May 27, 2009

Can't get there from here

I happened upon the article below and it somewhat surprised me. It is basically a press release from Green Peace of a report done by Green Peace and European Solar Thermal Electricity Association, probably not an objective view but it is enlightening.

The article called
Solar Energy Can Power 25% of the World’s Electricity Needs by 2050
from Environmental Leader . The complete article has links to the report and other interesting links and is worth checking out.

According to the article, with the most extensive investment and most liberal estimates, it will take over 40 years for solar power to produce one quarter of the world's electricity needs (hence the title). They are making some pretty big leaps to get there, for example under what they call the advanced scenario we will only be at 7% in 2030 (20 years) and then 25% in 2050 another 20 years. So in affect they are saying that in the same time frames they will more than double the output. I guess with advancements in technology this is not far fetched but it shows the assumptions they are making.

What surprised me was that with what can only be considered a most optimistic of projections done by the most partisan of organizations, they can only get to 25% by 2050. That leaves a pretty big gap in electric generations, so I went to google world to see if there was similar projection for wind. I wanted a liberal view, not an objective one and I found one from
The Global Wind Energy Council.
Figuring that they would put the best possible spin (excuse the pun) on the projections I looked at their best case scenario which they also call advanced. In their advanced scenario, they say that given the best case, wind will provide 29.5% of the world's electrical needs by 2050.

So using the most advanced and optimistic of projections by partisan organizations, Green sources provide us with 54.5% of global electric needs by 2050. If you are not quite so green and throw nuclear into the mix using their most optimistic projections you add 22% for a total of 76.5% of electric generation.

If you happen to be both a realist and an optimist, then it would be wise to go with the moderate scenarios of all these reports which would be considerably less. Solar-10%. Wind 15.5% and nuclear-18% or 43.5% of global electric needs. Remember too that all these represent a much larger electric usage base than now. So whatever the actual use of fossil fuels is as a percentage come 2050 it is going to be proportionately larger too thus emissions of CO2 even at a lower percentage of electric generation still will be considerable.

In adition to all the nonsense of a plant food (carbon dioxide) being a pollutant, the idea that green energy is going to replace fossil fuels is almost as big of a fantasy, in this century anyway. Barring a technological breakthrough, I would not bet against mankind's inventiveness, I suspect Coal will be king for a quite awhile

I know that all kinds of important people with all kinds of degrees study this stuff and do all kinds of reports and papers on this. But if you was to ask me and my simple minded view of things, when it comes to eliminating fossil fuels any time soon-you can't get there from here, and Green Peace seems to agree with me.


1 comment:

  1. Very telling . . . Hoisted on their own petard so to speak. There is another consideration to be made.
    That these organizations are so bereft of reason that they failed to see that their report provide evidence against their arguments.