We are in the midst of a major phase transition in the global energy system. Within the next two decades, the entire fossil fuel system is going to be disrupted as a new energy system based on completely different technologies – primarily solar and wind – takes precedence. In my last post, I dived deep into the range of scientific forecasting studies providing robust empirical evidence that this disruption is now unstoppable for all intents and purposes.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://ageoftransformation.org/the-coming-dawn-of-a-global-solar-civilisation
I don’t know, I’m still skeptical that we can do the transition on time mostly due to geopolitical reasons. Yes exponential growth of renewables is happening, and theoretically we can decarbonize pretty quickly with consumption corridors, but recently Reuters published this article. Renewables growth did not dent fossil fuel dominance in 2022, report says | Reuters I mean, it looks like the reason why renewables are growing exponentially is because they are only adding to the energy demand, they are not substituting Fossil Fuels. I would need a bigger dive on this to see how many FF installations have been replaced by solar and wind in the last 20 years(not added to the grid, but fully substituted). But it seems that that’s the case. https://twitter.com/JamesGDyke/status/1674334713119375360?s=20 https://twitter.com/Duncan_BBR/status/1669251007891603456?s=20 In some countries there are models that suggest that actually that S-shaped curved of solar and wind has already happened and emmissions keep rising. National growth dynamics of wind and solar power compared to the growth required for global climate targets | Nature Energy george elliot on Twitter: “@JamesGDyke @HakonNordhagen Nope. Renewables growth is NOT exponential. It appears that way at global scale but is really an aggregation of logistic (S-shaped) curves at national/regional scales. See: 1) https://t.co/dHXa3H0p7W 2) https://t.co/ETEzyyxVOk https://t.co/dwzZOmDL3X” / Twitter Outlook of solar energy in Europe based on economic growth characteristics - ScienceDirect
I don’t know if your disruption model on the car and the horse analogy applies in this case because when you did a fast switch like that, you already had an existing energy and road infrastructure. In this transition, you have to tear down infrastructure. Things I think are going to look very different when we realize how much infrastructure we have to tear down(specially Natural Gas Pipelines). And it would require unprecedented international cooperation and hope that the Chinese don’t cut our access to minerals. Michaux I think is correct here, Europe should become self-sufficient, and how much the real cost of wind and solar would be once Europe and America stop relying on the Chinese and stop exploiting the global south for minerals? How fast can America and Europe develop their own manufacturing/mining capacity?( And even it looks like the “fast switch from horses to cars” is not at all true. Did Cars Rescue Our Cities From Horses? - Nautilus It looks more like the car was pushed by automobile industries and actually did not solve the waste problem(and the whole disruption stuff looks more like a corporate myth, which actually makes sense). Also, there are some problems with that decentralized solar(rooftop mainly) I was reading. A new state study shows where solar is most suitable in Mass. — including your home | WBUR News Finally FF companies have decided to dump investment on renewables. Pretty much they are already adopting the mentality “if I die you die with me” I thought fossil fuel firms could change. I was wrong | Climate Crisis | Al Jazeera Shell Renewables Head to Leave Amid Fossil Fuel Shift - Bloomberg And recently, it seems China signed a natural gas contract for the next 27 years with Qatar. Catar firma con China el segundo acuerdo a largo plazo sobre los suministros de gas - 20.06.2023, Sputnik Mundo (sputniknews.lat) and even Norway approved new Oil projects on the North Sea. Noruega emite 19 permisos para nuevos proyectos de petróleo y gas en la plataforma continental noruega – BusinessPortal Norway (businessportal-norwegen.com) Gas y petróleo: Noruega aprobó proyectos por más de 18.500 millones de dólares (rionegro.com.ar)And, what is really happening is that we are not having a decentralized solar model, in Las Vegas, for example, companies are investing on heavily centralized solar power plants because rooftop solar does not bring benefits to the investors, its being monopolized and that’s also the case in Spain with Iberdrola, which is still a FF company. Solar panels could save California. But they hurt the desert - Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)From the article you can infer that those power plants are going to be far from the source, in that case, your EROI estimations change because solar then has similar transmission losses to FF. In the article even says that long transmission lines are still cheaper than rooftop and there are studies showing that, that’s from Princeton University. So again I’m confused here with all the literature. And finally on wind, Siemens found out that a lot of the components on the wind turbines were tearing down faster than expected, and it looks like this is a problem on the entire sector. I know engineering stuff like this happens, but right now? and after millions of investment?Siemens Energy shares plunge more than 37% as wind turbine worries deepen (cnbc.com) . And of course, asphalt and bitumen. Your model is a possibility of course, and if clean energy abundance happens, great, but I’m more on the Nate’s side and I will remain skeptical until I see emmissions and FF use decrease. The energy transition will be volatile | Financial Times (ft.com)