Sunday, 19 June 2011

Some facts about renewable energy

                          A not very successful Danish wind turbine

Now that it has become clear the IPPC´s claims about the future role of renewable energy was written by a Greenpeace activist and a renewable energy industry lobbyist, it is perhaps useful to take a look at some real facts about renewables. Peter Glover and Michael Economides have published an excellent fact sheet in the Energy Tribune. Here are some of their findings:

Sir Martin Holdgate, former chairman of the British Renewable Energy Advisory Group, sums up the contribution of wind farms thus, “The trouble with wind farms, they have a large spatial footprint for a piddling little bit of electricity. You would need 800 turbines to replace the output of a coal-fired power station.”

Confirming that fossil fuels, not renewables, will continue to be our main source of energy for decades to come, science writer Dr Matt Ridley, states: “We would have to build 100 times as many wind farms as we have today in order to get even 10 percent of our energy from wind. And we’d soon run out of locations to put them.”

Dr Howard Hayden, professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Connecticut, puts the total dependence of renewables in perspective: “With the right subsidies, wind could become a viable energy source. And, with the right subsidies, gasoline could be made free, and 2-carat diamonds could be given away in cereal boxes. How is it that wind, with a 4,000-year head start, is such a small player in the energy scene? Could it be – just possibly – that the answer has something to do with the physics instead of economics and politics?”

Internationally-recognized energy and climate expert, Dr Richard Courtney, makes the case more graphically. “The New Age dream of a world operated by wind farms will remain a dream because the laws of physics do not allow it in an industrialized world. If wind power were economic then oil tankers would be sailing ships.”

Dale Allen Pfeiffer, writing about photovoltaics, does the math to defeat the solar science fiction too:
“The U.S. would require 17 percent of the planet’s entire surface area, or 59 percent of the land surface to produce solar energy to replace its current daily oil consumption.”

Read the entire article here


The writers also note German chancellor Angela Merkel´s flip flopping on energy policy during recent years. Recently her government published a "road map for the energy revolution" that among other things includes the phasing out of the country´s nuclear energy plants. Leading industrialists have criticisised the unrealistic roadmap, which will lead to a dangerous dependence on Russian energy deliveries and nuclear energy import from France. It appears that Ms. Merkel has based her calculations on the same math that she used already in 2007:

In 2007 the European Investment Bank calculated it would cost the EU 1.1 trillion euros over the next 14 years to pay for its Renewable Energy Roadmap to be implemented. The entire EU budget at that time was 100 billion euros. Asked who would pay for it, then EU president Angela Merkel, in a moment of unreserved honesty, responded, "With the best will in the world, I can't tell you that." Taxpayers beware politicians who haven’t done the math.

Ecologist Dr John Etherington’s pre-emptive epitaph for renewables as “the minting of money for the undeserving, aided and abetted by the uneducated” may be rhetoric, but it’s also reality. As we have quoted elsewhere, “He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense”.

In politics, as in life, it has always been thus


Krista Hiles said...

You revealed some interesting facts about wind energy. It showed the future role of renewable resources. This is very interesting post. Keep posting!

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Bryan mason said...

Thanks for sharing these facts. I am working for an organization that deals in commercial solar panels in Oakland California. Thsrt facts will definately help me upto some extent.