A path to sustainable energy

New research has shown that it is possible and affordable for the world to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, if there is the political will to strive for this goal. physorg article quoted below

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Achieving 100 percent renewable energy would mean the building of about four million 5 MW wind turbines, 1.7 billion 3 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, and around 90,000 300 MW solar power plants. Mark Delucchi, one of the authors of the report, which was published in the journal Energy Policy, said the researchers had aimed to show enough renewable energy is available and could be harnessed to meet demand indefinitely by 2030. Delucchi and colleague Mark Jacobson left all fossil fuel sources of energy out of their calculations and concentrated only on wind, solar, waves and geothermal sources. Fossil fuels currently provide over 80 percent of the world’s energy supply. They also left out biomass, currently the most widely used renewable energy source, because of concerns about pollution and land-use issues. Their calculations also left out nuclear power generation, which currently supplies around six percent of the world’s electricity.

To make their vision possible, a great deal of building would need to occur. The wind turbines needed, for example, are two to three times the capacity of most of today’s wind turbines, but 5 MW offshore turbines were built in Germany in 2006, and China built its first in 2010. The solar power plants needed would be a mix of photovoltaic panel plants and concentrated solar plants that concentrate solar energy to boil water to drive generators. At present only a few dozen such utility-scale solar plants exist. Energy would also be obtained from photovoltaic panels mounted on most homes and buildings. Jacobson said the major challenge would be in the interconnection of variable supplies such as wind and solar to enable the different renewable sources to work together to match supply with demands. The more consistent renewable sources of wave and tidal power and geothermal systems would supply less of the energy but their consistency would make the whole system more reliable. Delucchi is from the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, while Jacobson belongs to Stanford University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. They first began to study the feasibility and affordability of converting the world to 100 percent renewable energy sources in a Scientific American article published before the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009. The pair say all the major resources needed are available, with the only material bottleneck being supplies of rare earth materials such as neodymium, which is often used in the manufacture of magnets. This bottleneck could be overcome if mining were increased by a factor of five and if recycling were introduced, or if technologies avoiding rare earth were developed, but the political bottlenecks may be insurmountable.

Comments

  • 1.

    These studies are also on A Path to Sustainable Energy but still as a draft. Also, and unfortunately, the links there are broken. I'll add the new information.

    If it's important, why don't they provide free access...

    Comment Source:These studies are also on [[A Path to Sustainable Energy]] but still as a draft. Also, and unfortunately, the links there are broken. I'll add the new information. If it's important, why don't they provide free access...
  • 2.

    Btw, on Energy Policy these articles have titles without capitals... (sorry John, I couldn't resist remarking this ;) )

    Comment Source:Btw, on _Energy Policy_ these articles have titles without capitals... (sorry John, I couldn't resist remarking this ;) )
  • 3.
    edited January 2011

    Frederik wrote:

    Also, and unfortunately, the links there are broken. If it's important, why don't they provide free access...

    The drafts may be gone, but you can now get the published articles for free online. It's always good to check - Google makes it easy! I updated the links.

    Btw, on Energy Policy these articles have titles without capitals...

    Fixed:

    A path to sustainable energy

    We should follow the usual convention: book titles have every 'important' word capitalized, while article titles have only the first word capitalized.

    Comment Source:Frederik wrote: > Also, and unfortunately, the links there are broken. If it's important, why don't they provide free access... The drafts may be gone, but you can now get the published articles for free online. It's always good to check - Google makes it easy! I updated the links. > Btw, on _Energy Policy_ these articles have titles without capitals... Fixed: [[A path to sustainable energy]] We should follow the usual convention: book titles have every 'important' word capitalized, while article titles have only the first word capitalized.
  • 4.
    edited January 2011

    I like this comment from somebody on the physorg website:

    So we just need to build four million 5 MW wind turbines, 1.7 billion 3 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, and around 90,000 300 MW solar power plants. That should be easy to do.

    ... and in 19 years, too!

    What will be easy to do is for us to come up with a more realistic plan.

    Comment Source:I like this comment from somebody on the physorg website: >So we just need to build four million 5 MW wind turbines, 1.7 billion 3 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, and around 90,000 300 MW solar power plants. That should be easy to do. ... and in 19 years, too! What will be easy to do is for us to come up with a more realistic plan.
  • 5.

    Besides, do the authors discuss how the electric grid has to be redesigned to handle the much larger volatility of input by wind and solar power?

    Comment Source:Besides, do the authors discuss how the electric grid has to be redesigned to handle the much larger volatility of input by wind and solar power?
  • 6.

    Besides, do the authors discuss how the electric grid has to be redesigned to handle the much larger volatility of input by wind and solar power?

    Read the insightful critique on A path to sustainable energy.

    Comment Source:> Besides, do the authors discuss how the electric grid has to be redesigned to handle the much larger volatility of input by wind and solar power? Read the insightful critique on [[A path to sustainable energy]]. <img src = "http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/emoticons/tongue2.gif" alt = ""/>
  • 7.

    Isn't it cool that you can refer people with these questions to Azimuth Wiki pages already?

    Back to the topic: I see that Brooks discusses that we'd need a certain over-capacity in order to have enough power when there is no sun and no wind, but there does not seem to be a discussion that we'd need to restructure the whole power grid to handle the variations in power output of wind and solar energy. We had this discussion elsewhere, I think...

    Comment Source:Isn't it cool that you can refer people with these questions to Azimuth Wiki pages already? Back to the topic: I see that Brooks discusses that we'd need a certain over-capacity in order to have enough power when there is no sun and no wind, but there does not seem to be a discussion that we'd need to restructure the whole power grid to handle the variations in power output of wind and solar energy. We had this discussion elsewhere, I think...
  • 8.

    thx. i suspected it had something to fo with that but was to tired last nite so i just sent it out as news. .Right onto the critique. I,ve started to use Azimuth either from memory or just point to some things on the site. kudos to us all :-)

    Comment Source:thx. i suspected it had something to fo with that but was to tired last nite so i just sent it out as news. .Right onto the critique. I,ve started to use Azimuth either from memory or just point to some things on the site. kudos to us all :-)
  • 9.

    Tim said:

    We had this discussion elsewhere, I think...

    yes, I think when we were talking about Wind power. MacKay offers some ideas in Without the hot air. The idea of electrically recharging the vehicle fleet is challenging, I think. But to build extra pumped storage systems together with the wind farms should be doable. It's on Wind power. But it would be nice to have a more detailed plan to circumvent this problem.

    Comment Source:Tim said: > We had this discussion elsewhere, I think... yes, I think when we were talking about [[Wind power]]. [[MacKay]] offers some ideas in [[Without the hot air]]. The idea of electrically recharging the vehicle fleet is challenging, I think. But to build extra pumped storage systems together with the wind farms should be doable. It's on [[Wind power]]. But it would be nice to have a more detailed plan to circumvent this problem.
  • 10.

    I think that Brook is cutting wind power a bit short in terms of capacity factor. If we're really building wind to supply baseload power then it's going to have a greater capacity factor than it does now because it tends to compete with the generators with the highest marginal costs like simple cycle peakers and to a lesser extent load following generators. For instance in California the levelized costs of small simple cycle natural gas was estimated at ~30c-85c/kWh in 2009, so even if a wind generator has to cut their capacity factor in half and increase their generating costs to ~10c-15c/kWh to compete with them by placing the farm in a different location, they will do so because there is the potential to profit more from that than there is competing with a baseload combined cycle natural gas generator.

    He is however correct about the author glossing over the details. In order to deal with renewables of that size we would need a significant battery, pumped hydro, hydrogen, or whatever reserve. For instance if we went with PHEVs/EVs, at half of the current passenger vehicle fleet w/ ~25kWh per pack, V2G, and being able to plug-in at our workplaces/businesses, we would have enough storage capacity for about 15% of current net generation assuming we could count on using half of the user's battery pack as rolling reserves on average.

    Comment Source:I think that Brook is cutting wind power a bit short in terms of capacity factor. If we're really building wind to supply baseload power then it's going to have a greater capacity factor than it does now because it tends to compete with the generators with the highest marginal costs like simple cycle peakers and to a lesser extent load following generators. For instance [in California](http://www.energy.ca.gov/2009publications/CEC-200-2009-017/CEC-200-2009-017-SD.PDF) the levelized costs of small simple cycle natural gas was estimated at ~30c-85c/kWh in 2009, so even if a wind generator has to cut their capacity factor in half and increase their generating costs to ~10c-15c/kWh to compete with them by placing the farm in a different location, they will do so because there is the potential to profit more from that than there is competing with a baseload combined cycle natural gas generator. He is however correct about the author glossing over the details. In order to deal with renewables of that size we would need a significant battery, pumped hydro, hydrogen, or whatever reserve. For instance if we went with PHEVs/EVs, at half of the current passenger vehicle fleet w/ ~25kWh per pack, V2G, and being able to plug-in at our workplaces/businesses, we would have enough storage capacity for about 15% of current net generation assuming we could count on using half of the user's battery pack as rolling reserves on average.
  • 11.
    edited February 2011

    Hi Roflwaffle,

    unless you want to do that yourself, I'll do my best to add your claims to the wiki (but I should check a bit), and also the thing about Capacity factor of wind power (should still check what you said there about Boccard's paper)

    Btw, so far your background on Roflwaffle is very tiny. I think John or Curtis liked everyone to comment a bit on their background, I think it helps for discussions because at least we know who we're talking to (and readers can check claims).

    Regards,

    Frederik

    Comment Source:Hi Roflwaffle, unless you want to do that yourself, I'll do my best to add your claims to the wiki (but I should check a bit), and also the thing about [[Capacity factor of wind power]] (should still check what you said there about Boccard's paper) Btw, so far your background on [[Roflwaffle]] is very tiny. I think John or Curtis liked everyone to comment a bit on their background, I think it helps for discussions because at least we know who we're talking to (and readers can check claims). Regards, Frederik
  • 12.
    edited February 2011

    I though I would post here to get more feedback because it's somewhat speculative. To show it's technically possible on a large scale, or not ;), someone would need to take some of the higher capacity factor sites from a paper like this and look at the data for the smallest time duration in order to determine what percentage of nameplate was available for the same time period something like coal baseload is available. Wind is likely the hardest to model in that context. I suppose we could do the same for the whole idea of a renewable grid by adding PV CSP sources plus existing hydro/nuclear and possibly some biomass and/or geothermal generation, then we would see what kind of backup we would need. As for my background, I don't really have anything that relates to the stuff I've discussed so far, but I have done is a bit of research, which is what I figured I could contribute to the discussions.

    Comment Source:I though I would post here to get more feedback because it's somewhat speculative. To show it's technically possible on a large scale, or not ;), someone would need to take some of the higher capacity factor sites from a paper [like this](http://www.nrel.gov/wind/integrationdatasets/pdfs/eastern/2010/aws_truewind_final_report.pdf) and look at the data for the smallest time duration in order to determine what percentage of nameplate was available for the same time period something like coal baseload is available. Wind is likely the hardest to model in that context. I suppose we could do the same for the whole idea of a renewable grid by adding PV CSP sources plus existing hydro/nuclear and possibly some biomass and/or geothermal generation, then we would see what kind of backup we would need. As for my background, I don't really have anything that relates to the stuff I've discussed so far, but I have done is a bit of research, which is what I figured I could contribute to the discussions.
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