Debunking The Unscientific Fantasy Of 100% Renewables

Mark Jacobson of Stanford said America could easily become 100% renewable by mid-century. Jacobson published a paper in 2015 that claimed we could get rid of all other energy sources except wind and solar, and a tiny bit of other renewables, by 2050, and that it would be easier and cheaper than any other alternative mix. Jacobson’s paper has become the bible of alternative energy. It has also spawned a horde of state and federal policies.

There is one big problem: Jacobson’s claim is at complete odds with serious analyses and assessments. It seems that the paper has major errors pointed out by the scientific community. It seems that the mandated goals can’t be achieved with available technologies at reasonable prices


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Energy generation: using various power sources

    Despite (or as a result of) the economic downturn, the use of renewable energy options have grown over the past several years, supported by federal and state programs including federal tax credits, state renewable portfolio standards, and a federal renewable fuels standard.

    Learning objectives:

    Discuss the renewable energy options available to engineers when designing power systems.
    Review various alternative power sources, such as combined heat and power (CHP).
    Learn about resilient power options.

    Failure of power generation systems serving hospitals, airports and transportation systems, water- and waste-treatment plants, police stations, and public safety food distribution could result in supply shortages, considerable disturbance to public order, and a significant economic impact both regionally and nationally. The need for reliable power at every building is essential, but in recent years, several blackouts in the U.S. have highlighted the need for resilient power systems at critical facilities.

    Defining dispatchable and non-dispatchable technologies

    Owners of critical infrastructures need to reconsider their power and backup power systems to be more resilient with the constant updates in technology. Rather than relying on more diesel generators or stand-alone nondispatchable options, which in most cases are very expensive, integrating nondispatchable designs with dispatchable systems is a good practice. Part of this is understanding the definitions of both dispatchable and nondispatchable technologies. A dispatchable source of electricity is an electrical power system, such as a power plant, that can be turned on or off and can adjust its power-output supply based on demand. Most conventional power sources, such as coal or natural gas power plants, are dispatchable systems. In contrast, many renewable energy sources are nondispatchable. Renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, generate electricity based on variable sources, which affects the flow of output energy.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The True Cost of Solar Energy

    The solar energy sector has grown 68% over the last decade, thanks to hefty government subsidies paid for by tax dollars. Here’s the cloudy truth about solar energy

    Americans have seen some interesting changes in the Oval Office to say the least, but one thing that has not changed much is our consumption of renewable energy. Solar and wind energy made up 47% of new electric capacity last year, and the renewables sector has grown steadily since the mid-2000s.

    Part of the reasoning behind this is cost. Installation costs for solar infrastructure have fallen 70% since 2006. Many homeowners have also done away with their electricity bill, thanks to net metering. But while the technology has become more accessible to homeowners and enterprises alike, there is a hidden cost to solar energy that lies in hefty government subsidies.

    Solar panel technology has advanced considerably in the last decade. Solar panels are divided into three main technologies: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Each type of panel utilizes different technology to harness the sun’s rays and has a different range of applications.

    Monocrystalline (mono) panels are the most efficient solar panel in terms of power output relative to panel size. These panels have the highest efficiency rating on the market at 15-22%, and therefore require the least amount of space. Mono panels also have the longest lifespan (25 years or more), due to the high-purity silicon used during manufacturing. Mono panels have the highest upfront costs of all solar technologies.

    Polycrystalline (poly) solar panels are manufactured using several silicon crystals, and typically carry an efficiency rating of 13-17%. Poly panels require more space to match the power output of mono panels due to a lower silicon purity. However, manufacturing poly panels is a much simpler process, making the technology less expensive. Poly panels also have a lifespan of about 25 years, and over time may prove to be the most cost-effective.

    Thin film (TF) is a newer technology made possible by depositing a photovoltaic material onto a surface. The photovoltaic materials used are not as energy-efficient as crystallin silicon, but still get an energy efficiency rating of 7-13%. TF panels require much more space to produce a commercially significant wattage, limiting the potential for residential installations. TF panels also lack the durability of mono or poly panels. Still, TP panels are much cheaper to produce than mono or poly panels, and can even be made flexible

    The ROI

    Calculating ROI depends on several factors, such as the plot available for infrastructure, location, and amount of solar radiation per year. If roof space is limited, mono panels could offer consumers the most output. If a location is large enough to accommodate poly panels, this type of infrastructure could produce the same output as the mono panels, at a savings of 10 to 20%.

    The long-term value of a solar installation will largely depend on how it is financed. Buying the system upfront yields the best ROI, but even a $0-down solar loan could provide saving

    The Truth Behind Solar Subsidies

    The cost of solar infrastructure and installations has fallen largely due to government subsidies. In fact, some say solar energy could not survive at all without massive government subsidies. In terms of production, solar energy has received ten times the subsidies all other forms of energy. Subsidies for solar directly affect the production of electricity, directly affecting cost and pricing. Between 2010 and 2016, subsidies for solar energy ranged from 10¢ to 88¢ per kWh, while subsidies for coal, natural gas, and nuclear were from 0.05¢ to 0.2¢.

    These subsidies incentivize solar panels, but end up increasing the cost of the electricity they generate. This cost is transferred directly to the ratepayers via utility bills.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Urs Hölzle / The Keyword:
    Google announces that its total purchase of renewable energy exceeded the amount of electricity used by its global operations, including offices, data centers

    Meeting our match: Buying 100 percent renewable energy

    A little over a year ago, we announced that we were on track to purchase enough renewable energy to match all the electricity we consumed over the next year. We just completed the accounting for Google’s 2017 energy use and it’s official—we met our goal. Google’s total purchase of energy from sources like wind and solar exceeded the amount of electricity used by our operations around the world, including offices and data centers.

    What do we mean by “matching” renewable energy? Over the course of 2017, across the globe, for every kilowatt hour of electricity we consumed, we purchased a kilowatt hour of renewable energy from a wind or solar farm that was built specifically for Google. This makes us the first public Cloud, and company of our size, to have achieved this feat.

    Today, we have contracts to purchase three gigawatts (3GW) of output from renewable energy projects; no corporate purchaser buys more renewable energy than we do. To date, our renewable energy contracts have led to over $3 billion in new capital investment around the world.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Renewables Generated 104 Percent Of Portugal’s Electricity Usage In March

    Portugal’s renewable electricity generation has been reported to have exceeded demand for the first time in four decades. In fact, for the month of March, renewables supplied 103.6 percent of the country’s electricity consumption.

    It wasn’t a clean run, so to speak: On some days, fossil fuels were required to meet the demand for Portugal’s electricity grid, but overall, clean energy won out.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple says its global facilities are now powered by 100-percent clean energy

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    Apple says its global facilities are now powered by 100-percent clean energy
    Brian Heater
    @bheater / 1 hour ago

    Last week, Apple called out the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to rollback the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The company cited both the obvious environmental impact of such a move, along with potential economic fallout.

    It turns out Apple’s got quite a bit invested in the latter. The company announced today that its global facilities are now 100-percent run by renewable energy.

    The move is in line with the company’s 2015 plan to push toward 100-percent renewable energy, a list that includes all of Apple’s data centers as of 2014. As of today, the company’s officially adding retail stores, offices and co-located facilities to that list, covering 43 countries, including the US, China, UK and India.

    The addition of nine manufacturing partners, meanwhile, brings the total number up to 23 suppliers promising to produce their products entirely with clean energy. How the companies involved actually hit these numbers is, unsurprisingly, somewhat more complex.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Buzz feed – bringing renewables to the power grid

    Renewable energy is on the rise in Europe as the economy develops away from the use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, but an ageing electricity grid is struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of developments.

    Originally designed to obtain and distribute energy from a few large sources, Europe’s power grid must now cope with an emerging class of energy sources, such as solar, wind, tidal and thermal, from a number of different suppliers. Renewables can also have intermittent availability or produce surges in electricity.

    This irregularity can stress the network of distribution lines and substations which make up the grid, causing faults which may result in frequent power outages, damaged equipment and productivity loss to the economy.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    100% renewable by 2050 — how close can we get? Very close, but it’s not cheap

    Could all of the countries that supported the Paris agreement on climate change subsist on 100% renewable energy by 2050? According to the latest research out of Stanford University, it just might be possible. In a study published in Joule, Cell Press’s new peer-reviewed journal focused on advancements in sustainable energy, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, posits that 139 countries could rely entirely on wind, water, and solar power by the midpoint of this century.

    In the study, Jacobson and 26 of his colleagues examine each country’s renewable energy resources and assess how many wind, water, and solar energy generators each nation would need to construct to be 80% renewable-energy-reliant by 2030 and 100% reliant by 2050. According to their estimates, only about 1% of the total available land and rooftop space would be needed to accomplish these goals. Countries with large open swathes of land, such as the United States and China, will have the easiest time making this transition, according to the study. Smaller countries with less undeveloped land area may need to build offshore solar paneling in neighboring bodies of water to meet the 100% threshold.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    China is installing a bewildering, and potentially troublesome, amount of solar capacity

    It added almost 10 gigawatts of photovoltaic generation to its grid in the first three months of this year—allow us to provide a little context about how huge that is.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Next Kraftwerke: The Virtual Power Plant for 100% Renewable Energy

    Our Virtual Power Plant takes care of that: Next Kraftwerke networks thousands of renewable energy producers, consumers, and energy storage units. The control system regulates fluctuating power from the wind and sun in real time, thus stabilizing the power grid through the delivery of control reserve – digitally and wirelessly. By analyzing self-gained data from electricity production and consumption, we enable our traders to predict and trade power precisely, resulting in the best possible revenue for our clients.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Economy and Human Welfare to Grow Under IRENA’s 2050 Energy Transformation Roadmap
    17 April 2018| Press Release

    Six-fold increase in renewable energy adoption required to stay below two-degrees and avoid escalating stranded assets

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Global warming could be in reverse by 2050 if we take action now – Chad Frischmann

    We could get to the stage where atmospheric greenhouse gases are in decline – a point known as drawdown – and begin to reverse global warming before 2050, but it will require us adopting solutions at an aggressive rate, according to Chad Frischmann, vice-president and research director of Project Drawdown.

    Project Drawdown is a worldwide research and communications initiative with a plan to reverse global warming based on 100 existing and emerging solutions. An independent European arm, Drawdown Europe, has now been launched to galvanise the continent into action.


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