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According to a new study by Stanford researcher Mark Jacobson, existing alternative energy technology can replace fossil fuels at a roughly comparable cost.

A new study – co-authored by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson and UC-Davis researcher Mark A. Delucchi – analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen.

This corrects the assertions made by some at MLW that we need fossil fuels for the forseeable future.

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This is not a new study. It came out several years ago and has been thoroughly debunked as unworkable nonsense because it grossly underestimates the true cost of connecting widely dispersed intermittent power sources to the grid. Some of the criticisms can be found here: http://nucleargreen.blogspot.ca/search?q=jacobson

Connecting wind farms over large areas through transmission lines smoothes power supply.

In fact, this system requires the building of many thousands of miles of expensive electrical transmission lines to connect widely dispersed wind generators, and requires the building of wind generators with five times the generation capacity of a nuclear power plant to even begin to approach the reliability of nuclear power plants. Even then in Texas the system that Jacobson describes is expected to deliver no more than 10% of its rated capacity on hot summer days, and sometimes it will deliver much less. The gap is expected to be filled by burning fossil fuels. Such smoothness comes at a very steep price.

So what would Jacobson do about all of those Texas air conditioners that are demanding power on hot summer days." He tells us,

storing energy (with concentrated solar) and giving people incentives to reduce demand. It is not rocket science to match power demand. It merely requires thinking out of the box.

Storing energy is another expensive solution to the problems of wind and solar. Incentive to reduce demand means high energy price, which of ourse you will have if you are dependent on expensive wind generators, and the wond stops blowing in Texas on hot summer days. People, even Texans, can always be forced to turn off their airconditioners, if the electricity costs too much. Thinking out of the box may cost people, it may hurt people, it may even kill them, but it does not solve the problem of wind and solar unreliability.

A more balanced commentary on the limits of renewables can be found here:

http://www.withouthotair.com/c18/page_108.shtml

Figure 18.1 is bleak news. Yes, technically, Britain has “huge” renewables.

But realistically, I don’t think Britain can live on its own renewables – at

least not the way we currently live. I am partly driven to this conclusion by

the chorus of opposition that greets any major renewable energy proposal.

...

To make a difference, renewable facilities have to be country-sized.

For any renewable facility to make a contribution comparable to our

current consumption, it has to be country-sized. To get a big contribu-

tion from wind, we used wind farms with the area of Wales. To get a

big contribution from solar photovoltaics, we required half the area

of Wales. To get a big contribution from waves, we imagined wave

farms covering 500 km of coastline. To make energy crops with a big

contribution, we took 75% of the whole country.

Renewable facilities have to be country-sized because all renewables

are so diffuse. Table 18.10 summarizes most of the powers-per-unit-

area that we encountered in Part I.

To sustain Britain’s lifestyle on its renewables alone would be very

difficult. A renewable-based energy solution will necessarily be large

and intrusive.

2.It’s not going to be easy to make a plan that adds up using renewables

alone. If we are serious about getting off fossil fuels, Brits are going

to have to learn to start saying “yes” to something. Indeed to several

somethings.

The biggest trouble for renewable advocates is the same NIMBYs that block fossil fuel operations are just as willing to block renewables. From a purely political perspective it will be easier to annoy a few people with a fossil fuel plant than to annoy many with renewables. To make matters worse, the pragmatic middle tends to be made of people who are willing to live with the consequences of fossil fuels and have little interest in the speculative fantasies of the greens. Edited by TimG

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And correct.

Not really. Poor Timmy and his companion sources continue to ignore what not only this report but every report of a similar nature (which there are quite a few relating to state-level assessments here in the US) maintains: it's not only a "massive undertaking" but one that doesn't assume ease nor leaves out transient technology or production of fossil fuels.

I mean that guy's blog and Timmy keep pushing nuclear like its an actual cost-effective measure. Lulz.

FWIW, I think it's ridiculous (and the fault of stakeholders and most importantly politicians for failing to properly shaping the debate as a win-win) that environmentalists AND pragmatist don't see the benefit of and agree upon LNG replacement. It's a net reduction in emissions (assuming it displaces coal) for the "hippies" and its a cheaper, relatively equal reliable source of production. Bam. Everybody wins.

In my country, I'd be ecstatic (as I do consider myself an equally pragmatic and treehugging "hippie") with the thought of LNG displacing coal. We use a lot of it.

I don't see why there is a such a big deal over intermittency in Canada anyways when hydro is such a large share of production.

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I mean that guy's blog and Timmy keep pushing nuclear like its an actual cost-effective measure. Lulz.

Gee. Name calling? How mature. I guess it illustrates your level of intellectual understanding of the issues.

Nuclear is what we need to use if we don't want to use fossil fuels. Since I have no issue with fossil fuels I don't see the need to use nuclear. Despite the costs of nuclear it is still cheaper and more reliable than wind or solar once you include the cost of dealing with intermittent power sources.

that environmentalists AND pragmatist don't see the benefit of and agree upon LNG replacement. It's a net reduction in emissions (assuming it displaces coal) for the "hippies" and its a cheaper, relatively equal reliable source of production. Bam. Everybody wins.

Except the greens are not really interested in practical solutions. They are primarily motivated by their dislike of 'industry' and gas production and distribution can be messy so they oppose it. It is impossible for any energy source that actually works to compete with the 'no-impact' fantasies invented by greens (which is why solar and wind installations are opposed when people realize they have a huge impact on the environment too).

I don't see why there is a such a big deal over intermittency in Canada anyways when hydro is such a large share of production.

A hydro dam works like a battery that allows energy to be stored until it is needed. This makes hydro the only useful form of renewable power but also floods a lot of land which is why greens oppose new dams (because to be useful an energy source must have a large impact on the environment).

The way forward requires greens to accept the fact that human activity will change the environment and we simply have to live with these changes. We can try to minimize and/or mitigate the changes but it is a waste of time to talk about trying to eliminate them.

Edited by TimG

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No name calling. What's wrong with Timmy, Timmy?

I'd say that the REAL environmentalists (who are few and far between) act like that, but they don't differ much IMO from staunch apologists for the fossil fuel industry and "the free market". Neither will budge or compromise. Luckily neither compose large shares of the public. Even greater is the fact that both can suck one for all I care and take one for the greater good if an actual leader could shape the debate and get a solid transition away from coal. That's not only doable and noble, but not costly financially or environmentally.

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An article that puts the renewable fetish in context:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-falling-share-of-renewables-in-global-energy-production-by-bj-rn-lomborg

So we are nowhere near switching back to renewables anytime soon. In the US, renewables accounted for 9.3% of energy production in 1949. President Barack Obama’s administration expects that number, almost a century later, to increase slightly, to 10.8% by 2040. In China, renewables’ share in energy production dropped from 40% in 1971 to 11% today; in 2035, it will likely be just 9%.

Yet we are paying through the nose for these renewables. In the last 12 years, the world has invested $1.6 trillion in clean energy. By 2020, the effort to increase reliance on renewables will cost the European Union alone $250 billion annually.

Spain now pays almost 1% of its GDP in subsidies for renewables, which is more than it spends on higher education. At the end of the century, Spain’s massive investment will have postponed global warming by 62 hours.

Current green energy policies are failing for a simple reason: renewables are far too expensive. Sometimes people claim that renewables are actually cheaper. But if renewables were cheaper, they wouldn’t need subsidies, and we wouldn’t need climate policies.

China example really brings the idiocy of the renewable obsession home:

Consider China. Despite the country’s massive investment in solar and wind, it mostly sells solar panels to Western countries at subsidized prices. Wind makes up just 0.2% of China’s energy, and solar accounts for 0.01%.

Meanwhile, China has 68% of the world’s solar water heaters on rooftops, because it is a smart and cheap technology. It needs no subsidies, and it produces 50 times more energy than all of China’s solar panels.

If an energy source needs massive subsidies per KWH to be viable it will never be used. Pissing money away on programs designed to make the impossible happen is a waste. We need R&D. We do NOT need feed in tariffs or renewable energy mandates.

Edited by TimG

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Poor guy thinks as linearly as you do Timmy.

The use of insulting names shows a lack of maturity. The attempt to deny that you are deliberately using insulting names shows incredible intellectual dishonesty. I have better things to do than respond to people like you.

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If an energy source needs massive subsidies per KWH to be viable it will never be used.

The problem with this is of course is its just not true.

In the US... As a percentage of GDP both oil and nuclear recieved about 1% of GDP in subsidies during the first 15 years of adoption. Thats ten times what renewables get now. Constrast that with nuclear energy where the government did the research, the engineering, built test reactors, then built pilot projects, then built commercial reactors, and still pays for the entire fuel cycle today. I guess that means nuclear energy will never be used.

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The use of insulting names shows a lack of maturity. The attempt to deny that you are deliberately using insulting names shows incredible intellectual dishonesty. I have better things to do than respond to people like you.

Who am I insulting?

Edited by FutureCanadian

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As a percentage of GDP both oil and nuclear recieved about 1% of GDP in subsidies during the first 15 years of adoption.

I don't find your figures credible since I separate support for R&D from policies designed to force the adoption of an uneconomic source of power before it is ready.

The problems with renewables are premium feed in tariffs and renewable energy targets. Oil and nulcear never had to rely on such mechanisms.

Edited by TimG

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Who am I insulting?

You're calling him "Timmy" because it's a diminutive of his name. Probably because bringing him down to a child-like state makes you feel superior to him. It really takes away from your arguments, which I think would stand on their own without the silly name-calling.

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You're calling him "Timmy" because it's a diminutive of his name. Probably because bringing him down to a child-like state makes you feel superior to him. It really takes away from your arguments, which I think would stand on their own without the silly name-calling.

Meh. I just like to lighten the mood. Every post of TimG has this overcast of seriousness, felt necessary.

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One main reason alternative energies is not being used as much as we should, is that renewable energies don't put money back into the subsidized oil tycoons collective pockets. They say they want you to use renewable energies, but really, they want you to continue using the oil they sell you.

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One main reason alternative energies is not being used as much as we should, is that renewable energies don't put money back into the subsidized oil tycoons collective pockets. They say they want you to use renewable energies, but really, they want you to continue using the oil they sell you.

How would you explain the fact that some large investments in renewable energy is coming from oil companies like BP?

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How would you explain the fact that some large investments in renewable energy is coming from oil companies like BP?

Maybe they are tired of having billion dollar oil rigs go boom? I have no clue.

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Maybe they are tired of having billion dollar oil rigs go boom? I have no clue.

The point is the majors could easily make money from renewables if renewables were not completely dependent on the willingness of governments to piss away billions. Fossil fuels, OTOH, make money for governments that exceed the tiny subsidies. So your claims of conspiracy is nonsense.

Renewables aren't used because they cost too much. Fix that problem and renewables will take over.

Edited by TimG

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The point is the majors could easily make money from renewables if renewables were not completely dependent on the willingness of governments to piss away billions. Fossil fuels, OTOH, make money for governments that exceed the tiny subsidies. So your claims of conspiracy is nonsense.

Renewables aren't used because they cost too much. Fix that problem and renewables will take over.

The initial cost of renewable is always going to be high, but since it is renewable, seems the one time fee is worth it.

More production of these renewable methods need to be put into place. Obviously things like windfarms might not be practical but if we go with a multitude of smaller solutions, (like solar and wind for each home or a small group of homes) then you will see some progress.

The whole thing is about control. And if the oil company cannot sell you oil because you are energy independent, then those technologies will find it hard to get solution of any size. Lobbying plays a part in this. It's not kook stuff, it is a reality that lobbying your favorite corrupt politician can get huge results.

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The initial cost of renewable is always going to be high, but since it is renewable, seems the one time fee is worth it.

Not true. The problem with renewables is their power production is erratic. This means they must be combined with other types of power to make them viable. The cost from renewables comes from the cost of providing backup power. These costs do not go away even if wind mills are free.

The whole thing is about control. And if the oil company cannot sell you oil because you are energy independent.

Not of chance of this happening anytime soon. The only thing that makes to oil majors worry are governments taking control of their reserves and shutting private corporations out.

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Meh. I just like to lighten the mood. Every post of TimG has this overcast of seriousness, felt necessary.

Nah, people are entitled to be called by the name they wish. I know a lady named Deborah who will give you a vocal fat lip if you insist on calling her Debbie. She will only correct you nicely once.

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One main reason alternative energies is not being used as much as we should, is that renewable energies don't put money back into the subsidized oil tycoons collective pockets. They say they want you to use renewable energies, but really, they want you to continue using the oil they sell you.

They aren't "oil" companies, they are energy companies. They want you to use whatever they can sell you. If they could make money with alternative energy sources they'd be all over them. The only time you see that though, is when there's a boatload of taxpayer money involved, because that's the only way to make a go of it.

It's the same with consumers. No one is opposed to windmills, solar, etc. What they are opposed to is the extreme extra cost, the milking of tax dollars to make them look less expensive than they really are, and the unreliability of the service. Give the people the same or better service at the same or lower cost, and they will buy it.

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