The problem with renewable energy

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  • Sun, Nov 02, 2008 - 04:27pm



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    Re: The problem with renewable energy

Clifford Wirth on the challenges we face implementing renewables:

[quote]We need to examine solar and wind power. But no one has a real plan
on how solar/wind will power tractors and combines, transport food and
goods, or fertilize crops. Showing a photo of an electric powered
tractor, truck, or train or saying we can do it is not a plan. What
would the infrastructure for the electric economy look like? Where
would the trillions of Euros in capital come from? How can governments
pay for it when people are out of work and governments have little
revenue? Where will the oil come from to manufacture, transport, and
maintain the electric economy? Where will people get the money to buy
electric vehicles when they are out of work and have little trade in
value on their gasoline/diesel powered cars?

How can we maintain the power grid without diesel for trucks? When
the highways fail from a lack of maintenance, there won’t be
replacement parts for the power grid, wind turbines, and solar panels.
As I cruised the highways I saw some huge transformers and gigantic
wind turbine blades being transported by trucks. Everything depends on
trucks moving on the highways. Most food, goods, and people in Europe
move by trucks, not trains. But like the construction cranes, those
trucks will one day be idle — and there goes food distribution, the
power grid and everything. Without electric power, almost nothing
mechanical or modern functions — lights, sanitation, water
purification and distribution, refrigeration, heating and air
conditioning, pumping of diesel and gasoline, building systems,
elevators, communications, emergency services, etc. Without the power
grid, wind turbines and solar panels are mostly useless. In the future,
wind turbines and solar panels will sit idle, monuments to misdirected
policies that wasted fossil energy to manufacture, transport and
maintain devices to produce electric power, when we need liquid fuels.
The same can be said for nuclear power.

Shall we plan and prepare for the real future: a world without oil
and without electric power. Or, shall we continue to avoid reality,
dream about what will never happen, and waste time, effort, and capital
on illusions?[/quote]

I don’t take as dim a view on the prospects of the transition to renewables as he does.  But I do agree with his assessment of the challenges we face in that transition.  We need to prepare for a future that will be less energy-dense than the present.  It is highly unlikely that we’ll ever replace the amount of energy we get today from oil with renewables.  And as I’ve pointed out earlier in the thread, that is ultimately a good thing.

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