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Is Renewable Energy Less Effective Than Energy Efficiency at Reducing CO2 Emissions?

renewables and efficiency

Below are some data that show the policies to implement worldwide renewable energy build-outs are, as of yet, far from sufficient to reduce global CO2 emissions. At the same time, I believe these policies are yielding significant adverse results regarding economic competitiveness, because the renewable energy cost of generation is about 20 c/kWh, whereas utilities, which are mandated to buy that energy, are able to sell the energy on the wholesale market at about 5 c/kWh or less. In Germany, the difference, plus utility mark-ups, is mostly charged to electric bills.

As more and more expensive renewable energy is generated, it becomes a bigger and bigger headwind to worldwide economic growth. Some vibrant economies, such as Germany, are, for now, able to grow their GDP, albeit at a lesser rate of increase, despite the RE headwind. Less vibrant economies, such as of Spain, Italy and France, found the renewable energy headwind unbearable. Accordingly, they have reduced, or slowed the increase of their RE investments in recent years.

The world’s RE efforts have degenerated into a giant subsidy program for the multi-nationals of a few countries, such as Siemens, Vestas, GE, Iberdrola, etc., regarding wind turbines, and Chinese manufacturers regarding PV panels, and for multi-millionaires with risk-free, lucrative tax shelters who own the subsidized wind, solar and biomass plants.

It was erroneously thought by naive, but well-meaning politicians, egged on by over-eager, subsidy chasing, RE aficionados, this would do the trick, i.e., reduce CO2 emissions, but it did not work after at least 12 years of trying, as the data in this article shows.

Glacier Shortening Rate UNAFFECTED by CO2: Here is an article showing the LOWEST glacier shortening RATE was in the late 1700s – early 1800s (the coldest period of the Little Ice Age), and the shortening RATE has been steadily INCREASING since then, even though WORLD coal was barely used until the LATE 1800s, and WORLD oil was barely used until about 1940, and WORLD gas was barely used until about 1950, i.e., the shortening rate was UNAFFECTED by CO2.

See Figures 2 and 3 of this URL

http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm

Figure 3 shows temperature correlates with the sun, not CO2.

The article is well worth some study. It should be widely distributed before the environmental meetings in Paris in 2015.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING REDUCING WORLDWIDE CO2 EMISSIONS

 The EU, the US and China, the world’s main CO2 emitters, agreed to propose targets to reduce their CO2 emissions. They will present these targets during a climate conference to be held in Paris, France, in 2015.

EU-28 CO2, EE and RE Targets Proposed on October 2014:

– Committed to a 40% reduction of CO2 emissions from the 1990 level by 2030. The EU CO2 emissions were 5,696 mmt in 1990, 4,679 mmt in 2012, are planned to be 3,418 mmt in 2030, a reduction of 1.8%/yr over 18 years, per the European Energy Agency. The target is binding on the EU and the national level.

– Set a target of a 27% reduction of the EU 2030 projected energy consumption by means of energy efficiency. The EU primary energy consumption was 1,584 mtoe in 2012, was planned to be 1,483 mtoe by 2020, is now planned to be 1,307 mtoe by 2030, a reduction of 1.1%/yr over 18 years. This implies it would have been 1.27 x 1,307 = 1,660 mtoe without the 27% reduction. The target is non-binding on the EU level and the national level.

– Set a target for RE to be 27% of the EU 2030 projected energy consumption (RE = 0.27 x 1,307 = 353 mtoe by 2030). The target is binding on the EU level, but not the national level. 

US and China CO2 and RE Targets Proposed in November 2014:

– China to cap CO2 emissions from all sources by 2030, or sooner, i.e. they would be increasing until that date. There was no mention of increased EE to reduce CO2 emissions.

– China to have 20% non-fossil energy (hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, etc.) of its 2030 projected energy mix. China’s past and planned non-fossil energy is 6.8, 8.6, 11.4, 15, and 20%, for 2005, 2010, 2015, 2020, and 2030, respectively. In 2012, China’s energy mix, %, was fossil 90.6, of which coal 66.6, oil 18.8, NG 5.2; non-fossil (hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, etc.) 9.4 in 2012. As non-fossil energy increased from 6.8% in 2005, to 8.6% in 2010, to 9.4% in 2012, significant acceleration of investments would be required to achieve 2015, 2020 and 2030 targets.

– The US to reduce CO2 emissions from all sources 26% – 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. According to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory, US CO2 equivalent emissions, mmt, were 6,233 in 1990; 7,254 in 2005; 6,875 in 2010; 6,526 in 2012. According to targets, they would be 5,368 – 5,223 by 2025. Significant acceleration of investments would be required to achieve 2025 targets. There was no mention of increased EE to reduce CO2 emissions.

My Conclusion, Based on the Above: What will come out of the Paris meeting next year likely will be more of the same. The world’s economy is in near-zero-growth mode. No major mandates, only SUGGESTED targets that may not be implemented.

It appears, there likely will be NO significant CO2 emission reduction and GW mitigation for at least 40 – 50 years, no matter what Europe, the US and Japan do regarding CO2 emission reductions, as the China, India, etc., CO2 emission increases, from all sources, will much more than offset all of the reductions of others.

That leaves us with the other options: 1) world population management, i.e., reduction to about 1 billion people, the same as in 1800, and 2) energy efficiency practiced by the remaining people, i.e., less than 1/10th the per capita energy and other resources consumption than at present.

Remember, we are not alone. Unless we are going to be total idiots, we MUST preserve the habitats of all the OTHER fauna and flora, so they can survive and thrive. 

Biologists estimate at least 50% of the world’s land and sea areas need to be kept in a near-unspoiled state for the other fauna and flora. Those habitats are THEIR healthcare system!! There is such a thing as the 360-degree systems approach to solving problems.

WORLDWIDE CO2 EMISSIONS FROM ALL SOURCES

As a result of gross world product, GWP, growth from 1990 to 2013, world CO2 emissions increased. Most of that increase is due to increased coal burning in Asia.

Below are the world CO2 emissions, million metric ton:

22,700 in 1990 Kyoto base line

25,100 in 2002; 10.6% greater than 1990, or 0.5%/yr. over 12 yrs.

30,720 in 2006

31,450 in 2007

32,190 in 2008

33,080 in 2009

33,730 in 2010

34,730 in 2011

35,425 in 2012

36,100 in 2013; 43.8% greater than 2002, or 3.1%/yr. over 12 yrs.

36,900 in 2014; estimate

47,200 in 2035, projected based on IEA assumptions.

Whereas GWP increased from $54.9 trillion in 2002 to $82.7 trillion in 2013 (2010$ PPP), 50.6%, or 3.5%/yr over 12 years, CO2 emissions increased 43.8%, or 3.1%/yr. over those 12 yrs., a significant ACCELERATION from 0.5%/yr over the prior 12 yrs., despite the $2.1 TRILLION in non-hydro RE investments, and the ongoing decrease in WGP energy intensity of about 1%/yr. That acceleration is primarily due to increased coal tonnage burned by inefficient, dirty coal plants in China; about 30% more CO2/kWh and about 15 times more particulate/kWh.

Each ton of coal burned by China is much “dirtier” than in Europe, the US and Japan, because the average air pollution control system efficiency of China’s coal plants is about 85%; it is about 99% in Europe, the US and Japan.

GROSS WORLD PRODUCT ENERGY INTENSITY

Ongoing technological development and energy efficiency measures during the past 40 years have significantly reduced the gross world product, GWP, energy intensity.

The GWP energy intensity was about 0.225 toe/$1000 of GWP in 1970 and 0.15 toe in 2010, for an annual decline of about 1.0%/yr. over 40 years.

The GWP energy intensity declines due to not always obvious factors (highways may become more efficient due to reconstruction, new plants may have more efficient layouts, etc.), and, due to the more obvious, increased energy efficiency of goods and services.

WORLDWIDE ENERGY GENERATION, RE INVESTMENTS AND CO2 EMISSION REDUCTION

Worldwide Energy Generation: As a result of gross world product, GWP, growth, world energy generation increased from 16,174 TWh in 2002 to 23,127 TWh in 2013, an increase of 43.0% in 12 years, about 3.0%/yr over 12 years. Analysis of the data shows:

………………………………………………………2002…………..2013…………2014

– World energy generation, TWh………….16,174……..23,127………..23,537 See BP url

– Nuclear energy, near-CO2-free…………16.5%…………10.8% 

– Fossil energy………………………………….65.0%…………67.3%


– Hydro energy, near -CO2-free………….16.7%…………16.4%

– RE*……………………………………………….1.6%……………5.3%

Worldwide renewable energy generation, TWh, increases about 1% per year.

 …………Solar……Wind…….Geo-Bio……….RE……..Hydro…..RE+Hydro……Generation………%

2012…..96.7……..525.1……..451.4…….1073.2…..3515.5…….4588.7……….22630.4……..20.28

2013…134.5……..640.7……..475.4…….1250.6…..3685.0…….4935.6……….23184.0……..21.29

2014…185.9……..706.2……..508.5…….1400.6…..3807.8…….5208.4……….23536.5……..22.13

Worldwide fossil energy generation, TWh, is increasing, but it is decreasing as a percent of total generation. However, nature does not care about percentages.

…………….Nuclear………….RE+Hydro………….Fossil……….Generation…………%

2012………1964.3…………….4588.7………….16077.4……….22630.4………..71.04

2013………1975.8…………….4935.6………….16272.6……….23184.0………..70.19

2014………1988.0…………….5208.4………….16340.1……….23536.5………..69.42

http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/excel/Energy-Economics/statistical-review-2015/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2015-workbook.xlsx

*Wood-burning power plants would require cutting trees and burning them, which emits just as much CO2/kWh as coal, which may have an immediate, adverse global warming impact, plus emits at least as much air-borne, health-damaging particulate matter as coal.

Wood-burning proponents and governments claim burning wood is “CO2-neutral”. They purposely forget to add: “over a period of about 50 to 100 years.” Global warming is a problem now. Wood burning is near-CO2-free on about a 50 to 100-year basis, as it takes about 50 to 100 years for the forest to restore itself to before-harvesting conditions. Wood-burning plants are an inappropriate 50 to 100 year “solution”! See URLs for additional information.

Pro-RE officials purposely ignore the research of independent foresters, simply DECLARE wood-burning “CO2-neutral”, which creates political “feel-good”, because it increases logging jobs and conjures up the APPEARANCE of meeting CO2 targets, etc. However, it perpetuates uninformed thinking by lay people and others.

Loggers SAY they take only sick, near-dead trees and other “waste” wood, but, in almost all cases, that appears to be not even close to the truth.

Worldwide RE Investments and RE Generation: The below, recently issued report presents an overview of worldwide renewable energy (RE) investments from 2002 to 2013.

As a result of RE build-out investments of about $1,700 billion from 2002 to 2013 (excluding mostly “socialized” investments for grid adequacy, capacity adequacy, etc., of about $400 billion not mentioned in the report), worldwide RE generation increased from 1.6% to 5.3%, a 3.8% addition, of which:

………………………………………2002…………..2013

– Wind……………………………….0.3%…………2.7%

– Biomass……………………………0.9%…………1.8%


– Solar (PV + CSP)……………….0.0%…………0.5%


– Geothermal………………………..0.3%…………0.3%


– Marine; tidal, wave, etc…………0.0%…………0.0%

– Total…………………………………1.6%…………5.3% 

It matters rather little what the US does, because it is only 20% of the world energy pie. What the WHOLE world does is MUCH more important regarding GLOBAL warming.

Total WORLD generation (excluding nuclear):

Hydro + RE………………. 16.7 + 1.6 = 18.3% in 2002 

Hydro + RE………………..16.4 + 5.3 = 21.7% in 2013

The 3.8% addition over 12 years of worldwide RE generation required investments of 1.7 + 0.4 = $2.1 TRILLION from 2002 to 2013. The report data shows, the 12 – year trend of RE investments to reduce fossil energy generation and replace it with renewable energy generation would take many decades.

According to the report, worldwide RE investments were distributed as follows:

Year…………………….2011………2012………….2013……….2014

Europe…………………120.7………..89.6…………57.3……….57.5


US……………..………..50.0………..38.2…………36.0………..38.3

China…………………….49.1………..62.8…………62.6………..83.3

Asia, Oceania……..….24.1………..30.5………..…44.7…………48.7 (incl. Japan, Australia, etc.)


Other……………………34.9………..35.3.…………31.2…………42.4

World Total……………278.8……….256.4………..231.8……….270.2

http://fs-unep-centre.org/sites/default/files/attachments/key_findings.pdf

From the above table, we can make the following observations:

– Worldwide RE investment has declined in the last 2 years, primarily in Europe.

– RE investment in Europe has collapsed, largely due to budget constraints resulting from about 12% unemployment, stagnant real household incomes, near-zero economic growth, near-zero inflation, and higher energy prices due to expensive RE policies. IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, stated “a diet of high debt, low growth and high unemployment may become the new normal in Europe”.

– China became the largest RE investor, only because of RE investment backsliding by Europe and the US. China is catching up on RE investments, i.e., backsliding is not an option. Whereas China’s per capita GDP is low, its GDP is greater than of the US, on a purchasing power parity, PPP, basis.

– Other countries account for about 14% of the worldwide RE investment, which is of minor relevance regarding GW impact.

European Economic Conditions and Investments in Renewable Energy: The EU committed to reduce its overall emissions about 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Achieving this target, which the EU says is legally binding, would require a very large investment in renewables. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance , investment in “clean energy” in Europe has been declining steadily since the second quarter of 2011. See URL. The about $1.0 trillion invested in RE to date likely acts as an additional headwind making the European economy less and less competitive.

http://euanmearns.com/european-renewables-investment-heads-towards-zero/

Worldwide CO2 Emission Reduction due to RE investments, million metric ton:

……………World CO2…………RE……..kg CO2/kWh…….Reduction………%

…………………………………..TWh

2012………35435………….1073.3………..0.7……………..751.51………..2.12

2013………36100………….1250.6………..0.7……………..875.42………..2.42

2014………36900………….1400.6………..0.7……………..980.42………..2.66

The $2.1 trillion of non-hydro RE investments over 12 years, plus the $270 b in 2014, increased the production of RE to 1,400.6 TWh of electricity in 2014, about 5.95% of total energy generation.

The addition of RE to the grid primarily displaces oil, gas and coal energy. If we assume all of the displaced energy in 2014 had CO2 emissions of about 0.7 kg/kWh, or 0.7 mmt/TWh, then, in 2014, the CO2 emission reduction would have been 0.7 x 1400.6 mmt, or 0.7 x 100 x 1400.6/36900 = 2.66%. See above table.

The 2.66% significantly overstates because:

– Biomass, while claimed to be CO2-neutral, is in fact not so

– Gas energy has CO2 emissions of about 0.55 kg/kWh

– Balancing generating plants are operated less efficiently, i.e., emit more CO2/kWh

– The RE build-outs had embedded CO2 emissions

– Most of the RE build-outs have short, less than 25 year useful service lives and need to be partially replaced causing additional embedded CO2 emissions.

NOTE: The increase of world CO2 emissions of about 800 mmt in 2014 occurred despite the (overstated) reduction of 0.7 x 1250.6 = 875 mmt due to RE in 2014.

US CO2 Emission Reduction due to RE Investments and Other Factors: For comparison, according to the EIA, the US 2013 CO2 emissions due to energy generation would have been 2,817 mmt, based on the 2005 trend, but lower demand reduced it by 402 mmt, using gas instead of coal reduced it by 212 mmt, and RE reduced it by 150 mmt, for a net CO2 emissions of 2,053 mmt.

According to the EIA, the US 2013 RE generation, in TWh, from wind 167.665, solar 9.252, geothermal 16.517, biomass 59.894, totaled 253.328 TWh.

Thus, the US 2013 CO2 emission reduction due to RE was 150 mmt/253.328 TWh = 0.592 kg/kWh. The US 2013 net electrical generation was 4,058 TWh, and energy generation-related CO2 emissions were 2053 mmt, for a US grid CO2 emissions intensity of 2053/4058 = 0.506 kg/kWh. 

The EIA appears to assume the displaced energy due to RE has a greater CO2 emission intensity than the US grid. It is not clear, if the EIA took into account any factors that lead to the above-mentioned overstatement of CO2 emission reduction.

FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR US ENERGY IN 2013

Below is a table of federal subsidies for traditional and renewable energy for 2013. Some of the “As Published” values are from the references, and do not agree with the “As Calculated” values. RE received 72.5% of the subsidies, but produced only 13.1% of all the energy. Wind subsidy was 3.522/0.67 = 5.3 times greater than gas. Solar subsidy was 23.121/0.67 = 34.5 times greater than gas.

Source……………………Subsidy…….Production……As Calculated…..As Published

………………………………million $…..billion kWh…………c/kWh……………c/kWh

Coal…………………………….901…………..1586………………..0.057…………….0.057

Gas + Petro Liq…………….690…………..1141………………..0.060…………….0.067

Nuclear………………………1660…………….789………………..0.210…………….0.210

Other………………………………………………..20

Total Trad…………………3251……………3536……………….0.092

Biomass………………………118………………60…………………0.197…………….0.207

Geothermal………………….245………………17…………………1.441…………….1.480

Hydro………………………….392…………….269…………………0.146…………….0.147

Solar, Utility + Distr……..4393………………19……………….23.121…………..23.121

Wind…………………………5936…………….168…………………3.533…………….3.533

Other RE……………………..594

Total RE………………….11678…………….533………………..2.191

Smart Grid + Trans……..1184

Total……………………….16113……………4069……………….0.367

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_of_the_United_States

file:///Users/Save%20Misc%20Energy%20Topics/Energy%20Articles%20on%20TEC/Hydro%20Energy%20to%20NE/EIA%20Report:%20Subsidies%20Continue%20to%20Roll%20In%20For%20Wind%20and%20Solar%20-%20IER.html

http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/

ECONOMIC HEADWINDS DUE TO EXPENSIVE RE ENERGY

Usually, one expects big investments to produce economic benefits, such as better, more efficient goods and services. But the big RE investments produced mostly hard to control, variable, intermittent energy that is at least 4 times more expensive than traditional energy.

If that expensive energy led to significant reductions in world CO2 emissions, it would be worth it, but it did not. Even in Germany, CO2 emissions, overall and from energy generation, have not been reduced in recent years, even though much RE has been added to the energy mix. 

Germany’s REAL GDP grew a total of 2.2% from 2008 – 2013, 0.45%/yr over 5 yrs., partially due to the headwind of funding the expensive ENERGIEWENDE; the rest of Europe did worse.

Another headwind is due to the ENERGIEWENDE energy costing about 20 eurocent/kWh to generate, and being sold by utilities at wholesale at 5 eurocent/kWh, or less; the cost difference is largely charged to household electric bills. Germany and Denmark, both RE leaders, have the highest household energy prices/kWh in Europe.

FUTURE WORLDWIDE INVESTMENTS IN RE SYSTEMS

The next 12 years, etc., should not repeat the past 12 years, but it would mean diverting at least say 5 times the $2.1 trillion invested in RE systems over the past 12 years, or $10.5 trillion, and invest that in RE systems during the next 12 years.

How much did the world economy invest in its energy systems over the past 12 years? What was the percentage of that invested in RE systems? We know that RE percentage is equivalent to $2.1 trillion over the past 12 years.

How much could be diverted from existing fossil investment trends and how much would have to be added to RE investments to achieve a desirable fossil energy decrease and RE increase during the next 12 years? Those are the real questions. 

The $2.1 trillion has produced energy at a cost of about 4.0 – 4.5 times annual average wholesale prices, based on Germany’s published data regarding its 12-year ENERGIEWENDE program. Does anyone think most other developed countries can do better than Germany?

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/338781/high-renewable-energy-...

Germany is rich enough to afford adding increasingly greater quantities of such expensive RE to its energy mix, because much of its mix still is low-cost nuclear and low-cost fossil energy. Other nations are not rich enough.

What if Germany’s mix goes from the present 25% RE and 75% nuclear/fossil to 50% RE and 50% nuclear/fossil, and then to 75% RE and 25% nuclear/fossil? Would Germany’s products and services, including those that are exported, not become more expensive? Would that not lead to job losses? If other countries followed Germany’s lead, would not their products and services become more expensive? What would Germany’s and the world’s economic growth become? Would families still be able to afford their lifestyles and to have and raise children?

Partially because of RE added to the mix, Germany’s economic growth percentage has decreased in recent years. Losing much of the lucrative Russian market to East Asia would be another headwind, not just for Germany, but all of Europe. China is smiling.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

Higher Wind Energy Production Increases Electric Rates: Here is an article describing a study of wind energy growth and electric rate increases in the top 10 US wind power states. The study shows higher wind energy growth leads to higher electric rate growth! Because such data did not exist in earlier years, all sorts of dubious claims were made by wind energy proponents regarding the benefits of wind energy, urging the US should build out as quickly as possible to “save the world for our children.” All sorts of folks, including politicians of all stripes, jumped on the bandwagon.

Germany’s RE Generation, CO2 Emission Reductions and Costs: German CO2 emissions decreased 27% from the 1990 level by the end of 2009, 1.3%/yr. over 19 yrs., but increased 4% from the 2009 level by the end of 2013, 1.0%/yr. over 4 yrs. CO2 emissions, mmt, all sources, were: 913, 947, 929, 940, 951 for 2009 through 2013.

Germany has been building out a significant coal plant capacity, MW. These plants are more efficient and more flexible. Germany has been retiring less efficient, not so flexible coal plants. That was ongoing before Fukushima, still is ongoing, and is being accelerated due to closing down near-CO2-free, completely paid-for nuclear plant capacity.

For some years, the planned adding of RE capacity, not nearly as CO2-free as claimed, likely will not offset the additional CO2 from the changing mixture of coal plants. The future closing of additional nuclear plant capacity likely will prolong that condition for at least 10 yrs.

Here is an article that explains in detail the historical cost of the EEG-1 ENERGIEWENDE since 2000, projected out for EEG-2 to 2030, using government projections. Misinformed by a steady stream of PR releases, as almost every one else, I was surprised the costs were this high for EEG-1, and what they are projected to be for EEG-2, after I made the analysis. Much of Germany’s future CO2 emission reductions likely will not come from energy generation, but from other efforts, such as increased EE.

RE and its Impending Adverse Impact on the California Grid: Without domestic, flexible, balancing, generating and grid capacity, and without domestic, economically viable energy storage, and without extensive connections to other grids that have EXCESS flexible balancing, generating and grid capacity, the adverse impact of increasing variable, intermittent RE on a domestic grid will become unmanageable, as Germany has found out.  Here is an example:

The more variable, intermittent RE (wind, solar, etc.) California adds to its grid, the more difficult it becomes to integrate it with the grid. This problem became evident early on, and in an attempt to solve it California, in 2010, passed legislation to encourage its publicly owned utilities to install energy storage – batteries, thermal, flywheels, CAES, pumped hydro (not exceeding 50MW), whatever worked – requesting them to develop viable and cost-effective plans and submit their end 2016 energy storage capacity targets by October 1, 2014. The submissions of 29 of 31 California publicly owned utilities, negative for various reasons, are published here

RE AND ITS VERY LARGE ENVIRONMENTAL “FOOTPRINT”

RE has a much lesser energy production per unit area than conventional energy generation. If a future worldwide energy generation mix would be 70% RE + 20% hydro + 10% other non-fossil, then very large areas of land and water would need to be occupied by energy systems.

A recent report showed a 50% worldwide decrease of wildlife numbers from 1970 to 2010, 40 yrs. Another report showed a 20% Europe-wide decrease of common bird species from 1980 to 2009, 29 yrs.

Both reports state the primary cause is man-made destruction/degradation of habitats prior to, and during, these time periods. If RE, with its huge adverse environmental footprint, is added to this unhealthy mix, further degradation of fauna will occur. Yet, another reason for implementing a worldwide CO2 emission reduction approach, such as EE, that has a much less adverse environmental footprint, AND is much more cost effective for reducing CO2 emissions, kg of CO2/invested dollar.

INCREASED ENERGY EFFICIENCY A MUCH BETTER APPROACH TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS

RE proponents aim to replace “dirty” fossil energy with only minor changes in unsustainable energy-intensive lifestyles, i.e., as much BAU, “shop-till-you-drop” as possible, the easy way out, whereas increased EE is about significantly changing those lifestyles. People, imbued with about 100 years of ever more abundant energy experience, have a hard time coming to grips with those more difficult changes; the main reason politicians, not wanting to upset the voters, are backing RE instead of EE.

If all of the $2.1 trillion in RE investments had been added to the world’s OTHER energy efficiency efforts of the past 12 years, it would have significantly affected all aspects of energy use. By my calcluations, it would have led to CO2 emissions reductions of at least 1%/yr, or 12.7% in 2013.

This shows investments in increased EE over 12 years would have been about 12.7/2.39 = 5.3 times more effective for reducing CO2 emissions by 2013, than the investments in RE over 12 years.

Energy Efficiency Investments: The world market of energy efficient goods and services was estimated by the IEA at $310 to $360 billion in 2011. These numbers are nearly $100 billion greater than investments in RE build-outs in 2013, ($214 billion). But those numbers are based on the sales prices of the goods and services. Only a very small fraction of these sales prices are incremental costs due to EE.

The incremental cost due to EE in an AC unit is approximately the performance difference between a standard unit and one with a higher performance. If the production cost of the standard AC unit is about $70, then, with markups, the consumer sales price would be about $210. If the production cost of the higher performance AC unit is about $85, then, with markups, the consumer sales price would be about $255. It is only the 255 – 210 = $45 that is due to EE.

If the RE investment of $2.1 trillion over 12 years had instead been used for improving EE in all aspects of energy use, then just $45/2 = $22.5 of that as a consumer subsidy more likely would have induced a consumer to buy the higher performance unit. On that basis, the $2.1 trillion would have had a very significant impact on reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions over 12 years.

Measures to Increase Energy Efficiency: If existing, uncoordinated, EE measures reduced the world energy intensity by 1.0%/yr., then that 1.0%/yr. could be at least doubled by 1) worldwide upgrading of energy codes and 2) redirecting any future RE investments to EE to provide subsidies to implement the following requirements: 

– All NEW buildings to be zero-energy, or energy surplus buildings. These buildings would have high efficiency appliances and lighting (CFLs, dimmers, motion sensors); PV solar systems; electrical and thermal energy storage systems; and engine-generator backup systems.

– All NEW light vehicles to be plug-in EVs and plug-in hybrids, charged by the energy-efficient buildings and public charging stations.

– Build electrical train systems, community and high speed, primarily nuclear powered, as they are in France, which already has one of the lowest energy and CO2 emission intensities among developed nations.

– Phase out short distance air travel as high-speed rail systems become available.

– Widespread adoption of battery-assisted bicycles and tricycles; useful for physically-less-capable people, for carrying various goods, for local travel and local shopping, etc. The batteries would be charged by buildings and by public charging stations.

– Tax energy energy inefficiency. The revenues to be used for EE subsidies:

Example: If a person drives a light vehicle that gets 25 mpg (EPA Combined), there would be no tax; 24 mpg $100 annual tax, 23 mpg $200, 22 mpg, $300, etc., to be paid at annual registration with the registration fee. The 25 mpg, no-tax limit would be raised by 1 or 2 mpg each year. People would quickly get rid of their gas-guzzlers. Using a gasoline or diesel tax would be too regressive. 

Example: Apply surcharges on household electricity consumption as follows:

Monthly consumption: 0 – 399 kWh; no surcharge; 400 – 499, 5 c/kWh surcharge; 500 – 599, 10 c/kWh; 600 – 699, 15 c/kWh; etc. Energy-guzzling households would quickly find ways to reduce their electric bills.

– Build factory-built, proven-design (to save time), near-CO2-free, modular nuclear plants to provide at least 50% of the world’s electrical energy. The US has about 50 years of experience building several hundred modular reactors for the US Navy. If Boeing can build 50 planes per month, the US can build 50 modular units of 100 – 150 MW per month. US nuclear energy production was 790 TWh in 2013, 19.4% of energy generation. About 2050 TWh/(8760 hr/yr x 0.9) = 260,000 MW of modular units would be required to replace the existing plants and achieve 2,050 TWh, about 50% of US energy generation in 2013. The IPCC is finally shifting its nuclear stance.

– Phasing-in worldwide population management starting with the first 2 children, boys AND girls, receiving cost-free education, all levels, whereas the 3rd, etc., children would not. Parents would think twice before having a 3rd, etc., child. If the energy-guzzling, environment-destroying human race keeps “expanding”, there will be too little unspoiled habitat for other fauna and flora, which need the unspoiled habitats as their healthcare support systems to survive and thrive.

COMPARISON OF GRID-CONNECTED AND OFF-THE-GRID HOUSES

Energy efficiency for buildings did not become an issue until after the 4-fold increase of crude oil prices in 1973. The owners of buildings, seeing major increases in their heating and cooling costs, engaged consulting engineers to make energy surveys of buildings, which, after implementation of the recommendations, usually resulted in at least 50% decreases of energy consumption.

Such efficiency improvements regarding houses did not take place until much later, and then only on a case by case basis, because politicians were, and still are, very slow to upgrade building codes. For them it is so much easier to be for heavily subsidized, highly visible renewable energy, than for lightly subsidized, invisible energy efficiency.

Because CO2 emissions are one of the factors affecting global warming and climate change, it would be desirable to have buildings meet the goal of “net-zero-energy and near-zero CO2 emissions”. This article describes 3 alternatives in detail.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2162036/comparison-grid-conne...

ENERGY EFFICIENCY, THE LOW-HANGING FRUIT

EE is the low-hanging fruit, has not scratched the surface, is by far the best approach to reduce CO2 emissions, because it provides the quickest and biggest “bang for the buck”, and 

– It is invisible

– It has a minimal “footprint”, unlike RE

– It does not make noise

– It does not destroy pristine ridge lines/upset mountain water runoffs

– It would reduce CO2, NOx, SOx and particulates more effectively than renewables

– It would not require expensive, highly visible build-outs of transmission systems

– It would slow electric rate increases

– It would slow fuel cost increases

– It would not lower property values

– It would not harm people’s health

– It would slow depletion of fuel resources

– It would create 3 times the jobs and reduce 3-5 times the Btus and CO2 per invested dollar than renewables

– All the technologies are fully developed

– It would end the subsidizing of renewables tax shelters benefitting mostly for the top 1% at the expense of the other 99%

– It would be more democratic/equitable

– It would do all this without public resistance and controversy.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/71771/energy-efficiency-first-renewables-later

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/46652/reducing-energy-use-houses


Photo Credit: Renewables, Efficiency, and Carbon Reduction/shutterstock

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Discussions

Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on October 29, 2014

If it were just a matter of arresting the growth of CO2 emissions or reducing them by some modest percentage, then there’s no question that energy efficiency would be the most cost-effective way to go. But the natural processes that remove CO2 from the atmosphere over time work slowly. They could accommodate a long term average of perhaps 2 – 3 gigatonnes of carbon per year. By contrast, we’re releasing around 10 gigatonnes per year. We will need to bring our fossil carbon emissions to near zero for the atmosphere to stabilize at a non-catastrophic level. And that would be very hard to do via efficiency improvements alone. We must move toward non-fossil carbon energy resources, even as we improve energy efficiency. 

James Thurer's picture
James Thurer on October 29, 2014

Willem,

Thanks for a brilliant post.  Your logic is impeccable, and the information is presented very well.  

The problem I see, though, is that I can’t see how our current political culture would promote EE over RE on a large scale.  The political advantage of RE is that it involves giving money away to voters and interest groups – be it to ADM or Monsanto for corn ethanol, Solyndra for solar, or affluent car buyers for Tesla.  Promoting EE, however, would almost have to take the form of taxing excessive consumption, thus taking money away from voters and interest groups.  I’m afraid that the consumption taxes would be necessary as, the simple reality is that the only thing that has effectively discouraged excessive energy consumption is high prices.  

I can’t imagine the current political culture having the fortitude to stop giving money away and raising consumption taxes.  Any thoughts?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on October 30, 2014

Willem, your analysis is impressive in its scope and logic. I tend to believe that so-called “rebound” is exaggerated, that humans are not hard-wired to compensate for energy saved by wasting more elsewhere, and that improvements in efficiency are beneficial in unexpected ways in the same way waste is harmful.

In California we’re starting to see more municipalities adopting progressive water rates, and I’ve always wondered why such a scheme couldn’t be employed with gas taxes at the pump. It wouldn’t be difficult to circumvent by a determined spendthrift, but if the progression was a modest one it could be effective at penalizing excessive gasoline consumption without being burdensome.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on October 31, 2014

Agreed.

Only concerning the population control: this is a very difficult subject. It must go together with economic development. Poor people have nothing except their children as assets. Economic development will give them savings, pensions and public services which is the only thing which can credible substitute for having as many children as possible. Taxing them into submission will only create conflict, since poor people have nothing which can be taxed. Global prosperty must be the foundation of population control and environmental protection, in my opinion. Global prosperity can be sustainably provided only if nuclear power is the workhorse.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on October 31, 2014

As described in this article, lead-acid batteries (currently the cheapest kind) will add between 34 and 67 ¢/kWh to the cost of electricity.

This means that cost conscious off-grid energy consumers will be forced to operate energy-hungry appliances (such as air-conditioning, clothes dryers, ovens, electric stoves) only when the sun is shining.

Even without the important issues of convenience and fire safety, candles will never beat modern energy efficient electric lights, even when batteries are involved.  But tanked propane can be competitive for space and water heating.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on November 1, 2014

Right, along with time-shifting of loads, fossil fuel backup should be considered an important part of any off-grid electrical system – it’s much cheaper than growing the battery to ever larger sizes, and more environmentally friendly than supplementing with energy from burning trees (due to air pollution and habitat destruction).

The other seldom discussed issue with off-grid systems is the very large amount of battery waste that they produce.  No recycling program can be 100% efficient, nor can the mining and battery production be 100% clean.

That’s why instead of dreaming fondly of the day when even more electricity consumers can go off-grid, we should be planning ways to include more people on the grid, and powering that grid with sustainable energy.

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 2, 2014

You make no mention of the goal to remove Nuclear from Germany’s energy system after Fukashima,

Or the fact that the new coal fired plants had already been commisioned before this.

Or how may older inefficient coal fired plants have closed or will be closed soon.

You make no mention of the exports of energy from Germany.

You make no mention of the economic gains to those who did invest in renewable energy.

If renewables had not produced the energy what would have CO2 emissions risen by?

How does the adoption of RE compare to the adoption rate of coal fired plants in the begining of electrification when most sources where hydro?

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 2, 2014

Exactly my point the lack of reduction in CO2 is more coal and not because renewables did not deliver.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on November 2, 2014

Roy, German electricity consumption is down 5% since 2009, and carbon emissions from generation are up 4%. Slice it or dice it however you like – the Energiewende is failing miserably to reduce Germany’s carbon emissions.

I think we’re at the point where all of the people cashing in on solar energy should be contributing to a fund which will finance restarting nuclear in the country, a few more years post-Fukushima when residents realize the sky is indeed not falling.

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 2, 2014

I tried to post a graph showing the actual reductions in coal from renewables read this report.

http://www.theecoreport.com/green-blogs/area/usa/utility-solars-electricity-production-is-up-93-6/

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 2, 2014

The graph in the second link for Germany’s energy use in 2014 clearly shows reductions in gas and coal

if you reduce these how can CO2 have risen due to renwables.

There must be another factor that caused the increase in CO2 you do  not state the the reasons why energy use decreased ( Global Economy Banking Crisis)

What the most recent energy usage figures are?

Have they climbed again as the economy recovered would this generate more CO2 overall?

Is Germany now exporting more energy? regardless of domestic consumption

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on November 2, 2014

As far as I know, battery systems for the home, turnkey, able to perform optimally and hassle free, cost no less than 200$ per usefull kWh plus 1000$ per kW of charging/discharging capacity. That is excluding planned maintenance and replacement costs which are about 5%-10% of the investment costs on annual basis.

That would put a 100 kWh battery system for the home with 4kW power at about 24.000 dollars investment plus about 1200 to 2400 $ annual costs of maintenance and replacement. even if this cost is halved by technological development it is still a lot more expensive that good old centralized and stable power generation.

Concerning minimum nuclear share i think the more the better. Anything not done by nuclear will be done by fossil fuels, with RE remaining a niche option only available to the rich.

The expense of RE makes it a no go. The poor can’t afford RE and the rich are not going to buy it for them. On the contrary, current RE policies are in fact engineered so that it is the poor who are buying RE for the rich. Unfortunately the poor are not protesting this, which is not just bad for them but also for the environment because until the poor protest, realistic energy policy will be delayed i think.

 

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 2, 2014

if you reduce these how can CO2 have risen due to renwables”

The large increase in German  biofuels (wood esp) might be one explanation. Its tripled in last ten years.  Planting saplings and importing wood chips from the U.S. won’t remotely zero all that combustion.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on November 2, 2014

Joris, your final point about energy cross-subsidization of the rich by the poor can’t be repeated enough, if only because (at least in the U.S.) very few people – rich or poor – are aware that this is how the current system is playing out.

It’s not unlike raising payroll taxes, on people working two or three jobs to make ends meet, to make up for lagging corporate tax revenue – the result of loopholes which permit some of the country’s biggest corporations to evade all but a tiny fraction of their nominal tax liability.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 2, 2014

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere in the atmosphere, today, is clearly not catastrophic.  It is the likely ppm in the decades to come that generate warnings. Thus reduction of emissions to 2 or 3 ppm, not zero, is acceptable assuming natural processes can indeed dispose of that rate.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 2, 2014

“Energy Efficiency, the Low-hanging Fruit”

Certainly true in the developed countries, where EE works in part because because the targets are large.  Even at the residential level there is an entire suite of appliances to attack: dishwasher, air conditioning, washer dryer, etc, etc.   Yet energy consumption in the developed world is already trending down and, more importantly, emissions in the like of the U.S. are becoming irrelevant. U.S. emissions could zero today and not move the expected arrival of a doubling in co2 ppm by more than weeks.

It is the like of China where energy consumption expands rapidly, and there I doubt EE is  so cost effective (so far) given the consumption of  each apartment is smaller yet so very, very numerous.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on November 2, 2014

Willem, the most reliable data for German CO2 emissions (that I’m aware of) is here:

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/press/pressinformation/greenhouse-gas-e...

which show CO2 emissions up just over 4% since 2009. From what I can tell this data is from all sources, not just the electricity sector. The commentary at the above link attributes most of the rise to an increase in coal electricity generation, however, and that general trend is supported by World Bank data which, by extrapolation, suggests the increase from electricity alone is closer to 5%. Unfortunately WB data is not yet available for 2012-2013.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.CO2.ETOT.MT?order=wbapi_data_valu...

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on November 2, 2014

Being that residential is only a part of the whole picture, let’s add industrial, agricultural and other sectors to the volume of water required for, say, the whole world at the convenient height of 100 meters. Let’s figure all the renewable energy required to pump all the water for storage – and that new and advanced nuclear never got developed due to politics and fear. I will assume that the average of all renewable energy to have a capacity factor of 30% (hydroelectric to counter solar’s lower CF) and will dismiss the little bit lost to power lines across many hundreds and even thousands of miles.

The world consumes over 500 exajoules of primary energy. If all sources of thermal generation was replaced with hydroelectric, solar and wind, this number would be reduced to around 180 exajoules (due to the loss of the 2/3rds waste heat from thermal generation). However, we should plan for much more.

The U.S. consumes about 1/5th of what the world does, but is only about 1/20th of the population, thus, to be fair, the world needs at least 4x the energy. There are a lot of poor folk in the U.S to counter the obscene amounts used by the very rich, thus no need to say that the U.S. uses too much. Figure global population to double to 14 billion before we learn steady state sustainability. Therefore, eight multiples of current useful energy usage is required to power a rather high standard of living for a well developed world. This might not be enough to accelerate space exploration, to clean up our excess CO2 mess and, especially, to make up for diminishing returns from embodied energy requirements for collection and storage. That’s about 1,500 exajoules/yr without accounting for the great amount of losses due to inefficiency of storage. To counter, I will not subtract for the great amount of efficiency improvements expected, overall. This number converts to about 50 terawatts of capacity at 100%. Hope my math is somewhat correct!

A 30% capacity factor requires an inverse amount of storage of about 3 multiples of overall renewable energy installation required at 100% generating. Thus, about 150 terawatts of renewable energy “capacity” is needed without help from nuclear or a greatly expanded hydroelectric buildup to make up for all the time it does not “work”. If half of that is from solar then 500,000 square km is required – I hope we all can agree that less than 1% of Earth’s land being used for solar, to prevent acidification, warming and depletion is no big deal! Wind turbines can mostly all be placed at sea- again, no big deal (once costs are down).

I assumed 150 TW of actual installation, 70% of which will need to be stored. However, some of that is already stored in hydroelectric and vast regional power lines will somewhat lessen storage needs. I will still assume 100 TW to be stored, just to be safe, to make up for long lulls in weather related electricity generation. I will assume that bulk battery storage will ALWAYS cost more than simple pumped hydro. Furthermore, batteries have a rather low Energy Stored On Investment. I will further assume that clean electricity to synfuels will NEVER meet bulk storage needs (unless from nuclear) due to its very low Esoi of (much?) less than 50% (if it did, we would need a lot more landspace for renewables).

I think 1,000 cubic meters of water per second from a lake level 100 meters higher than turbine is required to produce 1 GW. And we need them to drain that much for about 16 hours. This does not account for inefficiency of both ways, either. About 60 million cubic meters of water is needed. If the bottom of the lake is already like 85 meters high, we could use a body of water like 2 km by 1 km by 30 meters deep.

Assuming my math to be somewhat correct, we need about 100,000 these to release 100 TW for 16 hours each. Figure 30,000 more to make up for inefficiency and line loss! I never realized that such an amount of land would be needed, but would still rather do all that than lose out to depletion, warming and acidification. However, I believe it far easier to develop the MSR’s (and their much lessor amounts of storage).

A more realistic accessment for PHS is at “Do the Math”.

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

Edit, I did not account for land area and construction required for lower reservoirs. I also neglected shadow/access spacing between solar panels and the fact that lots of far away line distances would be needed for the deep ocean floating wind turbine component.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on November 3, 2014

I agree, with the following addition from annecdote.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a top-level workshop on the ‘energytransition’ in my country, the Netherlands. (This transition is modelled on the German version which should tell you enough about how it is designed and how it is faring). I talked to several sub-top ranking civil servants particularly about this issue of how the subsidisation of RE is financed by the poor for the benefit of the rich, with rooftop solar subsidisation as the most obvious example. I was kind of surprised that these civil servants knew all about this. One of them – in charge of one of the subsidy programs dealing with ‘innovations in sustainable energy’ – told me  that this cross-subsidisation would be corrected by suitable alterations in the tax system in due time. She also said there would be additional subsidies developed to remove the burden of RE subsidisation from the poorest families. So apparently this subjectmatter is not as unknown as one might imagine!

I told her that what she was saying now was completely undiscussed within the sustainability sector, and it was the first time for me that a civil servant active in this field mentioned it, let alone talked freely about it. On the contrary, within the sustainability sector, the common mantra is that “renewable energy will save people money and isalready cheaper than fossil fuels.” (this is the propaganda ventilated by our top private energy consulting firm in the Netherlands, which informs government on energy policy!) But she replied to me with an easy smile: “We are talking about it right now, aren’t we?”. I told her that it was crucial that this discussion was moved to the front and center, rather than be discussed on the fringe like we were doing. At that point she had to get up and report to the general assembly on the progress of our workshop session. I stayed around to see whether she would present the little discussion we had, but she said nothing about it! She simply talked about different largely irrelevant things which fit smoothly inside the vacuous treatment of energy issues being presented by her counterparts from the other sessions. Apparently, ‘We are talking about it’ is happening on the fringe of government, but it is not being brought to the spotlight. Not yet, at any rate! But it is just a matter of time now, I’m sure.

 

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 3, 2014

To be fair I think you should investigate total energy production minus imports to see if the total energy produced has risen.

This could explain the low reductions in CO2 you cite as an aurgument.

I also understand the increased use of gas peaker plants or throttling back of coal fired plants influences both the cost of electricity and the CO2 emissions.

That is why non fossil fuel burning energy storage systems will continue to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce energy costs. 

I agree energy efficiency and demand response can also contribute to this reduction however the only way to reduce it significantly is to use less and less fossil fuels and much more efficient powerplants.

Given the size of investment you quote I feel this is way past an experimental phase just an early stage of transition from fossil fuels to renewables.Your replacing a 100 year old industry and infrastructure this cannot be done instantly it will probably take decades to be realized.

It has required major capital and policy investments however the cost of renewables has dropped considerably during those 12 years. So future investments will provide better returns both economically and environmentally this cost reduction is ongoing as are the technolgy advances. 

From everything I have read the majority of the German people approve of these changes and know the changes will result in higher energy costs. It seems like it is an investment the majority of Germans are willing to make

The reductions in poisonous emissions from coal and less risks from nuclear catastrophe, the increase in domestic energy security, ( Less reliance on Russian fossil fuels)

Also the cleaner environment the economic opportunities and the decentralization of energy systems, the upgrades and modernization of the electrical grid have all been positive results. 

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on November 3, 2014

If we learned how to grow our food more efficiently, that would more than offset the space required for the “vast” RE solution. Of course, this is just a mental exercise, to point out that environmentalists against nuclear will not want to use that amount of land for renewables, either. The link to Tom Murphy explains how “impossible” this would really be!

After realizing all the vast engineering projects required to store just the inverse of RE capacity factors, advanced nuclear is the only realistic way to go at the global level. We will still have to set aside some land for even the minimal amounts of storage nuclear requires. Better than warming, acidification and depletion.

Obviously, we need to perfect conservation and efficiency on all levels to better manage the huge amounts of energy a well developed world will need!

Edit: Advanced nuclear is NOT the “only” way to go, as I am not fully aware of the potential of OTEC.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 3, 2014

Willem – 

Yes, a shortage or higher prices would be expected.

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-BL688_WOOD_p_NS_20130527184...

From the colonial era through the late 19th century forrests were logged nearly into oblivion when wood was a fuel, but since then US forest cover has even on the increase. A century ago or more Maine had fallen to 50%, but today is back around 90% forest cover.  One would think the lesson had been learned about using wood for fuel. Apparently not in Europe. 

 

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 3, 2014

The expense of RE makes it a no go.”

Eventually I hope the term of art becomes something like “SWE” for solar or wind, because is those two that are the problem.  Hydro obviously works (Canada ~70%) for the fortunate that the resource and in some places so does Geothermal (Iceland). Biomass is at least dispatchable even if has its own problems with emissions and depletion.   Take all those away from “RE” and what’s left is “SWE”.    That more accurate term would help do away with headlines claiming “RE hits record in Greenistan!”, when Greenistan’s RE has been, and mostly still is, hydro and some municipal waste fired  plants for decades. 

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 4, 2014

Please read this alternative veiwpoint on the subject.

http://theenergycollective.com/edfenergyex/2120206/while-critics-debate-...

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 4, 2014

The same website your article (this one)you keep correcting is posted on.

Anyone can fish for data that supports their arguments,

There are ” Lies Dam Lies and Statitics” 

You are ignoring the ecomomic and envronmental benefits the energy exports and exports from manufactures none of which you will get from EE only from RE.

Deduct these from your experiment costs and then you will have a much fairer opinion to share.

 

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 4, 2014

The same website your article (this one)you keep correcting is posted on.”

TEC simply hosted the article, it was written by the Environmental Defense Fund and originally posted there.  EDF’s argument may be valid but it is narrow; the funding sources on which it depends does not tolerate opposing viewpoints.  This is not the case with TEC.




Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 5, 2014

Population management needs to come into play.”

A bit off topic, but: not as much as you might think.  Population is largely already dialed in, as fertility rates have already fallen well below replacement for much of the world.  China’s been under 2.0 for decades, down to 1.5 for some time.  So too with the like of Brazil,  Bangladesh, Mexico, India: either below replacement already or soon will be.  Some of the developed countries like Japan and S. Korea are on track to cease to exist within several generations. 

The only sizable countries left in the world with large fertility rates are Nigeria and Pakistan. Population growth there is worrisome.  But otherwise, a peak population has already been selected out there some decades hence, after which couples having there 1 or 1.5 children will lead to a declining global population indefinately.

link: http://tinyurl.com/mg742rc

 

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 5, 2014

We are both entitled to our opinions mine was not overt but direct. Simple facts.

If you ignore the benefits to form your arguments and only focus on the negative aspects your conclusions are biased. I have no problem pointing this out however naive I appear to be.

I cannot understand how after over a decade, investments in renewables would be continuing and expanding, If investors where not getting returns, companies not growing, and technology improving. 

EE, RE, Smart grid, energy storage, and demand response will all play apart in the transition.

My view is that the long term benefits will far outweigh the cost of this transition.

You only decry the process without offering an alternative solution to reducing GHG and being Nuclear free, What do you suggest as a viable alternative approach that exists today.

( I am not personally anti safe nuclear )

 

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on November 5, 2014

“The absolute maximum amount of wind that can be allowed into the grid at one moment is 50%.”

Denmark experienced last year few days during which wind produced >100% of all consumed electricity!

Denmark estimates that in 2020 wind will produce >100% of all consumed electricity during ~100days, as it continues to expand wind (they target 100% renewable in 2040).

So your 50% seems not valid. 

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 5, 2014

The US Navy uses 95% enriched uranium systems realistically what countries are these technolgies going to be exported to given all of the security concerns about weaponization.

My comments are not about your original article but in response to posts in this discussion.

Thorium reactors and civilian controlled small modular reactors are not available today and are unlikely to be available for decades as you well know.

If and when they are I will encourage their use until then the transition to carbon free energy requires the technologies that are available today. 

As to which is the more cost efficient investment that is hard to say until multiple modular civilian nuclear plants have been built and deployed only then will the true costs be known.

 

Paul O's picture
Paul O on November 5, 2014

For me personally (not speaking for Willem), I see no reason not to start using the AP 1000 generation 3 nuclear power right now. When the technology is ripe for Modular and Generation 4 nuclear, I will support them too.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on November 5, 2014

@Willem,
“… expensive RE follies have been a contributing factor to this slowdown”
The opposite is true! As nearly all German economists confirm!
They state the Energiewende to be a major reason that German economy is more successful than that of UK, France, etc. German unemployment rate is 5%, that of UK (and US) 6%, France 10%. While the budget deficit of German government is ~0%!

German companies pay less for electricity than those here in NL, etc. So it delivers the Germans a costprice advantage.

The Energiewende delivers 300,000 – 500,000 jobs (which is a lot in the German economy).

German households pay the Energiewende with a levy of ~6cent/KWh, which is the tariff difference between NL and Germany (NL has no Energiewende, but ~ same general taxes; ~60%).
Still, German households pay ~ same share of their income for electricity as US households…

Btw.
Siemens is better off not exporting to Russia in the present political climate.
Siemens promotes its wind turbines at this site, as they believe those offer them more future.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on November 5, 2014

Willem,
The Energiewende targets to move from ~6% in 2000 towards 80% renewable electricity in 2050 (1.5%/year increase).
This year that share is ~30%. So they are ahead of their scheme.

Their venture that PV prices would decrease greatly if they created a mass market was very successful! Similar with wind. Last year they started the same for batteries.

So I don’t see the adversity. Neither does German population as support for the Energiewende increased greatly from ~55% to an almost unbelievable high 90%.
So the Germans will reach <b>their</b> end targets!

Math Geurts's picture
Math Geurts on November 6, 2014
4 June 2014:
 
Denmark Dependent on Foreign Balancing Services
Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 6, 2014

Here is an example in Germany of what I am talking about EE can only improve on their results.

It cannot generate the same economic benefits as are proven in this case with minimal subsidies.

http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2014_11_06_small_german_town_becomes_testing_gr...

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on November 6, 2014

@Willem,
Agree, Germany’s economy does better than that of nearly all EU countries. German economy benefits from the Energiewende, as nearly all German economists agree.

US growth is by increasing the debt. So future generations have to pay for that (actually now already a little, as US became cheaper than W-European countries).

In the EU some countries put pressure on Germany to create a budget deficit (is now ~ zero). Because such deficit will create grow in Germany and then also in other EU countries. But Merkel refuses, as she judges creating grow on credit to be slightly insane.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on November 6, 2014

Willem,
That article creates uneasiness without real facts.

Especially after the closure of the 8 NPP’s in 2011, a lot of similar articles in english journals;
major outages, expensive major electricity imports, Energiewende dictated by a small ‘green’ elite, businesses wanting to move out of Germany because of high electricity costs, very short (ms) interruptions caused by renewable, etc.
All those stories turned out to be total nonsense.

A pity that such misinformation drives good people towards opinions that are far off reality.

Btw.
I’m alumni from TU Delft and from University Utrecht.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 6, 2014

The government deficit is a matter of how much the government spends versus it’s revenues, which are in turn a function of tax rates, etc. The deficit is then in directly related to economic growth.  Economic growth is measured directly by GDP, and German GDP does not fare well lately.

Roy Wagner's picture
Roy Wagner on November 7, 2014

Whoever said Wind has to be the only source? That is a ridiculous argument energy production will always be a mixture of the most economical and practical solutions.

DC and A/C each have their own place and distance attributes, the eqiupment for converting one to the other more efficiently and available and is in use today.

Scotland wants to be an energy exporter and sees developing it’s renewable resources as a worthwhile investment. Scotland also sees a huge exporting opportunity for it’s manufacturing industries and technical expertise in renewables worldwide in the future.

Example: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/05/scotlands-renewable-sector-saw-bumpe...

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on November 8, 2014

Willem,

German economists estimate that it is a tailwind which contributed to Germany’s economy best-in-class position in the EU.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on November 8, 2014

“… if wind can power the grid 100%, why is it not allowed go do it in Ireland…”?
Because it is easier and cheaper to down regulate wind, and the minimum production of most power plants is ~30% of the maximum.

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