Critique of the IPCC Report on Renewable Energy

by Judith Curry

Over at BraveNewClimate, Ted Trainer provides the most detailed critique I’ve seen of the recent IPCC Report on Renewable Energy.

The author, Ted Trainer, is Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work, University of New South Wales (Australia) and works in the general area regarding the transition to a sustainable society.Trainer is the organizer of “The Simpler Way: Analyses of global problems and the sustainable alternative society“.

From the Preamble by Trainer:

Below is a critical discussion of the recent IPCC Working Group 3 Report on Renewable Energy. It is being referred to as a report from many experts showing that the world can be running mostly on renewable by 2050.

However I think it is a remarkably unsatisfactory document. Following are some of the main points I detail.

• It is not a report on an examination by the IPCC of the potential of renewables. It is a statement of the conclusions evident in 164 studies, which were not selected at random. The IPCC does not evaluate these studies; we do not know how valid their conclusions are.

• What the IPCC actually concludes is that more than half the studies reviewed project that renewables could provide more than 27% of energy in 2050. Again, the IPCC does not inquire as to whether such projections are sound.

• There is no reference to the studies I know of that doubt the potential of renewable energy.

• Even if this conclusion could be regarded as well-established it would fall far short of solving the greenhouse problem. According to the IPCC’s own figures it would leave us with a higher CO2e emission level than we have now. Yet the Report’s air is one of optimism.

• In the key Chapter 10 most attention is given to one study which concludes that by 2050 70% of world energy could come from renewables. This study, by Greenpeace, is highly challengeable. It does not establish its claims, and it fails to discuss a number of problems confronting renewable energy.

• The brief reference to investment costs is not derived or supported, and is highly challengeable. I sketch three approaches indicating that the cost would be far higher than claimed, and not affordable.

The document is puzzling. It does not do what it should have done, and is being taken to have done, i.e., critically examine as much of the evidence as possible on the potential and limits of renewable energy in order to derive demonstrably convincing conclusions which deal thoroughly with all the relevant difficulties. It does not advance the issue; it just summarises what some others have said, without assessing the validity of what they have said. Most difficult to understand is why it gives so much attention to one clearly problematic study, and allows its highly optimistic conclusions to be taken as those the IPCC has come to. It is likely that as the Report is examined it will damage the credibility of the IPCC.

The Report reinforces the dominant faith that renewable energy can save us and there is no need to question the commitment to affluent living standards and the pursuit of limitless economic growth. In my opinion that belief is seriously mistaken and this report will make it less likely that attention will be given to a sound analysis of our situation and what to do about it.

I should make it clear that my comments do not cast doubt on the IPCC’s statements re: climate science. It is also my view that we should transition to full dependence on renewables as soon as possible…although this will not be possible in a consumer-capitalist society.

I would appreciate critical feedback.

The full 19 page report is [here].

JC comments:  This report raises issues that are well worth discussing.  That this critical report is authored by a social scientist that is a leader in sustainability thought makes it pretty difficult to defend the IPCC renewables report from any perspective.

142 responses to “Critique of the IPCC Report on Renewable Energy

  1. …although this will not be possible in a consumer-capitalist society.

    Rants on communist driven science in three… two… one….

    • If you insist on rolling in honey don’t complain when the ants bite.

    • Ok Mr. Luis Dias, We have been waithing for Robert… where did he go?

    • Rants on communist driven science in three… two… one….

      I’ll agree that the ranting gets old (that some authoritarians use left-wing ideology doesn’t mean that all on the left are authoritarians and the same holds for right-wing ideology). The viewpoint that disagreement equals dishonesty or evil is a bit shallow.

      What does have a sound basis in history is that schemes which require a re-wiring of society or human nature tend to fail. MT’s musings on a post growth economy where everyone lives collaboratively sound nice, but where’s an example of it working long term?

      I also note the obligatory pledge of allegiance: “I should make it clear that my comments do not cast doubt on the IPCC’s statements re: climate science.”. Interesting that that appears whenever someone notes something that challenges the IPCC viewpoint.

    • Luis,

      Try “state-driven” science. I suspect you are aware of the problems with science driven this way.

      Andrew

      • That wasn’t my point at all. My point is that sentence will distract many people unto political discussions rather than the much more obvious technical hurdles that he’s rightly discussing. He is sufficiently honest in his report for me to say that he reaches this conclusion despite his politics.

    • Renewable energy, or any other needs of society, cannot be achieved by those who do not follow basic scientific/spiritual principles.

      The problem is not Capitalism or Communism, but Arrogance, Pride.

      Selfishness/self-centeredness is the root problem that plagues us all – individually and collectively.

      The addiction of scientists to government research funds – and ultimate slavery to those who control the funds – differs little from the behavior of other addicts.

      Blind belief in the Standard Solar Model of a Hydrogen-filled Sun – and a willingness to hide, manipulate or ignore experimental data [1] – led us to squander time, public resources and talent trying to develop H-fusion as an energy source, just like the “stable H-fusion reactor” that supposedly powers the Sun and the stars.

      Climategate exposed the problem, a wide-spread cancerous growth. So far leaders of the scientific community have refused to face reality and change their addictive behavior.

      1. “The Bilderberg Sun, Climategate & Economic Crisis”
      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/20110722_Climategate_Roots.pdf

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

      • Dear Oliver,
        I agree with you. Any solution has to be backed up by numbers, which IPCC do not have for there is so much we do not know about the climate. An expensive solution is a wrong solution even though it is “green.” In my opinion, those politically motivated and economically unjustified sustainable projects contributed to the recession.

    • “Rants on communist driven science in three… two… one….”

      I see the identical type post from sports fans – presumably children – defending their home team/favorite player. If you are unable to add anything to the discussion, why do you come here? Dr Curry puts a lot of effort into this site, and you desperately try to turn in into a standard internet pi$$ing contest. Dr Curry deserves better than that.

      • If you have that opinion on my comments, that means you haven’t read them at all. Pay more attention before judging others.

      • MarkB

        So MarkB defends Dr. Curry’s blog from pesky trolls? Well, those who are inspired by this current example of MarkB’s admirable gallantry might wish to savor MarkB’s history of solicitude for Dr. Curry by Googling: “MarkB Curry.” Unless we are dealing with a doppelganger I, for one, was suprised to find that ever-the-gentleman MarkB has left comments on several leading greenshirt blogs that would have Dr. Curry “uttering nonsense” while he harbors doubts of her sincerity, and good stuff like that.

        MarkB, why don’t you drop the Eddie Haskell act–you’re not fooling anyone.

  2. Dr. Curry,
    How many more critiques pointing out significant mistakes, misuses of data, conflicts of interest, politically motivated false conclusions will have to be written that have to include something to the effect that, “this (latest) part of the report is junk, but the IPCC is spot on in its climate science”?
    It seems that at some point you are going to have to admit the entire IPCC enterprise is junk.

    • None of us want to face that unpleasant fact.

      That is why the problem lingers on, while leaders of the scientific community quiver at the prospect of being deprived of their favorite drug – government research funds.

      • “government research funds”

        Dr. Curry could do a very intersesting post exploring this topic as it relates to Climate Science.

        Andrew

      • its on my list, but will be alot of work, so it keeps getting bumped down on my list

      • Yay! It’s on the list! :)

        Andrew

      • Thanks, Professor Curry.

        Pavlov’s experiments training dogs to salivate may be a good analogy to the way scientists became addicted to government grants.

        They are not at fault. Not the dogs; Not the dog trainers. But government science will be useless if the problem isn’t fixed.

        There is no easy solution. Obedience to basic principles of science (spirituality) seems to be required.

        If the dog trainers (politicians) refuse, the scientific community will have to retrain the dogs (scientists) to obey scientific (spiritual) principles.

      • None of who want to face the unpleasant fact that the entire IPCC enterprise is junk? None of the beneficiaries and toadies who have staked their livelihoods on it, or the politicians who count on it to magnify their revenues and authority. The rest of us are quite ready to “face” the need to kill the IPCC dead, ASAP.

  3. A much better analysis on peak oil decline and possibilities for renewable energy is the manuscript I wrote: http://TheOilConunDrum.com.
    This is pure analysis and fresh research that is well beyond anything that a bureaucratic organization can put out. So people I suggest you stop complaining and start thinking about the future.

    • Web,
      Your analysis of peak oil will end where all of the other claims of peak oil have ended up.

      • Close minded, ignore.

      • Web,
        Yours is the typical response of a loser.
        You want to hijack the thread to promote your own work, post cryptically and then whine when people do not agree with you.
        Your (very long) thesis is going to that final resting place possibly sooner than I thought.

      • What in the world are you talking about? Does work magically appear out of nowhere? Of course research has to come from someone’s mind and that person alone has to raise awareness of it. Do you not understand how this all works?

      • No, work does not appear out of nowhere.

        But the appetite for public research funds for scientists who pursue imaginary solutions to our energy needs do seem to spring eternal.

      • This is citizen-based sciences on my part, no outside funding as I wouldn’t need it anyways.

        So here is the difference between the way we all think. The IPCC simply asserts that we will have enough renewable resource capacity. Trainer challenges that by saying that will not happen and goes into a short analysis of wind power and PV costs to back up his claims.
        I don’t take that tact. I look at wind speed statistics and do dispersion modeling which I think will help us better allocate resources. I do the same with PV in which I have a chapter on how to characterize and model disordered photovoltaic material to better understand the physical mechanisms. I don’t make claims that we will or won’t have enough capacity or the low-cost technology, I only know that we have to prepare for the lower-expectation possibility and so work it from that angle.

        I see your own appetite was funded by NASA at one time. Can’t we take a hint from JFK and set ourselves a goal (like the moon landing) to ween ourselves from non-renewable energy and go from there? That is the problem with the IPCC report, they simply asserted and did not present our problems as a challenge to be overcome. That is indeed the way I approach it.

      • Web,
        Then start your own blog and promote the heck out of it.

      • A. C. Osbornr

        Hunter, he has his own blog and his work is very comprehensive. Perhaps you should take a look before dismissing him out of hand.
        I am not saying that I agree with all that he says however.

      • apparently hunter is one of those for whom the conclusion is everything, and supporting facts mean nothing.

    • I have seen a future – from Whole Earth era – in Trainer’s critique; one favorable facet found:
      “Rising energy costs will tend to move structural materials from steel, aluminium and cement to timber. Thus the demands on land for other than biomass energy will probably intensify greatly.”
      All structures either quarried stone or lumber; all furniture bamboo, rattan, twig, wicker and woven; warm foods prepared over biomass on quiet and sunless days; sliding into the cozy compost pile, and; rising to don our PETA-approved thistle homespun, for our day in either the wood- or stone-yard: a wonderful future.

    • Anyone who addresses me as “people” doesn’t deserve much more than a cursory dismissal. Which you have right here, now.

  4. “Most difficult to understand is why it gives so much attention to one clearly problematic study, and allows its highly optimistic conclusions to be taken as those the IPCC has come to.”

    No mystery here, one look at the author of the relevant report and the IPCC summary is enough to show where this came from. Steve McIntyre’s excellent post “IPCC WG3 and the Greenpeace Karaoke” provides a good summary of the authorship issues. (http://climateaudit.org/2011/06/14/ipcc-wg3-and-the-greenpeace-karaoke/).
    The rest of the IPCC’s reporting suffers from similar nepotism, and this social “scientist” still gives credence to the IPCC’s summaries of climate science. WAJ!

  5. Let me add my Shakspearean quote that I think impinges on CAGW. I have enormous admiration for Dr. Curry, and I think Climate Etc is a magnificant and unique blog. Judith succeeds in getting the important people to comment; often the authors of the papers under discussion. There is a very significant scientific content. And while this science as presented does not prove that CAGW is wrong, it certainly makes the case that it probaly is not right. All of which Dr. Curry supports and encourages.

    This is why I find her unrelenting support for CAGW to be incongruous. In the latest thread, Critique of the IPCC Report on Renewable Energy, she quotes “I should make it clear that my comments do not cast doubt on the IPCC’s statements re: climate science It is also my view that we should transition to full dependence on renewables as soon as possible…although this will not be possible in a consumer-capitalist society.” My copy and paste has not done a good job, because the first sentence is printed in bold letters. Why? None of the report quoted has anything emphasised.

    So my quote relates to Dr. Curry’s support of CAGW, and is from Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5:, where Macbeth states

    “full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

  6. Ted Trainer’s report is not only a critique of the IPCC SRREN report, but a valid statement on the existing knowledge on the potential and cost of large scale implementation of renewable energy solutions. He criticizes the lacking discussion of system level problems related to such an implementation as well as poor cost estimates that don’t take into account the influence of intermittance of wind and solar energy as well as the unpredictability of the availability of all types of renewable energy.

    He explains well, why these considerations are important and have a major effect on the conclusions, but this critique should be taken more as a statement on the present knowledge than something that could have been solved in the SRREN report. Solving these problems would require much more detailed analysis of the worldwide energy systems than anybody has even attempted so far. It’s not so much a question of lacking interest than lacking capability of doing the analysis.

    An energy system with much increased renewable generation is expected to have a significantly different pattern of consumption. Electric cars might form a major part of the fleet of cars, and charging them would influence significantly the timing of load. New houses are expected to have a much reduced heating energy consumption, and that affects again the energy system strongly. Such changes are envisioned, but their extent and rate of change remain poorly understood. It would be necessary to simulate dynamically the whole energy system to improve understanding of future needs and costs.

    It’s really beyond everybody’s capabilities to create even marginally reliable energy scenarios of sufficient detail for 2030, let alone 2050, and without such scenarios the questions raised by Ted Trainer cannot be answered.

    Trainer gave the fully valid comparison that the existing scenarios are possible in the same sense as it’s possible that a certain young American schoolboy could become the president of USA someday. Nothing much better exists, and it should be admitted that the state of knowledge is so poor.

    • Why do we try to make this issue seem complex when it is actually simple? If renewable energy sources are cost effective on a long term basis they will be adopted, if they are not they will be abandoned. It REALLY is that simple.
      Companies earn revenue by providing electricity to consumers. They (the electricity providers and the ultimate consumers) do not really care the source of that electricity (with the exception of a small number of people will to pay a higher price to get their power from specific sources that are not the lowest cost), they only want the lowest cost electricity.
      If wind mills were cost effective there would be lots more wind mills—they are not cost effective in producing electricity due to various reasons. There is no grand conspiracy preventing the adoption of renewable power sources. The truth is they are simply not cost effective yet.
      If society wants to motivate adoption of alternate energy production the simple method is to tax the current form of production. That will stimulate alternate forms of production. The problem with taking that approach is that the “tax” hurts those in the worst position economically in our society. If you give “tax relief” to the poorer members of society from this “fuel tax” the motive for the reduced consumption is reduced proportionally.

      • Very well said, Rob.

        While I am skeptical of the entire CAGW argument, I agree that if there is a social cost to producing a ton of CO2 per MWhr, a carbon tax (or more truthfully a CO2 tax) would be a most efficient and fair way of leveling the full cost of energy utilization.

        My problem isn’t with the taxation per se. The political scam of CAGW is revealed when you watch where the revenue from that taxation goes. “Follow the money.”

      • You tax what you want less of. The entire CO2-demonization thesis is flimsy and perverse. CO2 is beneficial, and is a dependent variable in the climate system, not a driver.
        Its production should, if anything, be subsidized.

      • I bet if you or your family were financially on the line if CO2 caused dangerous climate change you wouldn’t be so full of bluster.

      • You have absolutely no idea!
        Many, many families in the UK and Europe are ALREADY on the line, and have been for a long time, BECAUSE of swingeing fuel taxes.
        People who have to travel long distances to work are having to cut down on food, and many elderly people are leaving their heating off in winter, and dying as a result

      • “if you or your family were financially on the line”

        I was under the impression from proponents of AGW theory that this climate change thing was about science, not about whose family is doing well.

        Andrew

  7. I work and have worked in the electricity sector for 20 years and have been involved in developing and operating, gas (CCGT and open cycle), hydro, geothermal and wind. I also worked in developing one of the first and still functioning electricty markets. Having read Mr Trainer’s paper I can only say that he has raised entirely valid criticisms of the IPCC paper.

    There is no doubt that there is massive potential for renewables, but that does not mean that you can actually develop them. How many ridge lines or coastal areas are people willing to have covered in wind turbines, how many rivers do people want to be left untouched, how many transmission lines are they prepared to have across the land scape, how reliable do they want their electricity supply to be?

    We already grapple with these issues and society is not that interested in more lines, turbines etc and don’t even mention the cost and resulting price a consumer faces.

    In may places in the developed world it already takes 10+ years from concept to completion of a power plant (ignoring nuclear). Only 2 to 3 years of that is the construction, the rest is largly spent gaining environmental and local permission. Transmission lines can take as long and the small scale (50MW to 100MW) renewable developments are killed by transmission costs.

    The technical issues raised are not well understood by many people outside of electricity. Consumers all expect their power to be avaliable whenever they want it and I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is reports spouting forth how easy it will all be to build, to connect and to intergrate, because it is not.

    • Small scale power sources must be dispatchable and distributed. Renewables are neither; they depend on commandeering large swathes of real estate, usually far from usage centers, and are inherently variable.

      They are an attempt to use medieval technology to power a technological society. The sooner they are demonstrated to be counterproductive, and dispensed with, the better.

    • John Carpenter

      Neil,

      “How many ridge lines or coastal areas are people willing to have covered in wind turbines, how many rivers do people want to be left untouched, how many transmission lines are they prepared to have across the land scape, how reliable do they want their electricity supply to be?”

      Exactly… this is where the problems with implementation will be greatest even if the revenue for building the infrastructure were there.

  8. Wind Turbines are bat and bird killing machines. The operators should all be in jail.

    “More evidence has emerged that the environmentalist movement–and not the oil industry–is the premier energy-related threat to the survival of America’s wildlife. The obsession with green energy has led to the growth of the wind power industry, which has been killing birds and bats since its inception–and usually with impunity.

    But that may come to an end, according to today’s L.A. Times. The paper reports the federal government is investigating the killing of six golden eagles at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Pine Tree Wind Project.

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/08/03/green-movement-planet-wildlife/

    “Wind turbines are apparently killing migratory bats as well—by 2020, an estimated 33,000 to 111,000 bats are predicted to be killed by turbines in the mid-Atlantic Highlands alone. The authors in the Science paper worry that as wind power ramps up in the U.S., more bats will end up pureed by the blades. ”

    “A new article in Science shows that bats have an important role to play in agriculture—one worth at least $3.7 billion a year, if not far more. That’s how much the extinction of bats throughout North America could cost the region’s food system, according to an analysis (access PDF here) by a group of researchers led by Justin Boyles of the University of Pretoria in South Africa. The logic is simple: bats eat bugs—tons and tons of bugs—and that includes crop and forests pests. (A single colony of 150 brown bats in Indianan has been estimated to eat nearly 1.3 million pest insects a year.) Remove the bats, and you remove one of nature’s most effective biological pesticides—which would have to be replaced by actual pesticides, at an economic and environmental expense. ”

    http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/03/31/the-economic-cost-of-losing-bats/

  9. Harold H Doiron

    I have often wondered….If windfarms become sufficiently large and widespread to make wind a significant replacement for fossil fuel generation of electricity, What will be the environmental and weather/climate impact of removing so much kinetic energy from the atmosphere?

    • Harold,
      That is a nice speculation, but the real problem the environmentalists and climate profiteers are causing is the killing of large numbers of birds and bats, many of which are endangered species.
      Additionally, have you driven or hiked by a large windmill operation?
      They are hideous visual pollution on the landscape. They operate at incredible inefficiencies andare high maintenance And when the life cycle carbon footprint is measured, make little difference in their alleged goal of reducing CO2.

      • “High” maintenance is a mouthful. Getting personnel and parts and equipment to the rotor and blade assemblies on those monsters is a major project, each time. And it has, AFAIK, far from demonstrated that wind farm operators ever actually DO maintenance; there’s lots of ludicrous handwaving about expected lifespans etc., but graveyards of abandoned and “obsolete” wind turbines are plentiful. And as for offshore … what a disaster.

      • But the blowhards promoting wind do not worry about things like sustainable maintenance schedules and costs.
        They have another conference to jet off to, or a President to advise.

  10. “There are two other reasons why people believe in human-caused global warming despite strong evidence against it. Global warming is like a religion. In ‘Distinguishing Reality from Fantasy, Truth from Propaganda,’ a lecture given to the Commonwealth Club in September 2003, Michael Crichton identifies environmentalism as ‘the religion of choice for urban atheists.’ Gaia, the living planet, is its Mother Goddess. In this religion’s canon, industrial civilization (to paraphrase Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman) is acne on her face. Crichton notes how environmentalism mimics Judeo-Christian beliefs: ‘There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability.’ The Kyoto Protocol is it’s articles of faith. What about the fact no change in satellite and balloon-measured temperatures has occurred over the last 25 years despite rising CO2 levels? No problem. Adherents of this religion ignore facts like this and recite their catechism of apocalyptic computer climate models.

    “Global warming also has ideological underpinnings. ‘Environmentalism is the last refuge of socialism,’ as one observer puts it. Although socialism may have failed as an economic model, many believe it can halt man-made global warming and, by this means, reform civilization. Constraining CO2.”

    • “What about the fact no change in satellite and balloon-measured temperatures has occurred over the last 25 years despite rising CO2 levels?”

      How about you are posting lies?

      • –> How about you are posting lies?

        Are Mann’s official knob-polisher?

      • well either you didn’t read what you copy pasted, or you did but don’t understand it, or you understood the lie but chose to post it anyway

        Not a great set of options

      • Or… you choose to remain blissfully ignorant of the lack of statistically relevant warming, corruption of the surface data by UHI effect, “corruption within the climate science community,” and the knowing fraud and misrepresentation by, “a small coterie of scientists [that] can be counted upon to modify the data” to fit the models.

        For warming since 1979, there is a further problem. The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn’t and this means that something is wrong with the data. It is well known that above about 2 km altitude, the tropical temperatures are pretty homogeneous in the horizontal so that sampling is not a problem. Below two km (roughly the height of what is referred to as the trade wind inversion), there is much more horizontal variability, and, therefore, there is a profound sampling problem. Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the problem resides in the surface data, and that the actual trend at the surface is about 60% too large. Even the claimed trend is larger than what models would have projected but for the inclusion of an arbitrary fudge factor due to aerosol cooling. The discrepancy was reported by Lindzen (2007) and by Douglass et al (2007). Inevitably in climate science, when data conflicts with models, a small coterie of scientists can be counted upon to modify the data. Thus, Santer, et al (2008), argue that stretching uncertainties in observations and models might marginally eliminate the inconsistency. That the data should always need correcting to agree with models is totally implausible and indicative of a certain corruption within the climate science community.” Richard Lindzen, 15-Jan-2011

      • You posted a lie about satellite and balloon measurements showing no warming in the last 25 years.

        Now you change the subject to the surface.

        First you claim there IS warming in the surface record caused by UHI, but then you contradict that by claiming there HASNT been any statistically relevant warming in the surface record.

        Finally to top it off you flip flop again and claim there HAS been warming in the surface record, in fact so much so that it’s “60% too large”

        You won’t be wining any prizes for consistency.

      • Lindzen says there has been no statistically relevant warming of the atmosphere since 1979. And all people of reason recognize that the surface record has been corrupted by UHI, not to mention purposefuly manipulation of the record by AGW ideologues. Facts are facts.

      • lolwot,
        The typical true believer cannot deal with differences of opinion.
        Those on the other side must be evil.
        Thank you for demonstrating this so well.
        The sad fact is that your movement is nearing hysteria a la Gore’s little tissie, due to the fact that the climate is ignoring your calls for apocalypse.
        Nothing of any significance is occurring, no matter how hard you claim otherwise.
        If your community was not after so much of the public’s money, you would really be no different than UFO abduction or pyramids on Mars believers.

  11. A. C. Osbornr

    I note that the site that the Critique was posted on does not allow critisicm of the IPCC or CAGW.
    So feedback on that site for the whole of the report will be a bit one sided to say the least.
    Like the assumtions that we need to reduce CO2 etc.

  12. A. C. Osbornr

    PS spelling correction
    Like the assumptions that we need to reduce CO2 etc for example.

  13. “I should make it clear that my comments do not cast doubt on the IPCC’s statements re: climate science.”

    LOL, nowadays an almost obligatory disclaimer, just to make sure he is not branded a denier, and tarred&feathered!

  14. Ted Trainer has thrown down his gauntlet. I will pick it up!

    Ted Trainer says, “It is also my view that we should transition to full dependence on renewables as soon as possible…although this will not be possible in a consumer-capitalist society.”

    Mr. Trainer has shown me his fundamental philosophical orientation. It is completely incompatible with mine on the most fundamental levels. Both of ours cannot in the long run coexist; this is the ultimate philosophical/intellectual battle. I continue to fight philosophically and intellectually that philosophical orientation.

    The harsh reality has been from the UN’s creation of the IPCC that the ideological environmentalists (who have dominated the IPCC process) had an ‘a priori’ solution to all their artificially created climate fear-mongering. The IPCC’s preconceived and presumptive solution to their CAGW fear-mongering was anti-capitalism, anti-liberty and, in the final analysis, anti-reason.

    Let the protagonists in the discourse show your philosophical orientation so we can finally probe the real IPCC consensus issue; not the misleading token climate science one.

    John

    • I agree with John.

    • Trainer is conflicted: He recognizes how stupid the IPCC really is, but he wants to go forward any way.
      His obsession that permits him to go forward is so bad he is willing to see the destruction of that upon which he depends to maintain his faith in his obsession….nihilism at its finest.

  15. David L. Hagen

    Ted Trainer

    “In the key Chapter 10 most attention is given to one study which concludes that by 2050 70% of world energy could come from renewables. This study, by Greenpeace, is highly challengeable.” . . .

    I generally agree with Trainer on the numerous weaknesses and fallacies in IPCC’s research and claims.

    “we should transition to full dependence on renewables as soon as possible although this will not be possible in a consumer-capitalist society.”

    Trainer presents a circular argument that rests on his assumptions and does not allow for creative innovation and game changer breakthroughs in renewable or nuclear energy technologies and costs. I encourage readers to not let themselves be bound by self defeating presuppositions.

    US energy use did grow 2.9%/year from 1650 to 1950. (Exponential growth cannot continue “forever”) See: Galactic Scale Energy, Part 2: Can Economic Growth Last?
    In the “nearer” forseeable future, abundant cheap electricity is critically important to raise the developing world out of poverty (regardless cAGW arguments) e.g. See Bill Gates’ TED talk the abundant electricity available from developing Traveling Wave (Nuclear) Reactors to burn existing “waste” uranium. TerraPower (Real TWRs are more complex). Other gamechanger breakthroughs may also be possible.

    • David,
      do you think thorium reactors might be the way to that abundant cheap energy?
      I have not (yet) read about any technical, financial or logistical (or better: non-political or non-ideological) show stoppers for thorium reactors. Are there any?

      • I have not (yet) read about any technical, financial or logistical (or better: non-political or non-ideological) show stoppers for thorium reactors. Are there any?

        If there are, the Chinese will find them first. They’ve apparently committed to development of thorium reactor technology.

      • David L. Hagen

        Wijnand
        I have not studied the thorium cycle in detail. What I have read seems safer than conventional uranium nuclear power with less nuclear “waste”.

        Thorium show stoppers? Emotional reactions & political caution.
        1) A knee-jerk reaction to the Japanese tsunami nuclear power plant failures – see Germany
        2) Fear of Hiroshima, Three Mile island & Chernobyl.
        3) Bureaucratic delays over fear of being fired. Few bureaucrats every get fired for being over cautious.

        For perspective, far more people die from cooking over firewood than from coal fired power, and in turn from nuclear power. The EPA’s new emission rules are forcing coal fired power plants to close which is almost doubling the cost of electricity in Indiana. Far many more lives would be saved if that additional cost were put to providing clean wood stoves than in the EPA justifying its existence by .promulgating ever more costly regulations.

  16. Dr. Curry,

    A fundamental issue with the IPPC Report, and the underlying studies, is that they must forecast global economic patterns 40 years into the future. In order to make a forecast about the extent to which energy production by 2050 will be based on renewables, all of the studies reported in the IPCC Report must incorporate assumptions and forecasts about, inter alia, a variety of macroeconomic items such as national and worldwide interest rates, inflation rates and growth rates. Moreover, when comparing the portion of energy production attributable to renewables with the portion attributable to oil & gas and/or coal, the forecaster must necessarily make assumptions and forecasts for oil prices, gas prices and coal prices over that 40 year period, as well as prices for energy produced from a variety of renewables sources.

    Those assumptions and forecasts are in turn founded on implied assumptions and forecasts about the range and magnitude of technological change for production and consumption of energy. They are also founded on worldwide and national demographic predictions, as to both population and aging. They are additionally founded, as the events of the past several months in the US and the Eurozone show clearly, on implied assumptions and forecasts about continuity and change in major public policy decisions by politicians, regulators and their constituents.

    Hindcasting much shorter range forecasts than 40 years by respected economists shows that the error rate for their forecasts is extraordinarily high, the range of uncertainty is extraordinarily high, and both swamp the forecast itself.

    Just a few illustrations of shore-term economic forecasting demonstrate the point.

    It has been estimated that forecasts of leading economists are wrong about 75% of the time.

    Dan Gardner, in his recent book Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, and You Can Do Better (Dutt6on, 2011)(an only so-so book, by the way), describes some of the efforts to measure the accuracy of economics forecasting.

    “In 1984, The Economist asked sixteen people to make ten-year forecasts of economic growth rates, exchange rates, oil prices, and other staples of economic prognostication. Four of the test subjects were former finance ministers, four were chairmen of multinational companies, four were economics students at Oxford University, and four were, to use the English vernacular, London dustmen. A decade later, The Economist reviewed the forecasts and discovered they were, on average, awful. But some were more awful than others: The dustmen tied the corporate chairmen for first place, while the finance ministers came in last….. The now-defunct magazine Brill’s Content … compared the predictions of famous American pundits with a chimpanzee named Chippy, who made his guesses by choosing among flash cards. Chippy consistently matched or beat the best in the business.”

    Morris describes the track record of US Council of Economics Advisers (the principal economists upon whom the US Government relies) forecasting annual US growth rates over the decade starting in 1997 – it has been astonishingly inaccurate.

    Business Week in December 2007 ran a chart entitled “A Slower but Steady Economy” with forecasts by 54 leading economists – none foresaw the crisis that crystallized just a few months later in 2008.

    In late December 2007, the market interest rate for 3-month London interbank deposits was 5.1313%. No prominent economist or government organization predicted that, today, it would be 0.25550% (or indeed anywhere near that low). The impact of just that interest rate drop on economic forecasts is huge, let alone the associated move to negative growth (a steep recession) in OECD countries.

    That is not the first time we have seen such wide interest rate swings in the relatively recent past – another such dramatic swing occurred between 2000 and 2001. As Taleb points out in The Black Swan:

    “All you need to do is miss one interest rates move, from 6 percent to 1 percent in a longer-term projection (what happened between 2000 and 2001) to have all your subsequent forecasts rendered completely ineffectual in correcting your cumulative track record. What matters is not how often you are right but how large your cumulative errors are.”

    The US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has looked at the accuracy of its own forecasts for the period from January 1976 to January 2004 (available at http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=7680). The report is not easily summarized in this post, but is well worth reading in full. Overall, CBO did comparably when compared with forecasts by the US Administration and Blue Chip leading economists, but the 2-year and 5-year forecasts from all three sources with respect to output, GNP/GDP, interest rates and inflation diverged materially from actual historical results.

    The timing of such events has a significant impact on economic forecasts, not just their magnitude. Those few talking heads who in fact predicted the Great Recession did not generally identify the timing of those events. Given the magic of compounding (particularly for annual national and global growth rates), a difference of a few years in one or more of the predicted changes has a significant effect on the forecast final numbers.

    In light of the foregoing, it may be possible (within a large margin of error) to discern a 40-year direction for energy production and consumption patterns, but the reliability of forecasts about the magnitude is surely open to serious question.

    I hope this is useful.

    Regards,

    MK

    • There is a dimension you missed in your critique. It is quite possible for renewable energy sources to be >70% of our total energy use…
      All we have to do is revert back to an 1850′s style of living…
      Everyone move back the the countryside…
      Forceably…
      At the point of a gun…
      You will not be allowed to live any other way.
      (unless you are one of the politically elite.)

      Think Madame Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” scaled up by a factor of ten.

      • Stephen –

        All we have to do is revert back to an 1850′s style of living…
        Everyone move back the the countryside…
        Forceably…
        At the point of a gun…

        In the US -
        Those who are being “moved” may have their own guns.

        Those who already live in the countryside most certainly do – and would certainly object to the invasion.

      • Stephen Ramsey

        Your forced “return to 1850″ sounds more like Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge

        version of agrarian socialism, forcing urban dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labor projects, toward a goal of “restarting civilization” in “Year Zero.” The combined effects of forced labor, malnutrition, poor medical care and executions resulted in the deaths of approximately 21 percent of the Cambodian population. In all, an estimated 1,700,000–2,500,000 people died under his leadership.

        [Quote from Wiki]

        I’m sure he achieved a reduction in Cambodia’s “carbon footprint” with that approach.

        Max

    • Mark Kantor

      Your analysis is spot on.

      Your point about the predictions made by various groups, including four “London dustmen” was also made by Nassim Taleb, in his book The Black Swan, which Judith has covered on an earlier thread here.

      Taleb’s point was that projections (or predictions) made by experts are usually no better (or even worse) than those made by complete novices.

      He cited two very simple reasons for this: the experts know what they know (which they incorporate meticulously into their predictions) but they do not know what they do not know (and hence ignore its importance).

      In addition, experts will often reject data points, which conflict with what they know must be correct as meaningless outliers – but it is precisely these outliers plus the things they do not know, which cause their predictions to fail.

      Taleb also points out that, by definition, the farther into the future a prediction goes, the more likely it will be totally false, yet forecasters often delude themselves into believing that a longer-term forecast will have a better chance of being correct than a shorter term one.

      In the case of IPCC, we have all three causes for failure.

      In addition to the above causes as cited by Taleb, we also have in the IPCC case the problem of agenda-driven science, as has become evident not only in the cited report of WG3, but also in the reports of WG2 and WG1. This leads to exaggerated or fabricated claims in order to sell the story to support the agenda.

      Max

  17. I found the Trainer report interesting. Again we have a social scientist claiming AGW is a dangerous problem even though the subject is outside his field of expertise. But… When actually analyzing an IPPC document in detail, finds it is full of errors and false claims. This appears to be a great example of the difference between and AGW believer and a skeptic. The skeptic concludes that, once this IPPC document is shown to have serious problems, other IPPC documents should be examined in detail also. The believer simply assumes everything else from the IPPC is still valid without checking. After all, they know in their hearts that humans are destroying the planet so AGW must be part of that.

    • The corruption and fallacies of the IPCC process and its work product will eventually be discovered to be represented in every aspect of its life.
      How many times will people have to make the tired statement, ‘this is a problem of the IPCC/climate scientists where they are completely wrong, but the underlying science is sound”, before admitting that it is an entire waste?

  18. Ted is a politically committed Green Leftist and his perspective is that overconsumption and capitalism are unsustainable. If you do not understand that, you miss the main point of his critique.

    His central point is not that the IPCC compilation report is lacking from the perspective of what most people expect the IPCC to be doing, namely, gathering together studies and summarizing the conclusions of the compiled information for governments and the public to examine.

    His central point is that the IPCC (and its reporting) does not recognize that capitalism and any revision to capitalist consumption and fossil fuel dependency will not work.

    In other words, he is arguing that the IPCC simply doesn’t go nearly far enough in examining or promoting radical sustainability and is kidding itself, along with all the rest of you, that any type of serious energy diversification is possible in a culture that refuses to change its values.

    The last time I checked, most of you were not looking for the IPCC to be political, never mind socialist. If you do not know the political perspective from which Ted does all his social analysis, then you have not understand his critique – except in the most superficial way introduced by Judith Curry.

    His conclusions? The IPCC is not a satisfactory document if you are a radical activist. I think I already knew that. The bizarre delusions of (mostly American) climate change deniers about socialist conspiracies and the IPCC are patently ridiculous and a focus on Ted Trainer serves to highlight that. The IPCC is in fact very mainstream and Leftist critique generally rejects it for just promoting capitalist business as usual.

    Ted’s website:
    http://ssis.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/

    His critique of the IPCC is absolutely not separable from his promotion of radical sustainability.

    • John Vetterling

      Martha,

      Excellent point re: Trainer’s agenda. But I think there is an crucial take-away here. Trainer, and many others, have shown that absent a radical restructuring of the world economies, renewable energy is not sufficent to achieve the GHG lmits that activists are calling for.

      The upshot of this is that if you believe the IPCC projections then you either accept radical economic upheaval or you have to accept adaptation as part of the solution.

      If anyone follows the economic debate this choice, avoidance vs. adaptation, is just as contentious as the warmist/skeptic debate.

    • Ted is a politically committed Green Leftist and his perspective is that overconsumption and capitalism are unsustainable. If you do not understand that, you miss the main point of his critique.

      And Ted seems to miss that the “unsustainable” capitalist system has so far managed to outlive all those who have pronounced it a dying dinosaur. He also seems to miss the fact that those systems dependent on re-making human nature have without exception failed. Someone seems to be in denial.

    • Whatever is his political leaning, his critique shows realism on the significance of system level considerations and tells that the authors of the SRREN report have taken an unrealistically optimistic view on the medium term potential of renewable energy.

      • Hi, Pekka,

        You might want to consider my comment to Gary and Stilgar, below.

        Ted thinks it is unrealistically optimistic, because even with 30% renewables by 2050 (which he doesn’t really challenge, because frankly he knows the literature and knows this is realistic) it will probably require nuclear energy to maintain current overconsumption in the face of peak oil while at the same time reducing emissions to address climate change. And he is against nuclear.

        The details of his perspective and his prescription for change (zero economic growth, small sustainable communities, no nuclear) cannot be separated from his critique and why he thinks the IPCC is unrealistically optimistic.

        To gain even more perspective, consider that Ted would say that Judith Curry and her supporters regularly say things that are far more unrealistic than anything the IPCC has ever said and likely ever would say, about anything.

        I assure you, I know his work and social analysis very well, Pekka. ;-)

    • Martha

      I disagree. Trainer’s ideology is only mentioned, as far as I can tell, to demonstrate that he is not anti-renewable per se. His arguments against the IPCC renewables report was that it was superficial and did not adequately deal with the substantive issues. A good example is the use of averaging wind and wind turbine statistics, a good point that had already been picked up by the John Muir Trust Report, and which Trainer delves into in even greater detail.

      In short he asks the substantive probing questions of renewables that we all should ask. My opposition against the renewables industry is not against the technology itself, but because I understand that the claims made for it (as far as I can tell) far exceed what the technology is capable of, or likely of, actually being able to achieve. I also believe this is done for ideological reasons, AGW provides the rationale for various agendas ( environmentalism, vegetarianism, population concerns, nuclear lobby), but most of these are against the technology most able to decarbonise the economy and so desperately cling to renewables, regardless of their actual merits.

      Finally, any solutions we use must be discussed honestly (the public must not be mislead for the higher cause); should not be mandated through artificial constraints (if we need low carbon then the energy markets should have carbon standards not renewable standards), and; unless Trainer gets his way, any solutions need to be affordable.

      • Well then we will have to agree to disagree. :-)
        See my comment to Stilgar, below.

        Ted is not remotely anti-renewables, actually, and has pushed for renewables for decades. ;-)

        Renewables make a lot of sense in some regions, when you think globally and geographically, and not so much in others. In the U.S. overall, 30% is agreed by the majority of analysts to be completely realistic by 2050. There is a lot of disagreement by those in the groups you identify as well as among economists and technologists about whether nuclear is needed overall to get us there. I’m trying to remain open but tend to think no, because of costs and risks. My judgement is that we have other and better options.

        Ted is very possibly correct that the required reduction of GHG’s cannot be done without nuclear. He is completely anti-nuclear and also thinks we have reached peak oil. The fact that he believes a significant transition from fossil fuel dependence is not possible without nuclear, and is completely against nuclear, and thinks we are pretty much out of oil, suggests the radicality of his alternative vision of the future.

        cheers and thanks for talking with me

      • I didn’t say Ted was anti-renewables, I understand his perspective there, even though it is opposite to my own.

        Your initial criticism appear to me to be basically ad hominem: you can’t trust trainer because ideologically he believes the economic growth model of free markets is unsustainable, and this is what his real argument is.

        Except his real arguments were substantive, and you have not really tried to counter any of them, not in your reply to me or Stilgar: e.g. you say “In the U.S. overall, 30% is agreed by the majority of analysts to be completely realistic by 2050.”, this is exactly the kind of sloppy, average-everything, minimise problems nonsense that passes for debate on this subject. Did you not read what Trainer said, 30% probably can’t be achieved, 20% might be, but the costs are horrific. Do you understand the problems (constant variability, intermittency, non-dispatchable, curtailment, prolonged inactivity, marginal capacity credit, conventional plant cycling)? If you do then you know that they are considerable and the technologies are not economic; do you just hope the problems will go away? Is this just grand wishful thinking?

        As far as I’m aware, wind energy, for on grid energy production, is not economic, and is not satisfactory from an engineering perspective (i.e. meet the requirements of the national grid systems for supply–cannot operate on the power markets without being mandated via legislation; to be clear: no grid would take practically any amount of wind power if the government didn’t make them). If true (and everything I’ve read: SEWTHA, Bentek when more became less, endless BERR reports, Muir Trust etc., indicates it is) then this is a serious issue that should be openly debated. Instead the issue is constantly brushed off and glossed over.

        I think this is done for political reasons, a lot is invested politically in decarbonisation, but most of the grass roots support (the likes of Monbiot and Lynas aside, who are still on the fringe in their movements) is vehemently opposed, renewables therefore are the answer (and to a lesser extent CSS), even though the engineering problems with both are basically unsolved, and look on current form to remain so for the foreseeable future.

        My frustration on this is the same as Trainer’s even though our goals are diametrically opposed. If we are to solve complex (wicked) problems, we need to fully understand them. And the public, who fund these, need to know what the issues are, so that we all make informed choices; and after all they fund them through taxes or bills. It is morally wrong to do otherwise, and this deliberate misleading of public is what is being indulged in by the renewables lobby, green advocates, most politicians, and the IPCC report in question.

    • Seconding disagreement with Martha, I think the bits of analysis or the report are to a large extent independent of ideology. Heck, green lefties and fire-breathing righties can converge on criticisms of the report, though for different reasons.

    • Actually, I took his critique as an admonishment of the IPCC to get things right.

      If you realize that lying about the potential of renewable technology will only come back to bite you in the near future, the better path is to tell the truth (or at the very least, tell lies that are not so easy to disprove).

      His critique is not about the destination, it is how to get there. It doesn’t matter to the article if his perferred route takes us through a government restructuring, he realizes that if the IPCC promotes false information, it will only make the route he perfers more difficult (and any other route as well).

      • He does not say they are lying, he says it is an unsatisfactory document and explains why, from his perspective. Learn to avoid arguing what no one has said. His criticism is states as follows:

        “The Report reinforces the dominant faith that renewable energy can save us and there is no need to question the commitment to affluent living standards and the pursuit of limitless economic growth. In my opinion that belief is seriously mistaken and this report will make it less likely that attention will be given to a sound analysis of our situation and what to do about it.”

        “What the IPCC actually concludes is that more than half the studies reviewed project that renewables could provide more than 27% of energy in 2050”

        I think it is obvious that the IPCC conclusion does not equal ‘renewable energy will save us’ and that Ted took some license with words. The IPCC is putting forward renewable energy as one strategy among many — two others being increasing efficiencies and lowering emissions. Most economic and technological analysts outside the IPCC agree that about 30% is realistic, and that is what the report suggests, and Ted is well aware of this and is not seriously disputing it.

        He sees the IPCC realistically and quite frankly, doesn’t especially care about it or look to it to lead any more than he cares about any mainstream organization. Do you understand? It is the same critique he would make of many other organizations that are part of the current social organization. The point of his radical critique is to get to the root of the problem and to provide to those without an analysis with enough of a challenge to their thinking to effect some kind of correction to the problem and positive change. His view of the root of the problem is what I explained to you, above. It is THE POINT, for him, if you understood anything you read. As well it should be, when it has been his life’s work and he is a pioneer of radical sustainability and doesn’t pretend otherwise.

    • People who are committed to freedom and are historically literate recognize that the worst cases of large scale pollution and environmental destruction come from socialist countries.

    • Martha
      What is the value or some paper that “projects or guesses” what percentage of power will come from renewable energy in 2050? Renewable energy will be generally adopted when it is economically viable. Until it is economically viable on a long term basis it will not be adopted. No paper/study, or volume of papers will change the simple truth.

  19. Re: Martha at August 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm:
    Socialism has the characteristic of owning the means of production, whether by purchase or seizure (nationalization). An offspring of that political theory substitutes “controlling” in place of “owning”. If 70% of the energy sources (fossil fuels in the U.S.) is controlled by the politicians, it does not matter what one calls it. It is a duck. Read on:

    DSA USA. 2008. Toward An Economic Justice Agenda. Political. Democratic Left. May. http://www.dsausa.org/pdf/eja_may2008.pdf

    Treat The Global Environment as the Ultimate Public Good (Page 11)

    “A healthy environment, the ultimate public good, is gravely threatened by a system that rewards insatiable corporate greed. The threat to the planet due to carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels will be a major challenge facing humanity in the 21st century.

    “We believe that it is possible to sustain economic development in the developing world while protecting natural resources and controlling the burning of fossil fuels. While it is true that development increases per-capita energy use, massive evidence shows that birth rates decline as societies develop industrially. Therefore, it would be self-defeating to attempt to protect the world’s environment by keeping in place the enormous gap in the standard of living between the global north and the global south.

    “The United States is both the world’s largest producer of CO2 emissions and—at least among developed nations—the most inefficient consumer of energy. Therefore, the responsibility for dealing with this crisis falls on U.S citizens more than any others. Improvements in public transportation and regional planning can not only dramatically reduce energy waste, commuting time, and stress but also begin to reverse the race and class segregation characteristic of suburban sprawl. As a start, we need massive programs for research and development of renewable energy resources, public transportation, and retrofitting of buildings for energy conservation now. The kind of changes that would reduce U.S. per capita energy consumption, even to European levels, will require a level of domestic mobilization not seen since World War II. The high-wage jobs that would be thus created would not be exportable and would renew the possibility of a confident, upwardly mobile industrial working class.

    “A transformed U.S would provide a quality of life equal or superior to what we have now.”

    The challenge of climate change is an economic, scientific, and labor issue much more than a traditional environmental issue. Therefore, we advocate that the labor movement take the lead in pushing Congress to enact a massive program of public investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as proposed by the Apollo Alliance, which sees clean energy and more jobs as reinforcing each other.

    “Fresh water and biodiversity are also renewable but finite resources being exploited unsustainably. The privatization of water, another essential public good, is a critical issue in much of the world and needs to be resisted and reversed.

    “In short, we need a global Marshall Plan for sustainable development to reverse the race to the bottom in wages, taxation, health, and environmental regulation. It can be funded by a global punitive “Tobin tax” on speculative transfers of funds and currency in and out of the financial and stock markets of developing nations.”

  20. Dr. Curry:
    An expensive solution is a wrong solution even though it is “green.” In my opinion, those politically motivated and economically unjustified sustainable projects contributed to the recession. IPCC should not propose solutions if they do not have the numbers to justify their implementations, and they do not have the numbers. For there is so much we do not know about the climate-IPCC are putting the cart before the horse.

  21. David L. Hagen

    The IPCC reviews also suffer from “publish or perish”. e.g. William Briggs posts: Are Scientific Papers Becoming Worse?

    “retractions by journals have gone from near none ten years ago to well over 300 the past two years. . . .Half of what earns a professor tenure is raw paper count. Quality is important, but only at the top schools. At most places, the only determination is weight: the more papers the better. Considering that most professors in the sciences have only one or maybe two good ideas in their entire lives, yet they must publish half a dozen or more papers a year, it is no surprise that much of which makes its way into print is of no or little value. . . .Among the race of people are liars, cheats, thieves, slobs, connivers, enthusiasts, zealots. And scientists, you may be surprised to learn, are people. . . .The only way to reduce fraud and mistakes are to reduce the number of papers. And since paper counting will never go away, the only way to reduce the number of papers is to reduce the number of professors.”

    • Dear David:
      This is very interesting and explains the source of errors in IPCC reports. I cannot imagine that precipitation has changed by 40% to 60% in many parts of the world during the last century, which according to the IPCC has happened. This is a huge error, so clear, and farmers around the world will disagree with IPCC. It appears that this error is a result of published papers that are not worth the ink in which they are typed. Precipitation has been decreasing by barely noticeable amounts instead.

  22. I really loved the Google report on renewable energy innovation. They just expect hypothetical breakthrough, cost-cutting innovations to happen and calculate how much they would save money.

    “The analysis assumes aggressive hypothetical cost breakthroughs (BT) in clean power generation, grid storage, electric vehicle, and natural gas technologies and compares them to Business as Usual (BAU) scenarios modeled to 2030 and 2050.”
    http://www.google.org/energyinnovation/The_Impact_of_Clean_Energy_Innovation.pdf

  23. Judith Curry

    My comments:

    The critique of the IPCC WG3 Report on Renewable Energy by Ted Trainer is very clear, well-referenced and compelling.

    Earlier, I had gone through one of the reports he cites (by WWF) and found it to be full of gaping holes and gross exaggerations. This plan purports to cut GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 by replacing fossil fuel fired power plants with renewable sources.

    It turns out that, once the gas-fired standby facilities are included to cover the ~70% period of outage with wind and solar, implementing the WWF plan would reduce global temperature in 2100 by 0.6°C as compared to the IPCC business as usual “scenario B1”, i.e. without climate initiatives, with atmospheric CO2 continuing to increase at the current exponential growth rate to around 580 ppmv by 2100 and with world population peaking at around 9 billion.

    The estimated total added investment cost to achieve this theoretical reduction in warming of 0.6°C is $12.7 trillion.

    That WWF, as an activist lobby group, could publish something so blatantly unrealistic and one-sided is no surprise, but it is alarming that IPCC, supposedly the “gold standard” taxpayer-funded experts on climate, its impacts and possible mitigation steps, could publish this same sort of misinformation, without first doing exhaustive due diligence, apparently in order to deceive policymakers and the general public.

    Hats off to Ted Trainer for exposing this.

    The fact that he is not a “climate denier” makes his critique of yet another case of IPCC duplicity even more alarming..

    Max

  24. The question: “is the postulation of catastrophic AGW a hoax or not?” is not part of Ted Trainer’s study. He even defers to IPCC on the basic question of whether or not humans are causing a significant change in our planet’s climate.

    But, despite this, he criticizes the basic dishonesty of the WG3 report.

    It was the same last year, when basic misrepresentations were found in the WG2 report. Critics were quick to add then that these did not in any way compromise the validity of the underlying climate science in the WG1 report.

    However, there have been several reports summarizing the exaggerations, distortions and misrepresentations in WG1. One of the most concise and compelling of these was put together at a now-defunct thread on Climate Audit and summarized by PaulM:
    http://sites.google.com/site/globalwarmingquestions/ipcc

    Max

  25. Harold, there may be better references out there. I looked at this topic several years ago now and haven’t revisited it. I don’t see wind as a viable alternative myself even if it were cost effective. People seem to have this vision of the midwest covered with them supplying power to the country. That’s just a pipedream of someone that doesn’t live there. The problem is the noise, the birds, the appearance, the power lines, epilespsy, the sprodicity. I am aware there are arguments over all of these but if your only intent is to maintain the employment of lawyers it will start long before they have any lawsuits over climate filed.

  26. “The Report reinforces the dominant faith that renewable energy can save us and there is no need to question the commitment to affluent living standards and the pursuit of limitless economic growth.”
    It’s entirely possible that this is intentional on the part of the IPCC. Nobody is going to vote to become poor, so you will only get adoption of renewable alternatives by lying to people- pretending that windmills work fine and we only “lack the political will” to go all-renewable.
    Note that this has been the sticking point for “action” for the last 20 years and it’s no wonder there hasn’t been any action.
    Science could be very important in this debate- is it truly impossible to run a modern economy off of something other than coal? Hmmm. Anyone from France want to take that question?

  27. There are a number of other reasons to question the validity – and “authority” of this particular IPCC report. Here are two of them …

    Shub Niggurath has documented the rather dubious (if not entirely false) claims of Edenhoffer in his responses to the original Teske controversy. See: Greenpeace in the IPCC: the Edenhofer Excuse

    This far from glittering “gold standard” report also suffers from the falsity of the IPCC’s PR hype which included “approved by government representatives from 194 nations”.

    This claim is not sustainable – by the IPCC’s very own “principles” (and/or “rules”) and attendance record (such as it is). I don’t dispute that “194 governments” may have been invited to the May meeting at which the SPM was “approved” (and the underlying actual SRREN report “accepted”). But by the IPCC’s own numbers, more than 50% of the invitees declined the invitation! For details, pls see:
    Of IPCC reports … and press releases in which they “hide the declines”

  28. Love the ritual obeisance.
    Necessary to get published?

  29. I urge everyone to look at the research of Severin Borenstein, a committed CAGWer and the head of the U.C. Berkeley Energy Institute on renewables and their economic potential. Two of his conclusions are 1) that solar PV is (and will be for the foreseeable future) completely impractical even after taking account of its peak-load matching in warm climates, and 2) that renewable costs in general will have to fall much further than current coal-power prices to be competitive, because current coal prices are well above marginal extraction cost and will fall if carbon taxes are applied.

  30. Although not probable, never say it CAN’T HAPPEN. How big of a battery would you need if it’s dead calm all night? NO WIND, NO SUN for 10 hours?

    • Might I suggest you find out what happens at Uluru (? spelling); Ayers Rock in Australia. For decades the electricity has been provided by solar cells on the roofs of the buildings, with a huge building filled with lead acid batteries to store the power.

      • It’s achievable on a small-scale, but it doesn’t scale up very well

      • I agree 100%. Storage of electricity on a large scale is simply impractical at the present time. That is why wind and sun will not be economical until some sort of huge practical storage system is available. For some reason that I have not been able to find out, pumped storage simply is not practical. But I was trying to answer the question of what does it actually take to solve the problem. So far as I am aware, Uluru is the largest such system that has been installed and used over a period of decades.

      • Jim, some notes on pumped storage

        In SEWTHA, David MacKay calculated that if the UK had 33GW of wind nameplate capacity (approx. third of total nameplate capacity), then to cope with a lull of 5 days, historically not uncommon–see Muir Trust report, then to cover the average capacity of 10GW we would need to be able to store 1200 GWh. The UK has 4 pumped storage facilities built around various mountain lakes, these are able to store 30 GWh, about 3 hours, far short of the 5 days we are looking for. MacKay then tries to work out what other natural lakes, Scottish lochs, what not, that we might be able to take advantage of, and comes up with a figure of 400 GWh in a further 10 establishments. So with cost not being a constraint (this is the case through all of SEWTHA, he just looks at numbers, and they are noddy numbers used to illustrate the scale of the issue), we still can’t cover a 5 day lull of caused by the loss of a sixth of our required capacity (UK needs 60 GW), at god knows what costs (hundreds of billions at least), and a substantial industrialisation of our countryside.

        MacKay is also in favour of renewables.

      • The diea of turning the lakes of an entire region into storage units for electricity sounds like a terrible idea environmentally. To put the Loch complex of Scotland and other lakes of Brtain into a power grid backup system reeks of high costs, low benefits and many unintended consequences.
        Think of how randomly vulnerable this would put the shorelines, the water quality, etc. Think of what would happpen if the wind outage happened during low water availability due to a periodic drought.
        this ia rube godlberg contraption on a massive scale.

      • Gary, Here in Ontario, Canada, the situation is entirely different. We generate a significant proportion of our electric needs by hydro-electric. There are several rivers with two or more hydro dams, with storage lakes in between. We routinely use pumped storage at Niagara, when they “turn off” the falls at night as there are no tourists, and store the energy in a huge lake.

        We are spending 16 billion dollars on an effort to get rid of our coal fired stations, using wind and solar in place of coal, yet there is not one single project anywhere to use pumped storage. The situation in Ontario would seem to be ideal for pumped storage, yet we are not even contemplating it. That is the condrum I have been unable to find the answer to..

  31. Kent Draper, this http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/ answers your question. It considers the size and cost of energy storage needed to power the Australian National Electricity Market with solar power alone. It is intentionally a limit analysis to illustrate the size and cost involved. Google “Solar Power Realities”.

    • Thanks Peter, a good read, especially the second to last paragraph. When I see the area used by solar and wind, look at the cost, it is just astounding that folks don’t jump on nuclear power. I just don’t get it. Probably never will.

  32. The distributor of power in Britain, National Grid, has published a report on their expectations for implementing the “Gone Green” scenario – increasing wind power from the current 3% to 30% by 2020. This scenario would be the first step in getting a majority of electric power from renewables by 2050. The report was sent out for review and comments from all of the companies that provide power to National Grid for distribution. The report is useful because it comes from an organization that is responsible for implementing this green vision while keeping their customers happy. Aince National Grid is highly regulated by its political supervisors, the report avoids certain subjects, including cost and projected % reduction in CO2 emissions. http://www.nationalgrid.com/NR/rdonlyres/32879A26-D6F2-4D82-9441-40FB2B0E2E0C/39517/Operatingin2020Consulation1.pdf

    Using wind power doesn’t automatically mean reducing CO2 emissions, because distributors need to have “spinning” reserve available to handle fluctuations output from wind farms. National Grid is planning to more than double their reserve power supply by 2020 (Figure 6, p29), but they still expect power to be less reliable than it is now. The report discusses National Grid’s ability to predict the amount of power they will obtain from wind farms 4 hours in the future (the amount of time it takes to bring reserve fossil fuel plants online?). The typical error (root-mean-square) in predicting output is 10% of nameplate capacity (5.17 on page 18). Assuming it is appropriate to treat this error as one standard deviation of a normal distribution and that average output is about 30% of nameplate capacity, National Grid will be dealing with the following situation in 2020: a) 1/6 of the days (two months a year), 10% (1/3 of 30%) of expected total power won’t be available due to unexpectedly poor wind. Fossil fuel plants will presumably be running in reserve mode to cover this contingency. b) 2.5% of the time (9 days a year), 20% of expected total power won’t be available due to unexpectedly weak wind. Furthermore, Figure 10 of the report (page 35) shows the historical record of wind strength on the days of peak demand (during the winter). Britain can’t count on any wind power being available during these periods of peak demand.

    • Frank, here in Northern California, we have interesting weather. We live in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. I can remember spans of time in the fall, winter and spring where the valley is socked in by fog. There is no wind. It has lasted for months at a time. No sun, no wind. It gets so depressing that folks go up to the mountains above 2000, 3000 ft just to see the sun. I doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. They don’t and won’t make batteries that big. Can you imagine the size of the switchgear required to convert that much dc to 3phase ac?

  33. Frank,

    You may be interested in “CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications: http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/

    It suggests the emissions avoided by wind generation, per MWh of wind generation, decreases as the proportion of generation by wind increases. At 20% wind penetration, wind generation may abate as little as 4% of the emissions from the energy displaced by wind generation. At that rate, the marginal cost of CO2 abatement would be $2,500 per tonne. A carbon tax can never reach that level so the only way to make wind viable is to continue to mandate it.

    • Peter Lang
      “A carbon tax can never reach that level so the only way to make wind viable is to continue to mandate it”
      Peter, you are kidding right? If you mandate it, it IS a tax :) Where do you think the mandate money comes from??????? The government doesn’t have money of their own.

  34. Judith Curry
    I love it,.. this great blog, thank you

    [The critique of the IPCC WG3 Report on Renewable Energy by Ted Trainer is very clear, well-referenced and compelling.]

    my only and last comment (I’m not a climatologist)

    However, if I would stick to small scale technology to replace fossil fuel power plants, and nucs, I would be pessimistic too – but there is hope as I found news about solar power plants in Spain. Egypt and California on big scale SPP
    a few facts you might be interested in
    Link: Parabolic Trough Power Plants
    http://www.solarmillennium.de/english/technology/parabolic-trough-power-plants/index.html

  35. The thread over at Brave New Climate has taken an interesting turn. http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/08/09/ipcc-renewables-critique/

    It’s now about whether the IPCC is competent; whether as an expert, it fulfilled its duty to the public by considering and carefully evaluating all the evidence.

    Dr Trainer said:” they have only reported on, and apparently endorsed, what a selection of others have said. They have not critically examined what those others have said in a process intended to determine who’s right.”

    In legal terms this is incompetent expert behaviour. But it is consistent with the IAC’s findings on AR4. See http://tome22.info/IAC-Report/IAC-Report-Annotated.html#IS18 and http://tome22.info/IAC-Report/IAC-Report-Overview-Short.html

    This latest report is evidence that the IPCC has not changed, has not really adopted measures which would fulfil the recommendations made by the IAC. I’m not sure if the IPCC understands that this incompetent behaviour undermines their claim to be expert.

  36. Richard Saumarez

    I understand that during the summer, the US energy utilities have a considerable load placed on them by air-conditioners.

    It is interesting to calculate the area of solar PV panel required to run an air-conditioner, since this is surely a simple and very useful application of renewable energy. The answer suggests why the practice is not widespread and that there are some problems with the adoption of renewable energy.

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