How not to use technology

17 05 2021

I was pointed to this video on social media where the virtues of using technology to achieve net zero emissions were extolled. I was underwhelmed to the point it persuaded me to write a new post about why this is the wrong way to go, especially as we now face the very real possibility of near term collapse. Especially after living in our house for a couple of years now, and appreciating the pros and cons of doing a variety of things to survive the coming shit storm…

To begin with, the whole idea of net zero emissions is a trap. Either you have zero emissions, or you don’t. I was guilty of this way of thinking myself when we lived in Queensland with our grid tied solar power system. I even fell for the financial benefits side of things making me think that if it made us money, it must be good for the climate. Today I think much more along the lines of surplus energy economics because while ‘they’ will have you believe the world runs on money, it utterly needs energy, and not just any old energy, it must be SURPLUS ENERGY….

This video shows an older house disconnected from the gas lines for heating. At first glance it looks like a good idea, but a $95,000 good idea? Obviously, insulating the house is a must, but sourcing the heat that the insulation stops escaping is what I want to discuss here.

Canada’s climate (and I’ve been there) makes Tasmania’s look like a picnic in the park. Calgary’s winter minimums probably drop to -20°C at times, and solar panels would get covered in snow to boot. The days are even shorter than ours, and it’s almost certainly cloudier. Even way back in 1979 when we crossed Canada, I remember thinking it would be extremely difficult to live there without fossil fuels…

Heat pumps to the rescue. With only solar energy to power this house, everything has to be electric. In fact the future demands for electricity in a net zero emissions world don’t even begin contemplation. Most of Canada’s electricity is either hydro or nuclear, so it’s mostly emissions free anyway, but it’s not designed to run a 100% electric world that likely involves cars too…..

how we stay warm with zero emissions technology

Our passive house uses solar power directly for warmth. It’s so efficient that at times we’ve had to open windows when it’s well below 10°C outside because it’s getting too hot!

right there is some 12kW of solar gain trapped by insulation and double glazing… and it’s just one room.

To recoup the energy used to power all those heat pumps (erroneously described as 250% efficient in the video) no less than 10kW of PVs are needed to pay for the winter load in summer. That’s FIVE TIMES as much solar power as we consume. So much for energy efficiency.

Whoever put this show together is obviously not thinking about collapse either, because once TSHTF in Canada, and it will, all bets are off, they’ll be freezing in that house….. There are going to be a lot of disappointed technoutopians in the next decade or two…