hope that becomes a false hope for society. It is becoming a false global social narrative. It is just more bargaining with death. Maybe this also serves a purpose because if a critical mass of people realized there is no hope they would riot. No, not mass riots in the street although that will surely happen. I am thinking will the global sheeples follow irrational orders by a society they discover that is based on the irrational. There are still plenty of smart people out there despite the dumbing down of modern life. So on one level I am glad no one listens to me. I don’t want to cause riots.

  3. penury on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 9:29 am 

    I agree that the decline will be a lot less smooth than people hope. Too many of the old ways have been lost and your devices will not save you.

  4. Cloggie on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 10:11 am 

    Are there in 2016 still people who watch 90 minutes videos?

  5. Boat on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 10:45 am 

    Cloggie on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 10:11 am

    Are there in 2016 still people who watch 90 minutes videos?

    Heard of Netflix?

  6. HARM on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 12:56 pm 


    B-b-b-b-ut there’s a smartphone app for that! Eco-collapse 2.0.

  7. peakyeast on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 1:15 pm 

    @cloggie: You can download the movie and watch it in 2x or 4x the speed. People sound funny, but with a little training you can understand it.

  8. Kenz300 on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 1:18 pm 

    Scotland blows away the competition – 106% of electricity needs from wind – joins select club

    Climate change: Netherlands on brink of banning sale of petrol-fuelled cars

    Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

    Endless growth, especially endless population growth is unsustainable………….Climate Change will impact all of us and cause enormous problem for countries and people around the world……… this is the great challenge of our times……. will future generations be doomed to suffer the consequences of our actions….

  9. peakyeast on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 1:19 pm 

    Both MPC and WMP support ADHD playback modes. Alternatively you can get a enable multiple players and play first half and second half on each their place on the screen. Remember to also set the sound to mono and its appropriate left/right channel otherwise the confusion will be great.

  10. JGav on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 2:59 pm 

    Yeah Kenz, Scotland’s trying hard and doing pretty well but it’s a tough road to travel. I have family on the Isle of Eigg in the Inner Hebrides and have been there several times. They managed to take back their island (through a trust fund)from the “Lairds,” (rich English or German pricks who rolled around in their Rolls-Royce on the one road on the island, using it as a hunting spot for their friends). It took 18 years (and they burned the f-ing Rolls-Royce!) It’s still a struggle up there but now they’ve got pretty good wind power and life’s a little easier – for the while.

  11. Survivalist on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 4:04 pm 

    Wind turbines are the resources need to manufacture them are produced with energy from fossil fuels and/or nuclear, depending on where they/their components are made and where that location obtains it power.

    The wind turbine will require scheduled and most likely as well unscheduled maintenance. It will also wear out in 25 years or so.

    Without oil and gas it would be impossible to mine/refine metals, pour concrete etc so once oil and gas are no longer affordable/available the wind turbines will cease to be maintained and manufactured.

    Even the most delusional optimist must realize that we’re in for a massive contraction in energy availability.

  12. Survivalist on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 4:11 pm 

    **Wind turbines are the resources need to manufacture them

  13. Survivalist on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 4:12 pm 

    **Wind turbines and the resources need to manufacture them

  14. Boat on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 6:13 pm 


    Who thinks were out of FF to build windmills. Seem like wind is growing faster and cheaper every year.

  15. makati1 on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 7:34 pm 

    Survivalist, few here consider the chain of events in any “renewable” energy source. If the facts were told, most take more energy to exist than they will produce in their usable lifetime. A net loss.

    The techies who think “renewables” will replace a significant part of our hydrocarbon energy use, are only deluding themselves. You can own a stand alone roof top system that may provide you with all you need, but it still relies on those panels, batteries, and converters made to ‘wear out’ at some point in time and they will not be available after the SHTF.

    The windmill idea is also a joke, when the SHTF. Again, they rely on tech and human labor that will not be available after. I could list a lot of recent articles where, even now, installed wind mills are going to be allowed to fail and be discontinued because of maintenance cost and inability to provide what was promised.

  16. Dave Thompson on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 8:17 pm 

    Com’on all you know there is no known replacement energy source for liquid FF in the form of gasoline,diesel,jet fuel and shipping bunker fuel. Solar and wind may play a small roll in our over all energy symphony, however, what industrial civilization has been built on has no known replacement. That is liquid FF. END OF STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. ghung on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 8:53 pm 

    Solar and wind may play a small big roll in our over all much smaller> energy symphony….

    That’s the way I see it. Communities will be scrambling to leverage whatever energy sources they can find, and I’m betting wind and solar, especially previously deployed systems, will play a big part, along with hydro. It likely won’t last, but previous societies made use of left-over technology for centuries after their greater societies collapsed.

  18. Boat on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 9:41 pm 

    A big question with wind as it grows, is durability. I think the bigger towers and football field length blades might be at risk as climate change strengthen storms.

  19. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 31st Aug 2016 11:42 pm 

    Build nuclear power plants and they will distill gasoline and oil out of the air. Target pricing, $15 per gallon. A bit steep compared to now, but will keep the cars going for eternity. We can always get another cheeseburger at the drive-in.

  20. Kenz300 on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 3:33 am 

    Climate Change is real…… we must transition to safer, cleaner and cheaper energy sources……..the future of the planet depends on it…………

    Watch The Climate Change Ad Fox News Didn’t Want Its Viewers To See
    Climate Change is real….. we will all be impacted by it……

    Exxon’s Climate Change Cover-Up Is ‘Unparalleled Evil,’ Says Activist

    The Effects Of Growth: Sprawl & Development – YouTube

  21. Cloggie on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 4:25 am 

    Humans are completely incapable of halting climate change (if any) directly. Nobody will take an automatic rifle or chainsaw to start thinning the public a little to combat climate change. The only thing that could have an impact is getting rid of fossil fuel. But that is going to happen anyway since easy fossil fuel is running out, although not as quick as most of us anticipated a few years ago. So in reality it doesn’t make sense to worry too much about climate change (if any).

    In other words: Carry out the energy transition and be content with the climate change you get (if any).

    And again: if you consider massive natural climate changes in the past, aka ice ages, which obviously had nothing to do with burning fossil fuel, when the sea level changed 100 meter, worrying about a few cm sea level change is absurd.

    A real man is not afraid of a few cm sea level

  22. peakyeast on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 5:21 am 

    @cloggie: I concur with you.

    I have seen numbers that indicate that 30-40% of world energy consumption goes to food production.

    If we need to cut emissions by 50% for example – that leaves 10-20 % for something else than food. Or a reduction of about 80% of energy currently used for non-food production.


  23. peakyeast on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 6:26 am 

    Correction: That is not going to happen willingly – ever.

  24. Davy on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 7:14 am 

    Clog, sounds great for a wealthy white guy like you thinking he is safe and secure in his nice Dutch village. You are well supplied with everything you need to ride out your “golden years”. Sorry, you are living in a deception of the reality of what will be needed to run this highly modern society. You fail to see the systematic implications of climate change, energy depletion, and economic collapse process. You fail to see the knock on effect across the board to complexity. Medicines that won’t be available and consumer products that will be gone. You may think we can relocalize and build these out again like we did in the early 20th century before the real fossil fuel revolution hit. The problem is scaling in time and size. A worse problem is what are you going to do with all the people once there is not enough food and fuel to maintain them? You really don’t think your little Dutch village is going to ride out a die off unscathed do you?

    It is the systematic implications of the collapse process that are easy to dismiss because these are about connectivity and minimum operating levels that are not visually apparent. Things will just stop with a Minsky Moment once the economy reaches a big enough crisis. Modern finance does not work when confidence breaks down. It only takes a few weeks and the modern system will not operate properly and quickly suffer physical and irreparable breakdown. At this point an ad hoc resulting arrangement will self-organize. This will probably be a martial law type arrangement at least during the worst of the crisis.

    There will be no way we will be able to support 7BIL people in this type of arrangement. We barely are supporting this amount of people now. Climate change is going to be highly disruptive on the backs of the effects of energy depletions and economic collapse. I think you are in a complete state of delusional thinking. Maybe this situation will stumble along long enough for you to enjoy your golden years well enough but anyone young reading this should be greatly concerned for their golden years. In fact they should forget golden years. Golden years are a product of the 20th century thinking and a rich supply of fossil fuels. The young on this board need to be thinking about how to survive into middle age.

  25. Davy on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 7:36 am 

    The bellow references are just a sprinkling of the dysfunction we are seeing in our global economy daily. I feel it is systematic and embedded and points to decay, decline, and deflation on the physical level. At the abstract of confidence, principals of law/standards, and fundamentals of market operations we see a global world of deception, corruption, and manipulation. This can’t last but how long until it can’t last is beyond prediction.

    “Deutsche Bank Refuses Delivery Of Physical Gold Upon Demand”

    “In other words, what was supposedly an ETC which promised physical delivery upon demand, is nothing more than yet another “paper only” play. We, on the other hand, have a more focused question: is the inability to deliver physical gold an incipient issue with Xetra-Gold, or with the company’s “designated sponor” Deutsche Bank, and if the latter is suddenly unable to satisfy even the smallest of delivery requests by retail clients, just how unprecedented is the global physical gold shortage?”

    “Milan Prosecutors Seek To Shelve Probe Against Monte Paschi: “It Could Undermine Investor Sentiment”

    “In other words, Italy realized it couldn’t have the alleged truth about cook-booking by the bank’s top executives coming out just as the bank was scrambling to execute its €5 billion bailout and as a result, any potential wrongdoing by the bank’s executive will remain undisclosed. Justice wins again.”

    Market ManipulationReutersInvestor SentimentItalyMonte Paschi

    “Three Hanjin Ships Stranded Off California Coast”

    “While we await details on just how this asset “freeze” will be resolved, we wonder what is the cargo on these ships, where it was meant to be delivered to, and just how much US production will be bottlenecked as a result of missing key supply-chain components. And then, we extrapolate that to the dozens of Hanjin ships around the globe.”

  26. Davy on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 7:49 am 

    More folly of industrial agriculture with marketing to combat resistance. We are boxing ourselves into a corner with these chemicals. We the end user are following these chemical and seed companies into that box. At some point we will be stuck with an agricultural system unable to adapt and food production will plummet. We will manage to grow food but not to satisfy 7BIL population and the key to that 7BIL figure is “GROWING” population. This is just more examples of across the board consequences conspiring to end the status quo.

    “A Soybean-Killing Pesticide Spreads Across America’s Farm Belt”

    “The problem may get worse as Monsanto aims to increase sales of Xtend soybeans 50-fold in the next few years. “If the EPA doesn’t do something, that means every farmer needs to buy Xtend to protect themselves from their neighbor,” says Jonas Oxgaard, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.”

    Monsanto created Xtend to prolong the usefulness of its Roundup Ready system. For two decades, farmers have relied on Roundup herbicide, using it so widely for so long that some weeds evolved to survive it. So the company decided to tweak the system with enhanced seeds and dicamba. Xtend cotton hit the market last year, and the soybeans debuted this year.

  27. Cloggie on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 8:44 am 

    Davy, I am not at all living in a “nice Dutch village” but in a mid-sized city of 200,000, described by Forbes in 2011 as the hands-down “most inventive high-tech city in the world”:

    Patents per 10,000 inhabitants:

    1. Eindhoven. 22.6
    2. San Diego 8.9

    Most patents come from Philips Electronics and ASML, the global monopolist of building machines that produce microchips. Forget Silicon Valley, Eindhoven is the real deal. No ASML –> no HP, Apple, Dell, Samsung etc.

    Top 15 smartest cities: 9 western European, 6 US cities, in line with “horrible white people” distributed over western Europe and US ca 330m/220m. The rest of the world nowhere to be seen. Never will be.

    No surprises here.

    Hate to break it to you and especially to myself: I am not a wealthy guy, just slightly more than cloggie average. Paid off real estate and some reserves, ca 300k euro. That’s it. I am fine.

    Yes, you are right: I fail to see real collapse coming my way.

    Peakoil: perhaps 2030
    Climate change: please send us 2 Celcius global
    Renewable energy: is being introduced rapidly, electricity covered by 2030 from Northsea wind
    Food: Holland 2nd largest agricultural exporter in the world, shortly after the US, no problem
    Private: produce all my food myself; electricity: likewise. House warming: working on it but it hardly ever freezes. Can sit in the living room with a 50 W electrical blanket around me. Have 2-3 seasons worth of fire wood. Next year greenhouse in the garden to improve production.

    The real impact I expect comes from:

    – civil war in diverse areas far away from my town (Randstad area, France, Britain, Belgium)
    – WW3 in South China Sea
    – major ethnic disturbances in the US
    – reset global financial system, whiping out pensions (I hardly have a pension anyway as a freelancer, I rely on infrequent consultancy services for income). In 6 years time I will receive the standard Dutch pension of 1000 euro, which is more than enough to survive, provided financial collapse has not occured by that time.

    Perhaps nothing happens at all, just like peakoil didn’t happen in 2010. Unlike you I see light, non-fossil technology as by and large a positive factor and more is coming our way, a lot from my town.

  28. Cloggie on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 8:52 am 

    …like this:

  29. ghung on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 9:15 am 

    Davy posted a link to :“A Soybean-Killing Pesticide Spreads Across America’s Farm Belt”

    Yeah, Davy, not good. What’s just as bad is that the idiots at Bloomberg don’t know the difference between a pesticide and an herbicide. Dicamba is an herbicide.

  30. Davy on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 10:45 am 

    Good catch Ghung. Normally I catch such things but I was in a rush this morning.

  31. Davy on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 10:52 am 

    Clog, you totally miss my point. You are one of the smug rich billion that benefit from our global system. You country is at the top of that list. You have the farthest to fall and that is something you can’t get a grip on. This is why you are a racist and a techno-green. It is funny you deny climate change being Dutch and facing an uncertain future of big storms with higher sea levels.

    I generally meet you 1/2 way but you are an unbending optimist. Your wake up call is coming soon and you will jump up from your sweet dream in terror and anxiety. I still like you though because you are a funny and smart guy that is entertaining. Your history revisions and denial are very entertaining.

  32. Apneaman on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 2:52 pm 

    Cognitive clog, at 2C or before most of your country will be under water in spite of the recent billions spent on clever engineering projects. They have only bought a matter of decades. See, the thing is that SLR is yet another phenomenon that is “worse than previously thought”. Most of you live in a big bowl below sea level and that number increases almost yearly as the seas rise.

    Scientists nearly double sea level rise projections for 2100, because of Antarctica

    Davy is right, you are a smug little bitch. Case in point is that as rarely seen before disaster events (Louisiana most recently) are happening at an ever increasing frequency and intensity your smugness increases. It’s all you have. The more real world examples (death & destruction) that pile up the the deeper the denialists dig in. Your fake indifference is tiring and lacks imagination.

    Sea level rise from ocean warming underestimated, scientists say

    Thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm is likely to be twice as large as previously thought, according to German researchers

    German researchers no less – ha!

    This ain’t even half of it. It’s even worse and new research coming out will demonstrate it along with storm surges that will wreak even more havoc.

    Maybe your clogs will work as a flotation device?

  33. Apneaman on Thu, 1st Sep 2016 3:51 pm 

    We just had five 1,000-year floods in less than a year. What’s going on?

    “A 1,000-year flood is supposed to be extremely rare. Its chance of occurring in a given year: 0.1 percent.

    So how do we explain that in the span of just five months, the United States logged no fewer than four deadly 1,000-year floods in states as widespread as Texas, West Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana – following a 1,000-year-flood that ravaged South Carolina last October.”

    “Climate change “supercharges” normal weather”

    “All climate and weather events are influenced to some degree by both natural climate variations and human-made climate change. The amount that each of these influences can exert on a particular event can theoretically range from 0 to 100 percent.

    Rigorous scientific analysis has found that the extreme rainfall that caused a Texas flooding in May of 2015, for example, was caused by a fairly typical rainfall pattern associated with that year’s El Niño, a naturally occurring climate cycle, which had been supercharged by human-made climate change.

    Working in tandem, these two phenomena together produced one of the largest multi-day flooding events Texas has ever experienced.”

    “71% more heavy rain since the 1950s”

    This is all happening at 1C. 2C is a lock and the talk is now to try and avoid 3C. Since that would require a drastic reduction in dopamine chasing (which is a biological impossibility) the only rational response should be to move away from these areas if you live there. Long before they become high probability death traps and abandoned ruins your real estate values will plummet – it will be too late then unless you are wealthy enough that the financial hit won’t affect you.

  34. Kenz300 on Fri, 2nd Sep 2016 9:40 am 

    Electric cars, trucks, bicycles and mass transit are the future….

    fossil fuel ICE cars are the past…………..

    Riding a bike is fun, good exercise and can save you money on transportation costs………walking, bicycles, mass transit and electric vehicles will all be part of making cities livable.

    Ride to school………ride to work………ride for fun……..

    Bike to work day should be everyday….. employers need to provide places to park and lock bicycles and encourage employees to ride a bicycle to work.

    Children should be riding a bike to school instead of being dropped off by their parents.

    Cities need to do more to provide safe walking and biking trails and paths that connect homes, schools and businesses. Speak up and ask for more bicycle paths in your community.

    Obesity is a growing problem around the world leading to an increase in heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure. Walking and biking can help improve health.

    Buy a child a bicycle……your son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild or donate one to a local charity as a fund raiser giveaway. You will change a life…………

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