The Sun is the main driver of climate change. Not you. Not carbon dioxide.


News of the day claims the world is shifting off fossil fuels and Canada is being left behind. Nothing could be further from the truth. Energy economist Robert Lyman deconstructs the extreme costs and challenges of attempting to actualize the so-called “WWS – Wind Water Sunlight – vision of renewable energy.  Renewable NOT doable.

FULL REPORT – Click the link below.


A Reality Check

Contributed by Robert Lyman @ May 2016


cover why renewable NRG cannot replace


Humanity is owed a serious investigation of how we have gone so far with the decarbonization project without a serious challenge in terms of engineering reality.

Michael Kelly, Prof. Electrical Engineering, Cambridge

A number of environmental groups in Canada and other countries have recently endorsed the “100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water and Sunlight (WWS)” vision articulated in reports written by Mark Jacobson, Mark Delucci and others. This vision seeks to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) in the world by 2050. Jacobson, Delucci et. al. have published “all-sector energy roadmaps” in which they purport to show how each of 139 countries could attain the WWS goal. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether the 100% goal is feasible.

While a range of renewable energy technologies (e.g. geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal, and wave energy) could play a role in the global transformation, the world foreseen in the WWS vision would be dominated by wind and solar energy. Of 53,535 gigawatts (GW) of new electrical energy generation sources to be built, onshore and offshore wind turbines would supply 19,000 GW (35.4%), solar photovoltaic (PV) plants would supply 17,100 GW (32%) and Concentrated Solar Power plants (CSP) would supply 14,700 GW (27.5%). This would cost $100 trillion, or $3,571 for every household on the planet.

Western Europe has extensive experience with investments in renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels. By the end of 2014, the generating capacity of renewable energy plants there was about 216 GW, 22% of Europe’s capacity, but because of the intermittent nature of renewable energy production, the actual output was only 3.8% of Europe’s requirements. The capital costs of renewable energy plants are almost 30 times as high as those of the natural gas plants that could have been built instead; when operating costs are also taken into account, onshore wind plants are 4.6 times as expensive as gas plants and large-scale PV plants are 14.1 times as expensive as gas plants. Wind and solar energy is not “dispatchable” (i.e. capable of varying production quickly to meet changing demand), which results in serious problems – the need to back up renewables with conventional generation plants to avoid shortfalls in supply, and the frequent need to dump surplus generation on the export market at a loss.

The current energy system in the United States, Canada and globally is heavily dependent on fossil fuels – they generally supply over 80% of existing energy needs in developed countries and over 87% in the world as a whole. Currently, wind and solar energy sources constitute only one-third of one percent of global energy supply.

The financial costs of building the 100% renewable energy world are enormous, but the land area needed to accommodate such diffuse sources of energy supply is just as daunting.

Accommodating the 46,480 solar PV plants envisioned for the U.S. in the WWS vision would take up 650,720 square miles, almost 20% of the lower 48 states. This is close in size to the combined areas of Texas, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

A 1000-megawatt (MV) wind farm would use up to 360 square miles of land to produce the same amount of energy as a 1000-MV nuclear plant.

To meet 8% of the U.K.’s energy needs, one would have to build 44,000 offshore wind turbines; these would have an area of 13,000 square miles, which would fill the entire 3000 km coastline of the U.K. with a strip 4 km wide.

To replace the 440 MW of U.S. generation expected to be retired over the next 25 years, it would take 29.3 billion solar PV panels and 4.4 million battery modules. The area covered by these panels would be equal to that of the state of New Jersey. To produce this many panels, it would take 929 years, assuming they could be built at the pace of one per second.

The WWS roadmap for the U.S. calls for 3,637 CSP plants to be built. It would be extremely difficult to find that many sites suitable for a CSP plant. Packed together, they would fill an area of 8,439 square miles, about the area of Metropolitan New York. They would require the manufacture of 63,647,500 mirrors; if they could be manufactured one every ten seconds, it would take 21 years to build that many mirrors.

A central component of the WWS vision is the electrification of all transportation uses. This is technically impossible right now, as the technologies have not yet been developed that would allow battery storage applicable to heavy-duty trucks, marine vessels and aircraft. Even in the case of automobiles, despite taxpayer subsidies of $7,500 per vehicle and up, the number of all-electric vehicles sold has consistently fallen far short of governments’ goals.

The costs of electrifying passenger rail systems are so high that no private railway would ever take them on. Electrification of a freight railway system makes even less sense, and would cost at least $1 trillion each.

The diversion of crops to make biofuels already is raising the cost of food for the world’s poor. The World Resources Institute estimates that if this practice is expanded, it will significantly worsen the world’s ability to meet the calorie requirements of the world’s population by 2050.

Scientists and governments have been guilty of the “Apollo Fallacy”; i.e. of thinking that the space race is a model for the development of renewable energy. The Apollo program cost billions of dollars to demonstrate U.S. engineering prowess during the Cold War; costs, and commercial considerations, were secondary considerations, if they counted at all.

The proponents of WWS grossly under-estimate the costs of integrating renewable energy sources into the electricity system. The additional costs of backup generation, storage, load balancing and transmission would be enormous.

The WWS scenario calls for 39,263 5-MW wind installations in Canada at a cost of $273 billion for the onshore wind generation alone. Building a national backbone of 735 kV transmission lines would cost at least CDN $104 billion and take 20 years to complete.

The WWS includes a call to shut down all coal, oil and natural gas production. It implies the closing of all emissions intensive industries, such as mining, petrochemicals, refining, cement, and auto and parts manufacturing. The political and regional backlash against such policies in a country like Canada would threaten Confederation. In short, the WWS vision is based on an unrealistic assessment of the market readiness of a wide range of key technologies. Attaining the vision is not feasible today in technological, economic or political terms.

Robert Lyman is an energy economist with 27 years’ experience, former public servant and he served as a diplomat for a decade.  



  1. renewableguy

    The exert from below is from risky business study. If we don’t invest in the clean energy structure, humans will have created new extremes on earth from our pollution of ghg’s into the atmosphere. The small copy below is from figure 2 of this study. The cost of sea level rise alone into the future centuries easily dwarfs the cost of a clean energy system. Backup is needed for renewable energy systems, but backup is needed also for when large central power systems go down unexpectantly. That is just the business of being a power provider.

    Human society is structured around “normal” weather, with some days hotter than average and some colder. At the distant “tails” are extreme events such as catastrophic weather. Climate change shifts the entire distribution curve to the right. Old extremes become the new normal, new extremes emerge, and the process continues until we take action.

  2. renewableguy

    The choice of not building a clean energy system is a foolish one. Severe consequences will be built in for centuries if we don’t. A renewable energy system is the cheapest cost of energy once it is built. There are no cost of fuels. Hydro which Canada has a wealth of, is the best non spinning reserve of energy there is. It appears to me that Canada would have an easier time building out renewable energy than the United States would.

    Because wind energy output adds almost no variability on the minute-to-minute time scale, very large amounts of wind energy can be added to the grid with virtually no impact on the use of spinning reserves. While modest amounts of wind energy have very little impact on the system’s hour-to-hour variability, as the amount of wind increases, it may be necessary to add non-spinning reserves to accommodate the more gradual changes in electricity supply caused by wind energy. Fortunately, as explained above, non-spinning reserves produce far fewer emissions than spinning reserves.

  3. renewableguy

    From the conclusion of the above report, future fossil fuel investment now has a higher risk to it. Policy Horizons Canada recommends no more tax support for fossil fuels. With the rapid lowering of cost for renewable energy, clean energy already is beating fossil fuels in costs in some areas. In the future where it isn’t today, 10 to 15 years parity will be reached and surpassed. The business model for carbon fuels is not what is used to be in the past. It is now a risky bet.

    • Robert Lyman

      Every energy investment has risks associated with it. The risks associated with investing in the fossil fuel industries used to be primarily related to geology and markets. The increased prevalence of hysteria concerning allegedly human-induced catastrophic global warming has given rise to a new and, in some places, significant political risk. The renewable industries similarly face important risks. First, none of them would be used at all if they were not heavily subsidized by taxpayers or the beneficiary of government regulations and mandates; they are basically not economic. Second, the immense cost of subsidizing them is increasingly leading to tremendous political backlash from consumers/voters, especially in Europe where renewable use has been highest so far. The day will come soon, I hope, when more citizens will see how insane it is for people in countries like Canada to follow environmental policies with large economic costs and zero net environmental benefits at the global level.

  4. Robert Lyman

    Read my next article, soon to be posted on Friends of Science’s web site.

  5. A C Osborn

    Renewable Guy makes about as much sense as Renewables.
    None, as “facts” are totally lost on him.

    • renewableguy

      I love a reply like that. Run away.

    • arctic_front

      Agree completely. He calls CO2 ‘pollution’. His credibility ends right there.

      • renewableguy

        Sounds like you want to change the rules. This ruling in the United States has stood for 9 years now.

        In Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (in 2007), the US Supreme Court held that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases. Two years after the Supreme Court ruling, in 2009 the EPA issued an endangerment finding concluding that

        “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare….The major assessments by the U.S. Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the National Research Council (NRC) serve as the primary scientific basis supporting the Administrator’s endangerment finding.”

  6. 4TimesAYear

    Reblogged this on 4timesayear's Blog.

  7. John Macdonell

    Regarding AGW, the cost of doing nothing is enormous. Look at the Ft Mac fire.

    AGW set the stage for it(longer, drier fire season) and the cost of cleanup – for that fire alone may be ~$10B, by best estimates.

    Add to that the cost of all the 50+ other Alberta wild fires.

    Add to that the cost of the ones that will burn before this fire season ends.

    Add to that the cost of drought in Alberta(like lost crops)

    The list goes on – repeated yearly.

    • climatewise101

      The Fort Mac fires were not caused by human warming but rather a year of combined natural warming cycles of El Nino and Pacific Decadal Oscillation – along with the worst thing – aging conifers. This was reported in the Flat Top Fire Complex review of the Slave Lake Fires. Likewise in our “Burning Questions” report wherein we challenged the allegations about coal phase-out evidence, we pointed out that it would be MOST important for the government to increase investment in the Fire Smart program and to address wildfires with even more money because of this known risk. We know what happened. Humans affect climate but do not control it. A historical look at 14,000 extreme weather events throughout time may help put that in perspective for you.

      • renewableguy

        There is a great deal of information about climate change and northern lattitude. To make a flat statement that climate change did not effect the northern boreal forest fires seems premature. Good science does not go into flat denial. The very theory of climate change is extreme dryness and extreme flooding. It is now Canada’s turn to experience some of this. Attribution studies more than likely will be done on this to look at the odds of it happening. So far the northern lattitudes of earth are burning at an unprecedented rate in the last 10,000 years. In essence, the people of Alberta that were fleeing the fires are quite possibly climate refugees. They are forced to leave their homes due to this situation.

        “This (fire) is consistent with what we expect from human-caused climate change affecting our fire regime,” Mike Flannigan, a wildfire researcher at the University of Alberta, said.

        Boreal forests are burning at a rate unprecedented in the last 10,000 years. A Climate Central analysis of Alaskan wildfires last year showed that the season is 40 percent longer than it was 65 years ago. Large wildfires there have also doubled over that time.

        • climatewise101

          HIghly exaggerated. Here is a peer-reviewed paper that disputes your statements. Medieval Warm Period was warmer or as warm as now; wildfires also occurred (it would be interesting to be able to track the aging cycle of forests as well). The combined effects of El Nino and PDO are clearly natural, cyclical features that have global impacts on climate and that have nothing to do with human causation.

      • renewableguy

        The Medieval warming period was not global, but significant in the regions that it effected. If you read further on down the author used this study to make a point of the significance of the study relevant to today’s world. The warming did create more fires in that time as it is doing now. Only this time our warming is not natural but man made. Fires do not care whether it is natural or man made. Fires do what fires do. We have created this with our past habits of fossil fuels.

        In the western United States and other forested regions, climate
        change may increase both the frequency of wildfires and
        the amount of area burned. Studies of past climate changes
        and their effects on wildfires can provide constraints on potential
        future wildfire risks. Here, we reconstruct the history of
        wildfire across a representative subalpine forest landscape in
        northern Colorado over the past two millennia. Warming of
        ∼0.5 °C ∼1,000 years ago increased the percentage of our study
        sites burned per century by ∼260% relative to the past ∼400 y.
        The large increase in the number of sites burned by fires
        highlights the risk that large portions of individual landscapes
        may burn as climates continue to warm today.

      • renewableguy

        The combined effects of El Nino and PDO are clearly natural, cyclical features that have global impacts on climate and that have nothing to do with human causation.

        Natural variation is a part of the climate studies taking place to understand how they vary in the periods of wetness and dryness taking place on earth. Then we compare that to the past when the earth had less co2 in the atmosphere. How have things changed from the past variation to help us understand how humans can be attributed to today’s climate change of a warming world. The PDO, La Nina, El Nino are all effected by a warming world. This study did not go into that. To say that humans have not effected the natural cycles would be premature. The earth is at a higher energy level on land and in the oceans. Everything is effected. Just a matter of understanding how much.

    • arctic_front

      And, pull your head out of your behind and look up some facts. The Ft. Mac fire had been burning already 2 weeks before it ‘blew up’ and destroyed the town. What had anyone in GOVERNMENT done to mitigate this fire in the 2 weeks it was burning? Having spent 15 yrs working with forest fires, one thing is very well-known, but under reported by the media, is that the local Ft. Mac fire-fighters KNEW this was coming. They saw the danger increasing and were calling for resources. Then the fire breaks out… the Government sat on their hands for 2 weeks and did nothing to assist the 12, yes, 12 local firefighters. They would have been calling for helicopters and bomber support even before the fire broke out. They were monitoring the weather, humidity and ‘fire weather index’ everyday. When the FWI started to climb into danger territory they would have been begging for assets to be available. The Alberta Gov slashed fire-fighting budgets by over $300 million dollars. The local firefighter’s calls were ignored because of budget cuts. That fire would never had made the news if the GOVERNMENT hadn’t dropped the ball. Stop blaming gross negligence on the part of Government on the un-proven theory of climate change. The Ft. McMurray fire was a Government-caused disaster and there should be some of the people in Government going to prison for what happened there in Ft. McMurry. CO2 had nothing to do with it.

  8. KCSunshine

    The Alta Wind Energy Center in California has a nameplate capacity of 1,547 MW and covers about 5 square miles (3,200 acres) – where does you 1,000 MW windfarm would require 360 square miles figure come from? In any case, windfarms can be built on land used for other purposes – like grazing.

    • Tyler

      “A 1000-megawatt (MV) wind farm would use up to 360 square miles of land to produce the same amount of energy as a 1000-MV nuclear plant.”

      ENERGY. Not power. You quoting rated nameplate power has nothing to do with energy. In the same way that “the generating capacity of renewable energy plants was about 22% of Europe’s capacity, but because of the intermittent nature of renewable energy production, the actual output was only 3.8% of Europe’s requirements”. In other words, 22% of Europe’s “nameplate capacity” generated only 3.8% of their energy (assuming the numbers are true which I didn’t verify). Energy is what matters, it’s the capacity to produce power over time. It’s nice to say you have a 1500MW of wind turbines, but that doesn’t tell the whole story if it only runs 15% of the time.

      • renewableguy

        United States 13.4% of its electricity from renewable energy 4,087,381 gw-hr of renewable produced in 2015. Renewable energy is growing and making a dent in the fossil fuels and as it should.

      • KCSunshine

        Hi Tyler- Thanks for clearing that point up for me. It is an interesting discussion.

        The stated capacity for the Alta Vista site is 30% and I calculated a yield of about 20%. But let’s use your value of 22% nameplate capacity actually outputting only 3.8%, this means that we need to adjust nameplate capacity to energy 3.8/22=~17%.

        Since Altavista has a 1,547 MW nameplate capacity I would multiply that number by 17% = 267 MW of *energy*. Let’s round that down to 250 MW to make it simple. Therefore a wind facility 4X as large (20 square miles) might produce 1,000MW of energy on average. 20 square miles is higher but nowhere close to your 360 square miles. And again, much of that could be usable land for grazing or other purposes. If we are comparing to coal it is worth noting that 60% of US coal comes from surface mines which have significant environmental impact.

        Now you may argue that you can’t compare wind and nuclear or coal because nuclear and coal can produce round-the-clock power. I don’t dispute that. But if that is the argument then, without storage, a nearly infinite amount of land devoted to wind power could never match a traditional dispatchable power plant and the size argument becomes moot.

      • renewableguy

        No fuel cost. And a 25 year contract puts Alta in a good economic zone. This kind of model is being repeated all over the world. Maybe you ought to tell them this is wrong and that the billions spent are just a waste of money. See if they listen to you.

        Units operational 600
        Make and model Vestas
        Nameplate capacity 1,547 MW
        Capacity factor 30%
        Annual generation 2,680.6 GWh

        Southern California Edison has agreed to a 25-year power purchase agreement for the power produced as part of the power purchase agreements for up to 1,500 MW (2,000,000 hp) or more of power generated from new projects to be built in the Tehachapi area. The project will “reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 5.2 million metric tons, which is equivalent to taking 446,000 cars off the road”.[2] A total of 3,000 MW (4,000,000 hp) is planned.[4]

    • Robert Lyman

      The figure is from the U.S. Department of Energy.

  9. renewableguy

    The information on climate change is massively showing us that we are responsible for ghg warming of the earth. All five IPCC’s have shown us with stronger information each time, what we need to do for our human civilization. Those that resist only help to kill more humans in the future.

    Fire is the major stand-renewing agent for much of the Canadian forest, greatly influencing forest structure and function. Current estimates are that an average of over 2 million hectares burn annually in Canada ( Stocks et al., 2002). Fire activity is strongly influenced by four factors: weather/climate, fuels, ignition agents and human activities. Recently, our climate has been warming as a result of increases of radiatively active gases (carbon dioxide, methane etc.) in the atmosphere caused by human activities (IPCC 2007). Such warming is likely to have a rapid and profound impact on fire activity in the boreal forests (Soja et al., 2006; Weber & Flannigan 1997). Gillett et al. (2004) use a coupled climate model to show that the observed increases in area burned in Canada during the last 4 decades is the result of human-induced climate change. Additionally, it appears that temperature is the most important predictor of area burned in Canada with warmer temperatures associated with increased area burned ( Flannigan et al., 2005).

    • andrewgouin

      Bullshit. The forests are burning down because they are old, dead, and disease ridden and stupid environmentalists work bloody overtime to keep forestry companies from removing the old growth. So nature does what it’s done for millenia. Burned it down. A simple lightening strike could be the culprit. Your ignorance does not do your argument any justice.

      • renewableguy

        So nature does what it’s done for millenia. Burned it down. A simple lightening strike could be the culprit. Your ignorance does not do your argument any justice.

        It is the nature of the forest fires that is discussed by the scientists. That is why I quote them. Global warming theory predicts larger and more forest fires. In studies of forest fires, this is coming true. Canada is not immune from the effects of warming climate change.

    • climatewise101

      Nonsense. The IPCC has reduced their attribution/climate sensitivity of human CO2 and in the Technical Summary of the 2013 Working Group I report, they state the following uncertainties….pretty much everything.

      • renewableguy

        This comes from a scientist well versed in the area of climate sensitivity. Opening up lower bounds in science does not mean that all is well for the carbon industry. It is more likely an area of uncertainty due to how the measurements were taken for this. The risk of global warming and its potential based in history becomes the motivator to go 100% clean energy. We cannot be wrong on this and suffer 10,000 years into the future based on a wish not to change off of fossil fuels.

        Because ECS is not precisely known it is typically quantified by a “likely range”. Multiple approaches exist for estimating the range, though important differences exist between the ranges provided by different techniques. In IPCC AR4, the likely range was estimated at 2-4.5C. In IPCC AR5, a decision was made to reduce the lower bound of this estimated range (1.5-4.5C), in light of several studies using the surface instrumental record and claiming a lower likely range. Since the submission deadline for inclusion in AR5 (July 2012), a number of important updates to the literature have occurred, including an improved evaluation of

        The contrasting influence of different forcing types on transient changes (aka forcing efficacy);
        The phenomenology of the recent hiatus in global surface warming; and
        The sensitivity of some of the instrumental studies to data used and base assumptions.
        Given this progress, it seems reasonable to revisit the decision to reduce the lower bound and ask whether the reduction remains warranted. In short, it is argued here that although IPCC’s conservative and inclusive nature may have justified such a reduction at the time of the report, the evidence accumulated in recent years argues increasingly against such a change.

  10. This-is-a-clowns-article

    Omg. Is this site for real? Haha. Where the hell did those random numbers come from? Go read liable sources peeps, this site doesn’t even attempt to be rigorous. Haha

    • Robert Lyman

      To which numbers are you referring? There is some discrepancy in the estimates of the costs of renewable energy because different sources were used and, in some cases, the sources themselves are not internally consistent. For example, Jacobson and Delucca use $100 trillion as their estimate of the cost of the WWS globally, but they also cite figures for the investment cost per MW that would produce a higher global total. The figures used by the U.S. Energy Information Administration for the cost of new renewable generation facilities is different again, as are the ones published European renewable energy agencies. The one thing certain is that the total costs are enormous. At their February, 2016 meeting, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bankers committed to “mobilize” $6 trillion per year until at least 2030 for climate change mitigation. Obviously, they would not stop by 2030 but go on until at least 2050 and presumably 2100, the usual target date for restraining global average temperature increases. That certainly implies that the costs will be well about $100 trillion and possibly two to three times that much. Do you have reliable figures to quote?

  11. andrewgouin

    Not to mention the ENORMOUS amounts of toxic waste created through the manufacturing process of these “green” technologies. Solar panels for instance? Why does nobody investigate and speak about that aspect? CFL bulbs have been proven to be a “green” joke already.

    • renewableguy

      Change in the directions away from things that cause our climate to warm. The simple future act of 10 billion humans on earth will be enormous on the living biosphere. Learning to be more sustainable than we are at present is no longer a luxury, but will become more and more a necessity. Fossil fuel burning is one of the biggest violators for life on earth that there is. 10 billion humans cannot live as the modern world does today, without destroying the ability of live to sustain itself on earth. This is a serious situation.

      The real joke on the whole world is that we don’t have to change.

      • Blaise Keller

        what about the nuclear waste left behind when burning coal? or the toxic slurry pumped into the ground in fracking operations? or the tailings ponds from mining and washing coal? or the tons of natural gas burned to boil millions of litres of water into steam to loosen up bitumen so it can be pumped out of the ground?
        renewables have their challenges, but on the whole they are still better than fossil fuels when it comes to toxic byproducts and pollution.
        The difference between the technologies is this renewables are improving in every way, becoming more reliable, more efficient, using more recycled materials etc. contrasted with fossil fuels where new technology hasn’t improved the problems, is getting less efficient as we need to tap into wells that are less rich and deeper in the earth. Every year we use more energy to extract fossil fuels than we did the year before. We are approaching a turning point where we use more energy to extract a barrel of oil than that barrel of oil produces, when that day comes the fossil fuel game is over, and if we don’t spend money and time now developing alternatives now our civilization will suffer the same fate.

        • climatewise101

          Reclamation is the law in Alberta and regulation on all energy and resource industries is stringent. Have you looked at the production process of wind/solar devices? They use huge amounts of energy and materials and are made in places that have no concern whatsoever for the state of the planet. Renewables cannot operate on a scale to serve our modern society without conventional backup. Vaclav Smil on fossil fuels required for wind:

  12. Energy Transition

    This article is so full of holes it’s not even funny. How can you take an article about energy seriously when there are mistakes confusing GW with MW and MW with…MV? Give me a break, this has bias and conspiracy theorist written all over it. Truth is renewables aren’t nearly as efficient as fossil fuels…but they are renewable, fossils will run out in a couple centuries at best. Short term pain in terms of massive retooling of global energy systems means massive gains in the long run.

    • climatewise101

      Renewable devices require masses of fossil fuels and materials. They create a redundant power supply situation which is more wasteful of precious resources than beneficial.

      • renewableguy

        For a long time to come—until all energies used to produce wind turbines and photovoltaic cells come from renewable energy sources—modern civilization will remain fundamentally dependent on fossil fuels.

        there are thorny problems ahead. No doubt. But with about a $200/ton co2 fee or tax, whatever floats your boat, carbon sequestration becomes viable as part of the business model. We either come up with a work around, or we pay the price. The airline industry is working on burning biofuels for air travel. The same will have to be worked out for other forms of work that only liquid fuels will do. At some point hydrogen may be viable. Don’t know when though.

  13. renewableguy

    When you have fossil fuel industries that are very dominant players in a country’s politics, then you get conversations like this blog that Renewable Energy is basically impossible. But go to Denmark which has no extraction industry like the United States and Canada do, you get a plan for 100% renewable energy and they lead the world in getting there. Too much wealth in the hands of too few people distorts our democracies. A South American philosopher called fossil fuels, “The devil’s excrement”. There is a great deal of truth to that statement.

    A Fossil-Fuel-Free Future

    In its 2014 report, the Danish Energy Agency laid out four scenarios on how to be fossil fuel free by 2050:

    Wind scenario: primarily wind, solar PV, and CHP deployment, including massive electrification of the heat and transport sectors
    Biomass scenario: CHP for electricity and district heating.
    Bio+ scenario: Replacing coal, oil, and natural gas with bioenergy. Wind energy remains at 2020 level (50 percent of electricity).
    Hydrogen scenario: Highest wind deployment of any scenario along with hydrogen production.
    The country does face challenges ahead. “The continued governmental support around Europe to renewable energy with zero marginal costs drives conventional units out of the market and will make the pricing of electricity a strange business,” Parbo told RMI. “This also means that the ability to supply enough electricity in periods with no wind and no solar production will become the main future challenge.”

    But the main conclusion of the Danish Energy Agency’s report is that it is technically feasible for the Danish energy system to be 100 percent fossil fuel free. And it’s well on its way.

  14. renewableguy

    Renewable energy will continue to win from now on. Simply based on price.

    • Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in the range of 3¢ to 4¢ per kilowatt hour for wind and solar energy, which have made renewables competitive. PPAs are the long-term sales contracts that set the price at which utilities buy power from energy producers. In its most recent analysis of the levelized cost of energy, last September, Lazard had wind starting at 3.2¢, solar at 4.3¢, natural gas at 5.2¢ and coal at 6.5¢. “I think we may become almost expectant about this,” Moniz said, “but if you think back a short time, this kind of development would have been viewed as completely remarkable—because it is.”

  15. Peter Grossman

    Generally interesting post and mostly thoughtful comments. I would point out that the term “Apollo Fallacy” comes from an article I wrote in the journal Energy Policy and in a commentary for the Christian Science Monitor–both in 2009. Good to see it becoming part of the debate on US and world energy policy.

    • climatewise101

      Thank you. We did not know that. Would you like us to credit you? Do you have a link perhaps to the original that you can post?

      • Peter Grossman

        No need to cite me because this exchange does that. The article is in Energy Policy, Volume 37, Issue 10, October 2009, Pages 3880–3882, but it is blocked by Elsevier. It is available through researchgate, which I believe requires signing up. In any case its url is: It is also discussed at length in my book, U.S. Energy Policy and the Pursuit of Failure (Cambridge 2013). Thank you.

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