The logical fallacy of renewable energy

David MacKay was a voice of reason in the sometimes crazy world of energy. In his last interview he identified the futility of basing future UK energy supplies on renewable energy.


Today each person in the UK uses on average 125 Kwh/day. Roughly a third is for heating services and food, a third is for electrical power, and a third is for transport. For the UK to have a zero carbon future all this energy will have  to be generated by electricity. We will have to electrify all transport and produce synthetic fuel for plastics and air travel. Any reductions through efficiency savings is likely to be offset by efficiency losses in converting electrical energy to chemical energy in the form of hydrogen and methane.

125 KWh/day is the equivalent of an average continuous power supply of 125/24 = 5 Kw per person. For the population of UK this equates to a national output of 300 GW average power perhaps peaking to 500GW in winter. How can this huge demand be met?

Modern society depends on always available power. If power goes down then society stops. There are no phones, no internet, no ATMs, no refrigeration, no sewage pumps – nothing, and if a large city like London is without power for more than 12 hours rioting and looting would quickly take hold. It is therefore inconceivable not to ensure that we have reliable energy at all times. So an energy plan for the UK must be able to meet demand even on the coldest evening of the year in winter with no wind and no solar . For this reason Renewable energy can never under any realistic scenario meet that target. To imagine that battery prices could fall enough to make wind and solar backup such enormous power demands is simply a delusion.

Renewables are very low density and for significant energy supply require vast areas of land. Solar energy is unsuitable for the UK because during winter output is 9 times lower than summer. Since we have to find a reliable zero-carbon solution for the winter, it makes no sense to switch it off in the summer just because we like renewables.


A good analogy for reliance on renewables is the age of Sail. Sailing ships moved goods around the world from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century. Technical progress even produced higher speed. However they were limited both in size and especially in reliability. They could become becalmed for a week or hit by ferocious storms blowing them way off course. They really only worked worked well under stable wind conditions, which were unpredictable. As soon as iron clad ships and reliable steam engines became available they quickly replaced sailing ships. Modern container ships today master all weather conditions and move most of the world’s trade on which the global economy depends.

Why is Germany investing so much in Energiewende?.

Germany is really building 2 energy infrastructures. A renewable infrastructure and a backup fossil fuel infrastructure. They recently built 19 new modern coal fired stations in parallel to their investment in wind and solar. The reason is simple.

On a cold December evening when there is no wind the renewable power supply is zero, and all their coal stations must be be ramped up to maximum output. They will have to build yet more coal stations if they go ahead and close their nuclear plants just to please the Green party. Energiewende as currently envisaged will never be able to deliver a zero carbon future, unless they add inefficient CCS to their coal plants. If so then they will need 50% more of them.

The only logical solution for the UK is a mostly nuclear energy future with some CCS coal stations if economic.

About Clive Best

PhD High Energy Physics Worked at CERN, Rutherford Lab, JET, JRC, OSVision
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40 Responses to The logical fallacy of renewable energy

  1. Ron Graf says:

    Since we have to find a reliable zero-carbon solution for the winter, it makes no sense to switch it off in the summer just because we like renewables.

    A flexible generation structure is the only current compromise for lowering carbon. Natural gas is the preferred carbon since it emits the least carbon per joule versus coal or oil. Like the Monty Python skit, it is the choice with the least spam in it. Biomass fuel is carbon but since the decay was going to put the CO2 in the air anyway it does not add much to the carbon footprint. Hydro-electric is nearly all exploited already but it is part of the equation. Sea wave energy suffers the unreliability of wind and solar but at least combining the three may smooth the intermittentcy. Improving storage battery tech helps all renewable’s practicality, especially electric cars.

    The next step I would see would be replacing fossil fuel with nuclear on a mixed generation grid. Perhaps at first it will be with improved fission reactors and then hopefully the introduction of fusion. Regardless, battery and renewable tech will remain to be important for powering cars and remote locations.

    Now, the question about carbon harm, if any, guilt if harm and liability if guilt are purely political.

    • Clive Best says:


      Certainly burning gas is better than burning coal CH4 + 2O2 -> CO2 + 2H2O produces about half the CO2 as coal. However try telling that to the Indonesians and Indians who have abundant coal for another 20 years or more. It is impossible to police the world.

      Part of our problem in the west is the concept of original sin. It is all our fault so it is our duty to fix it. That is very admirable but then we have to have a practical cost effective solution which ideally is cheaper than burning coal.

      We probably have 50 years to solve it. If we don’t then temperatures may rise a couple of degrees. This will delay the next ice age by 20,000 years.

      • badcop666 says:

        What you mean to say is that several worthless computer models have *predicted* that we have 50 years and a small rise will delay the ice age. They’re pretty big claims. We’ve been hearing. Them for thirty years now and *nothing* has happened!

      • higley7 says:

        The fact remains that, while atmospheric CO2 rises linearly, human CO2 emissions rise exponentially. As the CO2 graph remains linear despite increasing human emissions, it is clear that human emissions are NOT altering the atmosphere. Nothing else is needed here; global warming by man, aka, climate change, simply does not exist.

        In fact, rising CO2 is greening the planet and, with the Sun going into a Grand Minimum, we can use all the food we can get with the help of higher CO2.

        There is no defensible science showing that CO2 warms the climate in any detectable way. CO2 changes ALWAYS lag temperature changes and it is only IPCC propaganda that claims that human activities have overwhelmed all natural climate factors. How stupid do they think we are?

        Everyone’s goal should be to disabuse themselves from the knee-jerk thinking in which we are always considering decreasing CO2 emissions and the “carbon footprint” of various activities. It is a waste of time and is simply the act of thinking wrongly.

        • John says:

          False. Your claim about linear versus exponential is bunk. And it doesn’t matter even if it was true. CO2 is a problem and we must lower our contribution and resolve the issue for our own good.

  2. Attributes of electricity: availability ( 24/7 ), reliability, and cost.

    Solar tends to fail on availability ( night ).
    Wind tends to fail on reliability.

    Both can be overcome with storage, but that drives up cost.

    The sun is up there emit lots of energy, of course.

    And George Friedman thinks eventually this century,
    space-borne solar arrays will beam energy back to earth.
    That should provide cheap, reliable, and available energy.

    But I don’t see a reason to panic between that time and now.

    • Clive Best says:


      Nor do I.

      120,000 years ago during the last interglacial it was 2/3 C warmer than now and sea levels perhaps 4 meters higher. CO2 levels were no different than now so probably the sun was responsible.

      Another glaciation would destroy civilization across Europe and the US. If kept under moderate control anthropogenic warming is a blessing in disguise.

      • Sea level during the Eemian has been revised upward to 9 meters above the present.

        A better example closer to the present would be the Holocene Climate Optimum, when the Sahara was inhabited by cattle herders. About 5000 years ago, global temperature was about 2 degrees higher than today and sea level was 2 meters higher.

        That warming was natural as were all the warm and cold periods in history and prehistory.

  3. edmh says:

    David Mackay was renowned for liking back of the envelope calculations. The calculations here are in that vein.

    These simple calculations show the committed costs for weather dependent Renewables in Europe as installed by 2014.

    Before I knew he was ill I asked Prod Mackay to look at these apparently phenomenal numbers and he was kind enough to reply as follows

    “the numbers look right. Of course, do remember that when you use gas you have to pay for the gas fuel.”


    So in summary

    • By 2014 the countries of the European Union had made a current and future financial commitment of some €3.1trillion to weather dependent Renewable Energy technologies, Wind Power and Solar Power. That commitment continues to increase with further Renewable installations into the future.

    • 3.1 trillion Euros is about the annual GDP of Germany and about 50% greater than the annual GDP of either France or the United Kingdom

    • More than 1/3 of the financial commitment to Renewables in Europe so far has been made in Germany.

    • The €1.1 trillion capital costs already spent on Renewables in Europe would have been sufficient to re-equip the entire ~1,000 Gigawatt European electricity generating fleet with Gas-fired power stations producing power effectively at ~90% capacity.

    • Electricity generation by using gas-fired installations is significantly cheaper than weather-dependent Renewables in terms of both installation capital cost and Operation and Maintenance costs, even when accounting for the cost of fuel.

    • The European Renewables fleet with a nominal nameplate output of ~ 216 Gigawatts only contributes ~ 38 Gigawatts to the European Grid, a capacity percentage at about 18%.

    • 60 year life-time costs of Onshore wind power range from 10 – 13 times more expensive than Gas-fired generation.

    • 60 year life-time costs of Offshore wind power and Solar power range from 40 – 50 times more expensive than Gas-fired generation.

    • during the 60 year life-time Gas-fired generations a productive capacity of about 90% is achieved whereas the combined capacity figures for Renewable Energy of only about 18% is achieved across all European Renewable installations.

    • Gas-fired electricity generation significantly reduces CO2 emissions, when compared other fossil fuels such as all forms of Coal and Lignite: this is in spite of the fact it burns a “fossil fuel”.

    • This effect is already seen in the USA where significant CO2 emissions reductions are being achieved by the transition from Coal to Natural gas for electricity generation. This effect arises from the fact that coal contains a 6-10 times higher proportion of carbon atoms as natural gas and thus produces proportionally much more CO2 when oxidised for equivalent thermal outputs.

    CO2 emissions from Germany are now increasing, so the vast investment in weather dependent Renewable technologies to control man-made CO2 emissions is manifestly failing, most obviously in Germany.

    for the fuller details see:

    • clivebest says:


      David MacKay had a huge influence. He helped all of us understand the the basic physics of renewable energy. His book should be made compulsory reading for DECC and DG Energy. They are subject to continuous lobbying by FoE and Greenpeace, and need to keep a grasp on reality.

      If Europe had switched from coal to gas rather than chase green fairies, then we would have halved carbon emissions. Instead German carbon emissions have fallen by less than 10% over the last 20 years. Emissions may well rise again if they close down their remaining nuclear plants, because they will have to be replaced by coal plants.

      • edmh says:

        At least in Germany the had the common sense to build new Coal fired power stations. All the UK does is close one base load power station after another and expect that weather dependent Renewables with be all right on the night.

  4. Javier says:

    The problem is not CO2 emissions as we are being told. The problem is that we are set to run out of fossil fuels in a not too distant future. Uranium is also quite constrained. Until a time when a not constrained source of energy can be developed, if that is possible, we will have to do with renewables even if uneconomical at present. There will come a time when we will have to get a big part of our energy out of them or face the alternative of living with a lot less energy.

    So yes, we have to continue developing renewables and installing them, and solving the problems that they cause, even if it is expensive. We would not be able to afford it if we wait until fossil fuels start decreasing.

    I suppose that the CO2 excuse has less downsides than the running out of fossil fuels excuse.

    • A C Osborn says:

      Sorry, Uranium is not constrained at all, only the cost of getting it is the variable.
      Very little of the Uranium that has been used is not suitable for Thorium Reactors.
      So there is no point in developing “Renewables”, which aren’t renewable at all, other than needing renewing more regularly than other energy sources.

      Turbulent Eddie, the problem with spaced based Energy transmitters is their Security, they would make one of the best Weapons in the world.
      Able to kill whole cities just by re-aiming them, so a security nightmare and a terrorists wet dream.

      • Javier says:

        AFAIK there are known reserves of Uranium for 200 years at current usage and technology. But current usage provides only 5% of total energy. If it was required that it provided 10 times more of future increased needs it would last less than two decades.

        • A C Osborn says:

          The sea has a great deal of Uranium, just about enough for 6500 at current usage.
          So no Uranium is not in short supply.

          Regarding Oil, the US banned Oil oxploration & drilling on Govenrment land, so no one knows just how much the USA has.

          • Javier says:

            I thought we were talking about real present solutions, and not solutions to be developed someday… maybe.

            Bardi, U. (2010). Extracting minerals from seawater: an energy analysis. Sustainability, 2(4), 980-992.

            “Abstract: The concept of recovering minerals from seawater has been proposed as a way of counteracting the gradual depletion of conventional mineral ores. Seawater contains large amounts of dissolved ions and the four most concentrated metal ones (Na, Mg, Ca, K) are being commercially extracted today. However, all the other metal ions exist at much lower concentrations. This paper reports an estimate of the feasibility of the extraction of these metal ions on the basis of the energy needed. In most cases, the result is that extraction in amounts comparable to the present production from land mines would be impossible because of the very large amount of energy needed. This conclusion holds also for uranium as fuel for the present generation of nuclear fission plants. Nevertheless, in a few cases, mainly lithium, extraction from seawater could provide amounts of metals sufficient for closing the cycle of metal use in the economy, provided that an increased level of recycling can be attained.

    • Peter Fournier says:

      About that “running out of” argument …

      At $80/barrel for oil we already know that oil sands in Canada and fracked oil in the US are profitable and far exceed what people thought was the limit of oil resources in the world — “peak oil” if you will — several times over.

      Proven oil reserves have gone up dramatically in the last ten years. So have proven gas reserves. Only the US has been adequately explored for these resources accessible to fracking, and only on non-federal lands. There are oil and gas shale resources all over the world that have not been explored. Nobody is predicting that coal will run out any time soon.

      “The problem is that we are set to run out of fossil fuels in a not too distant future.” is not credible anymore. You need to find another songbook.

      Please note that I only commenting on the “running out” argument and nothing else.

      However, if “running out” isn’t an immediate problem, say in 50 to 100 years, then the current investment in so-called “renewables” makes no sense at all. Where would we be if we had spent a trillion $ on researching small nuclear reactors over the last 20 years? Much much farther ahead of where we are now, no matter what your politics/ideology/religion is.

      Unless your solution makes energy cheaper for the poor, it’s not a solution.

      • Javier says:

        “At $80/barrel for oil we already know that oil sands in Canada and fracked oil in the US are profitable and far exceed what people thought was the limit of oil resources in the world — “peak oil” if you will — several times over. “

        Do we? A fracked well produces most of its output in just two years, and since exploitation has started at the best places, the sweetspots, we have already seen the best fracking can do in the US. The rest is a red queen race to substitute a pool of wells with greatly diminishing returns by an ever growing to infinity number of new but worse performing wells.

        If it was so profitable fracking companies would have been paying for land leasings, and drilling, and at the same time paying out debt from cash flow. The truth is that they have not, and fracking companies have been taking up huge amounts of capital and most are overburdened by debt. The profitability when oil was at $100 was only a question of accounting and overvaluation of dubious assets that are dependent on a greater fool coming afterwards, the trademark of a Ponzi scheme.

        The gamble of the US fracking industry has not been reproduced anywhere else in the world. This is not for lack of shale plays, but because the numbers do not add up.

        Right now the oil fracking industry is living from drilled but uncompleted wells, because rig numbers have plummeted way below sustainability. Even so production is falling, which will deflate the bubble. The pain is going to be so severe that it is doubtful that the US fracking industry will recover its former glory with the sweetspots severely depleted.

        And oil reserves provide little reassurance. We all know the reserve accounting of OPEC, that has never been independently audited, and then we have shale reserves that can be hugely overestimated, like the Monterey play, that had to be cut by 96%. The only truth that we have in the oil business is that:

        – The fracking revolution has not prevented the underlying costs of traditional oil from continuing to rise rapidly or the cash flow available to oil-producing countries from getting squeezed from both ends (rising costs and falling prices).

        – For decades oil production has been far higher than oil discovery. The current price crisis has greatly reduced upstream capital expenditure, guarantying a reduction in future oil production.

        So credible or not, prepare yourself to hear a lot about oil problems in the next years. When that happens, some people will be happy that at least they have some renewable energy.

    • catweazle666 says:

      “The problem is that we are set to run out of fossil fuels in a not too distant future.”

      No we aren’t.

      Not for some hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years.

      Stop making stuff up.

    • mark4asp says:

      In the earth’s crust, there’s about 450 times more thorium and 143 times more uranium-238 than uranium-235. These other two materials could power breeder reactors, which we developed the technology for decades ago. The obstacles holding this back are political – but not so much the green movement – more our regulators and anti-proliferation movement. In the case of thorium, the waste stream would be safe after 300 years.

      The Spectator wrote a dumb article against Hinkley C lately invoking the spectre of Chernobyl. Hardly a green publication, just yellow journalism. I have no problem criticising Hinkley on cost. That reactor design should’ve been refused 8 years ago when it was proposed to our regulator. It is way too expensive.

      I suspect Brits accepted the design because the climate campaigners won the debate with “If it’s non-carbon (dioxide) just build it. Don’t worry about the cost”. The most expensive reactor ever designed (the AREVA EPR) is about 5½ times more expensive than one India just built. Recently the 2nd reactor at Kudankulam loaded its fuel. Each 1GWe unit there cost US $1.3 bn to make (about £903 million each). ThorCon, in USA, say they can make molten salt reactors even cheaper ($1bn/GWe). Without the extreme regulatory hurdles, these (ThorCon) reactors could be mass produced within a decade. Add another decade, at least, with the regulatory hurdles.

      As for natural gas :- Germany opposes it on energy security grounds, preferring coal. The German energy minister is fighting against a new pipeline from Russia. The French build their nuclear fleet in response to the 1970s oil crisis. For energy security reasons.

  5. clivebest says:

    If Uranium supplies become a problem in 50 years time, then by then we should have two long term solutions available. If Nuclear Fusion delivers what is promised in ITER then we have enough deuterium in the oceans for millions of years. If not then fast Breeder Reactors are 60 times more efficient at using Uranium.

    I am condfident that Fusion will deliver this century. If we invested 10% of subsidies paid out to renewables then it would be working in 20 years time.

    • Javier says:

      For all we know, nuclear fusion on Earth could be an unsolvable problem. If I get a vote we should dedicate the money to research immortality. Maybe we can solve that in 20 years time too.

      • clivebest says:

        It has essentially been solved. Jet produced 16MW of fusion power. ITER will produce 600 MW and should reach ignition. Ignition is when you switch off external heating because the He4 ions keep the reaction going indefinitely. The real problem is engineering and energy density. Alternative smaller scale devices are needed.

        • Javier says:

          Yes, so solved that those 16MW were produced after providing 24MW in 1997, and that is the world’s record twenty years later.

          So far it is the worst energy source on Earth.

          I wouldn’t hold my breath for fusion.

          • clivebest says:

            Uncontrolled fusion of course was solved in the 1950s. You’re right that it is taking far too long, but it will work eventually.

      • catweazle666 says:

        “For all we know, nuclear fusion on Earth could be an unsolvable problem.”


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  7. michael hart says:

    If someone pays me, I will develop a better ligand for chelating Uranium and extracting it from seawater. It’s not that challenging, technically, and I’ve made cruder ones in the past that were used in reprocessing by BNFL. But there is currently little incentive to do so because of the size of the market and land-mined sources are adequate. In either case, the cost of fuel for nuclear power stations is not hugely significant.

    • Ron Graf says:

      Michael, are you suggesting using biodegradable chelating agents to recover the heavy metal ore? That is an interesting idea if one can create selective agent.

  8. David L. Hagen says:

    Clive. Thanks for exploring issues.
    Re: “Renewable energy can never under any realistic scenario meet that target. To imagine that battery prices could fall enough to make wind and solar backup”
    This is a logical weakness of the excluded middle. Better to examine “sustainable energy” including fusion, thorium cycles etc. Original generation need not be in the UK. Storage options other than batteries may be more cost effective.

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  10. PG Antioch says:

    Thank you for raising these issues. I assume you accept the physics of greenhouse gases, known since the 19th century? Do you also accept the current understanding of the paleoclimate?

    The Eemian was perhaps ~0.6-1° C warmer than today, with sea level ~6-9 meters higher. The mid Pliocene was ~2° C warmer, with sea level ~20 meters higher & CO2 levels ~360-380 PPM. The early Pliocene was ~4° C warmer, with sea level ~40 meters higher & CO2 levels ~405-425 PPM. The mid Miocene was ~5-6° C warmer, with sea level ~50-60 meters higher & CO2 levels ~425-500 PPM. (All these numbers are approximate, of course, but I don’t think I’m too far off.)

    Granted that there are large uncertainties with the record, & that the open Panamá Isthmus kept us warmer before ~3 M ya. But it still appears that ~1° C warming eventually gives us sea level ~10 meters higher (once we pass a certain threshold where sea level is “equlibrated” with ice sheets & temperatures – which probably happened between 1975 & 2005). It also appears that Earth system sensitivity is on the order of ~6° C for doubled CO2. This much warming risks melting of virtually all of the GIS & WAIS, & perhaps most of the EAIS.

    Also note that because we’ve raised CH4 & N2O (& halocarbons) even more than CO2, our CO2e is on the order of ~485-490 PPM. This already risks bursting through the early Pliocene & giving us mid Miocene climatic conditions. We’re already headed for sea level ~30-40 meters higher, maybe more.

    We like to tell ourselves that there’s an “equilibrium” climate sensitivity where temps would stabilise with doubled CO2 at ~3° C warmer. We like to think that ice sheet break-up would take millennia. But recent work by DeConto, Hansen & others has proposed mechanisms by which ice sheet break-up could happen much more quickly. Even if the physics meant stabilised temperatures, ice sheet break-up would mean irregular, chaotic & destructive bursts of sea level rise over several centuries. There’s too much marine-based ice, grounded below sea level. And of course albedo would fall, creating a positive feedback cycle.

    Coincidentally, London, Paris & Berlin are all ~35 meters above current sea level. What’s the point of keeping the power on if they’re under water? Even current GHG levels imply more than that much SLR eventually.

    I agree with your optimism about 4th generation uranium, thorium & hopefully fusion reactors. I’m also optimistic that these technologies will give us enough energy to actively extract CO2 from the atmosphere. Clearly, this (or other geo-engineering projects that are equally heroic, risky & expensive) will have to be done.

    It’s urgent that CO2 emissions be reduced ASAP; it’s likely that every molecule we emit today will have to be extracted from the atmosphere in the future, at significant energy cost. The only question is whether we have to start doing that in ~30 years or ~300 years.

    Here in the US, our inefficient use of energy means we can save a LOT with conservation. Emissions can be reduced by ~40-50% with energy efficiency alone, & it’ll be “free” because efficiency saves so much money. My understanding is that you are already much more efficient across the pond.

    I still favor as many renewables as we possibly can install. As you point out, wind energy can never have huge energy density, but solar PV is gaining efficiency as prices plummet. And your pessimism about batteries may not be warranted. A lot of creative, hard-working people are working on the problem, both in universities & in the private sector.

    • Clive Best says:

      Yes, I accept the physics of the greenhouse effect. In fact I have calculated myself the net warming expected by a doubling of CO2 using radiative transfer through the atmosphere. The direct warming effect is about 1.1C. The best estimates after all feedback is somewhere between 1.5 and 4 degrees. Sea level rise depends on ice albedo feedback.

      One thing to remember though is that another ice age would be far worse. We are lucky this interglacial will last at least another couplle of thousand years. In fact one plus side of AGW. Is that it might delay the next ice age for 30,000 years.

      Human nature being what it is, I can’t see us stopping CO2 increasing in the short term. Eventually it will stop as fossil fuel becomes too expensive. Hopefully we then have a realistic alternative that is sustainable long term. I estimate sea level rise will be less than 2 meters before falling again.

      • PG Antioch says:


        “The direct warming effect is about 1.1C… Sea level rise depends on ice albedo feedback.”

        PGA: Agreed (assuming you call ice albedo a “feedback” rather than a “forcing”).

        CB: “The best estimates after all feedback is somewhere between 1.5 and 4 degrees.”

        PGA: “All”? Perhaps, but only if you define ice albedo as a “forcing” instead of a “feedback” (as many texts do). The paleoclimate data suggest ESS is ~6° C, perhaps more. All of the GIS & WAIS, & much of the EAIS, will melt with CO2 of ~500 PPM (approximately – it could be a bit higher or a bit lower) (not quite doubled pre-industrial CO2). It wouldn’t be a pleasant outcome.

        Defining melting ice & falling albedo as something other than a “feedback” might give the numbers you post, but they’re *way* off according to the paleoclimate data. Recent models provide mechansims to ablate the ice sheets at much more rapid rates, & the paleoclimate data tell us it DOES happen. The only question is when.

        CB: “…I can’t see us stopping CO2 increasing in the short term.”

        PGA: You of course could be right here. But does that mean we shouldn’t try? Do we have a choice?

        Again, the paleoclimate data suggest EVERY molecule of CO2 we emit today will have to be actively extracted in the future – the only question is when. Every single one. Do we have time to develop controlled fusion & invent machines to actively extract it? I’m actually optimistic about this, but it *will* cost money & take time. The costs of rapidly reducing CO2 emissions now have to be weighed against that very large future cost, & the fact that these technologies don’t yet exist.

        Other measures to reduce CO2, while conceivable with known technology, are highly uncertain, inefficient, costly &/or difficult: BECCS (as Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre has pointed out, a highly inefficient practice), bio-char in soil, restoring wetlands, planting forests, dumping iron in the ocean to try to stimulate plankton, etc. Other alternatives, like injecting volcanic dust & sulfates into the stratosphere, or sun shades in space, are equally heroic, expensive & risky. Again, the costs of rapidly reducing CO2 emissions now have to be weighed against those very large future costs.

        Is it *really* cheaper to not try to reduce CO2 emissions now? Seriously?

        CB: “Eventually it will stop as fossil fuel becomes too expensive.”

        “The stone age came to an end not for lack of stones, & the oil age will come to an end not for lack of oil.”
        -Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, former Saudi Oil Minister

        PGA: Unfortunately, at present, fossil fuels are becoming cheaper. Do you support a revenue-neutral carbon tax?

        CB: “I estimate sea level rise will be less than 2 meters before falling again.”

        PGA: Obviously, we all hope you’re right. But the “fat tail of risk” tells us you could be profoundly, desperately wrong. Once it gets started, ice sheet break up (& hence SLR) will be chaotic, extremely destructive & essentially permanent on human time scales.

  11. I would love to understand why there is so little use made of tidal (and also wave) energy. The advantages are many: there’s lots of it, there are many ways to harvest it, it’s available all year, at all times, in all weathers, tidal changes are reasonably predictable enabling stable supply levels, power can be harvested locally using many small schemes, or strategically using for instance a Severn estuary barrage. Tidal power is so simple to harvest any DIY enthusiast could do so.
    So what am I missing?

  12. Hemp ethanol can be stored for use in the winter – and cleanup costs are a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of non-renewable energy:

  13. JConrad says:

    England and the world would do better to focus mostly on nuclear, geothermal, hydropower, and natural gas.

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