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Friday, May 13, 2011


Scientific American this week reported:

Among the IPCC's biggest findings mentioned is its estimate that renewable energy could provide nearly 80 percent of the globe's power by 2050, if fully supported by governments eager to maximize its potential.

Some won’t be particularly reassured, for the IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which more than a few Republicans deem as environmental sociopaths responsible for foisting Global Warming upon our society.  Further, detractors (and realists) will pick holes in this statement:

1.     What good is 80% in 2050 when Peak Oil will slam our economy by 2020?

2.     Are you kidding?  That “if fully supported by governments eager to maximize its potential” is a ridiculously impossible requirement.

3.     This conclusion is no different in integrity from Hershey financing a study to show that chocolate doesn’t cause pimples.

Mind you, this magnum opus, entitled “Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation,” is a thousand pages long, and is being released by Working Group III only after years of intensive cogitation and detailed analysis.  The full report  won't actually be released until the end of this month, but a 26-page summary is available. 

They said:

1.     The above scenario was only the most optimistic of a hundred alternative potential outcomes, with half showing that the best renewables can do is 27%.

2.     Biomass is the silver bullet (meaning there are some negatives with the promise).

3.     Nuclear power is purposefully omitted.

4.     There seems to be the usual focus on electricity.  Nothing on aviation and little emphasized on ground transport.

These individuals can be contacted if you have any questions:

Coordinating Lead Authors:

Ottmar Edenhofer (center, Germany), Ramon Pichs‐Madruga (right, Cuba), Youba Sokona (left, Ethiopia/Mali), Kristin Seyboth (not shown,Germany/USA)

Lead Authors:

Dan Arvizu (USA), Thomas Bruckner (Germany), John Christensen (Denmark), Jean‐Michel Devernay (France), Andre Faaij (The Netherlands), Manfred Fischedick (Germany), Barry Goldstein (Australia), Gerrit Hansen (Germany), John Huckerby (New Zealand), Arnulf Jäger‐Waldau (Italy/Germany), Susanne Kadner (Germany), Daniel Kammen (USA), Volker Krey (Austria/Germany), Arun Kumar (India), Anthony Lewis (Ireland/United Kingdom), Oswaldo Lucon (Brazil), Patrick Matschoss (Germany), Lourdes Maurice (USA), Catherine Mitchell (United Kingdom), William Moomaw (USA), José Moreira (Brazil), Alain Nadai (France), Lars J. Nilsson (Sweden), John Nyboer (Canada), Atiq Rahman (Bangladesh), Jayant Sathaye (USA), Janet Sawin (USA), Roberto Schaeffer (Brazil), Tormod Schei (Norway), Steffen Schlömer (Germany), Ralph Sims (New Zealand), Christoph von Stechow (Germany), Aviel Verbruggen (Belgium), Kevin Urama (Kenya/Nigeria), Ryan Wiser (USA), Francis Yamba (Zambia), Timm Zwickel (Germany)

Special Advisor:

Jeffrey Logan (USA)

Mind you, there were many others who just participated in the deliberations.  No big surprise, but I don’t know anyone in the list above.

and there is some good news through omissions.  That above 80% attainment figure for renewable energy does not include ocean thermal energy conversion (Lockheed Martin design to left), hot dry rock geo, thorium fission, PV power in geosynchronous (and higher) orbit, fusion (including one pathway that might be attained in a decade) and some of those other exotic options being dreamt.  Some of them, of course, will take a miracle or two to gain any prominence in less than 40 years, but I retain some mild hope for one or two making important contributions.  I would not be surprised if these ignored sustainables can, indeed, add 20% by then, but only if trillions are provided for development.  Yes, inconceivable, but we’re talking dreams here, where $200/barrel can make fantasy real.


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