Friday, June 8, 2018

Exponential Growth Towards a Sustainable Future: the Limits of Solar Panel and Wind Turbine Production

Solarplant near Rüdersdorf, Germany 2014, © Molgreen, CC BY-SA 4.0
Solar plant near Rüdersdorf, Germany 2014, © Molgreen, CC BY-SA 4.0

(Reblogged from blog.wozukunft.de)

Guest post by Gregor Hagedorn

Many people, including myself, fear that the great acceleration (1, 2) of our consumption and destruction of resources such as land, biodiversity, soil, minerals, and fossil energy sources, could lead us into a catastrophe. Other people point out the positive side of near-exponential growth in various fields: renewable energy production, "biotechnology and bioinformatics; computational systems; networks and sensors; artificial intelligence; robotics; digital manufacturing; medicine; and nanomaterials and nanotechnology" (Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler 2012. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think). Others propose that the roadmap to prevent the climate catastrophe should follow an exponential "carbon law", modeled on Moore's law for the semiconductor industry (Rockström et al 2017).

Exponential growth models leading towards sustainability certainly offer hope. An example might be the renewable energy transition: the growth of cumulative solar energy capacity is indeed almost exponential.

Exponential Growth in Renewable Energy Production (© Gregor Hagedorn, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Exponential Growth in Renewable Energy Production Capacity. The gray target final energy capacity is assumed to be slowly increasing as a result of a combination of energy savings in rich countries and equitable growth in poor countries. (© Gregor Hagedorn, CC BY-SA 4.0)

However, looking at the graph, it is clear that the assumption of unchecked exponential growth makes no sense. An extrapolation of the historical annual growth rate (39.14%) means that the final doubling of capacity occurs in the last 25.2 months. Huge productions facilities would have to be built for the necessary solar panel and wind turbines – to be used only for a very short time.

Most scientist and economists are aware of this, but I have experienced many lay people and politicians taking “exponential problem solving” at face value – which may be a problem.

Renewable energy capacity growth as an example

What would a more realistic model be? As a biologist, I am acquainted with logistic growth models limited by a capacity factor such as the available food or land. But organisms will reproduce until the capacity is exhausted, often going into overshoot followed by a period of population collapse (die-off). Humans have foresight (at least sometimes). And investors usually calculate the profitability of investments.

Bardi & Sgouridis 2017 evaluate the effect of time of return on energy investment of renewable energy production installations (e.g. photovoltaic installations, wind parks). In my understanding, this is relevant but different from the effect of the economic return on investment on the factories producing the solar panels, wind turbines, etc. What effect does a minimum life-span of these factories have on the energy transition? As I could not find a publication (please comment, if you know one!), I decided to investigate this.

As I could not find a publication (please comment, if you know one!), I decided to investigate it myself. I will focus on a single of these transformation dynamics, the economics of investing. This is not meant to be a comprehensive model, encompassing the complexities of the real world and aimed at making actual predictions. I think of it more as a thought experiment to estimate the difference between exponential growth and a reasonable return-on-investment on production facilities under otherwise ideal growth conditions. Basically, I assume that any new factory should be running, with reinvestments and upgrades, for 30 years. The following indented text documents the assumptions behind the model (skip ahead, if you like).

1. To simplify, I use the capacity growth value for solar photovoltaic panels (0.105 GW 1992 to 405 GW projection 2017, = 39.14% annual or 2.78% monthly growth) as representative for the entire renewable energy mix needed in the future (the combined growth rate of wind turbines, concentrated solar, geothermal, etc. would lead to a more complex and more realistic picture).
2. Global Final energy consumption values are from Wikipedia (partly interpolated and partly estimated from primary energy supply).

3. After 2014, consumption is extrapolated using assumptions about energy savings and equitable growth needed for poorer countries. I assume that the combination of energy savings and additional energy needed for equitable growth for a good life on 9-12 billion humans will be doubling global final energy consumption between 2014 and 2100 to about 220 PWh/year. The slope of this increase is significantly smaller than the past increase, but the sudden transition into linear growth is a strong simplification. The end result roughly matches the common assumption of a demand of 2kW average equivalent power/person in 2100 (see., e.g., Bardi & Sgouridis 2017); 12 billion people * 2 kW = 24 TW average = ca. 210 PWh/year.

4. Global final renewable energy capacity is calculated by assuming we need 8 × average output as peak output; compensating for within-day volatility, seasonal volatility requiring long-term storage, average capacity factor (cloudy/non-windy days), regional volatility (if Portugal and Germany are to supply each other to reduce volatility, they both need large excess capacity). This is a wild guess. The capacity factor for solar in Germany is around 10%, wind between 20 and 50%, but we talk global here and I have not good data for a global average. Please help if you can provide better global, cross-technology estimates for the relation between peak capacity and annual final renewable energy consumption!

5. The model assumes that factories producing solar panels, concentrated solar plants, wind turbines, etc., require a production time of 30 years for an economic return on investment.

6. During this time, re-investments occur making production cheaper or increasing the production capacity (higher wind turbine/solar panel output, or more efficient technologies, generating more power per item). Since both solar panels and wind turbines are relatively mature technologies, I assume an increase in capacity for a given factory of 30% over the 30-year lifetime (modeled as 1.32% per year in the first 20 years, with no further investments and gains in the final years). Again, this is a wild guess; better estimates are most welcome. (Different assumption for improvement rates change the outcome only marginally since it is mostly equivalent to the addition of small factories with a shorter lifespan, decreasing the average lifespan of a factory per production capacity.)

7. The model includes a replacement rate for older renewable energy installations. The aging-related yearly capacity loss of various renewable energy solutions (e.g. 0.5-1% in solar panels) is ignored here, considering the assumptions for overcapacity above. For solar the panel warranty is usually 20-25 years, but usability may be much longer. I assume 20% replacement for yearly cohorts after each of 20, 25, 30, 40, and 50 years (i.e. max lifespan 50 years). The 20-year category includes replacements for storm damages, etc.

8. After 2051, the production time of some factories is extended for a number of years, to reduce the ensuing production fluctuations. Again: The real world is much more complex. Investment into production plants depends on many economic factors: workers, capital, interest rates, location and regional planning, regulatory conditions, supply chains for raw material and preprocessed parts, etc. And, again, this is no prediction model, but a mind-sized analysis of one factor!

The resulting graph looks like:

Factory Depreciation limited versus Exponential Growth in Renewable Energy Production (© Gregor Hagedorn, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Factory-depreciation-limited (blue) versus exponential growth (yellow) in renewable energy production (© Gregor Hagedorn, CC BY-SA 4.0)



What did I learn?

"Exponential growth" only matters in the beginning. The vast majority of capacity increase happens between 2027 and 2051 in a near-linear fashion. Under the parameters chosen, only 7.8% of the capacity is produced under the exponential growth model. Clearly, this result depends on the growth rate and the expected lifespan of production facilities for solar panels, concentrated solar power, wind turbines, etc. The result will be similar whenever the factory lifespan is similar to the time it takes to reach the capacity growth target.

Some additional, minor observations (skip ahead, if you like):

1. Whereas under a fully exponential calculation the energy production capacity for 100% Renewable Energy is reached 2034, it takes until 2051 in the present calculation. (Note that this may still allow reaching the Paris climate goals; but also note that the calculation does not deal with issues like volatility, storage, transport, stranded assets, etc.).

2. With regard to new production capacity (factories) in the present calculation: 2027 is "peak acceleration", followed by five years in which production capacity continues to increase, but with less new capacity each year. And that is it. Under the (arbitrary!) assumption that you need at least 30 years return on investment into a new plant, it would be uneconomical to build additional production facilities between 2033 and 2051. From 20151 on, replacement of older factories and increasing demand for solar panel and wind turbine replacement creates a new market for the establishment of new production facilities.

3. Between 2051 and 2100, a period of alternating over- and underproduction occurs in the present calculation, which uses global yearly factory cohorts and an inflexible re-investment / capacity upgrade scheme. In reality, many individual factories would have different lifetimes, be upgraded at different times, and some factories might make losses and be closed prematurely. All of this would enable the markets to track demand more flexible. Still, being able to track a market which transitions from a strong growth market to a weak growth market which then transitions into an increasingly strong replacement market will be a challenge. Some Lotka–Volterra-like oscillations are in fact not uncommon in markets, see, e.g., the DRAM production in the semiconductor industry.

4. The production capacity for solar panels, wind turbines, etc. in 2017 is about 114 GWpeak/year (please comment if you think this number is incorrect!). Under my assumptions (and in order to achieve the target capacity by 2051), production capacity must very quickly rise to about 5700 GWpeak/year in 2032. It then grows slowly, through productivity increases in existing factories to a peak of 6643 GWpeak/year in 2047. The exact values and years depend on many assumptions in this calculation and are likely to be only very rough estimates. However, the estimates show that building sufficient production capacity for the energy transition is a huge challenge – and a huge market opportunity.

5. Comparing the results with the return-on-energy models from Sgouridis et al. 2016 (see the crude graph below): a) total peak capacity in 2075 is about 100 TWpeak, less than then 165 TWpeak in our calculation; b) total capacity is falling after 2050 in Sgouridis et al. 2016; c) the main growth occurs about 8 years earlier; d) the transition towards capacity is smoother, i.e. in the last 8 years capacity is added slower than in my (purely factory-output-optimized) model.
Comparison of model with result of Sgouridis et al. 2016 (© Gregor Hagedorn, CC BY-SA 4.0)


General Conclusions

The idea that a future acceleration of technological progress at an exponential rate will solve many problems has several proponents, the best known of which are perhaps Diamandis & Kotler. Their 2012 book has been widely reviewed and criticized. Patrick Tucker (2012, An Awesome Adventure to the Future) applauds them for encouraging the view that problems can be solved. But as Dale Carrico (2012, Schlock and Awesome; Or, The Futurists Are Worse Than You Think) points out, uncritical wishful thinking without regard to problems and limitations is "escapism from the real present, what it offers as solutions are nothing but distractions from problems". Gregor Macdonald (2012. 'Cornucopians in Space' Deliver a Dangerously Misguided Message – Optimism has its dangers) notes that Diamandis "is an adherent to the notion that exponential growth in technology will eventually reach a crescendo, thus offering humankind super-solutions at a kind of hyperspeed rate of change." But while technological progress is helpful and welcome, "the magnitude of the world’s present challenges cannot wait for the array of potential solutions that may start to work". He warns that "celebrating the success of solutions before they have actually arrived – indeed, well before they have arrived, is no solution at all". Michael Marien (2012, globalforesightsbooks Book of the Month) observes that the "techno-ecstatic focus of Singularity … serves to obscure the need for “soft” social technology that is of equal if not greater importance" and "questions are ignored about how the new abundance will be distributed in a world of massive and increasing inequality, where many governments are running huge deficits and hamstrung by ideological gridlock and obsolete ideas", conceding that "As inspirational futurism suggesting possibilities of a better world for all, there are certainly many good budding ideas here that may bloom."

Some of the general problems of belief in unchecked growth are very nicely exposed by Tom Murphy (2012, Exponential Economist Meets Finite Physicist) - highly recommended!

One of my own conclusions is, that exponential decay, such as the aforementioned "carbon law", makes more sense than the growth case. Overall, however, the assumption that initial large reductions can be achieved with relatively low investment, followed by decreasing reductions at increasing cost is more plausible than the case of exponential growth. Again, this cannot be repeated forever, as cost becomes prohibitive, but this is not really necessary to achieve the goals intended by the "carbon law" proposal.

My own view is that it is good to point out signs of hope and progress (some of my favorites are, e.g., Hans, Ola & Anna Rosling - do read the new book 'Factfulness', Max Roser and his co-workers, or Dina D. Pomeranz). And we all hope that innovation can solve at least some of our problems.

However, most people already expect miracles from technology. While innovation may follow exponential growth for some time, this will in all likelihood always change to a different growth model over time1. The calculations above are only an example.

Scientific limits of the earth system, economic limits (as in the example above), sociological and psychological limits of humans and their societies, as well as the potential for exponential technological growth, need to be viewed together. Ignoring parts of the system will not lead to a solution.

But worse: I see the perceived need for and the creed in endless future technological innovation as a distraction. As misleading. as prolonging our current phase of procrastination and not solving the many problems we can already solve right now.

It is not true that we are currently desperately trying to survive and have no other option than to send our own children into a slavery of food, energy and resource scarcity. It is not true that our only chance is to hope for yet non-existent technologies.

The truth is: We have the technologies, we can solve the energy (see, e.g., Bardi & Sgouridis 2017), food, biodiversity, transportation, equity, etc. problems.

But we are not using the solutions at the necessary scale. We are procrastinating and seeking excuses: whether it is that the problem cannot be solved or that they will solve themselves thanks to a sudden explosion of exponentially growing innovation. We are celebrating ourselves in the media for deploying positive solutions at small scales. At the same time, we are directing the general economy through taxes, tariffs, and subsidies at many orders of magnitude into the opposite, destructive direction.

We are not building a house for our children, we are burning it down. Our greed for money, for personal power and sex, for eating meat and other luxury foods, for playing with ivory tower problems has us care more about ourselves than about the future of our children.


Notes
1 I believe this even applies to the tech development under the scenario of technological singularity, wiping out humanity – but this is a different discussion...

 

References

Ugo Bardi & Sgouris Sgouridis 2017. In Support of a Physics-Based Energy Transition Planning: Sowing Our Future Energy Needs. BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality, December 2017, 2:14, doi:10.1007/s41247-017-0031-2

Rockström, Gaffney, Rogelj, Meinshausen, Nakicenovic, Schellnhuber 2017. A roadmap for rapid decarbonization. Science 355: 1269-1271. doi:10.1126/science.aah3443

Sgouris Sgouridis, Denes Csala & Ugo Bardi 2016.The sower's way: quantifying the narrowing net-energy pathways to a global energy transition. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 9. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/9/094009/meta



(© Gregor Hagedorn 2018, CC BY-SA 4.0, first publ. 2018-05-15, last updated 2018-06-11. Image: a cropped version of Photovoltaic installation near Rüdersdorf, Germany, © Molgreen, CC BY-SA 4.0)

20 comments:

  1. dear Prof, aren't you forgetting the politics of energy transition? it's not just about technology and innovation. It is a lot about who's going to produce what, where and under which conditions. Who governs this process? who wins and who loses?

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    Replies
    1. The post does not try to answer all. Both the production of panels, wind turbines etc. and the production of energy using these can follow very different distribution - something that is very relevant, I agree!

      Delete
  2. Our energy needs and appetite are Gargantuan. But we should never underestimate destructive potential of technologies and human "inovation":

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/did-fracking-cause-the-hawaii-volcanic-eruption/5643413

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  3. Moore's law for the semiconductor industry has totally ignored predicting the scale of doubling in energy-consumption needed for every round of computational-power increase! The media quoting the law has never mentioned this parameter, ever!

    Burning gold-grade fossil fuels reserves to manufacture microprocessors for bitcoin mining, for example, then churning numbers all day long to make 35c in revenue, is not a demonstration of super computational power but a fossil fuels-massacre, as if those fossil fuels are looted!

    This ignorance has been infectious and now creeping into the 'renewable' industry. This far, no body has correlated the growth in number of casualties, say in ongoing conflicts in the Middle East since 2003 or 2013, to the number of solar panels and wind turbines produced during the same period.

    A researcher may find out that for every bunch of solar panels produced worldwide, tens of new humans graves were to be dug.

    Who would generate more net useful energy during their lifetime, a young human or a solar panel - before they cease? Remember, panels require cleaning done by humans.

    The answer is likely a human, being of immensely higher intelligent design, which required an amount of energy and time we cannot fathom!

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  4. I can't help but see the technotopians as apologists for a destructive system. They feed into our inbuild resistance for reflecting on our own responsibilities (as a society) and provide us with an excuse for doing nothing to solve the problems we are facing.

    In many ways our believe in technology has become a religion or mythology in our society. This leads me to another aspect of techotopian views.

    In anthropology there is a phenomenon that is called the "ghost dance" which is a special form of a crisis cult.
    (Winston La Barre 1971)

    A "ghost dance" arises in moments of history where a people suffer "extreme social, political, economic, demographic, cultural, and personal stress". Being unable to cope with these problems, they start following a cult that promisies that an outside mythological force will magically save them from the inevitable trauma they are facing.

    Its a coping mechanism that we seem to develop, because our collective minds are unable to deal with the stress of the pending collapse.

    In the case of the overexploitation of our planet, a change in our collective behaviour (our capitalist system) is the obvious and simplest solution to our problem but its also the source of the stress we have to psychologically cope with. (I have also read the term "pre traumatic stress disorder").

    When external material pressures force us to change our paradigms and behaviour, we experience that as trauma and we prefer to rather not deal with it.

    The concept is easily misused, misunderstood and weaponized. Also the current view is that the ghost dance was not as useless as La Barre made it out to be, as it was also a strong factor in the mobilisation of resistance and reclaiming of identity.

    Also there is the other side of the medal called "millenarianism", a form of crisis cult post-fossile/post-growth scholars and thinkers are being accused of being a part of. Millenarianists see the current conditions as unbearable or unjust and invent some sort of mythical cataclysmic event that will cleanse the corruption from the world.

    That being said, I believe that these coping mechanisms are a real thing and while technotopian authors might not be crisis cultist they do speak to people who might be and just "want" to believe in a magical saviour. This becomes a problem if such people are in positions of power, as they will be deafened to any other voice. I think the current US president and many members of the republican party fall into that category, and they really don't need even more excuses for doing nothing but making the rich richer.

    Technotopians are therfore guilty of feeding the current elite's state of denial, regardless of the intent and academic rigor they might have.

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    1. For me "faith in science" is as much as an paradoxon as "proof of god". Technotopians entangle themselfs in untenable contradictions as in their praise of science and ingenuity they dismiss all scientific evidence that questions their believe.

      Faith in progress and technology was always a part of the capitalist ideology and in essence it is founded on the same irrational assumptions about our society and its subjects as economics is.

      When our economy crashed in 2008, the leading mainstream economists soon came to the conclusion that it was not their models that haven been wrong, but reality. Reality had failed to adhere to economic models so our real economy crashed. Capitalism simply was not capitalistic enough, only more of the same would save us.

      Its not the system that failed us, WE FAILED THE SYSTEM!

      Remember Donella Meadows work on levereage points?

      This is from her aritcle ( http://donellameadows.org/archives/leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/ ):

      "The systems analysis community has a lot of lore about leverage points. Those of us who were trained by the great Jay Forrester at MIT have all absorbed one of his favorite stories. "Time after time I’ve done an analysis of a company, and I’ve figured out a leverage point — in inventory policy, maybe, or in the relationship between sales force and productive force, or in personnel policy. Then I’ve gone to the company and discovered that there’s already a lot of attention to that point. Everyone is trying very hard to push it IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!”
      (Donella Meadows)

      When the results of technological progress threaten to collapse our ecosystem, we are to believe that only more technological progress will save it. We as subjects will have to embrace that and be part of it to make the promise of the golden age of mankind come true.

      And if we do not live to see that technotopian paradise, in the eyes of the futurists and technotopians, it will not be progress that failed us, WE will have failed (to) progress.

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    2. Very interesting points, thank you! I agree that cornucopian/technotopian futurism is fullfilling a need of people who do not see any true, realistic solutions.

      Delete
  5. Very interesting smart post, I like it very much.

    May I suggest some stuffs to modify the model?!

    -Logistic function are Ok; it describes the trend into a new segment product, also the trend of a possibile conversion of a sector into an Economy Market model, so no doubt about the logistic function. Well done!

    -photovoltaic stuffs and wind turbines, they are old green power plant and they are discontinuous energy suppliers so drop those stuffs

    -get thermodynamic solar power plant technology, also called Rubbia's energy power plant. Those stuff is fast and cheap to build, with easy maintenance, they need of few personnel for running, the power plant is computer aided controlled, all hardware durability is over 100 years I suppose.
    https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impianto_solare_termodinamico

    -change exponential growth ratio: I suggest to estimate the thermodynamic solar power plant ratio growth with the mean of the historic data costruction for oil derricks, during the energetic conversion from coal to oil. Implement logistic function on those historic datas for estimate the possibile future growth trend of thermodynamic solar power plant

    -Area limit of solar power energy:
    first easy limit get solar power plant: get the Sahara+Arabic+Australia deserts surface as first limit.

    It's only a theoric attempt, because the real potential area on Earth for those new technology is bigger.

    second solar power plant limit: get (Sahara+Arabic+Australia)+Kalahari+Nevada+vast part of China Desert surface. May be it is also possibile to add the surface of inland desert on Chile and Perù. But for starting the model, I suppose Sahara+Arabic+Australia desert surface limits are quite enough as first superior easy solar limit.

    -lets ignore for the moment the Carbon bubble issue, on assuming the conventional oil price will rise up in the future, so it will be no lag from economoic actor forces during the transition from Oil to Solar Thermodynamic paragidm
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/arctic-methane-emergency-carbon-bubble.html

    -Use data expected from future energetic mix for 2050 and compare that with the potential demand, it' ok the mean of 2Kw for each man on earth (it may represent the mankind pressure dissatisfied and the force of II°world, III°world to make war versus I°world if they don't have enough energy procapite) and detract from the total energy mix expected, the part of the thermodynamic solar plant made into the 1ST limit for energy conversion

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot for your comments! My model actually does NOT use logistic equations. Instead, it is a simply, direct model of production capacity and depreciation of production facilities for energy harvesting machinery like PV, CSP, Wind turbines, etc. It is not meant to be a realistic model of the future, only to isolate a single factor. There are many more factors, like necessary energy and mineral consumption.

      However, I believe the area limits you mention are not relevant. At current global energy consumption of approx. 150 PWh/a, solar desert energy influx of 2.2 TWh/(km²×year) [e.g. http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/966354/rwe/press-news/theoretical-area-needed/] and a conversion efficiency of 15%, 681 818 km² desert surface are needed. This is just 13.5% of the Sahara area [e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara]. Filling 681 818 km² with CSP, PV, Windturbines, including the necessary grid infrastructure would be a huge challenge (raw materials, energy, production capacity, manpower, etc.) - but I see no area limit. Do you disagree with my calculation?

      Delete
    2. @ Gregor Hagedorn

      There's a second part of my post, I divided because it was too long, may be it will be visible in short time.

      No, agree :-) because only the 5% of Sahara would produce the entire mankind energy need of one year.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXx02iMsDqI

      I also imagine a new energy paradigm, with high intensive systems put in the deserts (Sahara, Australian desert, Arabic Desert).

      1 robotic and mechanized farms land for food production, with a few usage of fresh water, with at least twice productivity ratios of Occidental farm production, because there is no winter/fall season stopping vegetable growth in the desert. Those farms land will be very high energy intensive, even to feed greenhouses for vegetables whom can't growth in open air at +50°C

      2 I also imagine desalination plants on the coast, for producing a lot of fresh sweet water from the sea, just for feeding inland desert farms and for the continent people necessity, to mitigate climate change negative impact on fresh water.

      3 It should be installed super conductor power lines for sharing electric power from Sahara towards Europe/America, and from Sahara to Asia, and from Australia to Asia. Super conductor lines are expensive stuffs, and I don't think nobody will put them on the ground, even they will be useful. So a lot of energy power will be lost during the old and less efficient conventional power line transportation.

      4 I also imagine hydrogen manufacturing plants in the desert, those stuffs will absorb very much energy to produce fuel Hydrogen for feeding fuel-cell cars all over the world.

      5 I imagine "Science Fiction high tech black boxes" :-) for capturing and waterproofing and storing gas serra emission in the desert to mitigate the climate change effects. I have no idea, how those stuffs could work, but for sure, I'm sure those stuffs will suck a lot of energy for runnig and being effective to change the world climate. Those stuffs will have to work for many years and all those massive amount of energy will have to be produced without gas serra emissions. May be, I suppose those geo-engeneering climate hardwares will have to spread out in the Earth, one in each continent to be more effective. That's why I imagine always any limits, because technology always has got limits, even into a new energy paradigm, limits are always real.

      I really don't have any idea of how much energy could be needed to feed all those stuffs (I imagine an energy decline during this transition for many reason, look at efficient technological sharing of austerity scenario) buf for sure, mankind shoud extract from deserts a lot of energy :-) and when I say a lot of, I mean, really a LOT :-)

      Delete
    3. I still don't see the 2ND part of my post, may be it's gone away, I'm reposting it.

      -Consider the Climate Change ticking bomb:"Houston we have a problem". yah!

      a)Consider the demographic population in expansion as ONU Demographic data, and consider also a couple of early warning signals of climate catastrophe. More people, more energy (and food and fresh water needed). Datas needed to segment in I,II,III wordl for the precedent point and the energetic mix
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-multiplication-of-threats-climate.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/03/threat-multipliers-changing-energy.html

      b)Rising sea level: +1.5mt before 2050, +3mt before 2100, +7mt after 2100 for those times, system will have to consider tipping point, I mean, possible wars.
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/sea-level-is-rising-faster-and-faster.html

      c)North pole free ice from 2030. After this event, it could be other problems with letal trigging points: AMOC slowdown/shoutdown and/or acceleration of the melting methane hydrate bomb in Siberia with positive feedback
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/12/early-warning-of-climate-tipping-points.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/is-thc-really-at-risk-impact-of-thc.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/amoc-shutdown-potential-and-implications.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-climate-crisis.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/05/global-and-european-climate-impacts-of.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/abrupt-cooling-over-north-atlantic.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/is-gulf-stream-slowing-answer-is-yes.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/05/global-warming-and-collapse-of.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/01/rising-seas-how-fast-how-far.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/robust-assessment-of-expansion-and.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/03/survivable-ipcc-projections-rcp26-and.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/doorway-to-hell-expert-talks-arctic.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/01/il-bug-di-sicurezza-delle-cpu-intel-vs.html

      So, for 2050 we have to suppose war in the Mediterranean area, and a probable WWIII in Siberia.
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/il-geniale-profeta-geopolitico-prof.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/la-penisola-italiana-sara-colonia-di.html
      http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/wwiii-road-map-theory.html

      The questions turn in:

      1-how many thermodynamic solar plants will mankind build from 2020 to 2050 ?!
      I don't know, but I think not enough

      2-Will this new energetic paradigm assure a fast energetic conversion from fossil fuel to solar energy before 2050?!
      mmmhhhh I suppose not, I'll tell you why, few rows below.

      3-If climate crisis will detonate in 2030 after che north pole ice free, supposing nobody will do nothing until 2030 so from 2030 to 2050, will this short time assure an effective energy conversion before wars?
      No.

      I really don't have made those counts: but I deduce it's too late:

      Because at north Africa countries are in fragile situation in high risk of regime changing = No UE in northern Africa, No stability, No investiment, No solar power plant.
      Because DESERTECH was closed, no doubt about that.
      Because there's no sign of an effective energetic conversion in the world: no doubt about that.
      Because I also think that II°world and III°world will never ever leave fossil fuel as may be I°world will try something.

      Delete
  6. -Consider the Climate Change ticking bomb:"Houston we have a problem". yah!

    a)Consider the demographic population in expansion as ONU Demographic data, and consider also a couple of early warning signal of climate catastrophe. More people, more energy (and food and fresh water needed). Datas needed to segment in I,II,III wordl for the precedent point and the energetic mix
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-multiplication-of-threats-climate.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/03/threat-multipliers-changing-energy.html

    b)Rising sea level: +1.5mt before 2050, +3mt before 20100, +7mt after 2100 for those time, system will have to consider tipping point, I mean, possible wars.
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/sea-level-is-rising-faster-and-faster.html

    c)North pole free ice from 2030. After this event it could be other problems with letal trigging points: AMOC slowdown/shoutdown and/or acceleration of the melting methane hydrate bomb in Siberia with positive feedback
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/12/early-warning-of-climate-tipping-points.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/is-thc-really-at-risk-impact-of-thc.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/amoc-shutdown-potential-and-implications.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-climate-crisis.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/05/global-and-european-climate-impacts-of.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/abrupt-cooling-over-north-atlantic.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/is-gulf-stream-slowing-answer-is-yes.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/05/global-warming-and-collapse-of.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/01/rising-seas-how-fast-how-far.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/robust-assessment-of-expansion-and.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/03/survivable-ipcc-projections-rcp26-and.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/doorway-to-hell-expert-talks-arctic.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2018/01/il-bug-di-sicurezza-delle-cpu-intel-vs.html

    So for 2050 we have to suppose war in the Mediterranean area and a probable WWIII in Siberia.
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/il-geniale-profeta-geopolitico-prof.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/11/la-penisola-italiana-sara-colonia-di.html
    http://mio-radar.blogspot.com/2017/10/wwiii-road-map-theory.html

    The questions turn in:

    1-how many thermodynamic solar plants will mankind build from 2020 to 2050 ?!
    I don't know, but I think not enough

    2-Will this new energetic paradigm assure a fast energetic conversion from fossil fuel to solar energy before 2050?!
    mmmhhhh I suppose not, I'll tell you why, few row below.

    3-If climate crisis will detonate in 2030 after che north pole ice free, supposing nobody will do nothing until 2030 so from 2030 to 2050, will this short time assure an effective energy conversion before wars?
    No.

    I really don't have made those counts: but I deduce it's too late:

    Because at north Africa countries are in fragile situation in high risk of regime changing = No UE in northern Africa, No stability, No investiment, No solar power plant.
    Because DESERTECH was closed, no doubt about that.
    Because there's no sign of an effective energetic conversion in the world: no doubt about that.
    Because I also think that II°world and III°world will never ever leave fossil fuel as may be I°world will try something.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The assumption of an annual solar panel generation efficiency decline rate (item 7) is considerably overstated, as solar panels made 5 years ago were guaranteed to a minimum of 95% efficiency after 25 years. That makes the decline rate an average of 0.2%/year over those 25 years, and would imply 90% efficiency at almost 50 years in age. Newer solar panels are much less-efficient with a slower decline rate.

    Moreover, there has been a considerable increase in the efficiency of electric appliances over the last 50 years and no reason to suspect that we are today at the peak of electric use efficiency either. The ongoing rise in the efficiency of electric power use would suggest that the 10% loss of solar panel efficiency at almost 50 years would be more than made up by gains in electric use efficiency.

    Do also remember that local solar power generation, especially when combined with local storage of excess capacity, greatly-reduces the amount of loss from our current electric transmission grid. In rooftop solar generation with battery storage the loss rate is almost zero, whereas the loss rate between any large-scale regional power producer over its transmission grid is as much as 65% of all power generated.

    There are also lack of sustainability arguments that can be made against the electric power industry, its power plants, fuel supplies, and its transmission grid, such as the impending exhaustion of various metals critical for safe electric power transmission. The study Metal Stocks and Sustainability should be required reading for anyone who advocates continued use of large-scale electric power distribution grids.

    If the human race lasts until the later part of this century without considerable population loss we will be on the ragged edge of exhausting the known supply of phosphate at a cost the masses can afford, without which crop yields fall by 40-50%.

    Before then it is forecast we will exhaust half of remaining agricultural topsoil after already having lost 35% of once-viable farmland since 1970. Figure that the starvation potato diet will be very popular later this century.

    At this point the sum total of all sustainability initiatives does not equal sustainability, only a delay in the inevitable.

    We hunans are just going to have to get to get used to using a lot less power, fresh water, and numerous metal stocks in increasingly short supply, as well as give up our grand dreams of earning enough money to live like kings.

    At this point we need to focus on saving as many lives as possible as well as on a managed decline in sheer population to stretch the time we have remaining, otherwise, Lord Stern is right, there will indeed be billions of refugees playing the biggest game of musical chairs in history, with very-likely fatal consequence for the losers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot for your comments! Note that even though I may cite a relatively higher decline rate of 0.5-1%, the calculation actually assumes 0% decline. The reason is that I am calculating with rough estimates of required overcapacity anyways, which also include times during which dusty panels are not optimally cleaned, etc. What the model does do is estimated replacement rates, which include damages, etc. According to your comments, these may perhaps be too high!

      Delete
    2. Trucker Mark - Field-observations come on the contrary to many opinions listed (pls see links and videos below).


      Although coal was abundant in 1700's Britain, it took almost completely deforesting the country, hundreds of thousands of horses, the backing of the whole national economy and hills of hand-picked coal and metals - until the first steam engine has seen the light of the day!

      Until coal has peaked in 1913 Britain, after 150 years of unimaginably intensive deep-coal extraction that has virtually lowered all the ground beneath the nation by 6 inches down, the Economy was not up to more than sending the Titanic to America in 1912!

      Recycle the 15 millions scrap cars a year in the US, 1 million in Australia, 2 Million in Britain and all the rest in the world into a solar capturing platform built in the desert, and you'll get less useful energy from that platform than the energy put into recycling, erecting the new system, and running it.

      The biggest problem facing humanity in the 21st century is the inability of humans to understand Energy, confusing it with the Economics of 'Growth and past fossil fuels age mantra. See Tony Seba on Youtube and his message of 'transformation', as an example!

      Honestly, If I wasn't in the field of Energy, I would lean toward believing Seba more than what I have written above or what others have written on the subject!

      Humans need time to come back to reality, after centuries of delusional and incorrect understanding of what is Energy, encouraged to stay confused and distorted by the forces of Economics.

      Capturing solar in the desert starts with not filling it with metals, steels and concretes first, but re-foresting the desert, having living plants the best solar energy-capturing devices humans will ever have!


      https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japan-tries-to-chip-away-at-mountain-of-disused-solar-panels?page=2

      https://principia-scientific.org/millions-of-wind-turbine-blades-to-go-to-landfill/

      After 7.5 days of cleaning the farm, first cleaned modules became dirtier again and the diesel-powered clean-up should start all over again!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8rIXjOPZ8w

      Solar panel morning-session clean-up in the desert:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWtukrV1xNQ

      Delete
  8. The assumption of an annual solar panel generation efficiency decline rate (item 7) is considerably overstated, as solar panels made 5 years ago were guaranteed to a minimum of 95% efficiency after 25 years. That makes the decline rate an average of 0.2%/year over those 25 years, and would imply 90% efficiency at almost 50 years in age. Newer solar panels are much less-efficient with a slower decline rate.

    Moreover, there has been a considerable increase in the efficiency of electric appliances over the last 50 years and no reason to suspect that we are today at the peak of electric use efficiency either. The ongoing rise in the efficiency of electric power use would suggest that the 10% loss of solar panel efficiency at almost 50 years would be more than made up by gains in electric use efficiency.

    Do also remember that local solar power generation, especially when combined with local storage of excess capacity, greatly-reduces the amount of loss from our current electric transmission grid. In rooftop solar generation with battery storage the loss rate is almost zero, whereas the loss rate between any large-scale regional power producer over its transmission grid is as much as 65% of all power generated.

    There are also lack of sustainability arguments that can be made against the electric power industry, its power plants, fuel supplies, and its transmission grid, such as the impending exhaustion of various metals critical for safe electric power transmission. The study Metal Stocks and Sustainability should be required reading for anyone who advocates continued use of large-scale electric power distribution grids.

    If the human race lasts until the later part of this century without considerable population loss we will be on the ragged edge of exhausting the known supply of phosphate at a cost the masses can afford, without which crop yields fall by 40-50%.

    Before then it is forecast we will exhaust half of remaining agricultural topsoil after already having lost 35% of once-viable farmland since 1970. Figure that the starvation potato diet will be very popular later this century.

    At this point the sum total of all sustainability initiatives does not equal sustainability, only a delay in the inevitable.

    We hunans are just going to have to get to get used to using a lot less power, fresh water, and numerous metal stocks in increasingly short supply, as well as give up our grand dreams of earning enough money to live like kings.

    At this point we need to focus on saving as many lives as possible as well as on a managed decline in sheer population to stretch the time we have remaining, otherwise, Lord Stern is right, there will indeed be billions of refugees playing the biggest game of musical chairs in history, with very-likely fatal consequence for the losers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Principia Scientific is a well known denier site that lacks any credibility among actual scientists.

    I did see that Tesla has figured out how to recycle their lithium batteries as well as their solar shingles too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you all for a most interesting discussion. Might I add a pointer to the biggest, best, and cheapest solar collector on the planet: the oceans. Ocean thermal power needs no new technology, no acres of metal or trees, and minimal maintenance. In my opinion, it is the best alternativ we have to the present system.

    ReplyDelete
  11. arménio pereiraJune 11, 2018 at 7:44 PM

    (Quote) "[...] The truth is: We have the technologies, we can solve the energy (see, e.g., Bardi & Sgouridis 2017), food, biodiversity, transportation, equity, etc. problems.
    But we are not using the solutions at the necessary scale.
    [...]"

    Can a solution that no one is willing to implement (at a necessary scale or at all) still be called a solution?

    ReplyDelete
  12. The particular supposition of your twelve-monthly Solar panel technology performance drop fee (merchandise 7) will be significantly overstated, since solar panel systems produced 5 years back have been certain to be able to at the least 95% performance right after twenty-five decades. That produces the particular drop fee an average of 0. 2%/year above people twenty-five decades, and also would certainly indicate 90% performance with practically 50 decades inside age group. New solar panel systems are usually significantly less-efficient using a sluggish drop fee.

    Additionally, there is a large boost inside the performance regarding electric powered devices throughout the last 50 decades no purpose to be able to think that individuals are usually nowadays on the top regarding electric powered utilize performance both. The particular continuous go up inside the performance regarding electrical power utilize would suggest the 10% loss in solar power performance with practically 50 decades could be greater than constructed simply by benefits inside electric powered utilize performance.
    Carry out don't forget in which neighborhood solar powered energy technology, specially when along with neighborhood safe-keeping regarding excessive ability, greatly-reduces how much damage coming from our own existing electric powered transmitting grid. Inside Caribbean pv technology together with battery power safe-keeping the loss fee is practically no, whilst the loss fee among virtually any large-scale regional strength manufacturer above the transmitting grid will be up to 65% of most strength created.

    ReplyDelete

Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014). His most recent book is "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017)