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Powering U.S. Using 100 Percent Renewable Energy Is a Total Fantasy

New research debunks a study claiming there's a low-cost way to power America using only wind, solar, and hydropower.

BrokenWindTurbineTwVanUrkDreamstimeT.w. Van Urk/DreamstimeWind and solar power backed by hydropower and underground thermal storage can supply 100 percent of Americans' demand for energy by 2055 at a low cost, if you believe a 2015 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Hydrogen would supply most of our energy needs for manufacturing and transportation. No natural gas, nuclear power, biofuels, or stationary batteries would be needed.

Sound like a pipe dream? It is.

The study, put together by a team of Stanford engineers led by Mark Jacobson, was widely hailed by environmental activists as the solution to climate change. But this week a new study in the same journal makes a strong case that Jacobson's paper is mostly bunk. According to the new article, the Jacobson study "contains modeling errors; incorrect, implausible, and/or inadequately supported assumptions; and the application of methods inappropriate to the task. In short, the analysis performed [by Jacobson and his team] does not support the claim that such a system would perform at reasonable cost and provide reliable power."

When I read a similar Jacobson plan from 2013, claiming that we could "repower" America using only renewables by 2030, I reached basically the same conclusions. Electric generation alone—a 1,000-gigawatt sector that eats up 40 percent of America's primary energy consumption—couldn't be converted to zero-carbon renewable energy sources without installing 15,000 new wind turbines, 155 solar photovoltaic plants, and 190 concentrated solar power plants each year. Even assuming steep declines in the costs of each form of renewable electric power generation, such a repowering would cost roughly $7 trillion by 2030. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calculated that the total cost of Jacobson's 2013 scheme would amount to $13 trillion.

Keep in mind that the total asset value of the entire U.S. electrical system, including generation, distribution, and transmission, amounts to less than $1 trillion.

The new version of the repowering plan would involve installing 335,000 onshore wind turbines; 154,000 offshore wind turbines; 75 million residential photovoltaic systems; 2.75 commercial photovoltaic systems; 46,000 utility-scale photovoltaic facilities; 3,600 concentrated solar power facilities with onsite heat storage; and an extensive array of underground thermal storage facilities.

Let's briefly consider a few of the damning criticisms of Jacobson's repowering scheme made in the new article:

• The Jacobson study assumes a total of 2,604 GW of storage charging capacity, more than double the entire current capacity of all power plants in the United States.

• It assumes that underground thermal energy storage systems will be deployed in nearly every community to provide services for every home, business, office building, hospital, school, and factory in the United States. The largest such facility today stores 0.0041 terawatt-hours of energy; the plan requires enough plants to store 514.6 terawatt-hours.

• It assumes the ability to store in hydrogen an amount of energy equivalent to more than one month of current U.S. electricity consumption. Furthermore, hydrogen is supposed to be produced at a peak rate consuming nearly 2,000 gigawatts of electricity—nearly twice the current U.S. electricity-generating capacity. It assumes the widespread use of hydrogen to fuel airplanes, rail, shipping, and most energy-intensive industrial processes, including steel and cement manufacturing.

• Because wind and solar power are highly variable, the repowering plan assumes that 63 percent of all energy-intensive industrial demand is highly flexible. It assumes workers and suppliers can be called in or sent home to match the availability of energy inputs any time of day or night.

• It assumes a cost of capital at unrealistic discount rates of 3 to 4.5 percent per year rather than more realistic discount rates of 6 to 9 percent per year. The more realistic rates double the estimated cost of electricity, from 11 to 22 cents per kilowatt-hour.

• At the average power densities, the scale of wind power envisioned by Jacobson and his colleagues would require nearly 500,000 square kilometers of land. That's roughly 6 percent of the continental United States. It also assumes there will be no delays in installing more than 150,000 wind turbines offshore, though those usually rouse public opposition.

• Judging from how fast energy generation infrastructure has been installed in the past, the repowering plan would require a sustained installation rate that is more than 14 times the U.S. average over the last 55 years and more than six times the peak rate.

The new paper concludes that Jacobson's scenarios "can, at best, be described as a poorly executed exploration of an interesting hypothesis." Jacobson's claims, the authors continue, "are not supported by adequate and realistic analysis and do not provide a reliable guide to whether and at what cost such a transition might be achieved." As a result, "Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power."

That's basically what I said in 2013.

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  • esteve7||

    Science contradicts environmental fanatics, news at 11.

  • Entelechy||

    "the total asset value of the entire U.S. electrical system, including generation, distribution, and transmission, amounts to less than $1 trillion."

    Ron contradicts engineering cost trends & ignores infrastructure costs : no news here

  • ||

    Ron contradicts engineering cost trends & ignores infrastructure costs : no news here

    Your quote doesn't support your statement. Further, it doesn't refute the overarching notion that Jacobson's "plan" is between half baked and pie in the sky. Last, in line with the previous two statements, I'm not entirely sure Ron and your stance are inconsistent. If cost trends continue downward, Ron probably would/could be all for a gangbusters switch to "renewables", that still doesn't change the fact that even such a gangbusters migration would probably still fail to meet Jacobson's predictions/expectations.

  • Entelechy||

    How much do you think it would presently cost to replace every dam i America and all the real estate they and their reservoirs cover?

  • ||

    How much do you think it would presently cost to replace every dam i America and all the real estate they and their reservoirs cover?

    Who are you refuting Jacobson or Bailey? Ron made no assertions about any plans. He simply stated the price or value of the assets in place. I presume he did so for reference or comparison purposes and tries to explicitly avoid the dubious "How much would it cost to replace?" trap that he's criticizing Jacobson for falling into. You know, the sort of aversion central planning and 'let the market decide' stance a libertarian would take.

  • Entelechy||

    How much do you think it would presently cost to replace every dam in America, and all the real estate they and their reservoirs cover?

  • wareagle||

    and how much would it cost to "repower" America using only renewables? The amount of fossil fuel energy required simply to build all those windmills and turbines and panels and whatever else wouldn't be recovered by renewables in your kids' lifetimes, let alone yours.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Just because it's impossible doesn't mean we shouldn't do it!

    /prog

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Just shoot the 'American Dream' why don't ya...

  • colorblindkid||

    Hydroelectric power is disastrous for the environment, with far more permanent damage than a nuclear plant even after a meltdown.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Is this about fish? Because, frankly, I'll eat egg salad sandwiches Fridays during Lent if that's what it takes to stop Global Warming.

  • colorblindkid||

    It's about the entire ecosystem that uses the river. Up to 20% of a river's flow also disappears just from evaporation, completely wasted. It keeps nutrients from reaching the ocean and affects the entire river length and outlets. Not to mention the fact that when reservoirs are created in forested areas, the biodegrading plants produce massive amounts of methane, often leading to more net global warming emissions than an oil plant. South American countries are on the verge of destroying large parts of the Amazon. The Three Gorges led directly to extinctions and flooded hundreds of square miles of forest.

  • Sevo||

    "South American countries are on the verge of destroying large parts of the Amazon"

    Got a cite for that?

  • colorblindkid||

  • Sevo||

    Sorry, fail.
    That's a scare piece, inventing new terms for frightening people and throwing around !!!BIG NUMBERS!!! as if they meant anything at all without context.
    And it does not, anywhere, make the claim that "South American countries are on the verge of destroying large parts of the Amazon".
    Besides which:
    "Amazon rainforest may be more resilient to deforestation than previously thought"
    [...]
    "Date:
    May 30, 2017
    Source:
    University of Bristol
    Summary:
    Taking a fresh look at evidence from satellite data, and using the latest theories from complexity science, researchers have provided new evidence to show that the Amazon rainforest is not as fragile as previously thought."
    https://www.sciencedaily. com/releases/2017/05/ 170530082034.htm
    (take out the spaces)
    So maybe the greenies are bullshitting. Again.

  • Juice||

    Hydroelectric power is disastrous for the environment, with far more permanent damage than a nuclear plant even after a meltdown.

    This is true and I wish more people were aware of how damaging dams can be. I'd favor ripping most of the out, especially the big ones.

  • Sevo||

    "This is true and I wish more people were aware of how damaging dams can be."

    Compared to what, and with what would you replace them? And at what cost?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    You are assuming that environmentalists care about consequences; we really don't need all those bourgeois luxuries for the privileged you know. We will all have a much better quality of life when we ALL less light, hot water, cooking surfaces, etc.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Which is why the Greenies backed way off of it back in the Carter administration, when Jimmy Carter proposed to build a bunch. Or, at least, that's what I remember. It was when I first realized that the actual definition of "Alternative Energy" (that is, as defined by use) was "Any form of electrical generation that is in no danger of actually being practical".

    I am cheered by the fact that some environmentalists - presumably the ones more interested in the environment than in virtue signaling - are actually backing the use of Nuclear power. I think that Nuclear is the way forward, especially if Hydrogen powered cars become a serious presence in the nation's automobile fleet.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You also forgot it would require a tripling of global rare earth production just for this effort alone, assuming 100% would go exclusively to this.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Technology would likely make solar panels and batteries more efficient, so less rare earth metals would be needed.

    Fossil fuels have 100 years of subsidized technological advantage over solar and wind.

  • PurityDiluting||

    So let's just wait for moore'so law to kick in and all the world's energy needs will be met by some sort of handheld fan that costs about a buck

  • ||

    Fossil fuels have 100 years of subsidized technological advantage over solar and wind.

    Has it been a net subsidization and on the same level for over the 100 yrs.? Also, considering the weak link in the chain is batteries, what difference does exactly, does the generation source make? I mean sure, gasoline may've been subsidized, but it's not like it was specifically done to make gasoline more energy dense and, on a more local level, if whale oil and lumber were all subsidized the same as fuel oil and coal, WTF difference does the subsidy make except to penalize fossil fuels for being old?

  • ||

    on the same level

    i.e. we aren't comparing subsidies in Texas over the last 100 yrs. to federal green energy mandates, right?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    They aren't even truly subsidized. The "subsidy" consists of a depletion allowance which also magically applies to the production of raw materials for turbines, panels, and batteries. Greed energy is subsidized to the tune of two orders of magnitude per Joule as real energy.

  • Sevo||

    "The "subsidy" consists of a depletion allowance which also magically applies to the production of raw materials for turbines, panels, and batteries."

    And to every other business; capital goods are depreciated under the assumption they must be replaced.
    The petroleum product at the well head 'depreciates', requiring prospecting for replacement.

  • ||

    Greed energy is subsidized to the tune of two orders of magnitude per Joule as real energy.

    I don't disagree. I just can't confirm or deny a net balance one way or the other for the past 100 yrs. The statement is too vague and/or far-reaching to definitively refute or conceptually challenge in any serious way. By the same token, IMO, it's too vague and/or far-reaching to believe/understand/comprehend on such a trivial level. He may as well have just asserted the celestial teapot exists.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The problem is that fossil fuels are still being subsidized. Why?

    Because politicians do not want to have screaming constituents saying that their heating fuel bill went up in winter.

    These subsidies kept fossil fuel prices artificially low which kept monetary incentives low for alternates like solar.

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|6.21.17 @ 7:48PM|#
    "The problem is that fossil fuels are still being subsidized. Why?"

    It's already been explained to you that your claim is bullshit. Please don't repeat bullshit; it shows you to be a bullshitter.

  • ||

    These subsidies kept fossil fuel prices artificially low which kept monetary incentives low for alternates like solar.

    Actually, depending on the fuel and the purpose, the exact opposite occurs. The default state is to tax fuels redundantly on several levels. When oil prices surge, then we (transiently) are allowed to forego the tax. The foregone assumption is to the point where fossil fuel cars are effectively subsidizing electric vehicles without either set of drivers effectively knowing it.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Bullshit. Maxwell's equations don't get more efficient. Navier Stokes doesn't get scaled by Moore's Law (which is over anyway). Fossil fuels have been net payers for two centuries. Get back to me when greed energy pays for itself for even a single year.

  • Zeb||

    Are solar panels already as efficient as they can be?

  • Sevo||

    "Fossil fuels have 100 years of subsidized technological advantage over solar and wind."

    cite, please?
    This has been shown to be bullshit on these very pages many times. Fossil fuels get the same tax deductions as any business, and watermelons scream "SUBIDIES!!!!"

  • Bill||

    The other fake subsidy they cite is that countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela
    keep oil/gas prices really low for their own citizens as a way of buying loyal citizens.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The technology for photovoltaic cells dates back to 1839. There may be breakthroughs ahead, but it's unlikely to be at anything like the speed one associates with young technology.

    In any case, before we go whole hog on solar power, I would like to see somebody address a question I have been asking, off and on, since the mid 1970's;

    If we take any significant amount of energy from solar power, what does this do to the environment? I MUST do something. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch (a principle the Progressive Left seems incapable of absorbing, no matter how often their noses get rubbed in it). We are talking about taking energy out of a system (the environment) where it is presumably doing SOMETHING.

    Solar power covers a hell of a big footprint on a per watt basis. It involves fairly dirty industry to dig up the rare earth minerals necessary and refine them. And it involves sucking energy out of a dynamic system. Also the Progressive Left loves it, and they have a long history of loving stuff that is an absolute disaster.

    I really wish somebody with the background to get answers was asking questions.

  • Entelechy||

    Break China's magnet monopoly by reopening a medium sized mine in the desert 50 mies south of Vegas ?

    We're all gonna die !

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    What part of tripling global production just for this did you not understand?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Bailey, snugly in the pocket of Big Fossil Fuel, refuses to acknowledge that there is already an engine design which runs solely on water and which is being completely suppressed by shills like this very Reason writer.

  • Entelechy||

    How many cranks does it take to turn over a Fistion Engine ?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Only me.

  • pan fried wylie||

    "Get, off, my, L.." *engine hums to life*

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Not water; hydrogen. And Reason has pushed it. But hydrogen power has problems. It isn't a power source; energy must be put into it (yes, there are chemical means to make hydrogen. Sounds messy, and the schemes I've read about tend to rely on things like trapping Methane from landfills, which have a history of failure). Build a large number of electric generators, to make up the shift in energy demand from petrochemicals to electricity to make hydrogen, and we can start.

    If hydrogen power appeared on the market tomorrow, the demand would crash the electric grid, or the hydrogen would run out damn fast.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If academics weren't there to tell us entrepreneurs what to build and why, we'd hardly know what to do with ourselves.

  • JWatts||

    And yet, I suspect that Jacobson's paper will be widely quoted and used as proof in countless Left wing comments and articles and the study debunking it will be quietly ignored.

  • renewableguy||

    What makes you think this paper criticizing Jacobson is correct?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Maybe not 100% but if almost Americans had solar panels on their homes and businesses to cover their energy needs during the day and a small wind turbine for night time energy needs, most of Americas electricity needs would be taken care of.

    I have solar panels and produce more than I use during the day and sell the excess. My batteries and small wind turbine cover night time usage.

  • ||

    As with the CA water problem, while politicians will focus on regulating individual behavior as an end in itself, residential usage is not a significant contributor. Every house in the country can go 100% renewable and that doesn't really address the "problem," any more than every house in CA cutting its water use by 20% makes any appreciable dent in statewide water usage.

  • PurityDiluting||

    ^this

  • pan fried wylie||

    If everyone simply paid for half of their neighbor-to-one-side's solar panel installation, everyone would have free energy forever (or 20yrs, whichever comes first.)

    Well, except for the person at the end of the street.

    Or hey, let's just put a nail in that affordable housing coffin and mandate solar panels on all structures, just wrap that shit up into the mortgages and write it off, hand out some federal tax credits, whatever, man.

    /ehem...sarc

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Not to mention freeloading off the grid through net metering. It's even better when you don't have to pay to maintain that grid and you get to sell your excess power at government mandated rates above spot price. Pretty sweet deal.

  • ||

    except for the person at the end of the street.

    Omelets, eggs.

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|6.21.17 @ 5:13PM|#
    "Maybe not 100% but if almost Americans had solar panels on their homes and businesses to cover their energy needs during the day and a small wind turbine for night time energy needs, most of Americas electricity needs would be taken care of."

    Bull
    .
    .
    .
    shit.
    Now you made that bullshit claim, do the math to show it is.

  • stuartl||

    I checked the Tesla solar roof shingles payback site for my house....I would still be net negative $2K in cost after 30 years

  • Lord_at_War||

    That would work well where I live- I could spend an hour a day scraping the snow off my energy source 3 or 4 months a year, then another hour doing my 77 yr old mom's house.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The problem is, your theoretical solar and wind combo would still need to be backed up by generators that could run when the sun wasn't shining or the wind blowing. And, just by zeroing demand when conditions were GOOD< you would have kicked the legs out from under the people running the fossil power plants. So the government would have to step in and keep them running. And we all know how well THAT would work.

    Absent a huge breakthrough in battery technology, or more probably several, wind and solar are not compatible with a society that uses electricity as widely and constantly as we do. And I have not, thus far, seen a blueprint for a society that could give that up that I would live in by choice.

  • Curt||

    "Even assuming steep declines in the costs of each form of renewable electric power generation, such a repowering would cost roughly $7 trillion by 2030. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calculated that the total cost of Jacobson's 2013 scheme would amount to $13 trillion."

    So what? It's not like it would come from my pocket. Obviously, it would simply be funded by energy companies deciding to accept lower profits. Any remaining difference would simply be filled by taxing the 1%.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    God, I hope you are being sarcastic. Because if you believe it, you have failed to understand anything about economics OR government.

  • Gene||

    installing more than 150,000 wind turbines offshore, though those usually rouse public opposition.

    I hope nobody is under the impression that inland wind turbines aren't equally opposed. Here in SW Ontario our insane Liberal provincial government has been trying to force major turbine developments all over the rural parts of our province. To say they've been met with loud opposition is an understatement.

  • Tony||

    Ah yes, the one thing libertarians think we can't innovate our way out of: fossil fuels.

  • creech||

    Don't you know Libertarians will always innovate away if there's an extra buck to be made off the poor, widows, orphans, LGBTQetc., progs, Gaia worshippers, and such.

  • ||

    Ah yes, the one thing libertarians think we can't innovate our way out of: fossil fuels.

    Where are all these articles you're reading where libertarians forbid people from finding energy sources other than fossil fuels? You keep citing them, but I can't find them. Link?

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Ahh here comes Tony to misrepresent our positions

    Sure we can innovate our way out of fossil fuels. I think we all look forward to that day, even the evil corporations that pay us to have these positions. Who doesn't want cheap, renewable energy? It would dramatically lower costs, and I'd love to live in a society with fewer emissions, not just of CO2 but of all that ugly particulate matter and such. We just haven't done solved the problem on a grand enough scale yet and it's a terrible idea to move forward as though we have

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Nothing wrong with innovation. Innovation works to provide energy ... and when it does progressives come down hard against it. For example, nuclear power and fracking.

    Innovate all you want, Tony.

    Just don't force me to pay for your unicorns and rainbows schemes.

  • Tony||

    It's almost like you don't even realize you're being a pathetic shill for narrow corporate interests.

  • ||

    you're being a pathetic shill for narrow corporate interests.

    How so?

  • Tony||

    Fossil fuels, nuclear, fracking--the only options.

    Nuclear is particularly ridiculous considering it couldn't even exist as an industry without large-scale government subsidy.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    I'm shocked you actually typed that last part out

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Tony has standards. He only shills for First Solar!

  • ||

    Fossil fuels, nuclear, fracking--the only options.

    I still don't get where it is you think anyone at all is saying this. Citation?

  • Tony||

    But I think the reason you don't realize it is because it's not so much that you care about which industry gets the loot, it's that you're so fucking tribal that you can't even support an inanimate technology that has icky proggie fingerprints on it. It's really rather sad and disturbing.

  • ||

    you're so fucking tribal that you can't even support an inanimate technology that has icky proggie fingerprints on it.

    I honestly don't care what you do with your money, or what forms of energy you "support."

    You want to buy solar panels? Am I trying to stop you in some way?

    I'm actually seriously considering buying solar panels myself.

    What the fuck are you trying to argue again? I forgot.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Whereas you don't support reliable, dispatchable inanimate technologies which have icky profits. Talk about sad and disturbing.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Debate the argument on its merits, you pathetic shill for narrow statist interests

  • Tony||

    Fossil fuels and fracking have major environmental costs that wind and solar don't have. We could subsidize the latter to any degree and it still would be a freer economic model than the status quo.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    "...major environmental costs that wind and solar don't have."

    Aside from the radioactive tailings and death of endangered species that is.

  • Sevo||

    "Aside from the radioactive tailings and death of endangered species that is."

    Those don't count, 'cause stuff and sciency stuff!!!!

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Wind and solar are incredibly land intensive. That cannot be overstated. 6% of the area of the United States is gigantic, and I've seen figures that are even higher. We would also require a lot more rare earth elements. Take a look at the aftermath of that mining. No environmental cost eh?

    It's always fun discussing fracking because I've actually worked with data before, and for one issue it's damning, in another it doesn't deserve to be villified

    Fracking's main environmental cost is that wastewater disposal might reactivate basement faults, though bear in mind that the number of wells where this has happened is incredibly small compared to how many exist. Oil companies should pay out damages to property owners whenever that happens. The concerns over drinking water are incredibly overstated, though I concede that if literally everything went wrong for a company, it could theoretically happen. But there are some weird chemicals in proppants and such that would likely make the contamination obvious

    But either way, the reduction in natural gas prices due to fracking has done more to curb carbon emissions than any attempt at government policy. And just so we're clear, I think all of us oppose the subsidies that go to fossil fuels. Subsidize nothing, not everything

  • ||

    No environmental cost eh?

    Tony knows jack shit about environmental science. He's an "environmentalist" because it's Team Blue's latest wedge issue.

    wastewater disposal might reactivate basement faults

    This is true, but it bears mentioning that such wastewater disposal is not unique to fracking, and that the disposal sites are chosen by the government. The chemicals could be disposed of far from faults, and the problem goes away.

    The concerns over drinking water are incredibly overstated, though I concede that if literally everything went wrong for a company, it could theoretically happen.

    And these concerns are, again, in no way unique to fracking.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    All of these points are correct. Conventional plays still have a lot of wastewater to deal with. As far as disposal sites, I did not know the government picked them but I'm not surprised. Either way, better surveys could show those faults on their seismic, and if companies had to pay out property damages for poor disposal practices, they would do better surveys and pick better places

    I believe fracking does have some unique chemicals in their proppants, but I may be wrong

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Recycling of wastewater is only increasing over time, so this non-issue is becoming an even smaller non-issue.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Yet another thing I didn't consider but is undoubtedly true

    Do you think Tony checks back into the comments after he gets destroyed?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    "Do you think Tony checks back into the comments after he gets destroyed?"

    He usually slinks away when I start tossing out facts. It probably hurts his feelings.

  • ||

    Do you think Tony checks back into the comments after he gets destroyed?

    Oh, absolutely. He's a notorious corpse-fucker. He stews all day and then comes back with his best shot. Go back and check out old threads and you'll find tons of snarky comments from him, posted six hours after the thread died.

  • ||

    I believe fracking does have some unique chemicals in their proppants, but I may be wrong

    You may be right. My familiarity with such wastewater comes from installing and dealing with high-pressure boilers, which involves at least a very similar cocktail to fracking (same basic idea of raising the boiling point of water), which has to be dealt with as hazardous waste in the same way as the fracking wastewater, but I find it easy to believe that cooking up a cocktail for breaking oil shale might be different from mere heating water.

    But as NotAnotherSkippy points out, there's no reason in the world that given enough demand/incentive that stuff can't be recycled, and it probably won't be long before we don't really "dispose" of it at all, anymore. And as you say, if businesses were simply held directly liable for any damage they do, they'd develop some pretty airtight standards all on their own.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    One thing that immediately comes to mind is HCl for dealing with carbonate rocks. They also try to ensure that they don't get any biofilms or other gunk from microorganisms. But I'm recalling now some talks I saw, from people in industry, on reclamation of water. There's already an economic incentive to find a use for it rather than shove it into the ground, because if someone will take it off your hands after a little bit of treatment, it's probably cheaper to do that rather than operating a disposal well

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Water is a precious commodity in West Texas. They have every economic reason in the world to recycle it.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    One of these talks focused on reclamation in California, while we were in the middle of the drought

    I'm pessimistic California will figure it out though

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    The big problem with the waste waster isn't the fracking compounds. Surprise, the econuts didn't get this one right either! The biggest problems with treating the wastewater are the salt and the radionucleides that come up with it.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Like I said, Tony, innovate all you want. Seriously, go ahead and I sincerely wish you the best of success with your unicorn and rainbow scheme. Just don't demand that I pay for it.

    However, you should be aware that if you do enjoy success in improving the lot of humanity, progressives will come down hard against it. I doubt that will be a problem, though.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    "It's almost like you don't even realize you're being a pathetic shill for narrow corporate interests."


    The above quote from Marxian Tony is evidence that leftists no longer care about the feasibility of their claims and gave completely eschewed any attachment with reality. No matter how utterly ridiculous is the claim that all energy needs can be fulfilled through so-called "renewable sources", leftists hold on to that ideal with religious zeal, accusing skeptics of blasphemy when their cherished beliefs are questioned on their merits.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    It's almost as if YOU don't realize you're being a pathetic shill for the would-be elitists that want to keep cheap energy out of the hands of the poor "for their own good".

    Gods, Tony, you're SUCH a tiresome twit.

  • renewableguy||

    Don't force me to live in the past. Dinosaur fuel is making life on earth less palatible.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    No is forcing you to do anything, dummy. loveconstitution1789 up above has said he has solar panels on his roof for the day and a small wind turbine for night use. What the fuck is stopping you from doing the same? Someone else won't pay for it for you?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    This is Science, Tony. Why don't you believe in Science?

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: Tony,

    Ah yes, the one thing libertarians think we can't innovate our way out of: fossil fuels.


    Libertarians and the Laws Of Physics.

  • Libertarian||

    It's just a fantasy.
    It's not the real thing.

  • Gene||

  • ||

    Well did he start it?

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    It's always a real eye-opener when you calculate the land use in these crazy schemes

  • CatoTheChipper||

    When enviromentalist nut jobs like Amory Lovins fantasize about a hydrogen economy, my question is always, "Where does the hydrogen come from?" Because virtually all molecular hydrogen is made from the steam-methane reforming process that emits 44 pounds of CO2 for every 8 pounds of H2 even if we ignore the energy required to operate the process and the losses inherent to the process. Hydrogen IS overwhelmingly a fossil fuel

    At least the 2015 study addresses that question: "hydrogen is supposed to be produced at a peak rate ... nearly twice the current U.S. electricity-generating capacity". Okay, so the plan is for electrolysis.

    So, not only are windmills and solar panels going to replace the existing capacity of fossil fuel plants, they are going to triple the US electric power capacity. That's going to require a lot of windmills and real estate for solar farms. They are already eyesores and responsible for an avian holocaust at about, what, 3-4% of capacity, but the 2015 study requires something like a hundred-fold increase in solar, wind, and hydro. Much more than that actually since the sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't always blow, and the vast arrays of solar panels are much more susceptible to destruction from high winds, tornadoes, and hail storms than a fossil fuel plant.

    It is astounding that Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences would publish such silly nonsense. Even a 1950s science fiction magazine would probably have rejected it.

  • ||

    a hydrogen economy

    My dad spent years building prototypes of tanks for hydrogen-powered vehicles. Major safety issues. The company eventually went out of business, unable to design a tank that wouldn't explode in an accident.

  • ||

    The company eventually went out of business, unable to design a tank that wouldn't explode in an accident.

    It occasionally happens with gasoline and you can dowse a lit match in that shit.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Making a safe hydrogen tank isn't a problem. Making a safe hydrogen tank that holds a useful amount of hydrogen is a problem.

  • ||

    ^ I do seem to remember him mentioning this as well.

  • ||

    When enviromentalist nut jobs like Amory Lovins fantasize about a hydrogen economy, my question is always, "Where does the hydrogen come from?"

    Interesting.

    My question is always, "Where does the hydrogen go?"

    Because if you want to talk about a nonrenewable resource, even a slightly leaky hydrogen economy will result in hell of a lot of hydrogen escaping the earth's atmosphere never to be seen again.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Chemistry idiot here, so serious question: wouldn't free H2 oxidize to water before making it to space, especially once it got further up where the photochemical interactions start happening? Helium makes it to space because it remains free, never forming heavier compounds that can't escape.

  • ||

    IANACh, but my understanding is that oxidizing the H2 is how you use it as fuel, producing water vapor as the "emissions."

  • ||

    Which again, I'm no climate scientist, but I think it's worth thinking about the global warming implications of newly-minted water vapor shooting out of everyone's tailpipes and power plants.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    We're so many doublings down that path that it wouldn't matter.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Some. And some will rise high enough to escape. The higher you go the longer your mean free path and the lower chance of a reaction as well. Without doing the math, I suspect that even if the entire volume of hydrogen were to escape that it would still take at least millions of years before we'd notice tho.

  • Zeb||

    Fortunately there is no shortage of hydrogen. We aren't going to run out of sea water.

  • Loss of Reason||

    Physics nerd - in simple terms - Earth's gravity isn't strong enough to keep Hydrogen or Helium gas around.

    Here's a paragraph from the Hydrogen wiki

    "Under ordinary conditions on Earth, elemental hydrogen exists as the diatomic gas, H2. However, hydrogen gas is very rare in the Earth's atmosphere (1 ppm by volume) because of its light weight, which enables it to escape from Earth's gravity more easily than heavier gases. "

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Or we could generate hydrogen using electricity. Which is the same problem all over again, unless you are talking about Nuclear power.

    Oh, we COULD crack water into hydrogen with electricity generated by wind and solar. Which brings us smack up against the real (and largely undiscussed) problems with those power sources; footprint and environmental impact.

    Really, how many birds and bats have to be put in a blender before it is admitted that wind power doesn't come "free"?

  • Sigivald||

    As usual, plans to "replace petrochemicals" that are not "build as many nuclear plants as possible" remain pipe dreams.

    (And even then, I'd keep oil for vehicles, since batteries are still expensive, sucky, and not environmentally friendly either.)

  • pan fried wylie||

    Even when ground-oil becomes too scarce for transportation use, I could easily see biodiesel taking over just because that tank of liquid, chemical fuel still beats the energy-density pants off anything besides induced gamma emission.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Methane more likely. It's pretty easy to manufacture from atmospheric CO2 and water as long as you have the available energy source.

  • pan fried wylie||

    good point. i was unintentionally limiting my thought there to some sort of plant-based solution.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Biodiesel is a wonderful fuel, but the source stock of lipids and esters is very limited. Maybe one day algae will work, but that's probably well after we all have Mr. Fusion.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    It's going to be a long, long time before that happens though. When a company abandons a well, it's because it's no longer economic to produce off of it, not because they run out. But as technology improves, or prices change, companies go back to older wells because there are still substantial quantities left

  • ||

    companies go back to older wells because there are still substantial quantities left

    And they've been known to refill to a certain extent, as well.

  • Devastator||

    Yeah I tell my friends this. I am an advocate for renewables because I like the idea of less pollution. I could give a rat's ass about CO2 because I don't believe it contributes nearly as much "warming" as the current green cartel preaches. Anyway, I'm all for solar panels on my house when they get cheap. I don't why any libertarian wouldn't be happy to get off the grid as much as possible. However, nuclear is our only relatively 0 pollution viable fuel right now.

  • Greg F||

    Anyway, I'm all for solar panels on my house when they get cheap. I don't why any libertarian wouldn't be happy to get off the grid as much as possible.

    If you want to get off the grid fine. If you want to use the grid as your backup and sell excess back to the grid then other people are paying part of your bill.

    Realities of Renewable Energy

  • renewableguy||

    Batteries will soon reach below $100/kw-hr. Storage is becoming cheaper while fossil fuels are on an upwards curve.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    You dipshits have been preaching "peak oil" for 50 years.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Batteries are also a disposal nightmare. One we will be facing pretty soon, as the first of the current generation of electric cars approaches the life-limit of their batteries.

  • Eric Bana||

    If you wish something was true hard enough, it'll become true.

  • ExNuke||

    The Peter Pan syndrome. Tinker Bell won't die from drinking Captain Hook's deadly poison if you just wish really, really hard. Regressives are Walt Disney's revenge on the US, I just don't know why he hated us so much.

  • Brandybuck||

    Waiting for the inevitable March Against Science...

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calculated that the total cost of Jacobson's 2013 scheme would amount to $13 trillion.

    I believe that according to Paul Krugman, this would be getting off cheap.

  • mtrueman||

    "Powering U.S. Using 100 Percent Renewable Energy Is a Total Fantasy"

    Not unless history is fantasy. Couple hundred years back Americans made do with wood and whales, growing still in our tremendous forests and seas. We overcame those dark days with innovation, entrepreneurship and deregulation.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    You're right!

    Powering U.S. Using 100 Percent Renewable Energy would be a dystopian nightmare.

  • mtrueman||

    Dreams come true in Blue Hawaii.

  • mtrueman||

    A direct quote from the only King you've ever had, or will have.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And fossil fuels.

  • mtrueman||

    Sure. The Nina and Pinta were both coal powered and the Santa Marie was outfitted with an experimental thorium reactor.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You're on to something, and I suspect you don't realize it.

    The next batch of environmental activists should be sent to the plush global overseas conferences on square-sail ships.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And coal. They also made due without the EPA, SS, Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, and Stanford University.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    We started emitting greenhouse gases from the moment civilization started, and may have reversed the onset of an ice age a few thousand years ago. Read William Ruddiman

  • mtrueman||

    We're in an ice age at the moment if those ice caps at the north and south poles are actually ice caps.

  • renewableguy||

    Both poles are melting and will continue to melt as long as we emit ghg's.

  • Devastator||

    Bullshit, there weren't enough campfires or people to contribute anywhere near enough CO2 to amount to much more than a fart "a few thousand years ago" .

  • Greg F||

    Couple hundred years back Americans made do with wood and whales, growing still in our tremendous forests and seas.

    Both examples of stored energy as are oil, natural gas, coal, hydro, and nuclear. The energy produced from renewable's (solar and wind) is converted energy. This fundamental difference is why comparing renewable's with traditional sources is an apples and oranges comparison.

  • Roger Knights||

    "Both examples of stored energy as are oil, natural gas, coal, hydro, and nuclear. The energy produced from renewable's (solar and wind) is converted energy."

    Hydro is also converted energy, no?

  • renewableguy||

    Off grid homes make it though most of the year without backup with fossil fuel generators. As soon as we get non fossil fuel storage dominant, problem solved.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I believe this may have been discussed here at H&R, but this is a great microcosm of how difficult it is to power something with renewables, in this particular case, wind.

    PORT ANGELES — Three wind turbines erected at the city's Waterfront Park in mid-September that cost $107,516 will generate $1.39 worth of electricity a day and about $42 a month — when they are eventually turned on.

    [...]

    The wind spires were to "create a vibrant park that had vertical elements, that had artwork … and also provide examples of alternative energy," West said today.

    "The intent was not to provide energy for the grid."

    Unwittingly, the city did in fact create a great example of alternative energy: Expensive, inefficient and ineffective.

  • creech||

    200 year ROI not counting all the maintenance costs over the next two centuries. Sounds like a great deal...to government officials and the guys who built the windmills.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And assuming zero cost of money...

  • Rich||

    According to the new article, the Jacobson study "contains modeling errors; incorrect, implausible, and/or inadequately supported assumptions; and the application of methods inappropriate to the task.

    Uh-huh. Obviously the new *guys* are just picking on the fact that half the Jacobson team comprises *women".

  • Microaggressor||

    These things make a lot more sense when you realize doomsday cults don't care about tradeoffs, because they genuinely believe their plan would save the world from certain destruction. But they'll make shit up if it helps recruit more to the cause. The ends justify the means when it comes to "saving the world".

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    They don't believe that there are tradeoffs that they can't do away with by instituting yet another government policy (which also has tradeoffs...). They think they have absolute solutions, or can eventually come by them if they try hard enough

    If only more people knew that Sowell quote

  • Sevo||

    And it's supposed to be heating up, right?

    "A field experiment in the United Kingdom revealed a drop of 1.1% of peak output for every increase in degrees Celsius of a home photovoltaic solar panel once the panel reached 42 degrees Celsius, or about 107 degrees Fahrenheit
    [...]
    The temperatures of the solar panels tested were, on average, about 20 degrees Celsius higher than the ambient air temperature (See Reference 4, page 17). Accordingly, the drop-off in efficiency begins at about 87 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit"
    http://homeguides.sfgate.com/e.....79764.html

  • IceTrey||

    The solution was invented 50 years ago, the Molten Salt Thorium Reactor. The fact that the world is not running on Thorium is the greatest crime against humanity in history.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I think the reality is that the Thorium salt reactor is more complicated than meets the eye. Essentially, from what I'm reading it's one thing to have them in research situations, but another to put them into practical use.

    I'm definitely not an expert, but I'm having doubts if we can have them in widespread practical use by 2030.

  • IceTrey||

    If we had been working on it the last 50 years....

  • Sevo||

    Yeah, but we aren't and that tells me something.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    We have been working on solar for 50 years. What does that tell you?

  • IceTrey||

    That government stifles innovation? That powerful men in the energy sector do not want too cheap to meter electricity? That fortunes are made through misery and grief?

  • Sevo||

    IceTrey|6.21.17 @ 11:23PM|#
    "That government stifles innovation? That powerful men in the energy sector do not want too cheap to meter electricity? That fortunes are made through misery and grief?"

    The tin-foil hats are on aisle #6; keep the shiny side out.
    Hint: Nobody cares about your pet cause. That's NOBODY, like us and the market in general. Turns out a lot of people have looked at it and said 'so what?'

  • Devastator||

    Probably not considering the snail's pace of nuclear power regulation. The Indians and Chinese are way ahead of us on Thorium based nuclear power. We can just buy shit from them when they perfect it. Too many Jesus freaks in government now that hate science down in Washington, DC.

  • IceTrey||

    I didn't say anything about who would design or manufacture the tech.

  • Sevo||

    As you mention, the tech has been around for 50 years and it's gone exactly nowhere. I'm with (Paul); something doesn't scale here.
    Hell, there are many, many gov't physicists who'd love to claim the title of the 'guy who prevented climate change!', and yet a search tells most of the papers are 8-10 years old.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    It scales just fine but there's no compelling need for it. The established nuclear players make all of their money on fuel rod assemblies. MSR kills that revenue stream because you just dump in the enriched product directly. More importantly, coal and now gas are cheap, so the motivation isn't there.

  • IceTrey||

    Exactly. It completely disrupts the status quo. Imagine making hydrocarbons from seawater and CO2!

  • IceTrey||

    The idea has been around for 50 years. ORNL was the most basic proof of concept.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Don't need Thorium. It's an unnecessary expense and complication. We have plenty of Uranium to burn in MSR's with none of the reprocessing headaches and costs and none of the proliferation problems that come with Thorium.

  • IceTrey||

    You dream too small. I'm talking entire world for thousands of years. Thorium is 4 times more abundant than uranium and requires no enrichment. Anyone capable of dealing with the gamma radiation could just build a regular nuke.

  • Sevo||

    IceTrey|6.21.17 @ 11:29PM|#
    "You dream too small."

    You dream too much.
    Nobody cares; there is no payoff in a future anyone can see.
    You like it so much? Goody. You make the market or quit wasting our time with your pipedreams.

  • IceTrey||

    No CO2. Plenty can see the payoff in that. If the market was free I just might. I'm not capable of changing the world into Libertopia by myself.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    That's just stupid. We already have thousands of years supply of energy with Uranium. All that focusing on Thorium does is delay any deployment and increase proliferation risks.

  • IceTrey||

    You understand it wouldn't start with a full blown continuously reprocessing thorium breeder reactor right?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You understand that it's a waste of time to start with Thorium, right?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And we've been over the whole hard gamma thing. It isn't a problem. If you want to reprocess the 232/3Pa in order to maintain your neutron economy, you need to remove it from the hot salt and let it decay. The half life of 232Pa is 1.3 days. The half life of 233Pa (the desirable species) is 27 days. That means after 13 days the 232Pa concentration will be 1/1024 of the original amount while the 233Pa will be down only by 1/2. At that point you chemically separate the 232/233U and discard (or feed it back into the hot zone to maintain the reaction). Now you have a nearly isotopically pure 233Pa which you can let decay at your leisure into weapons grade 233U. The material enriches itself! Talk about a fucking stupid idea for civilian power generation...

    So what are you left with? Well, you can say you're not going to reprocess and just eat the hit to your neutron economy. That means a larger fissile load to keep the reaction viable. Or you have to look at a so called 1.5 salt design which remains sealed and relatively denatured but still suffers from a poorer neutron economy and a more complex design.

    Or you can just stay with LEU and not fucking waste time and money realizing that the future is almost certainly some sort of fusion source anyway.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "Wind and solar power backed by hydropower and underground thermal storage can supply 100 percent of Americans' demand for energy by 2055 at a low cost, if you believe a 2015 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Hydrogen would supply most of our energy needs for manufacturing and transportation."

    First sentence lists wind, solar, hydropower, and thermal as the panaceas.
    Second sentence then introduces "Hydrogen" as the big energy supplier.

    Q1: Is Hydrogen considered a "renewable"?
    Q2: Is Hydrogen produced from any of the big 4 listed?
    Q3: Is Hydrogen merely a combustion fuel or does it produce electricity by another means?

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    The answer to Q1 wouod be "no".

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    A3: Could burn it or react it electrochemically in a fuel cell.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Ok, thanks for the answers so far.

    So Mr. Ronald Bailey: I'm not understanding the first two sentences. The study purports 100% of energy could come from the 4 listed renewables (sentence 1), and then immediately introduces Hydrogen as a major energy sourc (sentence 2).

    Is there a link between sentences 1 and 2?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Hydrogen is just an energy storage medium.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Thanks again. Wouldn't Hydrogen be classified more as a "fuel"?
    (I realize a fuel has stored chemical potential energy).

    My question above is: What is the link between the 4 magic renewables in sentence 1, and the major role suggested for Hydrogen in sentence 2?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Basically, I'm in search of the answer to Q2 above.
    I imagine Bailey is long gone by now.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    A2: Yes, the electricity produced by the other greed energy would be used to electrolyze water to make hydrogen (and oxygen as a waste product).

  • Greg F||

    My question above is: What is the link between the 4 magic renewables in sentence 1, and the major role suggested for Hydrogen in sentence 2?

    Only the first 3 are 'renewable's'. Solar and wind are technologies that convert energy from one form to another (not from stored energy). Hydro is actually stored energy that can be converted on demand. Thermal is stored energy that would be produced from wind and solar with terrible efficiency.

    Transportation requires stored energy. Since neither a hydro or thermal storage are in any way practical for transportation they include hydrogen (not that it is real practical either but it sounds better to the ignorant).

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Thermal and compressed air are the biggest jokes of all when it comes to stored energy. The world is decidedly non-adiabatic.

  • renewableguy||

    https://goo.gl/41cei6

    Its already in practice there skippyy.

  • BreakthroughEnergyGuy||

    The little understood fact is that climate change threatens to end all human life.

    We face OMNICIDE: The total extinction of the human species as a result of human action.

    This is the greatest emergency humans have ever confronted.

    Every means should be employed to publicize, discuss and attack the Global Warming problem without delay.

    Bombers rolled off an assembly line every hour during WWII. Breakthrough new energy systems are being born. They are much less complex. Several are discussed at aesopinstitute.org

    Most reflect hard to believe new science. Some exploit a surprising loophole in the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Engines can run 24/7 on atmospheric ambient (solar) energy, without fuel! They can scale and provide a cheap, faster, alternative to rooftop panels, wind and solar farms and nuclear power!

    Such breakthroughs usually require a generation to gain acceptance. We do not have that luxury.

    Innovation is taking place at severely underfunded small firms. Mass production of the best systems will inevitably follow. Speed the process on an emergency basis.

    A laser like focus to slow climate change is urgently needed. If you can assist, the lives you save may include your own - and those of everyone you care about

  • Greg F||

    Some exploit a surprising loophole in the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    The only exploit going on is by con men trying to extract money from fools.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Second law of thermodynamics?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOMibx876A4

  • Devastator||

    Nice copy-pasta.

  • IceTrey||

    Well yeah in a billion years the climate will make the planet uninhabitable. In the short term humans will just move north.

  • Sevo||

    BreakthroughEnergyGuy|6.21.17 @ 10:46PM|#
    "The little understood fact is that climate change threatens to end all human life.
    We face OMNICIDE: The total extinction of the human species as a result of human action."

    Take your 'rapture' and sell it to bleevers, asshole.

  • renewableguy||

    2*c increase from the 1800's base, has consequences. We have increased 1*C already and are going for more. Not stopping is like an alcoholic binge. The destruction of life on earth continues on while we stay comfortable in our air conditioning.

  • Devastator||

    I've seen shitposts more accurate than that study. If they want non-carbon generating then they're going to have to go with nuclear, nothing else that we have the technology for even comes close. So do nuclear or GTFO. Renewables are fine but still niche.

  • Sevo||

    OK, colorblindkid, Juice and loveconstitution, you been called for bullshit.
    Got anything to say, or are you bullshitters?
    No use asking Tony; bullshit is all he's got.

  • Tsuzukimurphy||

    I think this title is nihilistic and misleading. It assumes because one single study can be criticized we are talking "pie in the sky," kind of thinking. I didn't see anything about the impact of off-grid living (which some states are vehemently fighting, I'm looking at you Florida!) Personal power sources like solar cells on private property, building tops and other areas. It also seems to assume our technology is stagnant and will not improve, however if we actually implement these things it will encourage new innovations. Even if AT THIS TIME 100% conversion isn't possible, a lesser percentage is still an improvement. Shame on you for telling us its impossible because of one faulty study!

  • Gadfly||

    Until the energy storage problem is solved, renewable energy at scale is a pipe dream, regardless of any other factors. People need energy on demand, and as we cannot command the wind to blow or make the days longer, any attempt to rely on wind and solar is a losing proposition. If/when it is discovered how to store massive amounts of energy economically, then we can consider moving a greater portion of energy production over to those methods. Any attempts at transition before this problem is solved is jumping the gun.

  • Glide||

    "It", namely a 100% renewable U.S. power grid this decade or next, IS impossible. I don't know why having that pointed out bothers you.

    It is "one single study", yes, but any other study that claimed to have a plan for immediate conversion to 100% green energy would rely on similarly flawed assumptions.

    Personal power sources going green are well and good, but 100% of personal power sources ≠ 100% of power consumption. And sure, technology will improve, which is great, but it will improve for non-renewables as well, and it's hardly relevant to the paper's faulty "here's how we do a green energy economy NOW" premise.

  • Glide||

    Interestingly debunking most of the flaws in the analysis aren't even necessary to poke holes in the green economy being a bad idea. Putting in the correct capital rates alone means the economy would be running at double the produced energy cost as the current U.S. grid, which is a dealbreaker in itself even without all the technical and throughput limits.

  • 0x90||

    Roughly speaking, solar energy that is captured instead of falling on the ground is eventually converted to heat, just as it would have been had it not been captured in the first place.

    Conversely, captured wind energy similarly ends up being converted into heat, when it otherwise would not have been, and I have so far seen no study into the environmental effects that may be expected to result from damping natural wind energy on such a widespread basis as is suggested here.

    And I call covering anything on the order of 6% of the continental land mass (not to mention the accompanying off-shore installations) to be widespread.

  • DrZ||

    Also includes the vast damage to the environment that thousands of windmills and thousands of acres of solar panels will cause.

    It's not only bird, insect and bat kills by windmills, it is the changing of the environment under an expanse of solar panels.

    Solar panels may have application on existing roof tops, but covering vast areas of virgin land with panels is being environmentally destructive.

    Want to reduce CO2 production? Simple: Modern modular nuclear generation plants.

  • renewableguy||

    If it is impossible, then why is it already being accomplished in the world. Almost 40 million people in the world are living on 90% renewable energy or greater. Maybe somebody ought to tell them, gee stop that, you can't do that, Ron Bailey says it can't be done. Sorry pals. Reality is just different than you say.


    https://goo.gl/DXoRR9

  • 0x90||

    That is less than 0.6% of the population, with hydroelectric included, and on the order of 0.08% without (using your numbers). But how much of the consumption from these areas is indirect, through third-parties using non-renewable generation? And how much non-renewable energy do these areas currently use, which will have to be supplanted with additional renewable generation as non-renewable sources go offline? What percentage of world industrial output is currently coming entirely from these areas?

    You may as well be looking out over Manhattan, impressed that almost everybody is using solar-powered calculators.

  • renewableguy||

    Expect those numbers to grow larger over time. Hawaii has committed to 100% renewable energy by 2045. California is in the legislative process to do the same. There is a strong price of not changing off of fossil fuels. To do so is at our own demise of our living system.

  • renewableguy||

    Has anyone checked out who these supposed researchers are? Advocates of fossil fuels? How true is what these guys say?


    https://goo.gl/CPRWDY

    The main arguments made by the authors, most of whom have a history of advocacy, employment, research or consulting in nuclear power, fossil fuels or carbon capture, are that:

    1. we should have included nuclear power, fossil fuels with carbon capture (CCS) and biofuels as part of our mix because those technologies would lower costs;

    2. it will be too hard to scale up several of the technologies we propose; and

    3. our modeling contained errors.

    1. To Clack's claim that nuclear, fossils with carbon capture and biofuels reduce costs of decarbonization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes the exact opposite (Section 7.8.2):

    "Without support from governments, investments in new nuclear power plants are currently generally not economically attractive within liberalized markets, ..."

    2. To Clack's claim that we propose technologies that can't be scaled up, we disagree. Underground thermal energy storage in rocks is a well tested (in multiple locations) and established low-cost seasonal heat-storage technology that costs less than 1/300th that of batteries per unit energy stored. It is a form of district heating, which is already used worldwide (e.g., 60 percent of Denmark). Moreover, hot water storage or electric heat pumps can substitute for underground thermal energy storage.

  • renewableguy||

    https://goo.gl/CPRWDY

    3. To Clack's claim that we made modeling errors, this is absolutely false, as indicated in each specific published response. Most notably, Clack claims that we erred because our peak instantaneous hydropower load discharge rate exceeded our maximum possible annual-average discharge rate. But Clack is wrong because averages mathematically include values higher and lower than the average. Clack made other similar mathematical errors.

    4. Clack falsely claims that the 3-D climate model, GATOR-GCMOM, that we used "has never been adequately evaluated," despite it taking part in 11 published multi-model inter-comparisons and 20 published evaluations against wind, solar and other data. And, despite Zhang's 2008 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Journal comprehensive review that concluded GATOR-GCMOM is "the first fully-coupled online model in the history that accounts for all major feedbacks among major atmospheric processes based on first principles" and hundreds of processes in it still not in any other model.

  • renewableguy||

    Has Ron Bailey really checked this out. I don't know where Ron is coming from, but I don't think he has done his homework on this.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    Take off the tin-foil there, sport.

  • renewableguy||

    If I am presenting evidence, and you no rebuttal, who is working off of thin air?

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

    Lol--those anti-science religious zealots? Anyone citing the IPCC for anything other than "Left-wing Infowars scare-mongering" shouldn't be taken seriously.

  • renewableguy||

    Who is wearing the tin foil hat here. It appears to me, you have put zero work into your opinion only position.

  • energyskeptic||

    My problem with this paper is that the main reasons a transition to a 100% renewable system is impossible are left out. My book "When trucks stop running: energy and the future of transportation", Springer, 2015 and website, energyskeptic, explain why.

    I've tried to summarize some of the main arguments in my book at Big Fight: 21 top scientists prove Jacobson and Delucchi's renewable scheme is a delusional fantasy
    http://energyskeptic.com/2017/.....l-fantasy/

    But of course, the reason it's so hard to understand the energy crisis is that it's not a soundbite, it's a semester long college level course...

  • renewableguy||

    There are already areas of the world at 100% renewable energy. Must be a fantasy come true.

  • swampwiz||

    Well, at some point we're going to have to do it.

  • mememine69||

    REAL REASON (not these lazy copy and paste news editors) says;
    CO2=Y2K

    Fracking's abundance is ending the oil wars with possible world peace and ensuring reliable energy for countless future generations and this after decades of Smog Warning Days being rare in North America thanks to the science of clean burning. "Life is good" are the three words you exaggerating GREENS just love to hate.
    Love the planet, not fear for it.
    And now after 35 years of tipping point deadlines for the death of the planet from climate change, NASA still refuses to say their "possible" catastrophic CO2 is as real as they say the planet.

    It's time REASON stopped playing both sides.

    This is the best time in history to be alive.

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