Preface. When fossil fuels are gone, there aren’t many ways to balance the unreliable, intermittent, and often absent for weeks at a time power from wind and solar. Biofuels and burning biomass is one solution, it’s dispatchable and can kick in at any time to make up for lack of wind and solar, but using biomass as a power source is one of the most destructive ways to generate power as I explain in “Peak Soil” and probably has a negative return on energy invested.
So Plan B for renewable power would have to be hydropower. That was the main proposal Stanford professor Mark Jacobson had to keep the electric grid stable and up and running. But in 2017, a group of scientists pointed out that Jacobson’s proposal rested upon the assumption that we can increase the amount of power from U.S. hydroelectric dams 10-fold when, according to the Department of Energy and all major studies, the real potential is just 1% percent of that. And since dams are so ecologically destructive, there would be a great deal of opposition to even building 1% of the dams Jacobson proposed.
Plus, most states don’t have hydropower. Ten states have 80% of hydropower, with Washington state a whopping 25% of hydro-electricity.
Hydropower isn’t always available. A lot of water has to be held back to provide agriculture and cities with water, so there will be many times of the year when it can’t be released to keep the electric grid up.
And hydropower isn’t renewable, dams have a lifespan of 50 to 200 years.
Without all that additional hydroelectricity, the 100% renewables proposal falls apart. There is no Plan C because of all the shortcomings of battery technologies.
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