Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Peak Oil And Transition

Youtube comment: “The film was produced.between 2009 and 2011. It predates the increase in fracking for natural gas and tight oil and the expansion of the tar sands. However it’s my belief that the claims made for alternative fossil fuel sources are vastly overstated. World production is still pretty stagnant and oil liquid prices are fluctuating within that $80-110/barrel range. So I think the video still has a lot of validity; the onset of actual shortages may have been pushed back half a decade or so.

Jorgen Randers – 2052

From Forty years ago, The Limits to Growth study addressed the grand question of how humans would adapt to the physical limitations of planet Earth. It predicted that during the first half of the 21st century the ongoing growth in the human ecological footprint would stop-either through catastrophic “overshoot and collapse”-or through well-managed “peak and decline.”

So, where are we now? And what does our future look like? In the book 2052, Jorgen Randers, one of the co-authors of Limits to Growth, issues a progress report and makes a forecast for the next forty years. To do this, he asked dozens of experts to weigh in with their best predictions on how our economies, energy supplies, natural resources, climate, food, fisheries, militaries, political divisions, cities, psyches, and more will take shape in the coming decades. He then synthesized those scenarios into a global forecast of life as we will most likely know it in the years ahead.

The good news: we will see impressive advances in resource efficiency, and an increasing focus on human well-being rather than on per capita income growth. But this change might not come as we expect. Future growth in population and GDP, for instance, will be constrained in surprising ways-by rapid fertility decline as result of increased urbanization, productivity decline as a result of social unrest, and continuing poverty among the poorest 2 billion world citizens. Runaway global warming, too, is likely.

So, how do we prepare for the years ahead? With heart, fact, and wisdom, Randers guides us along a realistic path into the future and discusses what readers can do to ensure a better life for themselves and their children during the increasing turmoil of the next forty years.


Read more…

Yossie Hollander on Ending Our Oil Addiction

Youtube text: published July 5, 2012 – In his TEDxChapmanU talk, Yossie enlightens the audience about the value of the world’s oil reserves, the impact of our oil addiction, and the ways we can develop cleaner and less expensive American-made fuels.


Spain 54% Electricity Renewable in April

Impressive numbers: hydropower 25%, wind power 22.1%, photovoltaics 3.6% and solar thermal 1.3% of Spain’s electricity.


The Chikyu or the Attempted Prolongation of the Fossil Fuel Era

Pictured is the Japanese ship Chikyu, originally an earthquake research vessel, now in service for discovering methane hydrates reserves beneath the ocean floor. Methane hydrates are estimated to be twice as abundant as the rest of fossil fuel reserves combined, we have reported about methane hydrates before here. It is no surprise that it is Japan that has the greatest interest in exploring this potential carbon fuel resource, as nothing has changed for Japan since the days of Pearl Harbor, when Roosevelt successfully provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor (see “read more” section), which for Japan had everything to do with oil and for Roosevelt to get his desired war with Germany finally kicked off, via the Japanese backdoor. But we digress. Japan started to investigate the methane-hydrates option since 1995. Earlier this year the laboratory-test-sample-phase was concluded and the production test phase began. But it is not just Japan that is interested; China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Norway, Canada and the United States have plans as well. The author signalizes that if the methane-hydrates revolution would succeed, it could prolongue the fossil fuel era with potentially catastrophic consequences for climate change.


Rebuttal of article in the Atlantic:
[] – Are Methane Hydrates Really Going to Change Geopolitics?

Sceptical comments:

Read more…

Shale Gas Revolution In Europe?

Some in Europe want to mimic the developments in the US and start to exploit shale gas in Europe as well. The result would be that like the US, Europe would adopt a kicking the industrial can further down the road attitude and avoid dealing with very tough questions now. The world is running out of fossil fuel anyway and exploiting shale gas merely means delay of execution. The only way that shale gas can be justified is by using every calorie contained in that gas for setting up a new renewable energy infrastructure. The goal of any sensible energy policy would be to have solar panels on every roof as quickly as possible. The German example of the Engergiewende is the way to go forward for the rest of Europe.

Spectacular Decline Prices Solar

Very encouraging graph, showing the spectacular decline of the price of photovoltaic solar over the past thirty years. PV can now compete with conventional sources of energy and the end of price decrease is not yet in sight.


German 2013 Electricity Production Data

Germany, March 2013 electricity generation: 36 TWh concentional, 7 TWh renewable. The next 7 TWh capacity likely will be added much faster than the time it took to install the first 7 TWh.

Read more…

Mainstream Broker Turns Spenglerian

This is new, picked up from a Richard Heinberg tweet, a mainstream London broker firm announces the Untergang des Abendlandes, or at least that of industrial society:

The economy as we know it is facing a lethal confluence of four critical factors – the fall-out from the biggest debt bubble in history; a disastrous experiment with globalisation; the massaging of data to the point where economic trends are obscured; and, most important of all, the approach of an energy-returns cliff-edge.

The report presents the data and analysis in a scenery of Roman and Gothic ruins at sunset or against the background of dark clouds signaling a gathering storm. This is the first time we see a financial institution actually understanding the critical role of energy in the economic process and even introduces the concept of EROEI in the analysis. Chapeau! The significance of this report is not in the analysis or data presented, that could have been taken from elsewhere years ago, but that finally strong warning signals have arrived at the topfloors of financial circles in the London-New York axis of Anglosphere.

[] – Perfect storm energy, finance and the end of growth (pdf, 84p)
[] – Tullett Prebon

Read more…

IT Aspects of Smart Grids

This posts contains rather specialized IT knowledge that comes with running a smart grid. Youtube text: Governments worldwide are mandating improved energy efficiency and investing heavily in smart energy infrastructure. Leveraging the deployment of communication-enabled electric meters, many applications can be offered to optimize usage, improve the reliability of distribution and transmission networks, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Home Energy Gateway (HEG) is the hub connecting the utility-controlled smart grid and smart appliances in homes. This session provides an overview and demonstration of an HEG proof-of-concept running on Java ME CLDC VM. The HEG solution features implementation of a demand response Web services client; the Zigbee API for wireless connectivity; and an embedded Web server for remote device control, monitoring, and application management.

[] – Open smart grid protocol
[] – Making the Smart Grid Smarter with Embedded Java
[] – Open Smart Grid Protocol (OSGP)

Read more…

Zero Energy Tablets

We do not believe in cars, trucks or planes. To be honest we do not believe in industrial society either. But a few left-overs from that society could make life of the post-carbon world somewhat more bearable. Like low energy footprint IT, based on a highspeed glass fiber network, already intstalled in large parts of the western world, and potentially zero energy tablet clients, meaning tablets that can be powered entirely using solar cells mounted on the back cover. This solar powered tablet device alone could replace telephones, desktops, televisions, films, books, newspapers, magazines, class rooms, school busses, commuting for office workers, etc., etc.


How To Make A Soda Can Solar Heater

And now for something completely different, as a little diversion from the serious business of commenting the precarious energy situation. Pictures from the future world made by hand.


Read more…

Solar Impulse Flies Over Golden Gate

[] – All articles about Solar Impulse at

Post Navigation