The world’s nations could switch to 100% renewable energy in a few years?

PXL_20230619_064644366 Just a quickie, since I seem to be on a roll. Via Twatter, cleantechnica says "Mark Jacobson and his colleagues at Stanford University have published a new study in the journal Energy & Environmental Science that claims 145 of the world’s nations could switch to 100% renewable energy in a few years using renewable energy technologies available today... The cost of making the changeover to 100% renewable energy would be... $62 trillion".

Can you see the problem? Hmm, well: this past year, total world investments in clean energy were about $1.7t. To spend $62t at 1.6t/y would take 34 years; and anyway only ~$600b of that was renewable power. Of course that £1.7t per year is likely to go up; were you to assume it doubles every year then it would take ~5 years; but that isn't going to happen.

So this is a familiar problem: yes, we can transition to renewables, but no it won't happen in just a few years, we simply lack the industrial and other capacity to do so. Can I have my John McCarthy badge now?

Having written that, I can now try skimming the study itself. I see it makes the usual "it generates jobs" error; it tells you that these people are not economists but it also warns you to be cautious, which is nice.


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Anteros said...

Am I right in thinking that Jacobson and co are meaning renewable electricity? It's just that as electricity is only something like a quarter (a fifth in the UK and US) of total energy consumption, making it all or mostly renewable isn't the panacea it appears to be. And it's a slip of the pen that renewable enthusiasts make all the time. Solar and wind are going to have a fairly small impact on carbon emissions for many decades.

Could the AH character's misunderstandings come from his ginormous beard? I've heard that the excessively hirsute sometimes see reality upside down. Perhaps you disagree..

William M. Connolley said...

I hadn't thought of that but you're probably right. Fortunately it doesn't affect my rant.

As to beards... I think you'll find that a good beard is a well-known sign of wisdom; just ask Google for an image of a wise person.