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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-costs-damage-germanys-economy

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-connected-and-grid-houses

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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