Watts Up With That, we get a link to IEEE Spectrum, the closest thing to a general interest publication that the IEEE has (IEEE is the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers).
“At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope …The basic problem is that all known and predictable renewable energy technologies require more energy input in their implementation than can be paid back.
Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”
The key problem appears to be that the cost of manufacturing the components of the renewable power facilities is far too close to the total recoverable energy – the facilities never, or just barely, produce enough energy to balance the budget of what was consumed in their construction. This leads to a runaway cycle of constructing more and more renewable plants simply to produce the energy required to manufacture and maintain renewable energy plants – an obvious practical absurdity. [emphasis added: SiG]A key paragraph in the IEEE article says:
“Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear. All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.” [emphasis added: SiG]I'm not surprised at the conclusion, I'm surprised they admitted it. While I'm not
Unlike the people who earnestly believe those magic unicorn farts will someday power everything, a group of engineers tasked with finding a way to produce a billion watts of renewable power at a cheaper price point than a coal-fired plant has to face reality. Reality is a tough taskmaster.