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At COP23, Researchers Argue 100% Renewable Energy Is Possible by 2050


At COP23, Researchers Argue 100% Renewable Energy Is Possible by 2050

Julia Conley, staff writer

A complete transition from fossil fuels would create millions of jobs and save money while protecting planet from harmful emissions

Alaska Senator Denounced for 'Deplorable' Attempt to Force Drilling in Arctic Wildlife Refuge

I’m reminded of a cartoon some 30 years old. First panel shows Mr. Fat Cat sitting behind a desk, saying “You want coal power? Fine. We own the mines.”

Second panel: “You want oil power? Okay. We own the land leases.”

Third panel: “You want natural gas power? Excellent. We own the wells.”

Last panel: “You want solar power? Great, we…um…Solar power isn’t feasible.”

And thanks, Germany and Finland, for showing the Leader of the Free World © how to lead.


We shouldn’t need new studies to teach us that it is “feasible” to stop conducting the collective suicide of our species and the mass murder of other species.

Basically, we need to study and ACT differently or the game’s up. It’s that simple.



Technically possible but there are many signs that this complete transition will not occur within 37 years. One thing to keep in mind is Chinese companies are building many coal-burning plants in various developing countries. Also, the political situation in the US is dismal for this transition. There are millions of climate change deniers and the Republican Party remains dedicated to using fossil fuels regardless of the consequences. Another major factor is the possibility of a anther major nuclear power accident. Following the accident in Japan there was a rapid turn to coal burning in Germany (although there are a lot positives about Germany giving up nuclear power). And Russia has a state-run natural gas company that is a big part of the Russian economy.


Yes. And no more greedy, immoral, self-serving, power-hungry politicians in government who are in bed with various greedy, immoral, self-serving, power-hungry industries…


You want solar power? Ok how about you show me the feasibility of capturing and constructing enough batteries to store 2 TW of energy for the USA?


Time to divest from fossil fuels and invest in solar:


One major issue here is the lack of full detail in battery storage. Telling me that we are going to increase to 95% battery storage in 33 years sounds great, but how exactly and what exactly are you going to use. The issue for the most commonly used battery storage technology on earth is not economics, but rather supply. My first source goes into detail and actually calculates how many resources are required to meet global demand for storage. Then based on current reserves it finds there is not enough lead on the planet to meet demand in the USA. My second source looks at lithium reserves in relation to lithium ion batteries. This plan makes no attempt to specify its battery proposals, yet suggests this is feasible. BASED ON WHAT? Sure I can also make a random graph and say 40 years form now 90% of the animals are going to be dogs. This is not feasible proof of anything. Without describing the specific type of technology it is impossible to describe the feasibility of storage, and based on reports that have already looked into supply issues as they pertain to batteries, calculations indicates that the likelihood of 95% battery feasibility for the foreseeable future is practically none.




I have a few other concerns after skimming through this paper, but one of the major problems is the issue of:
“Two crucial constraints are factored into the model to establish a sound basis for the energy system and these are: 1. New Nuclear, coal and oil based power plants are prohibited due to their inability to fufil high sustainability criteria set in the model. Gas turbines are permitted to be installed beyond 2015 due to lower carbon emissions”

I’m quite befuddled here. Youre going to terminate new nuclear power plants because they are not sustainable, but more natural gas is fine? Nuclear emits ZERO CO2 in operation. Nuclear also has lower lifecycle CO2 emissions than hydroelectric, solar and biomass. What on earth is this high sustainability criteria, and why does it apparently not apply to natural gas? In the USA every nuclear reactor that has been prematurely decommissioned has been replaced by coal or natural gas. Isn’t the objective to reduce CO2? Then how on earth can you possibly fathom that removing nuclear but not natural gas would reduce more CO2 than keeping nuclear to replace natural gas?

Lifecycle CO2 analysis:


(I’m willing to bet that nuclear waste plays an enormous role in this “high sustainability criteria”, because otherwise this criteria assumption doesn’t make any sense. If this is true I also assume the researchers spent very little time actually looking into nuclear waste reprocessing, burning or depository of which there is a plethora of data indicating potential methods that can be incorporated into a commercial environment to reduce the amount of transuranics and other long lived high level waste.
It is also concerning that this report, while it is just a feasibility report, doesn’t estimate the amount of solar, geothermal, wind, hydro or biomass wastes. By net volume, solar waste in particular is a concern of mine due to its high ratio production of silicon tetrachloride in specific polycrystalline silicon PV, which is one of the major reasons that I have long advocated for more funding into halide perovskite thin-film.)


Beware the expensive solar propaganda pushed by oil companies. 100% clean energy starts with the easy low-cost systems first such as building efficiencies and clotheslines. Whole cities can be 100% heated (and cooled) with district heating and borehole seasonal heat storage. Annual stored efficiency can be 90% for big systems. Solar heat is three times cheaper than natural gas heat. The long story goes on and on with a wide variety of clean energy sources.


100% renewable energy is going to be 90% new engineering of systems that haven’t been designed or built yet and 10% use of existing systems. Here’s the rub – nobody but nobody is doing the engineering on critical products right now. Here’s exactly what nobody is working on:

  1. Solar heat stored at night for building heat. This is dead easy, folks!! The critical problem with active solar air systems with rockbeds is the mold, dust and any radon. Solve the subproblems and win. Destroy 50% of the world’s natural gas industry!

1b. We need air conditioning, and the 24 hour storage of cold is one possible horse in this race.

  1. Stored solar heat can generate electricity at night, although I can name several other horses in the stored electricity race. Somebody win this race!

  2. 5x concentrated sunlight gets reflected into solar greenhouses, and then you can grow anything anywhere.

  3. Heliostats are going to solve many daylighting problems.

  4. Let me squeeze solar-based desalinization of water into this list. Solar is a natural energy choice in arid areas.

  5. Transit is going above-grade and it’s going to be seriously cheap, with about 90% less traffic jams.

  6. Arctic remediation to prevent a massive methane and carbon dioxide release, driving Eaarth’s number way above 350 to maybe 1000, is mission-critical. It will be expensive, but not expensive on the order of magnitude of a dirty little war. Just do it!

We are about to have a public charity devoted to getting the research and engineering done. Sounds good? Ordinary people fork over $19/month, the researchers don’t starve, the early products that no money-grubbing corporation wants to build get built and we can get back to our cat videos. OR,

Plan B: Your kids keep looking at you funny. Nobody wants to broach the subject, but after you die of old age their world is going to run low on food and your kids are probably going to die of hunger. So, your kids kind of want to know what’s inside of your brain.

Speaking of which, I want to ignore the salaried corporate troll writing on this forum.


One square meter of sunlight in Colorado climate is worth more than one barrel of oil per year. 1 m^2 sunlight / year > 2000 kWh/yr.


yeah, they’re leading in citizens returning to burning wood because of some of the highest energy prices in the first world.


The fossil fuel industry receives a lot of criticism these days, and rightfully so. But in the final analysis, we are the ones who support the energy industry and it is our standard of living that will need to change. So contemplate what you can do for the cause

Personal Actions
End our love affair with the automobile
Ride more trains and buses
Car pool
Walk and bike more
Turn off the air conditioner in the summer and dial the thermostat down in winter
Become vegetarians or vegans
Refill plastic bottles with tap water
Discontinue using aluminum cans with and without carbonation
Maximize use of reusable bags and products
Recycle junk mail
Forego fast junk food
Go to “slow food”;
Recycle maximally, especially aluminum cans
Drive and accelerate more slowly
Climb more stairs
Plant more trees
Forego use of spray cans
Ride more trains and buses
Repair, mend and alter as much as possible
Buy solar panels
Compost as much as possible
Last person out of the room turn off the lights
Eat and farm organic
Ride more trains and buses
Fly fewer planes
Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings
Use manual tools instead of power tools
Share more
Use rakes rather than leaf blowers
Decrease use of bottled water and refill plastic bottles with tap water
Maximize reusable bags and products
Push rather than power small mowers
Replace lawns with vegetable gardens
Stop fertilizing and mowing lawns
Compost as much as possible
Minimize use of disposables (Pampers);
Maximize high efficiency LED and solar powered lighting;
Limit endless gadgets
Use motion lighting, where appropriate
Decrease consumption
Limit family size

Local Government Actions
Reorganize cities, building taller residences with a smaller footprint (the end of suburbia)
Institute a carbon tax
Promote car pooling subsidize and expand mass transit
Expand bike paths
Have shareable (zip) cars
Ban electric outdoor signs;
Eat and farm organic
Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings
Eliminate approximately 50% of all street lighting and office lighting in unoccupied buildings
eliminate “fast junk food”; go to “slow food

Federal Government Actions
Ban gasohol
Rein in the militaries for defense only and outlaw war
Discontinue night baseball
Make electronics, house wares, furniture, etc to be as durable and long-lived as possible
Recycle maximally
Make appliances to be as energy efficient as possible
Discontinue aluminum cans
Ban electric outdoor signs
Maximize solar and wind power;
Change from petroleum based fertilizers to regenerative agriculture
Reverse deforestation, plant more trees
Restrict spray cans
Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings
Promote zero population growth with free condoms and family planning world-wide
End yearly auto model changes;
Proscribe junk mail
Scrap the mission to Mars
Adjust tax laws to limit family size
Promote limiting world population growth


The problem with wind and solar energy is their unreliability as a constant generator of such. Gravity acting on water as it falls from a high level to a lower level and passes through a turbine generator is better. This idea would involve a large reservoir being constructed at a high elevation which would contain water pumped from another reservoir at a lower elevation. The pump would operate thanks to electricity produced from wind or solar energy whenever this was available. One certain drawback from this concept would be the initial cost of such an installation. The reservoirs would need to be big enough to contain several days of water supply in the event of a cloudy calm spell of weather.


I hate to say this, but it needs to be said. The fossil fuel people who are destroying the Earth with their greed care about the money first, not the damage, but they love it when we portray them as seeking to destroy the world because then we rally to pay for them to transition the grid to renewables. Win-win for them.

But not for us. Not only are we paying them to build the infrastucture they will charge us forever to use, but we are missing the incredible opportunity to go-local with renewables and watch our energy money build a green economic foundation for our communities that will keep all the money we spend on energy circulating locally forever and ever, building sustainable prosperity for people.

Do you want to see a return to equity in the distibution of wealth, a transition to renewables, an end to poverty, and the healing of the Earth. Try Reconomy- it’s free! Www.reconomy.net.


If you want to discuss renewable energy, it is extremely important to not confuse energy and power. The total US electrical energy consumption (according to Wikipedia) in 2015 is 4144 TWh/yr or an average power draw of 4114 / (365x24) = 0.46 TW. I don’t doubt our peak power production goes to 2 TW (where is you number from?) or maybe more but when calculating how much energy buffer we need if you are going to book several days (as did Midas in his reply to you), you want to use the 1/2 TW figure. So 1/2 TW for 2 days is 0.5x24x2 = 24 TWh worth of energy storage. Midas points out that we might need more - maybe, but wind blows at night, and I’m sure part of the necessary investment is not just storage, but being able to move power around better (from a place with wind to a place without or a place in the sun to a place in the clouds). But for back of the envelope let’s use 24 TWh. Note: technically, a separate accounting should be made for power, since if you come up with a system that totals 24 TWh but has a peak power production of only 0.5 TW you haven’t solved the problem. This could be the case for sets of flow batteries with lots of tanks, but not that many cells, but most non-flow batteries (lithium or even salt water) I don’t think are limited in power capacity once you are talking 2 day energy capacity - that’s a lot of cells putting out power.

There are a lot of resources online if you search for grid storage, I just skimmed https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/energy-storage-prices-forecast-to-tumble/3007717.article which says pumped hydro is around $300/kWh and batteries are already cheaper at $175/kWh. You will see many projections of getting to $100/kWh for lithium EV type batteries (which is great for EV market penetration), but I personally think we need another technology such as salt water since we don’t have to have such great energy density numbers for grid storage compared to mobile.

Let’s just close this out at $100/kWh (achievable future number). To go from k to T is a factor of a million, so we are at 100x1e6x24 or 2.4 trillion dollars. That is a lot for sure - next you have to look at the lifetime of this installed infrastructure - a lot of batteries can’t go more than a few thousand cycles - if this means batteries last 1 year on the grid, we are broken. If we can reduce cycle depth and get somethinkg like 30 years out of them, it starts to look feasible.

Another way to get your head around such big numbers is to just look at the cost/kWh. This site (https://cleantechnica.com/2015/05/09/tesla-powerwall-powerblocks-per-kwh-lifetime-prices-vs-aquion-energy-eos-energy-imergy/) has a table with the lowest right now (from Tesla) at 10c/kWh (and this number includes the lifetime of the battery of course - otherwise it wouldn’t make sense). If we are talking grid storage, you won’t need to always get your power from a battery, but is still seeming pretty high. We need to get another factor of 10 out of our technology and if we are smart as humans we will spend more money on research now as well as rolling out small systems of imperfect technology.

We could use a lot fewer people in the long run too.


Yes, realism may look like pessimism but it is better than wishful thinking. It reminds us that the politicians are not going to save us, or our planet. They are only interested in their next campaign and the corrupt money needed to win.

But we are all losers if the speeding train we are on goes over the cliff that is coming soon. Only a major green resistance, revolt and revolution will save us from the oligarchs and ecological catastrophe. I don’t know if we can be optimistic about that happening before it is too late and all the tipping points have been long past.


Sounds great, Ruck. Please don’t forget about animal agriculture which causes more than half of the human-caused greenhouse gasses: See “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health” documentaries that are good resources, and lets all eat more veggies and less meat and dairy.


Also see “Veducated” and “Forks over Knives”