While some global whiners are predicting death, disease and reckless fish, an ominous array of other forces are gathering. The time of plenty, peace and abundance could be coming to an end. I’ve finally had a chance to look at David Archibald’s hot new book, and it’s a book that needs to be discussed. It’s the debate we ought to be having. (I’ll be referring to it again on this blog).
In the West we have rarely had it so good: since World War II things have been relatively peaceful; the sun reached a once-in-8000-year global maximum, keeping us warm; the big easy oil fields were tapped, gifting us the cheapest energy in human history; and the most obvious gains in agriculture meant food supply increased even faster than populations grew. David Archibald paints a provocative argument of a world where a cooling sun means grain supply can’t keep pace with demand, oil production starts to slide and forces of unrest in the mid East collapse to chaos while those in the far East rise ascendant.
David Archibald writes:
Who are those four horsemen? A severe, solar-driven cooling is one. Over the next twenty to thirty years, we are [...]
How is this for a scary thought?
Tim Flannery says renewables will run the economy:
“What we can now see is the emerging inevitability that renewables are going to be running the economy…”
And I say: Prepare for economic armageddon. Picture an Australia where we all have jobs — jobs digging holes, mucking out the stables, and chopping those last few remaining trees down. We may lead the world installing chinese-made solar panels, but they won’t help us make anything that anyone else wants to buy. Anton gives us some numbers no one seems to have mentioned to Tim. Like, it takes 1,000 new wind towers to kinda equal one coal plant. – Jo
Guest Post: Anton Lang
Get ready — this is how much the 25 most recent, powerful, high-tech wind plants generate. Not the red line — that’s how much electricity we used. Look at the expanse under the blue line — every bit of that (“bit” being the word) is all thanks to those brand spanking new wind turbines.
Courtesy of the National Electricity Market. (NEM)
The red line at the top shows total electricity demand for NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, and Tasmania [...]
When activists protest about “fossil fuel” subsidies, it is a case of extreme-wordsmithing. Like chinese-whispers, the truth gets turned 180 degrees. It takes a string of half truths stacked in a series to come up with something which is so completely counter to reality it is meaningless.
The reality is that governments around the world are paying billions each year to prop up an industry that is inefficient, uncompetitive and unproductive. It’s money that is desperately needed in health or in real medical and scientific research.
“More than US$70 billion of support is provided by governments to renewable energy production and consumption worldwide.”
[IEA (The International Energy Agency, which promotes "green energy" in it's header)]
That’s an annual figure. And the plan seems to be even more subsidies. (I thought the plan was to make renewables competitive?)
Source: IEA Key Graphs…
Source: IEA Key Graphs
Could it be $200 billion?
This UN group has an even higher number. I don’t know exactly how they define “green stimulus” spending, perhaps it was a one-off:
“Green government procurement will also be essential in the early stages of a transition to a green economy. In 2009, global green stimulus [...]
In June this year the UNEP report announced that Global Renewable Energy investment reached $257 Billion in 2011. It’s so large it rivals the $302 billion invested in fossil fuel power. But how much electricity do we get for all that money? When the details are pulled from the fog, a quarter of a trillion dollars appears to produce only about 3% of all our global electricity, and even less of our global energy. All that money, so few gigawatts.
The 2012 UNEP report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment” compares the
“…despite an increasingly tough competitive landscape for manufacturers, total investment in renewable power and fuels last year increased by 17% to a record $257 billion, a six-fold increase on the 2004 figure and 94% higher than the total in 2007, the year before the world financial crisis.”
Renewables growth has slowed somewhat:
“Although last year’s 17% increase was significantly smaller than the 37% growth recorded in 2010, it was achieved at a time of rapidly falling prices for renewable energy equipment and severe pressure on fiscal budgets in the developed world.”
The last couple of quarters have not been good for [...]
I’m away, so this is a good time for Guest posts. Here Tony explains that we need lots of electricity even while we sleep. I didn’t realize our electricity needs were so high at night. The lowest power use each day is still as much as 60% of the peak. That’s the base load at 3am, and solar panels and wind farms just can’t provide it. We can burn the odd $500 billion building hundreds of solar plants, but even then, we would have to go “medieval” for about 8 hours each night. Candles anyone? — Jo
Guest post by Anton Lang
AUSTRALIAN POWER CONSUMPTION LOAD CURVES
There’s a message in these two diagrams that underlies every decision about national energy.
Summer power curve – Time of Day versus power consumption (MW)
These two diagrams are the most misunderstood images in the whole debate — the Load Curves for actual power consumption. These two shown here are for the whole of eastern Australia (including Tasmania and South Australia).
The top diagram shows typical consumption for a day in mid summer (Monday 30th January 2012) and the second is for a typical mid winter day (Friday 22nd July [...]
Who isn’t finding shale gas these days? To whom shall we sell all those super-costly solar units, that we will supposedly be “world leaders” in? China reveals 25tn cu metres of shale gas Financial Times
China announced the results of its most extensive official appraisal of shale gas reserves on Thursday, having found potentially recoverable resources of 25.1tn cubic metres – less than previous estimates.
Although the figure is lower than an earlier estimate of 31tn cubic metres, China is still believed to have some of the largest reserves of shale gas in the world and has been working to develop shale gas as a cornerstone of its energy policy. The new estimate is enough gas to meet the country’s current consumption for nearly 200 years if fully extracted.
As Richard North points out, this changes everything:
I don’t have a horse in the Peak Oil race, but Energy Security is too important to let the government “disappear” inconvenient reports. As David Archibald points out, at one time the Australian Government went to great lengths to make sure we would be more self sufficient. Lately there are times when Australia doesn’t even have three months supply.– Jo
Guest Post by David Archibald
Inconvenient report disappeared
About a week ago, the Australian Government released what it called a “Draft Energy White Paper”. It is available here: http://www.ret.gov.au/energy/facts/white_paper/draft-ewp-2011/Pages/Draft-Energy-White-Paper-2011.aspx
World Annual Discovery (red) and Production of Oil (Blue) See below for details.
The White Paper contains a number of strange statements and inanities:
Page 67: “For a major global energy exporter like Australia, pursuing a goal of national energy self‐sufficiency is counterintuitive.”
Page 69: “Energy security does not equate to energy independence or self‐sufficiency in any particular energy source.”
Page 123: “As a result of increased daily net imports in recent years, the level of oil stocks in Australia has regularly fallen below the 90‐day requirement since mid‐2010. The National Energy Security Assessment found that this does not [...]
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