100% Renewables

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Jacobson et al

This paper reviews and ranks major proposed energy-related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security while considering impacts of the solutions on water supply, land use, wildlife, resource availability, reliability, thermal pollution, water pollution, nuclear proliferation, and undernutrition. To place electricity and liquid fuel options on an equal footing, twelve combinations of energy sources and vehicle type were considered. The overall rankings of the combinations (from highest to lowest) were (1) wind-powered battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), (2) wind-powered hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, (3) concentrated-solar-powered-BEVs, (4) geothermal-powered-BEVs, (5) tidal-powered-BEVs, (6) solar-photovoltaic-powered-BEVs, (7) wave-powered-BEVs, (8) hydroelectric-powered-BEVs, (9-tie) nuclear-powered-BEVs, (9-tie) coal-with-carbon-capture-powered-BEVs, (11) corn-E85 vehicles, and (12) cellulosic-E85 vehicles. The relative ranking of each electricity option for powering vehicles also applies to the electricity source providing general electricity. Because sufficient clean natural resources (e.g., wind, sunlight, hot water, ocean energy, etc.) exist to power the world for the foreseeable future, the results suggest that the diversion to less-efficient (nuclear, coal with carbon capture) or non-efficient (corn- and cellulosic E85) options represents an opportunity cost that will delay solutions to global warming and air pollution mortality. The sound implementation of the recommended options requires identifying good locations of energy resources, updating the transmission system, and mass-producing the clean energy and vehicle technologies, thus cooperation at multiple levels of government and industry.
These build on Jacobson's 2009 paper.
  • Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes abstractpreprint Mark Z. Jacobson, Mark A. Delucchi, Mary A. Cameron, and Bethany A. Frew; Nov 2015
This study addresses the greatest concern facing the large-scale integration of wind, water, and solar (WWS) into a power grid: the high cost of avoiding load loss caused by WWS variability and uncertainty. It uses a new grid integration model and finds low-cost, no-load-loss, nonunique solutions to this problem on electrification of all US energy sectors (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) while accounting for wind and solar time series data from a 3D global weather model that simulates extreme events and competition among wind turbines for available kinetic energy. Solutions are obtained by prioritizing storage for heat (in soil and water); cold (in ice and water); and electricity (in phase-change materials, pumped hydro, hydropower, and hydrogen), and using demand response. No natural gas, biofuels, nuclear power, or stationary batteries are needed. The resulting 2050–2055 US electricity social cost for a full system is much less than for fossil fuels. These results hold for many conditions, suggesting that low-cost, reliable 100% WWS systems should work many places worldwide.
Computer simulations by Professor Mark Z. Jacobson have shown that offshore wind farms with thousands of wind turbines could have sapped the power of three real-life hurricanes, significantly decreasing their winds and accompanying storm surge, and possibly preventing billions of dollars in damages.
links to paper, additional resources, video etc, and to other of Jacobson's works

The Solutions Project

Organisation promoting Jacobson's work

Commentary & criticisms of Jacobson et el

Clack et al

Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar Christopher T. M Clack, Staffan A. Qvist, Jay Apt, Morgan Bazilian, Adam R. Brandt, Ken Caldeira, Steven J. Davis, Victor Diakov, Mark A. Handschy, Paul D. H. Hines, Paulina Jaramillo, Daniel M. Kammen, Jane C. S. Long, M. Granger Morgan, Adam Reed, Varun Sivaram, James Sweeney, George R. Tynan, David G. Victor, John P. Weyant, and Jay F. Whitacre; PNAS; 24 Feb 2017

Previous analyses have found that the most feasible route to a low-carbon energy future is one that adopts a diverse portfolio of technologies. In contrast, Jacobson et al. (2015) consider whether the future primary energy sources for the United States could be narrowed to almost exclusively wind, solar, and hydroelectric power and suggest that this can be done at “low-cost” in a way that supplies all power with a probability of loss of load “that exceeds electric-utility-industry standards for reliability”. We find that their analysis involves errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible assumptions. Their study does not provide credible evidence for rejecting the conclusions of previous analyses that point to the benefits of considering a broad portfolio of energy system options. A policy prescription that overpromises on the benefits of relying on a narrower portfolio of technologies options could be counterproductive, seriously impeding the move to a cost effective decarbonized energy system.

Scientists Sharply Rebut Influential Renewable Energy Plan James Temple; MIT Technology Review; 19 June 2017

On Monday, a team of prominent researchers sharply critiqued an influential paper arguing that wind, solar, and hydroelectric power could affordably meet most of the nation’s energy needs by 2055, saying it contained modeling errors and implausible assumptions that could distort public policy and spending decisions (see “Fifty-States Plan Charts a Path Away from Fossil Fuels”).
The rebuttal appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same journal that ran the original 2015 paper. Several of the nearly two dozen researchers say they were driven to act because the original authors declined to publish what they viewed as necessary corrections, and the findings were influencing state and federal policy proposals.
The fear is that legislation will mandate goals that can’t be achieved with available technologies at reasonable prices, leading to “wildly unrealistic expectations” and “massive misallocation of resources,” says David Victor, an energy policy researcher at the University of California, San Diego, and coauthor of the critique. “That is both harmful to the economy, and creates the seeds of a backlash.”
The authors of the earlier paper published an accompanying response that disputed the piece point by point. In an interview with MIT Technology Review, lead author Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, said the rebuttal doesn’t accurately portray their research. He says the authors were motivated by allegiance to energy technologies that the 2015 paper excluded.
“They’re either nuclear advocates or carbon sequestration advocates or fossil-fuels advocates,” Jacobson says. “They don’t like the fact that we’re getting a lot of attention, so they’re trying to diminish our work.”

'Full toolbox' needed to solve the climate change problem CARNEGIE INSTITUTION FOR SCIENCE; AAAS EurekAlert; 19 Jun 2017

Solving the climate change problem means transitioning to an energy system that emits little or no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to new work from a team of experts including Carnegie's Ken Caldeira, achieving a near-zero-emissions energy system will depend on being able to draw on a diverse portfolio of near-zero-emissions energy technologies.
The study, from a group of 21 top researchers led by Christopher Clack of Vibrant Clean Energy, was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The group says that solving the climate problem will depend on making use of energy technologies such as bioenergy, nuclear energy, and carbon capture technology, correcting a misleading 2015 research roadmap that indicated the entire United States could be powered by just solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy.
"While wind, solar, and hydroelectric should play a central role in future American energy systems, we concluded that a much broader array of energy technologies is necessary to transition to a zero-emissions future as quickly and seamlessly as possible," said lead author Clack.
The team is particularly concerned about having backup energy sources to deal with variability in solar and wind, because current energy storage technology is not sufficient to cover gaps in production on a national scale.
"Our energy system is leaking waste carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When you call a plumber to fix a leak, you want her to arrive with a full toolbox and not leave most of her tools at home," Caldeira said. "Having a full toolbox means you are more likely to be able to solve the problem."
Careful evaluations of energy system transitions consistently show that broader portfolios form an important base to ensure success, the team concluded. By contrast, they added that studies that ignore all the options and make questionable assumptions don't do decision-makers and policymakers any favors.
"Unrealistic visions based on a very limited set of technologies have made it more difficult to actually transition to cleaner technology in the real world," Caldeira said. "The more technologies that we can bring to the table, the easier it will be to transition to a safe, affordable, and reliable energy system."

A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid Chris Mooney; Washington Post; 19 Jun 2017

Scientists are engaged in an increasingly bitter and personal feud over how much power the United States can get from renewable sources, with a large group of researchers taking aim at a popular recent paper that claimed the country could move beyond fossil fuels entirely by 2055.

The Appalling Delusion of 100 Percent Renewables, Exposed Robert Bryce; National Review; 24 Jun 2017

The idea that the U.S. economy can be run solely with renewable energy — a claim that leftist politicians, environmentalists, and climate activists have endlessly promoted — has always been a fool’s errand. And on Monday, the National Academy of Sciences published a blockbuster paper by an all-star group of American scientists that says exactly that.
Jacobson's response

The United States can keep the grid stable at low cost with 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors despite inaccurate claims Mark Z. Jacobsona, Mark A. Delucchi, Mary A. Cameron, Bethany A. Frew; Letter to PNAS;

The premise and all error claims by Clack et al. in PNAS, about Jacobson et al.’s report, are demonstrably false. We reaffirm Jacobson et al.’s conclusions.
False Premise
Clack et al.’s premise that deep decarbonization studies conclude that using nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and bioenergy reduces costs relative to “other pathways,” such as Jacobson et al.’s 100% pathway, is false.
First Clack et al. imply that Jacobson et al.’s report is an outlier for excluding nuclear and CCS. To the contrary, Jacobson et al. are in the mainstream, as grid stability studies finding low-cost up-to-100% clean, renewable solutions without nuclear or CCS are the majority.
Second, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contradicts Clack et al.’s claim that including nuclear or CCS reduces costs ( “...high shares of variable RE [renewable energy] power...may not be ideally complemented by nuclear, CCS,...” and (7.8.2) “Without support from governments, investments in new nuclear power plants are currently generally not economically attractive within liberalized markets,...” Similarly, Freed et al. state, “...there is virtually no history of nuclear construction under the economic and institutional circumstances that prevail throughout much of Europe and the United States,” and Cooper, who compared decarbonization scenarios, concluded, “Neither fossil fuels with CCS or nuclear power enters the least-cost, low-carbon portfolio.”
Third, unlike Jacobson et al., the IPCC, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and International Energy Agency have never performed or reviewed a cost analysis of grid stability under deep decarbonization. For example, MacDonald et al.’s grid-stability analysis considered only electricity, which is only ∼20% of total energy, thus far from deep decarbonization. Furthermore, deep-decarbonization studies cited by Clack et al. have never analyzed grid stability. Jacobson et al. obtained grid stability for 100% wind, water, and solar power across all energy sectors, and thus simulated complete energy decarbonization.
Fourth, Clack et al.’s objectives, scope, and evaluation criteria are narrower than Jacobson et al.’s, allowing Clack et al. to include nuclear, CCS, and biofuels without accounting for their true costs or risks. Jacobson et al. sought to reduce health, climate, and energy reliability costs, catastrophic risk, and land requirements while increasing jobs. Clack et al. focus only on carbon. By ignoring air pollution, the authors ignore bioenergy, CCS, and even nuclear health costs; by ignoring land use they ignore bioenergy feasibility; by ignoring risk and delays, they ignore nuclear feasibility, biasing their conclusions.
Fifth, Clack et al. contend that Jacobson et al. place “constraints” on technology options. In contrast, Jacobson et al. include many technologies and processes not in Clack et al.’s models. For example, Jacobson et al. include, but MacDonald et al. exclude, concentrated solar power (CSP), tidal, wave, geothermal, solar heat, any storage (CSP, pumped-hydro, hydropower, water, ice, rocks, hydrogen), demand-response, competition among wind turbines for kinetic energy, electrification of all energy sectors, calculations of load decrease upon electrification, and so forth. Model time steps in MacDonald et al. are also 120-times longer than in Jacobson et al.

Climate Lawsuit Brewing? Robert Bryce; National Review; 18 Jul 2017

Mark Jacobson, the Stanford engineering professor who became the darling of the green Left by repeatedly claiming the U.S. economy can run solely on renewable energy, has threatened to take legal action against the authors of an article that demolished his claims last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
...Jacobson has also made it clear that he’s considering litigation. After hearing rumors about his legal threats, I obtained redacted copies of two e-mails Jacobson sent to Clack and his co-authors last month. In one e-mail, sent June 27 at 6:11 p.m., Jacobson warned, “just to keep you informed, I have hired an attorney to address the falsification of claims about our work in the Clack article.” About an hour later, Jacobson sent another e-mail to them. It concluded with Jacobson saying, “Yes, and I have hired an attorney.”
Note: Robert Bryce and the National Review are unreliable sources and the existence and content of the emails Bryce claims to have seen have not been corroborated elsewhere.

Blair King / Chemist in Langley

Blair King aka "A Chemist in Langley" has written several blog posts criticising the work of Jacobson (with and without Delucchi and others):

looks at Jacobson et al's dismissal of nuclear power, summarising that it is quite clear that the authors did not want to include nuclear power in the mix but that "instead of saying outright that they are excluding nuclear power to provide for an interesting research perspective they do so in a manner that smears nuclear power".
questions adequacy of supplies of the quantities of rare earth elements and lithium required in Jacobson et al's plans.
examines the feasibility of Jacobson et al's plans for storing the energy produced by intermittent renewables to cover gaps in availability.
examines Jacobson's 100% WWS scenario for Canada


Analysis and critique of the 100% WWS Plan advanced by The Solutions Project Timothy Maloney; (Blog)

I've gone through the 100% WWS Plan at some length, and here's my critique of it. Spoiler alert: The amount of land that it needs is vast; the amounts of money and material are enormous beyond your wildest dreams; and it won't work.

Here's what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy David Roberts; Vox; 2015

Jani-Petri Martikainen ("a physicist with a keen interest on science and environmental and energy issues") PassiiviIdentiteetti blog:

The Environmentalist Case Against 100% Renewable Energy Plans Julian Spector; CityLab; 20 Jul 2015

Also reprinted by MotherJones as Why We Need Nuclear Power

Stanford Prof. Deletes Data From Study Showing Green Energy Will Kill Jobs Michael Bastach; Daily Caller; 13 Jan 2016

Claims that Jacobson deleted data showing net long-term job losses associated with his 100% WWS plans from a spreadsheet published on his website following criticism by a blogger, and subsequently admitted deleting the data but claimed it was "test" numbers.

Comments on Jacobson et al.'s proposal for a wind, water, and solar energy future for New York State Nathaniel Gilbraith & others, Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University; 2 May 2013 [paywalled]

Abstract: Jacobson et al. (2013) recently published a paper arguing the feasibility of meeting all of the energy demands in New York State with wind, solar, and water resources. In this forum we suggest that the authors do not present sufficient analysis to demonstrate the technical, economic, and social feasibility of their proposed strategy.

A critical review of global decarbonization scenarios: what do they tell us about feasibility? Peter J. Loftus1 et al, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 93–112; Jan/Feb 2015 [paywalled]

"Dozens of scenarios are published each year outlining paths to a low carbon global energy system. To provide insight into the relative feasibility of these global decarbonization scenarios, we examine 17 scenarios constructed using a diverse range of techniques and introduce a set of empirical benchmarks that can be applied to compare and assess the pace of energy system transformation entailed by each scenario. In particular, we quantify the implied rate of change in energy and carbon intensity and low-carbon technology deployment rates for each scenario and benchmark each against historical experience and industry projections, where available. In addition, we examine how each study addresses the key technical, economic, and societal factors that may constrain the pace of low-carbon energy transformation. We find that all of the scenarios envision historically unprecedented improvements in energy intensity, while normalized low-carbon capacity deployment rates are broadly consistent with historical experience. Three scenarios that constrain the available portfolio of low-carbon options by excluding some technologies (nuclear and carbon capture and storage) a priori are outliers, requiring much faster low-carbon capacity deployment and energy intensity improvements. Finally, all of the studies present comparatively little detail on strategies to decarbonize the industrial and transportation sectors, and most give superficial treatment to relevant constraints on energy system transformations. To be reliable guides for policymaking, scenarios such as these need to be supplemented by more detailed analyses realistically addressing the key constraints on energy system transformation."

Mark Z. Jacobson is proud that his models disagree with IPCC (and almost everyone else)

He then uses his climate model to determine how a mixture of wind, water and solar energy collectors can, in total, produce 40% less energy each hour than the conservatively estimated power demand in 2050 published by the Energy Information Agency. His explanation for producing less energy than the EIA expects society will need is that electrical machinery is that much more efficient than combustion machinery.
The reason for emphasizing that Dr. Jacobson describes his model as a climate model is that it is not an energy production system model, not an economic model, and not a production scheduling model. The characteristics of power system components like generators, transformers, HVDC conversion stations, transmission lines, transmission towers, network operating centers, and numerous less visible but no less important components are treated in generalized, almost cartoon form.
His cost and schedule estimates are substantially less credible than hand waving; they amount to something like the following: “I have no earthly idea what my ideas are going to cost and how they are going to be planned, scheduled and implemented, but trust me, I know this will be cheaper. All we need to do for comparison is to include all of the invisible gains society will receive when we stop burning fossil fuels and biomass.”

David MacKay's reply to a claim of Jacobson's

Is it feasable that “The US could replace all its cars and trucks with electric cars powered by wind turbines taking up less than 3 square kilometres - in theory, at least"?
This "3 square kilometres" assertion is hilarious. If only they put turbines on thinner poles, perhaps held up by guy wires, the "area" taken by the turbines could be even smaller. (In case anyone has not understood Jacobson's joke, the joke is that he's talking about the area of the bases of the wind turbines. Did he write the article on April 1st?)

STEWART BRAND VS. MARK Z. JACOBSON: DOES THE WORLD NEED NUCLEAR ENERGY? - A REBUTTAL TO JACOBSON Dr. Patrick L. Walden; TRIUMF (Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and accelerator-based science)

Critique of the 100 Percent Renewable Energy for New York Plan Edward Dodge; The Energy Collective; 17 Nov 2013

I feel compelled to respond to a paper that is widely referenced by anti-hydrofracking activists as proof that New York can move beyond fossil fuels and power 100% of its energy needs with renewables. The WWS (Wind, Water and Solar) Plan for New York (Jacobson et al., 2013) is part of a series of papers authored chiefly by Prof Mark Jacobson from Stanford University that can be found here. The New York paper includes contributions from Cornell University professors Bob Howarth and Tony Ingraffea. Jacobson attempts to makes the case that society can acquire all of the energy it needs for all purposes in a relatively short period of time from a combination of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal. Jacobson is opposed to nuclear power and also opposes all hydrocarbon fuels whether bio or fossil based because of the contention that all CO2 emissions must be eliminated in order to prevent a catastrophic melting of the arctic sea ice. The plan calls for an 80% conversion to WWS by 2030 and 100% conversion by 2050. Unfortunately the plans are deeply flawed from a practical and technical perspective.
CSP in New York!

A critique of Jacobson and Delucchi's proposals for a world renewable energy supply Ted Trainer; Energy Policy - Volume 44; May 2012 [paywalled]

Jacobson and Delucchi have recently put forward a detailed case in support of the claim that renewable energy sources can meet total world energy demand. The following argument is that this proposal is unsatisfactory, primarily because it does not deal effectively with the problems set by the variability of renewable energy sources, and also because its analysis of investment costs is inadequate.
The claims of Jacobson and Delucchi are the possibility of a world energy supply from renewable sources are critically examined. It is concluded that these claims are not justified. The discussion reinforces the case that renewable sources cannot sustain. energy-intensive societies.

Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) / Breyer

Simulation brings global 100% renewable electricity system alive for the first time Lappeenranta University of Technology; 3 Nov 2016

A new model developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) shows how an electricity system mainly based on solar and wind works in all regions of the world. It shows the functioning of an electricity system that fulfils the targets set by the Paris agreement by using only renewable energy sources.
The global Internet of Energy Model visualizes a 100 percent renewable energy system (100%RE) for the electricity sector for 2030. It can do this for the entire world which, in the model, has been structured into 145 regions, which are all visualised, and aggregated to 9 major world regions.
"With the simulation, anyone can explore what a renewable electricity system would look like. This is the first time scientists have been able to do this on a global scale." says Christian Breyer, LUT Solar Economy Professor and a leading scientist behind the model.
The model is designed to find the most economical solution for a renewable electricity system. The model shows how the supply of electricity can be organised to cover the electricity demand for all hours of the year. This means that best mix of renewable energy generation, storage and transmission components can be found to cover the electricity demand, leading to total electricity cost roughly between 55 and 70 euros per megawatt-hour for all 9 major regions in the world.
But the story does not end here. The researchers have ambitious goals to develop the model further. Future upgrades will go from looking only at the electricity sector to showing the full energy sector, including heat and mobility sectors. The model will also describe how to transition from the current energy system towards a fully sustainable one.

Global energy model solely reliant on renewables realistically simulated Jack Loughran; IET Engineering & Technology; 10 Nov 2016

An electricity grid system 100 per cent based on renewable energy production that works in all regions of the world has been successfully simulated using a complex computer model. Created by a team at the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, it demonstrates how an electricity system that fulfils the targets set by the Paris Agreement by using only renewable energy sources could work.
This means that best mix of renewable energy generation, storage and transmission components can be found to cover the electricity demand, leading to total electricity cost roughly between 55 and 70 euros per megawatt-hour for all nine major regions in the world.
But the story does not end here. The researchers have ambitious goals to develop the model further. Future upgrades will go from looking only at the electricity sector to showing the full energy sector, including heat and mobility sectors.


slideshow presentation

Analysis / criticism of LUT plan

The Lappeenranta renewable energy model – is it realistic? Roger Andrews; Energy Matters; 8 Mar 2017

No data to back up the 55-70 euros/MWh generation cost estimate are provided.
According to my rough calculations Europe would have to install an additional 500GW of PV and 900GW of wind to achieve LUT’s 2030 generation mix – and connect it all to a heavily beefed-up grid – in little more than a decade.
Britain:energy mix will require approximately 250GW of wind capacity and 70GW of solar capacity along with maybe 35GW of “other” capacity, about 15GW of which will be CCGTs and OCGTs. Battery storage requirements are around 65GWh with a peak charge requirement of 10.5MW.
France: Approximately 230GW of wind capacity and 90GW of solar capacity will be needed along with maybe 50GW of “other” capacity, about 13GW of which will be CCGTs and OCGTs. Battery storage requirements are around 90GWh with a peak charge of 14.3GW
Germany: Approximately 220GW of wind capacity and 150GW of solar capacity will be needed along with maybe 60GW of “other” capacity, about 25GW of which will be CCGTs and OCGTs. Battery storage requirements are around 135GWh with a peak charge of 21GW
The LUT model matches fluctuations in wind and solar generation to demand largely by varying export and imports, as evidenced by the strong inverse relationship between generation and imports/exports in Britain, France and Germany shown in Figures ...
By adopting this approach the LUT model assumes that every country in Europe, regardless of size, can balance its erratic renewables generation against demand the same way Denmark does it. Even the Danes admit they can do this only because they are a bit player on the Nordic Grid. For the approach to work on the large scale power deficits in one area must be offset by surpluses in another, which will not happen with solar because when it’s dark in one part of Europe it will be dark or getting dark everywhere else too. It probably won’t happen with wind either. Previous Energy Matters posts have demonstrated how wind lulls in Europe extend over large areas, leaving everyone with power deficits. Nevertheless the LUT model reportedly achieves a balance, so next we will look into the question of how it achieves i
I considered Britain, France and Germany as one single country (hereafter BFG)
The power transfers between BFG and surrounding countries are very large, and in Switzerland and Denmark on May 14 they approach or exceed the country’s total generation. Switzerland on November 23 is expected to absorb ten times as much electricity as it generates. The Czech Republic generates three times as much electricity at 11am on May 14 as it does at 7pm on November 23 while neighboring Poland generates the same amount. Results like these are not credible. The LUT model is bending the data beyond the limits of reality to make things balance.
Interconnector capacity: According to the LUT hourly data Britain will export up to 44.8GW, France up to 66.1GW and Germany up to 54.8GW in 2030, and interconnectors must be sized accordingly. Britain presently has only ~3GW of interconnector capacity with the continent while France and Germany have ~14 and ~22 GW respectively of interconnections with each other and with surrounding countries. So to match the LUT export totals Germany would have to add approximately 30GW, Britain 40GW and France 50GW of interconnectors. Again, it will be effectively impossible to install such enormous amounts of additional interconnector capacity in the time available.
Battery Storage: The LUT hourly data contemplate that Britain, France and Germany between them will have approximately 300GWh of battery storage in 2030. This much storage would keep the electricity flowing in these countries for only an hour or so during peak demand periods, so we can safely assume that its purpose is short-term load following. But 300GWh of lithium-ion batteries at current prices would cost upwards of 100 billion euros, and this is for Britain, France and Germany only. Assuming similar levels of battery storage for the other countries in the world that LUT has developed plans for would raise battery costs well into the trillions. It’s also questionable whether this many batteries could even be assembled and installed by 2030. After years of effort worldwide installed battery storage capacity is still down in the hundreds of MWh range –several orders of magnitude less than the 2030 capacities required by the LUT plan.

The Lappeenranta Internet of Energy in Europe Euan Mearns; Energy Matters; 22 Mar 2017

Is the Lappeenranta IOE Wind Model Realistic? Euan Mearns; Energy Matters; 25 Mar 2017

The Lappeenrata University of Technology (LUT) Internet of Energy (IOE) model for Europe aims to provide a 100% renewable electricity system costing €55 to €70 per MWh by 2030. A feature of the model are annualised wind profiles that plateau at capacity production which look nothing like the profiles of the current wind carpets. The profiles have the appearance of being curtailed, however, Professor Breyer who heads the LUT IOE team has explained that their model uses “weak turbines” that hit capacity production at lower wind speeds of 11 ms-1 compared with 14 ms-1 today. This is is combined with using taller towers with 160 m hub heights allowing the turbines to access stronger and more continuous wind. Tall towers today are about half that height. The result is that the LUT IOE wind turbines produce twice the energy of today’s – according to the model (Figures 6, 8, 10 and 12).

Zero Carbon Britain (CAT)

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)'s Zero Carbon Britain.

French Environment and Energy Agency (ADEME)

French Environment and Energy Agency (ADEME)'s Vers un mix eléctrique 100% renouvelable en 2050 (and responses "ADEME was wise in not publishing its scenario" by Hubert Flocard, and "Analysis and comments on the report: towards a mix 100% renewables in 2050" - both in French).

Commentary & criticism of ZCB, ADEME etc

Critical analysis of ADEME and CAT/ZCB scenarios with particular reference to energy storage in: Renewable Energy Storage and Power-To-Methane Roger Andrews; Energy Matters blog; 25 Jun 2015

The Renewables Future – A Summary of Findings Roger Andrews; 13 Aug 2015

Elliston, Diesdendorf and MacGill: Australia

Simulations of scenarios with 100% renewable electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market Ben Elliston, Mark Diesendorf, Iain MacGill

Dispelling the nuclear 'baseload' myth: nothing renewables can't do better! Mark Diesendorf; The Ecologist; 10 Mar 2016

The main claim used to justify nuclear is that it's the only low carbon power source that can supply 'reliable, baseload electricity', writes Mark Diesendorf - unlike wind and solar. But not only can renewables supply baseload power, they can do something far more valuable: supply power flexibly according to demand. Now nuclear power really is redundant.

Commentary & criticism of Elliston, Diesdendorf and MacGill

Critique of the proposal for 100% renewable energy electricity supply in Australia Dr Ted Trainer; Brave New Climate blog; 2 Jun 2014

Elliston and Riesz

Future high renewable electricity scenarios – Insights from mapping the diversity of near least cost portfolios B. Elliston, J. Riesz

This paper reports on future electricity generation scenarios modelled using NEMO, a model that applies a genetic algorithm to optimise a mix of simulated generators to meet hourly demand profiles, to the required reliability standard, at lowest overall industry cost. The modelling examined the least and near least cost technology portfolios for a scenario that limited emissions to approximately one quarter of those from the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) at present. It was found that all the near least cost solutions (within 15% of the least cost solution) involved wind capacity in the range of 31-51 GW, with 98.8% of these near least cost portfolios having at least 35 GW of wind installed. In contrast, the near least cost solutions consistently involved much lower quantities of PV, with 90% of the near least cost portfolios having less than 4.9 GW of installed PV capacity. This suggests that policies to promote high levels of wind deployment and grid integration are likely to be important for achieving low cost, low emissions outcomes, while policies to promote significant PV deployment may be less warranted in the absence of cost effective supporting technologies, such as battery storage or significant demand side participation.
3/4 of peer-rev'd refs are author's own. Other is BZE which proposes Australia abandon aviation by 2020. - Oscar Archer ‏@ActinideAge

Greenpeace / Brainpool

Wind power with 'windgas' is cheaper and greener than Hinkley Point C nuclear plant Ecologist


  • Wind power as an alternative to nuclear power from Hinkley Point C: At a lower cost / Short analysis an behalf of Greenpeace Energy eG, January 2016 (German only)
  • Wind power as an alternative to nuclear power from Hinkley Point C: A cost comparison / Short analysis an behalf of Greenpeace Energy eG, January 2016 (English)
  • Effects of Hinkley Point C on the german electricity market / Study on behalf of Greenpeace Energy eG, July 2015 (German only)
  • Level of public funding of Hinkley Point C / Short analysis an behalf of Greenpeace Energy eG, June 2015 (German only)


What happens when the wind doesn’t blow? Southern Alliance for Clean Energy blog


energy [r]evolution 2012

Technological opportunities Changes to the power system by 2050 will create huge business opportunities for the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector. A smart grid has power supplied from a diverse range of sources and places and it relies on the gathering and analysis of a lot of data. Smart grids require software, hardware and data networks capable of delivering data quickly, and of responding to the information that they contain. Several important ICT players are racing to smarten up energy grids across the globe and hundreds of companies could be involved with smart grids.
There are numerous IT companies offering products and services to manage and monitor energy. These include IBM, Fujitsu, Google, Microsoft and Cisco. These and other giants of the telecommunications and technology sector have the power to make the grid smarter, and to move us faster towards a clean energy future. Greenpeace has initiated the ‘Cool IT’ campaign to put pressure on the IT sector to make such technologies a reality.

energy [r]evolution 2015

5th Edition
  • Project manager and lead author Dr. Sven Teske, Greenpeace International
  • Global Wind Energy Council steve sawyer
  • SolarPowerEurope oliver schäfer
  • research & co-authors
  • Overall Modelling: dlr, institute of engineering thermodynamics, systems analysis and technology assessment, stuttgart, germany: dr. thomas Pregger, dr. sonja simon, dr. tobias naegler

2030 Energy Scenarios report

In early 2015 we were commissioned by Greenpeace UK to design and test an ambitious, low carbon 2030 energy scenario using the 'Smart Household Energy Demand (SHED) model. It shows that it is possible for the UK's power system to be nearly 90% renewably delivered by 2030, while electrifying 25% of all heating demand - and putting 12.7 million electric cars on the road. But only if we can cut demand for space heating by 57% in the next 15 years - a major challenge.

4 ways the UK can get almost all its power from renewables – without Hinkley

Energy Revolution 2015

Skeptical science

Can renewables provide baseload power? based on


Planet on the Ballot Paul Krugman; NY Times; 29 Feb 2016

Paul Krugman Needs an Energy Reality Check Robert Bryce; National Review; 3 Mar 2016


Two Energy Futures

The stuff problem Danny Chivers; New Internationalist blog;


Scott Cato / South West England

Power To Transform index page

Summary leaflet – easy to read pages

Summary leaflet – full spread

A report commissioned by Molly Scott Cato MEP reveals:
  • The region has the renewable energy resources to meet more than 100% of its total energy needs, including replacement of liquid fuels.
  • A move to a renewable energy economy has the potential to create 122,000 jobs, an increase in employment of 4.5% across the region.
  • One third of energy needs can be met from marine and inshore estuarine tidal energy, with the remaining two thirds from onshore renewables.
  • The cost of delivering 100% renewable energy to the region would be around £60 billion. The equivalent cost of delivering 100% of energy needs from nuclear would be around £83 billion.
  • Renewables offer opportunities for ushering in a Smart Grid Energy Storage system that would balance the intermittency of some renewable technologies
  • Local Smart Grids developed in conjunction with renewable energy resources would reduce the need for large scale pylons and transmission systems. In the South West we can demonstrate just how much better a society powered by clean, green energy would really be. As is so often the case, the right environmental choice will also ensure greater economic justice and help us build flourishing local economies. Locally produced renewable energy will bring a huge economic boost and new jobs and benefit in particular some of our more deprived rural economies. The South West of England has some of the world’s best renewable energy resources, in great abundance and great variety. All that holds us back from a renewable energy revolution and energy security is a failure of political will. Our politicians must progress beyond the fossil-fuel past into the sunny uplands of our shared renewable future.

The power to transform the South West: How to meet the region’s energy needs through renewable energy generation

Researched and written by The Resilience Centre
Commissioned by Molly Scott Cato MEP
Funded by the Green/EFA group in the European Parliament
  1. The South West region has the renewable energy resources to meet more than 100% of its total energy needs, including replacement of liquid fuels and electrifying railways.
  2. We could generate 67,448,817 MWhrs/year of renewable energy as 42,690,806 MWehrs of electrical energy and 24,758,010 MWth of thermal energy (67,449 GWhrs/year) from 31,804 MW of Generating Capacity (thermal & electricity).
  3. [the report omits a point 3]
  4. 34% of energy needs can be met from marine and inshore estuarine tidal energy, and 66% from onshore renewables.
  5. To enable the devenopment of renewable energy generation we would suggest installing 12,051 MWe capacity of smart grid energy storage to balance intermittency of renewables and allow demand led local smart grids to be developed.
  6. This energy storage would provide 19,281,000 MWhrs/year or 29% of energy as demand required.
  7. An estimated 122,000 full time equivalent jobs could be created if we deliver and maintain this renewable energy generation regionally, an increase in employment of 4.5% for the region.
  8. We estimate that the capital cost of delivering such a programme would be £59,484m, including £8,784m on Smart Grid energy storage. This is 72% of equivalent nuclear costs for delivering the same amount of energy.
  9. The equivalent cost of delivering 100% of the South West energy needs from nuclear is £82,510m or 138% of the equivalent cost of delivering with renewable energy.
  10. Renewables costs provide for a local smart grid with energy storage and flexibility to meet spikes and drops in demand and reduce need for large scale pylons and transmission systems.
  11. Renewables costs include £500m/year investment in local/regional grid reinforcement and upgrade, equivalent to an increased annual expenditure on grid upgrade and management of 64% each year.
  12. The potential annual value added for delivering the constrained renewable energy resources of the South West would be £4,286m/year, equivalent to an annual growth rate of 4.0% year on year and equivalent to 48% of the total value of the tourism industry and 87% of the aerospace and defence industry in the South West


Nuclear Energy vs. Wind and Solar Mike Conley & Tim Maloney; 17 Apr 2015

Here's how much of the US would need to be covered in wind turbines to power the nation Leanna Garfield ; Business Insider UK; 26 Sep 2016

Though the US invested $14.5 billion in wind-power project installations last year, wind farms still provide less than 5% of the nation's energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association. AWEA's manager of industry data analysis, John Hensley, did the following math: 4.082 billion megawatt-hours (the average annual US electricity consumption) divided by 7,008 megawatt-hours of annual wind energy production per wind turbine equals approximately 583,000 onshore turbines. In terms of land use, those 583,000 turbines would take up about the total land mass of Rhode Island, Hensley says, because wind projects typically require 0.74 acres of land per megawatt produced.
Hensley considered that the average wind turbine has an output of 2 megawatts of power and is 40% efficient.
For comparison, solar projects operate at an average of 20% efficiency
When you multiply a wind turbine's average potential (2 megawatts) by its 40% annual energy efficiency, 365 days a year, you get Hensley's estimate of the megawatt-hours of energy production each turbine can produce (7,008).

David Roberts

The Eastern US could get a third of its power from renewables within 10 years. Theoretically. David Roberts; Vox; 31 Aug 2016

Model of Eastern Interconnect can accommodate 30 percent "variable generation" (VG)

David Roberts on the latest NREL 30% wind and solar study Russ Finley; Biodiversivist; 5 Sep 2016

consider this article to be a comment under David's article: The Eastern US could get a third of its power from renewables within 10years. Theoretically, which has no comment field.

Energy Matters

Euan Mearns and Roger Andrews at the Energy Matters blog have posted analyses of various scenarios for achieving reliable electricity supplies from wind energy.

Wind + storage for peak-smoothing

The Cost of Dispatchable Wind Power Euan Mearns; Energy Matters; 15 Jun 2015

I calculate how much storage would be required to deliver the diurnal peaks in demand from dispatchable wind – pumped – storage – hydro. I’ve taken this approach for a number of reasons:
  • The daily demand peaks fetch the highest prices and supplying these peaks follows the traditional finance model for pumped storage hydro – buying low and selling high
  • Servicing the peaks as opposed to base load minimises the amount of storage required (the demand peaks represent 18% of total demand in March 2015)
  • Supplying the demand peaks in the UK from wind + storage will allow about 20 GW of conventional generation to be retired
  • Allowing the fossil fuel generators to supply base load allows them to run at optimum efficiency and to minimise their CO2 emissions per unit of electricity produced. By way of contingency it leaves the door open for an all-nuclear base load supply.

Over-capacity and curtailment

The quest for 100% renewables – can curtailment replace storage? Roger Andrews; Energy Matters; 23 Jun 2017

Previous Energy Matters posts have highlighted the prohibitive amounts of energy storage that are needed to make 100% intermittent renewables work. In this post I give the problem one last shot. Can storage requirements be reduced to manageable levels by producing more renewable energy than is needed to fill demand and curtailing the surpluses? The answer is no. Curtailment does indeed reduce storage requirements, but not to manageable levels. This would appear to eliminate the possibility of developing a grid powered 100% by intermittent renewables. Backup fossil fuel generation will always be needed to fill demand when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

Offshore wind - more reliable?

Can offshore wind be integrated with the grid? Roger Andrews; Energy Matters; 7 Jul 2017

This is absolutely, positively my last effort to find something good to say about wind power. Previous Energy Matters posts that highlight the difficulties of integrating intermittent wind power with the grid have been based dominantly on onshore wind data, but claims that offshore wind is significantly less erratic and will therefore be much easier to integrate with the grid have not been checked. This post reviews the question of whether it will. It finds that offshore wind is indeed less erratic than onshore wind but still nowhere near consistent enough to do away with the need for storage or conventional backup generation.


How The Grid Works, & Why Renewables Can Dominate Christopher Arcus; CleanTechnica blog; 16 Dec 2015

Claims that high levels - though not not 100% - of renewables penetration could be achieved without significant storage.

The Environmentalist Case Against 100% Renewable Energy Plans JULIAN SPECTOR @JulianSpector; Citylab; 20 Jul 2015 (republished on Mother Jones as Why We Need Nuclear Power)

Leap Manifesto (Canadian)

Energy proposals based on Jacobson

Critique of 100% renewables plans generally

Heard, Brook, Wigley & Bradshaw

Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems B.P. Heard, B.W. Brook, T.M.L. Wigley, C.J.A. Bradshaw; Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews; Volume 76, September 2017, Pages 1122–1133 [paywall]

An effective response to climate change demands rapid replacement of fossil carbon energy sources. This must occur concurrently with an ongoing rise in total global energy consumption. While many modelled scenarios have been published claiming to show that a 100% renewable electricity system is achievable, there is no empirical or historical evidence that demonstrates that such systems are in fact feasible. Of the studies published to date, 24 have forecast regional, national or global energy requirements at sufficient detail to be considered potentially credible. We critically review these studies using four novel feasibility criteria for reliable electricity systems needed to meet electricity demand this century. These criteria are: (1) consistency with mainstream energy-demand forecasts; (2) simulating supply to meet demand reliably at hourly, half-hourly, and five-minute timescales, with resilience to extreme climate events; (3) identifying necessary transmission and distribution requirements; and (4) maintaining the provision of essential ancillary services. Evaluated against these objective criteria, none of the 24 studies provides convincing evidence that these basic feasibility criteria can be met. Of a maximum possible unweighted feasibility score of seven, the highest score for any one study was four. Eight of 24 scenarios (33%) provided no form of system simulation. Twelve (50%) relied on unrealistic forecasts of energy demand. While four studies (17%; all regional) articulated transmission requirements, only two scenarios—drawn from the same study—addressed ancillary-service requirements. In addition to feasibility issues, the heavy reliance on exploitation of hydroelectricity and biomass raises concerns regarding environmental sustainability and social justice. Strong empirical evidence of feasibility must be demonstrated for any study that attempts to construct or model a low-carbon energy future based on any combination of low-carbon technology. On the basis of this review, efforts to date seem to have substantially underestimated the challenge and delayed the identification and implementation of effective and comprehensive decarbonization pathways.

The dream of 100% renewables assessed by Heard et al Roger Andrews; Energy Matters; 12 Apr 2017

Discussion of Heard et al paper


Energiewende and Caliwende – the Heavy Cost of Ideology Seeker Blog; 17 Jan 2016

A Brave New World - deep decarbonisation of energy grids J.P.Morgan; 19 Oct 2015

we focus on Germany and its Energiewende plan (deep de-carbonization of the electricity grid in which 80% of demand is met by renewable energy), and on a California version we refer to as Caliwende. We compare these systems to the current electricity mix, and to a balanced system with a mix of renewable and nuclear energy
Our primary conclusions:
  • A critical part of any analysis of high-renewable systems is the cost of backup thermal power and/or storage needed to meet demand during periods of low renewable generation. These costs are substantial; as a result, levelized costs of wind and solar are not the right tools to use in assessing the total cost of a high-renewable system
  • Emissions. High-renewable grids reduce CO2 emissions by 65%-70% in Germany and 55%-60% in California vs. the current grid. Reason: backup thermal capacity is idle for much of the year
  • Costs. High-renewable grid costs per MWh are 1.9x the current system in Germany, and 1.5x in California. Costs fall to 1.6x in Germany and 1.2x in California assuming long-run “learning curve” declines in wind, solar and storage costs, higher nuclear plant costs and higher natural gas fuel costs
  • Storage. The cost of time-shifting surplus renewable generation via storage has fallen, but its cost, intermittent utilization and energy loss result in higher per MWh system costs when it is added
  • Nuclear. Balanced systems with nuclear power have lower estimated costs and CO2 emissions than high-renewable systems. However, there’s enormous uncertainty regarding the actual cost of nuclear power in the US and Europe, rendering balanced system assessments less reliable. Nuclear power is growing in Asia where plant costs are 20%-30% lower, but political, historical, economic, regulatory and cultural issues prevent these observations from being easily applied outside of Asia
  • Location and comparability. Germany and California rank in the top 70th and 90th percentiles with respect to their potential wind and solar energy (see Appendix I). However, actual wind and solar energy productivity is higher in California (i.e., higher capacity factors), which is the primary reason that Energiewende is more expensive per MWh than Caliwende. Regions without high quality wind and solar irradiation may find that grids dominated by renewable energy are more costly
  • What-ifs. National/cross-border grid expansion, storing electricity in electric car batteries, demand management and renewable energy overbuilding are often mentioned as ways of reducing the cost of high-renewable systems. However, each relies to some extent on conjecture, insufficient empirical support and/or incomplete assessments of related costs

The Climate Challenge: Can Renewables Really do it Alone? Josh Freed, Matt Bennett, Matt Goldberg; Third Way think-tank; 16 Dec 2015

tl;dr: no

Can You Make a Wind Turbine Without Fossil Fuels? Robert Wilson; Carbon Counter; 11 Jun 2015

fossil fuel requirements and CO2 emissions of steel & concrete production - relevant to nuclear etc also