“Energy Revolution? More like a Crawl” – Dr. Vaclav Smil

18 09 2017
Dr. Vaclav Smil was the speaker at a TISED and Fondation 3E event in September 2015 called “Energy Revolution? More like a Crawl”. He explored the current state of global and major national energy dependencies and appraised the likely speed of their transformation. In his words, “The desirable development of new renewables should not be guided by wishful preferences and arbitrary targets. Using more energy, albeit more efficiently and with lower specific environmental effects, is unlikely to change our fortunes — yet no serious consideration has been given to how to use less, much less.”
Advertisements

Actions

Information

26 responses

19 09 2017
Chris Harries

Very, very sobering. Here Vaclav inserts the lengthy times it necessarily takes to transition society. “Decades, decades, decades just to go from 5% to 25%.” This is the factor that most technology devotees refuse to take into account, or turn a blind eye to – especially when we gave little time in which to do it. That, on top of advocating thermodynamic impossibilities.

I regretfully conclude that the general populace (including media and MPs) doesn’t have enough maths and physics education underneath it to get on top of these core principles, so we will always have to put up with starry-eyed devotees advocating pie-in-the-sky ‘solutions’. It can be hard to patiently listen through their wishful thinking ideas, being aware that they simply don’t have the nous to think on a higher plane.

Citizens don’t need to be top notch rocket scientists to understand that a finite system must have hard limits, but even this eazy peazy principle – that can be understood at kindergarten level – is refuted by society at large.

20 09 2017
EtyerePetyere

This is a fairly old lecture . Since this was taken place the renewable developments and industry has completely disproved his prognosis and in the near future will completely obliterate it . Watch my words . In just another 5 years time nobody will be bringing up this ever .

20 09 2017
mikestasse

You cannot be serious……… this is only two years old. in that time, the ERoEI of the fossil fuels that are 100% ESSENTIAL for the manufacture of renewables is collapsing, in fact the companies producing them are all going bankrupt….

You’re right about five years though…… we’ll all be wondering what happened!

https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/the-implications-of-collapsing-eroei/

https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/do-we-have-five-years-left/

tolduso

21 09 2017
EtyerePetyere

Dear madam Mikestasse . just an example .Net to the enduser Electricity is 18% of all energy we are using but to get that 18% of electricity we are using 40% of primary energy (due to efficiency losses mining expenses building the infrastructure to provide the primary electricity sources etc ) to produce that 18% electricity now renewable`s are already making up some 20% of that electricity that means that renewable energy sources actually equal some 10%+ of primary energy sources and that is already net energy straight to the end user . All this in a few years . we need i think max a decade from here onward the most to completely faze out conventional primary energy sources with renewable s and doing that in an efficient and environmentally positive fashion .

21 09 2017
25 09 2017
Jonathan Maddox

There’s no such thing as a negative ERoEI. You may mean “negative net energy” but PV’s net energy is massively positive.

ERoEI is not collapsing. The ERoEI of fossil fuels, especially oil, is declining, to the point where it might soon be below that of PV.

We are not losing our energy slaves, we are just enslaving the next generation. To keep using a detestable analogy.

The Loki’s Revenge post has a number of ridiculous exaggerations and assumptions.

24 09 2017
EtyerePetyere

I was looking into your links these are also old . The last few years of immense renewable developments technological innovations efficiency completely blows away these assumptions of yesteryear

25 09 2017
Jonathan Maddox

It’s not about age, it’s about some completely incorrect assumptions.

27 09 2017
mikestasse

Almost nothing has changed in renewables since I trained in the industry in the 1990’s…… all that’s happened is that panels got bigger and peripherals now have more bells and whistles. Oh and lithium batteries which are a backward step.

28 09 2017
EtyerePetyere

Yes ! Panels got bigger . and production got multiplied panel output efficiency did also costs came down . Also peripheral efficiency and production multiplied that`s how you build an energy system . It is totally misleading for you to say that since the 1990`s nothing changed .Battery technology going the same efficiency improvements and cost and volume to say that is a backward step it outrageously wrong

28 09 2017
mikestasse

NOT correct…… commercial panels’ efficiency is still aroud 16%, has been for thirty years, and inverters have always been around 97~98% efficient. I’ve been around this stuff longer than you my friend……. battery efficiency is still crap. Move along, nothing to see….

In fact, some of the things they’ve done to make batteries more user friendly with low or no maintenance has REDUCED efficiency through shorter life. You do not know what you are talking about…..

28 09 2017
Jonathan Maddox

Try 22.5%. That’s nearly half as much again as what you’re claiming, not to be sneezed at.

http://news.energysage.com/what-are-the-most-efficient-solar-panels-on-the-market/

But more importantly, try below $1/watt. It’s the reduced price that’s the real revolution, improved efficiency not withstanding. Those lower costs are *in part* because of subsidised factory building and low wages in China, but they do also reflect real manufacturing learning curves, including dramatically improved energy efficiency in the manufacturing process.

28 09 2017
mikestasse

Try and buy one, and at what cost? 27% efficient panels exist. The nly people who buy them are NASA because of the cost of launching more panels for less power…. just because they exist doesn’t mean they are commercially available or affordable.

For years while I still believed in renewable energy as a viable alternative, I argued that only price was the barrier…… but the REAL barrier is the lack of SURPLUS ENERGY. Renewables will never deliver the high quality surplus energy we were lucky to get during the 20th century. 21st century fossil fuels can’t even do that themselves now, we are heading into energy austerity, and that’s all there is to it.

28 09 2017
mikestasse

I looked up that list……. SunPower are now bankrupt. A friend of mine tried to buy Q Cells, couldn’t get them… and the vast majority of that list is in the 15~17% range, just like I said. Furthermore, I would want to see the thermal derating numbers before buying…. far more important than any claims made by manufacturers whose only aim is SALES.

The panels I bought are very last ones on the list….. meh. They’re all pretty much the same, and these sorts of efficiencies were available twenty years ago. I’d be more interested in how long they (and the company that makes them) last than their efficiencies.

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/05/19/bankruptcies-continue-in-solar-industry.aspx

28 09 2017
Jonathan Maddox

LG and Panasonic are numbers 2 and 3 on the list. Not bankrupt.

As for environmental devastation, silicon solar PV doesn’t do that. The source and waste materials are benign (now that silicon tetrachloride is almost universally recycled — there was a dumping problem for a short while) and the energy requirements relatively modest compared with the enormous material and energy throughput of Chinese industry. PV is not directly responsible for much pollution at all.

You may be thinking of the rare earth metal mining area, Baotou, of which there are lots of picturesque images of toxic waste. Those rare earth materials don’t go into silicon solar PV. They have a myriad uses, from big window panes to optic fibre communications lasers to microscopes to studio lamps ICE engine catalytic converters to MRI scanners to nuclear reactor control rods to toys to LCD displays to surgical equipment to kitchen knives to gas turbines and jet engines to purse clasps to fridge magnets to headphones and loudspeakers to motors (oh, the motors!) and generators to NiMH batteries.

But not solar PV (and not lithium batteries or AC induction motors either).

28 09 2017
psile

“Those lower costs are *in part* because of subsidised factory building and low wages in China”…

…and the ecological devastation.

It’s ironic that the places manufacturing this clean green utopian fantasy are polluted hell holes that will take centuries, if not millennia, to recover.

29 09 2017
2 10 2017
Jonathan Maddox

Hidden in the fine print is that the solar farm is viable without a subsidy for the solar primary generation, thanks to the subsidy paid for its power storage component.

Solar in high latitudes is very useful for a few months of the year — but those are the months when energy demand is at its lowest. People aren’t heating their homes and workplaces when the days are long.

By far the cheapest form of new-build electricity generation in the UK at the moment is wind, on land. The government has halted subsidies for that as well. They’re subsidising offshore wind, which is much more expensive (though cheaper than solar at that latitude), but it’s a valuable “pump-priming” exercise anyway (as is the subsidy for storage facilities) because the energy potential is vast.

29 09 2017
david higham

I tried to post this link yesterday. It has some relevant points. The website
there had problems yesterday,but the link seems to work now.
https://newmatilda.com/2017/09/19/move-to-the-rear-of-the-power-station-drink-from-the-renewable-kool-aid/

2 10 2017
Jonathan Maddox

Geoff labours his point whilst missing it. Liddell has been anything but “dispatchable” in its twilight years. It certainly doesn’t deliver two gigawatts of power whenever it is called upon to do so.

http://www.afr.com/news/politics/gas-and-coal-failures-were-behind-nsws-power-scare-aemo-20170221-guiesi

30 09 2017
EtyerePetyere

“The problem is that Geoff is a coal lobby stooge he is against renewables even though numerous experts in power systems and economics, he is neither, have shown that these can supply cheap reliable power for a quick not too technical summary visit the BZE web site and forget this twit”

1 10 2017
mikestasse

Who is Geoff………..?

1 10 2017
david higham

I think he is referring to Geoff Russell,who wrote the article I posted.

1 10 2017
EtyerePetyere

And to completely destroy MR Dr. Vaclav Smil “crawl” hyphothesis
A Record-Breaking 29% of the U.K.’s Electricity Is Now Generated by Renewables
https://futurism.com/a-record-breaking-29-of-the-u-k-s-electricity-is-now-generated-by-renewables/

2 10 2017
mikestasse

Yes but that’s only ~6% of the TOTAL energy needs…..

2 10 2017
Jonathan Maddox

The more you generate electricity using wind, water or solar energy sources, the less “primary” energy you need for electricity generation, as thermal losses are included in the contribution made by fossil fuels (except in BP’s fairer accounting which instead of using raw energy units translates everything into “tonnes of oil equivalent”, and would therefore accord a much greater share of the UK’s primary energy consumption to renewable electric technologies).

The more you use electric heat pumps for basic low-temperature heating requirements like space heat and hot water, the less “primary” fossil energy is consumed in that role also also.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s