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World’s Electric Grids Incapable of Supporting Renewable Energy Goals: Agency

World’s Electric Grids Incapable of Supporting Renewable Energy Goals: Agency

While investments in renewable energy have doubled since 2010, power grid funding has remained ‘static.’
Electricity grid capacity available in the world isn’t keeping pace with the rapid growth of “clean energy” technologies, possibly putting governments’ climate goals at risk, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In order to achieve climate goals set by global governments, more than 80 million kilometers (49.7 million miles) of electric grids have to be added or refurbished by 2040, which is the “equivalent of the entire existing global grid,” according to the Oct. 17 IEA report. Even though “electrification and renewables deployment are both picking up pace,” there is a risk of the clean energy transition stalling due to a lack of “adequate grids to connect the new electricity supply with the demand.”

“At least 3,000 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power projects, of which 1,500 GW are in advanced stages, are waiting in grid connection queues—equivalent to five times the amount of solar PV and wind capacity added in 2022,” the report noted.

“This shows grids are becoming a bottleneck for transitions to net zero emissions.”

While investments in renewable energy such as solar and wind power, electric vehicles (EV), and heat pumps have been “increasing rapidly”—almost doubling since 2010—the investment in power grids has remained “static” at around $300 billion annually, it said.

The 2015 Paris Climate Accords agreed to hold the global increase in average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Delays in establishing the necessary power grid could put this target “out of reach,” the report stated.

IEA presented a “Grid Delay Case” scenario in which the modernization of existing power grids and the setting up of new grids don’t happen in a timely manner…

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What If There Are No Politically Feasible Answers?

What If There Are No Politically Feasible Answers?

Political Realism vs Ecological Realism

At times, we are confronted with choices that demand us to pick between two undesirable alternatives, often known as a dilemma. The annals of history are brimming with such instances. When Hitler ascended to power in Germany and commenced his invasions across Europe, we were presented with the dire decision of either passively observing country after country succumb to Germany’s might or intervening in the war to halt him by force. There was no solution that could be deemed politically feasible, at least not in the traditionally peaceful democratic sense. Sometimes, circumstances unfold just like that.

It appears we find ourselves in the grip of a similar quandary at present. We’re forced to select from a set of distressing options. Some would present it as a decision between climate change causing widespread avian fatalities, or in their judgement, causing fewer with the installation of wind turbines and transmission lines and thwarting the climate crisis.

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L.A. Times journalist Sammy Roth penned an article exploring the Audubon Society’s endorsement of wind turbines and transmission lines, notwithstanding the escalating tally of bird deaths attributed to these structures. Roth expressed via Twitter that while the loss of birds may not be the optimal outcome, it could be a required sacrifice for the broader objective of addressing climate change.

The Audubon Society and many others, including Roth, perceive our options as a choice between renewable energy and climate change. However, in my view, they overlook a critical component that they, along with the majority, are reluctant to contemplate.

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Experts Warn Renewable Energy Creates ‘New Opportunities’ for Chinese Grid Attacks

Experts Warn Renewable Energy Creates ‘New Opportunities’ for Chinese Grid Attacks

America’s increasing reliance on intermittent power sources and batteries is creating novel risks, according to grid specialists who testified before Congress on July 18.

Many of the greatest among them emanate from a key geopolitical rival, China.

That’s partly because the new technologies frequently use inverters. When solar panels, wind turbines, and battery systems generate or store direct current electricity, inverters turn it into the alternating current electricity that flows through the grid.

Paul N. Stockton, a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, opened what he called a “rabbit hole” in response to a question on inverters during the House Energy & Commerce hearing.

“Do we have a satisfactory supply of inverters for all of the renewable energy that’s being brought into the grid?” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) asked Mr. Stockton, who also holds positions on subcommittees in the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

“Manufacturers in China are important producers of inverters being deployed nationwide, across the United States,” Mr. Stockton responded.

He explained that the country’s reliance on Chinese inverters could jeopardize grid security.

“Sure, we’ve got inverters. Some of them are made in China. Others may be manufactured for final assembly in friendly nations, but they might have components—hardware, software, and firmware—that could provide attack vectors. And the constant updating of firmware from the cloud and by service providers—who’s on top of that for maintaining adequate security? Congressman, that’s an opportunity for progress,” Mr. Stockton said.

Solar Panels With Parts From China

The United States’ use of solar panels with parts from China that are assembled in Southeast Asia has been a source of controversy in this Congress. President Joe Biden vetoed a bill that would have ended his temporary pause on tariffs affecting those panels.

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Models Hide the Shortcomings of Wind and Solar

Models Hide the Shortcomings of Wind and Solar

A major reason for the growth in the use of renewable energy is the fact that if a person looks at them narrowly enough–such as by using a model–wind and solar look to be useful. They don’t burn fossil fuels, so it appears that they might be helpful to the environment.

As I analyze the situation, I have reached the conclusion that energy modeling misses important points. I believe that profitability signals are much more important. In this post, I discuss some associated issues.

Overview of this Post

In Sections [1] through [4], I look at some issues that energy modelers in general, including economists, tend to miss when evaluating both fossil fuel energy and renewables, including wind and solar. The major issue in these sections is the connection between high energy prices and the need to increase government debt. To prevent the continued upward spiral of government debt, any replacement for fossil fuels must also be very inexpensive–perhaps as inexpensive as oil was prior to 1970. In fact, the real limit to fossil fuel extraction and to the building of new wind turbines and solar panels may be government debt that becomes unmanageable in an inflationary period.

In Section [5], I try to explain one reason why published Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROEI) indications give an overly favorable impression of the value of adding a huge amount of renewable energy to the electric grid. The basic issue is that the calculations were not set up for this purpose. These models were set up to evaluate the efficiency of generating a small amount of wind or solar energy, without consideration of broader issues. If these broader issues were included, EROEI indications would be much lower (less favorable).

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Does Renewable Energy Have a Higher EROI Than Fossil Fuels?

There is new momentum behind the idea that renewable energy has a higher energy return on investment (EROI) than fossil fuels.

That contrasts with decades of consensus that the EROI of oil, for example, ranges from 18 to 35 while the range for solar is from 6 to 12.

Nafeez Ahmed wrote in a recent post that

“While the EROI values of wind and solar are “at or above 10”, the average EROI estimate for oil is about 4.2. Murphy et. al’s research concludes that many EROI analyses incorrectly compare fossil fuels with renewables by measuring them at the wrong areas. By consistently measuring them both at their ‘point of use’, they are able to develop a far more consistent approach.”

Similarly, Ugo Bardi wrote a post in January whose title was ” Setting the record straight on the EROI from renewables. It is much better than that of fossil fuels.”

Both Ahmed and Bardi used a 2022 paper, Energy Return on Investment of Major Energy Carriers: Review and Harmonization as their source.

Net Energy and EROI Essentials

Net energy is the difference between the total energy output minus the total energy input over the life cycle of an energy source or technology (Figure 1).

EROI is the ratio of the total energy output divided by the total energy input over the life cycle of an energy source.

That means that the net energy for a 10 megajoule (MJ) energy input and a 20 MJ output is 10 MJ and the EROI is 2 (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Net energy and EROI for a hypothetical energy source or technology. Source: Modified from Hagens (2010).Table 1 shows a range of energy inputs and outputs and their corresponding EROI and net energy values. The important observation is that EROI is non-linear while net energy is linear.

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MIT Study: Nuclear Power Shutdown Could Lead To Increased Deaths

MIT Study: Nuclear Power Shutdown Could Lead To Increased Deaths

  • A new MIT study indicates that retiring U.S. nuclear power plants could lead to an increase in burning fossil fuels to fill the energy gap, resulting in over 5,000 premature deaths due to increased air pollution.
  • Nearly 20 percent of current electricity in the U.S. comes from nuclear power, with a fleet of 92 reactors scattered around the country.
  • If more renewable energy sources become available to supply the grid by 2030, air pollution could be curtailed, but there may still be a slight increase in pollution-related deaths.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology new study shows that if U.S. nuclear power plants are retired, the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas to fill the energy gap could cause more than 5,000 premature deaths.

The MIT team took on the questions in the text following in a new study appearing in Nature Energy.

Nearly 20 percent of today’s electricity in the United States comes from nuclear power. The U.S. has the largest nuclear fleet in the world, with 92 reactors scattered around the country. Many of these power plants have run for more than half a century and are approaching the end of their expected lifetimes.

Policymakers are debating whether to retire the aging reactors or reinforce their structures to continue producing nuclear energy, which many consider a low-carbon alternative to climate-warming coal, oil, and natural gas.

Now, MIT researchers say there’s another factor to consider in weighing the future of nuclear power: air quality. In addition to being a low carbon-emitting source, nuclear power is relatively clean in terms of the air pollution it generates. Without nuclear power, how would the pattern of air pollution shift, and who would feel its effects?

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The Green Growth Delusion


Advocates of “Green Growth” promise a painless transition to a post-carbon future. But what if the limits of renewable energy require sacrificing consumption as a way of life?A tree is surrounded by solar panels in Los Arcos, Spain, on Feb. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos, File)

In the annals of industrial civilization, the Green New Deal counts as one of the more ambitious projects. Its scale is vast, promising to reform every aspect of how we power our machines, light our homes and fuel our cars. At this late hour of ecological and climate crisis, the Green New Deal is also an act of desperation. Our energy-ravenous culture cannot continue producing carbon without destroying the systems that are the basis of any advanced civilization, not to mention life itself. Something must be done, and quickly, to moderate the pressure on the atmospheric sink while powering the economic machine.

The consensus on the need for scaling up renewable energy is rarely disturbed by a disquieting possibility: What if techno-industrial society as currently conceived — based on ever-increasing GDP, global trade and travel, and complex global production and distribution chains designed to satisfy the rich world’s unquenchable appetite for bigger, faster, more of everything — what if that simply cannot function without energy-dense fossil fuels? What if, despite the promises of Green New Deal boosters, it is impossible to make sustainable the current system that provides billions of people sustenance, shelter, goods?

This possibility is not mentioned thanks to the dominance of “green growth.” This is the idea that the organizing principle of our civilization — endless growth of economies and populations — can be decarbonized swiftly in a way that will involve no material disruption.  Green Growth holds out the promise of transitioning from fossil fuels directly into something like an earth-friendly utopia without a hitch and without meaningful sacrifice…

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The Rising Chorus of Renewable Energy Skeptics

The Rising Chorus of Renewable Energy Skeptics

The green techno-dream is so vastly destructive, they say, ‘we have to come up with a different plan.’

“Sometime during this century, it is highly likely that worldwide depletion of natural resources will force an entire reorganization of social and economic structures, perhaps violently.” — Walter Youngquist, ‘Our Plundered Planet

We are going to have to dramatically downsize the dream of a future in which we replace 150-year-old fossil fuel infrastructure with “clean energy” by 2050.

That’s the message in a number of recent important reports and books. They underscore a number of problems with the renewables illusion, including the complexity of the task, the toxicity of rare earth mining and the scarcity of critical minerals.

These grounded realists, including the French journalist Guillaume Pitron and the Australian geologist Simon Michaux, all have three basic messages:

There are dramatic limits to growth.

Truth and reality are not linear.

And the world needs a better plan to avoid collapse other than replacing one unsustainable fossil fuel system with another intensive mining system powered by even more extreme energies. In other words, electrifying the Titanic won’t melt the icebergs in its path.

‘Doubling down on the wrong thing’

For largely ideological reasons many greens and “transitionists” have presented the transition to renewables as a smooth road with no potholes.

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‘Wind Power Fails on Every Count’: Oxford Scientist Explains the Math

‘Wind Power Fails on Every Count’: Oxford Scientist Explains the Math

Wind power has been historically and scientifically unreliable, claims an Oxford University mathematician and physicist, with his calculations revealing the government to be pursuing a “bluster of windfarm politics” while discarding numerical evidence.

After the decision to cut down on fossil fuels was made at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, the “instinctive reaction” around the world was to embrace renewables, Professor Emeritus Wade Allison, who is also a researcher at CERN, said in a 2023 paper (pdf).

Allison noted that because solar power is “extremely weak,” it was inadequate to “sustain even a small global population with an acceptable standard of living” before the Industrial Revolution.

“Today, modern technology is deployed to harvest these weak sources of energy. Vast ‘farms’ that monopolise the natural environment are built, to the detriment of other creatures. Developments are made regardless of the damage wrought. Hydro-electric schemes, enormous turbines and square miles of solar panels are constructed, despite being unreliable and ineffective; even unnecessary,” Allison said in the report, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

“In particular, the generation of electricity by wind tells a disappointing story. The political enthusiasm and the investor hype are not supported by the evidence, even for offshore wind, which can be deployed out of sight of the infamous My Back Yard,” he wrote. “What does such evidence actually say?”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind power generated more than 9 percent of the net total of the country’s energy in 2021 and is the largest source of renewable power in the country. Over 70,000 turbines generate enough power to serve the equivalent of 43 million American homes, the department says.

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The Energy Transition Is a Delusion Indeed

The Energy Transition Is a Delusion Indeed

The “energy transition” continues to receive thunderous applause from all the usual Beltway suspects, an exercise in groupthink fantasy amazing to behold. For those with actual lives to live and thus uninterested in silliness: The “energy transition” is a massive shift, wholly artificial and politicized, from conventional energy inexpensive (Table 1b and here), reliable, and very clean given the proper policy environment, toward such unconventional energy technologies as wind and solar power. They are expensiveunreliable, and deeply problematic environmentally in terms of toxic metal pollution, wildlife destruction, land use massive and unsightly, emissions of conventional pollutants, and in a larger context large and inexorable reductions in aggregate wealth and thus the social willingness to invest in environmental protection.

But the Beltway being what it is, the fantasists are impervious to reality, until the massive costs and dislocations and absurdities become impossible to ignore. (Witnessfor exampleCalifornia.) Even as they backtrack on their confident assertions that a modern economy can be powered with the energy equivalent of pixie dust, they argue that the emerging problems are little more than growing pains attendant upon short run rigidities, and all will be well given some more time, more subsidies, and more magical thinking.

Uh, no. The obstacles confronting the “energy transition” are fundamental — they are caused by the very nature of unconventional energy — driven by massive costs, technical and engineering realities, severe constraints in terms of needed physical inputs, and at a political level growing local opposition to the unconventional energy facilities central to the “transition.”

These realities — there’s that word again — are discussed in detail in a major recent paper by Mark P. Mills of the Manhattan Institute. This brief discussion cannot do it justice, but let us first quote Mills directly:

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EU Members Clash Over Nuclear Energy’s Role In Climate Policy

EU Members Clash Over Nuclear Energy’s Role In Climate Policy

  • The EU is in the process of expanding its renewable energy targets to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Countries are divided over whether nuclear energy should be considered a part of renewable energy targets.
  • France leads the campaign to recognize nuclear energy as a CO2-free contributor, while Germany, Portugal, and others oppose it.

The European Union needs to work on a divide among its member countries regarding the role of nuclear energy in achieving their renewable energy goals. This disagreement may delay the progress of one of the EU’s primary climate policies.

On Wednesday, negotiators from EU countries and the European Parliament will engage in their final round of discussions to establish more ambitious EU objectives to expand renewable energy throughout the next decade. These goals are crucial for Europe’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 and to become independent of Russian fossil fuels. However, the negotiations have become bogged down by a dispute over whether fossil fuels produced using nuclear power should be considered part of the renewable energy targets.

France is spearheading a push to classify “low-carbon hydrogen” – hydrogen produced from nuclear energy – as equal to hydrogen created from renewable electricity. France is joined by countries such as Romania, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, all of which seek greater acknowledgment of nuclear energy’s CO2-free contribution to climate objectives.

On the other hand, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, and Luxembourg oppose this view, arguing that including nuclear power in renewable energy targets would divert attention from the urgent need to expand solar and wind energy across Europe significantly.

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Green spin

Green spin

Concern over the steep rise in the price of electricity this winter has paved the way for rehashing the old misinformation about the relative cost of generation.  So it is that Carbon Tracker – a non-profit which seeks to focus financial investment on non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) – reports that electricity bills are far higher than they might have been because they are based on expensive gas generation.  As Andy Verity at the BBC explains:

“The way electricity prices are set has pushed UK household bills up by £7.2bn over two years…  Under existing rules, energy suppliers pay the highest price for wholesale electricity no matter how it is made.

“Gas-fired power stations are the most expensive way to generate electricity, but only make about 40% of all electricity used by UK homes.  That means homes pay over the odds for power generated any other way…”

Taken at face value, this is broadly correct.  But there is a great deal which needs unpacking here.  Most notably, the way in which “green” energy policy has had a negative impact on the wholesale gas market.  Because, while Verity points to the post-lockdown shortages and energy self-sanctioning (he misspells it “Russia’s war in Ukraine”) as the cause of the recent price spikes, these are only proximate triggers.  The deeper cause was environmental policy which drove energy companies out of long-term gas supply deals in favour of the – far more volatile – spot market.  In effect, having been told by the state that your industry is being phased out, why bother with long-term investment?  One result was the closure of the massive Rough storage facility in the North Sea – which the state is now pledged to reopen – which would have provided the buffer to iron out most of the upward spike in gas prices in 2021.

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Sunshine Might Be Free But Solar Power is Not Cheap

Sunshine Might Be Free But Solar Power is Not Cheap

Mississippi residents are consistently told that renewable energy sources, like solar panels, are now the lowest-cost ways to generate electricity, but these claims are based on creative accounting gimmicks that only examine a small portion of the expenses incurred to integrate solar onto the grid while excluding many others.

When these hidden expenses are accounted for, it becomes obvious that solar is much more expensive than Mississippi’s existing coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants and that adding more solar will increase electricity prices for the families and businesses that rely upon it. One of the most common ways of estimating the cost of generating electricity from different types of power plants is a metric called the Levelized Cost of Energy, or LCOE.

The LCOE is an estimate of the long-term average cost of producing electricity from a power plant. These values are estimated by taking the costs of the plant, such as the money needed to build and operate it, fuel costs, and the cost to borrow money, and dividing them by the amount of electricity generated by the plant (generally megawatt hours) over its useful lifetime.

In other words, LCOE estimates are essentially like calculating the cost of your car on a per-mile-driven basis after accounting for expenses like initial capital investment, loan and insurance payments, fuel costs, and maintenance.

We can estimate the LCOE of new solar facilities in Mississippi by using overnight capital cost estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Electricity Market Module and other state-specific factors. We can then compare the cost of solar to the real-world cost data for the coal and natural gas generators at the Victor J. Daniel Jr. Generating Plant, and the Grand Gulf nuclear power plant using the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Form 1 database.

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Can We 100% Get Rid of Fossil Fuel?

Can We 100% Get Rid of Fossil Fuel?

The Energy Transition Will Run Through the Copper Gauntlet

And it may not survive

Since the 2018 IPCC climate report laid out the calamitous consequences of our unbridled carbon emissions, every pathway published by academics and think tanks that claim to save us from ourselves involves the expansion of solar and wind farms as well as net-zero and carbon capture dreams of unbridled optimism.

Net-Zero, the idea that we can keep emitting greenhouse gasses only if we somehow capture or offset those emissions by some yet-to-be-determined means was a dubious proposition at best. It relies on untested-at-scale projects such as carbon capture and sequester (CCS) as well as accounting fantasies that pretend a young sapling that takes 50 years to grow offsets the carbon released from the burning of a mature tree today after being shipped overseas.

Net-Zero plans also assume a rapid and universal deployment of renewable energy-capturing machines a.k.a. solar panels and wind generators. Unfortunately, contrary to their portrayal in mainstream media, solar panels and windmills do not produce renewable energy. These are machines designed to capture and transform energy (electromagnetic or kinetic) available to them and they are manufactured, installed, maintained, and replaced using fossil fuels.

It’s astonishing how the continual absence of any credible carbon removal technology seems to never affect net-zero policies. Whatever is thrown at it, net zero carries on without a dent in the fender.

James Dyke

Senior Lecturer in Global Systems, University of Exeter

Many other metals and rare earth elements have received a great deal of attention due to their exotic-sounding names, relative scarcity, and utilization in cutting-edge technologies, but one of the most critical minerals to the energy transition that is essential to curtailing the most serious effect of climate change is also one that the human race has learned to work earliest — copper.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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