Shaw is surely sorely deluded

Shaw, with his Generation Zero and Greenpeace sycophants are forever on about ‘Zero Carbon’. Unfortunately National seems to buy into this nonsense as well and want a bipartisan approach as they hurtle down ‘the broad road that leads to destruction.’

Shaw, Genter, Ardern, Woods, Bridges, Muller et al who consider that human actions are causing catastrophic global warming have argued that New Zealand must transition to a low-carbon, or ?decarbonised?, economy embracing scenarios in which a ?zero-emissions? future is achieved by 2030.

A paper online comments on the conceptual and practical challenges government faces in promoting such a transition.

According to the British Petroleum Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, today, 85% of world primary energy consumption is provided by fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal), while hydro (6.8%), nuclear (4.4%) and renewables (3.6%) make up the rest. Quote.

Much of the current public discussion concerning future energy transitions is based upon speculation as to the technologies that might be available, their costs, and the rates at which they might be commercialised.

Anyone can dream about what the future may hold, but it would seem more prudent to base one?s judgements on what has actually happened in the past.

Based on the history of energy transitions, the period from scientific discovery to widespread commercialisation is much longer than is currently estimated by the advocates of rapid decarbonisation. Depending on the technology, the process may take between 30 and 50 years, or much longer where widespread commercialisation depends upon the replacement of long-lived infrastructure.

None of the steps in the innovation pathway ? research, discovery, testing, demonstration, initial market development or widespread commercialisation ? operates according to a fixed or predictable schedule. Governments that seek to impose their policy preferences on the outcomes will face perhaps insurmountable obstacles.

Even if all the world?s sugar cane crop were converted to ethanol, the annual ethanol yield would be less than 5% of the global gasoline demand in 2010. Even if the entire US corn harvest was converted to ethanol, it would produce an equivalent of less than 15% of the country?s recent annual gasoline consumption.

Storing too much water for hydropower generation could weaken many environmental services provided by flowing river water (including silt and nutrient transportation, channel cutting, and oxygen supply to aquatic biota).

The total potential energy of the Earth?s runoff (nearly 370 exajoules, or roughly 80% of the global commercial energy use in 2010) is just a grand sum of theoretical interest. Most of that power can never be tapped for generating electricity because of the limited number of sites suitable for large dams, seasonal fluctuations of water flows, and the necessity to leave free-flowing sections of streams and to store water for drinking, irrigation, fisheries, flood control, and recreation uses.

Solar and wind energy
First, direct solar radiation is the only form of renewable energy whose total terrestrial flux far surpasses not only today?s demand for fossil fuels but also any level of global energy demand realistically imaginable during the 21st century.

Second, only an extraordinarily high rate of wind energy capture (which may be environmentally undesirable and technically problematic) could provide a significant share of overall future energy demand.

Third, for all other renewable energies, maxima available for commercial harnessing fall far short of today?s fossil fuel flux, one order of magnitude in the case of hydroelectricity, biomass energy, ocean waves, and geothermal energy, two orders of magnitude for tides, and four orders of magnitude for ocean currents and ocean thermal differences.

Average insolation densities of 102 W/m2 mean that with today?s relatively low-efficiency PV conversions, we can produce electricity with power densities around 30 W/m2, and if to-day?s best experimental designs become commercial realities, we could see PV generation power densities averaging more than 60 W/m2 and surpassing 400 W/m2 during the peak insolation hours.

Fossil fuels are extracted with power densities of 103?104 W/m2, and the rates for thermal electricity generation are similar. Even after including all other transportation, processing, conversion, transmission, and distribution needs, power densities for the typical provision of coals, hydrocarbons, and thermal electricity by their combustion are lowered to no less than 102 W/m2, most commonly to the range of 250?500 W/m2.

These typical power densities of fossil-fuel energy systems are two to three orders of magnitude higher than the power densities of wind or water-driven electricity generation and biomass cultivation and conversion, and an order of magnitude higher than today?s best photovoltaic conversions.

In order to energize the residential, industrial, and transportation infrastructures inherited from the fossil fuel era, a solar-based society would have to concentrate diffuse flows to bridge power density gaps of two to three orders of magnitude.

Mass adoption of renewable energies would thus necessitate a fundamental reshaping of modern energy infrastructure, from a system dominated by global diffusion of concentrated energies from a relatively limited number of nodes (i.e. sites) extracting fuels with very high power densities to a system that would collect fuels of low energy density at low power densities over extensive areas and concentrate them in the increasingly more populous urban centres. End quote.


Jimmy, you are whistling in the wind!