JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Fifty years of failed renewables predictions

For five decades, experts have been predicting renewable energy would supply 20 – 50% of the US Electricity Grid. Instead it’s taken twice as long to get to one fifth of the original prediction. (And to get to that pitiful 10%, that includes Hydropower).

Renewable Energy is the wordsmiths Great Hopium. The seductive temptation of “free energy” rolls on, never mind about the vast infrastructure and land it takes to capture a low density energy source. The price for “free fuel” is expensive maintenance, costly transmission, extra stability charges, and eye-bleeding storage costs (or an entire national spare grid for “back up?”).

Failed renewables predictions

For fifty years people have been overestimating the renewables transition.

The graphs comes from the JPMorgan, Energy Review. Even back in 1970, the need for 24 hour supply and frequency stability were well known.

A search online did not find a copy anywhere of Bent Sorensen’s original 1970-ish prediction, but it did find about 500 articles and nine of his books, showing that if at first you don’t succeed, you can make a career out of it.

Joe Biden is also marching down Failure Boulevard:

Carbon reduction in the USA. Biden plans.

What are the odds?

Globally we used to get 95% of all our energy from fossil fuels. After half a century and a trillion dollars, now that’s plummeted all the way down to … 85%. Yeah. :

How is the global energy transition going? Taken together, the aggregate impact of nuclear, hydroelectric and
solar/wind generation reduced global reliance on fossil fuels from ~95% of primary energy in 1975 to ~85% in
2020. In other words, energy transitions take a long time and lots of money. The IEA expects fossil fuel reliance
to decline at a more rapid pace now, fueled in part by “Big Oil” companies becoming “Big Energy” companies
and by a faster global EV transition

Can any readers can find the original quotes listed in the graph above? I wonder which part of the “forward projections” failed the worst. They knew the wind and sun wouldn’t work all day, so were they depending on the birth of a Super-battery that never came?

REFERENCES

-Michael Cembalest, JPMorgan, 2021 Energy Review

h/t  Thanks to Rafe Champion at Catalaxy and Old Ozzie.

9.7 out of 10 based on 56 ratings

53 comments to Fifty years of failed renewables predictions

  • #
    Travis T. Jones

    “Renewable energy is the wordsmiths Great Hopium.”

    … and sustainability is renewable energy’s golden calf.

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      Jojodogfacedboy

      You missed a few decades of experiment of alcohol in fuel which has decimated small engines should you add oil as it totally gums up the engines as the alcohol doesn’t mix with the oil well at all.
      Straight gas and oil mixes well but not with this alcohol. After a couple tanks, the engines shot.

      120

    • #
      Geoff Croker

      Most of the world’s Lithium, Nickel & Cobalt goes to China for refining.

      The world’s oil goes to a broad range of countries for refining.

      The refining of Lithium, Nickel & Cobalt is going to the cheapest supply of energy, coal.

      40

    • #
      oebele bruinsma

      Well judging the upper most graph 10 to 12% seems to be most obtainable share of the actual renewable US primary energy, in the coming 25 years. Electricity storage is of course the main problem in addition to others like grid stability……

      10

  • #
    Peter Fitzroy

    Thanks for this post, it certainly puts everything into perspective

    161

  • #
    Peter

    Great post Jo. It begs the question what the results would have been without the subsidies for renewables.

    370

    • #
      William

      Without the subsidies, there would be fewer Green rentseeking billionaires and millionaires, almost no useless renewables and we would have cheaper and more reliable electricity. And the planet would be better off.

      491

    • #
      Peter

      Here is a heartbreaking post about these bird shredders:

      Wind powerpic.twitter.com/CJUe3Gv65O— Maria Sederholm (on Gab too) (@Wordofbeak) May 6, 2021

      If the link didn’t work look for Maria Sederholm (on Gab too)
      @Wordofbeak

      20

  • #
    graham dunton

    We all know this is happening
    As an individual, you would be sued for this, likely end up in jail. Yet wind turbine generation companies, are getting away scot free, with no objection from the green wind zealots?

    https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2021/05/heartbreaking-consequences-of-greeny-bloody-mindedness.html

    yet, coal fired pow stations have always been bird friendly, nice warm places in the cold weather.

    290

  • #
    Yonniestone.

    Also renewables including hydro (rainfall) are limited to produce any more by their design and the simple answer is more of them but less power and stability, imagine a trillion dollars used to explore or develop new power technologies with the tools we have even over the past 30 years.

    Sure there’s an argument for free markets but the recent ‘renewables’ have been anything but being massively subsidized by tax dollars and increased power bills, wind and solar don’t even have a planned obsolescence as the backwards nature of its engineering for the task assigned had already done that by proxy.

    If the target is 50% or 100% replacement of coal or gas the invention has to at least be equal to their abilities or better, a large replacement power source for the future needs to be designed by the future not inventions made for small individual use.

    100

  • #
    robert rosicka

    We just need to throw more money at it and and there’s a new battery being developed that will revolutionise power storage , it should be available in ten years , in ten years!

    120

  • #
    Robber

    Meanwhile in Australia, using historical data on the AEMO grid provided at OpenNEM:
    In 2010, wind 2.2%, in 2020 9.7%. But on April 28 2021 just 3.1%.
    Solar from 0.1% to 9.7%. But on Aug 7 2020 just 2.4%.
    Brown coal 27% to 16.9%
    Black coal 51.6% to 49.1%.
    Gas 11.4% to 7.3%.
    Hydro 7.6% to 7%.
    So in 10 years wind, sun and water have gone from 10% to 26% on average.
    What will it take to get to 50% by 2030?

    100

    • #
      wal1957

      So in 10 years wind, sun and water have gone from 10% to 26% on average.

      I think the more important point to make is what is the lowest output of unreliables.
      That is after all what they can ‘guarantee’? Any excess power above the minimum is a gamble. Is the wind going to blow today?…too much wind?…cloudy day? etc.
      The bottom line is that we still need the reliable REAL power stations to not only back up the unreliables, but to provide the vast majority of power.

      130

      • #
        Richard Owen No.3

        Years ago, when the claim was “the wind is always blowing somewhere” the head of EON, then the largest supplier of wind turbines, was asked this very question and answered it as 2%.
        I would note that both the UK and Germany have had to re-start shut down coal-fired plants recently owing to the very poor output from (lots more) wind turbines.

        90

  • #
    Lawrie

    Keep remembering that this is about destroying the West’s dominance in manufacturing first and foremost. It is part of the communist plot and ever was. Who are not heeding calls to reduce fossil fuel use? The CCP and Russia. Who will benefit when the West powers down? The CCP and Russia. Our politicians are either blind or complicit and we know for sure that Biden is the latter. Our pathetic mob are blindly following the green blob and their mad policies. We thought we defeated communism when the wall came down but we were wrong. Communism just changed tactics and began the process whereby we destroyed ourselves a little at a time. The left marched through the institutions, dominated the media and now the boardrooms. At no time did the leftists use their own money to achieve their ends; they always used our money, the ABC and universities for example. If we were serious about reversing the trend we would simply cut off their money supply, defund or close the ABC, make universities responsible for collection of student loans and stop the grant train. The MSM is virtually redundant as a myriad of small outfits circumvent their censorship. It must be hurting because Rebel News has been demonetised by Youtube and struck from Paypal. Banning Trump from Twitter and Facebook has backfired on both. There will be a great reset but it most probably will not be what the left envisaged. Keep up the great work here Jo.

    441

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      So the answer is start taking back society and our institutions.

      Get involved at grassroots level, and get the corrosive lefties booted from local councils etc that are AGW sops.

      Expose their lies, use Alynskis own tactics against them.

      We dont want our grand kids to despise us because we took no peaceful action to get rid of these vultures.

      250

      • #
        Serp

        We lack the zealotry necessary to organise at low level.

        140

        • #
          Yonniestone.

          The good/critical people in society are far too tolerant of others to make waves in confronting their continuing idiocy, this will be their/our downfall unless we’re ALL prepared to stand against the vocal minority and our own government that actively enables them.

          Counter protesting the civilian woke left is one thing but taking on its ‘big brother’ backed with councils, courts, MSM, governments, bureaucracies, lawyers, police, military is a very big ask for even the strongest of us.

          Do you know of anyone willing to lose their house, possessions, super or pension to fight the good fight?, no neither do I.

          90

          • #
            Epicurious

            “Do you know of anyone willing to lose their house, possessions, super or pension to fight the good fight?, no neither do I.”

            I’m a retired self funded old fart that cannot be bullied so I will start at the local council level and see where it takes me. In the meantime will you wait for someone to take (not lose) your house, possessions, super or pension because that is what will happen while all the good people look the other way?

            20

        • #
          Philip

          Agreed. I made a punt at local level politics against the mad green establishment and I reluctantly had to concede that it’s just hopeless. People are simply uninterested and incapable of independent thought. The public were either mad greens themselves or happy to accept the usual pundits who stand for council because they’re president of the bowling club or something (but quite dumb and completely useless). You cant change politics with a highly apathetic public, prepared to just go with the flow, and that is what we have in many parts of Australia (at least mine). Terribly cynical I know, but real.

          20

  • #
    Mal

    Clean energy, a dead end path that is costing us billions with no environmental benefits
    We still need baseload power and if the stupid politicians and activists msm and our glorious ABC don’t change their tune, then Australia will continue down this path of destruction for the working and middle classes and the economy in general

    110

  • #
    Neville

    Here’s the Wiki graph of all countries co2 emissions since 1970 or 1990, just take your pick.

    If you add the USA + EU emissions together since 1970 you’ll note that the total is no higher today. Note that China, India and other countries emissions have soared over the last 20 to 30 years. And at least 1,000 new coal power stns to be built in the next 40 years.

    The Biden donkey’s GND is just more fra-dulent nonsense, but I’m sure he doesn’t even understand any of this data. Certainly the Obama , Holdren donkeys didn’t understand it either. Dr Pielke jnr had to school that ADMIN about global fires, droughts etc yet never received an apology for his troubles. I wish Jo could permanently place this graph or something like it on her home page.

    Of course the CSIRO tells us that the SH is a net co2 sink and population is about 800 mil of the Earth’s 7800 million. And the SH countries only emit about 7% of global emissions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions#/media/File:World_fossil_carbon_dioxide_emissions_six_top_countries_and_confederations.png

    40

  • #
    Ronin

    AGL can’t wait to start swinging the wrecking ball at Liddell, they have already appointed the same demolition experts who trashed Hazelwood to be ready to go in 2023, looks like #3 unit will be first to go.

    100

    • #
      • #
        Ronin

        When you see the targeted stick that AGL and others are getting, it’s no wonder they feel pressured to go woke, I wish there was a box I could tick for my power supplier to provide me with only coal or gas fired power.

        80

    • #
      Yonniestone.

      I predict the coming blackouts and shutdowns will be explained to the masses as a necessary step to reduce dangerous emissions and will be the new normal, going by the complicity of people regarding masks, illegal lock downs and border closures I fear they will get away with it.

      I always considered fluoride in water supplies to control the people was a bit far fetched but now I question that, what the hell is wrong with Australians, where has the mongrel gone?

      100

      • #
        robert rosicka

        Yonniestone I think it will be explained as the fault of who ever is in power when the blackouts get serious and lives are lost , but most likely it will be blamed on the Libs for not moving quick enough to an emissions free future by embracing renewables. The left have no shame when it comes to telling the truth.

        70

      • #
        Epicurious

        Unfortunately the mongrels are dying out as my generation heads for the exit. The current generations masses, with the exception of the audience herein, are seriously lacking in fortitude, common sense and critical thinking. Its all down hill from here I regret to say. If only Jim Killen and his little mate Don Cameron were alive today they’d make mincemeat of the current pollies and activists posing as journalists. OMG even Gough Whitlam would see through all this shite.

        10

  • #
    Flok

    Happy 50th Birthday failed renewables predictions !!

    90

  • #
    Dave in the States

    But the propaganda is relentless. Everyday on any given TV newscast you will get a breathless talking head saying how we got to do it and yes we can. All it will take is the political will, more education indoctrination and more funding….ah more funding. With all that money being thrown around there’s bound to somebody on the receiving end. Now we see.

    90

  • #
    Lance

    The only reason this nonsense happens again, and again, is because no price is paid for being wrong.

    What is missing here, is that the Pols who vote for this stuff never face responsibility for their actions. Essentially, they get paid to betray the People, and vacate office without a care.

    That needs to change.

    I propose the “Responsibility Act”, to be made Law and rigorously pursued.

    “Any elected official who proposes or supports any action that claims to lower taxes, lower utility rates, increase competition, etc, shall be held personally responsible, at law, for the failure of the promised results if such failure occurs. Moreover, all assets held 1 year prior to voting for such actions, shall be at risk, including assets held, transferred, promised, sold, accepted, acquired, or promised by contract whether oral or written. Also included are all salaries, benefits, from actual actionable inception until death for any act proved factually to have failed promised claims by less than 75% accomplishment using measurable, factual outcomes as compared to status quo ante at time of voting.” or something like that.

    You see, the reason everyone gets the “short end of the dirty stick” is because those who shove said sticks where they don’t belong “never, ever, have to pay for their malfeasance or inaccuracy”. That’s what’s got to change. Being voted out isn’t enough. It has got to pain them mightily. What’s losing office if the bribe was grand enough? Selling out the People is simply a Confidence Game if the reward is large and the consequences are small.

    Just a thought. It is a bit more civilized than tar, torches, feathers, and ropes, eh?

    160

  • #
    Terry

    ‘It is a bit more civilized than tar, torches, feathers, and ropes, eh?’

    I see absolutely no reason to remove any remedy from the table.

    I like the intent of the “Responsibility Act” and support your thesis on what drives the need for it, but why does it need to be an “or” thing with ‘tar, torches, feathers, and ropes’?

    #embracethepowerofand

    20

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  • #
    Robdel

    This would be a good time to reintroduce stocks with a ready supply of rotten tomatoes. When people are ridiculed and shamed publicly they might possibly think twice about their crazy actions.

    40

  • #
    MikeHig

    While the percentage of energy supplied by fossil fuels has dropped slightly, it’s not the whole story. The world’s energy demand has increased dramatically in that time frame so, in absolute terms, we are using a lot more fossil energy than 50 years ago.

    10

  • #
    Cheshire Red

    That graph is superb. At-a-glance easy to understand and brutally effective. That format should be used more often.

    20

  • #
    neil

    “faster global EV transition”

    EV’s have been with us for 175 years and have 2% of the global market. I agree with improved battery and recharge technologies the uptake will increase and I believe it could be as high as 50% by 2100, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    10

  • #

    Aloha! Can we please put some perspective on all this for those who are less than 50 years old! You’re not pioneers in some new global humanitarian life saving energy technology because unless you can produce some sort of prototype that is replicable and scalable all you have is “politics” not science! Show me the ROI now not in 2040!

    Read Milton Friedman if you want to know what happens when government intrusion into free market efficiency and innovation happens! There is more proof that exists and fails than there is any clue climate change is a real crisis!

    cri•sis (ˈkraɪ sɪs)

    n., pl. -ses (-sēz).
    1. a turning point, as in a sequence of events, for better or for worse.
    2. a condition of instability, as in international relations, that leads to a decisive change.
    3. a personal tragedy, emotional upheaval, or the like.
    4.
    a. the point in the course of a serious disease at which a decisive change occurs, leading to recovery or to death.
    b. the change itself.
    5. the point, as in a play, at which the antagonistic elements confront each other.

    The climate has been with us since the first caveman! At times in the past climate events have been far worse. I have a farm in Hawaii about a two hour drive from the 9th most active volcano in 10,000 years of recorded history! That would be Kilauea that has been erupting for over 26,000 days now! Yet Hawaii is rated #1 in air quality in the entire USA! There are times I fly Hawaiian Airlines from the island of Hawaii to Honolulu and I can see the “vog” cloud, volcanic smog that is not good to breath, going all the way over to Oahu. We have been there over 20 years so if anyone needs proof that toxic air quality is transported by wind forces far from its source then come visit us! In Texas every summer we get African dust that blurs the sky. The climate crisis is in the very places the US and the EU have no control like China and India. The CCP hates the USA! The CCP loves the Paris Agreement! That should be a 1+1=2 event to 340mil Americans but its not!

    I used to live in Newport Beach, CA in the 1970s and the oil leaks from the Santa Barbara Channel oil rigs were so bad we used to have to bring a gallon gas container to the beach to clean the oil tar off our feet. We used gasoline because it was cheaper than paint thinner! A gallon of gasoline was $0.50 then! The oil blobs would float in the ocean and if they hit your surfboard you’d have a black sticky spot. Yet people back then came to the beaches in droves and just put their beach towels in a spot that didn’t have oil blobs! It was a bit of a game for kids to play “dodge the oil blob”! I never saw a single “Oil Blob Protest”! I have documented evidence that humans, US citizens, used to adapt to their environment as late as the 20th century in Newport Beach. Something happened around the iPhone era where humans now think they are better than the Earth and the Universe and can now control the weather with the help of political science activists leading the charge! Wait! Let that sink in! Re-read it again if you must! Let me say it in layman terms “Humans who have never controlled anything on planet Earth now think they can control the entire Earth’s weather because politicians say so!” You can google it but the profession of “politician” is below used car salesman in polls measuring “trust”! Politicians have occupied the bottom of the “trust polls” for decades! There are valid reasons for that! Most of them are lawyers so that explains a lot! Let me say that again … most politicians are lawyers not scientists with no degree in science or economics and no real business experience either! Getting paid to fail says a lot!

    How can you predict something when there is no science behind it? In the 17th century this exact same scenario existed in China where the ruling class forced the working class to subscribe to false science called “flat earth”! Google 1648 Xioug Mingyu who disputed flat earth!

    Bell Labs made the first solar panel in 1952. That is almost 70 years ago! Raise your hand if you think that if solar power was as cheap and efficient as coal that solar would have completely replaced coal in 1975! There are real reasons some energy technology lingers for 70 years!

    In the USA Biden wants to donate $100bil to the elec grid where he wants to install 550,000 new charge stations around the USA! I can show estimates where replacing the US grid transmission lines with superconductors would need a minimum of $2tril direct investment from the US taxpayers. Here are some real crisis we face now not in 2040!

    1-Replace US electric grid
    2-Repair and replace US roads and bridges
    3-Recover from a pandemic and rebuild the economy
    4-Prepare for the next China virus
    5-Fix Us homeless problem
    6-Create more US food banks to secure US food supply
    7-Restore US military, FBI, DOJ, CIA credibility
    8-Fix NATO and the UN and the WTO and WHO

    Those eight above would take up at least $4tril of US funds and child care isn’t even on the list!

    Now AOC needs to advise us. What is more important sending oxygen to India to save millions of lives from a virus or spend money on solar panels so we can control the weather in 2040? If you are a climate scientist in India or even here in the USA please resign! Your real worth is zero! Because real worth has a real world application not a promise in 2040! With the millions dying every day in the world how can climate scientists sleep at night or look themselves in the mirror? Talk about a souless agenda!

    51

  • #

    Bent Sørensen finished his promotion 1974, so, a prediction in 1970 is maybe doubtfull
    That article from 1975 is about renewables
    A plan is outlined according to which solar and wind energy would supply Denmark’s needs by the year 2050

    00

    • #

      Thanks Krishna.
      I’ll check it out.

      He did have a couple of degrees in the mid 60s, so who knows. Even PhD candidates write up papers. But the date is vague…

      10

  • #
    another ian

    FWIW

    Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity”

    https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/11/3361/htm

    10

  • #
    Philip

    “….super batteries that never came”

    I listen to talk back radio a bit and most seem to think super batteries are already here. I guess phrases like “biggest battery in the world to be built in nsw” tends to convince people it must be very very good.

    10

  • #
    Philip

    Despite the failure of these predictions, I do believe it is about to take off. In the past, right of centre business and governments were reluctant. Now its the opposite. The Liberal Party is as much into renewables as Labor. Energy companies have realised the quality of the energy is irrelevant, its still a product people must buy, doesnt matter how reliable it is.

    10

  • #
    sophocles

    well. It missed.

    00

  • #
    Peter

    Does anyone happen to have a similar graph as the first one about predictions of EV sales? I guess it is similar to the renewable predictions.

    00

  • #