Thoughts on energy (1 of 3): role and limits of Renewables
Renewables cannot solve our problems. If the goal is Business as Usual, of course.
This is the first part of a 3-post series in which I am going to aggregate and share some links, concepts and thoughts about the general problem of providing energy to contemporary society, and the role that appropriate, open, digital or at least digitally-enabled technologies have in solving that problem.
These days, I’m doing lots of research on renewables energies, and energy in general. Here are some of the negative assertions that I have collected and am still digesting (your feedback is very welcome, of course):
- Renewables need LOTS of batteries. Which, “under current policies, residential batteries, in most cases INCREASE emissions”
- Renewables have natural, not technical limits because “there is no battery revolution on the way, wind turbines are the most serious new threat to important bird species to emerge in decades and [large] solar farms have similarly large ecological impacts.”
- We don’t mine or recycle enough rare earth metals to make ENOUGH solar panels, QUICKLY enough, to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy (see also here)
- Heck, apparently Wind and wave farms could even affect Earth’s energy balance
- Biofuels may be cool… if they did not consume huge quantities of land to create this little problem:
The end result would be that:
- Industrial “green fixes” like solar and wind can’t save the Earth but merely push “from one set of problems (fossil fuels) to another”
- Renewables remain unlikely ever to meet global energy needs. At least if the goal remains support of economic growth.
- In other words, even going 100% renewables it is impossible to make sustainable use of raw physical resources AND keep GDP growing globally, says literally every existing study that has been conducted on the matter
Let’s do renewables anyway!
As I said, here I deliberately aggregated only bad “news” about renewable energy. I have done it not to dismiss renewables. Quite the contrary actually. I want to understand and share their objective limits, exactly to make the best use of renewables, for the right reasons. Continues next week, so stay tuned, and in the meantime please please please send me your critiques, links, opinions, work opportunities… via Twitter or email. To directly support this and my other work, see below instead.
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