Energy Outlook for Renewables. Pie in the sky or real?

"2. A 12TW expansion of generating capacity requires about $13.3 trillion of new investment between now and 2050 – 77% of which goes to renewables."

First, renewables will be 100% of the energy mix by 2050. This will be interpreted rather broadly as including CO2 capture and conversion to hydrocarbons for aircraft, ships, and specialized vehicles. Solar panels will be in the area of 1 cent per watt by about 2027 given current trends. Installed cost will be well under $1 per watt.

Second, $13 trillion is a grossly conservative number (dividing 13 trillion by 30 years is about $430 billion per year). A far more likely scenario is that solar will be built out to 'excess', meaning the kind of overproduction being observed in the oil and gas sector today. Think of the scale up of container shipping as another recent example. One cause of this will be the idea of 'energy security' within various countries, such as China and the US, where overdeployment is viewed as some form of economic, military, or environmental 'insurance'.

Most of the money spent in the 2030's will be for storage. This needs to go through several orders of magnitude of scale up. Solar only has to grow within it's current order of magnitude, since it is already in the 100Gw per year scale.

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On 7/14/2019 at 11:01 AM, Meredith Poor said:

"2. A 12TW expansion of generating capacity requires about $13.3 trillion of new investment between now and 2050 – 77% of which goes to renewables."

First, renewables will be 100% of the energy mix by 2050. This will be interpreted rather broadly as including CO2 capture and conversion to hydrocarbons for aircraft, ships, and specialized vehicles. Solar panels will be in the area of 1 cent per watt by about 2027 given current trends. Installed cost will be well under $1 per watt.

Second, $13 trillion is a grossly conservative number (dividing 13 trillion by 30 years is about $430 billion per year). A far more likely scenario is that solar will be built out to 'excess', meaning the kind of overproduction being observed in the oil and gas sector today. Think of the scale up of container shipping as another recent example. One cause of this will be the idea of 'energy security' within various countries, such as China and the US, where overdeployment is viewed as some form of economic, military, or environmental 'insurance'.

Most of the money spent in the 2030's will be for storage. This needs to go through several orders of magnitude of scale up. Solar only has to grow within it's current order of magnitude, since it is already in the 100Gw per year scale.

First thing that caught my eye was the statement that,"..., renewables will be 100% of the energy mix by 2050." How can there be a mix if it consists of only one 'item'?

Secondly, is natural gas included in 'renewables'?

Last of all, are we making the assumption that developing countries will embrace renewable energy sources and infrastructure when the use of coal, oil and gas gets them where they want to be quicker and cheaper.

If you built a solar panel farm in sub-Saharan Africa the chances that it would still be there in a year, let alone functional, is slim to none. Solar panels probably make better home building materials than what is presently available.

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On 7/14/2019 at 11:34 AM, ronwagn said:

Like most articles of this type it projects from a slender foundation - the existing energy mix - and presupposes boundless growth in renewables.. without taking into account any of the vast difficulties of putting intermittent power sources on an electricity grid.. a more likely scenario is that existing growth will hit a barrier about, say 20 per cent for intermittent - meaning maybe 30 per cent for total renewables - at least on major grids that rely on coal.. that's still quadruple the existing share.

That's speculation on my part but a far more likely outcome than the one in the report. Energy forecasting, incidentally, has one of the worst track records of any type of forecasting, especially when it comes to energy mix. Just think of old forecasts concerning the use of nuclear energy (nothing else will be used) and gas (to expensive for use in energy production). 

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9 hours ago, Douglas Buckland said:

First thing that caught my eye was the statement that,"..., renewables will be 100% of the energy mix by 2050." How can there be a mix if it consists of only one 'item'?

Secondly, is natural gas included in 'renewables'?

Last of all, are we making the assumption that developing countries will embrace renewable energy sources and infrastructure when the use of coal, oil and gas gets them where they want to be quicker and cheaper.

If you built a solar panel farm in sub-Saharan Africa the chances that it would still be there in a year, let alone functional, is slim to none. Solar panels probably make better home building materials than what is presently available.

First of all, if one scales up time periods sufficiently, oil and coal are 'renewable', since they formed from CO2, water, and sunlight millions of years ago. The only truly 'non-renewable' resource is uranium.

As far as I'm concerned, wind, hydro, and solar (as well as biomass, etc.) are distinct technologies, so within 'renewables' there is a mix.

Natural gas is renewable. Methane is produced by all kinds of processes, including in landfills. It won't go away even if earth becomes 'lifeless', as we have noticed methane emissions on Mars. My feeling is that 'natural gas' power generation will end up being more 'fuel cell' than CCGT over time.

Developing countries choose the cheapest path (along with advanced economies, for that matter). If RE is the cheapest, it will be the path taken. It's fair to say most really underdeveloped areas have run 100% on renewable energy since they get their work done with human and animal labor, fueled by home grown food. In any case, wind power is thousands of years old.

I had a pilot friend ask me 'what happens when a wind turbine is struck by a tornado?'. Good question. What happens to a propeller when it moves through the air at 600 MPH? The reason that aircraft taking off make so much noise is that the prop blades are breaking the sound barrier at the tips.

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16 minutes ago, Meredith Poor said:

I had a pilot friend ask me 'what happens when a wind turbine is struck by a tornado?'. Good question. What happens to a propeller when it moves through the air at 600 MPH? The reason that aircraft taking off make so much noise is that the prop blades are breaking the sound barrier at the tips.

Do you enjoy being laughed at?

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1 hour ago, Meredith Poor said:

First of all, if one scales up time periods sufficiently, oil and coal are 'renewable', since they formed from CO2, water, and sunlight millions of years ago. The only truly 'non-renewable' resource is uranium.

As far as I'm concerned, wind, hydro, and solar (as well as biomass, etc.) are distinct technologies, so within 'renewables' there is a mix.

Natural gas is renewable. Methane is produced by all kinds of processes, including in landfills. It won't go away even if earth becomes 'lifeless', as we have noticed methane emissions on Mars. My feeling is that 'natural gas' power generation will end up being more 'fuel cell' than CCGT over time.

Developing countries choose the cheapest path (along with advanced economies, for that matter). If RE is the cheapest, it will be the path taken. It's fair to say most really underdeveloped areas have run 100% on renewable energy since they get their work done with human and animal labor, fueled by home grown food. In any case, wind power is thousands of years old.

I had a pilot friend ask me 'what happens when a wind turbine is struck by a tornado?'. Good question. What happens to a propeller when it moves through the air at 600 MPH? The reason that aircraft taking off make so much noise is that the prop blades are breaking the sound barrier at the tips.

But within human timescales they are non renewable. 

Take oil - the global accumulation of stable oil deposits over geological historical time is somewhere in the region of 30-40 barrels per day. 

How much do we currently burn? 

RE Coal. 

Coal deposits formed before fungi developed that could metabolise lignin. The coal literally piled up. That process is not being repeated now at anywhere near the same scale. 

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1 hour ago, NickW said:

But within human timescales they are non renewable. 

Take oil - the global accumulation of stable oil deposits over geological historical time is somewhere in the region of 30-40 barrels per day. 

How much do we currently burn? 

RE Coal. 

Coal deposits formed before fungi developed that could metabolise lignin. The coal literally piled up. That process is not being repeated now at anywhere near the same scale. 

Nick Nick Nick: Add water, Carbon deep into ground under high pressure and elevated temps.... what comes out in very short order.... Methane and hydrocarbons(oil) are made very quickly.  Same process we use to refine them. 

As for coal?  Currently no one knows.  Swamps do not create coal as claimed in primary school text(propaganda) books is what we do know.  You might notice, but swamps do not get buried in perfectly even layers of mud of varying thicknesses as swamps/low spots are not perfectly flat, yet this is exactly what we see when we dig up coal.  Of course then we have beds of coal 100m thick...... so, uh, the "explanation" falls on its face rather spectacularly. 

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2 hours ago, Wastral said:

Nick Nick Nick: Add water, Carbon deep into ground under high pressure and elevated temps.... what comes out in very short order.... Methane and hydrocarbons(oil) are made very quickly.  Same process we use to refine them. 

As for coal?  Currently no one knows.  Swamps do not create coal as claimed in primary school text(propaganda) books is what we do know.  You might notice, but swamps do not get buried in perfectly even layers of mud of varying thicknesses as swamps/low spots are not perfectly flat, yet this is exactly what we see when we dig up coal.  Of course then we have beds of coal 100m thick...... so, uh, the "explanation" falls on its face rather spectacularly. 

The oil had all of that. 

Try this. Take the oil reserves figure in barrels. Divide by 200 million (years) and 365 (days). That will give you a rough approximate in terms of the daily accumulation of oil reserves. 

 

As for Coal

Quite - forests don't grow everywhere today and no doubt didn't during the Carboniferous era. The coal beds 100 metres think are likely to be down to one factor - fungi hadn't evolved to digest lignin. 

Edited by NickW

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5 hours ago, Meredith Poor said:

First of all, if one scales up time periods sufficiently, oil and coal are 'renewable', since they formed from CO2, water, and sunlight millions of years ago. The only truly 'non-renewable' resource is uranium.

If one scale up time periods "sufficiently" uranium is renewable through supernovae.

Of course comparing a human lifespan to even geological time scales is ridiculous... let alone astronomical time scales.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel.  The real renewable is the energy from the sun, plants just acted as our primitive solar panels, so just cut out the middle men and use solar.

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(edited)

7 hours ago, Meredith Poor said:

Natural gas is renewable. Methane is produced by all kinds of processes, including in landfills. It won't go away even if earth becomes 'lifeless', as we have noticed methane emissions on Mars. My feeling is that 'natural gas' power generation will end up being more 'fuel cell' than CCGT over time.

True, but I would call that "synthetic methane" or biogas instead of "natural gas."  If you carbon date landfill gas you can show it was not a fossil fuel (it comes from modern biomass).

A synthetic leaf (or bioreactor) that could make methane directly would be a boon.  They are getting closer.

http://news.mit.edu/2011/artificial-leaf-0930

Edited by Enthalpic

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8 hours ago, NickW said:

But within human timescales they are non renewable. 

Take oil - the global accumulation of stable oil deposits over geological historical time is somewhere in the region of 30-40 barrels per day. 

How much do we currently burn? 

RE Coal. 

Coal deposits formed before fungi developed that could metabolise lignin. The coal literally piled up. That process is not being repeated now at anywhere near the same scale. 

Every living thing turns into cellulose, and natural gas. Peat bogs, forests, grasslands, and oceans are all full of cellulose that can be turned into energy by various methods. They are all renewed constantly. The most valuable energy from is natural gas including that found in massive methane hydrate deposits in the oceans. 

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36 minutes ago, ronwagn said:

Every living thing turns into cellulose, and natural gas. Peat bogs, forests, grasslands, and oceans are all full of cellulose that can be turned into energy by various methods. They are all renewed constantly. The most valuable energy from is natural gas including that found in massive methane hydrate deposits in the oceans. 

When you say natural gas do you include Carbon Dioxide because cellulose decomposing in aerobic conditions is not going to turn into Methane. 

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41 minutes ago, ronwagn said:

Every living thing turns into cellulose, and natural gas. Peat bogs, forests, grasslands, and oceans are all full of cellulose that can be turned into energy by various methods. They are all renewed constantly. The most valuable energy from is natural gas including that found in massive methane hydrate deposits in the oceans. 

This is incorrect. The vast majority of organic material including cellulose is decomposed into CO2 and Water.

Methane is only formed in anoxic environments and these only occur in certain circumstances. Secondly the gas needs to be formed in an environment where it is trapped to form a useful reserve. 

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5 hours ago, NickW said:

The oil had all of that. 

Try this. Take the oil reserves figure in barrels. Divide by 200 million (years) and 365 (days). That will give you a rough approximate in terms of the daily accumulation of oil reserves. 

 

As for Coal

Quite - forests don't grow everywhere today and no doubt didn't during the Carboniferous era. The coal beds 100 metres think are likely to be down to one factor - fungi hadn't evolved to digest lignin. 

Your math, in typical fashion does not have a starting point for oil/gas as the process only requires the correct conditions and one can either make zero or Gbarrels.  Likewise the coal beds if they are what YOU claim they are would be 100% distinguishable as preserved plant life.  This is NEVER the case.  A few rare samples are preserved in coal.  The 99.99999% of coal are NOT fossilized plant/animal carbonized into coal remains. 

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Just now, Wastral said:

Your math, in typical fashion does not have a starting point for oil/gas as the process only requires the correct conditions and one can either make zero or Gbarrels.  Likewise the coal beds if they are what YOU claim they are would be 100% distinguishable as preserved plant life.  This is NEVER the case.  A few rare samples are preserved in coal.  The 99.99999% of coal are NOT fossilized plant/animal carbonized into coal remains. 

The heat and pressure over 100's millions of years  explains that and the Carbonisation process in general which turns the plant matter into coal beds.

When you say 'the 99.99999% of coal are NOT fossilized plant/animal carbonized into coal remains' What do you mean by this? We are not straying into the realms of abiotic  coal are we?

 

----

The maths is fairly simple . There is no need to complicate it. Take the estimated reserves of oil and divide them by the geological time they were form over which I believe is approx 200m years. 

If its a Trillion Barrels the rate is about 14 bpd when averaged out over the time period

If its two trillon barrels its about 28 bpd

and so on. 

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This University of Calgary Info sheet gives some useful states on oil formation. 

Estimated that 70% formed between 252 and 66 million years ago where the Earth had a tropical climate and shallow tropical seas. 

https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Oil_formation

Key point though is that 2-4km* of sediment needs to accumulate above the reserve to create the necessary pressures to start the formation of Kerogen. 

* that takes a lot of time. 

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1 minute ago, NickW said:

The heat and pressure over 100's millions of years  explains that and the Carbonisation process in general which turns the plant matter into coal beds.

When you say 'the 99.99999% of coal are NOT fossilized plant/animal carbonized into coal remains' What do you mean by this? We are not straying into the realms of abiotic  coal are we?

 

----

The maths is fairly simple . There is no need to complicate it. Take the estimated reserves of oil and divide them by the geological time they were form over which I believe is approx 200m years. 

If its a Trillion Barrels the rate is about 14 bpd when averaged out over the time period

If its two trillon barrels its about 28 bpd

and so on. 

Heat and pressure does not take years, let alone MILLIONS of years to turn carbon, etc into coal or oil or fossils in normal rock.  We make it in days to weeks in a lab.  You know this science thing?  Testing? The; GASP 🏆 Scientific method. Hrmm?🤔  Earth has the same pressures and temperatures to various degrees of the various meaning of degrees of course. 

If coal were what the "experts" claim(what a slanderous joke on actual experts who work in the field and mine coal), the whole lump of coal would be fossils and every lump of coal you could see the fossils in it.  As demonstrated by every single coal operation in the world, 99.9999% of coal is NOT fossils.  Now did SOME plant matter get buried and turned into coal?  Sure, we sometimes find odd pockets of pinecones, acorns, leaf, twigs, logs.... but that is what they are, very small pockets. 

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9 hours ago, NickW said:

But within human timescales they are non renewable. 

Take oil - the global accumulation of stable oil deposits over geological historical time is somewhere in the region of 30-40 barrels per day. 

How much do we currently burn? 

RE Coal. 

Coal deposits formed before fungi developed that could metabolise lignin. The coal literally piled up. That process is not being repeated now at anywhere near the same scale. 

As pointed out, 'go back far enough', which pretty much ignores the human time scale.

Oil formation occurs at a greater rate than 30 - 40 barrels per day. Look up 'isoprene' to begin with. Then look up the rate of emissions from various kinds of trees and plants (the EPA has done significant assessment of this). Using the math, figure out how many barrels of hydrocarbons are being dumped into the atmosphere on hot summer days. If it looks suspicious, start with the amount of solar exposure in an acre of land at noon. Figure out how much of it plants capture and metabolize. Then figure out how much of that is released as emissions. The numbers add up.

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(edited)

1 hour ago, NickW said:

This is incorrect. The vast majority of organic material including cellulose is decomposed into CO2 and Water.

Methane is only formed in anoxic environments and these only occur in certain circumstances. Secondly the gas needs to be formed in an environment where it is trapped to form a useful reserve. 

You are incorrect, cellulose does not include water once it is dried. The CO2 would also be gone. I am referring to dead cellulose not living plants. Peat bogs, methane hydrates, logs, plant matter are all useful reserves.They have served mankind well for thousands of years! Natural gas seeps were also used as fires. 

 https://www.pellet.org/wpac-news/global-pellet-market-outlook-in-2017

 

Edited by ronwagn
reference

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1 minute ago, NickW said:

This University of Calgary Info sheet gives some useful states on oil formation. 

Estimated that 70% formed between 252 and 66 million years ago where the Earth had a tropical climate and shallow tropical seas. 

https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Oil_formation

Key point though is that 2-4km* of sediment needs to accumulate above the reserve to create the necessary pressures to start the formation of Kerogen. 

* that takes a lot of time. 

 NO one knows how fast something is buried, other than FAST.  What we do know is near 100% of those "thin sedimentary layers" were all laid down in fast moving water which was NOT seasonal in nature as there are no varve holes in said layers.  Likewise everything is sorted by clast.  So, there were gigantic upheaval floods and movement of the crust.  How fast those gigantic catastrophes happened(duh, hours to days) and how fast the intervals between gigantic upheavals is another question entirely. 

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11 hours ago, Wastral said:

Do you enjoy being laughed at?

Why?

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Just now, Meredith Poor said:

Why?

Basic understanding of physics is generally required when making assessments that the forces are the same between 200mph tip speeds and 600mph.... unless you enjoy being laughed at of course.  Then of course there are all those wonderful videos of destroyed wind turbines after a tornado goes through...

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Just now, Wastral said:

Basic understanding of physics is generally required when making assessments that the forces are the same between 200mph tip speeds and 600mph.... unless you enjoy being laughed at of course.  Then of course there are all those wonderful videos of destroyed wind turbines after a tornado goes through...

Please include a link or a keyword search of the video(s).

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Just now, Meredith Poor said:

Please include a link or a keyword search of the video(s).

Child, you have the internet, you appear to be able to type more than 2 words.  Not sure though...

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