Is It Possible To Switch To 100 Percent Renewables By 2030?

  • metta

    Posts: 39133

    Jan 22, 2011 1:05 AM GMT
    Is It Possible To Switch To 100 Percent Renewables By 2030?

    http://www.care2.com/causes/global-warming/blog/is-it-possible-to-switch-to-100-percent-renewables-by-2030/
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 22, 2011 2:33 AM GMT
    I doubt it.

    Of course, I'm one of those evil things that thinks we ought to free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil and build scads more nuke plants, mine out oil shale (after the market routinely sustains a price per bbl. over $80 making that operation economically feasible) and dredging up methane clathrates from the sea floor.

    Solar convection tubes and wind power aren't a bad idea either.

    But 100% free of fossil fuels? I highly doubt it.

    Oil and gas can provide more energy per unit of mass than biofuels and are more relilable (at present) than wind and solar.

    And H2 is more a store of energy than an energy source.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 22, 2011 3:48 AM GMT
    It's called political will, with suitable incentives to apply the correct knowledge. All of which are sorely lacking in the dismantle-as-you-go Congress for the foreseeable future.

    Reminds me a quote from that scientist at the CDC in the Walking Dead: "I mean, the world runs on fossil fuels. How stupid is that?" And he's forced to blow up that building when it ran out of fossil fuel because all those nasty bugs would not be able to be contained.

    Renewable energy should be mandatory for certain indispensible industries.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 22, 2011 3:50 AM GMT
    How many 20 year old cars are in America today? there's your answer.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Jan 22, 2011 3:56 AM GMT
    Until about a year and a half ago, when I'd see a wind farm, I'd think, "That's nice! We're getting clean energy." But then I got to thinking about where the power would come from when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. That is the problem.

    I spent months reading various articles, reading books, and visiting web sites. My suspicions were confirmed - there was a real problem with renewable sources of energy and current technology cannot solve those problems. PV solar power is useful in very remote areas where connecting to the grid is impractical, especially in developing countries, but it and wind power cannot provide adequately for the power requirements of large industrialized countries. Also, consider India which has a population density 10 times greater than the U.S. has; there couldn't possibly be sufficient land area for solar and wind power to work there.

    The availability factor for solar power is < 40% because the sun is not always shining, especially at night. With solar thermal electric power, heat can be stored in tanks of molten salt (NaNO3 and KNO3), to permit generating power when the sun is not shining, but there is a limit to how much energy can be stored. Wind is even worse; its availability factor is only 20% to 30%. So, with currently available energy storage technologies, renewable energy is not practical.

    The only way out is nuclear power, but not the exact nuclear technologies we are currently using. We are getting less than 1% of the available energy from the natural uranium and if we were to continue that way, we'd run out of conveniently uranium quickly, although it could be extracted from sea water and the ash which is left over from burning coal.

    What is commonly considered nuclear waste is mostly unused fuel; it can be reprocessed and reused. That would reduce actual waste to a small fraction of what is currently being generated and the actual waste would decay quickly enough to be safe after only a few hundred years. Also, the reactors we are now using require that the natural uranium, which is 0.7% U235, be enriched to from 3% to 5% U235 by throwing away most of the U238 and part of the U235; that is extremely wasteful. There are reactor designs which can use natural uranium as fuel and burn both the U235 and the U238. Better yet, we could stop using uranium and use thorium instead.

    The liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) has many advantages over uranium reactors. For more information, visit
    http://energyfromthorium.com/ and spend several hours at it. You can also do a google search on "thorium reactor."

    Of course nuclear power alone will not enable us to migrate away from petroleum. However, if we are able to get abundant and cheap power, we could use it to charge electric vehicles or manufacture an artificial liquid fuel. It could also make it economical to desalinate sea water and help solve water shortage problems. And, better nuclear technologies could produce electricity much more cheaply than it is currently being produced.

    This is not an easy subject; it is impossible to become adequately informed without spending many many hours studying. The media do not provide adequate information; most journalists and newscasters have not had even one college level course in physics. Environmental organizations have their own agendum and don't want to be confused with facts.

    Moreover, the purpose of the media, at least TV, is not to provide information, but rather, to maximize advertising revenue by attracting the largest possible audience. They do that by entertaining rather than by providing news. Thus, the news are read by a man and a woman who read alternate lines not for any useful reason except to enhance the entertainment value. Stories are made as exciting as possible to make them more entertaining. So, it's not a good idea to depend on the mass medial for adequate information, especially on technical issues, including energy matters.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Jan 22, 2011 5:49 AM GMT
    Physically it is possible, even by 2025. But like mentioned already, politically, there is a lot going against it.

    You don't have to be environmentally conscience to realize that there is money to be gained in increased efficiency that renewables bring. That is how you convince conservatives to sway this way. It's green, one way or the other.
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    Jan 22, 2011 5:51 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidThe best solution to conserve our resources it to force the breeders into sterilization. Our global population is expected to increase by !!37%!! in the next forty years. That is scary.

    I say, offer tube tying to all woman after puberty and the same with vasectomies for men. Offer people tax incentives or some type of financial break in order to stop producing like rodents. I believe about 80% of the world population is basically here because of an uncontrolled whore moment which usually included alcohol and carelessness.

    We sterilize dogs and cats to help control their impact on the environment. We should do the same to humans. We really do not need to invent unstable methods of fuel, we need to stop copulating and pulling unplanned unwanted life into the world. All it does is exhaust our resources. The majority of all these people do not respect the planet on which we live anyway.


    Actually in most developed countries - a population dearth is developing. Particular examples include Russia (and many of remnant nations of the former USSR) and Japan, which show very few births against a rapidly aging population.

    The pattern is largely brought about as women are having their first (and often only) child much later in life, due to being more highly educated and employed than previous generations.

    Red China has deliberately enforced its One Child policy which has checked its historic tendency towards fecundity.

    The under-developed world still has a high birth rate, but as education and technology liberate women from traditional mothering roles, the trend of the West will follow there as well.

    I think a study shows the global population topping out at 9Bn sometime in the late 2040s or early 2050s, then slowly declining.

    Forced sterilization smacks of the sort of "noble eugenics" that developed alongside the various fascist movements in Europe, and even here in the USA in the 1920s-30s.

    Or reads like that site VHEMT
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 22, 2011 6:06 AM GMT
    The answer is no.



    Oil and its byproducts are used in applications far beyond just energy production. Many products are derived from crude oil, not just gasoline and motor oil.

    Wind Power, Solar Power, are feel-good initiatives that are not able to provide enough energy to support industrial needs. They are nice marketing ploys for those that use them.



  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 22, 2011 6:11 AM GMT
    Thank you FRE0 for your explanations icon_smile.gif. Very interesting.
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    Jan 22, 2011 6:12 AM GMT
    To correct some common misconceptions:

    (1) Nuclear reactors cannot provide more than a certain percentage of supply [known as the baseline] because they cannot be switched on and off at will.

    (2) Nuclear is not renewable and the known deposits of Uranium are actually surprisingly small [if the entire world's energy consumption was nuclear, they would last around 30 years].

    (3) Despite the claims of nuclear reprocessing, there has not been a single commercially successful reprocessing effort to date.

    (4) The transmission infrastructure of the US is in a terrible state. Correcting this would be far more effective than a great deal of piecemeal efforts on renewables [this would facilitate far better placement of renewables, e.g. hydroelectric/nuclear efforts, solar panels in deserts, wind turbines in windy places].
  • Jessie_Lee

    Posts: 113

    Jan 22, 2011 8:56 AM GMT
    No.

    The others are right that renewable energy won't be enough to power the entire world's energy expenditures.

    Concerning the population issue. It's true that there are parts in the world that are experiencing population deaths. And yeah, third world countries are continuing to pro-create. I know it's a bad thing to say, but starvation in those countries is what is keeping the uneducated population down. If only there was a more efficient way to help them learn how to take better care of themselves as well as birth controls. Unfortunately, men are horndogs, they care more about fucking the women than the potential consequences. Same goes for the ghettos in the US as well as the teenagers these days. I know someone, first-hand, living in the suburbs, who became pregnant at age 14, and had a second kid at 15. She's probably around 20 now... People in the ghettos are pro-creating like crazy because the guys aren't educated enough to care about the consequences, and no one can afford birth control.

    Has anyone seen the movie Precious? I'm sure that movie can give you a better idea on pro-creation in the ghettos and third-world countries.

    Oh, and the movie Idiocracy is another interesting movie, at least the premises is. The premise of that movie is the stupid people pro-create faster than the intelligent ones, resulting in the world becoming stupider and stupider as the intelligent people eventually die off.

    And then there's the political aspect. I'm sure environmentalists are pushing for more and more green energy, but there are plenty of rich lobbyists who support the use of fossil fuels. I mean, green energy isn't exactly as cost-efficient as fossil fuels short-term. It'll take years for the green energy to eventually match the fossil fuels in cost:energy ratio. So those who want to make money NOW will bet on fossil fuels instead.
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    Jan 22, 2011 8:57 AM GMT
    Of course its possible.. its ALWAYS been possible.. they just refuse to do it because short-term profit is more important to them than long-term ill effects
  • Mazdaman_24

    Posts: 14

    Jan 22, 2011 9:11 AM GMT
    it is possible, but only if we severely limit our consumption of energy and resources. The problem is that everything is considered disposable because it is economically feasible. People would have to re-think their consumption patterns so it is not just ill political will but also personal preference. Just think of how much needless waste is created by you in one day, even if you try to be "green". The only way this would be brought about is by a capping of the use of these resources which would lead to higher prices and a severe depression. Population growth and demographic shifts also play a role in this as there would have to be a "dearth" period which would even out once the elderly moved on. But as a world and many nations, we will not deal with the issue until it is imminent.
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    Jan 22, 2011 9:20 AM GMT
    Not a chance IMHO. I do think we will be using our non-renewables far more efficiently though. By 'we', I mean the West. I think India, China and other developing nations will be more concerned with economic growth and everyone will (justifiably) want a car, a fridge and the rest of the gizmos most of us take for granted.
  • allatonce

    Posts: 904

    Jan 22, 2011 4:15 PM GMT
    Possible? Yes. Plausible? No.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Jan 24, 2011 1:45 AM GMT
    TigerTim saidTo correct some common misconceptions:

    (1) Nuclear reactors cannot provide more than a certain percentage of supply [known as the baseline] because they cannot be switched on and off at will.

    (2) Nuclear is not renewable and the known deposits of Uranium are actually surprisingly small [if the entire world's energy consumption was nuclear, they would last around 30 years].

    (3) Despite the claims of nuclear reprocessing, there has not been a single commercially successful reprocessing effort to date.

    (4) The transmission infrastructure of the US is in a terrible state. Correcting this would be far more effective than a great deal of piecemeal efforts on renewables [this would facilitate far better placement of renewables, e.g. hydroelectric/nuclear efforts, solar panels in deserts, wind turbines in windy places].


    1) The French are getting 80% of their electricity from uranium reactors and are exporting considerable power to Germany because Germany's PV solar systems are basically an economic disaster; their availability factor is very low. Moreover, French nuclear plants are doing load following. Doing so requires minor modifications to the reactors. Because they can vary the output over a considerable range, they do not have to switch them on and off. And, I am well aware that if a pressurized water uranium reactor is switched off, it takes a few days to restart it because of the buildup of xenon, which is a neutron poison, and the reactor cannot be restarted until the xenon has dissipated.

    Note that the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) can easily load follow. Also, if it is shut down, there is no xenon problem since the xenon can simply bubble out of the liquid fuel.

    2a) Although uranium nuclear is not renewable, it is sustainable. If the uranium were used efficiently (and we are not currently using it efficiently), we could mine enough uranium to last for more than a thousand years after which it could be extracted from sea water or from the ash generated from coal-burning plants. Thorium is about three times as abundant as uranium so if we switched to using thorium instead of uranium, we'd have enough thorium to last for thousands of years.

    2b) In a sense, wind and solar are not renewable the reason being that the materials used to manufacture wind and solar systems have limited availability; wind and solar systems have limited lives and must be replaced periodically, just as other generating systems must eventually be replaced (or at least be rebuilt).

    3) It is probably true that to date, there has not been a single commercially successful reprocessing effort. That's because it is currently cheaper to mine more uranium or use uranium from nuclear warheads than it is to reprocess. Obviously if we continue to throw away used fuel instead of reprocessing it, the amount of unmined uranium will eventually decrease to the point that reprocessing used fuel will become economical. Also, when producing nuclear power, the cost of the nuclear fuel is only a small percentage of the total cost. If I recall correctly, it is only about 5% of the total cost so even if reprocessing doubled the cost of the nuclear fuel, the cost of the fuel would still be quite low. Doing so would prevent future scarcities of uranium thereby greatly delaying future cost increases. It would also solve the waste problem.

    4) It is true that our electrical transmission system is jury-rigged and held together with bubble gum and bailing wire. However, improving it would not make major "renewable" sources of electricity practical. The main problem with major "renewables" is that they are intermittent sources of power, i.e., they do not provide power on a continuous basis. Hydro can, but we are already utilizing most of the available hydro locations. Geothermal can, but it is not available in all locations. Moreover, there is some evidence that geothermal can cause destructive earth tremors and that eventually geothermal sources gradually cool to the point of ineffectiveness as we continue to extract heat. However, it could become more practical as more is learned about it.

    Wind and solar could, in theory, provide sufficient power in the U.S., but energy storage would be required and as of now, the cost of storage would be astronomical. Moreover, in countries with a very high population density, wind and solar could not provide sufficient power and we cannot ignore the needs of other countries.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Jan 24, 2011 7:23 PM GMT
    Here is an article on Namibia's plans to use nuclear energy:

    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54037

    "WINDHOEK, Namibia, Jan 5, 2011 (IPS) - Namibia is set to develop its rich uranium resources and intends to pursue uranium enrichment locally. It also plans to build its own nuclear electricity plant."