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Renewable optimism

Hope springs eternal in Bloomberg's breast over the future of renewables, but how accurate is their forecast? Ten years to stop "global CO2 emissions? And what cost reductions might there be- removing the extravagant subsidies? TM.

Globally, Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects $7.7 trillion to be invested in new generating capacity by 2030, with 66% of that going on renewable technologies including hydro. Out of the $5.1 trillion to be spent on renewables, Asia-Pacific will account for $2.5 trillion, the Americas $816bn, Europe $967bn and the rest of the world including Middle East and Africa $818bn.......

Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented: "This country-by-country, technology-by-technology forecast of power market investment is more bullish on renewable energy’s future share of total generation than some of the other major forecasts, largely because we have a more bullish view of continuing cost reductions. What we are seeing is global CO2 emissions on track to stop growing by the end of next decade, with the peak only pushed back because of fast-growing developing countries, which continue adding fossil fuel capacity as well as renewables."

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Reader Comments (32)

Sales pitch. Give it due weight. i.e. Ignore.

Jul 15, 2014 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Sounds like an unbiased source.

Jul 15, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBloke in Central Illinois

That is not exactly what they say here. They anticipate China adding 20GWs per year of coal fired generation at the rate of 2 coal stations per month until 2030. The share of fossil fuels against renewables may drop but the actual amount of energy needed will double. That is just China.

Jul 15, 2014 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

$5.1 trillion on renewables to give 1700 GW capacity. With a mix of wind solar and hydro that is about 25% expected output - say 425 GW.
$2.6 trillion on coal and gas fired power stations for 750 GW capacity. Working at 80% of actual capacity that is 600MW expected output.
So the choice is to invest four times the amount per GW in renewables, or spend money on coal and gas fuel. Long term fossil fuels are much cheaper per GW despite the fuel costs, and upfront investment is far lower. Plus you get power generated throughout the year when required. Despite what the politicians say, the reality will be a much higher proportion of fossil fuel capacity. Even if lifetime costs of solar per GW become comparable to coal-fired power stations, higher capital costs and the need to match power generation to demand will always keep solar a small percentage of the energy mix.

Jul 15, 2014 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Pump and dump share scam.

Jul 15, 2014 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

It's wise to be very careful about this report. Is it really quite so bullish about renewables as it first appears? Here's another review of it: LINK. An observation by Milo Sjardin (BNEF hear of Asis Pacific):

However, that does not mean that the days of fossil-fuel power are over. Far from it ‒ rapid economic growth in Asia will still drive net increases of 434GW in coal-fired capacity and 314GW in gas-fired plant between now and 2030. That means that emissions will continue to increase for many years to come.” [My emphasis]
That's why fossil fuels are "still projected to provide the largest share of power generation in 2030, at 44% of global demand” – with about “1,073GW of coal, gas and oil capacity will be added to the mix, mainly in developing countries”.

Jul 15, 2014 at 5:06 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Further to my post above, this graph (from the authoritative BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014) puts ambition to cut GHG emissions into perspective.

PS: in my previous post, Milo Sjardin should of course have been described as "BNEF head of Asia Pacific".

Jul 15, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

"Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented: "This country-by-country, technology-by-technology forecast of power market investment is more bullish on renewable energy’s future share of total generation..."

I think the 'it' is missing from the quote.

Jul 15, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Similar optimism here:
"Europe can create jobs and encourage innovation by using resources much more efficiently, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which describes a range of policies with proven environmental and economic benefits"

EEA Report No 2/2014

This report highlights the major forces fostering the shift to a resource-efficient green economy in Europe, including the role of EU policies. Currently, the economic and technological changes leading towards green economy objectives across the EU economy are proceeding too slowly; what is required is a much bigger, deeper, and more permanent change in the EU economy and society to create both new opportunities and substitution processes across the economic structure. To bring this about, it is important to study and understand enabling factors and mechanisms at the crossroads of policies and real economy dynamics that could accelerate and direct the transformation.

Published by
EEA (European Environment Agency)
Published: 15 Jul 2014


Jul 15, 2014 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Thorium (LFNR): Mankind's last best hope...

Jul 15, 2014 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPJB

"Ten years to stop "global CO2 emissions?"
It says "stop growing"

Jul 15, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

nby, how these outright lies continue to be peddled as fact beggars belief.

PJB, the notion that an element is "mankind's last best hope" is, to put it politely, simplistic in the extreme.

Jul 15, 2014 at 9:03 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

CO2 emissions won't be stopped by renewables because renewables emit CO2 directly and indirectly. But other energy sources could upset the balance... over a much longer and realistic time span. Nonetheless, I expect other political fashions to take over before any of this comes to pass. See the ozone layer for an example.

Jul 15, 2014 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Simplistically, the only solution to the worlds problems (financial, security, employment, health etc) is CHEAP ENERGY. Anything that isn't cheap is detrimental to those aims.

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G


Any form of electricity generatorb

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Sorry,moderator. Let's try that again.

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


Any power generator, renewable or fossil fuel, will require a certain amount of CO2 production during its construction under current conditions.

The difference is that fossil fuel generators also generate CO2 during their operation. Renewables do not. They reduce CO2 emissions by reducing the fossil fuel burn which would otherwise have taken place.

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Dave G

Regrettably there is no longer any such thing as cheap energy.

You may get the illusion of cheap energy by government subsidy. Alas, the cost is still there, just paid indirectly through taxation rather than directly through bills.

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@Entropic man

Please, solar panels or windmills are not the only renewables... and even these "clean" power generators nonetheless require traditional backup systems to be in place when the sun or the wind don't match demand... which is always since the demand is far above what solar panels or windmills produce no matter how sunny or windy.

As I said, directly and indirectly, renewables emit CO2.

Jul 16, 2014 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Bloomberg Businessweek also asserted that non- hurricane Sandy (it was 'only' an extra tropical Depression by the time it reached shore) was CAGW related, ignoring all previous history including the 1938 Long Island Express and the 1890s Midnight Express.
There is an essay on that, plus several more on the hopeless economics of various renewables proposals (biofuels, DRAX woodchips, ethanol, wind, solar...) in my next book forthcoming somewhen. Plus lots more concerning specific deconstructions of climate 'warmunism' than in the 10 posted as guest essays over at Judith Curry's Climate Etc the past two years. She has promised a scientific forward. Hope the ebook will be available by September through usual channels.

Jul 16, 2014 at 2:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Entropic man:

Wind turbines in particular require backup by fast acting conventional means, usually by Open Cycle gas turbines. The latter emit almost as much CO2 per MWh as do modern coal fired plants. Those emissions are much greater than would occur with an all conventional grid. Having other plants on rolling reserve also generates emissions (in both systems but more so with variable 'renewables').

Wind power in Denmark INCREASES emissions because they have over 600 Combined Heat and Power plants. When the wind blows these plants have to continue supplying heat and emitting CO2, so the benefit of wind is small.

Don't forget also that wind turbines draw power from the gird, especially when they start up after a calm spell. The emission reducing abilities of wind turbines have been grossly over-estimated. How many coal burners has Denmark shut down in the last 20 years? Answer to a nice round number, less than 1.

Jul 16, 2014 at 3:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

lol. Renewables with a boiler room.
The irony. It burns.

Jul 16, 2014 at 4:48 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

In addition to iognoring the increased emissions resulting from grid balancing sevices (backup) required by intermittent renewables like wind and solar, Entropic Man also conveniently ignores the massive CO2 emissions caused by burning American woodchips at power stations like Drax, and the massive CO2 emissions from production and use of biodiesel.

Jul 16, 2014 at 6:41 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

You really don’t get it do you, EM? For a supposed teacher of science that you claim to be, I find that rather alarming.

As well as the high generation of CO2 (and the many, many other even more potent undesirables unique to these methods) during construction, renewables will also be generating CO2 during their entire lifespan, mainly indirectly. As they are such a volatile producer, there will have to be a more reliable back-up generator – with present technology, all these will be “fossil”-fuel users. There is also the point that wind-turbines do not work well when surrounded by trees, so these will be discouraged from growing near “wind farms”; also, the bases will need to be kept clear of shrubbery, for maintenance access, thus reducing the most effective form of "carbon capture and storage". Speaking of maintenance, those at sea will need very fuel-hungry vessels for the very high degree of maintenance that will be required in such a hostile environment.

As for the cost of energy – yes, “cheap” energy is a real thing; this is paid for by what is known in the more intellectual circles as “utilities bills”; the price of production of electricity by the more standard methods is about £55/kWh. It is when the price of one form of production of energy exceeds that of the more usual methods does the government step in and “subsidise”; this is what is happening with “renewable” energy: “wind” power costs at least £110 per kilowatt hour, with PV solar at least £150.

Jul 16, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

If only that were true.

But in practice, in the real world, since renewables are intermittent they require backup. This backup is provided by conventionally powered (fossil fuel) generation. So when you embark on a renewable programme, you have reneawables + fossil fuel backup.

The problem is that this backup, even though run only about 75% of the time (wind produces energy for only about 25% of the time) produces as much CO2 as if the backup had been powering generation 100% of the time. Due to the intermittent nature of renewables, the backup has to ramp up/ramp down/ramp up etc. This is like the start stop motoring in town, and as we all know, urban fuel economy is considerably worse than motorway driving fuel economy.

In the real world, to date all but no CO2 emissions have been saved by the roll out of renewables. To the extent that the UK is producing less CO2 than it did 10 years ago, and I doubt that it is (if properly measured), this is because spare capacity has been cut from qbout 12% to about 5% such that the UK is now facing the prospect of rolling brownouts and blackouts. Perhaps some real reduction has been achived by shutting down and relocating abroad some heavy energy intensive industry driven from these shores by high energy costs.

That sort of CO2 reduction could have been achieved without the building of one single widfarm. All that was needed was an edict to the National Grid to take a few conventionally powered generators off grid, and to reduce its spare/surplus capaicity to 5%.

The only form of energy production currently available that reduces CO2 emissions is nuclear. If one wants to reduce CO2 emissions, and maintain the same level of energy output (and in a country with a fast growing population, the UK will have to produce more energy in the future not less- just think that in the last or so years the population has grown by 7 to 10% and this rise will continue) the only option is to build nuclear powered generators. There is presently no other choice.

Jul 16, 2014 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Oooops… I suspect I have mixed my units up – for “kWh” please read “MWh” (megawatt hour), thus the price for domestic electricity of 5.2p per kWh, does not represent a huge subsidy!

Jul 16, 2014 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The truly remarkable thing about Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported non sense is that they think that by going gung-ho for really inefficient technologies, and applying eye-watering amounts of money to it, CO2 atmospheric concentration rates of change will be affected. Pure pie-in-the-sky thinking, from a group of class A scam artists.

I'm hoping that CO2 level spike much higher before 2050 just to show that it doesn't matter, IMO 800ppm to 0.1% CO2 would be ideal.
Of course some enraged IPCC parrots will tell you I'm wishing ill on the world, my advise it to ignore them for they are unthinking idiots. I wish no ills on the world and my prefered CO2 levels would not inflicted any bad outcomes on mankind.

Jul 16, 2014 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

@richard verney

Yep. If CO2 is a worry, nuclear is the only available choice at this point.

Jul 16, 2014 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

The fundamental purpose of current AGW propaganda is to raise the price of all energy

Jul 16, 2014 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

If I were an investor... I'd be shorting renewables.

Jul 17, 2014 at 2:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

The subsidy fallacy..
Is like telling eskimos they should not build with ice blocks
Anymore because they're subsidized

Jul 17, 2014 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterPtw

@Kevin Marshall

Exxcellent comment. The fans of intermittents have no real answer for it other than subverting the economics of other forms of generation or by placing hope in "Storage". Till then increasing renewables implies at best a redundant capital stock of ill-used turbines, lousy power quality and increased grid instability. This last problem is pointed out brilliantly by James Oswald in Energy Policy 36 (2008) 3212-3225 "Will British weather provide reliable electricity" but unfortunately no one in government on either side of the Atlantic seems to have paid him much heed.

Jul 17, 2014 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPierre Charles

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