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The New Paradigm of Renewables: if we want something to change, we need to change something

The New Paradigm of Renewables: if we want something to change, we need to change something

We can make it: the latest results of the analysis of the performance of renewable energy, photovoltaic and wind, show that their efficiency in terms of energy return on investment (EROI) is considerably larger than that of fossil fuels. It is becoming clear, too, that renewables don’t need rare and disappearing mineral resources: the infrastructure to build them and maintain them needs only abundant and recyclable minerals: silicon, aluminum, and a few more that can be efficiently recycled (rare earths and lithium).
In other words, renewables can’t be considered anymore as an emergency replacement for the depleting and polluting fossil fuels, but as a true step forward. They are the new, “disruptive” technology that people expected nuclear energy to be, but that never was.
Tony Seba — sharp as always — has diffused the idea of renewables as the new energy revolution. Seba’s ideas have been popularized by Nafeez Ahmed in a two parts series, (Part 1 and Part2). These assessments may be too optimistic in some regards, but they do note how things are changing. We have a chance, a fighting chance, to falsify the scenarios that saw an irreversible decline — actually a collapse — of the industrial civilization during the next few decades.
Can we really make it? It is a chance, but not a certainty. The quantitative calculations made by Sgouridis, Csala, and myself indicate that we can only succeed if we invest in renewables much more than what we are investing nowadays. If we maintain the current trends, renewables will be able to slow down the decline, but not avoid a “dip” in the civilization curve. Then, we will re-emerge on the other side in a new and cleaner world…

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