Why transformation of the global energy system is now unstoppable

The energy system is in the throes of a global phase shift in which incumbent fossil fuel industries will be completely disrupted and replaced by new energy technologies based on solar, wind and batteries over the next two to three decades due to economic factors.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://ageoftransformation.org/energyphasetransition
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Hi Nafeez, new to this blog. After some extensive researching on this and analyzing both sides of the debate, you’re right for the most part but I still have a concern(I supported Berman’s posture and recently changed my mind)

I highly respect professor Hall, but now I see the problem with his EROI scales to maintain civilization(and Prieto’s study too) (and Hagens too) it assumes a certain provisioning system that is inefficient, but if you change that provisioning system completely, which pretty much is the system change that RethinkX and you are proposing then things change and EROI changes. I was skeptical of such a rapid pace of change.

What confirmed that point to me is that Julia Steinberger’s research(which you are aware of) and IPCC chapter on demand also reached similar conclusions to RethinkX work. What people need is services and by creating a provisioning system based on that, the reductions on emissions were reduced really fast. (70% I think, really similar to RethinkX scenarios)

Even assuming a low EROI of renewables, Julia’s work has also shown that we could live well with much less energy consumption again thanks to consumption corridors and changing our provisioning systems. You are right on that.

But still, I have some concerns and points on your work that I didn’t get. Why do you believe that a market substitution(or disruption model as the horse/car example) is happening with solar? I mean, people like Vaclav Smil and Nate argue that we accumulate energy sources, we don’t substitute them and indirect rebound effects occur(Norway and EVs example)https://twitter.com/NJHagens/status/1669072120939159553?s=20, we use more biomass today than in the past and when we transitioned from Coal to oil, well, it was more an addition that a substitution. What makes solar transition different? What I can think of it is that contrary to the past, both coal and oil are declining

And on manufacturing I have some doubts

The paper is fairly recent, and on manufacturing, they say that silicon can be made with electricity and they cite a book from Vasilis Fthenakis called Electricity from sunlight.

On the manufacturing part, actually the book says that for the first stage of manufacture which requires metallurgical silicon you need fossil fuels even if an electric arc furnace is used “The electricity
is fed through three carbon electrodes that are submerged in a mixture of quartz, car-
bon (in the form of coal, charcoal, and petroleum coke), and wood chips.”(Fthenakis, p. 237-238)

See this paper for more detail, and in fact it’s consistent with Fthenakis book(and Fthenakis is a proponent of a 100% renewable system alongside Raugei and Breyer)


Edit: we already have full peruviskite solar panels, and silicon makes much less impact compared to full coal, and can be recycled. So this is not going to be a concern I think, we have also covered manufacturing. Asphalt and energy accumulation remain my only concerns

On the ships you are also correct, a decentralized system eliminates trade, but if we still need fossil fuels for the metallurgical silicon and asphalt and bitumen, numbers change and we would have to keep in place a FF system.

You are probably right, sorry for being an asshole on Twitter, I was wrong.https://twitter.com/aeberman12/status/1668977320260952065

Keep the good work