Net-Zero Targets: Sustainable Future or CO2 Obsession Driven Dead-end?

by Balázs M. Fekete

For over three decades, the reduction of CO2 emission was the primary motivation for promoting the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. Concerns about the inevitable exhaustion of fossil fuels were considered particularly during energy crises, but these concerns died out quickly as discoveries of new fossil fuel reserves such as the shale revolution in the US that appeared to secure energy supplies.

An under-appreciated paper by Murphy et al. (1) offers very strong arguments that the energy transition is a must that has to happen in a short time. Anyone looking at Figure 1 from this paper should be more concerned about running out of fossil fuels than climate change. It is almost certain that the spike on Figure 1 will only last for a few centuries irrespective of the exact location of the star, and fossil fuel era will be only a fraction of the history of human civilizations. This period will not last long enough to deserve the proposed anthropocene[1] designation. The industrial era might rightfully be called a geological event that triggers post-anthropocene, but by no means will it last long enough to qualify as geological age or epoch.

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Murphy et al. (1) demonstrates vividly how short the energy transition has to be via a seemingly absurd calculation based on the modest 2.4% annual growth rate () of energy consumption (originally observed in the US that the global energy consumption follows now). This growth rate conveniently corresponds to a 10-fold increase per century.

On a similar basis, a crude estimate of the declining limp of Figure 1 might be established by considering present day carbon concentration as a “fuel gauge”. If the total amount of fossil fuel buried under ground is proportional to the difference in atmospheric CO2 concentration at the time when fossil fuel formation started 500 millions years ago:  (17) and the pre-industrial era:  then the contemporary  carbon concentration suggests that the fossil fuels burned so far is  of the total reserves. The remaining 92% will be exhausted in  if the energy consumption continues to grow at the present rate.

The peak on Figure 1 only started two or three generations ago when the grandparents of the baby boom generation were born and chances are that our grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) will live in the declining limp of the peak. The energy transition to sustainable energy sources solves climate change as a byproduct; by contrast, focusing on CO2 emission likely leads to accepting energy transition “compromises” that do only harm in the long run.

The solutions being advocated for the energy transition are i) reduced use of energy and ii) replacing fossil fuels with renewables. These became the primary tools that policy makers adopted in climate treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol[2] and Paris Agreement[3]. In reality, the Kyoto Protocol was based on the assumption that the “climate crisis” can be avoided by the developed nations cutting back some emissions and the developing nations remaining poor, as shown by “Some back of the envelop calculation” posted on Roger Pielke Sr.’s now defunct blog[4].

The rapid rise of energy consumption in emerging economies has led to the fading emphasis on reducing the use of energy. The energy transition now is primarily pushed forward via “net-zero” CO2 emission targets with unspecified penetration level of renewable sources. The net-zero targets don’t mean to eliminate the use of fossil fuels entirely. Instead, the remaining fossil fuel consumption is expected to be offset via some form of carbon sequestration.

After more than three decades of investment in renewables, there are few papers in the scientific literature demonstrating how modern economies can rely entirely on renewable energy resources, e.g. the publications of Mark Jacobson and his team from Stanford University (5, 7, 9, 10) that received harsh criticism (6).

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1. Renewable energy sources

Advocates of renewable energy resources emphasize the apparent abundance of renewable energy emanating from the Sun, while neglecting the energy density reaching the Earth’s surface. Unsurprisingly, solar energy trails behind all other forms of renewable energy resource except geothermal (Figure 2). An often overlooked fact is that biomass is the largest segment of the renewable contribution satisfying energy consumption, and low-tech direct burning of wood is on par with heavily subsidized biofuels. This is even more pronounced in global energy consumption where the largest portion of the “renewable portfolio” comes from burning plant materials and animal waste.

If collecting solar energy was as easy as renewable advocates suggest, one has to wonder why direct solar energy has such a low share. Solar panels with their rapidly dropping prices should be the largest segment in renewable energy and yet it was wind power that bypassed hydro-power in recent years and occupies second place in renewable energy sources behind biomass.

Energy density clearly matters, and the more concentrated wind and hydro-power are still economically more feasible than harvesting the more abundant solar energy. Even, “the low-cost solution to 100% renewable energy” in the US by Jacobson et al. (11) envisions more energy coming from onshore and offshore wind (43,509TWhr yr-1) than from various forms of direct solar energy sources (39,901TWhr yr-1) such as rooftop and utility photovoltaic and concentrated solar.

Renewable energy proponents also emphasize that modern solar and wind turbines produce electricity directly, leaving out the energy and assuming that the electrification of heating will allow producing more heat than the consumed energy via the utilization of heat pumps. As an example, an earlier paper from Jacobson et al. (5) anticipated that global end-user energy consumption (excluding the losses during production and transmission) is projected to reach 16.92 TW by 2050 would stay at 11.47TW as a result of transitioning to renewable energy.

1.1. Stock vs. flux limited resources

The primary challenge in relying on renewable energy sources is aligning consumption with the availability of intermittent energy fluxes. The distinction between stock vs. flux limited resources was first proposed with respect to water resources (2), but it is applicable to other resources including energy. Relying on flux limited resources consumed within the flux limits are clearly the pathways to sustainability defined as “a form of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (3), but stock limited resources serve both as a source and storage.

Fossil fuels formed over hundreds of million years offer the inherent flexibility of allowing consumption as needed, Flux limited resources necessitates the alignment of the consumption with their availability unless supplemental storage is available. Surprisingly few scientific papers have attempted to address this alignment that is so critical for relying on intermittent energy sources such as solar or wind that are envisioned as the primary energy sources in a sustainable future.

1.2. Storage requirement for providing energy from solar or wind exclusively

A recently published paper by Fekete et al. (4) addresses the storage requirement for relying on solar or wind power only. This paper considered the seasonal and inter-annual variability of solar and wind by analyzing solar radiation and wind speed data averaged over the conterminous United States (Figure 3) vs. twelve selected states on the East Coast. A frequently repeated argument for neglecting the intermittency of renewables is that even if the Sun is not shining or the wind not blowing at a particular location and moment, the Sun is shining or the wind is blowing elsewhere so it is only a matter of establishing the necessary connectivity.

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Firstly, if the Sun was always shining and the wind was always blowing somewhere, then spatially averaged solar radiation and wind speed (Figure 3) would balance out to a relatively constant value over time for large enough regions. The conterminous United States is clearly not large enough, because solar radiation and wind speed vary substantially both seasonally and inter-annually (Figure 3). Solar radiation in particular has strong seasonality that should surprise-nobody living at higher latitudes. Without going into details discussed in Fekete et al. (4), the seasonality of solar and wind in the selected states are not very different from the CONUS-wide average. Therefore, the expansion of the electric grid (“Upgrade our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy across the country and deploy cutting-edge energy technology to achieve a zero-emissions future”) — that is one of the key objectives listed in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law[5] — will have little or no impact on addressing intermittency.

An “entertaining” element of the green agenda is the obvious contradictions in the advocated solutions. Green activists often view renewable energy as a means to reduce dependency on large-scale engineered infrastructures like the electric grid and suggest that renewables will allow communities to become more resilient and independent by disconnecting from the electric grid and live on “smart grids”. One has to ask, if autonomous “smart grids” were so “resilient”, then what is the purpose of the multi-billion dollar investment in long-distance grid connectivity?

In order to translate the seasonal and the inter-annual variability of solar radiation and wind speed, Fekete et al. (4) applied a modified surplus/deficit calculation taught to water engineers to size reservoirs for meeting water demand when the water resources vary. The simple surplus/deficit calculations are akin to accounting that any responsible person would carry out to align spending with income. Surplus/deficit calculations in Fekete et al. (4) were modified to incorporate factors to represent energy losses during sending the excess power to storage, the decay of the stored energy and the energy losses during retrieval via a) recharge loss, b) decay and c) a discharge loss coefficients.

The computations (Figure 4) were carried out in normalized terms so the resulting storage estimates can be interpreted as the fraction of the annual energy consumption that needs to be stored. The daily time series of solar radiation and wind speed data were translated to daily load factor by linearly scaling between starting and plateauing thresholds. The algorithm was developed for normalized energy consumption where the time varying consumption values are divided by their long-term means. The state level data from US Energy Information Agency[6] provide monthly consumption only for the electricity sector that often differs significantly from the seasonal variations of other forms of energy consumptions. Since, the seasonal variations of the energy consumptions are relatively small (deviates only by 10-15% of the annual average), the paper ultimately applied constant energy consumption.

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Figure 4 shows the daily cumulative energy deficit (blue line) arising from the power shortage from solar or wind that is depleted when excess power is available from these sources. The highest deficit during the analyzed period (1980-2019) is the energy storage capacity needed to weather out the highest supply deficit. The storage simulation on the same graph (red line on Figure 4) shows the state (in percent) of the storage assuming that the storage initially is filled up completely and depleted regularly during periods of energy deficit and restored when excess power is available from solar or wind.

The modified deficit calculation incorporated an excess capacity factor (besides the various coefficient expressing energy losses) to ensure that the energy demand is meet even in those years where the availability of the solar and wind resources is the lowest. As a result, the computation provided estimates of the excess capacity factor and the energy storage requirement as a percent of the annual energy use (Table 1).

Based on the excess capacity factor, solar radiation is more steady inter-annually and has less year-to-year variability than wind speeds. While the excess capacity factor of solar energy is lower for the CONUS than the selected states, the excess capacity factor of wind energy is actually higher for CONUS than many of the states on the East coast. Based on these results, a nationwide grid might help to balance out inter-annual variability of solar energy, but some of the East coast states actually have more steady wind resources than the national average. The energy storage capacity needed to balance out the seasonal variability is marginally lower over CONUS than the selected states, so a national grid will have only make a modest contribution to alleviate seasonal power shortages from both solar and wind.

The storage capacity needed to align power generation from solar or wind is around 25% of the annual energy consumption, which is significantly higher than the few hourly or no energy storage factored in into typical life-cycle analysis comparing renewable and non-renewable energy sources (12, 13). In the absence of energy storage technology that can store several months worth of energy, one has to conclude that all studies suggesting that solar or wind are price competitive with other forms of energy should be retracted, since without storage neither could replace any other forms of energy that can deliver power on demand that the energy industry calls dispatchable.

2. Lessons learned from the peer reviews

Fekete et al. (4) undeniably undermines the green agenda promoting renewable energy sources (primarily solar and wind) as the primary backbone of the energy transition to a sustainable future, therefore it received mixed responses from reviewers.

One of the reviewers stated that “The manuscript contains fundamental errors that cannot be rectified through author revisions” without venturing into any details. In the rebuttal, the authors of Fekete et al. (4) pointed out that making unsupported statements is unscientific, unjust and unethical, since presenting argument is a vital element of scientific debate and reviewers are not entitled to make ex cathedra statements.

Fortunately, another reviewer found the paper “a timely research work; both clear and readable, and is an excellent contribution to knowledge in the related field.

Besides the two poles of the reviewer responses, the authors received numerous supporting and objecting comments from other reviewers during the two rounds of evaluations. The integrity of the handling editor and the Frontiers in Environmental Sciences editorial staff deserve recognition for not only ignoring the rejection of objecting reviewer, but removing the inappropriate review entirely from their on-line review managing system.

2.1. Literature review

One of the reviewers criticized the paper for the lack of references to the “plethora of work” related to integrating renewables to the current energy systems and transitioning to a sustainable energy future. The reviewer provided ORCID links to five authors. In preparation for the rebuttal, the authors of Fekete et al. (4) rolled up their sleeves, downloaded and skimmed all the papers that the reviewer recommended. While the 360+ paper might not necessary represent the full spectrum of relevant papers, but a few patterns emerged:

  1. The inter-annual and seasonal variations were rarely studied.
  2. The vast majority of the studies were limited to diurnal and minute-by-minute variations.
  3. The publications only investigated the use of few hourly storage capacities.
  4. The primary sustainability metric was reducing CO2 emissions.
  5. Most of the publications were limited to low renewable penetration.
  6. No publication attempted to address complete decarbonization.
  7. Even the most ambitious “deep decarbonization” scenarios stopped at 25-50% renewable contributions that was considered “high renewable penetration”.

One paper went as far as stating:

“Many studies suggest that large (>50%) CO2 emission reductions will not be possible without carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)” (14, 15).

This statement is remarkable and means nothing less than the admission that the transition to renewable is unsustainable since they will always require a sizable portion of energy to come for non-renewable resources. If this view is widely held by those studying the transition to renewable energy sources, then one has to wonder why they are not more vocal and alarm the public that the current net-zero goals will lead to a dead end.

Most of the reviewed papers assumed that solar and wind will be always supplemented by some form of “firm generation capacity”, which is the obfuscated name of using fossil fuels complemented with “carbon capture and sequestration”.

2.2. Energy units

Reviewers commented on expressing the annual energy consumption in power units (e.g. W, kW, MW, GW, etc.) while the industrial practice is to use energy units (Wh, kWh, MWh, GWh etc.). Fekete et al. (4) used these energy units but properly added a hidden (yr-1) dimension expressing that the proper expression would consider annual energy use as a rate of energy consumption. The authors of the Fekete et al. (4) are not alone and the late Sir David McKay (physicist and former adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change) expressed the same critique in his book (16).

The misuse of energy vs. power unit is highly visible when one considers how renewable energy facilities are reported. For instance the name plate capacity of the Tinton Fall solar farm is given as 19.88[MW] and the annual expected power generation is reported as 26,652 MWh yr-1. Expressing the expected annual production in power unit as 3[MW] makes it easier to compute 15% capacity factor even without calculator for those of us who otherwise would need one for dividing by 8760 hr yr-1.

Oddly enough, energy storage in the relevant literature is often expressed in power units (MW, GW) and only mention in the side notes that the storage facility sustains that power only for several hours.

3. Conclusion

Intermittent energy sources such as solar and wind will not be able to replace the firm (dispatchable) power generation from fossil fuels without massive energy storage on the order of several months worth of energy consumption. In the absence of such energy storage technology, one has to conclude that renewables are not viable alternative to fossil fuels. Only nuclear energy is a viable “stock limited” resource where the stocks are much larger than the jack pot from fossil fuels.


  1. T. W. Murphy, D. J. Murphy, T. F. Love, M. L. A. LeHew, B. J. McCall, Modernity is incompatible with planetary limits: Developing a PLAN for the future. Energy Research & Social Science 81, 102239 (2021).
    2. P. H. Gleick, M. Palaniappan, Peak water limits to freshwater withdrawal and use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107, 11155–11162 (2010).
    3. G. H. Brundtland, Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (Oxford University Press, 1987).
    4. B. M. Fekete, M. Bacskó, J. Zhang, M. Chen, Storage requirements to mitigate intermittent renewable energy sources: analysis for the US Northeast. Front. Environ. Sci. 11, 1076830 (2023).
    5. M. Z. Jacobson, M. A. Delucchi, Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials. Energy Policy 39, 1154–1169 (2011).
    6. C. T. Clack, et al., Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201610381 (2017).
    7. M. Z. Jacobson, et al., 100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States. Energy Environ. Sci. 8, 2093–2117 (2015).
    8. T. W. Murphy, Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet (2021) https:/ (October 11, 2022).
    9. M. Z. Jacobson, M. A. Delucchi, M. A. Cameron, B. A. Frew, The United States can keep the grid stable at low cost with 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors despite inaccurate claims. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201708069 (2017).
    10. M. A. Delucchi, M. Z. Jacobson, Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies. Energy Policy 39, 1170–1190 (2011).
    11. M. Z. Jacobson, M. A. Delucchi, M. A. Cameron, B. A. Frew, A Low-Cost Solution to the Grid Reliability Problem With 100% Penetration of Intermittent Wind, Water, and Solar for all Purposes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (2015).
    12. K. Branker, M. J. M. Pathak, J. M. Pearce, A review of solar photovoltaic levelized cost of electricity. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 15, 4470–4482 (2011).
    13. C. S. Lai, et al., Levelized cost of electricity for photovoltaic/biogas power plant hybrid system with electrical energy storage degradation costs. Energy Conversion and Management 153, 34–47 (2017).
    14. M. T. Craig, P. Jaramillo, H. Zhai, K. Klima, The Economic Merits of Flexible Carbon Capture and Sequestration as a Compliance Strategy with the Clean Power Plan. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 1102–1109 (2017).
    15. P. J. Loftus, A. M. Cohen, J. C. S. Long, J. D. Jenkins, A critical review of global decarbonization scenarios: what do they tell us about feasibility? WIREs Clim Change 6, 93–112 (2015).
    16. D. J. C. MacKay, Sustainable energy – without the hot air (UIT Cambridge Ltd., 2009).
    17. G. L. Foster, D. L. Royer, D. J. Lunt, Future climate forcing potentially without precedent in the last 420 million years. Nat Commun 8, 14845 (2017).







98 responses to “Net-Zero Targets: Sustainable Future or CO2 Obsession Driven Dead-end?

  1. “The solutions being advocated for the energy transition are i) reduced use of energy and ii) replacing fossil fuels with renewables. ”


    My solutions for the energy transition are i) continue using as much energy as is needed to provide maximum benefit to everyone and ii) over time, replacing fossil fuels with nuclear energy.

    • I would transition energy use, off world.
      Nuclear energy should work pretty good on the Moon.
      But solar panels were created for Earth orbits, solar energy only works in space.
      Venus orbit would a good place to harvest solar energy and mine space rocks.

  2. My solution is a transition to a balanced diversity of non-GHG emitting technologies, which includes nuclear as part of the baseload (as it is now). Efficiency and conservation aren’t bad ideas either. Try to save petrochemicals for more useful things than burning for energy and disturbing the Earth’s carbon cycles.

  3. Direct and clear. Thanks, Balazs!

  4. Again most of the analysis is on the balancing of capacity from various generation sources and storage. Nobody seems to be interested in doing the system stability studies that would (I suspect) expose the inability to operate a nation wide transmission and distribution grid without sufficient inertia from the large rotating synchronous thermal machines.

  5. From the Fekete, et al, 2023 paper “ 1) Out of the 360+ publications, only a few (Doubleday et al., 2019; Kumler et al., 2019; Denholm et al., 2021; Keskar et al., 2023) addressed the seasonal and inter-annual variability of renewables.”

    That is fascinating since arguably the seasonal and inter-annual variability is the most intractable problem being faced.

    Nice read and an important study.

  6. What if the newest technology comes from new ways to make or discover more oil?

    Don’t we actually need more CO2 not less?

    • I suppose you could describe biofuels as new way of making oil.

      I saw something recently where it was proposed that we should continue to use fossil fuels but employ carbon capture and also to develop technologies to extract CO2 directly from the atmosphere. I don’t know about carbon capture but actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere seems like a bad idea.

    • Using modern prospecting and extraction techniques there are hundreds – perhaps thousands of years’ worth of available petroleum resources left as yet untouched.
      Then, using the steerable drilling techniques used for shale extraction and in situ gasification which produces synthesis gas, feedstock for the Fischer-Tropsch coal to oil process, there are trillions of tons of coal accessible in the UK alone.
      And then there is the vast amount of methane available as hydrate on the ocean bed and in the arctic permafrost which is even now being investigated with a view to commercial exploitation, see here:
      “At the same time, new technologies are being developed in Germany that may be useful for exploring and extracting the hydrates. The basic idea is very simple: the methane (CH4) is harvested from the hydrates by replacing it with CO2. Laboratory studies show that this is possible in theory because liquid carbon dioxide reacts spontaneously with methane hydrate. If this concept could become economically viable, it would be a win-win situation, because the gas exchange in the hydrates would be attractive both from a financial and a climate perspective.”

  7. When discussing ‘renewable’ energy systems for say the 22nd century, it seems to me that there will never be one single solution for most countries, simply because there are not uniform conditions across a nation.

    Take the UK, a nation no bigger than a New England State: what will work in the SE of England is entirely different to Scotland/Wales, because of three things:

    1. Completely different population densities (30 million live in the SE of England, much of that in the London megapolis.
    2. Different levels of rainfall, different strengths of wind, different numbers of annual sunshine hours.

    Scotland is well suited to a renewable future as it has plenty of mountains, lots of rain, thus hydroelectric power can be copious. The challenge then is transporting that energy generated in the North and West of the Highlands, down to the Central Belt and along the East Coast, where much of the 5 million folks live.

    There’s plenty of wind in Scotland and plenty of rural places to site wind turbines.

    There’s the potential for plenty of tidal power, as there is a long coastline.

    Similar arguments can be used for Wales, a smaller, more compact region with 3 million population mostly located on the southern coastline and in the valleys immediately to the north.

    Rural farming communities in both nations can actually use anaerobic digesters to provide both heat and biogas, which also precludes the need for central electricity grids. It is likely that such small communities will have well tested, reliable technology of that nature by 2050, with plenty of field-scale testing already in place over several years.

    The SE of England is very different: it has no mountains so no possibility for hydro-electricity. Its need for electricity/gas dwarf that of both Scotland and Wales. It has a much greater potential for solar generation in the summer, but it needs a totally different solution for the winter. Three nuclear power stations have existed in the SE (by the sea) for 50+ years, but planning to replace them is typical Establishment claptrap: zero professionalism, absolute lack of forward planning and subject to foreign interests looking to fleece the nation in terms of profiteering from future facilities.

    The UK does have a lot of space where forests could be grown as a primary fuel source, but I tend to doubt that a modern-style economy could be run with wood power stations.

    We don’t seem to have any hydrothermal sources, so the latest obsession is with heat pumps. With new builds utilising ground-sourced pumps, maybe. Air-sourced heat pumps in urban areas represent noise pollution…..

    Lots for the UK to think about, in other words.

  8. Regarding wood. I understand that Drax power station uses 6.4 million tonnes of dried chipped wood equivalent to 12.86 million tonnes of green wood in a year. I’m told that this is more than the whole UK wood production to produce a small fraction of our energy needs. I know we could plant more trees but wood as a bulk fuel seems hopelessly impractical.

  9. Back in the day when Watts invented the condenser the ‘science’ was all about feasability and efficiency. The condensor made a steam engine exponentially more efficient and mining coal very much safer. Over the years electricity generation has been the same – improve efficiency but reject any methods that inhibited the ability to maintain a supply meaning wind and solar were discounted without ado back in the day. It doesn’t matter how big a generator is because without its ‘fuel’ it is useless – that was and is true of all methods of producing energy and electricity.

    What is wrong with the thinking in the past several decades is a fudge of conflicting or distorting messaging by politicians and conformist ‘scientists’ with public money in the form of subsidy being poured into the totally unsuitable technology already rejected a long time ago by our ancestors. Hence the potential drive to find better ways of servicing society with new ideas was lost to the maddest of ideas that intermittent technology was better than investing heavily in grid efficiencies, nuclear, hydro and other heavy duty storage methods already known to work and work well. No need to fret over fossil fuel availability although it should be noted that I can remember childhood moments when it seemed I’d never get to own and drive a car because there was so little left. What if we had invested in synthetic fuel oil research if there was really a shortage? And what do we have in popular press instead of answers to energy supply – AI and Bots which run on electricity FPS. How much more stupid can humanity get?

    The Golden Age heralded in by James Watts was completely lost on a generation who turned their backs on aspirational inventors and instead invented a huge existential problem which has since created completely unnecssary chaos because we are trying to accommodate life in a future which may never happen. Just think of the waste of talent we have engineered because there is too much money in lazy thoughts and even lazier actions. We need to get back to the idea that the here and now is much more important to securing the future for everybody.

    Please can we stop fretting about life in fifty years rime and get with the problem of life right now and why we are getting stuff so terribly wrong. We need thinkers paid good money to think and not scare mongerers given far too much latitude to cause chaos before this decade is too much older.

    Nuclear, nuclear, nuclear – one way or the other if you catch ny meaning.

    • “Back in the day when Watts … ”

      Who is this Watts? Storage is important. Nuclear stores the energy of super novas; Hydro stores the energy of the water cycle (evaporation, transportation and condensation), fossil fuels store the energy of pressure and temperature reduction of oxidized carbon. Gravity potential energy and chemical transformation can store the energy of renewables.

      • Reminds me of a comment I read years ago about solar panels.
        Think of all the watts it takes to manufacture a solar panel in terms of life time output and the pay back in watts is about 2 years according to the NREL (National Renewable Energy Labs). Looking at that way when you buy a solar panel you just bought a couple of megawatts of electricity for a fraction of what you might pay for grid electricity for the next 30 years.

        The Chinese are getting pretty good at this:
        From the NYT 11/02/23 “China is installing about as many solar panels and wind turbines as the rest of the world combined, and is on track to meet its target for clean energy six years early. It is using renewables to meet nearly all of the growth in its electricity needs.

        China has also invested heavily over the last few years in transmission to connect more parts of the country to its solar farms and wind turbines. In August, the most recent month data is available, 97.8 percent of the electricity generated by wind and 98.8 percent of the solar energy was used — indications that China is deploying its renewable energy effectively.”

      • That article in the NYT refers to Clean Energy but I think it’s really talking about electricity. China has made progress in electricity but even with that more than 50% is generated from coal. In terms of total energy only about 5% comes from wind and solar.

      • oomhead,

        The Chinese total energy mix can be found at (look for figure: “Share of energy consumption by source, China”):

        7% comes from wind and solar. For installed electricity generation:
        “As of February 2022, China has 2,390GW installed capacity, which, besides coal, includes 17% hydro (390GW), 14% wind (330GW), 14% solar (320GW), 5% natural gas (108GW), and 2% nuclear (53GW).”

        Thus, 45% of electricity comes from renewables. I think one has to keep in mind that China uses a lot of coal directly for heating and industry.

      • Thank you Ganon, I was trying to make the point that newspapers often don’t distinguish between total energy and electricity. As you say, in China, renewables produces 45% of electricity but only 7% of total energy. Which I’m not sure but I think must be similar to the UK. We are a long way short of getting all our energy from renewables.

      • China gets about 30 % of electricity from renewables. Coal, oil, gas, and nuclear account for 70%.

  10. Nuclear power is not quite the panacea that some think.
    “The world’s present measured resources of uranium in the cost category less than three times present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for about 90 years”[1]. No doubt this can be improved somewhat by continued exploration and higher costs, for argument let’s assume 200 years accessible reserves. However, currently only about 10% of the world’s electricity is obtained from nuclear [2]. Thus, ramping up to 80% nuclear power would mean only about 25 years of this resource. And it would mean 8 times as much nuclear waste to process and store long-term. (Having worked at Hanford for many years, that is not an attractive legacy).

    Also, a goal of 100% renewables is economically impractical, however 80% is practical [3].
    Thus, it seems to me that the best approach is to consider renewable weighted diversity, with a goal of (e.g.) 70% (diverse) renewables (with some storage for short – medium term variability), 15% nuclear, and 15% and natural gas for peaking and longer-term variability. Then we should be able to last for over 100 years, and with significantly reduced GHG emissions. In the longer term, we should support, and hope, that fusion works out.

    [3] last-few-percent-quantifying-the-costs-and-emissions-benefits-of-100-renewables.html

    • Yes. Having a diverse energy supply is key.

      • Having a low-cost reliable supply is key.

        Diversity is not something to necessarily to be sought after. Each new source should be evaluated on the merits.

      • OK, if we should consider each source on its merits alone, I consider non-renewable to be disqualifying.

      • “I consider non-renewable to be disqualifying.”

        What you consider matters little. When non renewables become non-cost effective, they will not be used.

      • Rob, what you consider also matters little. But it must be why the 120 year-old US fossil fuel industry still gets 20 billion a year in subsidies (direct + tax breaks).

      • joethenonclimatescientist

        ganon1950 | November 15, 2023 at 3:56 pm |”
        Rob, what you consider also matters little. But it must be why the 120 year-old US fossil fuel industry still gets 20 billion a year in subsidies (direct + tax breaks).”

        Ganon – I a CPA with a strong background in oil and gas taxation. The so called subsidies are discredited “anti-fossil fuel left wing talking points with zero merit. With the exception of percentage depletion in excess of basis, there are zero tax subsidies. All other “tax breaks'” are income tax deductions for actual cash expenditures.

        The computations you see regularly reported as tax subsidies have serious mathematical errors and logic errors.

      • Joe

        Some myths are hard to kill. I’ve heard that one about fossil fuel subsidies all my life. The public hears these narratives constantly.

        The myths about taxes endure as well. Supposedly, there was massive income redistribution when the top marginal tax rate was 91%. Actually, in 1954, in the middle of the period with the 91% top rate, millionaires paid only 0.5% of federal income taxes.

        Supposedly, when Bush I reduced taxes, income inequality exploded. Actually, under Clinton, millionaires income went from $177 billion in 1992 to $877 billion in 2000. Under Bush 2, incomes of millionaires went from $877 to $1.07 trillion in 2008.

        Supposedly, the reason Clinton balanced the budget was because he increased marginal tax rates. Actually, the effective tax rate went from 13.4% in 1988 to 13.5% in 1993, after tax increases in 1991 under Bush 1 and Clinton in 1993. Other than the dramatic drop in spending, Clinton balanced the budget because the real increase in taxable income was 67% while under Bush 2, it went up 3%.

        Some myths never die.

      • Must have touched a nerve RE FF subsidies. That left-wing propaganda machine must be much more effective than the right-wing one. Kind of like for climate in general. Occam.

      • Church of the Climate Doomers is a real echo chamber, it seems.

      • I don’t eat red meat, and I don’t pay much attention to people that make declarative statements (something “will” happen) about the future. I do note that Dr. Touran’s evaluation of how long 100% nuclear would last under current social and economic constraints (5.7 years) is even more dire than mine.

      • Enjoy whatever diet appeals to you. But those low, including 90 year, estimates ignore the various fuels and technologies. Arbitrary constraints are just that, arbitrary. And they are very misleading.

      • The constraints are not arbitrary, they are clearly stated, and are the current reality. I also gave them a margin of 2+. A promise of pie in the sky does not mean there will be pie in the sky.

    • Just throwing out some red meat ….

      Nuclear fuel will last us for 4 billion years

      By Dr. Nick Touran, Ph.D., P.E., 2020-10-28 , Reading time: 7 minutes

      As shown in our energy flow diagram, our energy resource options are derived either directly from sunlight (solar, wind, hydro, biofuel), by digging up fossilized organic matter (coal, oil, gas), or from accessing primordial energy (nuclear fission, geothermal, tidal, fusion). These are all limited in quantity. Some will last us about as long as the sun, while others may run out soon and are thus not sustainable.

      How does nuclear fission perform in the sustainability question? This question has been answered quite skillfully by the legendary David MacKay in Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, but we figured we could add our own version as well. Here is the result:

    • I see ganon played the “oil subsidies” card. Now we know he’s a disingenuous actor. I had expected better.

  11. Electricity from renewables is a good thing.
    100% electricity from renewables is a mistake.

    Electricity storage batteries is a good thing.
    100 % electricity storage is a mistake.

    Saving fossil fuels for future generations is a good thing.
    Cheap electricity is a good thing.

    Poverty is a very bad thing.
    And, CO2 does not cause Global Warming.

    Everything should be well balanced.

    CO2 does not cause Global Warming.

    And there is not any +33C Global Greenhouse Warming Effect on Earths surface.

  12. joethenonclimatescientist

    J Goudriaan wrote a critique of Jacobson’s 2022 study / paper on 100%. the critique is behind a paywall/fee based retrieval of the critique.

    Jacobson wrote a response to the critique which I found to be quite superficial and distorted.

    Does anyone have access to Goudriaan ‘s critique


    1 J. Goudriaan, Energy Environ. Sci., 2023, 16, DOI: 10.1039/


  13. Plans For New Reactors Worldwide

    (Updated November 2023)

    About 60 reactors are under construction across the world. A further 110 are planned.
    Most reactors under construction or planned are in Asia.
    New plants coming online in recent years have largely been balanced by old plants being retired. Over the past 20 years, 108 reactors were retired as 97 started operation.

    Today there are about 440 nuclear power reactors operating in 32 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of about 390 GWe. In 2022 these provided 2545 TWh, about 10% of the world’s electricity.

    Many countries with existing nuclear power programmes either have plans to, or are building, new power reactors. Every country worldwide that has operating nuclear power plants, or plants under construction, has a dedicated country profile in the Information Library.

    About 30 countries are considering, planning or starting nuclear power programmes. For more information see page on Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries.
    Nuclear reactors under construction

    About 60 power reactors are currently being constructed in 17 countries.

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  15. The new definition of sustainable?

    ‘…and the developing nations remaining poor…’

    • Global warming alarmism is code for the Left’s willingness to condemn the Third World to a cribbed existence of mind-numbing privation. We know capitalism works.

      • You are entitled to your opinion, mine is that “left” wants to uplift the Third World and help them attain sustainable energy; and that global warming denialism is selfish money grubbing and not worrying about the planet’s habitability beyond one’s own lifetime.

      • True, Wagathon.

        To see the prognosis of alarmism (if cultures can’t shake climate shepherding fears) then humanity has UN styled global governance to look forward to, if the hard left has its way.

        Consensus isn’t meant to be limited to IPCC styled policy processing. The world needs to be brought into complete collectivist conformity first, total consensus.

        Collectivist ideological methodology is responsible for more globally induced human death at the hands of forced consensus than any other political philosophy in recorded history of the world.

      • Jungletrunks,

        Most of us live in quasi-democracies. Total consensus is not required, 80 – 90% consensus is overwhelming. Get used to the tyranny of the majority.

      • Ganon, I’ve seen molded cookies with rougher edges than you.

      • Jungletrunks,

        Thanks. It requires no further response – some things are obvious.

      • Indeed. Your mold requires no further description of its parameters, you’re very well defined.

      • joethenonclimatescientist

        ganon1950 | November 16, 2023 at 1:30 pm |
        You are entitled to your opinion, mine is that “left” wants to uplift the Third World and help them attain sustainable energy; and that global warming denialism is selfish money grubbing and not worrying about the planet’s habitability beyond one’s own lifetime.

        Ganon – That is an interesting comment regarding the Left’s desire to uplift the third world

        Marc Jacobson is certainly on the left politically. His 100% renewable plan is quite enlighting for his goals for the uplifting of the third world. The per capita electrical usage for most every country on the African continent ranges between 5% & 20% of most industrial countries. Yet his 100% renewable plan only projects increases in the per capita electric usage by only extremely modest amounts with most all the increases in electric usage attributable to population growth. In other words, his glorious plan keeps the downtrodden third world downtroadden.

      • Joethenonclimatescientist,

        I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware Prof. Jacobson was “the left”. But thanks for demonstrating the denier’s gambit of cherry picking a single anecdote/person and then pretending it exemplifies the position of everyone else roughly on the same side of the issue.

      • Jungletrunks,

        Thanks, I don’t mind being well-defined and comfortable with my position. I am glad that I am not as “rough around the edges” as you, particularly with respect to education, knowledge, logical thought, and thinking anger and insults are ways to win at differences of opinion. Please, more conspiracy theories – they are very entertaining.

      • Though it escapes you, the mold metaphor indicates one that collectively fits into a tight mold, an individualist doesn’t fit within a mold.

        As an intellectually inbred conformist, you’re good troll bait, Ganon, thanks for playing.

      • Interesting the way the Left reveals itself when it talks about the Third World, supposedly oblivious of the fact that Al Gore uses as much electricity as a small African nation, and when the so-concerned about AGW Warmanists gather, it’s always in the richest locations in the world… e.g., Monaco?

      • Ganon:

        “Get used to the tyranny of the majority.”

        “I don’t mind being well-defined and comfortable with my position. I am glad that I am not as “rough around the edges” as you, particularly with respect to education, knowledge, logical thought”

        I believe you, Ganon. The mold metaphor fits your sensibility, it’s the binder for collectivist thought.

        But there’s no creativity without organic edges, meaning the latitude to go against the grain of conventional thought to advance knowledge. Collectivist totalitarian societies have a propensity to kill off nonaligned individualistic brilliance systematically—the rough edges—once authoritative critical mass is attained. Atrocities aside, it’s demonstrable that creativity will stagnate under the weight of oppression. Individualistic liberty leads creativity.

      • “Collectivist totalitarian societies have a propensity to kill off nonaligned individualistic brilliance systematically—the rough edges—once authoritative critical mass is attained. Atrocities aside, it’s demonstrable that creativity will stagnate under the weight of oppression.”

        Good thing we don’t live under a totalitarian society – we live in a nominally democratic society with freedom of speech and thought. Creativity is most certainly not stagnating or oppressed – some of the “unconventional” theories proposed here (and published) to explain current global warming are clear evidence of that. Basically, I don’t buy your societal “doom and gloom” excuse for why anthropogenic climate change denial does not gain a stronger foothold. I find (via Occam) it does not provide sufficient supporting scientific evidence. You, and anyone else, is free to propose what they want – if it is not accepted, that does not mean it is oppressed, it might just be that the case was not made.

        However, if you wish to blame societal norms, you might be interested in a different social-psychological viewpoint:

      • “You, and anyone else, is free to propose what they want – if it is not accepted, that does not mean it is oppressed”

        That’s laughably tone-deaf to todays culture; obtuse, actually.

        And where did I say there’s no amount of AGW? You never heard such from me.

        Your Occam razor reference better fits the CAGW narrative—placing total blame on CO2 for warming, as many doomers and dormers do, is too simplistic.

        This particular part of the thread was initiated in response to Wagathon’s earlier post, where I described the “prognosis” for alarmism, and where collectivist ideology is quite evident. Look at the 10 years to act mantra, college campus antisemitism, cancel culture, etc, etc, etc.

        There was a theme initiated, the seeds of collectivism, please keep up.

      • Jungletrunks,

        “Your Occam razor reference better fits the CAGW narrative—placing total blame on CO2 for warming, as many doomers and dormers do, is too simplistic.”

        I know of no scientists that place total blame for climate change on CO2. It is just the major factor. Certainly methane, water vapor, CFC, insolation, land use, ocean currents, internal oscillations. What is too simplistic is your attempt to deny the realities, not to mention the name-calling and concentrating on activists instead of science.

      • Canon: “I know of no scientists that place total blame for climate change on CO2. It is just the major factor. Certainly methane, water vapor, CFC, insolation, land use, ocean currents, internal oscillations. What is too simplistic is your attempt to deny the realities, not to mention the name-calling and concentrating on activists instead of science.”

        Again, this specific part of the thread began with a discussion about alarmism. My prognosis was an extrapolation on how collectivism manifests itself, including the dangers it poses if left to its own device, especially when it co-opts diversity of opinion through authoritative means. Unfortunately CAGW is driven by activists, it dominates much of the narrative, therefore it will be discussed robustly in context of Etc. Higher education no longer embraces diversity of thought, it’s great danger to culture that you’re oblivious to.

        I said nothing about specific scientists. The question is still unsettled whether CO2 is “the major factor”. We know what you think.

      • “I know of no scientists that place total blame for climate change on CO2. It is just the major factor.”

        An example of motivated reasoning in a pure form. He sees CO2 as “THE” major factor in the climate today. No hard facts to support the science only alarmist dribble.

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  18. I broadly agree with the arguments given by Bill Gates in his book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, which envisions nuclear as the dispatchable backup to renewables with energy storage, in a mix to be determined. But nuclear has a new headwind. Like renewables, nuclear has large up-front costs and low operating costs, unlike fossil fuel plants which are relatively cheap to build but expensive to operate. (Expensive both in fuel costs and in climate change costs.) That means that the payback times for nuclear are sensitive to interest rates which are higher now than a few years ago. I attribute the recent cancellations by NuScale to the same cause as the recent cancellation of some off-shore wind projects: those higher interet rates. But GHG -free energy is a long term need that will persist as interest rates fluctuate.

    • David Andrews:

      “But GHG-free energy is a long-term need…..”

      GHG are NOT the cause of our global warming, CO2 actually has no detectable climatic effect, other than the greening our planet.

      For an explanation as to the actual cause of the warming that has occurred, see: “Net-Zero catastrophe beginning?”

      • “DOI not found”. Declarative statements without supporting evidence are worth as much as the evidence given. You have already given your beliefs on the subject, and they are not supported by data and evidence.

      • Ganon1950

        Corrected DOI:

      • Thanks, already read it. My other commentary stands, as we have previously discussed.

  19. Reflecting on the narrative presented in this article, I find it to be a thought-provoking and insightful critique of the prevailing discourse on renewable energy and the urgency of transitioning away from fossil fuels. The author challenges the conventional wisdom that reducing CO2 emissions should be the primary driver for the transition, emphasizing instead the finite nature of fossil fuel reserves as a more imminent concern.

    The analysis presented by Murphy et al. is particularly striking, as it suggests that the era of fossil fuels is but a fraction of the history of human civilizations, and the current spike in energy consumption is a recent development that may not last long enough to warrant the proposed anthropocene designation. This perspective challenges the prevailing narrative that frames the energy transition primarily in the context of mitigating climate change.

    The argument that the energy transition must happen rapidly, as indicated by the seemingly absurd calculation based on a 2.4% annual growth rate in energy consumption, adds a sense of urgency to the discussion. It underscores the need to accelerate the shift to sustainable energy sources to ensure a smooth transition before the depletion of fossil fuel reserves becomes a critical issue.

    The article also provides a critical examination of the solutions advocated for the energy transition, namely, the reduction of energy use and the replacement of fossil fuels with renewables. The author questions the feasibility of relying entirely on renewable energy sources, citing the challenges posed by intermittency and energy density. The comparison of solar energy to other forms of renewable energy, particularly biomass, adds nuance to the discussion and highlights the complexity of the energy transition.

    The focus on storage requirements for providing energy exclusively from solar or wind power offers a pragmatic perspective on the limitations of current renewable energy technologies. The conclusion that intermittent energy sources cannot replace dispatchable power generation from fossil fuels without massive energy storage challenges the notion that renewables alone can meet the world’s energy demands.

    While acknowledging the mixed responses from reviewers, the article’s transparency in addressing criticisms and the recognition of the integrity of the editorial staff enhance its credibility. The emphasis on scientific debate and the necessity for supporting arguments align with principles of open inquiry and scholarly discourse.

  20. One huge segment of ‘sustainable’ energy does not get any respect: Thorium. That is, molten salt reactors and other derivatives. Relatively abundant, essentially fail safe, suitable for modular small scale generation, low waste, can burn up uranium waste, very low proliferation appeal, supposedly cheaper than coal. Problems: needs ore processing facility, lack of advocacy, lack of awareness, regulator blindness, no lobbyists, no liberal start-up funding. For info see the the Thorium Energy Alliance and Thorcon website. This latter company is well on its way with Indonesia in creating modular serial production of such reactors. The US could easily hitch a ride on this project. Note the Chinese have already hooked their reactor onto the grid. India is not far away.
    Let’s awake from the Sleeping Beauty syndrome!

    • Here are a few of the reasons why (simple internet search):

      * Thorium cannot in itself power a reactor; it does not contain enough fissile material to initiate a nuclear chain reaction.

      * Thorium must first be bombarded with neutrons to produce the highly radioactive isotope uranium-233.

      * Irradiated Thorium is more dangerously radioactive in the short term.

      * Thorium still produces harmful radiation that needs to be contained.

      * Thorium reactors produce uranium-232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter [Tl-208, 2.4 MeV] that can penetrate through one meter of concrete, making the handling of this spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.

      • Dietrich Hoecht

        You need to explore details about the Thorium fluoride molten salt reactors and its radioactive decay. The 20,000 hour run research reactor at Oak Ridge did not have a one meter of concrete envelope. There is some anti-propaganda out there, claiming unsolved corrosion problems, but ORNL history and others have calmed these arguments. I can’t claim knowledge about difficulty of spent fuel processing and storage. But, ongoing construction of these type reactors would assume this is adequately addressed. The two sources I cited , including the book from Hargraves, will probably give all the answers one seeks.

      • That internet search was a bit TOO simple.

      • Jim2, OK, as a BS chemist, why don’t you give your simple solution to those problems.

      • ganon – what you did here is I believe called Sea Lioning. Utilize your favorite search engine for more information.

        That notwithstanding, there are people getting paid to design a molten salt reactor. Multiple entities are interested in it. I’ll let them do their jobs.

      • I know what sea lioning is. You are the one that said my internet search was TOO simple. Apparently not too simple for you. I am glad to let the various countries and commercial enterprises study and build demonstration Th-MSRE plants. All, I am saying is that, unless they have come up with some new nuclear physics, the answer has been known for over 50 years. I have enough first-hand experience with processing nuclear waste that I want no part of it, and I don’t want it in my back year.

    • The two MSRE (Molten Salt Reactor Experiment) Reactors at Oak Ridge are the only two MSREs that have ever gone critical, and they never used Thorium as a fuel (rather U235 and U233). I already listed some of the reasons why the project was shut down in 1970, and since then, there has only been talk. I wouldn’t get hopes up. And yes, I have experience with nuclear waste handling – 35 years at the Hanford site, starting out as an analytical chemist in the PUREX (Plutonium Resin Extraction) Plant control laboratory. Let’s just say it is the (very) ugly part of nuclear energy, that proponents don’t want to talk about. Thorium and breeders in general make it an even more difficult problem and national security risk.

      • Thorium has been used in several reactors, including Fort St Vrain gas reactor, Shippingsport water reactor. However, the economics behind using thorium were pretty sketchy. Earlier efforts were more demonstrations that using thorium could be done from a technical standpoint.

        In general, reprocessing of nuclear fuel makes a radioactive mess that is a pain to deal with. Also costs tens of billions of dollars for the reprocessing equipment. The economics of reprocessing are highly suspect. Gannon1950 has a point.

        If the concern is running out of uranium, makes more sense to rely on much more efficient thermal cycles. A typical water reactor is only about 32% efficient – small modular water reactors, maybe 28%. Gas reactors can approach 50%, but not much commercial interest in the technology.

  21. Wind power is struggling.

    Everywhere you look these days, there seems to be trouble in the wind power industry. Inflation, high interest rates, supply chain chaos and costly quality lapses have battered the profits and stock prices of wind farm developers such as Orsted A/S and turbine manufacturers including Siemens Energy AG. The latest sign of turmoil came on Oct. 31, when Orsted abandoned two huge wind farms it had planned to build off the coast of New Jersey. The cancellations were a major blow to the nascent US wind industry’s push to achieve the Biden administration’s goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, up from almost none today.

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  23. ganon1950,

    “* Thorium reactors produce uranium-232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter [Tl-208, 2.4 MeV] that can penetrate through one meter of concrete, making the handling of this spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.’

    “My solution is a transition to a balanced diversity of non-GHG emitting technologies, which includes nuclear as part of the baseload (as it is now). Efficiency and conservation aren’t bad ideas either. Try to save petrochemicals for more useful things than burning for energy and disturbing the Earth’s carbon cycles.”

    Good point!

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  25. unwaveringConch1233

    Saying solar is not going to be relevant just because currently it is not the biggest renewable energy contributor is not necessarily a convincing argument – ( The recent massive growth in solar energy indicates its significant potential in the renewable energy landscape. People aren’t stupid and they like money. Long-term planning and economic viability drive the development of power plants, and the increasing investment in solar reflects its potential.
    Solar’s integration into the grid involves both transmission and distribution. While building more transmission lines to connect regions with varying solar availability is a complex task (right now there is little to no interconnection between ERCOT, East, and West), it offers a clear path to achieving a higher (30%+) share of solar in the grid which helps offset regional intermittency (ie resiliency). Distributed solar, a key component of a “smart grid,” plays a crucial role in enhancing grid resiliency. Despite challenges like power quality issues and reverse energy flow in aging infrastructure, these challenges present opportunities for grid improvement. The current distribution infrastructure, nearly 50 years old, needs upgrading, and addressing issues like system outage detection can be vastly improved. How is it almost 2024 and the most common way a grid operator finds out there is a system outage is a customer physically calls them? There is so much room for improvement, and the infrastructure will need upgrading regardless. Why not include smarter data collection so operators can quickly and efficiently localize grid outages and restore power to the most critical areas like people’s homes who need constant medical care? Why not add distributed PV that can provide voltage support at the end of distribution lines where there are little to no voltage regulators. Why not provide smarter metering options for people to save money by reducing their own electricity load through demand response or distributed generation?
    There is a very clear path to adding orders of magnitude of renewable generation onto the grid before we’d run into any large issue (issues which people have been studying for decades now: see above statement that “people aren’t stupid”). The article does a good job articulating the challenges with storage for extremely high renewable penetration, but my entire point is that the immediate next steps to a stronger grid and cheaper electricity are clear. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. It’s an incredibly complex and challenging undertaking and saying people will freeze to death or die because of renewables is too much alarmism for my taste. Notice how I didn’t use the term “climate change” once in this post, renewables offer more to the grid than CO2 reduction.

  26. And then along comes nature- ‘New research suggests plants might be able to absorb more CO2 from human activities than previously expected…’

  27. And it was the planet surface Lambertian reflectance considerations (or diffusely reflecting surface) the cause to wrongly estimate the planet specular reflection as a negligible value.

  28. George J Kamburoff

    Do you still pay for electricity and gasoline?
    Not us, eight years ago we invested in a solar system and electric car. It paid back in three years in gasoline savings alone.
    Don’t forget to open your garage door before warming up your toxic polluter.

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  35. We have at least 10 long term solutions to the world energy problem that do not involve carbon fuels – and to be frank – to call oil and gas a fossil fuel is bogus because I run a car off vegetable oil grown by farmers and oil and gas produced by anaerobic bacteria in soil or vats is not fossil either – is it?

    I know many of the readers will simply not believe me when I state we can use gravitational devices that require absolutely NO fuel input once the plant is set up running. ROSCH are but one company from Germany for example.

    We live inside the generator moving at 64,000 mph with a nickle iron core – there are literally tens of electrical devices that use that Physics to produce electrical power…..its very easy.

    • John, I believe the fuels you use are called renewable biofuels (not “fossil” fuels), which consume as much (or more) CO2 in their growth than they release when burned. The main problem is scaling and competition for land and water used to grow food. As you sort of imply, a diversity of sources (and locations) is important.

    • George J Kamburoff

      Let me know when you do it.

      • George,

        I won’t do it. I think that biofuels are a niche sort of thing, e.g., for aviation fuel. IMHO, transition to other renewables (which does not have to be an “all or nothing” thing) are more important for general energy consumption; that is already underway, and I am already part of it. How about you?

      • George J Kamburoff

        Yes, we have been powered by our PV system for eight years now, for the household and electric cars.

      • Great, similar here, PV + BEV.

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