We Already Have The Technology To Solve Climate Change. What We Need Is Deployment.

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Originally published on LinkedIn.

Bill Gates and 30 other innovators have signed up to support the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to fill a very important gap in clean energy – early commercialization. The Federal Government has long played an important role in funding the basic research needed to come up with energy breakthroughs, but there is no natural first customer.

bill-gatesThe effort to solve the world’s most pressing energy problems accelerated during the oil embargoes of the 1970s. The oil embargoes were so bad that we created the Department of Energy and invested an extraordinary amount of money into R&D to find solutions to our oil independence problem. We started research to create two types of solutions, clean electricity and clean transportation fuels. Further, Amory Lovins wrote an influential piece reminding us that we could also use energy more efficiently, something we still have yet fully taken advantage of.

During the first Gulf War oil prices spiked to over $30/barrel and candidate Bill Clinton declared that we needed to do something about this tax on every American Family. He would raise CAFE standards once he became president and force the automakers to implement all of the fuel savings technologies invented since the 1970s.

Once he became President he abandoned that strategy and decided instead to invest into even more basic research – a tried and true method to look like you are doing something. A multi-billion investment was made to get us to a 100 mpg vehicle. It worked, but the technology wasn’t deployed.

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama gave a big booming speech to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party. In it he was the first President ever to announce a time line: In 10 years, we will find a way to get ourselves off of Middle East oil. Under his administration he has increased the CAFE standard twice and promoted more oil and gas drilling than at any time since Dallas first went on the air in the 1970s. Today, most analysts believe we have the technology to reach the goal, but like President Clinton before him, we are more comfortable spending money on R&D than actually creating a plan to deploy at scale. We will sadly miss this goal in 2018, even though we knew exactly how to reach it.

The challenge with today’s announcement by Bill Gates is that while he and others are filling a real need, it is not the most pressing need and certainly not what is being talked about in Paris during these negotiations. That press release would say, “Now that we have figured out solar and wind deployment, does anyone want to finally prioritize deploying the hundreds of other technologies ready to scale up?”

Just a few years ago, it was clear that Bill Gates was convinced that today’s technologies couldn’t solve climate change — I am glad he has softened his position here. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways project has already proven that existing technologies are more than enough. Google had a program to make solar and wind cheaper than new coal – that has now been achieved around the world. Under George W Bush we were able to lock in an 8 year extension of the 30% federal tax credit for solar.  Germany and China set up big programs such that today almost 60% of all new electricity capacity being installed today is made up of zero emission generation technology like renewables and nuclear. Amazing, isn’t it? Solar and wind are winning around the world not because of fundamental technological breakthroughs, but instead because after 30 years the banking sector is finally comfortable scaling up their use. In fact, because solar and wind have been “deployment first,” they have attracted billions in R&D dollars and have created hundreds of incremental innovations in technology and manufacturing.

On oil, our main approach is to make existing vehicles more efficient using CAFE standards. A more inspirational vision presented by Google, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla is that by 2020, we will make sure that no one around the world will have to buy a car because car sharing will be 75% cheaper than car ownership. If you want to live in an urban or surburban area – as over 50% of Global Citizens do, and you want to live without a car payment, we can make that easy and pleasant. We will install the infrastructure necessary to make that dream a reality and finally take the worst investment a person makes in their entire life, off the “to do” list – along with all of the asthma it causes. In Los Angeles alone, 14% of all of their land is allocated to car parking that pays little to no property taxes. We lack the regulatory framework for progressive cities to create new revenue streams while dialing back emissions from cars.

And for the other 50% who need personal transportation we have the technology to give you a choice. No longer will you have to choose between gasoline and diesel. We now have the technology to force all cars to burn multiple liquid fuels, in fact to future proof themselves. This means you can fill up on ethanol, methanol, ethane, DME, and for some cars up to 45% natural gas. Because most homes in America are hooked to both natural gas and electricity you never have to visit a gas station again. For heavy trucks, we still have the Pickens Plan from 2008 that we have not yet implemented, even though the fundamental technology breakthroughs to convert every heavy truck to natural gas were piloted during the Clinton Administration in the Clean Cities program.

And the beauty is that none of this needs to be invented. I am not against innovation, but we don’t need to be telling people that we need it to reach the 2 degrees milestone being talked about in Paris. What we need is deployment.  From India to Kenya to Brazil, we need to put people to work help market, sell, build and service this infrastructure. According to Bloomberg, McKinsey, and the International Energy Agency, the cost of reaching this goal is about $10 Trillion – a shift of less than 25% of the money we are going to spend on relevant infrastructure anyway. Shifting this money is not easy, but in the areas outlined by Bill Gates of electricity generation and storage, transportation, industrial uses, agriculture and projects that make energy systems more efficient we have already identified all of the technologies needed to meet our climate goals through 2030 – while saving people money. Amory Lovins laid it out so beautifully in his book Reinventing Fire that the Chinese Government hired the Rocky Mountain Institute to replicate the analysis for China. It is based on this analysis that China now believes that climate change solutions require deployment, not new technology.

I applaud Bill Gates and his work to bring 30 innovators and many Governments to the table, this is certainly not easy. Basic R&D, early commercialization, and deployment are all needed to reach our climate goals. But don’t believe for one second that we don’t already have the technology. We do. We can always use more and achieve better, but for once we have to stop satiating the public with future talk around R&D and prove that can do big things now. We have been training millions of people with the skills necessary to deploy at scale for over 40 years – time to put them to work.

Jigar Shah is the co-founder of Generate Capital; Founder and first CEO of SunEdison, where he pioneered “no money down solar” and unlocked a multi-billion-dollar solar market, creating the largest solar services company worldwide, and is the author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy. 

Reprinted with permission.

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Jigar Shah

is a co-founder at Generate Capital and the author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy, 2013 Icosa Publishing. Shah unlocked the multi-billion-dollar worldwide solar industry with a business model innovation (Power Purchase Agreement), not a new technology. This model created SunEdison, once the largest solar services companies worldwide. Jigar Shah has shown that business model innovation applied to the biggest challenge of our lifetime – climate change – will unlock a $10 trillion new economy. After SunEdison was sold in 2009, Jigar served through 2012 as the first CEO of the Carbon War Room — the global organization founded by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite to help entrepreneurs address climate change. SunEdison and Carbon War Room proved that we could make positive change through business and financial model innovation in many industries. Today, as CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting, he works with global companies in a multitude of industries to deploy existing clean energy solutions fueled by new business models.

Jigar Shah has 9 posts and counting. See all posts by Jigar Shah

341 thoughts on “We Already Have The Technology To Solve Climate Change. What We Need Is Deployment.

  • The author of this ‘article’ says brilliant things like this:

    “No longer will you have to choose between gasoline and diesel.
    We now have the technology to force all cars to burn multiple liquid
    fuels, in fact to future proof themselves. This means you can fill up on
    ethanol, methanol, ethane, DME, and for some cars up to 45% natural gas”…

    Another demonstration of an article that is actually an advertisement, written by yet another profiteer. In case you missed it, this ‘article’ was actually written by:

    Jigar Shah is the co-founder of Generate Capital; Founder and first CEO of SunEdison, where he pioneered “no money down solar” and unlocked a multi-billion-dollar solar market, creating the largest solar services company worldwide, and is the author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy.

    All for you, here at Clean Technica. 🙁

    • Why is someone who is the first CEO of SunEdison NOT promoting battery electric vehicles? Why force people to have liquid fuels?

      • I do not see Jigar promoting liquid fuels. He’s simply saying that we have that technology available for use where batteries might not yet surfice.

        • OK – I’ll accept that.

      • Force? You mean a clean electricity advocate/entrepreneur is trying to force users of liquid fuel not to accept the gasoline/petroleum monopoly on transport fuels. No, say it aint’ so!

        • OK – It Ain’t So.

          It’s my interpretation of that paragraph that Roger quoted which said that “We now have the technology to force all cars to burn multiple liquid fuels” without giving the option of the battery EV which doesn’t burn ANY liquid fuels.

          As Zach said above, it probably could have been worded better which is why I was puzzled.

    • Bull, Roger.

    • I think you misunderstood his point, which certainly could have been expressed more clearly. Check this line: “Because most homes in America are hooked to both natural gas and electricity you never have to visit a gas station again.” He is saying people can drive in electric cars and never have to go to gas stations, as far as I can tell.

      Further up, he references Tesla.

      I know he has been very critical of conventional hybrids and supports EVs. I think he just didn’t express that well here.

      As far as Jigar as a person, he’s one of the most passionate people I know about fighting global warming. He’s constantly overworking himself to do all that he can. I think attacks on him as a person are really unwarranted.

      • I didn’t attack him as a person – I said he was a profiteer. I daresay his workers and shareholders would thank him for it.

        I do agree with his main message, however, that what we need is less talk and more – a lot more – deployment. But, I don’t like what made him and SunEdison rich – the privatization and commercialization of the public electric utility sector.

        • “the privatization and commercialization of the public electric utility sector.”

          Wait, what – when did that happen, I must have been sleeping!

    • So what he writes is automatically wrong because he has a financial interest? Does the ad hominem fallacy ring a bell?

      • No – what he says is what makes him wrong. What I object to is too many articles posted here which are written by industry spokespeople which tout the benefits of the technology they happen to be pushing.

        • If you object to the content, why don’t you come with a rebuttal? The only thing you do is to point out the obvious (he has an interest), name-calling (profiteer) and blank statements (he is wrong).

          If you think he is wrong (which could very well be), please explain what he is wrong about and why.

  • Hear, hear. Both Joe Romm and the Giant Vampire Squid agree with you, a winning team (and sufficiently odd to appeal to Stan Lee).

    Niggle: how exactly does car sharing (or autonomous cars for that matter) reduce emissions? The emissions lifting is done by electrification, full stop. Sharing reduces the number of vehicles, but not of trips. You do cut down on car parks, so eventually allowing increases in urban density and walkability. The solution to traffic jams is public transport plus congestion charging: another issue of deployment, not technology.

    On Gates, see Dr. Johnson (link).

    • Sharing the car, you don’t cut down on number of trips, but SHARING the space on your car cuts down the number of trips and vehicles.

      • Autonomous cars are likely to increase car pooling because the car pools can be spontaneous. The central planning system will be able to direct the car to pick up additional passengers along the route as people push a button on their phone for a ride.

        If you call for a “willing to share” car as opposed to a “me, me, me” ride you’ll pay less.

        • Yep, and to pay for it all, advertising company X can pay car share group A to route their way by as many ad company x’s billboards as possible, cause hey, what’s a few extra blocks, we’re sharing rides now.

          Better yet, ad company y pays car share not to go by ad company x’s billboards. mwah ha ha.

          • ads will be overlaid on the windows by the car. customized for each passenger.

          • Time to take a nap 🙂

          • Or pull out my Phablet and read Clean Technica. 🙂

          • Every time you quickly turn your head to catch an ad I get concussion from your over-sized hoop earrings.

        • Car pooling has been feasible for a century, and has only made a limited dent in travel patterns. IT may change this, as with Uber. But large gains remain speculative. Didn’t CT report recently on a study that claimed that autonomous cars would raise the number of trips, partly by making travel easier for both old and young people? I don’t think we have a solid basis for a prediction of change, so the prudent baseline assumption is none.

          • Yes, think it’s hard to predict, but given that it will make transport by car easier for those populations and will also give people time in a relaxed environment to do other things, I think they’ll be less concerned about a trip taking a bit longer, so will be willing to drive (be driven) more.

          • Uber has a rough idea of what demand should look like. They’re essentially doing this at an American scale. Ford talked recently about what was essentially custom van pools where people could subscribe to routes. I would guess routes would be based on single rider volumes and pickup/destination locations. Big data + ride sharing + smart phones + google now + autonomous driving (or not) + EVs = superwin!

          • Lets face it., if we were reacting rationally to climate change, things like gas rationing, forced car pooling would would have been implemented many years ago. But it would be INCONVENIENT and we can’t have that.

            What drives me nuts is how a significant amount of car pooling could reduce traffic congestion by a huge amount – people would spend far less time in their cars. And the savings – not having to build bigger highways, fewer parking lots.

            I know I’m dreaming. Forgive the rant. Have to let it out once in a while.

          • The solutions have to be convenient and offer some benefit to the consumer. Or be “invisible”.

            Spontaneous carpooling would likely work. Poke your cellphone to request a ride to wherever you’re headed and the time you want to leave. Get a cheaper price if you’re willing to let others ride in the empty seats.
            No need to make arrangements with your fellow workers, adjust your travel times to match theirs, etc.

            Charge based on willingness to share. Same price if there’s one or four people in the car. Sometimes the system won’t have more than one rider on a trip. It will average out.

          • “if we were reacting rationally to climate change, things like gas
            rationing, forced car pooling would would have been implemented ”

            And 100 mile per gallon CAFE.

      • Funny how the word gridlock on any type of vehicle is seldom used on this site.

    • There will be some savings via more efficient driving styles and better route selection.

      • how nice that people have crystal balls and know the future before the rest of us.

        • That’s it. Your trivial stuff is coming down.

          If you continue you’ll leave.

    • I think you will see that the end of personal car ownership will reduce trips. Also, selling 75% less cars has secondary impacts that at real on less steel, iron, etc.

      • No question on the latter point.

      • I’m sorry, i see the opposite, the populace is restless and driving more to follow less and less money/income and chasing cheaper prices of essentials.

      • Autonomous cars are also tempting for productivity. A lot of books have been written on trains to work. Driving time would be nice time to get back.

    • Vehicle manufacturing is very resource, energy, and emissions intensive. Especially more efficient vehicles made of light metals and/or composites. Fewer vehicles is a very big deal.

    • Ask Toronto, they have an HOV lane to Oakville where you can pay to use if you want to speed home alone.

  • I agree with the author in spirit. I’d word it more like technology is 90 percent sales and 10 percent science.

    The problem is technology folks learn that late, but never want to admit it. For example, a young gifted and talented kid graduates from or drops out of a top tier university to find riches in Silicon Valley. He stops doing science and engineering after becoming management. Now he’s stuck being a salesman for the company’s products and services. I don’t believe there’s truly many people in Silicon Valley who have written a line of code or design something useful after graduate school.

    This article was peppered with too much Silicon Valley “disruption” and not enough metaphorical places that actually design and build things like inverters and gears for 3.0 MW wind turbines. Also Silicon Valley, along with Seattle (Amazon and Gates) are going to need more power for their vision of the future with driverless cars. It’s not just the electricity necessary to power the autonomous vehicle. It’s also the electricity necessary to power the servers running the “cloud” that drives the car.

    However, I will say this. Musk is right. Google is wrong. Musk wants RADAR and Google wants LIDAR. Radar would require less back and forth between the car(s) and cloud.

    • I never listen to Gates as his grants stop at the Canadian ‘invisible’ border.

  • Is he really saying wind and solar can do it all? In North America, wind + solar = natural gas, as there has to be something in place to back up the intermittent power. Typical of people making tons of money at the expense of others, he tells half the story. No, the current technology cannot do it all.

    • Wind and solar don’t inherently require natural gas backups. Energy storage (residential and grid scale) technology exists and with economies of scale would easily become cost competitive. Combined with hydro, geothermal, or other alternative energies, there are enough technologies out there that we could shift from fossil fuels today.

      • While the technology exists, it is not at a stage that is realistic. You’re talking theory, not practical. We do need R&D. In North America, it is gas that backs up renewables. “could be” yes. Are we there yet? No, definitely not.

        • Hen, you’re just posting the same incorrect stuff over and over.

          You’re facts-light, old bean. Do some learning. I showed you where to start.

        • Can you post some numbers to support, “it is not at a stage that is realistic. You’re talking theory, not practical”

          One theory is, theoretically, trumping another theory here – can you please show us how we got to that point. Not overall conclusions based on practical experience, but numbers that offer real comparisons?

        • Here. I am on renewables today. My home and 2 cars are nearly fully powered by the solar panels on my roof. I could also pick up some batteries (available today) if so inclined, to move fully off the grid. If it is possible in Germany, it is more than possible here. Hydro also rounds out the mix but will be impacted negatively by a warming climate (see California for a current example). Utility scale storage is also nice and leverages scale. Utility scale solar and wind round out the mix for those who cannot install locally.

        • Its been at a stage where its realistic since 2010. So says the NREL Futures Study. Its says 80% renewables can be achieved by 2050. Since then, they concluded it costs about the same as business as usual.

          In the intervening time, renewables and storage have both become cheaper sooner than anticipated.


          • I think this week may be a good time for a refresher on this. Want to write up that piece? If not, Kyle may take me up on it. 😀

          • Let me at it.

          • Gopher it!

          • The largest voting group are seniors and they aren’t budging on anything.
            How do I qualify this?
            Drop in at any seniors luncheon and catch the vibe.

          • I’ll bring this up at Thursday’s senior lunch at the community center.
            We’ll have a good laugh at your expense.

          • I’m still waiting for a call back from the local Senior’s Center re my supplying fresh greens, dirt cheap for their lunches/ presentation, last week.
            “That would mean we would want to get healthy”, they said.
            I said, “I’m planning to live to the age of 140 and i don’t want to die a lonely old man, I’ll need company.”

          • I guess they remember the good old days in “10” when we knew renewables could power the grid,

      • No backups are necessary when the lows produced by solar and wind are above 100% of what we need. Backup is just a temporary thing to fill the dips until solar and wind is fully built up. Then the highs, say when we are producing 400% of what we need, will be utilized by smart grids to do things like heating and cooling, desalination plants, etc.. HenMountain is just causing trouble.

        • New England had two weeks last December with no solar and no wind. Hydro-Quebec cut out during that period. Tell me where the power is coming from during those periods. Cause from my view of ISO-NE’s real time graphs, it was more than 60% natural gas.

          • Electrical grids? Check it out, interesting concept.

          • Yep. Not only do we have HVDC lines but also UHVDC transmission. New England is not a remote island….

          • okay, so you want more H-Q power? the grid wants more natural gas pipelines, go read ISO-NEs publications, that’s what they’re calling for. Kinder Morgan is working on a big pipeline to fuel new england. this is the reality, with the goal of more flex generators to back up the renewables. more renewables = more natural gas.

          • So what? The UK is trying to build more nuclear reactors.

            The fact that some people want to do things that don’t make sense does not make those things valid.

            More renewables may mean more NG capacity for a while. Much better to have a mix of wind, solar and NG than coal.

            Should I spell that out for you?

          • S t r a n d e d
            A s s e t s

            That’s how you spell new FF distribution projects…

          • No, that’s not how it works, old bean. If you look at places that have installed wind and solar capacity, such as say South Australia which in ten year went from allmost entirely natural gas and coal electricity generation to 40% wind and solar, you will see renewable capacity cutting fossil fuel use, including natural gas, every step of the way.

            And in going from basically zero wind and solar capacity to generating electricity equal 40% of consumption, no increase in the amount of ancillary services (spinning reserve) was required. The amount of spinning reserve required is generally set by the size of the largest single power generator, not by renewable penetration.

          • i gotta say, Australia did what? In the last ten years with what ‘politicians?’
            Don’t you self-self rule down there from valley to valley?

          • Well, South Australia is just one state out of six. Or rather one of two states out of six on account of how Tasmania already generates electricity about equal to its consumption from renewables.

            What many people may not realise is that in the ancient times of the early 21st century, the Coalition government had not yet quite become the Coal-ition government and actually thought that reality was something that attention should be paid to from time to time. Hence we had a Renewable Energy Target passed by the Coalition which this year was gutted by the Coal-ition on account of how we’re no longer a country but a mining conglomerate.

            And so South Australia, with one coal mine and diminishing reserves of natural gas built a lot of wind turbines. And a lot of rooftop solar too. Those other states with huge coal minining industries, they’ve been a bit slow off the mark.

          • Natural gas has the same congestion problems as electricity. Even worse. During the polar vortex, gas prices soared and there were pipeline limitations. Any flexible source can be mated with renewables, not just natural gas. Biogas, biomass, geothermal, hydro, run of river.

          • We need to figure out how to generate power from cold temps. Maybe geothermal with the system taking advantage of temp differentials between surface and core temps whether it’s + or -…should work.

          • Ocean thermal. I’m not sure they’ve figured out how to make it affordable.

          • Ice pistons. Freezing water cartridges driving generators geared down.

          • Possible more natural gas plants, but not more natural gas burning. Wind and solar displace fuels, not burn more.

          • please provide a link or more specific reference

          • I’m sure we’ll see an upcoming Doctor Who episode about the 400 kilometer wide flying saucer that hovered over New England for two weeks.

          • Get this concept. In order to get to 80% renewables we don’t need every region of the US to be 100% renewables in every location. Over wider areas there is always some resource. The average of the US can be 80% renewables with some higher, some lower. The NREL Futures Study found only about 10% was storage. There are many ways to integrate renewables, not the least of which is to transmit energy from other areas. The Midwest in particular has abundant winter wind. Offshore wind has just started development on the East Coast.


          • Here is a graph of the renewables in each region. The sum of all of them is 80% renewables by 2050 for the US as a whole. Notice that some regions are not 80%. Some more, some less. Noting some period of time in some location does not alter this. Those locations can also use dispatch able renewables like geothermal, hydro, and biomass, and import renewable power from other areas via transmission lines. The conclusion is still the same. 80% renewables by 2050. Note that in this study, only half the generation was variable renewables like wind and solar. 30% was dispatch able renewables like CSP with storage, geothermal, hydro, biomass. 20% was conventional including nuclear. Only 10% storage. That was 2010. Things have improved rapidly.


          • Bullshit, show me the two weeks. No wind in New England, in winter, not happening. I live in coastal Maine, there was no 2 weeks without wind in December, you’re dreaming.
            And since you seem to be some sort of expert someone should probably inform you that Quebec is not a part of New England, and that when Hydro Quebec went down not a single person in actual New England lost power and that it went down as the result of sabotage/attack.

          • Distributed renewables are more resilient to man made and natural disasters, too. A lot of people wish they had some after Sandy.

        • There is some point below which overbuilding is the least expensive and above which storage is the best economic storage. There may be a much higher (very infrequent) point where we will need some dispatchable generation. This might best be provided by biogas/mass. But it will likely be a couple of decades before we reach that point.

          • why am I guessing you are in the industry and make money on this stuff?

          • Don’t attack the credibility of people without cause.

            You don’t know the regular commenters here and will come off looking like a fool.

          • I asked a question. you didn’t answer it. i’ve already been called a fool by you folks, not exactly giving me a chance, eh?

          • No, you tried to attack the credibility of other posters with a backhand charge of them being paid agents.

          • Rhetorical question. He can’t know the answer to why you think a thing.

          • But yet if you overheard the emotional nature of communications of a certain group today as i did; you would think life is an unsurmountable mountain of dead end passes, cliffs and drop off ravines. Only reacting to complex existing problems caused by other simpler problems.

          • Late majority and Laggards luncheon club?

          • i just got a letter from the local City Hall here.
            My request for $9 million Can. to fund a locally owned ‘Uber type’ taxi system of 100 Nissan Leafs, conversion to LED street lights, a BC Hydro/grid solar panel farm and extending LED lights to the cemetery were all denied….because ‘the cost of maintaining existing service levels have risen’.
            “Council understands your requests” but “had to balance the many priority projects with the limited funding available.”
            The priority projects are related to increased traffic of ICEs.

          • I’m sure he doesn’t know the answer.


          • Because you make a habit of being wrong?

          • We’ve had this discussion before. I see it as a moving target. What is economical now will change as it is further built-out.

    • I don’t know if he is saying that wind and solar can do it all. But if he is, he is 95% right. Wind, PV and battery storage can now do 95% of all energy in the world at rates lower than the already artificially low US electrical grid rates. Those rates are vastly subisidized by the way, over decades of grid development and nuclear and fossil fuel shenanigans. Anyway, we are left with the grid at least. Battery storage is the new kid in town, so I am not blaming anyone for being behind the curve on this. Actually, lets be big about this, unless you have really been interested in the alternative energy scene for several years and are knowledgeable about the working technology actually available now and within the next year or two I can’t blame anybody for having the impression that alternative energy is either too expensive or “unicorn farts” (this phrase was funny the first time, but please, right wingers and nuclear fans, stop using it, it really is a stale groaner now, and it never was true).
      Notice the figure I use is 95%. The last 5% will have to come from such stuff as natural gas for the time being. Not because we can’t do it with batteries, but it will have to wait about…5 years… to not make any impact on your electricity bill. And heaven knows you wouldn’t want to cut into your potato chip or coca cola bill to pay an extra penny for clean electricity would you now? Well, I promised to be big about this issue, forgiving, tolerant, understanding. That crack about the potato chips and the waist line issue just slipped out of my subconcious. Forgive me, and I will now press send, on my unicorn fart powered computer.

      • sorry, I’m not your garden variety idiot, have lived off-grid with solar for decades. Gotta have batteries and back-up generator. For the grid that means natural gas.

        • I suppose with this type of thinking anybody that has used nuclear power on the grid is a nuclear power expert?

          • another failed analogy

          • I’ve also lived off the grid with solar for decades.

            You are poorly informed.

        • We’re using NG right now. That’s not the future.

          Read more. Post less.

          • and i don’t have a crystal ball, i see what is real now and support the call for R&D and do not support the claims that wind and solar can do it all. As this discussion makes it clear, there are all kinds of things needed to support that argument. Crystal balls, for one thing.

        • Absolutely no change is needed up to ~30% wind & solar penetration. I’ve seen grid operators from Europe very clearly state this. 30-60%, you need some good demand response and flexibility approaches, then you need to have storage up to ~90%. After that, it’s up for debate what will be best — natural gas filling in, power-to-gas storage, overbuilding solar & wind. One big study has found that simply overbuilding solar & wind will be the most cost-effective approach.

          • Iowa is getting 25% of its electricity from wind.

          • Has anyone suggested anything about biomethanol storage?

            I found out about methanol a few weeks ago and I’ve been doing a good deal of research on it.

            I was thinking of writing another article… Prepare the comment avalanche!

          • We’ve skimmed the surface a few times over the years, but I wouldn’t claim to know much about it.

          • It comes out of the rear end of four leggers in the barn.

          • I watched a bit of the documentary “Pump” on Amazon the other day and found it interesting. More than anything, it just bummed me out that the auto industry had sold out on oil to the point where they just didn’t enable them to use eth/meth/gas…just gas. 🙁 Seems like it has potential.

          • “it just bummed me out that the auto industry had sold out on oil to the point where they just didn’t enable them to use eth/meth/gas…just gas. 🙁 Seems like it has potential.”

            There are legitimate reasons why the industry went with octane/heptane as a fuel source (climate change not being one of them).

            It’s more energy-dense than methanol/ethanol, and not as corrosive on the internal systems.

            I would suggest all thermal engines are going to be going away for transportation. Electric locomotion, battery or otherwise, absolutely destroys them on efficiency.

            That said, I think hydrocarbons are likely to play an essential role in any future renewable energy system as a storage medium. They have advantages over batteries and other storage media that I don’t see being surmounted…

          • Not interested in any bio fuels. I feel it is taking away from the land. I would be interested in a better storage medium than batteries and hydrogen. Maybe methane?

          • Ivor, what is your issue with batteries? the stuff you suggest is inefficient and less cost effective

          • I like batteries. For years I’ve been wishing for large inexpensive flow batteries to balance out the grids weekly demands. If we need to store energy across seasons for small off-grid applications I think we need something else besides batteries. Hydrogen might work but are there other better solutions? Pumped water for a household obviously won’t work. I’m pretty sure you think flow batteries are the solution for everything but it seems if you had to store three months of electricity in batteries you’d need a lot of space and money. Hydrogen on the other hand might just need a couple of large tanks. I’d like something better than hydrogen but creating and using methane seems complicated.

          • why would you need 3 months of storage in a renewable electric grid? Hydrogen would only need a couple of large tanks? are you kidding me? First, you need to go back and check which is more expensive as a storage medium. Secondly why would you overbuild any infrastructure ?

          • “Not interested in any bio fuels. I feel it is taking away from the land. I would be interested in a better storage medium than batteries and hydrogen. Maybe methane?”

            Biofuels are just fuels generated from the biosphere. Methane extracted from decaying organic material would be biofuel, for example.

            Earth gas (or natural gas), on the other hand, is fossil fuel, even though it’s mostly methane as well, because it comes from deep beneath the Earth.

            Methane is CH₄: One carbon atom and 4 hydrogen atoms. In biomethane, the source of this material is air and water (CO₂ and H₂O). Almost none of it actually comes from the land.

            Methanol is almost exactly the same thing, but with an oxygen atom thrown in. Because it has that extra oxygen, it’s a liquid, not a gas, and doesn’t have to be compressed. That’s what makes it attractive as a storage medium.

          • More biofuels require more decaying organic material. To be a major fuel source people would start growing things just to destroy them. Justifying the whole process as being carbon neutral. No thanks….

          • “More biofuels require more decaying organic material. To be a major fuel source people would start growing things just to destroy them. Justifying the whole process as being carbon neutral.”

            It is carbon neutral! …and actually can be carbon negative if you do it right.

            We don’t actually have a shortage of decaying organic material, you know.

            Visit a landfill if you don’t believe me…

          • People will try to scale it. They won’t stop at the landfills. They’ll try to grow algae. They’ll try growing crops. It’s human nature. I don’t mind the landfills and existing crops that are used for other purposes being cleaned up. That’s fine.

          • OK, we’ve got “burned out” cotton fields in Alabama that won’t support growing food or fiber. But they will grow switchgrass which is a pretty good biofuel source.

            You have a problem using that wasteland?

            Many of our western forests badly need thinning in order to reduce forest fire fuel and let the non-thinned trees mature.

            You have a problem using that?

          • Maybe. I’d have to look into it.

          • Wow. Ivor you are a piece of work. You don’t need a bunch of battery storage in a renewable electric grid scenario. It has a 100% flexible range. The problem with today’s FF grid is overgeneration driven by misguided incentives to invest in underutilized infrastructure to generate shareholder return. Remember I do this for a living. The unknowns to the general public is staggering.

          • Imagine a house off the grid. In the winter they get very little solar electricity. Unfortunately they need electricity the most in the winter to keep warm. Now if flow batteries were real they could simply buy one and store the excess energy from the summer for use in the winter. Unfortunately there are no economical working flow batteries, just like there is really no Santa Claus, and so people can only wish. It’s amazing how self-proclaimed experts are the very last to understand the basics.

          • Imagine hooking that house to the grid.

            Next problem?

          • I bet you were the kid in school who when given a problem told the teacher it was unrealistic and refused to do the work!

          • No, I was one of the three or four who raced to see who could solve it fastest.

          • That’s somewhat believable. Now how about solving the above problem without cheating? Or admitting it is a problem that we don’t have a good solution to yet.

          • There’s no affordable small scale technology for storing the sort of power you envision.

            You’d have to be pretty far north (or south) to get no usable sunshine all winter long. Ven is located pretty far north and his place does pretty well with solar.

            If you’re talking Alaska, for example, better look for a site that will support wind or small scale hydro.

            As far as heat, most people off the grid are going to use wood.

          • 🙂

          • Ivor, let me get this straight. no economical flow batteries ? based on your evaluation? then i guess one of the biggest global developers and funders of renewable energy would not consider it bankable right? they would never invest in a vanadium flow battery project right? then explain to me how our project has such a funder and please explain to me how our 50MW battery aaray is displacing 217MW of gas turbines with an avoided cost savings

          • Scrooge!!! There is a Santa Clause, there IS! Now we know you are delusional for sure.

          • “People will try to scale it.”


            Biomass can replace fossil sources of energy and reduce atmospheric carbon at the same time.

            The faster it scales up, the better.

            I would not be in favour of chewing up wilderness for fuel, but after we tapped the waste stream and agricultural waste and switch grass grown on degraded land, I would even go so far as to suggest we could harvest dead biomass from wilderness areas. They are already doing this in some places to avoid forest fires with controlled burns. We might as well get energy from it at the same time…

          • It’s worked out so well for the Amazon. Biomass is a gateway environmental disaster. People say they have it under control and the next moment we find …

          • There are countless articles many of which are probably fossil fuel sponsored propaganda. You don’t want to be turning your land into fuels. It’s like raising animals that see you as a food source. Or pouring liquids over something expensive. With a little thought you just don’t do it. Here are some articles but I’m no expert nor need to be on the subject:





          • “It’s worked out so well for the Amazon.”

            Sarcasm noted and it’s a fair point, though the Amazon is being clear-cut, not leveraged for ground litter, and mostly for food, not energy.

            I would suggest the Amazon is slightly different than the natural regions from which I was suggesting extracting energy.

            Biodiversity is much higher and the jungle does not undergo periodic natural wildfires like the forests in the north.

            The Amazon is actually an interesting case, because it proves it’s possible for humans to sequester carbon for long time scales. The carbon sequestered by Amazonian Natives is still in the soil today, thousands of years after it was pulled from the sky…

          • Wow. Your professionalism is overwhelming. And appreciated. I hope to read many more of your comments here. Thanks.

          • The megalopolis centers must be supported by the hinterlands.
            It’s just a natural thing to do in Trumpland.

          • “The megalopolis centers must be supported by the hinterlands.”

            I think there’s actually a very natural fit between cities and hinterlands where energy can be produced on city rooftops and stored in rural biomass.

            It seems to me they complement each other quite nicely…

          • Ah, but I’ve just been to gizmag.com and there are three kinds of hyperloops coming on stream, one starting actual tests next month; bluring the line between urban and rural.

          • “there are three kinds of hyperloops coming on stream”

            I’ll keep my eyes peeled!

            I love me some Elon Musk, but the hyperloop thing sounds like a big bag of BS to me… We will see! He surprised with the Tesla Roadster, maybe he can pull it off again.

          • The mag lev principle is only a stretched out linear electric motor. The system with the one and a half mm gap sounds scary, requiring an exactly flat rail. I mean there is seasonal heaving of any landscape that they are going to adjust for, a few months at a time?

          • I’ve got alerts set for the Hyperloop. I’ve been looking for a “fatal flaw” for months. Or, more accurately, looking for someone else to find one. At this point I’m guessing that tens of thousands of knowledgeable engineers have given it a look. Some large engineering companies and university programs have signed on. I’ve seen no one point out a reason why it might not work.

            That’s not to say that it will absolutely work, stuff one doesn’t anticipate can turn up when an idea is tested.

            Conceptually the Hyperloop is pretty simple. A capsule is suspended in a tube by jets of air squirting out of the capsule. And the jets can be aimed to push the capsule forward or to slow/stop it. Evacuating most of the air and riding on a cushion of air greatly reduces friction.

          • You’re adding one more step and each step eats energy.

            The simple storage answer (long term storage) is pump-up hydro. It’s been in use for 100 years. Fairly high efficience, quite high compared to H2 or CH4.

            The goal will be to find something cheaper.

            For deep, deep storage – the ‘7 hours a year’ stuff we should be able to use biomass or biofuel without taking anything away from forest or table. Just pelletize wood waste, for example.

          • True, but I’m hoping for long term storage for a household off the grid where PV panels and space are limited. Biofuels, pumped up storage, and massive battery packs to smooth out seasonal fluctuations may not be possible either.

          • I’m off the grid.

            It’s wildly oversold.

            Seek a wire that connects you to some of that sweet onshore wind.

          • frankly, Bob, Ivor is all over the place. Could a manufacturer develop a off grid product for consumers today, lets say a 10kW /1hr (1,000/kWh) battery ? yes, they could but how big is that market? lets not forget this is an emerging industry and sales and revenue is king. By the way, that would give you a weeks worth of electric power. how big would that package be? you would be surprised, probably a couple of Tesla powerpack’s

          • Massive batteries? long term storage? you could charge a flow battery today, let it sit and come back 5 years later and start it up no problem. no loss of capacity whatsovever

          • That would be nice. I’m sure there is a catch. Too pricey? Too big? Not yet available?

          • available today. not too big and definitely not pricey. largest solar + storage in the world is being deployed with VRB technology out west. so stop it with the crap. Major, global funder who also happens to be the co-developer

          • Available today? Where?
            Not pricey? How much?
            Largest in the world? Where?
            You’ve been saying the same old thing for years. Including how the developers come to you for your expert information. How many times have you told everybody you are an expert? Hundreds? Yet you still provide no links to anything you say…

          • Time for bink to weigh in. I promise to stick to just the facts based on mine own real world practical experience and current 150MW/200MWh solar + storage integration project.. The project in question is replacement capacity in a utility avoided cost case before the PUC. Our project consist of 100MW solar array and 50MW battery array (100MW flexible range). The utility has proposed to build 40MW of solar in 2016, 60MW in 2017, Along with a 40MW GT and 177MW heavy frame CT. They would also upgrade an existing coal facility with $66MM worth of carbon capture technology. The peak units would be used for peak with some limited load following and voltage support capabilities. Both gas units would have capacity factor ranging from 5-10%. We project a 36% cost savings against the utility replacement plan with no emissions. Both proposals (theirs and ours) would utilize federal tax incentives. Our cost of financing is cheaper because we are bringing the capital build forward to present day versus a 5 year build-out for the utility. Our control scheme is renewable integration and a continuous output with ancillary services: load following(balancing), 24/7 frequency regulation (up/down), spinning reserve, peak reliability services, demand response and transmission upgrade deferral. Availability is 96%. In other words we are displacing 100MW of solar and 217 of gas units that would only operate 5% of the time. Nor would they absorb the area wind into the electrical mix. And of course with their loading factor (minimum 45%-65%) all of that capacity is not available to them for any extended period of time

          • yes, right technology for the control scheme. in an area with high solar production (out west) essentially we are providing a baseload power plant (solar +storage) the technology would have to be high cycle or (unlimited) with the ability to provide ancillary and peak shaving services simultaneously. We do have a major global financier and developer of renewable energy as co-developer

          • Yes. The flame wars on thus thread are pointless. In any country but Denmark, the issue of the last 10% is so far ahead that it is impossible to predict what technologies will be available, let alone which mix of them will be cheapest. Denmark knows though: the backup is Norwegian hydro, a battery on a country scale.

          • Agreed. Seem to be getting a few flame wars lately, sometimes started by the same people… Hmm, WWBD? (B=Bob in case that wasn’t clear). 😀

          • Overbuilding is not a dirty word. Bridges, dams, roof trusses, drain pipes etc. are all overbuilt to a safety factor.

            Five years ago, people stretched their budgets to put 1 and 2 kW systems on their roof. With plummeting solar panel costs, they can now afford to put a 7kW system up, with the intention of ‘exporting’ the surplus. A nice little retirement earner.

            What they need to accept however, is that they aren’t going to sell every spare kWh every day of the year. When we are blessed with consecutive days of sun and wind, the storage is all full, the pumped hydro is fully pumped, the cars are all top charged, the pools are filtered, the water heaters are full and hot… there’s simply nowhere left to put those extra kWh – the price is zero till sundown. Tomorrow is another day.

          • I’m going to more than double my system this next year. Just for the convenience of not having to deal with my generator so often and not having to haul home as much gasoline.

          • I committed to adding 10 panels in 2016…to get our 2 cars and home fully off the grid…possibly with enough left over to cover a hybrid electric heat pump water heater…

          • And there’s a simple idea – if water heaters stored water at 90 degrees C, instead of 40 degrees C, then had a mix-with-cold chamber to cool it back to 40 for usage, you’ve about 5 kWh of additional demand mitigation right there. It’s like a poor man’s inverse powerwall.

          • I thought the inline water heater was the rich man’s inverse powerwall.

        • If you are not the garden variety idiot, then be so good as to re read my comment. Did I not say we need natural gas back up? About 5%. And all in a narrow period in winter for a few days at a time. The demand for electricity requires natural gas peaking plants at full blast…but only for a few hours at a time to zap up the batteries. If you have been off grid for some years I congratulate you, since it keeps you in touch with reality. I have run an off grid community in the snowy, dark, bitchin’ cold woods of Canada for the last 15 years, those PV and batteries have trained me to listen to them.
          Yesterday I was supposed to have a skype talk (through satellite internet) with a man in one of the most expensive and greenest cities in the world…Vancouver, Canada. I couldn’t get through because his power was out! The grid goes down with a little bit of wind, and they frolic in the dark for hours. In the last 5 years our little micro grid has maybe been out for 15 minutes…a generator glitch.
          By the way if you are using old wet lead acid batteries and dated inverters and solar chargers and a bad ass generator then it may distort your view of what can be done with cutting edge batteries and inverters. The prices have fallen and fallen and….well nothing is the same anymore.

        • Being off grid means less resilience, not more.

          You could learn a lot by listening to The Energy Gang or learning about NY REV.

        • “I’m not your garden variety idiot”

          So what variety are you?

          • lol.

          • During the Bush Presidency, a village in Texas was missing its idiot.

          • I’m pretty sure that ‘village’ was Dallas.

          • I determined the variety: “useful”

        • So what kind of idiot are you?

      • Even if we all agree that Wind and Solar energy technology is already ready to take on 95% of our electrical needs, it will take so long that the technology will also continue to improve during the transition. It is going to take many years and many billions of $’s to build the replacement wind and solar.

        In the mean time we can keep phasing out the really dirty energy producers while keeping a couple (or whatever number) gas plants to balance loads while doing minimal damage to the environment.

        • Right you are. 95% is a long ways out, and the prices will drop and efficiency will steadily increase…although they don’t need to much, really.

    • Geothermal eliminates intermittent power. It’s more expensive than solar and wind but much less costly than nuclear. We can afford it. Also, biomass already makes a contribution. We already have the answers but we need to buy off these politicians who block renewable energy for their billionaire fossil fool friends. It truly is a matter of life and death.

      • not sure what planet you’re on, but in an electric grid system, geothermal is not a factor. And are you seriously promoting biomass as a solution? Not.

          • i am not in iceland, are you?

          • And yet you said “not sure what planet you’re on, but in an electric grid system, geothermal is not a factor. “

          • what u.s. grid has geothermal as a factor? sorry, next shall we talk about Mars?

          • How about the Western grid?

            We’ve also got undeveloped geothermal potential in West Virginia.

          • Can we block the Hen yet? I’m generally not a fan of blocking people but this one is literally just stirring the pot without adding any value. Mussing up this whole thread. :/

          • I think he’s cooled down. He’s on the right track, just not listening to feedback.

            He needs to do a little reading and catch up. He seems to have been asleep since around 1990.

          • “Power plants at the Geysers are of the dry steam power plant type, where the steam directly powers the generator.[5] In general, the Geysers has 1517 MW[14] of active installed capacity with an average production factor of 63% (955 Mwh
            That is 100 miles from San Francisco

          • Vensonata: Regarding the Geysers geothermal capacity, the 1st geothermal plants in the Geysers had 500 psi steam from their drilled wells. Within 25 years of the 1st drilled well, multiple wells have been drilled and the average well has less than 150 psi pressure. The reason this happens is drilled well penetrate what’s called a “cap rock” deep below the surface. It’s a layer of stone that retains water vapor and heat under pressure. It’s a balloon really. Additionally, the area of a cap rock balloon can be many sq. miles. And like a balloon, when you punch a hole, all the pressure is released. The more holes you drill (in a small formation like the Geysers in NorCA), the faster the pressure is released. This is the Achilles Heel of geothermal power. If you limit geothermal wells , (within the boundaries of a specific geothermal reserve), to one or two, it will work. However, our need for more and more power demands that we drill more and more wells – killing off areas like the Geysers.

          • Yes, that is why I don’t think geothermal is worthy of much consideration. Basically we don’t need it. However, the quote from wikipedia on the geysers was addressed to the statement by “HenMountain” in the comment:

            “what u.s. grid has geothermal as a factor? sorry, next shall we talk about Mars?”
            The geysers is a US grid feed in of considerable amounts. Now do you see the context?

          • Much of the pressure drop at the Geysers was due to water not being returned to the aquifer. It was pumped up and flashed to steam at the power plant and the steam venting into the air. About 15 years ago they started doing waist water injections into the Aquifer. That has stabilized and even increased the pressure.

            Modern Geothermal power plants pump of the hot fluid, extract the heat with a heat exchanger and then send the cooled fluid back to the aquifer. Minimal steam is lost to the atmosphere avoiding the pressure loss in the aquifer.

          • California. Ever heard of it?

          • Has yet to recover from kicking out the Spanish….

          • But then it never was 😀

          • You know, this used to be a helluva good country. – Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider


          • The biggest user of geothermal power on the planet is California. And we have not tapped out the resource. Calfiornia also has significant biomass generation of power. Currently California gets 6% of its power from large hydrop and 20% form wind, solar, small hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass and waist power eneration. Coal is currently 6% and falling fast.

          • Awesome! Love geothermal where it makes sense 🙂

          • There’s still hope for enhanced geothermal. If someone can figure out how to affordably drill deep holes it should be a go.

            The big problem I’ve seen is that the larger diameter bits are easier to seize. (Bigger = more friction.)

            I wonder if they could drill an oil well sized hole and then use something like laser spallation to enlarge the hole?

          • The problem with enhanced geothermal has never been about the hole drilling. I problem has always been connecting the production and extraction wells with fractures while at the same time maximizing the water rock surface area for effective heat transfer to the water. Existing fracking methods used by the oil industry don’t work well. You typically get one or two fractures between the wells and very low water rock contact area.

            At the Altarock newberry volcano project in Oregon they drilled the holes. Fracked them. Plugged the cracks with a biodegradable material and then fracked them again. This is repeated several times for each well. After several months the plug material degrades to CO2 and Water. This leaves the rock around the well littered with cracks that go in all directions and high water rock contact area.

            I don’t know when they will start building the power plant.

          • Over and over companies have failed the task of hole drilling. Altarock used holes which were an attempt at hot rock geothermal but did not find a natural water source. They demonstrated their fracking technique but I don’t think they’ve at all solved the enhanced geothermal problem. I don’t think they’ll have the heat source to do anything major.

    • And when you are learning how to walk you fall down multiple times. Why do these idiots learn to walk? They should just crawl. It’s much safer. I like your attitude. Why tell half the truth, Walking is absurd and hurts people. Walking can’t do what we need.

      • sorry but i don’t get your humor, or is it insult. been waiting for breakthroughs in solar, generators, and batteries for decades. I know what is currently possible and am living with it. We need R&D. Solar and wind cannot do it all, especially in a big grid system. Get real, folks.

        • It’s a parallel to help demonstrate the flaws in your thinking.

          • so tell me about your experiencing living with solar and how it is powering everything you need, since you’re the expert and I only know because of actually doing it. What are you doing?

          • That’s a bogus argument.

          • right, we don’t want facts to get in the way of theory, now, do we?

          • Now you’re just going to toss shit out and see if it might not stink?

            Quit being ignorant. Learn some facts.

          • no need for profanity, when it gets to that point i’m done. ya’ll have fun playing with your crystal balls

          • Which facts? You have not presented any. Just some blanket statements without any evidence to back it up.

          • It’s wonderful.

          • i asked what you are doing

          • What I’m doing HenMountain? Slapping a troll? I find it fun from time-to-time.

          • pot calling the kettel black, eh? I am not a troll, are you?

          • Stop the troll stuff.

            Both the frequent posting of the same thing over and over. And the name-calling.

          • i am responding to what others are writing, if you keep writing the same thing then i guess you get what you get

          • Let me get it right: Only people who lived off-grid are allowed to participate in discussion? Even though there are many sources of knowledge besides practical experience, and a small autonomous system is not really comparable with a big complex grid with many different and geographically dispersed power sources?

          • Why concentrate on living off grid? Very few people live off grid and most of the carbon is not from off grid. We need solutions for on grid, mostly. Energy costs more to live off grid. Every step up in combining more people lowers the cost. Thats why micro grids are emerging. Its a better way. Vensonata lives off grid, but they combine several houses to economize.
            Storage and batteries need to provide solutions on grid, and they do. They are displacing gas peakers in grid applications.
            Its a little confusing when you refer to off grid, then talk about natural gas. Thats not what most people use to supplement in off grid applications. At least not for electricity. Maybe propane for gas stoves and wood for heating, more likely. A gas generator for odd times when the solar, wind, and batteries won’t do.

        • Read some research. Your seat of the pants analysis is a failure.

          • have read plenty. you want research, i am talking real world.

          • Upper left of the page – the link “100% Renewables”.

            Educate yourself.

          • pie in the sky fantasy and actually damaging because it is not realistic, not now

          • Look, you’re wearing your welcome thin.

            Best you stop the meaningless one liners.

            I think you’re on the same page as the rest of us, wanting to see an end to fossil fuels and a slowing of climate change. But you aren’t displaying any depth of knowledge. Slow down, ask questions about what you don’t understand, read, learn.

          • Somehow I have the impression you did not really read the suggested literature.

        • It’s like a grasshopper saying birds can’t fly because it can’t. You’re not convincing anyone here because we’ve looked at numerous studies to the contrary.

        • Breakthroughs are fools gold. Incremental improvements have dramatically brought down the cost of solar and wind power

          • I wouldn’t go that far…they do happen…but are VERY rare 🙂 I agree with the sentiment though.

        • It is a common mistake to think that you can throw some money into R&D and this will bring you some breakthrough technology that will solve your problems. This is not how technology development works in real life. In real life you need a combination of deployment, learning by doing, corporate research and government funded research. Only the interaction between these brings technology forward, one incremental step at a time.

          • Yes. You don’t spend the money and then expect cold fusion in 15 years. A little money is spent on some factor in an existing design. For batteries that might be cathode or electrolyte research. The goal might be allowing more lithium to be absorbed in the cathode, thus higher capacity. The research might investigate materials or examine the physical properties. Other research is aimed at lowering costs. Its usually incremental or evolutionary, not revolutionary.

          • Enough R&D…let’s act, let’s do! We have so much intelligence, energy, entrepreneurialism…let’s change this planet! What are you doing different today? Let’s reduce the footprint, get that EV, put those solar panels up that you’ve been putting off for years now 😀 😀

          • R%D versus deployment is a false dilemma. We need both.

          • We have enough R&D to fix the problem. No point in spending another $100bn today when we have an urgent problem that needs fixing. Just trying to stem the flow of money to R&D to “fix” the problem when it has already been solved on paper with current tech that people and companies can buy today. Money and actions need to be focused on action and installations moving forward. Yes, R&D is important, but it is not required to fix the problem. Gets back to the “are you a talker or a doer?” question…and it’s time for some serious doing 😀

          • Somehow I get the impression you missed my point. I do think we should accelerate deployment. I also think this deployment would be accompanied with more R&D. The interaction between the two will make renewables cheaper and better and increased deployment easier and more acceptable. Just look at what the combination of depployment and R&D did for PV in Germany.

          • I understand what you were saying. My point was…we are where we are today because “more R&D” has been the solution for too long. We know enough…so let’s stop trying to fix it with R&D and redirect serious money towards deployment. Let’s stop learning for a minute and fix the problem. If there’s anything left, sure, more R&D but the time to act is now. That needs to be the message. R&D can wait a few years.

          • We’re doing a tremendous amount of R&D on RE and storage.

            R&D can continue to run in the background as we build out the best/most affordable technology of the moment. And we can switch over to new/better/cheaper products as they are proven.

          • I agree on all points. The distinction for me is that the majority of our funds should shift towards implementation vs more research.

          • Ye. Lets nuance it a bit, if I may. Lets push R and D a bit more toward practical implementation for onshore wind. Things like taller towers, segmented blades, for easier transport. Things that lower maintenance, extend life, and lower costs. We don’t need to spend a lot of money on completely knew approaches. The present 3 bladed upwind designs are well proven and descending in price. Where we do need more R and D is in offshore.
            We need some research for solar. There is still some areas there that could use incremental improvement, and they can be targeted. There is still some useful areas in CSP with storage.
            And there are lots of opportunities in storage.
            So lets shift more into implementation, but keep up the R and D in appropriate ways that keep steady decreases in emissions.

          • We need more/faster deployment.

            More R&D is not likely to help solve this problem, but ramping R&D could compete with/distract from increasing deployment.

          • Yes. LIke we really need to lower wind energy costs further than 2.5c/kwhr? What are we waiting for? For deniers to realize that wind and solar are already cheaper than conventional sources?
            I agree. Lets get moving. We know how. Lets go.

        • No breakthroughs are needed. The spectacular cost decrease in wind and solar power has come from many small but incremental improvements.

        • You are creating a straw man. I don’t see anyone saying solar and wind can do it all. That was the first question you asked. You insisted natural gas was the only way. It was pointed out that, no, natural gas is not the only way. Geothermal, hydro, biomass, transmission, and now increasingly flow and battery storage are available. Biogas can replace natural gas. There are myriad ways. Any flexible source, and overcapacity can be used, And it was pointed out that looking at one region one can always find some days with not much sun or wind. But that does not change the fact that for the nation as a whole, on average, 80% renewables can be implemented by 2050.

          Not only that, but natural gas peakers are set to be replaced by batteries and flow, which have come down in price. This is what you are missing. There have been breakthroughs. You can stop waiting. PowerWall, $250/kwhr. Imergy vanadium flow, others. AES.
          They are replacing gas peakers. PowerWall got 630 million worth of orders for utility storage in 7 days. That was May of this year.


    • It can’t? Why can’t we supply our grids with clean energy using the technology we have already developed? Multiple research studies say we can.

      We have batteries that are now replacing NG for short term storage. We could use pump-up hydro and flow batteries for long term storage. By the time we really need long term storage we’ll likely have cheaper alternatives.

      • could. maybe. somehow. sometime. want to buy me a new battery bank? should I get the $5000 version of the $7500 version?

        • I have no idea what you are trying to say.

          You’re just posting as fast as you can press keys. Stop doing that. If you have something of value to add to the conversation then post it. If you’re just going to slobber all over the discussion you’re going to be shown the door.

        • Hen, this is bink. we are doing a 200/MWh solar + storage project out west which will displace 217MW of gas peakers. lower cost and O&M. co developer and funder is large multinational

          • That’s awesome 🙂 Stoked on that work and hungry for more 🙂

          • thanks will update everyone. we are in interconnection process right now. we are excited and will be a world first.major, major player involved. actually two major players (EPC)

          • I would love to hear more if you can share any details. Along those lines, a write up would be fantastic if you’re interested…

    • Examining electricity demands and potential in 15-minute blocks throughout the year in every US state and almost every country, Stanford researchers have determined how to transition to 100% renewable energy. http://thesolutionsproject.org/

      To say it’s not possible or practical isn’t up to date. Utility-scale solar is already at 5c/kWh on average, and wind 3c/kWh. Costs are still dropping. To say these aren’t the best technologies forward is missing the melody for the crowd.

      People used to also say solar couldn’t be more than 5% of generation. That was clearly wrong. Don’t be lost in the dust clinging to outdated concepts.

      • Awesome backup. “yeah, the top minds in the world basically looked at the most detailed data for every country in the world and used that to create a bottom up strategy based on current tech.” Any questions? 😀

        To further cement the response, storage is also required.

    • Nuclear, geothermal, hydro, and other low emissions sources are also included above.

    • Wind and solar aren’t the only renewables. Hydro comes to mind, and it’s not only dispatchable but often “reversible” too (pumped storage).
      For large-scale, long-term storage, power-to-gas is also looked into (hydrogen, methane, etc); efficiency isn’t an issue when leveraging excess wind or solar.

      I think you also underestimate the huge potential of flexibility on the demand side. For example, the vast majority of my family’s energy usage goes to heating, and charging my car. Both could be scheduled pretty much anytime over a 2-day period.

    • “In North America, wind + solar = natural gas, as there has to be something in place to back up the intermittent power.”

      Do you have a source to back up this claim?

      • No, the depth of understanding comes from living off the grid. 😀 You know, everything can be extrapolated from one plot of land. 😀

    • “No, the current technology cannot do it all.”

      Please back-up this blanket statement with some evidence.

    • No. You are leaving out geothermal, hydro, biomass, concentrating solar with storage, and a lot more. There is increased transmission lines, additional storage from batteries, flow batteries, pumped hydro conversions, and thermal storage. There is demand management, efficiency and more. Storage is not the only game in town.


  • The tech is here but not to sufficient scale. Solar should probably grow about 100-fold over the next 20 years.

    • The USA is looking to hit around 8GW of solar installed in 2015:


      If you’re saying solar needs to hit 800GW a year by 2035, it will be replacing nearly all of the country’s current electricity generating capacity every year. This is not necessary and in many ways counter-productive.

      Consider this: Since U.S. generating capacity is roughly 1,000GW:


      Single-axis utility-scale solar can have a capacity factor between 20% – 30% (We’ll just settle on 25% as a good estimate) and wind power could easily provide 30% of capacity by 2035, we would need 700GW * 4 or 2,800GW of solar installed to go basically 100% renewable with no hydroelectricity factoring in. To hit that number, we’d have to average 140GW of solar installed per year, or about 18 times as much capacity as we install currently, not 100 times as much. Maybe we need to scale up 20 – 25 times to make up for lower installations in the early years of the time frame, but that’s still not anywhere near a 100-fold increase.

      But even this doesn’t make sense. The numbers I calculated only make sense if all of the USA’s 1,000GW of power plants ran 100% of the time. Natural gas capacity factors have recently been around 50% and coal plants struggle to hit 60% capacity factors:


      Maybe population growth, economic growth and increased electric vehicle adoption will truly make electricity demand in 2035 equal to 1,000GW of generating capacity running 100% of the time. Maybe energy efficiency, demand management and smart grid / building approaches will bring that number down. Who knows.

      Regardless, even if solar installations scale up 20 – 25 times their current rate and stay there for 20 years, we’ll need a lot of storage to manage the interplay between wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and yes, a bit of aging nuclear plants if we want to go 100% fossil free. Maybe ocean energy and a bit of biomass works its way into the equation by 2035 as well, but storage will go a long way towards keeping us from overbuilding wind and solar capacity way too much.

      • Maybe some confusion about 100 times the current installed vs 100 times the installation rate?

      • I’m thinking about all the energy used by the world–about 20 TW. Replacing that would require 100 TWp of PV.

        Of course that’s the worst case where solar would be 100% of all energy. If it is 50%, divide by 2. This assumes 2050 as the deadline.

        • But that 20TW includes a lot of waste heat from fossil fuel consumption, something that goes away when transitioning to renewable energy. The IEA says humanity consumes 155,505TWh of energy annually, but pegs “World total final consumption” at 104,426TWh:


          My best guess is that one is primary energy and the other, lower number is used energy. This makes humanity about 67% efficient at producing usable energy. So the 20TW of input really only needs 13TW or 14TW of electricity, usable heat, etc. to cover everything. So even with 20% capacity factor solar, we’ll need 65TW – 70TW of PV, or 52TW – 56TW for 25% capacity factor tracking PV.

          Anyway, even needing 70TW and powering 30% of that with wind, we’d 49TW of solar for the planet as a whole. Starting from 200GW currently:


          We’d need 48.8 TW installed. And since we walked the deadline back to 2050, we have 35 years to do it. On average, we’d need to hit an average of 1.4TW per year. Since we’re adding 50GW / year currently, that’s still a scale-up of about 30 times, not 100 times.

          • Very good.

  • I’d add a third concluding sentence to that.

    So take away all the direct and indirect subsidies fossil fuel producers and users get.

  • This is the best article I have read on CleanTechnica.
    The tools are there for a new economy. We dont need more hand wringing, finger-pointing, nor books or articles, and probably not more government regulation. What we need are entrepreneurs who take action – and that is happening now no matter what we say.
    The fact that the author has made money through innovation should not be held against him.
    The only comment I would make is we need it – faster.

    • Faster and faster.

      And we can be certain that improvements will be made along the way.

      • Totally…action, action, action. Let’s do this!

    • And…we really do need to be willing to look at a variety of answers. Dont become locked into limited choices, we need to get coal dead asap. Oil and natural gas as well, but coal is the killer.

  • Rough crowd in the comments today. Drinks are on me for the regulars…

    • see my post below should settle debate about renewable needing gas as back up. Real world project currently being proposed with major funder and developer

      • So Bink, in a brief summary what do you think? Can the U.S. grid be completely supplied by PV, wind and storage without requiring some mid winter zap of natural gas for short periods of low solar, low wind? Can, say, your Vanadium batteries have enough duration to store 5 full days worth of juice for maybe 40% of the U.S. grids total demand? (That is probably the worst case scenario). And is it economically feasible?

        • (And throw in hydro and geothermal, too, and Jigar said he was even including nuclear.)

          Clearly, this is possible. What we’ll end up doing is decades out since it takes time to transition the entire electricity network, but the idea that we need breakthroughs to basically get off of fossil fuels is ridonculous.

          • “Ridonculous” Is that somewhere between ridiculous and ludicrous?

        • Vensonata, that wont be necessary (5 days of storage) what everyone seems to not factor in is how underutilized wind energy is. Night time charging will fit nicely into the scenario as the sun comes up we can start load following with the stored wind power. I will take the best fit storage technology to make it happen. lithium would have a niche place, providing frequency and local voltage support

          • Well, I’d go for it. But it is the Nuke advocates that keep braying about when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. And if they can find a 5 day period in the last 100 years where that happened well, we will never hear the end of it. That is why we need solid answer. You know those engineers are going to want to build complete certainty and then some into this solar, wind, battery grid. And this has all got to happen soon. I mean we better see some gigantic progress in the next 10 years or we might be getting some very bad news from mother nature.

          • Pump-up hydro.

            It works. It’s affordable. It’s our safety net in the event we don’t develop something better/cheaper.

            Throw in biomass burned in converted coal plants.

            There’s two things you can use to stuff a rag in braying mouths.

          • we are doing it out west. worlds first renewable baseload power plant (100MW solar array +50MW storage array). We are providing capacity service 24/7. we are in the interconnection process right now. Global developer and funder and very large and well known EPC contractor involved

        • Also almost all of our hydro capacity today can be converted into a form of energy storage.

    • Haha, must be COP21 or something. But also seems like we’ve been receiving some subtle/slick troll invasions lately.

    • Have you read the news today?
      Are you sure Trump will allow more clean power to enter the country if he is elected?

      • Trump makes me sad to be an American. He is a poor excuse for a human and his words are inexcusable. He does not represent what America stands for.

        • When he made the recent comment about immigration and i scanned the above article i thought, how many tons of CO2 does it take to raise the average NA youth versus a youth from an undeveloped country?
          I mean respectfully, is an immigrant equivalent to a 1000 solar panels in saved CO2 emissions?

          • solar produces every year so it’s really the daily rate of consumption. Our whole house requires 8 panels across 4 people so even if we pull in the external energy used, I couldn’t see it being much more than 10 panels per child in the US unless they are driven around a lot or fly frequently (which is the worst).

          • You probably should specify the wattage per panel. I’ve got 16 panels for two people, but they’re only 75 watt panels.

          • Good call. Ours are the typical roof mount ~250w/panel units.

    • Do you do hot chocolate?

  • We already have the technology, but are the supply and value chains equally distributed…? Oil doesn’t just exist in one country after all. Maybe solar and renewables can’t or shouldn’t have completely self-sufficient supply chains, but it needs to be better than it is today. That means with patents, we do need new technologies too. Solar needs to be more than just a service industry in North America.

  • >>>>>>>>”We Already Have The Technology To Solve Climate Change. What We Need Is Deployment.”

    So, why are we doing it so slowly?
    Perhaps because even though solar and wind are now barely competitive with fossil fuel power, solar and wind are non-dispatchable, thus not as appealing as a Natural Gas power plant that is fully controllable and dispatchable output whenever.
    Let’s say, a new economic development zone need more power generation capacity. Unless mandated by state laws, local utility companies would rather invest less up front and get controllable power building Natural Gas plants, rather investing more in solar and wind, and getting power whenever nature pleases itself. Sometimes too much, and sometimes too little…

    However, if solar and wind (S&W) power can be used to make transportation fuel to replace petroleum at competitive prices with retail gasoline or diesel fuels, while bringing back decent profit for S&W investors, then the situation might change. This is because making transportation fuel out of S&W power is kinda like farming, like having solar and wind farms, and after you harvest your crop, you can store it to sell it later, whenever. The non-dispatchability of S&W power is a non-issue here.
    The advantage of using S&W to make transportation fuel to substitute for petroleum is that you don’t have the geopolitical uncertainty associated with the supply of petroleum. You never worry about you solar or wind wells are running dry…or having to find new solar or wind wells…Never worry about future environmental laws or carbon tax restricting your future profit from your S&W farms…

    Furthermore, if you can make more profit supplying your S&W power to the grid during peak-demand periods, than the profit from making transportation fuel, then you’d do it…supplying S&W to the grid AND making fuel. You would build more and more S&W farms for dual purposes, for both making transportation fuel AND supplying power to the grid. At peak grid demand periods, most of your S&W farms will be supplying power to the grid. At low grid demand periods, most of your S&W farms will be devoted toward making profitable transportation fuel.

    Eventually, you’ll have so much S&W capacity, well many folds in excess of grid demand that even in the cloudy and calm days, your S&W farms will still barely be able to satisfy grid demand…then, we will have arrive at 100% Renewable Energy (RE) grid AND 100%-RE ground transportation.

    This is what many leading automakers and leading industrial gas companies and energy companies are working on…to perfect a transportation propulsion and fueling system that can use non-dispatchable S&W power to make Renewable Fuel that can be cost-competitive with petroleum. This is the catalyst to eventually arrive at 100% RE economy that we all are longing for.

    • Because if a technology can’t be explained to a grade 5 level education, it won’t fly in N.A.

    • There is also political will involved as well. If governments want something bad enough, they have the resources/money to bring it about e.g. the space race in the 1960’s – we reached the moon then because of political will of both America and Russia.
      Now, we’ve got COP21 going on and it looks like most of the countries have the political will to actually do something about climate change. As a result, we should see more investment going into S&W deployment and hence a speed up in deployment.

      Big companies are the only other ones who can operate on the same scale as governments, but they’re spread around the world and not concentrated in one place so their investments have to be spread around as well.

      • Good point, Mike.
        Political will can be of great help. Remember the generous farm subsidies that farmers are enjoying? Label Solar and wind farms as “farming” and try to get Congress to give these “farming” subsidies. I’d bet that RE will be developing much faster with those farm subsidies. Whether farming with plants or with solar or wind farms, the effect is gathering solar energy, so should be treated the same!

        • Maybe huge vertical farms with 45,000 residents on architects drafting boards only at this moment.

    • Why? Because wind and solar only recently became as inexpensive as they now are.

      And you’re still flogging that dead horse, Hydrogen, eh Roger? But now disguising it as “transportation fuel”.

      • Well, Bob, methanol synthesized from electricity, CO2, and water is another possibility.
        Alternatively, methanol synthesized from H2 made from S&W using low cost and durable Nickel Gallium catalyst is another possibility.
        Alternatively, waste cellulosic biomass can be pyrolyzed with the addition of H2 made from S&W power to produce liquid synthetic fuel can be another way.
        The above fuels are not as efficient as battery electricity, nor as with H2, however, the vehicles can be built lighter to offset some of the inefficiency of combustion-engine vehicles. Electric hybridization is a must.

        Ultimately, I strongly agree with Mr. Musk that a Carbon Tax will be needed to accelerate Renewable Energy penetration in time to avert GW disaster.

        • Each step away from electricity requires more energy meaning that efficiency continues to drop.

          Look, EVs and batteries are very efficient. Efficiency counts.

          • Agree. Efficiency is very important. For that reason, long-range BEV that can be charged mainly on days with excess S&W power will be an important part of an all-RE economy. Next best would be a PHEV that can run on S&W electricity on days with surplus, while run on 100%-RE fuel on days or seasons with S&W shortage.
            A smart grid would be necessary to enable those. Those plug-in EV’s would be plugged in daily, but only allowed to charge when there will be a surplus of wind power at night, or solar power charging at work during the day on sunny days only.

            However, for commercial and heavy-duty vehicles that must be re-fueled daily, being able to refuel quickly will make chemical fuel more desirable to most operators. For those vehicles, being able to use fuels made from 100%-RE will be much better than continue to use petroleum.
            So, having a 100%-RE fuel market for those vehicles will be a catalyst to kick-start a 100% RE economy by enabling much more rapid growth of S&W energy than we are seeing today.

          • Hi Roger,
            As we know, efficiency is not everything. Reformed fuel running fuel cells in FCEVs are clean and efficient. They give you quick fill up and long range.

          • “They give you a quick* full up and long range**.”

            * As long as you don’t get stuck waiting for the machine to slowly repressurize, which happens regularly.
            ** As long as you don’t plan to leave California.

          • You reform liquid fuels ON THE CAR.

          • You’re walking a fine line here. I hope you aren’t one of THOSE people. I usually don’t have any luck trying to convince the perpetual motion crowd that perpetual motion machines can’t exist under the current laws of physics.

            If you are going to perform hydrolysis onboard, then you will need a battery to do so. In EVERY case it will ALWAYS be more efficient to just run the motor off of the battery than to use the battery to create hydrogen and then use the hydrogen to create electricity and drive the motors. When conversations go down this path they usually end up at a perpetual motion machine argument. I really hope you are going somewhere else with this.

          • And the typical driver would have to make 50 or so trips a year to a filling station.

            The EV driver will just take a couple of seconds to plug in or unplug per day.

          • It doesn’t make sense to consider synfuels or hydrogen unless they are price competitive with electricity.

            How about we put this idea on the shelf and wait to see if the fuels you favor ever become affordable?

          • Bob, with the greatest worldwide agreements to phase out CO2 emission ever in history, the governments can make laws for phasing-in of renewable-energy fuels and the grid, instead of just depending on market force alone.
            For example, 0.5% increase in RE content of fuels and of the grid electricity yearly for the next 5 years, increasing to 1% increase annually for the 5-year following… and so on and so forth …until we will reach 100%-RE economy 50 years from now.
            We cannot afford to shelf RE-synthetic fuel and still expect to reach 1.5 degrees of GW containment.

          • I don’t know if we can ignore synfuels or not. We may need some for air travel.

            But for personal transportation I see no role.

          • Take a therm of natural gas then make electricity at 40% efficiency, then transmit it for 5% loss, convert it at 5% loss and put it through batteries at 10% loss. That leaves you about 32% of the original energy at the controller.

            Now take the same therm, convert it to hydrogen and compress it at 80% then use it in a fuel cell at 50%, you have 40% available at the controller.

          • You need to use electricity to create the hydrogen so you’re missing a few MAJOR efficiency losses for hydrogen.

          • You missed the convert to hydrogen loss. 60%? Now you have 24%. Hydrogen transport? Even more. Local hydrolysis is has other losses. Either way transport must be at least 5%. But then its still not right. If you talking therms, not direct conversion of natural gas to hydrogen, which releases much more carbon, you are talking about burning it to create electricity and then doing hydrolysis. Thats the same process as the battery, so it loses on storage efficiency.
            Keeping everything electric, hydrogen loses on storage efficiency. I might point out that an FCEV converts hydrogen to electricity to store in batteries.
            Overall, its been well established that hydrolysis plus fuel cell is much less efficient. The only way hydrogen makes sense economically is from cheap natural gas. But that leaves you with even more carbon emissions than if you burn it. So there is little point for transport. You either waste too much energy if the source is electricity, or you create to much carbon if the source is natural gas.
            It might make sense as heat energy for space heating applications, because of its storage potential particularly if converted to liquid. Thats also a possibility for liquid fuels for air and maritime transport in the future to replace FF if it can compete with biofuels and FF. The fuel cost would probably have to be higher than today to compete.

          • ​I’m not interested in natural gas. NG is only a temporary tool to help us replace coal. It’s role will drop as storage prices drop.

      • Funny, when I heard “transportation fuel”, I thought, ‘Like electricity for EVs’.

      • Because really accelerating deployment requires democratizing energy, which requires properly valuing distributed energy resources.

        The tools exist but the structure is still significantly monopolistic.

        Accelerating to free market where anyone who can bring values to the grid and get paid for those values is hard.

    • “Perhaps because even though solar and wind are now barely competitive with fossil fuel power,”

      That’s flat wrong. Take away FF subsidies and force them to pay “externalities” like health costs due to their pollution and they lose big time today.

      “However, if solar and wind (S&W) power can be used to make transportation fuel to replace petroleum at competitive prices with retail gasoline or diesel fuels,”
      It’s called electricity for the batteries in EV’s and it’s being done now and will be very common in less than 5 years.

      • “force them to pay ‘externalities’ like health costs . . . and [fossil fuels] lose big time today.”

        Funny how some people always seem to forget about those pesky external costs. They don’t seem to exist in wingnut world.

        As I recall, 12 cents would have to added to the kWh market price of coal generated electricity just to cover the health care costs, making both solar and wind far, far cheaper. “Free market” prices are a farce.

    • Roger you have it wrong. Nothing is stopping up to 40% wind and solar penetration. We don’t need storage or anything else for that.

      And wind is not barely competitive with FF. It blows away coal and nuclear. Only natural gas competes. Its happening so fast, most people don’t know it yet.


      Even utilities have embraced the notion of up to 30% wind and solar with little change to existing grid.


      And batteries are replacing natural gas peakers.


      • >>>>>>>”Nothing is stopping up to 40% wind and solar penetration. We don’t need storage or anything else for that.”

        Let’s say that you’re the utility company and you need 300 MW of new generation capacity due to rapid population growth.
        Unless you’re getting tax subsidies for solar or wind, natural gas (NG) plants is much more appealing due to 1/2 the investment cost per kW while fully controllable. With 300 MW of new solar and wind, you’ll still need the new 300-MW NG plant because when the solar and wind are not available for days at a time, you’ll still have to provide this level of power to your customer.

        This explains why when wind subsidy ran out in the USA, new wind installation came to near complete halt. Germany depended on generous feed-in-tariff in order to promote solar, while German rate payers have to put up with very electricity rates.

        For this reason, solar and wind cannot be depended on to replace old thermal power plants, nor to satisfy new growing demand in power generation capacity, but only as adjunctive to satisfy RE mandates when subsidized with generous tax incentives.

        • Roger, you really ought to get some more information under your belt. That would lead you to more accurate opinions.

          The installed cost of CCNG, wind and utility solar is very similar. Here are some slightly old numbers. The cost of wind and solar are lower now.

          Wind Onshore
          $1.64 Installed Cost/Watt
          DOE 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report

          PV Solar
          $1.49 Installed Cost/Watt
          Greentech Media 2nd Qtr 2015 Executive Summary

          $1.09 Installed Cost/Watt
          Open EI DOE Database Median Overnight Cost

          While CCNG is still a bit cheaper there’s a great big fat fuel cost that makes CCNG the third cheapest way to bring new capacity to the grid. Wind is the least expensive, solar is moving into second place.

          Those are all unsubsidized prices.

          Now, backup.

          If a grid needs 300 MW of new capacity and adds 300 MW of CCNG they’d also need a way to back up that 300 MW if the plant “breaks”.

          • Bob, average capacity factor for thermal power plants in the US grid is around 50%, while capacity factor for solar is around 22%, while wind is around 33%. With a 50:50 mix of solar and wind, you will need 60% more capacity to match that of a NG plant.
            Assuming 90% availability of a NG plant, one NG plant can be used to back up to 10 NG plants. Thus one 300-MW plant can back up 3,000 MW of NG capacity.

          • Roger, tracked solar is returning CFs of 25% and higher. Recent wind farms are generally above 40% CF with some above 50%.

            If you don’t know the real numbers it can lead one to making incorrect claims.

            One 300-MW plant cannot back up 3,000 MW of NG capacity. There’s no way to control unscheduled outages.

            Roger. You want so very, very badly for hydrogen to have a role that you put yourself in the position of making foolish errors. Why don’t you start with the facts and let the facts determine your opinions? You’d waste far less of other people’s time.

          • >>>>>>>“Roger, tracked solar is returning CFs of 25% and higher. Recent wind farms are generally above 40% CF…that you put yourself in the position of making foolish errors. “

            I don’t make foolish errors. The CF’s of solar and wind are not carved in stones, but are highly dependent on sites. Your number of 25% is the best of Solar. There are 8760 hrs per year. For desert locations with 2200 kWh per kW per year, the CF would be 2200 / 8760 = 25%. However, for Britain, or Japan with a lot of cloud cover, hence about 1,100 to 1,300 kWh per kW per year, you can see that the CF will be a lot less, only 12.5% to 15%.
            Ditto for Wind. The numbers I gave you are average number commonly experienced in real-life situation.

            >>>>>>”Roger. You want so very, very badly for hydrogen to have a role…”

            Good point. I want so very, very badly for Renewable Energy to rapidly taking over fossil fuels. Hydrogen and battery electricity TOGETHER have high potential to fulfill that aspiration.

            However, due to the urgency of combating GW, we simply cannot sit and wait for the day that battery and Hydrogen will be cost-competitive with fossil fuel energy. The gov. must start mandating gradual phasing in of RE and synthetic fuels from RE if we are going to be certain of being fossil-fuel free within 50 years, in time to minimize the GW disaster.

          • Roger, you are a continued source of useless drivel.

          • Nobody versed in energy is proposing anything so impractical as a 50:50 wind solar combination. Read NRELs futures study. Only 50% wind and solar. Why ignore geothermal, hydro, biomass? NREL envisions about 30% from them to get to 80% renewables by 2050.


            And no real energy expert would be bantering about comparing that to an all NG net. It’s just fantasy. It’s not the kind of analysis real experts use. You can see what real grid planners do and what tools they use in the reference and in the NREL study. Any real system operator always combines sundry units to match load all year round. And always with reserves.
            For your enlightenment, try to figure out why a recent study showed wind integration costs lower than conventional sources in Texas.

            “Studies show nuclear and large fossil plants actually have “far higher integration costs than renewables,” Goggin said. “Contingency reserves, the super-fast acting energy reserve supply required of grid operators in case a large power plant shuts down unexpectedly, are a major cost. Comparing the incremental cost of wind to those costs that ratepayers have always paid, the wind cost looks even more trivial.”


        • Inform yourself. No you dont know power. Listen to a large German grid operator. He says you dont need storage until renewables are 70%. And you dont need to add any natural gas plants to reach 30% either. Utilities are adding wind and solar because they are cheap and because they are not subject to fuel price volatility.


          You are promoting many myths. You are making a typical mistake looking at power system as individual units. There is already many natural gas and other flexible generators on the grid. No extra generators are needed to add renewables at up to 30% integration.
          In Australia and Germany, wind and solar has shut down coal plants. RWE and EON are begging to shut down their unprofitable coal and nuclear plants. In the US, coal is practically dead. New builds are either natural gas or renewables based on cost. It has nothing to do with variability, because up to 30% integration, no extra flexible reserves are needed. They are already there to follow the daily 2:1 load variation.
          German retail electricity is expensive because of taxes, not renewables. Renewables are lowering the wholesale electric rates.
          So you are wrong. Renewables have already kicked out coal and natural gas plants in Germany and Australia. The only reason they have not kicked out natural gas in the US is because its so cheap. As it is, virtually all new generation is either natural gas or renewables based solely on cost, not variability.
          As renewables get ever cheaper, its not renewables that are going to need the subsidy. Its natural gas and other FF. Thats why they want you to believe renewable subsidies should go away, but FF subsidies should remain. Unfortunately , you have naively bought their nonsense.

          • Evee, storage is not the issue here. The real issue is how to grow solar and wind as fast possible.
            The simple answer here is that by using solar and wind energy to make transportation fuel AND to power the grid, the displacement of fossil-fuel will be the fastest, onward to 100% Renewable Energy. Existing growth of solar and wind is far too slow to make a real difference. The growth of wind has sputtered after the loss of tax subsidy.

          • Except it costs too much to do so.

          • >>>>>>”Except it costs too much to do so.”

            Synthetic gasoline or diesel fuel from CO2 and H2 from Renewable Energy (RE) costs twice as much as petroleum at $40-50 per barrel. Therefore, a RE fuel mandate will be necessary to gradually phase in RE until we will arrive at 100% RE fuels within 50 years.
            For example, 0.5% increase in RE content of fuels and of the grid
            electricity yearly for the next 5 years, increasing to 1% increase
            annually for the 5-year following… and so on and so forth …until we
            will reach 100%-RE economy 50 years from now. The rate of increase is gradually enough to avoid any economic hardship, yet allowing energy companies to ramp up infrastructure for RE-fuels steadily, thus boosting the economy significantly.

            Don’t forget about the gov. mandate to double fuel efficiency of cars a decade from now. If we are going to have synfuel costing 2x as much as fuels now, while future cars are going to be capable of doubling the MPG of current auto fleet, then the cost per mile will remain the same.

            Will it be possible to double the MPG of future cars and will still be affordable?
            GM has already done it today with the Malibu hybrid, with MSRP of around $28k, which is comparable with the NON-hybrid version at the same trim level. Malibu hybrid is rated at 48 mpg while NON-hybrid is rated at 27 mpg, which is almost double!

            Future synfuel probably won’t cost twice as much as petroleum due to steadily decreasing prices of RE and mass production and economy of scale, thus good profit margin for oil companies. Imagine this: doubling in fuel economy hence halving the oil consumption YET same profit income for oil companies because fuel expenses will remain the same, thanks to doubling of car’s MPG and doubling of the prices of fuels at the pump. So, the oil companies won’t object to this mandate…and the oil companies have a lot of political power.
            Looks like it is gonna be a win win win situation for everyone.

          • Your long message still has nothing to do with why even your bosses at Toyota say it is still to costly to produce it that way.
            Let’s see gas at $1.85 per gallon at 36 mpg costs $.05 per mile, H2 at $13.90 per kg costs you $.20 with $58,000 car compared to a $20,000 car, the difference would pay for a lifetime of gas even at $5.00 per gallon.
            Sorry my daughters 2003 Impala is still WAY cheaper to fuel, with better range on way less than half the cost.
            You have failed, you need to quit while you think you are ahead.
            Why do you not have one?
            Do you have solar or wind producing H2?

          • Do not forget that the H2 will be free for the first 3 years, in time for the cost to come down. Early adopters are proud of what they do for the environment. You don’t earn environmental points and respects from your peers for driving a Chevy Impala.

          • Toyota has no option but to pay for the H2 out of their own pockets.

            If people actually realized how expensive it is to fuel a FCEV there’s no way they’d pay that horrendous price for the Marai.

          • Your comment again answers no answer.
            It will not be made that way because Toyota even has said it costs too much.
            I my

          • No, Roger. That’s simply not true.

            It takes more clean electricity to move a fueled vehicle a mile than to move an electric vehicle.

            That means that we would have to build much more wind and solar capacity in order to move off petroleum were we to use liquid fuels as a storage medium.
            Roughly, with hydrogen, it takes 2x to 3x as much electricity per mile. We’d have to build about 2.5x as many wind and solar farms.

            Whenever one inserts an inefficiency into a system costs rise.

          • For a reply to your posting, please kindly read my reply below to fairfireman21.

          • Roger, I’m tired of wading through the piles of crap you leave in the site.
            Here’s a claim you just made –

            “Therefore, a RE fuel mandate will be necessary to gradually phase in RE until we will arrive at 100% RE fuels within 50 years.”

            100% RE fuels? There’s no known route for liquid fuels to compete with electricity.

            You just make stuff up and post it as if it had merit.

          • Well, Bob, I appreciate your concern, and there is good news. The same mandate requiring steady growth of RE in fuels also require the same level of growth of RE in the electricity grid. So, when fuels will get to be 100%-RE, so will the grid be 100%-RE. This will be GREAT for all plug-in vehicles interest groups. The rising tide will lift all boats.

            Even though petroleum is much more expensive than grid electricity per mile even at the height of $4.00 / gallon gasoline, petroleum was still market-competitive with plug-in EV’s (PEV’s), and sales of PEV’s has remained below 1% even with $7,500 to $10,000 subsidies per vehicle. Soon, Nissan subsidy will run out, and so will Tesla’s subsidy in a few short years. So, as battery will get cheaper, PEV subsidies will run out to even it out!

            So, liquid fuels has always been competitive with grid electricity. Battery will get cheaper and we no doubt will see more PEV’s, but liquid fuels will remain market-competitive for the foreseeable future when PEV subsidies will run out.

          • Roger, liquid fuels are not competitive now. Haven’t been for a long, long time.

            It costs about 4 cents per mile to drive the average EV and about 10 cents per mile to drive the average ICEV.

            If you’d start inserting “in my opinion” type qualifiers in your statements they would be more acceptable. Not correct, but at least you wouldn’t be making false claims.

            I’d suggest you read the site commenting policy.


            Pay careful attention to this part –

            “repeatedly posting illogical or demonstrably incorrect statements”

          • Agree, Bob. An ICEV with 25 mpg and $2.5 per gallon costs 10 cents per mile. A BEV with 3 mi per kWh and 15 cents per kWh will cost 5 cents per mile.

            However, the reality is that, according to a today’s article on Green Car Reports:
            Switching The World To Electric Vehicles Will Take Way Longer Than You Think….That means if a law eliminating new internal-combustion cars was passed today, it would take until 2034 for half of the U.S. fleet to turn over.”

            Source: greencarreports(dot)com/news/1101394_switching-the-world-to-electric-vehicles-will-take-way-longer-than-you-think

            The reality is that Plug-in EV’s (PEV) are selling today at under 1% of all new vehicle sales…and are not growing much. At this rate, we are not going to have enough PEV’s on the road to make any difference in CO2 reduction in 50 years, EVEN IF the grid is 100% Renewable Energy, which it is not, only 13% RE for the average US grid mix right now.

            Another sad reality is that at the rate of wind and solar growth in the grid at the present, when will the grid be largely RE, Bob, since you’re the expert in this?

            The growth of wind energy has slowed down significantly since 2013. In 2013, wind accounted for 4.13% of electricity generated. In 2015, wind is still only accounted for 4.28% of all electricity generated in the USA.

            Source: Wikipedia, Wind power in the United States

            Only via the government mandate of gradual growth of RE in the grid and in all fuels can we be guaranteed to be free from fossil fuels in the next 50 years.

          • Roger, we expect affordable 200+ mile range EVs on the market within a year.
            At that point things change.

            Worry not about wind and solar, Roger. There will always be variations in installation rates from year to year. Curves are never smooth. Expect big bounces in 2015.

          • You have switched from opinions without sources to cherry picked sources. Wind has slowed since 2015? That sample is too short. How much has it slowed. How much is predicted? You are repeating bad arguments about renewables or EVs only being a small percentage. They just started. What percentage were cell phones 20 years ago?
            You also cherry picked US wind growth in US only when the PTC faltered. A global picture doesn’t match your warnings. There is more installed capacity in China now.

          • Charging EV batteries is far more efficient than converting renewable electricity to fuels. If you want to waste energy and money and slow renewables development, turning renewable electricity into liquid fuels is a great idea.

        • How is making transportation fuel going to help with the intermittent output of RE to the grid as you just described?
          1. It takes more kWh per kg than the average home uses per day.
          2. You keep forgetting that it is not cost effective to do this. Toyota has already said that, but yet you do not listen to all their experts, you just think you know more than their engineering department.

  • Not all is well in any segment of any industry or any other type of business. Restaurants fail daily, does that mean we will stop eating?

    Don’t give us that concern troll stuff.

  • If it grows its own food it’s a house of the future.

  • I see it as a source of part employment for lots of people everywhere.

  • Anything can sound good when using an economic argument. When factoring energy returned on all the energy invested, the result is negative.

    • Huh?

    • I wonder what you’re talking about.

      Wind turbines return their cradle to grave energy input in 3 to 8 months, depending on wind resources at the site. Given a 20 to 30 year lifespan that’s an EROEI of 240/8 = 30 to 360/3 = 120. Know of anything higher?
      Silicon solar panels return in less than 2 years with a lifespan of 30, 40, ? years. Low end 30/2 = 15. Not at all shabby.

  • Feast your eyes. Put down the cards. Set to triple by 2020.



    China has raised its targets to 150-200GW solar and 250GW wind by 2020.


  • “Windmills are too dependent on oil, from mining and fabrication to delivery and maintenance and fail the test of “can they reproduce themselves with wind power?””
    “Not only would windmills have to generate enough power to reproduce themselves, but they have to make enough power to run civilization.”
    “If the energy costs of intermittency, back-up conventional plant, and grid connection were added to the “cost” of windfarms, the EROEI would be far lower than current EROEI studies show.”

    “Models often limit their life cycle or EROI analysis to just the solar panels themselves, which represents only a third of the overall energy embodied in solar PV plants. These studies left out dozens of energy inputs, leading to overestimates of energy such as payback time of 1-2 years (Fthenakis), EROI 8.3 (Bankier), and EROI of 5.9 to 11.8 (Raugei et al).”

    “Solar has too many energy costs and dependencies on fossil fuels throughout the life cycle to produce much energy. It’s more of a fossil-fuel extender because PV can’t replicate itself, let alone provide energy beyond that to human society.”

    “Manufacturing wind turbines is a resource-intensive process. A typical wind turbine contains more than 8,000 different components, many of which are made from steel, cast iron, and concrete.
    One such component are magnets made from neodymium and dysprosium, rare earth minerals mined almost exclusively in China, which controls 95 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals.”
    “There’s not one step of the rare earth mining process that is not disastrous for the environment.”

    “This article seeks to explain why China’s environmental crisis is so horrific”
    “Reckless dumping of industrial waste is everywhere in China. But what caught the attention of The Washington Post was that the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Company was a “green energy” company producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world.”
    “Polysilicon production produces about four tons of silicon tetrachloride liquid waste for every ton of polysilicon produced.”
    “China’s rise has come at a horrific social and environmental cost.”
    “for all the waste and pollution, most Chinese have gotten surprisingly little out of it all.”
    “most of the world’s light-industrial goods are made in China and they are, for the most part, deliberately designed to be unrepairable and mostly unrecyclable.”
    “High-speed trains are hugely expensive to build and operate and consume more than twice as much electricity to run as regular trains”

    “The country’s Environment Ministry says that 770,000 tons of solar panels will end up on the scrap heap in two decades, potentially releasing harmful chemicals.”

    “there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.
    The problem is analysed in an important paper by Weißbach et al.1 in terms of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI – the ratio of the energy produced over the life of a power plant to the energy that was required to build it. It takes energy to make a power plant – to manufacture its components, mine the fuel, and so on. The power plant needs to make at least this much energy to break even. A break-even powerplant has an EROEI of 1. But such a plant would pointless, as there is no energy surplus to do the useful things we use energy for.
    There is a minimum EROEI, greater than 1, that is required for an energy source to be able to run society. An energy system must produce a surplus large enough to sustain things like food production, hospitals, and universities to train the engineers to build the plant, transport, construction, and all the elements of the civilization in which it is embedded.”

    • There is nothing that we need to do to manufacture and install wind turbines that can’t be powered by electricity.

      We already mine with electricity, we smelt metals in electric furnaces, manufacturing is almost all electric, we haul stuff using electricity.

      Wind turbines pay back their embedded energy – cradle to grave – in 3 to 8 months, depending on the wind resources where they are installed.

      Wind turbines work for 20 to 30 years. Worst case 20 years (240 months) / 8 months = an EROEI of 30. Best case 30 years (360 months / 3 months = an EROEI of 120.

      Some wind turbines are made without rare metals. We don’t have to use REEs.

      Solar panels are highly recyclable. They are mostly glass and aluminum. There’s a bit of precious metal used for conductors. And there’s a small amount of processed silicon. It can all be reused.

      When you use information from places such as Brave New Climate you are getting a biased version from nuclear advocates.

      I hope you are just misinformed and not intentionally trying to mislead people.

    • Sounds like I am quoting real academic peer reviewed studies and you are throwing around mismatched quotes. I would recommend you really study David Murphy’s work: https://www.stlawu.edu/people/david-murphy

  • I totally agree with this article. We have the technology, we need fast deployment of Renewable Energy (RE) in time to avert the GW disaster, keeping temperature rise to below 1.5 dgC.

    IMHO, I believe that a RE electric grid AND a RE fuel mandate from the government will be necessary to gradually phase in RE until we will arrive at 100% RE economy, for both the electricity grid and vehicular and home heating fuels within 50 years.

    For example, 0.5% increase in RE content of fuels and of the grid electricity yearly for the next 5 years, increasing to 1% increase annually for the 5-year following, then to 1.5% increase annually 5 years after that… and so on and so forth …until we will reach 100%-RE economy 50 years from now. The rate of increase is gradually enough to avoid any economic hardship, yet allowing energy companies time to ramp up infrastructure for RE-fuels steadily, thus boosting the economy significantly, while divesting from fossil fuels.

    This will greatly boost the adaptation of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) because electricity charged directly from Solar and Wind (S&W) energies will be much cheaper than using S&W energies to make synthetic fuels. It may be kinda like the government implicitly dictating the move toward EV’s, without the appearance of bias or favoritism toward EV’s.

    However, the RE fuel mandate for all liquid or gaseous fuels will still be very important, because the reality is that, according to a today’s article on Green Car Reports:
    Switching The World To Electric Vehicles Will Take Way Longer Than You Think….That means if a law eliminating new internal-combustion cars was passed today, it would take until 2034 for half of the U.S. fleet to turn over.”
    Source: greencarreports(dot)com/news/1101394_switching-the-world-to-electric-vehicles-will-take-way-longer-than-you-think

  • If we assume that global elimination of carbon fuels is the only practical means we have of keeping atmospheric carbon content in check then we have to make some assumptions about what drives the technology it will take to do it. Here are some of mine:

    1) As soon as battery technology allows all internal combustion powered transportation will have to transition to all electric power and all the energy provided by the fuel our vehicles currently burn will need to be provided by rooftops and power grids that are not ready for it.

    2) The 4 billion people who are now burning wood, kerosene and cow dung to cook their food need clean energy as much as we do and represent a strong incentive for their governments or commerce to provide it in a form they can afford.

    3) The portion of the global population that doesn’t have access to an electrical grid isn’t going to get it in time to make a difference to atmospheric carbon content. If it’s cheap enough new technology will allow them to bypass grid power and go straight to rooftop wind and solar power generation the same way they bypassed landline telephone networks and went straight to cell phones.

    4) For the most part electrical utilities are not physically structured to treat their customers as energy producers as well as consumers and are treating homeowner conversion to solar power as a threat. It is unreasonable to assume that utilities will continue to be the homeowners most economical power source since they are incentivizing the home solar/battery industry to undercut their grid cost.

    Some level of grid power will continue to be needed almost everywhere but probably at an always increasing economic disadvantage to those who can produce at least a portion of their own power. Each of the assumptions above reinforces the idea that a steadily increasing economic pressure will reward breakthroughs in efficiency and cost reduction of home solar/battery systems that allow grid independence. This is especially true if our primary plan to control climate change is to finance the mandatory implementation of current technology with $10 trillion in subsidies that ultimately come from tax revenues. Subsidized deployment of what we have now is inevitable but it is clearly to our advantage if that plan is overtaken by much cheaper and more efficient solar and battery technology making it possible for normal market forces to drive implementation instead of intrusive new laws backed up by tax dollars.

  • Thank you Jigar Shah! Keep up the fight…we’re winning.

  • Obviously we have the technology, now, and the means through ISO markets, net metering as well as other avenues to deploy whether it be sun or wind, with or without power purchase agreements. In many areas of the country it’s competitive strictly from an economic perspective via 20 – 30 yr LCOE or some other comparative economic tool. A major part of problem with “deployment” or lack thereof is and always has been related to finance, ownership, perceived risk, time with respect to economic returns and perhaps good old fashioned greed and human nature.
    There are billionaires, foundations, environmental organizations, and many normal people who don’t give their money to such groups, that would like to see renewable energy take off. Many people have their money in “money markets” which return much less than what is seen as a good investment.
    There are a lot of projects out there and I think the money is “there”. Creating relatively uncomplicated community business models that everyone can invest in, including tax investors, and enjoy profits from, even if at times those profits are modest, I believe would lead to unmitigated growth.

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