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Top Ten Renewable Energy Surprises in New IEA Report


Top Ten Renewable Energy Surprises in New IEA Report

Juan Cole

A new International Energy Agency report contains some startling findings about solar energy dominance and its future.

In the industrialized world, Denmark will be the vanguard of renewable energy by 2022


Someone should tell Trump that even though we have so much coal to sell that very soon no one will want to buy it. There will be a worldwide glut of coal and other fossil fuels in the near future that will sound the death knell for an outmoded technology. Moreover as the world comes to finally appreciate the benefits of truly clean solar and wind produced energy that the ensuing lawsuits over health and pollution issues will hit the fossil fuel holdout users and render their use too expensive for even the last operational plants to continue using. That will finish the job of ending the use of killer coal and all fossil fuels once and for all.

Fossil fuels are the fuels of the past. They are fast becoming the fossils of energy production.


This is good news. However, renewables comprise over half of all “new energy” production, but what is the total new (not renewable, but all new energy) energy being produced and what is the new amount of carbon being emitted into our atmosphere; the new total amount, old plus new? These are the numbers we need, otherwise this article is just more false hope.


You should do the research before you spread inaccuracies like this. You imply something negative about new energy production without showing any proof or facts.

Perhaps you do not understand the essential details of the issue? For example a new coal burning plant will produce approx. 3.5 million tons of carbon per year! This does not include the added carbon produced from building the plant itself, manufacturing the raw materials and the mining and transport of the coal.

While building a new solar or wind plant will also add a one time penalty of CO2 during its construction (and the mining or manufacture of raw materials just as would building a new coal fired plant,) the similarity ends there. The new solar plant or wind farm will not then release the yearly penalty of 3.5 million tons of CO2 that is added to the atmosphere per each new coal fired plant.

There is no downside to not adding 3.5 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year per each new coal plant.


Its quite interesting you talk about doing research before commenting, yet claim that solar and wind are truly clean. There is no such thing as clean energy. All energy sources produce waste and pollution. Wind turbines produce toxic materials during manufacturing, require petrochemicals for blade composition, and impact bird and bat populations extensively. Solar produces extremely hazardous waste during manufacturing both from silicon PV and CdTe Thin Film PV. Additionally CSP solar produces more CO2 than it removes due to diesel generator for startup. Perhaps you should’ve done your research…

In regards to the rest of your comment, you seem to be confused in thinking that coal is the only and most important fossil fuel. Coal is #2 fossil fuel in the USA for electrical production. Natural gas is #1. However, renewable junkies don’t like to compare renewables to natural gas, because the data is actually quite difficult to suggest superiority. Natural gas continues to grow in consumption. You also fail to mention petroleum, but at least you aren’t trying to compare it to solar. Petroleum is largely not used for electrical generation.


Talk with facts and proof not just making claims without backing them up. Trump is touting what he calls lovely coal and making every effort to keep coal as a energy producing source. Typically (for some people) you cite the construction of solar and wind powered plants as producing pollution penalties but ignore the pollution penalties in building a new coal fired plant. Let’s not even bring up the poisoning of our lakes and streams with toxic mercury produced from the burning of coal. You ignore the toxic penalty incurred when building a coal or other fossil fuel plant. You say the turbine blades require petrochemicals in their manufacture - a one time relatively insignificant production cost - and say nothing of adding 3.5 million tons of additional carbon to the atmosphere each year from each coal plant? Cute that!

Let me be the one to compare natural gas burning plants to solar and wind energy production. First off a natural gas burning plant produces approx. half the carbon that a coal fired plant would produce. That is in millions of tons of additional carbon injected into the atmosphere per year. Your con game falters on your lack of actual facts. Moreover natural gas or methane production releases huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere from fracking etc. at the well head. You apparently ignore this despite methane being vastly worse as a greenhouse gas than CO2! You ignore the danger of transporting the gas through pipelines and by rail. San Bruno being a sad example of the dangers of a gas pipeline exploding.

I confess that I cannot comment on this claim since you do not provide details. “Diesel generator for start up.” - exactly what are you claiming? Cite some proof of this as I am unfamiliar with what you are suggesting.

Petroleum electricity generation is beyond anyone even trying to justify it as an energy source, it being the most expensive and inefficient form of energy production.


Are you so delusional that your precious energy sources cannot take any criticism? What part of “there is no clean energy” did you not understand? Just because I cite pollution of solar and wind does not mean that I deny the pollution caused by fossil fuels. Furthermore I did not cite construction as a cause of pollution, because all energy sources contain this- it is not unique to solar and wind. I discussed manufacturing, waste production, blade composition and fatal effects on migratory patterns. How about actually reading my comment next time?

As for your natural gas comparison it is abruptly obvious that you have once again failed to do any research. Saying that natural gas produces approximately half the carbon that a coal plant produces suggest that you simply looked at a chart as opposed to actually calculating the emissions. Yet you call me a con man? What a joke. You don’t even understand the information you tell people. “You apparently ignore this despite methane being vastly worse as a greenhouse gas than CO2” CH4 is only worse than CO2 because it can absorb more heat per molecule than CO2. However, there is a significantly lower amount of CH4 than CO2 and CH4 disperses from the atmosphere significantly faster than CO2. Its worse in the since that it can trap more heat, but based on current atmospheric concentrations CO2 is the #1 molecular concern.


Meanwhile back in the 3rd world nation we call the USA, Trump and congress are looking at taxing imported renewable energy components. Have to give the fossil fuel industry a fair shake don’t you know.


You are a con artist. I see no point in playing at debate with you. I say state facts and instead you continue to say things without backing them up with facts. If this type of argument is the best that denialists can produce… um… I’ll just yawn with boredom and let it go at that! You’ll really have to do better than this. Really!


In regards to Sources:
Wind turbine
Composition of CFRP blades: https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic-cfrp-market
Composition of GFRP: https://www1.eere.energy.gov/manufacturing/pdfs/fiber_reinforced_composites_factsheet.pdf
Additional: http://www.theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/344771/can-you-make-wind-turbine-without-fossil-fuels
Potential future compositions for less petrochemical composition: http://aerospaceengineeringblog.com/composite-materials-wind-energy/
Effect on Migratory birds: https://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/birds_and_bats_fact_sheet.pdf

Solar PV:
Silicon Tetrachloride and cadmium sulfide waste: https://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/solar/solar-energy-isnt-always-as-green-as-you-think
Gallium Arsenide production: https://natgrp.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/the-toxic-issue-of-solar-panels/
Additional information: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/11/141111-solar-panel-manufacturing-sustainability-ranking/

CSP not Carbon Neutral: https://www.pv-tech.org/news/arizona-csp-plant-to-pay-us1.5-million-emissions-fine


How about you actually read through my material this time…


Why does no one mention the need for human energy and the necessity for limiting our energy use and abuse? We all have that responsibility.


And it could grow even faster, if more of us couch potato intellectuals got off our butts, invested in our roofs rather than our backsides, and became micro generators. The future is distributed: if we have one.


The National Geographic article, out of the Rupert Murdoch Right Wing Conspiracy Publishing Corporation, should be subtitled “As the clean safe resilient renewables industry grows, so does right wing fossil fuel corporation concern over profits and stranded assets, though they’ve made no move to stop creating more assets that will inevitably be stranded. The right’s willingness to say absolutely anything, no matter how blatant a lie or ridiculous, to try to slow down the growth of renewables and keep the fossil fuel pigs feeding at the government trough, grows at the same time.”

Fossil fuels must go, very soon, if civilization is to survive. A hocketed mix of clean safe resilient renewable energy sources is the only choice. Everything an industrial civilization does has effects, but to deny that renewables are at least thousands of times better than fossil fuels in every way is as disgusting and despicable as it is absurd.

“Large-scale adoption of low-carbon energy technologies could cut the human health and ecosystem impacts of power generation in half by 2050, according to new research.

”[Solar power] displaces fossil fuel electricity. And burning fossil fuels to create electricity kills people, so displacing fossil fuel power directly saves lives.
A study published in 2016 took a crack at quantifying the doesn’t-kill-people benefits of US solar.” [these are benefits shown already in the US with only a small proportion of energy provided by solar so far.]

Reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) sufficient to secure a cumulative $167 billion worth of avoided health and environmental damages.

It’s clear from my research that switching to an optimal mix of efficiency, conservation, wiser lives, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and other clean safe renewables would reduce the deaths and illnesses associated with energy production so drastically numerical comparisons are meaningless. More than 150,000 people are killed a year by fossil fuels in the US (>4 1/2 million a year worldwide) and that’s a drastic undercount, missing, among others, the many millions of people killed in wars for oil over the last half century alone.

The wind lie is cherry picking, ignoring the fact that wind is 17 times better for birds than coal generation, and that’s not counting the enormous effects of coal on climate change. Continuing to burn coal will cause so many extinctions numerical comparisons are again meaningless. It also ignores the harm fossil fuels do to whales and dolphins, fish, shellfish, amphibians and reptiles, mammals, insects, trees and other plants, and all other living beings, not to mention human health, democracy, and equality.

To write about the environmental effects of solar and wind while not stating the incredibly obvious fact that a rational mix of efficiency and renewables is thousands of times better than fossil fuels in every way imaginable is so grossly irresponsible it’s virtually criminal. It’s a despicable act of treason to humanity. It’s part of the Koch-Exxon-ALEC campaign of climate denying delayalism and anti-renewable deception and should be counted as a crime against humanity and the Earth. You should stop.


It always amazes me how renewable junkies will do anything to discredit information that disagrees with their utopian belief of energy. Just because you disagree with the part owner of the magazine doesn’t eliminate the factual discoveries by national Geographic or my other credible sources.

My argument is not that solar is worse than fossil fuels. Jesus how thick-skulled are you morons?! My argument was in reference to this ignorant statement by wereflea “Moreover as the world comes to finally appreciate the benefits of truly clean solar and wind produced energy”. There is no such thing as clean energy. I literally said this in my first comment. Furthermore, none of your remaining comment disproves ANY of the information in my sources. How on earth you think I’m cherrypicking any of the data is insane. What on earth do you think wind turbines are made out of?!! Its not happiness and unicorns. In order to make blades that are flexible, durable, weather resistant and corrosion resistant they are going to have to be made out of polymers, which currently are all made at petrochemical facilities. This isn’t cherry-picked its FACT. Ask any major wind company on earth what their blades are made out of and they will tell you its made of hydrocarbon polymers. I even supplied you with a potential future of wind turbine design that would not require these petrochemical materials.

I’m well aware that solar is more environmentally friendly than coal and natural gas. That’s not my argument. My argument is that what we use today is not clean. The fact is I actually support solar, but I support a type of solar that is CLEANER than Poly/Mono-crystalline Silicon PV or CdTe PV. I support Hybrid Inorganic and Organic Halide Perovskite, because this type of solar does not require an intensive manufacturing process that results in silicon tetrachloride or cadmium sulfide waste. Halide Perovskite is far superior for potential development, because it has low production costs. Instead of having to expose miners to silicosis or cadmium carcinogens the material can be synthesized in facilities. Additionally halide perovskite has the potential to convert X-rays, Ultraviolet rays as well as a wider spectrum of visible electromagnetic rays resulting in greater solar production. You are not progressive just because you support solar. You don’t even fully understand the products that you are supporting. Whats unfortunate is morons like yourself refuse to even acknowledge the downsides of the solar that currently makes up 99% of the market, and so halide perovskite receives extremely limited funding even though it has a far greater potential!

I don’t even think you understand what the term cherry-picking means. Its also quite bizzare that you think the US Department of Energy is cherrypicking data on wind turbines, which they have a far greater oversight on than you. Its obvious you did not even attempt to read that article as the article explicitly details that coal kills more birds from pollution. That’s not my point. My point is that wind does kill birds and its a concern. Thankfully there are solutions such as attaching sound generators that produce frequency to detract birds from turbine locations. However, thanks to morons like yourself who refuse to even accept that there is a problem we cannot create enough funding to provide all turbines with this technology.


I don’t even think you have the intellectual capability to actually research halide perovskites as the majority of studies are quite technical published studies, but heres a much easier source to understand that has far more industrial application than Vox News:


And then you misrepresented what I said–yet again, about a dozen times in your reaction. I didn’t claim your sources were wrong. I said your post is cherry picking facts about the minuscule harm of renewables while ignoring the harm fossil fuels do, thousands or millions of times worse. You skew the argument and make reality seem exactly the opposite of what it is. If you had mentioned the effects of fossils I wouldn’t have bothered to answer you, knowing I was in for a fight because of how you twist and misrepresent everything you don’t like, and you overreact and get insulting over everything. If you’re truly pro-renewable you are so absolutely terrible at contributing to the conversation we’d be much better off without you. I for one don’t believe it for a second; your constant sniping at renewables speaks for itself.

If you supported solar, instead of concern troll posts you would have made it clear right off that a locally appropriate mix of efficiency and renewables is far superior in every way to the fossil fuels we use now, even more superior to the extremely low EROEI oil and other fuels, MTR, tar sands, and other fuels and methods we’re increasingly resorting to, AND that improvements in wind and solar that make them even more productive, efficient and ecological are welcome. Those improvements are happening all the time; several that may be revolutionary are imminent.

With you new wind answer you again misrepresent, and your attempt to insult is ridiculous and without any foundation in reality. I explained enough about your cherry picking for anyone to understand who was willing to. You didn’t mention the fact that today’s turbines and siting are many times better than early ones like the original Altamont Pass turbines (now replaced by bigger and better ones) and that continued improvements are happening all the time with wind technology, too.

I freely admit there are improvements to be made and have said so and discussed them hundreds of times without anyone resorting to the kind of anti-renewable tenor you have. Your ridiculous blaming and straw person nonsense about funding is yet another despicable bit of the kind of fracking fluid we’ve come to expect from you.

Avoiding climate catastrophe is the top priority in the world. Moving to renewables is what will make that possible and trying to make the perfect the enemy of survival is insane. We’re moving very rapidly to drastically decrease the harm humanity does to the biosphere and opposing the things we’re doing to accomplish that is insane. You should stop.


You didn’t claim my sources were wrong? Oh really:
“The National Geographic article, out of the Rupert Murdoch Right Wing Conspiracy Publishing Corporation, should be subtitled “As the clean safe resilient renewables industry grows, so does right wing fossil fuel corporation concern over profits and stranded assets, though they’ve made no move to stop creating more assets that will inevitably be stranded.”

“The wind lie is cherry picking, ignoring the fact that wind is 17 times better for birds than coal generation, and that’s not counting the enormous effects of coal on climate change.”

Who wrote that? I didn’t write it and its in your comment. Hmmmmm… I guess it was a ghost writer.

If my conversation is over solar and wind, why on earth would I spend time talking about fossil fuels? Coal does not produce silicon tetrachloride waste. Natural gas does not have 200 ft turbines. You seem to not understand how to formulate an argument. Also if you bothered to read the comments directly above your own you would notice that I have said multiple times that my arguments do not diminish the pollution caused by fossil fuels. Unbelievable- its really not that hard to understand.

I’m not the one who immediately requires text about coal when any argument about solar appears. You are so delusional to expect that criticism of what you support must also require criticism of other sources. Nothing I have said is misrepresented or false. I’m not the one who used a mediocre mainstream source as Vox.com, but rather my sources all come from science based publications or engineering reports and opinions.

You are partially correct in assuming I do not support renewables, because I don’t. I support types of solar, types of wind, types of hydroelectric and types of geothermal, but I do not support renewables. I don’t support renewables, because in reality that term means nothing.

  1. We do not classify or measure renewability. If we compare sources as being renewable versus non-renewable, then there should be a way to calculate a source’s renewability. Yet I have never in my life seen any study quantify a source’s renewability. Why is that? Perhaps its because renewability means nothing. Renewability simply means: a source that naturally replenishes its supply within a human timeline. This doesn’t actually serve any value in the real world for production, because we care far more about the supply of a resource. There are many sources that renewable today in which not enough supply exists for the source to be a reliable source of energy. For example synthesized forms of algae have too low of supply to be used and scaled for global production.

How about lets cut the bs and use terms that actually applicable in society today like sustainability and environmental cost.

  1. In the universal sense there is no such thing as renewable energy. Being a nuclear advocate Ive always had trouble figuring out how legislatures can make rules in which nuclear fission and fusion are non-renewable yet solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal are renewable. This concept is nonsense to me, as solar, wind, water, hydro and tidal are reliant on energy from the sun (and gravitational forces for tidal). The ONLY reason this energy is transferred to the earth is through nuclear fusion in which hydrogen atoms fuse into helium and the energy released is a waste product of the reaction. I’m not disputing that nuclear fusion is non-renewable- it is. The Sun since its creation has always been converting hydrogen into helium and at no time has it ever replenished its hydrogen supply. That makes it non-renewable. However, it makes absolutely zero sense to claim that non-renewable energy provides renewable energy. This isn’t just about fusion either, as nuclear fission reactions and decay heat from fission products make up more than 60% of the heat energy produced by our earth. Geothermal primarily uses this energy in pockets where it is accessible. Without this heat energy geothermal would not exist. Yet somehow some way we have non-renewable nuclear fission in the earth’s crust and mantle producing heat energy that miraculously turns into being renewable as long as a geothermal station is using it. That is ridiculous.


…and here we are in the USA—racing to the bottom in denial and lack of imagination.
Also regarding India, didn’t the USA put some kind of barrier on their making solar panels or becoming energy sustainable?? Glad to see they moved ahead with their plans anyway.


You continue to grossly misrepresent what I and other people say. Intentionally or not, you read things into my statements that simply aren’t there. I was quite clear and yet you’re working hard to obscure meaning and clarity. You even quoted exactly the 2 bits that show I didn’t call your sources false, then you went on to try to create more confusion by arguing against and denying the obvious and only possible conclusion.

I’ve been working with people for many years and have experienced sickening, tanglefoot-like murkiness like this a number of times. Every time it turns out the attempt to mystify is borne out of the person’s desire to deceive along with other, deeply disturbing and disturbed qualities. One time was with a former priest probably guilty of child molestation (who came onto me in entirely inappropriate circumstances and in a fittingly creepy and devious way.) Another was a convicted stalker. I get that feeling talking to you. Everything is couched in terms designed for deniability and later revision, reinterpretation, and twisting. Your posts are about nothing but criticizing renewables, which, wow, might make some people think you’re mainly interested in criticizing renewables. You criticize wind and solar for tiny faults while making subtle head fakes toward not being anti-renewable and ignoring the staggeringly immense, obvious, urgent and dire problems with fossil fuels—head fakes nothwithstanding. You twist everything and deny it, deny everything you do and twist everything both people said when you’re called on it.

I’ve also been confronting psychopathic climate denying and anti-renewable morons with their lies and deception for over a decade now and the US has gone backwards in most ways, losing ground to the approaching end of civilization while doing almost nothing to avoid it. The lies are the same; the stories are the same; the criminal psychotic psychopathic behavior is the same. I have no patience left for it, or the irrelevant musings that come in the form of denial and distraction that dead end into jr. high school pseudo-intellectual crap.

We’re locked in a battle for the survival of civilization and millions of species; the other side is made of psychotic psychopaths who will say anything and, it’s increasingly apparent, do anything to ”win”. (Which of course entail them and all of us losing…everything.) Everything we do is either helping them destroy or helping us save, and your posts are (in an ineffective, sad and kinda pathetic way) helping them to delay action that will save us. Your insults of those on the left makes it completely clear which side you’re on, too.

If you think renewables are the only way out of global cataclysm, say so and then shut up, because every post you make takes us farther from believing that about you, protestations aside. People working on renewables are doing everything they can to make them better and your whining on this site is going to do absolutely nothing to move them faster. Its only function and therefore I believe your only purpose is to create dissatisfaction with clean safe renewable energy, so it’s less differentiated in most people’s minds with the incomparably greater destruction of fossil fuels and our progress toward avoiding chaos and catastrophe is slowed. If you’re unaware of that you need psychotherapy. If you’re aware of it and are doing it anyway you need psychotherapy. Please get some so you can stop posting reprehensible nonsense.