The IPCC report indicated that renewables have the potential of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with the optimistic forecast that RE will become the dominant energy source by mid-century. This despite other forecasts that are nowhere near as optimistic.
Various scenarios, the IPCC report said, show a contribution from RE of in excess of 17 percent share of primary energy supply by 2030, rising to 27 percent by 2050. Various illustrative scenarios show a wide range of reduction in CO2. But the mitigation of CO2 potential depends on specific technologies, the report noted. “Therefore, attribution of precise mitigation potentials to RE should be viewed with appropriate caution.”
When the report got down to dollar estimates to provide the world with renewables, RE investments range from $1.3 trillion to $5.1 trillion, it stated.
In a paper written a year or so ago for the Centre for Research and Globalization, Dale Allen Pfeiffer examined the outlook for various forms of energy. Pfeiffer is a geologist and author of several books. He wrote:
Using photovoltaics, the U.S. would require 17 percent of the planet’s entire surface area, or 59 percent of the land surface (to produce enough solar energy) to replace its current daily oil consumption….While it may be wise to expand our usage of renewable resources, we cannot realistically expect them to replace hydrocarbons….we will be dependent upon oil and natural gas for…our energy needs.
So, no matter how high the hopes for solar and other renewables, dreamy politicians must be convinced that our main source of energy is, and will be, fossil fuels.
As Matt Ridley wrote in a May 21 Wall Street Journal article, “The wind may never stop blowing, but the wind industry depends on steel, concrete and rare-earth metals (for the turbine magnets) none of which are renewable.”
Assuming that our energy needs double in future decades, he wrote, “We would have to build 100 times as many wind farms as we have today in order to get even 10 percent of our energy from wind. And we’d soon run out of locations to put them.”
Ridley continued: “The hydrocarbons in the earth’s crust amount to more than 500,000 exajoules of energy. An exajoule equals nearly 100 trillion BTUs. There may be a millennium’s worth of hydrocarbons left.
The United States has more fossil fuels on shore and off shore than all the other countries in the world, if only we were allowed to tap them.
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