Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “the big picture”

J. David Hughes – PCI – Energy Sustainability Dilemma

Youtube text: A fascinating talk by J. David Hughes, a research fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, given at Cornell, May 2, 2012, “Energy Sustainability Dilemma : Powering the Future in a Finite World”. Most of the easy energy is gone. This was from oil which was plentiful, and easy to get, with a very high net Energy Return on Investment (EROI). Now we are pursuing Deep Ocean Drilling, Tar Sands, Fracked Shale Gas, etc. Are we heading for a dead end? What about Wind and Solar? Can they make up the difference? This talk is somewhat technical, but essential if we are to understand our energy options as our society pushes for more energy. [slides]

Collapse of the Industrial Civilization – Michael Ruppert

Youtube text: Abby Martin speaks with Michael Ruppert, investigative journalist and author of ‘Crossing the Rubicon’, about destructive energy policies, the global energy crisis and the potential for a collapse of industrial civilization as we know it unless people become more than just passive actors [uploaded Oct 10, 2013].

Statoil – What Will the Future of Energy Look Like?

Eirik Waerness, Chief Economist at Statoil presents the company’s report ‘Energy Perspectives 2013′. The main facts discussed are related to the increasing energy demand, new oil and gas sources and the increasing role of natural gas.

[full report]

2013 BCEA Keynote – Richard Heinberg

2013 BCEA Keynote – Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute from Renewable Energy Alaska Project on Vimeo.

Annual Solar PV Installed Capacity 2000-2020





Renewable Energy Reserves

The diagram shows the absolute reserves of gas, oil, coal and uranium, as wel as the yearly reserves of renewable energy sources.


Richard Heinberg: Peak Oil and the Globe’s Limitations

Youtube text: “uploaded 10 jan 2011 – Richard Heinberg, senior fellow with the Post Carbon Institute and the author of The Party’s Over, Peak Everything and, most recently, Blackout, discusses the phenomenon of peak oil and how it will affect life on this planet.

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.


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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.


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

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The World In 2030 According To Bloomberg

PowerPoint Presentation
Bloomberg foresees a sunny future for renewable energy and expects an annual global investment of ca. $630 billion per year for 2030.

PowerPoint Presentation

With current global average electricity consumption of ca. 2300 GW, it becomes immediately clear that if the scenario Bloomberg depicts will be all there is, the world is in for some major trouble.


The World According To Shell

1. Shell energy supply

4. Shell oceans energy sources

6. Future electric power supply
Electric power supply in 2100.

[Shell – New Lens Scenarios] – Report, 12 MB, pdf

Sobering Thoughts

Let’s do a little calculation concerning the ability of renewable sources of energy to generate and expand itself. A reasonable assumption is an EROEI value for a wind turbine of 20. This means that during the 25-30 years life span, this windturbine can generate 20 times as much energy as it costs to build said winturbine. How much time would it take to satisfy the world’s current energy needs (consumption rather) with wind power, based on a single windturbine, reproducing itself? Assume we are dealing with a windturbine of 5 MW and that the world’s energy consumption is 12,000 MTOE.
Assuming a load factor of 33%, the wind turbine wil generate 24 * 365 * 5,000,000 * 0.33 = 14.5 million kwh or 14,500 megawatt hours per annum.
Converting 12,000 MTOE in kwh:
1 toe = 11.63 megawatt hours
1 mtoe = 11.63 * 1,000,000 megawatt hours
12,000 mtoe = 12,000 * 11.63 * 1,000,000 megawatt hours = 139560000000 megawatt hours
The number of 5 MW windturbines necessary to generate this amount of energy is 139560000000 / 14,500 = 9.6 million
Now let’s calculate how much time it would cost for a single 5 MW windturbine to multiply itself to this number (EROEI 20):
20 – 25 years
400 – 50 years
8,000 – 75 years
160,000 – 100 years
3,200,000 – 125 years
So we need a little more than 125 years.
Fortunately we do not have to start from 1 windturbine, currently 275 GW windpower already is installed or 275,000 MW or 55,000 5 MW turbines. There we go again:
EROEI 20 * 55,000 turbines = 1.1 million – 25 years
9.6 million – ca. 40 years

We can of course add the already installed solar base (with lower EROEI than wind), which brightens the picture a little. Conclusion: if we use all the energy generated by wind turbines to build new wind turbines and nothing else, than it would take us ca. 40 years to accomplish setting up a global windpower energy base that could replace all current sources of energy. But if we consider that according to the Energy Watch Group, global peak energy will arrive by 2018 and gradually decline afterwards, than it becomes immediately clear that there is no energy capacity left for setting up a new energy base and at the same time maintain current energy consumption levels. And the longer we wait with facing some very hard truths, the more devastating the coming crunch (crash?) will be. Although there is no doubt about the long term potential of renewable energy, we are simply too late for a smooth transition. We should have listened and acted upon the findings of the Club of Rome 40 years ago. We did not (sufficiently) and choose to waste the energy capital on unhindered economic expansion, now in a 7+ billion me-too world and 9 billion soon. Timber!!!

Btw: refining the very simple calculation above into a fullfledged computer simulation model could be very usefull as an instrument of substantiating an energy policy.

Chris Martenson Talks to Students at Ecotech Institute

Youtube text: Chris Martenson explaining the implications of peak oil in a very articulate way. good interview Febuary 19 2013.

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Peak Oil and Economic Contraction

The hard truth in less than 15 minutes.


Dmitry Orlov

Feb 26, 2012.

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Chris Martenson at the Ecotech Institute

Youtube text: Chris Martenson explaining the implications of peak oil in a very articulate way. good interview Febuary 19 2013.

Michael Ruppert Interview

Youtube text: Michael Ruppert let’s fly with both barrels as he speaks on Peak Oil, who the media are serving, and the truth behind Pat Tilman and Christopher Dorner. Ruppert’s candor is so strong that it is clear to see why he has been persecuted for his journalism, and he also shows why he is resilient enough to keep on speaking his truth.

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Vaclav Smil on Energy Transitions

Published 25 March 2013 – Energy transitions: a future without fossil energies is desirable, and it is eventually inevitable, but the road from today’s overwhelmingly fossil-fueled civilization to a new global energy system based on efficient conversions of renewable flows will be neither fast nor cheap. Distinguished Professor and author Vaclav Smil explores technological transitions of past, present and future that are critical for understanding how to shift to a low carbon future.

Vaclav Smil presents as part of WGSI’s Energy 2030 Summit (June 5-9, 2011).

[] – Can We Live again in 1964’s Energy World?

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Nate Hagens – We Can’t Continue To Grow

Youtube text: Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers.

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