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 here, and 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.
You may also:
- Follow my courses on Free Software, Digital Rights and more
- Read my free ebooks and other publications
- Support this and my other works
- Calicut: How and Why Open Hardware and Open Source can and should be used in non-western countries
- La Comunificadora is back with some new, challenging projects
- About Marco
- The myth of passive social media users, and their war on absence
- WHO can AFFORD not to fly in 2020? People or companies?
- Geopolitical take-away of the week, from UK, Italy and China
- Two surely unrelated primacies the USA can be proud of
- Four ways to take DNS services in your hand and WHY do it
- DNS glossary and tricks
- Save forests, not tigers or wolves
- What if that shooting guy had been a Thru...