Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Renewables? Yes, please

From "Peak Energy"

Four Charts That Prove the Future of Clean Energy Is Arriving

Posted by Big Gav in

Greentech Media has an interesting collection of graphics about renewable energy - Four Charts That Prove the Future of Clean Energy Is Arriving. There's nothing like the power of exponential growth....


  1. Michael Dale (Stamford) gave a presentation in Edinburgh this summer, which is relevant.

    He uses energy as 'currency' and looks at 'upfront costs' and 'payback times' for these technologies. There are limits, but wind still looks pretty good. Otherwise there could be large energy costs for protracted periods before net payback of energy begins. Energy 'upfront' initially must be all from fossil sources. Long payback periods following upfront very large and increasing energy investments would not be so good if fossil energy supplies become increasingly restricted.


  2. For a US state-by-state round up on how wind and solar capacity is being added (based on latest EIA data July 2013 YTD) see, "Some States Are Adding Wind and Solar Like Crazy. Is Yours?" The progress Kansas has made with wind in just the last year is especially heartening.

  3. without consciously decreasing consumption of energy as well, any increase of these energy technologies is a moot point because they will just get swallowed up in mindless growth

    1. Agree. And what does consciously decreasing consumption of energy and stopping mindless growth require? Even if we knew, I don't think we would do it anyway.

    2. energy rationing is one way. give everyone an allowance that would cover living to an ok level, but not enough to cover private cars, 'flying the world on a whim' etc. we can introduce inducements for things like cycling based business, 1 or zero couples, growing 50% of food by ourselves and many other low carbon, degrowth and frugal activities. likewise take away benefits to those who squander. there are 100s of things that could be done.

  4. Thanks Ugo,

    just as this, and probably much more I would welcome the revolution in human behavior (towards sustainability)

    if we have only technology, whats left for saving us, I am afraid its not enough.


  5. There are limits, and relatively low, to wind generation. And PV is a bluf. In Spain the wing generation is almost at 80% or even more of the possible instalation, but it generates less than 50% of the electricity consumed. Other forms of energy not included, that weight much more, like oil or gas.

    PV is also a no way, at least right now. Pedro Prieto and Mr. Hall published a book where figures for EROEI are about 2.45:1. Maybe it can be increased, but it can hardly reach the levels given by wind generation. PV is cheap because some major PV manufacturers are in dire straits, even a big chinese one that sold 40% of it huge stock to Spain, but this is merely temporal. Prices will rise soon.

    Electric car batteries are sold well below price, just to try to support some sales. I work for a general electronic manufacturer in the automotive sector, that also manufactures EV batteries, and I know a little bit about that. The price is not the cost. It is a marketing issue, and a high prices for the battery pack will cause some problems when selling EV cars, and given the current fiasco, it is even more delicate to say anything about that issue.

    Regarding the LED technology, also it is nice, and I'm using it, I will dig further in the materials needed to manufacture them (Nd, In, Ga, As, and other not so common materials). I suspect that there could be some problem and issues with those chemicals (Arsenicum is not exactly a neat clean agent...).

    IMHO, the real only way is stop any growth at all, and begin decreasing energy consumption. Substitute renewables for other non-renewable energies but at same time keeping growth and BAU is also a kind of suicide. The message transmited by this post is understook as 'keep your energy wasting life style, that renewables will cover any possible energy problem'. No the message I think should be told.


    1. I basically agree. LTG are going to restrict choices and any future developments.
      However, be aware our host has written a book on LTG revisited - so he is fully aware of limits. Some 'renewables' might just be possible at sufficient scale to make a more orderly decline in our personal and social expectations? And it will depend on where we live, I suppose.
      Phil H

  6. Need I point out that exponential growth has no power. "If exponential growth got us into this mess, then exponential growth can get us out" seems to be the reasoning.



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)