The 100% renewables fantasy

6 10 2014

I’ve hardly written anything in weeks, and today, I’m rattling off new posts like a machine gun…..  It’s what happens when I discover new information for DTM followers to digest!  What you are about to see just had to be shared….

The disconnect between reality and fantasy is very visible when it comes to the 100% renewable energy cult.  But today I have found some graphics to share that explain the folly of such a notion.  let’s start with this one (hat tip to Erial A Secas from FaceBook):

offshorewind

When I take a look at that…….  all I see are greenhouse emissions!  I haven’t done the maths, and I suggest no one else has either, but I’m prepared to bet it would take the burning of every last drop of affordable fossil energy left, to build all this stuff.  Let us never forget that everything that was built during the 20th Century was done so one brick at a time, as and when it was needed, using growing sources of ever cheaper oil coal and gas.  Compare that to today…..  when we have to replace EVERYTHING, every coal and gas fired power station, every nuke (they’re all reaching their use by date), every petrol/gasoline station, with decreasing amounts of fossil fuels that are getting dearer and dearer to extract (even if the current commodity prices are dropping like stones in a pond), at a time when we should end fossil energy use altogether, NOW, to avert climate catastrophe…..

WHAT are they thinking……….??  Obviously they are not thinking.

I loved the comment Susan Krumdieck posted on FB regarding this nonsense….:

Too bad Ed Hillary isn’t still alive. We could ask him what it takes to get to the top of a really high mountain –

1) being positive, or

2) being prepared, determined, realistic and strong? If the general public, and especially those who even care about the issues, can be convinced that everything has to be positive, then we are susceptible to DISTRACTION by all manner of things including spin stories about happy nonsense. There is a lot of hard work to do, and distraction is not helping. Yet – the cult of positivity is growing in popularity, particularly among youth who are actually the catalyst for change when society is heading in the wrong direction. Pied Piper.

One of the very best charts I’ve ever spotted to illustrate the embodied energy of stuff needed to keep complex civilisation going looks like this:

This really puts paid to the irrational thinking that we will simply switch to that white man’s magic called Renewable Energy.  There’s nothing renewable about it at all.  It is simply an extension of the fossil fuel industry, which may (or may not) keep ‘civilisation running a little longer….  but that’s all.  Because repairing, maintaining and replacing all this stuff post Peak Everything will be simply impossible….

How do we do this without huge amounts of fossil energy?  Or going into even more debt – as if we could stand the level of indebtedness currently weighing the world’s economies down?

I really fear that this stupid drive to run Business as usual only with renewables will destroy our capacity to make the very same things for localised and low level consumption to keep people alive during the power down era that will inevitably start soon.  Building all those large projects will kill us all in my opinion, if only because of the unnecessary Carbon emissions that will ensue.  We need to take a very deep breath on this one, before it’s too late….

nacelleshippedwindhelicopter

 

 

 

 

 

 

windfirewindmountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video on glass manufacturing. Huge equipment, lots of heat. Glass is a wonderful invention. Glass for solar energy collecting devices is called low iron glass. When you look at the edge of a sheet of glass most has a greenish colour. This is caused by the iron content. Solar glass is low iron because more energy can penetrate the glass. This means that there is probably very little recycled glass used, they need the raw materials from the start.

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33 responses

6 10 2014
Chris Harries

It’s also important to separate ‘electricity’ from ‘energy’. All of the energy sources in the info graphic represent alternative sources of electricity. We’ve become a bit obsessed with electricity, becasue it’s the easy one to deal with compared to liquid fuels.

Let’s say all of those energy sources were built (turn a blind eye to the greenhouse impact for the time being) we would still be a long way short of dealing with infusion of oil and related hydrocarbons in the production cycle of nearly all of our commodities. The popular notion of simply switching 1 billion internal combustion cars with 1 billion electric cars ignores 90% of the oil problem.

6 10 2014
mikestasse

Yes Chris……. in fact I did wonder if those figures included feeding electricity to EVs…

6 10 2014
David Barnes

Jesus this is getting depressing. I might have to just get pissed again.

6 10 2014
mikestasse

There’s nothing quite like brewing your own beer……..

6 10 2014
Terry J Wall (@terryjw7)

now that is the truth. it puts a new level of appreciation of the expression “Gees man I am legless”.. Hoot

6 10 2014
David Barnes

Well I’m now pissed again but wondering what the EROEI is when brewing ones own beer. If favourable I will give Dan Murphy a miss.
The sad reality is that an overwhelming majority of folk have NO knowledge or understanding of the issues on sites such as this.
I’ve been angry since I was 16 or 17 and still am. Only now about different things.
I read again today that Meadows thinks there’s no hope. Disabuse me of this notion if you can. Cheers, David Barnes, Sydney.

7 10 2014
Maponios

or mead!

7 10 2014
mikestasse

Aaaah…… mead……….

6 10 2014
6 10 2014
mikestasse

Actually, what I should have said was, don’t get depressed, get angry….. and get off your arse, and change your lifestyle. All it would take, according to David Holmgren, is for 10% of the middle class to opt out, and it would bring the Matrix to its knees. We have the power, we just don’t know it yet….

6 10 2014
David Barnes

I’ve already changed it and I’m not about to move to Tasmania.That said I like the cut of your jib. As a prophet be prepared to be dismissed but not by me. Cheers.

6 10 2014
mikestasse

and I’m not about to move to Tasmania

GOOD! There’s only so much room….. 😉

6 10 2014
David Barnes

Don’t you just love this electronic badinage? Here is a hypothetical for you rather than just an exchange between the converted.
Assume 5 million Sydney siders decide to sell up and move to Tassy. That’s a good 10% of the Aussie masses.
Buy a few acres, plant a few veggies, run a few chooks, cook on wood stove.
Think it through.
The effect on Sydney real estate prices? Even if buyers could be found.
The effect on Tassy real estate prices given the surge in demand.
The environmental impact on Tassy with 5 million middle class immigrants all taking up land.
I know this might all sound like I’m being a smart arse but what do you REALALISTICALY expect folk with jobs, families, debts etc to do?
I’m 68 and no utopian fantasist and if I could be persuaded there is a Realistic solution to avoid the inevitable collapse of industrial ” civilisation” then be the first to let me know what it is.

6 10 2014
mikestasse

Unlikely I reckon…. To begin with, most people don’t like moving, especially that far. Just think about WHY people are not moving out of the US in millions already? The place is totally screwed already….

MOST people think I’m crazy going down there anyway… you’d be amazed how many think Tasmania’s climate is like Sweden’s!

The vast majority of people will leave it far far too late to do anything. By the time TSHTF, there won’t even be fuel to move around with, let alone cross Bass Strait….

City people will be fighting each other at supermarkets for the remaining bread crumbs. Cities will be chaos, and by then the price of real estate won’t mean shit….

Nice try though… 😉

6 10 2014
6 10 2014
Dr Bob Rich

Well, the number 1 requirement is to use less.
I assume those figures are based on current global consumption, or perhaps even growth extrapolated?
If we all lived simply so we could simply live, we would not need all that stuff.
🙂
Bob

6 10 2014
Terry J Wall (@terryjw7)

Been saying this for three years or more now:

Did not the reforestation of the Amazon civilization / cities (caused by the Spanish accidental introducing Chicken Pox), kick off a mini ice age? I think it did.
Anyway, eventually we will get pushed into the corner and have to admit that the only chance that humanity has it to reforest as much of the planet as is needed to cool it off again. Sure we need to stop crappy planet dumb things as well, but the problem will get so big that we will just have to wind up the big old carbon cycle again. We will need to get real smart with water, like Israel

6 10 2014
Batalos

The Earth will reforest itself.
After the poor creatures cursed by consciousness in the thermodynamics world r all gone.
Or she will not – who cares then anyway.

7 10 2014
Maponios
8 10 2014
Chris Harries

Some really earnest people get sucked in by these things. For people who don’t have a technical education anything is possible. These magic ‘solutions’ crop up year in and year out and find a ready, gullible market that’s fed by wishful thinking. I’ve lost count of these dreamland technologies that have come and gone.

8 10 2014
Murray Carew

Mike, a friend just posted this with a comment “for the naysayers”… I’m not sure what point exactly it is meant to prove:

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/south-australia-hits-100-renewables-whole-working-day-86069

8 10 2014
mikestasse

Hi Murray, I saw this too. You have to put it in perspective though….. it was only ONE day, in Australia’s windiest Well some parts of Tassie might be windier…) and sunniest State. AND it was only during daylight hours.

Furthermore, I’m pretty sure there has been some major demand destruction in SA…. do they still build cars there?

8 10 2014
Chris Harries

South Australia and Germany are similar. For brief moments in both of those places renewable energy momentarily goes above 50% of load.

The problem here is that the average uninformed reader gets it totally wrong and then loudly proclaim that Germany and South Australia get more than 50 percent of their energy from renewables. In the case of Germany, solar and wind together contribute about 12% of average electrical load – and much less of total energy (if you include transport energy as well).

This factual confusion only matters because the presentation of information tends to be rather disingenuous and the public is led on to believe that those two places are almost completely sustainable. It gives people hope, but it’s simply untrue.

I do think we should join in and applaud places that do pursue renewable energy vigorously, we just shouldn’t allow those figures to be portrayed dishonestly and we also need to dispel the common notion that electricity is everything. It’s a small part of the whole climate problem.

By the way, Tasmania delivers nearly all of its electrical energy via renewables, if hydro-electricity is classed as renewable. Yet our per capita greenhouse emissions are not much lower than that of the rest of Australia. This helps to illustrate how many other contributions feed overall greenhouse footprint.

8 10 2014
mikestasse

Would you like to write something about that for us if you have the numbers Chris..?

8 10 2014
Chris Harries

Yes, Mike, I need time as well as numbers.

I think you mean expanding the last paragraph?

Your story on Germany dealt with the other stuff well.
https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/the-truth-about-the-efficacy-of-solar-power/

8 10 2014
mikestasse

No pressure…! I thought you might have already dome some analysis for Tassie…

8 10 2014
Chris Harries

Yes, will do. Maybe not today. Got a garden to dig.

15 10 2014
gbell12

“I haven’t done the maths, and I suggest no one else has either, but I’m prepared to bet it would take the burning of every last drop of affordable fossil energy left, to build all this stuff. ”

Au contrair… http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/the-energy-trap/

Anybody interested in this issue needs to try to read every article on that site. He’s a physics professor and backs up everything he says with numbers and analysis.

(btw Mike you have a spurious quote mark up there near “civilisation”)

15 10 2014
mikestasse

Thanks gbell…… I have pretty well read that blog cover to cover, but I’d forgotten about that one, too much to remember!

Not sure what you mean about that spurious quote mark?

15 10 2014
gbell12

‘civilisation

25 02 2015
faithfulsceptic

I went looking, on the embodied energy in materials graph, for enriched uranium (percentage enrichment to be specified by the grapher), and found no entry. That would have been interesting. Also interesting that they chose to rank materials by volume, rather than mass. I’m not sure why they would do that.

Which leads me to ask, dear blogger, do you have a link or other reference for the graph? I’m interested.

25 02 2015
6 12 2015
Daniel Koeppel (@dartagnan4)

My cynical mind, influenced by multi year environmental sustainability work, brought your awesome blog back to mind, after hearing all this current COP21 talk heating up the combined (business?) communities in a happy frenzy about renewable energy.
I came back to re-read it again, as i don’t know where my negativity and mistrust towards an existing system (UN, Business) re inventing itself, to save everyone, comes from.
All the comments here, back in 2014 are supporting the thesis that it is not possible to maintain the status quo by switching to 100% renewable energy.

Has anyone heard any similar comments made during COP21? Where are the “Hofnarren” (medieval jokers employed by kings and dukes, to tell them the truth)?

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