Friday, 29 June 2012

Game over for wind and solar power

Even the most die-hard propagandists of wind and solar energy, like the UN International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), are now forced to admit that the the American led shale gas revolution is a gamechanger. An interview with Dolf Gielen, the director of Irena's Innovation and Technology Centre in Bonn, is quite revealing: 

  • The question today is whether the arrival of cheaper hydrocarbons, in the form of shale gas, could also spell the end of renewable energy as a major player.
  • The arrival of vast quantities of previously inaccessible hydrocarbons has driven down the price of natural gas in the US from its 2003 peak of US$20 per million British thermal units to today's $2.
  • The solar manufacturing industry that has undergone rounds of bankruptcies and consolidation over the past year seems to have finally bottomed out. "We've reached a situation where most of the solar cell and module manufacturers are making losses," said Mr Gielen. 
  • Already, the global economic crisis has pushed nations such as Spain and the Czech Republic to roll back subsidies that made the costs of green power more equal to fossil fuels and motivated homeowners to pitch solar panels on their roofs." (the bolded text is of course sheer propaganda, NNoN)
  • "... in the long term, the failure of nations to come to a meaningful climate change agreement to curb greenhouse-gas emissions has sapped confidence in cap-and-trade carbon markets and investor appetite for projects from carbon burial to nuclear to solar."

Still these solar and wind energy propagandists cling to futile hopes about some kind of a miracle - which will not happen - for wind and solar energy after 2030:
Continued low prices pose a threat to the pace of growth for wind and solar energy, at least until 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), a United Nations agency with headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and Abu Dhabi.
In power generation, renewables account for a little more than 20 per cent of the world capacity, and Mr Gielen forecasts that will rise to 50 per cent with new hydropower, wind and solar plants that are becoming increasingly cost competitive.
It is highly unlikely that renewables - even if they would include hydropower - will rise to the 50% in the foreseeable future, when one considers the abundance of shale and conventional oil and gas available. And even the 20% capacity claim for today is misleading. If one looks at the global energy consumtion figures -  as opposed to capacity - the share of hydro, wind, geothermal, woodpellet, biofuel and biogas declines to just about 8%:
It is crucial, at this point, to differentiate between the installed capacity of renewables and the actual share of renewables satisfying the final energy consumption.
Substracting the use of traditional biomass, the figure for renewables in the modern sense, that is, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, woodpellet, biofuel and biogas declines to 8.2% of the entire global energy consumption.
And of this 8,2% only a fraction comes from wind, solar and bioenergy. Their share might have grown somewhat during the last couple of years, but this figure from the Danish Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy from 2009 still shows the reality behind all the hype: 
Only 1% of the world’s energy consumption comes from modern renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar and bioenergy. 

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