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IPCC: GHG emissions accelerating despite mitigation efforts; major institutional and technological change required to keep the heat down

13 April 2014

Ipcc1
Decomposition of the decadal change in total global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion by four driving factors; population, income (GDP) per capita, energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy. WG III Summary for Policymakers. Click to enlarge.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a policymaker’s summary of Working Group III’s (WG III) latest report showing that despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual anthropogenic GHG emissions grew on average by 1.0 giga tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) (2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 GtCO2eq (1.3%) per year from 1970 to 2000. Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010 and reached 49 (±4.5) GtCO2eq/yr in 2010. The global economic crisis 2007/2008 only temporarily reduced emissions.

The increase in anthropogenic emissions comes directly from energy supply (47%); industry (30%); transport (11%); and buildings (3%) sectors, the WG reported with medium confidence. Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

The contribution of population growth between 2000 and 2010 remained roughly identical to the previous three decades, while the contribution of economic growth has risen sharply (high confidence). Between 2000 and 2010, both drivers outpaced emission reductions from improvements in energy intensity. Increased use of coal relative to other energy sources has reversed the long‐standing trend of gradual decarbonization of the world’s energy supply.

Ipcc2
Total anthropogenic GHG emissions (GtCO2eq/yr) by economic sectors. IPCC WG III. Click to enlarge.

The report on mitigation from Working Group III, which is part of the IPCC’s larger Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), finds that it would be possible, using a wide array of technological measures and changes in behavior, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels based on climate model projections. However, only major institutional and technological change will give a better than even chance that global warming will not exceed this threshold, the report cautioned.

Scenarios show that to have a likely chance of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius, means lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70% compared with 2010 by mid-century, and to near-zero by the end of this century. Ambitious mitigation may even require removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Scenarios reaching atmospheric concentration levels of about 450 ppm CO2eq by 2100 (consistent with a likely chance to keep temperature change below 2°C relative to pre‐industrial levels) include substantial cuts in anthropogenic GHG emissions by mid‐century through large‐scale changes in energy systems and potentially land use (high confidence).

At the global level, scenarios reaching 450 ppm CO2eq are also characterized by more rapid improvements of energy efficiency; a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero‐ and low‐carbon energy supply from renewables; nuclear energy and fossil energy with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS); or bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050.

These scenarios also describe a wide range of changes in land use, reflecting different assumptions about the scale of bioenergy production, afforestation, and reduced deforestation.

Scenarios reaching higher concentrations include similar changes, but on a slower timescale.

Cutting emissions from electricity production to near zero is a common feature of ambitious mitigation scenarios. But using energy efficiently is also important.

For the report, about 1,200 scenarios from scientific literature were analyzed. These scenarios were generated by 31 modeling teams around the world to explore the economic, technological and institutional prerequisites and implications of mitigation pathways with different degrees of ambition.

Estimates of the economic costs of mitigation vary widely. In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption grows by 1.6 to 3% per year. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this growth by around 0.06 percentage points a year, according to the models. However, the underlying estimates do not take into account economic benefits of reduced climate change.

Transport sector. The transport sector accounted for 27% of final energy use and 6.7 GtCO2 direct emissions in 2010, with baseline CO2 emissions projected to approximately double by 2050 (medium evidence, medium agreement).

Emissions growth from increasing global passenger and freight activity could partly offset future mitigation measures that include fuel carbon and energy intensity improvements, infrastructure development, behavioral change and comprehensive policy implementation.

Overall, the report suggests, reductions in total transport CO2 emissions of 15–40% compared to baseline growth could be achieved in 2050.

Technical and behavioral measures for all transport modes, plus new infrastructure and urban redevelopment investments, could reduce final energy demand in 2050 by around 40% below the baseline.

Projected energy efficiency and vehicle performance improvements range from 30–50% in 2030 relative to 2010 depending on transport mode and vehicle type. Integrated urban planning, transit‐oriented development, a more compact urban form that supports cycling and walking—all can lead to modal shifts as can, in the longer term, urban redevelopment and investments in new infrastructure such as high‐speed rail systems that reduce short‐haul air travel demand (medium evidence, medium agreement).

Such mitigation measures are challenging, have uncertain outcomes, and could reduce transport GHG emissions by 20–50% in 2050 compared to baseline (limited evidence, low agreement), the report suggests.

Strategies to reduce the carbon intensities of fuel and the rate of reducing carbon intensity are constrained by challenges associated with energy storage and the relatively low energy density of low‐carbon transport fuels, although opportunities for switching to low‐carbon fuels exist in the near term and will grow over time.

Methane‐based fuels are already increasing their share for road vehicles and waterborne craft. Electricity produced from low‐carbon sources has near‐term potential for electric rail and short‐ to medium‐term potential as electric buses, light duty and 2‐wheel road vehicles are deployed.

Hydrogen fuels from low‐carbon sources constitute longer term options. Commercially available liquid and gaseous biofuels already provide co‐benefits together with mitigation options that can be increased by technology advances.

Additionally, reducing transport emissions of particulate matter (including black carbon), tropospheric ozone and aerosol precursors (including NOx) can have human health and mitigation co‐benefits in the short term.

Mitigation strategies, when associated with non‐climate policies at all government levels, can help decouple transport GHG emissions from economic growth in all regions, they report suggests. These strategies can help reduce travel demand, incentivize freight businesses to reduce the carbon intensity of their logistical systems and induce modal shifts, as well as provide co‐benefits including improved access and mobility, better health and safety, greater energy security, and cost and time savings (medium evidence, high agreement).

WG III. The Working Group III report consists of the Summary for Policymakers, a more detailed Technical Summary, the underlying 16 chapters, and three annexes. Working Group III chapter teams were formed by 235 authors and 38 review editors from 57 countries, and 180 experts provided additional input as contributing authors. More than 800 experts reviewed drafts of the report and submitted comments.

The Working Group III contribution to AR5 assesses literature on the scientific, technological, environmental, economic and social aspects of mitigation of climate change. It builds upon the Working Group III contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4); the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN); and previous reports and incorporates subsequent new findings and research.

The report also assesses mitigation options at different levels of governance and in different economic sectors, and the societal implications of different mitigation policies, but does not recommend any particular option for mitigation.

The degree of certainty in findings in the assessment, as in the reports of all three Working Groups, is based on the author teams’ evaluations of underlying scientific understanding and is expressed as a qualitative level of confidence (from very low to very high) and, when possible, probabilistically with a quantified likelihood (from exceptionally unlikely to virtually certain).

Confidence in the validity of a finding is based on the type, amount, quality, and consistency of evidence (e.g., data, mechanistic understanding, theory, models, expert judgment) and the degree of agreement. Probabilistic estimates of quantified measures of uncertainty in a finding are based on statistical analysis of observations or model results, or both, and expert judgment. Where appropriate, findings are also formulated as statements of fact without using uncertainty qualifiers. Within paragraphs of this summary, the confidence, evidence, and agreement terms given for a bolded finding apply to subsequent statements in the paragraph, unless additional terms are provided.

The full report will be published 15 April.

April 13, 2014 in Behavior, Climate Change, Climate models, Emissions, Power Generation | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack (0)

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Related, an edit of a comment posted elsewhere:

Some claim that historical nuclear subsidies for nuclear far outstripped renewables, only a tad less than FF.  I dispute this.  If you dig just a little bit you'll find that the DBL paper includes the ENTIRE DOE nuclear budget as a "nuclear subsidy" (p. 18).  The bulk of the DOE's nuclear budget relates to weapons and other military activities, not commercial nuclear energy.  Counting Price-Anderson as a "subsidy" (p. 22) is absurd because (a) it spreads the cost of any accident that goes beyond the single-unit limit over all commercial operators, and (b) it has never cost the US taxpayer a penny.

A refinery fire not long ago in San Fransisco sickened thousands.  A good part of the cost probably fell on the state and federal governments, via Medicaid and lost tax revenue; the cost wasn't even assumed by the petroleum industry in general.  I don't hear any hue and cry about this legal state of affairs.  Is there a double standard in effect?

There's also the question of the alleged subsidy being worth it.  In 2011, nuclear energy delivered just under half (45.6%) as much power to the grid as coal.  In the same year, the electric power sector emitted 1.718 billion tons of CO2 from coal.  Had the nuclear-generated electricity been replaced by coal, the extra emissions would have come to 783 million tons.  Even assuming $4 billion a year in subsidies, nuclear saved CO2 emissions at a cost of only $5.11 per ton.

That is eminently affordable; we could de-carbonize the entire US economy if that's all it cost us.  Yet the left is intensely opposed to this.

In the year 2011, wind's 120 million MWh of generation times the $22/MWh PTC came to $2.64 billion in direct cost to the US treasury.  If it was also displacing coal emissions 1:1 (no diminishing returns) it saved a mere 119 million tons of CO2 at a cost of about $22/tCO2.  If you are truly concerned about the climate, the numbers suggest that nuclear subsidies are a GOOD thing.

Somebody could check with Japan to get a better idea of the total cost of Nuclear energy?

France (with about 85% electricity generation from nuke) is seriously thinking about shutting down half of their NPPs in favor of Solar and Wind power plants due to high NPP repair cost.

Ontario, Canada is in a similar position and is trying hard to convince the Federal Government for a $175B subsidy to repair their 18 NPPs and store the used fuel. Total production cost from the repaired NPPs would be close to $0.20/kWh. The alternative would be to buy clean Hydro electricity from neighboring Provinces @ 1/3 the price or about $0.07/kWh to replace 9 NPPs (or so) and install Solar and Wind facilities to replace the other 9 NPPs.

Common sense does not always prevail.

Ontario will probably replace most of its NPPs with NG Power generation facilities. NG lobbies (from USA and Western Canada) are working 24/7 on the latter solution. GHG from 20+ new NG power generation facilities will certainly not help to reduce Canada's very high GHG emissions.

Global warming should be solved without creating another and perhaps equally large problem, such as, nuclear waste that stays extremely dangerous for tens of thousands of years. Future generations should not be burdened with that either. We could have safe nuclear power if all plants were build miles below ground but that would be prohibitively costly. Moreover, nuclear power plants are indeed dangerous as they blow up terribly on this planet every 15 years it seems. If we get 15 times as many of them we may end up with a new Fukushima happening every year on this planet. Nuclear power plants also take too long to build. We need to act now on global warming and a lot more wind power and solar power can go online with short notice in time to prevent the most catastrophic scenarios for global warming. Of cause if China and India does not do anything but keep increasing their CO2 emissions year after year then the most catastrophic GW scenarios will be certain regardless of whether USA, EU and Japan go completely CO2 neutral within 40 years. GW is a real test for mankind. Will greed or common sense prevail?

In the light of the fact that even Fukushima's spent fuel is just sitting there quietly, with Unit 4's pool being steadily emptied 22 bundles at a time, I would find Henrik's fear-mongering quite funny... except that it's taken as gospel by all too many people world-wide, including legislators and other officials.

Neither Germany nor oh-so-Green Denmark have gotten anywhere near CO2 neutrality.  Both have per-kWh emissions many times those of France, and per-capita emissions far higher.  James Hansen cites nuclear/hydro Sweden, not Denmark, as his exemplary environmentalist country.

I find it ironic that France would even think about de-nuclearizing due to cost issues.  It's as if the people in power don't want to remember that they ever got France's grid switched away from oil after the 1979 price shock... or maybe those in parliament would pay too high a political price for resurrecting their industry after working so hard to kill it off.

France's NPP fleet is a direct result of the 1973 oil crisis and, like the nuclear power programs of other countries, only got as far as it did because it rode in on a wave of nationalism & political oneupmanship. It has always been a government program. All of the country's 59 nuclear reactors are managed by one company, Électricité de France (EDF), which has 85% of its shares in government hands.

"On 6 March 1974 Prime Minister Pierre Messmer unexpectedly announced what became known as the 'Messmer Plan', a huge nuclear power program aimed at generating all of France's electricity from nuclear power. At the time of the oil crisis most of France's electricity came from foreign oil, and while it was strong in heavy engineering capabilities, France had few indigenous energy resources.

The announcement of the Messmer Plan, which was enacted without public or parliamentary debate, also led to the foundation of the Groupement des scientifiques pour l'information sur l'énergie nucléaire (Association of Scientists for Information on Nuclear Energy), formed after around 4,000 scientists signed a petition of concern over the government's action, known as the Appeal of the 400 after the 400 scientists who initially signed it."

It will take a lot of governmental strong-arming to duplicate France's nuclear success anywhere else.

Many countries (Japan, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England, Canada, France (partly) etc) may de-nuclearize their power generating facilities in the next 10 - 20 years.

With low cost Coal & NG, the tendency may be to use more and more Coal & NG power plants.

The only way to stop that would be with an appropriate carbon tax on every kWh produced with Coal and NG.

Need cheaper, passively safe nuclear. Let better economics sell them.

Need cheaper, passively safe nuclear. Let better economics sell them.

Yes, the advancement of technology will make nuclear safer and cheaper. But the threat to nuclear's future is that the advancement of technology will make its rivales cheaper too and currently the prices for solar/wind & balance systems like batteries are dropping faster than nuclear is.

The balance systems have always been the problem.  Megawatt-scale wind was feasible with 1930's aircraft technology, but it just wasn't worth it trying to manage the output swings.

Solar and wind have the problem that they cannot go fossil-free without extreme expenses for storage.  A battery system to meet peak daily load from nuclear might need 30% of plant generation for 6 hours a day, call it .075 days of storage.  Wind and PV require something like 2 days of storage, and can still be forced to fall back to other generation.  If the storage has significant per-unit capital cost, it's a killer for the all-RE scenario.

The urgency of the GW problem requires the "all of the above CO2-free" approach instead of debating which silver bullet to use.

Nuclear energy has proven to be very effective for baseload generation and should be expanded to replace all baseload coal plants and baseload NG plants as well. New nuclear technology will make it even safer than decade-old tech that was adequate. We should invest at least over a hundred billions USD yearly to build SMR to replace all coal-fire plants.
Chernobyl was a reckless experimentation in very unsafe reactor design that should never have been done, while Fukushima was misplacement of proven nuclear technology in the wrong geologic location, in earthquake and tsunami-prone region.

Meanwhile, we should fast forward and invest in solar and wind to the tune of 250-400 billions USD for the next 20 years to make synthetic fuels to replace petroleum. This is energy farming that can overcome the intermittent nature of solar and wind energy.

There is no time for debate, nor time for further research into 100% safe nor dirt cheap green techs. We must start to implement whatever technologies that we have NOW, to the tune of hundreds of billions of USD yearly, to build hundreds of GW of NEW solar and wind YEARLY in order to meet deadline to avert disaster. We ain't doing anywhere nearly that.

10 GW a year of solar and wind like we are investing now is but a drop in a bucket of what we will need to stabilize the looming GW catastrophy.

Fighting GW is the MORAL EQUIVALENCE OF WAR that should command at least 1/2 of our annual defense budget and other science, research budgets and other infrastructure re-investment budgets, job creation budgets...etc...Yet, due to inept leadership of the entire government of all branches, including both parties, we ain't doing none of that!!!!

All congressional districts and defense contractors that has been receiving large sums of defense budget monies should still do the same, but they should crank out solar PV's and wind turbines to produce H2, and bioreactors and hydro-pyrolysis plants to produce biofuels from the H2 and waste biomass...and H2-FC and H2 infrastructure to store the H2 for later use etc...instead of tanks and warplanes and warships and bombs that will be useless in the WAR against GW!

Well said RP but it will never happen that way.

Electrification will gain speed and many ways will be developed to produce all the clean e-energy required.

CPPs and NGPPs will be progressively phased out. The world may agree to a stiff carbon tax to convince operators to change, if we really want to survive.

Considering AES Energy is selling lithium ion grid storage systems for $250 per kilowatt-hour complete, and technology for lithium ion is on track to hit a quarter of that price in a decade, means that storage is a solved issue.

As for the mythical "all-RE" strawman, there's already built a bunch of fossil fuel plants to back wind and solar. If they run a couple hundred hours a year, big whoop. 2.5 percent capacity is a negligible carbon footprint. Plant some trees.

And there's still already existing nuclear and hydro as well. No reason for it to disappear.

Solar and wind continue to drop in price and are cheaper than nuclear even if you remove all subsidies. It's easy to see which wins in a head-to-head comparison now and in a decade solar and wind will be that much more ahead.

@Harvey,
No one can really predict the future, but according to my calculation, we are moving far too slowly to wean completely off fossil fuels within the next 2-3 decades...the requirement to avert disaster. We should be developing 300 GW of new RE capacity yearly and perhaps about 60 GW of new nuclear capacity yearly and we are doing neither, only about 10 GW of RE yearly...

The issue here is NOT in PREDICTING the future, but the issue is a general CALL TO ARMS to all related industries, to all members of society to get together and each will do something to limit and to halt further CO2 release. The Nuclear industry should get busy, the Defense industry should get busy, and the Oil and Gas industry, too, should get busy to build and to operate new synthetic fuel facilities while halting all new investments into oil and gas exploration and mining activities. The Battery and BEV industries should get real busy, but the H2 and FC industries should get busy also, along with the Oil and Gas industries to build new H2-compatible piping systems to store and to circulate all the H2 made from solar and wind energy for massive seasonal-scale energy storage...

The issue here is not who will make the right or wrong predictions, but the real issue here is let's get together to build a survivable and sustainable future for our children and grand children...etc...Together WE STAND...UNITED WE STAND!

Public support is almost impossible to get until it hurts very badly.

Pollution is killing 7,000,000+/year and 5 times as many get sick or are born with defects due to pollution and the majority prefers to ignore it all.

Extreme air pollution in many Chinese and other Asian cities is forcing people to wear masks. Wearing a mask at +35C to +40C may be enough to send a message?

The Chinese government is embarking on a new 10-year aggressive plan to reduce pollution. Will it succeed?

CPPs, NGPPs and ICEVs will have to be replaced.

Short of a meaningful pollution tax or progressive ban on those 3 major sources, the change may take 100+ years or until such times as we run out of Coal, NG and crude Oil.

@Harvey,
Public support is one thing, but where we live now are not true democracies, nor anywhere else in the world. President JFK's assassination and the subsequent wars in SE Asia happened w/out any public support. 911 and the subsequent wars in the ME and all subsequent illegal gov. conducts and internet spying scandal subsequently happened w/out any public support.

What we are having now is governments in the West controlled by the Military-Oil-Industrial Complex (Oligarch). As long as they are assured of steady profit income, things will happen regardless of public support. Since they also control most of the mainstream media (MSM), they can also manipulate public support quite easily.

What they really need is a new WAR, but too bad, the potential US-involved war in Syria did not happen. So, the new WAR on GW will be a next great one that will last for 2-3 decades and will justify defense outlay of trillions of dollars! As long as we all can convince them of that, things will happen very rapidly. Overnite, the public media waves will be broadcasting the looming GW catastrophy to be the MORAL EQUIVALENCE OF WAR.

Sorry, Harvey, the full transformation to electrification may not happen if the Military-Oil-Industrial complex is to be involved in the War against GW, since electrification will be too cost-effective and they won't stand to make enough business profits. But, synthetic fuels and nuclear energy will do fine to eliminate CO2 emission and life will continue sustainably as usual, and will create more jobs.

@EP
A 100% renewable energy future is possible with hydro, wind and solar. Low capital cost back-up power for the grid can be provided by BEVs and more importantly PHEVs operating on bio-gas or bio-ethanol. Centralized power plants are not needed and frankly I do not think they are economical either when large scale solar, wind and vehicle to grid technology is employed in the coming years. My only worry is whether it will be in time to prevent the catastrophic GW scenarios.

100% RE future is possible, however, won't be as cost effective as a mix of RE and Nuclear Energy. With the addition of nuclear energy, the seasonal-scale energy storage requirement will be reduced significantly. RE are not expensive, however, adding storage requirement or backup NG plants will significantly raise the cost of RE. Furthermore, many regions such as NE and SE USA do not have good potential for solar nor wind nor hydro, and therefore, nuclear energy there will be more cost-effective.

We must also foresee future volcanic eruptions that may blank out solar energy for extended periods of time, so having enough of nuclear energy can save the days until the sun will come out again. Backup fossil-fuel plants will also work, but these must be invested in and maintained for only occasional use only, which will raise the overall cost of RE.

@Roger
The seasonal intermittency from a 100% renewable energy system can be managed by using bio-fuels. A country like the US has at least 1.3 billion ton of biomass to make bio fuels from. A company like Poet Energy are confident they will be able in a few years to convert one ton of dry biomass to about 80 gallons of ethanol for as little as 2 USD per gallon. So the US should be able to produce about 7 million barrels of ethanol per day (6.78 million bpd = ((1300*80)/42))/365). In a future where all vehicles are either BEVs or PHEVs with vehicle to grid capability the 7 million bpd plus hydropower should be enough to take care of the seasonal intermittency of a 100% RE system in a country like the USA. The only power plants we need are the vehicle to grid enables PHEVs. 40 million of those each with 25kW of generating capacity (1000GW) is more than adequate to power the entire US grid.

Further into the future biomass made from growing crops and trees in mother nature will be replaced by bioengineered microorganisms converting water, ambient air and dirt into fuels using bioreactors powered by surplus electricity from renewable power. How many decades it will take to make it happen I do not know but I am certain it will happen at some point in time.

A 100% renewable energy future is possible with hydro, wind and solar. Low capital cost back-up power for the grid can be provided by BEVs and more importantly PHEVs operating on bio-gas or bio-ethanol.

Wishful thinking.  Hydro is woefully inadequate to fill in the gaps left by the intermittency of wind and solar.  Biomass of all kinds is not even sufficient to substitute for motor fuel, let alone bridge the daily/weekly gaps in electric generation and the seasonal demands of e.g. heat in winter.

BEVs in particular are no solution for more than daily variations, and even those are marginal.  If ground transport was fully electrified and all else left the same, US electric consumption would be an average of about 2.2 kW/capita or 53 kWh/capita/day.  A Tesla Model S with an 85 kWh battery can barely handle such demands overnight and still be usable the next day; a multi-day slump would leave all EVs with flat batteries.  If the typical EV had a 200 kWh battery (2.3x Tesla or 8x Leaf) you'd have marginal ability to do this, but you'd be deep-cycling batteries regularly.  You'd be out of electric storage and still have space heat, industrial energy, and a host of other things left to deal with.

A company like Poet Energy are confident they will be able in a few years to convert one ton of dry biomass to about 80 gallons of ethanol for as little as 2 USD per gallon.

The USA consumes about 18 mmbbl/d of petroleum products.  A barrel of EtOH is equivalent to about 0.7 bbl petroleum products, so it comes out to less than 5 mmbbl/d equivalent.  Even if all ground transport went electric, biomass would fall far short of serving the remainder.

De-carbonizing our economy requires 24/7 energy supplies with negligible environmental impacts.  Renewables fail on both counts.

Bio-fuels are an interesting option but, when used on a very large scale, they can produce lots of GHG.

Solar + Wind + Hydro + geothermal + waves together with storage (H2?) and large FCs (an Nuke if you have to) could do the job without burning fossil or biofuels?

@EP
You have convinced me that biomass based fuels and hydro are not enough to deal with the intermittency in a 100% renewable energy system based on wind, solar, hydro and bio-fuels. We need other technologies as well to make it happen. Harvey mentions hydrogen. You can make that from renewable electricity for example form surplus electricity from solar power during the spring and summer months. It can be stored as liquid hydrogen in cryogenic tanks and used as backup power during spring and summer and as part base load during autumn and winter. The 1.3 billion ton of biomass should be used for making aviation fuel and plastics for the manufacturing sector. With regard to land based and perhaps also sea based transportation we need to go completely battery electric for this 100% renewable energy scenario to happen.

Wishful thinking would be me believing we could do all this within 30 years. I think we need 50 years at best and at worst 100 years. Of cause we need much lower costs for producing both batteries, PV solar cells and wind turbines. They are the three core technologies for a sustainable renewable energy future as I see it.

There are also a host of other solutions that can be used to deal with the intermittency of renewable energy. I will just mention 3 other solutions.

1) The smart grid. The internet of things that connect pretty much everything that is electric to the internet will happen in the next 10 to 20 years. Consumption of electricity can be increased or decreased in real time using price signals that correspond with renewable production of electricity.
2) The super grid. Superconducting long-range cables would be able not only to connect the sub-grids of large countries like the US. I think it will not stop until the entire planet is one large grid. With cables connecting all the continents. A company like American superconductor has the technology but it is small and not up for the task of doing massive infrastructure projects. Hopefully they will be bought by a larger player like Siemens or ABB.
3) Power capacity over-sizing. You can lessen the intermittency burden by over-sizing the needed capacity of the renewable power system as that may be less costly than building other solutions that deals with the intermittency.

@Harvey
I trust that you know that all biomass grow by breathing CO2 from the air and that this CO2 is released back into the air when producing bio-fuels from biomass and when burning these fuels. If you do not use any fossil fuels producing the biomass and the bio-fuels they will be completely CO2 neutral. That means making fertilizer using renewable electricity, harvesting and transporting biomass to refineries using renewable electricity and converting the biomass to bio fuels and plastics using renewable electricity. We are not they yet but we will get there.

You act as if GW was an imminent problem. Even without any serious attempt at control in East Asia there has Been...

NO GLOBAL WARMING in 17 YEARS & 5MONTHS !!!!! per the satellite record.

Where is the emergency that you speak of? N. A. GHG emissions are back to the levels that James Hansen warned might be dangerous exceeding in 1988, and still falling.

Genuine toxic emissions are falling and the Air is clearing.

You have been absorbing your own propaganda to yourselves for far too long. The World will electrify when the technology is ready, and economical. There simply no crash effort needed, nor will any be employed.

Meanwhile Fission get safer, and Fusion draws ever nearer to commercial use, in the next few decades. Meanwhile vast new reserves of abiotic hydrocarbons are being found and developed, sufficient for millenia.

So "D" - I have been concerned about Global Warming for some time now and so I'm glad to see you have found scientific evidence that we have nothing to worry about. Will you please tell us your qualifications to make such evaluations and supply links to the scientific evidence you base your opinion on so the rest of us can put our minds to rest. I'd hate to find out you're just making shit up.

@Henrik. Not so sure that all bio-fuels are GHG neutral. Many essential (other) inputs create an abundance of GHG let alone the GHG created when bio-fuels are burnt. It certainly adds up to be polluting.

BEVs and FCEVs may be much better solutions, specially where clean electricity (Hydro, Wind, Solar, Nuke etc) is used

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