Monday, October 24, 2016


Source: Fife Direct

THE GENERALIST  has been harping about the new industrial/green technology/energy revolution since 1997 when I interviewed Amory Lovins, one of the world's leading energy efficiency gurus. See his TED talk here. 

Blog posts on this subject date back to 2005. The mainstream media still do not have a big picture view of what is happening globally. 

Here's a summary of an excellent paper, published on Carbon Tracker entitled 'The New Energy Transition: History is Bunk' by Kingsmill Bond, New Energy Analyst at the Research and Consultant agency Trusted Sources. In brief, the key points.  [Fuller version with charts here.]
'The orthodox view is that energy transitions are slow, and that this one will be no different. In reality, the new energy revolution will be fast, disruptive, and, above all, soon.
'The orthodox that incumbent energy producers need not worry too much about the rise of solar, wind or electric vehicles because their impact will not be felt for many years...[but]'there have been many examples where the arrival of new energy sources rapidly wiped out growth in demand for old energy.'
'Fossil fuels are available only in a limited number of places, and the more you extract the harder it gets.  Renewables are of course available everywhere, and the more you build the cheaper they get. 
'Renewables are being embraced everywhere.  Meanwhile, every country is seeking to reduce fossil fuel consumption, either in order to meet its COP21 commitments, or in order to reduce local pollution and enhance energy security.
Trusted Sources believes that : 'solar and wind supply [will] continue to grow at around 15-20% a year for the next five years' and that 'other non-fossil fuels – nuclear, hydro and biomass, [will] continue to grow at their slow and steady growth rate of around 2% a year.' 
In 2020, global demand for fossil fuels will start to fall, 'This will have hugely disruptive impacts across the global energy system.  And since energy is the foundation technology of the modern world, the geopolitical impacts will also be significant, and the consequences will be felt in every sector, from defence stocks to construction companies.'


 Thanks to my friend Gordon Adgey for turning me on to Gridwatch which provides an accurate near real-time view of  the various energy sources that power the UK's National Grid. It's put together by an electrical engineer, who writes:
Original National Grids 1933. Source: Photobucket
'Having expressed a desire for anyone to point me at a site for real world data on power generation, I was referred to the BM Reports website, where real-time - or near real-time - data is available on exactly what The United Kingdom's electricity grid is doing. That was a huge leap forward in actually gathering the data, as it has pages of latest statistics, but the ability to retrieve archived data and perform instant calculations as well its - frankly awful - graphical displays, was a real drawback.
So Gridwatch was born, first of all to scrape the data off the BM reports site every 5 minutes and inject it into an SQL database where it would be easy to perform specific searches and do statistical analysis. Then, in a rather retro and humorous way, to display the data in terms of analogue instruments and moving graphs. This is pure personal amusement, I like dials and graphs.'


Source: ZME Science
 My friend Steve Sawyer was the head of Greenpeace International and is now the Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. He has done the maths to see whether we could power the world on wind energy alone.
The average annual global electricity consumption is 21,000 terawatt-hours. Divide this by 0.005256 terawatt-hours of annual wind energy production per wind turbine equals approximately 3,995,434 onshore turbines.
In terms of land use, those 3,9 million turbines would take up about half the size of Alaska if they were spaced close together or a land mass slightly smaller than Spain if they were more widely spaced.
For the purpose of this global calculation, Steve reckons the average wind turbine has an output of 2 MW of power and reaches its full power-generating potential 30% of the time. Multiply that by the 8,760 hours in a year and you get an estimate of the annual megawatt-hours of energy production each turbine can produce  - 5,265 megawatt-hours or 0.005265 terawatt-hours.
If we only used extremely efficient turbines (i.e. ones that create 4 MW of power at 40% capacity), about 1.49 million turbines could supply the world's electricity consumption.
Thanks to advancements in wind turbine technology, the cost of deploying wind energy has fallen by 90% since the 1980s.
 Offshore wind farms can offer three times the amount of power compared to onshore turbines, since there is more wind blowing over the sea than on land.
[Source: Business Insider]

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