“If wind and solar are supposed panacea for the end of oil, why do politicians put wind farms where there is little wind and solar farms where there is little sun?”
There are several reasons why this has been happening, and they have nothing to do with the electricity system that we have been able to absolutely depend on for decades.
This is a result of what I call “Political Power Planning.”
It’s interesting that in 2010, a friend, who had served on the Alberta Utilities Commission, and I took a hard look at the viability of developing a 50-100 MW wind farm in Southern Alberta,
We walked away from pursuing it because, in terms of what Alberta actually needs in order to continue supplying reliable power, there was very little justification for more electricity, and particularly the kind of intermittent electricity that wind power would generate,
However, as the wind generation and solar generation industries picked up more and more political pull, the pragmatic view of what was needed was suddenly being tossed aside across all of Europe and North America, and wind and solar generation have been being installed.
It is an understatement to say that this has been very disruptive, and is causing consumer electricity bills to take a bigger and bigger chunk of every household’s budget.
The will of an extremely misinformed public has been spoken, and since every misinformed consumer is a voter, electricity system planning is now being done from a political view, rather than referencing, true electricity system planning
©2018 William Ross Williams
The fact is that it took 4 competing investors to end up with the system that has worked so well for the past century plus.
This can actually serve as Electricity 101 for laypeople. This video does not have biased and manipulative information that is carefully designed to keep you thinking in the dark, even though the rooms are lit.
The knowledge in this building block will help you understand the obscure concepts that will allow us to save our planet, and improve the quality of life for all 7.6 billion of earth’s human inhabitants.
© 2018 William Ross Williams
“Africa might leapfrog straight to cheap renewable electricity and mini-grids.”
I forecast explosive growth. Since India coupled private power with private industry in 1997, the per capita GDP has grown 1000%. From a key resources perspective, Sub Sharan Africa has quite an advantage over 1995 India, and my forecast is based on direct, on the ground, in Africa, observation, and case studies of private power impact in India.
My views on this are as contrarian as my views were in India in 1995, but the case for them is not nearly as vague as we had in India.
IMHO, the reason the renewable electricty system development has stalled in Africa is because it is putting development in the wrong order. Energy development must support the economic development, not try to lead it. Non-existent industry, cannot support power development.
By focusing on creating new economies and aggressively reducing poverty, Africa can rapidly become the most sustainable global economy in history. This is based on case studies, not speculation.
Copyright © 2018 William Ross Williams
I’ve been focused on what is now called sustainability since we implemented our first sustainable energy facility in Pittsfield, MA in 1990.
Yet, my thinking has been more about action than the discussion of sustainability, and as an epistemological thinker, found that this manner of thought was not particularly welcome in the very lucrative Sustainability Discussion profession. Nonetheless, my emotional, business and intellectual commitment to initiating actions that will lead to a sustainable planet is my identity and reality, and will not stop in this lifetime. Along those lines, I’ve committed to writing a book regarding just how we can achieve sustainability, and preserve our planet, and a title that came to mind was “Sustainability Code.”
A prerequisite to titling a business or publication is to see it the phrase is in use. It is and in the most positive way.
Dr. Mark McElroy, of the University of Groningen in Vermont, published this article in 2006, which is the most thoughtful description of sustainability I have encountered in the decades I’ve spent trying to stimulate sustainability as an action.
I will be using this as a reference as I walk through the Sustainable development goal list, and discuss actionable possibilities, and the barriers to achieving them.
I will be sharing these as they are written
Copyright© 2018 William Ross Williams
I am so glad that you distinguished electrical energy from “energy” in general. Although electrical energy only provides 18% of the energy used in North America, that conversion of energy to work is extremely efficient
Electrical energy is what provides the “work” it takes to manufacture nearly everything. It provides the work of turning your hair dryer fan and heaters.
Our modern world has evolved around the assumption of abundant electricity supplies. Electrical energy can be produced far away and transported by wire to the point of use.
The reason our cities have been habitable so long is because electricity has replaced steam in running machinery. When we were still using steam it was necessary to have big coal or wood boilers onsite to provide the steam to processes that were only 25% efficient and very dirty.
It is important to recognize that, although electricity is now doing the work that steam used to do, it is not replacing the other 80% of our energy use for heat and transportation. In that arena, transportation is the biggest offender and is using more fossil fuels than all of the fossil fuels used to make electricity.
I know it seems like a paradox but electricity is by far the most efficient energy source for the machinery, data, and the zillion other things it provides the energy for, yet it does not and currently cannot be used for the other 80% of the fossil fuels we use for heat and transportation.
I am such a huge advocate of electrifying transportation. That is a double win because we are eliminating the inefficient use of petroleum, and getting the full highly efficient value out of renewable electricity
The EVs can provide the immense amount of electrical storage that renewable energy needs to provide full value. Using renewable electricity to charge the batteries in the EVs will reduce our CO2 emissions at triple the rate they can by trying to replace the reliable energy system that powers our currently electrified economy.
The way we are currently using the electricity from wind and solar would never come close. Population, wealth and industrial growth need reliable electricity that will match the schedule of their needs.
No is the correct answer in this moments perception but in the near future, another view will emerge.
The electricity generated by wind and solar PV has zero incremental cost and can be used whenever it is available to “store” as heat, could ultimately start replacing the massive uses of heat that represent the 2/3 of the energy that is not electricity.
Electricity only provides 18% of the energy used in America. Petroleum products dominate the balance. Transportation is the largest category of energy use coming in at triple the energy consumption of all electrical uses. Industrial, commercial and residential heat uses twice the amount of energy consumed as electricity.
My personal advocacy is to start storing all of the produce-able electricity, that does not fit our electricity use patterns, to make and store distributed high-temperature heat, that can then start displacing vastly more carbon than our current electricity use patterns could ever do.
Hypothetically, if we can turn transportation into a massive semi-mobile battery that can be charged by this currently unusable electricity, and store massive amount as heat that can replace consumption, we could find wind and solar providing a much higher contribution to our energy mix than is currently imagined.
Copyright 2018 William Ross Williams