Researchers have been underestimating the cost of wind and solar

How should electricity from wind turbines and solar panels be evaluated? Should it be evaluated as if these devices are stand-alone devices? Or do these devices provide electricity that is of such low quality, because of its intermittency and other factors, that we should recognize the need for supporting services associated with actually putting the electricity on the grid? This question comes up in many types of evaluations, including Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI), Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and Energy Payback Period (EPP).

I recently gave a talk called The Problem of Properly Evaluating Intermittent Renewable Resources (PDF) at a BioPhysical Economics Conference in Montana. As many of you know, this is the group that is concerned about Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROI). As you might guess, my conclusion is that the current methodology is quite misleading. Wind and solar are not really stand-alone devices when it comes to providing the kind of electricity that is needed by the grid. Grid operators, utilities, and backup electricity providers must provide hidden subsidies to make the system really work.

This problem is currently not being recognized by any of the groups evaluating wind and solar, using techniques such as LCOE, EROI, LCA, and EPP. As a result, published results suggest that wind and solar are much more beneficial than they really are. The distortion affects both pricing and the amount of supposed CO2 savings.

One of the questions that came up at the conference was, “Is this distortion actually important when only a small amount of intermittent electricity is added to the grid?” For that reason, I have included discussion of this issue as well. My conclusion is that the problem of intermittency and the pricing distortions it causes is important, even at low grid penetrations. There may be some cases where intermittent renewables are helpful additions without buffering (especially when the current fuel is oil, and wind or solar can help reduce fuel usage), but there are likely to be many other instances where the costs involved greatly exceed the benefits gained. We need to be doing much more thoughtful analyses of costs and benefits in particular situations to understand exactly where intermittent resources might be helpful.

A big part of our problem is that we are dealing with variables that are “not independent.” If we add subsidized wind and solar, that act, by itself, changes the needed pricing for all of the other types of electricity. The price per kWh of supporting types of electricity needs to rise, because their EROIs fall as they are used in a less efficient manner. This same problem affects all of the other pricing approaches as well, including LCOE. Thus, our current pricing approaches make intermittent wind and solar look much more beneficial than they really are.

A clear workaround for this non-independence problem is to look primarily at the cost (in terms of EROI or LCOE) in which wind and solar are part of overall “packages” that produce grid-quality electricity, at the locations where they are needed. If we can find solutions on this basis, there would seem to be much more of a chance that wind and solar could be ramped up to a significant share of total electricity. The “problem” is that there is a lower bound on an acceptable EROI (probably 10:1, but possibly as low as 3:1 based on the work of Charles Hall). This is somewhat equivalent to an upper bound on the affordable cost of electricity using LCOE.

This means that if we really expect to scale wind and solar, we probably need to be creating packages of grid-quality electricity (wind or solar, supplemented by various devices to create grid quality electricity) at an acceptably high EROI. This is very similar to a requirement that wind or solar energy, including all of the necessary adjustments to bring them to grid quality, be available at a suitably low dollar cost–probably not too different from today’s wholesale cost of electricity. EROI theory would strongly suggest that energy costs for an economy cannot rise dramatically, without a huge problem for the economy. Hiding rising energy costs with government subsidies cannot fix this problem.

Distortions Become Material Very Early

If we look at recently published information about how much intermittent electricity is being added to the electric grid, the amounts are surprisingly small. Overall, worldwide, the amount of electricity generated by a combination of wind and solar (nearly all of it intermittent) was 5.2% in 2016. On an area by area basis, the percentages of wind and solar are as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Wind and solar as a share of 2016 electricity generation, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017. World total is not shown, but is very close to the percentage shown for China.

There are two reasons why these percentages are lower than a person might expect. One reason is that the figures usually quoted are the amounts of “generating capacity” added by wind and solar, and these are nearly always higher than the amount of actual electricity supply added, because wind and solar “capacity” tend to be lightly used.

The other reason that the percentages on Figure 1 are lower than we might expect is because the places that have unusually high concentrations of wind and solar generation (examples: Germany, Denmark, and California) tend to depend on a combination of (a) generous subsidy programs, (b) the availability of inexpensive balancing power from elsewhere and (c) the generosity of neighbors in taking unwanted electricity and adding it to their electric grids at low prices.

As greater amounts of intermittent electricity are added, the availability of inexpensive balancing capacity (for example, from hydroelectric from Norway and Sweden) quickly gets exhausted, and neighbors become more and more unhappy with the amounts of unwanted excess generation being dumped on their grids. Denmark has found that the dollar amount of subsidies needs to rise, year after year, if it is to continue its intermittent renewables program.

One of the major issues with adding intermittent renewables to the electric grid is that doing so distorts wholesale electricity pricing. Solar energy tends to cut mid-day peaks in electricity price, making it less economic for “peaking plants” (natural gas electricity plants that provide electricity only when prices are very high) to stay open. At times, prices may turn negative, if the total amount of wind and solar produced at a given time is greater than the overall amount of electricity required by customers. This happens because intermittent electricity is generally given priority on the grid, whether price signals indicate that it is needed or not. A combination of these problems tends to make backup generation unprofitable unless subsidies are provided. If peaking plants and other backup are still required, but need to operate fewer hours, subsidies must be provided so that the plants can afford to hire year-around staff, and pay their ongoing fixed expenses.

If we think of the new electricity demand as being “normal” demand, adjusted by the actual, fairly random, wind and solar generation, the new demand pattern ends up having many anomalies. One of the anomalies is that required prices become negative at times when wind and solar generation are high, but the grid has no need for them. This tends to happen first on weekends in the spring and fall, when electricity demand is low. As the share of intermittent electricity grows, the problem with negative prices becomes greater and greater.

The other major anomaly is the need for a lot of quick “ramp up” and “ramp down” capacity. One time this typically happens is at sunset, when demand is high (people cooking their dinners) but a large amount of solar electricity disappears because of the setting of the sun. For wind, rapid ramp ups and downs seem to be related to thunderstorms and other storm conditions. California and Australia are both adding big battery systems, built by Tesla, to help deal with rapid ramp-up and ramp-down problems.

There is a lot of work on “smart grids” being done, but this work does not address the particular problems brought on by adding wind and solar. In particular, smart grids do not move demand from summer and winter (when demand is normally high) to spring and fall (when demand is normally low). Smart grids and time of day pricing aren’t very good at fixing the rapid ramping problem, either, especially when these problems are weather related.

The one place where time of day pricing can perhaps be somewhat helpful is in lessening the rapid ramping problem of solar at sunset. One fix that is currently being tried is offering the highest wholesale electricity prices in the evening (6:00 pm to 9:00 pm), rather than earlier in the day. This approach encourages those adding new solar energy generation to add their panels facing west, rather than south, so as to better match demand. Doing this is less efficient from the point of view of the total electricity generated by the panels (and thus lowers EROIs of the solar panels), but helps prevent some of the rapid ramping problem at sunset. It also gets some of the generation moved from the middle of day to the evening, when it better matches “demand.”

In theory, the high prices from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm might encourage consumers to move some of their electricity usage (cooking dinner, watching television, running air conditioning) until after 9:00 pm. But, as a practical matter, it is difficult to move very much of residential demand to the desired time slots based on price. In theory, demand could also be moved from summer and winter to spring and fall based on electricity price, but it is hard to think of changes that families could easily make that would allow this change to happen.

With the strange demand pattern that occurs when intermittent renewables are added, standard pricing approaches (based on marginal costs) tend to produce wholesale electricity prices that are too low for electricity produced by natural gas, coal, and nuclear providers. In fact, wholesale electricity rates for supporting providers tend to diverge further and further from what is needed, as more and more intermittent electricity is added. The dotted line on Figure 2 illustrates the falling wholesale electricity prices that have been occurring in Europe, even as retail residential electricity prices are rising.

Figure 2. European residential electricity prices have risen, even as wholesale electricity prices (dotted line) have fallen. Chart by Paul-Frederik Bach.

The marginal pricing scheme gives little guidance as to how much backup generation is really needed. It is therefore left up to governments and local electricity oversight groups to figure out how to compensate for the known pricing problem. Some provide subsidies to non-intermittent producers; others do not.

To complicate matters further, electricity consumption has been falling rapidly in countries whose economies are depressed. Adding wind and solar further reduces needed natural gas, coal, and nuclear generation. Some countries may let these producers collapse; others may subsidize them, as a jobs-creation program, whether this backup generation is needed or not.

Of course, if a single payer is responsible for both intermittent and other electricity programs, a combined rate can be set that is high enough for the costs of both intermittent electricity and backup generation, eliminating the pricing problem, from the point of view of electricity providers. The question then becomes, “Will the new higher electricity prices be affordable by consumers?”

The recently published IEA World Energy Investment Report 2017 provides information on a number of developing problems:

“Network investment remains robust for now, but worries have emerged in several regions about the prospect of a ‘utility death spiral’ as the long-term economic viability of grid investments diminishes. The still widespread regulatory practice of remunerating fixed network assets on the basis of a variable per kWh charge is poorly suited for a power system with a large amount of decentralised solar PV and storage capacity.”

The IEA investment report notes that in China, 10% of solar PV and 17% of wind generation were curtailed in 2016, even though previous problems with lack of transmission had been fixed. Figure 1 shows China’s electricity from wind and solar amounts to only 5.0% of its total electricity consumption in 2016.

Regarding India, the IEA report says, “More flexible conventional capacity, including gas-fired plants, better connections with hydro resources and investment in battery storage will be needed to support continued growth in solar power.” India’s intermittent electricity amounted to only 4.1% of total electricity supply in 2016.

In Europe, a spike in electricity prices to a 10-year high took place in January 2017, when both wind and solar output were low, and the temperature was unusually cold. And as previously mentioned, California and South Australia have found it necessary to add Tesla batteries to handle rapid ramp-ups and ramp-downs. Australia is also adding large amounts of transmission that would not have been needed, if coal generating plants had continued to provide services in South Australia.

None of the costs related to intermittency workarounds are currently being included in EROI analyses. They are generally not being included in analyses of other kinds, either, such as LCOE. In my opinion, the time has already arrived when analyses need to be performed on a much broader basis than in the past, so as to better capture the true cost of adding intermittent electricity.

Slide 1

Slide 2

Slide 3

Slide 4

Of course, as we saw in the introduction, worldwide electricity supply is only about 5% wind and solar. The only parts of the world that were much above 5% in 2016 were Europe, which was at 11.3% in 2016 and the United States, which was at 6.6%.

There has been a lot of talk about electrical systems being operated entirely by renewables (such as hydroelectric, wind, solar, and burned biomass), but these do not exist in practice, as far as I know. Trying to replace total energy consumption, including oil and natural gas usage, would be an even bigger problem.

Slide 5

The amount of electricity required by consumers varies considerably over the course of a year. Electricity demand tends to be higher on weekdays than on weekends, when factories and schools are often closed. There is usually a “peak” in demand in winter, when it is unusually cold, and second peak in summer, when it is unusually hot. During the 24-hour day, demand tends to be lowest at night. During the year, the lowest demand typically comes on weekends in the spring and fall.

If intermittent electricity from W&S is given first priority on the electric grid, the resulting “net” demand is far more variable than the original demand pattern based on customer usage. This increasingly variable demand tends to become more and more difficult to handle, as the percentage of intermittent electricity added to the grid rises.

Slide 6

EROI is nearly always calculated at the level of the solar panel or wind turbine, together with a regular inverter and whatever equipment is used to hold the device in place. This calculation does not consider all of the costs in getting electricity to the right location, and up to grid quality. If we move clockwise around the diagram, we see some of the problems as the percentage of W&S increases.

One invention is smart inverters, which are used to bring the quality of the electrical output up closer to grid quality, apart from the intermittency problems. Germany has retrofitted solar PV with these, because of problems it encountered using only “regular” inverters. Upgrading to smart inverters would be a cost not generally included in EROI or LCOE calculations.

The next problem illustrated in Slide 6 is the fact that the pricing system does not work for any fuel, if wind and solar are given priority on the electric grid. The marginal cost approach that is usually used gives too low a wholesale price for every producer subject to this pricing scheme. The result is a pricing system that gives misleadingly low price signals. Regulators are generally aware of this issue, but don’t have a good way of fixing it. Capacity payments are used in some places as an attempted workaround, but it is not clear that such payments really solve the problem.

It is less obvious that in addition to giving too low pricing indications for electricity, the current marginal cost pricing approach indirectly gives artificially low price indications regarding the required prices for natural gas and coal as fuels. As a result of this and other forces acting in the same directions, we end up with a rather bizarre situation:  (a) Natural gas and and coal prices tend to fall below their cost of production. (b) At the same time, nuclear electricity generating plants are being forced to close, because they cannot afford to compete with the artificially low price of electricity produced by the very low-priced natural gas and coal. The whole system tends to be pushed toward collapse by misleadingly low wholesale electricity prices.

Slide 6 also shows some of the problems that seem to start arising as more intermittent electricity is added. Once new long distance transmission lines are added, it changes the nature of the whole “game.” It becomes easier to rely on generation added by a neighbor; any generation that a country might add becomes more attractive to a neighbor. As long as there is plenty of electricity to go around, everything goes well. When there are shortages, then arguments begin to arise. Arguments such as these may destabilize the Eurozone.

One thing I did not mention in this chart is the increasing need to pay intermittent grid providers not to produce electricity when there is an oversupply of electricity. In the UK, the amount of these payments was over 1 million pounds a week in 2015.  I mentioned previously that in China, 17% of wind generation and 10% of solar PV generation were being curtailed in 2016. EROI calculations do not consider this possibility; they assume that 100% of the electricity that is generated can, in fact, be used by the system.

Slide 7

The pricing system no longer works because W&S are added whenever they become available, in preference to other generation. In many ways, the pricing system is like our appetite for food. Usually, we eat when we are hungry, and the food we eat reduces our appetite. W&S are added to the system with total disregard for whether the system needs it or not, leaving the other electricity producers to try to fix up the mess, using the false pricing signals they get. The IEA’s 2017 Investment Report recommends that countries develop new pricing schemes that correct the problems, but it is not clear that this is actually possible without correcting the hidden subsidies.

Slide 8

Why add more electricity supply, if there is a chance that you can use the new supply added by your neighbor?

Slide 9

South Australia had two recent major outages–both partly related to adding large amounts of wind and solar to the electric grid, and the loss of its last two coal-fired electricity generation plants. The first big outage came during a weather event. The second big outage occurred when temperatures were very high during summer, and because of this, electricity demand was very high.

One planned workaround for supply shortages was natural gas. Unfortunately, South Australia doesn’t actually have a very good natural gas supply to operate its units generating electricity from natural gas. Thus, the available natural gas generators could not really respond as hoped, except at very high prices. Some changes are now being made, including a planned Tesla battery system. With the changes being made, there are reports of electricity rate increases of up to 120% for businesses in South Australia.

The irony of the situation is that Australia is a major natural gas exporter. Businesses expected that they could make more money selling the natural gas abroad as LNG than they could by providing natural gas to the citizens of South Australia. These exports are now being curbed, to try to help fix the South Australia natural gas problem.

These issues point out how interconnected all of the different types of electricity generation are, and how quickly a situation can become a local crisis, if regulators simply assume “market forces will provide a solution.”

Slide 10

An expert panel in Australia has recommended an approach similar to this. It simply becomes too difficult to operate a system with built-in subsidies.

Slide 11

Slide 12

Timing makes a difference. The payments that are made for interest need to be made, directly or indirectly, with future goods and services that can only be made using energy products. Thus, they also require the use of energy products.

Slide 13

Slide 14

There is a real difference between (a) looking at the actual operating experiences of an existing oil and gas or coal company, and (b) guessing what the future operating experience of a system operated by wind panels and solar panels might be. The tendency is to guess low, when it comes to envisioning what future problems may arise.

It is not just the wind turbines and solar panels that will need to be replaced over time; it is all of the supporting devices that need to be kept in good repair and replaced over time. Furthermore, the electric grid is dependent on oil for its upkeep. If oil becomes a problem, there is a real danger that the electric grid will become unusable, and with it, electricity that is generally distributed by the grid, including wind and solar.

Slide 15

Slide 16

Economies and humans are both self-organized systems that depend on energy consumption for their existence. They have many other characteristics in common as well.

Slide 17

We know that with humans, we really need to examine how a new medicine or a change in diet works in practice. For one thing, medicines and diets aren’t necessarily used as planned. Unexpected long-term changes occur that we could not anticipate.

Slide 18

The same kinds of problems occur when wind and solar are added to a grid system. We really have to look at what is happening to see the full picture.

Slide 19

Anyone who has followed the news knows about medicine’s long history of announcements followed by retractions.

Slide 20

A fairly similar situation can be expected to happen with proposed energy solutions.

Slide 21

There is a whole package of costs and a whole range of direct and indirect outcomes to consider.

Slide 22

As far as I know, none of the attempts at producing a system that operates on 100% renewable energy have been a success. There has been some reductions in fossil fuel usage, but at a high cost.

Slide 23

2013 Weissabach et al. EROI analysis examines a situation with partial buffering of wind and solar (approximately 10 days worth of buffering). It leaves out several other costs of bringing wind and solar up to grid quality electricity, such as extra long distance transmission costs, and more significant buffering to allow transferring electricity produced in spring and fall to be saved for summer or winter. These authors calculated a partially buffered EROI of 4:1 for wind, and a partially buffered EROI range of 1.5:1 to 2.3:1 for solar PV.

Of course, more investigation, including looking at the full package of needed devices to provide non-intermittent electricity of grid quality, is really needed for particular situations. Improvements in technology would tend to raise EROI indications; adding more supplemental devices to bring electricity to grid quality would tend to reduce EROI indications.

If the cutoff for being able to maintain a modern society is 10:1, as mentioned earlier, then wind and solar PV would both seem to fall far below the required EROI cutoff, if they are to be used in quantity.

If, as Hall believes, an EROI as low as 3:1 might be useful, then there is a possibility that some wind energy would be helpful, especially if a particular wind location has a very high capacity factor (can generate electricity a large share of the time), and if pricing problems can be handled adequately. The EROI of solar PV would probably still be too low in most applications. In any event, we need to be examining situations more closely, instead of simply assuming that hidden subsidies can be counted on indefinitely.

This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.

3,302 thoughts on “Researchers have been underestimating the cost of wind and solar

  1. Althou Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is one of the richest regions of Europe as regards GDP per capita:

    “The Bratislava Region is the wealthiest and economically most prosperous region of Slovakia, despite being the smallest by area and having the second smallest population of the eight Slovak regions. It accounts for about 26% of the Slovak GDP.[6] The GDP per capita (PPP) is 188% (2016) of the EU average which is the third highest of all regions in the EU member states.[7] Statistics are though deformed by centralisation in Slovakia, where almost all governmental institutions as well as private companies in the country have their headquarters in the capital and by lower number of official inhabitants as compared to estimates.”

    There is a rising trend of child abuse in Bratislava. And, surprisingly, in most cases, the culprit is mother:

    • why is child abuse is rising the answer is in the article
      Due to the worsening situation in Slovakia, children are being abused. They may not be bad parents, but stress from mortgages, loans or job losses may result in psychological abuse or neglect
      this ls called effects of late stage capitalism which mean it dog-eating dog world

        • can you tell how big was impact of financial crisis of 2008 in slovakia

            • There are various articles about it on the internet, but my personal experience was e.g. that suddenly there was a radical fall in tourism, as the hordes of the tourists suddenly disappeared, or there was a lack of shoppers in the shops. The whole crazy growth before 2008 halted. After 2008, the people started to build smaller houses like bungalows and the small flats became popular. The prices of bigger houses and flats fell considerably. The energy saving and so called green energy became more and more visible, the people went into more and more debt, the ageing of the population continued. More various strange individuals with tatoos, piercings, excessive makeup, anorectic bodies etc. can be seen.

              My opinion is that the depopulation will simply continue: there will be less and less permanently inhabited houses and flats in the marginal areas of the country in the mountains and away from the industrial western part of the country and the forest will be covering larger parts of the country due to the lack of animals or persons to care for the plots and the countriside.

          • You have your answer…I think
            I can tell you that in my city it was a boom I remember telling people about it and they told me to add a s tag.
            Halifax NS Canada

        • When the state subsidizes fertility via various incentives, then, no wonder, when these incentives are ceasing and stopping, the peole realize, that their dreamed marriage, children and family are the product of subsidies (i.e. the external energy that is disappearing).

    • isn’t the massive American volume of “Russia did it” just blatant xenophobia?

      • Can we get something for all the Kool Aid drinkers who are convinced that GW must be fact — because the MSM repeats it over and over and over again

        Kinda like they repeat the ‘fact’ that Putin is the ant-christ over and over and over…..

        Hang tight — if they continue for long enough everyone will eventually believe it is true — and heaven forbid anyone should state that it is a hoax….

        Nope — there is not unconvincing someone once they are convinced

        Case in point ______________

        • hi Eddy,
          the MSM can repeat whatever they want, but there is no proof that carbondioxide causes GW.
          correlation is not causation.

          I’d rather ignore the MSM.
          there are some very smart persons on both sides of this issue.
          I suspect that means the Earth is not fully understood by scientists.

          • Really, my illiterate friend?
            Some basic physics:
            The energy from the photon causes the CO2 molecule to vibrate. Shortly thereafter, the molecule gives up this extra energy by emitting another infrared photon. Once the extra energy has been removed by the emitted photon, the carbon dioxide stops vibrating.

            This ability to absorb and re-emit infrared energy is what makes CO2 an effective heat-trapping greenhouse gas. Not all gas molecules are able to absorb IR radiation. For example, nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2), which make up more than 90% of Earth’s atmosphere, do not absorb infrared photons. CO2 molecules can vibrate in ways that simpler nitrogen and oxygen molecules cannot, which allows CO2 molecules to capture the IR photons.

            Th warms the atmosphere– get it?

            Reality doesn’t care what you think.

            • that’s just a partial understanding of Reality.

              I stand by my claim:

              there are some very smart persons on both sides of this issue.
              I suspect that means the Earth is not fully understood by scientists.

  2. Patrick Moore (born 1947) is a Canadian activist, and former president of Greenpeace Canada. Since leaving Greenpeace, Moore has criticized the environmental movement for what he sees as scare tactics and disinformation, saying that the environmental movement “abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism.”[4]

    He has sharply and publicly differed with many policies of major environmental groups, including Greenpeace itself on other issues including forestry, biotechnology, aquaculture, and the use of chemicals for many applications.[5] According to Greenpeace, he is “a paid spokesman for the nuclear industry, the logging industry, and genetic engineering industry” and is an outspoken proponent of nuclear energy and skeptical of human activity as the main cause for climate change

    • Holy cow batman — this guy could be me — maybe he is Fast Eddy?

      Recall that I too at one point thought of Monsanto as a villain — but then when I realized that TINA when you have 7.5 billion people who need to eat….

      I changed my tune — and determined GMO Roundup and all the rest of the chemicals required to make sure the food supply was reliable — were necessary evils.

      Genetically modified foods[edit]

      In 2006, Moore addressed a Biotechnology Industry Organization conference in Waikiki saying, “There’s no getting away from the fact that over 6 billion people wake up each day on this planet with real needs for food, energy and materials”, and need genetically engineered crops to this end.[47]


      Let’s have a peak at how the Koombaya Kult reacted to one of its Pope’s suggestion that religion is bull sh it – as expected…. he is a traitor — corrupt – an idiot…

      What a f789 ing joke!

      • If you actually took the time to look at the GMOs you would find that their productivity is far below that of non GMO crops. Most GMOS were for herbicide resistance and internal pesticide production. Mot are now failing and new ones must be created. They were mostly a mechanism to control seeds and agriculture in general. Normal selective breeding is a better way to go as there are less additional genetics added to the genome of the target plant. But hey if you feel comfortable eating GMOs I won’t stop you.

  3. Saudi Aramco CEO believes oil shortage coming despite U.S. shale boom

    International Energy Agency Chief warns of oil shortages by 2020 as discoveries fall to record lows

    HSBC Global Bank warns of Oil shortages by 2020

    UBS Global Bank warns of Oil Shortage ahead

    The Oil Age may come to an end for a shortage of oil. -Saudi Oil Minister Sheikh Yamani

    • the arithmetic is simple

      we burn 25bn barrels a year

      we find 2.5bn barrels a year

      therefore we are living high on grandma’s legacy. we have no other income.

        • Actually it’s even more than I thought;

          “For 2016, the IEA Oil Market Report forecasts worldwide average demand of nearly 96 million barrels of oil and liquid fuels per day – that works out to more than 35 billion barrels a year.”

          We better get busy finding those extra Ghawar’s.

          • We only use around 80 million barrels a day of crude. The IEA just counts anything oily that burns, pretty soon they will be counting baby oil and scotch whiskey in their totals.

          • “35 billion barrels a year”

            and the low end estimate for recoverable conventional oil is about 1,000 billion barrels.
            do the math.
            that’s about 30 years at today’s level of production.
            that’s why, when calculations are done using all available data, peak oil is estimated in the mid 2020’s and declining production will continue for decades afterwards.

            oil is finite, but the math says decades more.

            • it doesn’t work like that

              bau means infinetly increasing ”forward motion”—-decline means slowing down, but slowing down means loss of industrial activity = growing unemployment. Up to now, we have had increasing fuelburning=increasing employment. That must go on or we’re in trouble.

              That will be a cascading problem, not a gradual decline to an ultimate zero in 100 years time, because we cannot have jobs without fuelburning.

              as jobs go, social unrest will increase, which itself will make commercial cohesion impossible within a very short time—irrespective of how much oil is ”down there”

              there is a ‘critical mass’ of unemployment, before a nation collapses in on itself, because its support system is no longer functioning—taxation, government funding and so on.

              individual nations get imf loans to stave this off, (eg Greece) but imf loans are based on a supposition that they will be repaid.

              And how can they be repaid?

              From future energy resources, which will be in decline or simply not there.

              So loans ultimately cannot work because they are ”money creation schemes” with no energy backup, in say 10 or 20 years
              —lenders know this, so will not lend in the short term either

              so financial confidence evaporates, and the world commercial system become dysfunctional

            • I think Norman’s right.

              We can’t have Granny’s endowment and eat it.

              The endowment — future affordable fossil energy resources — is being progressively depleted, and yet our current economic and financial arrangements implicitly assume that these resources will remain accessible at an affordable price indefinitely, which they won’t, and the continued survival of this economic and financial system that supports all our lives, depends on that assumption being true.

  4. Holy cow ba tman — this guy could be me — maybe he is Fast Eddy?

    Recall that I too at one point thought of Mo nsanto as a villain — but then when I realized that TI NA when you have 7.5 billion people who need to eat….

    I changed my tune — and determined GM O Ro un dup and all the rest of the chem icals required to make sure the food supply was reliable — were necessary evils.

    Gen etic ally modif ed foods[edit]

    In 2006, Moore addressed a Biotechn ology Industry Organization conference in Waikiki saying, “There’s no getting away from the fact that over 6 billion people wake up each day on this planet with real needs for food, energy and materials”, and need genetically engineered crops to this end.[47]


    Let’s have a peak at how the Ko om baya K ult reacted to one of its Pope’s suggestion that reli gi on is bull sh it – as expected…. he is a tra itor — c orrupt – an i d iot…

    What a f78 9 ing j oke!

    • Not only the grains are required, the but maximum exploitation of resources to keep the combines and trucks rolling, to harvest, store and distribute.

      A large % of historical famines were the consequence of wastage in storage, and the inability to ship grains to where they were needed, in time and at a low-enough cost to be viable – even within so compact a country as England, the North could be well-fed and the South starve and vice-versa until the development of superior road and canal networks in the 18th century.

      • Exactly.

        It is amazing how absolutely stewpid I once was …. I used to rant and rave against Monsanto… I called them the devil …. I was a dedicated Green Groooopie!

        But then I realized that without the likes of Monsanto — Malthus would have already been right.

        And that dictated that I embrace Monsanto… well not quite embrace… I prefer not to get too close so I try to avoid GMO and pesticides….

        Those are for the other 7.5 billion feeders… because the last thing I want is for them to starve and eat me…

        Let them east GMO – after all they are pretty much all stewpid MOREons anyway — ideally one could get away with feeding the lot of them rat poison.

        • again go look at the results of varieties of crops and you will find that GMOs under perform. They have not changed the green revolution. Malthus was stalled by Haber-Bausch.

          • Even if they have failed to increase crop yields… I am still for any franken-experiment that is aimed at keeping the 7.5 B and counting population fed cheaply….

  5. look like oil and gas sector has collapse of pakistan
    No oil, gas exploration lease awarded in past 4 years
    The government didn’t award any oil and gas exploration lease during the past four years of its tenure, it has been learnt.
    Although haughty claims were made by various government officials, however ground reality is totally different as no fresh Exploration lease was granted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, official sources told The Nation. Directorate General of Petroleum Concession is responsible for award exploration leases and bringing new investment, however it hasn’t produce any tangible results. There are several challenges faced by the DGPC which includes the shortage of workforce, companies employees are deputed to work in the most sensitive department, delay in reorganisation of DGPC.

  6. And of course Dicaprio — another spokesperson for the GW Kult…. prances about the planet in a private jet… mate-march/

    And of course there is Elon — another front man for the Kult —- who flies around in this

    Hello people…. if the world were really burning up — do you think that the key spokespeople would be behaving like this? The men who are urging us to Take Action!!!!

    Think about it!

    You have been played

      • Make ’em all fly economy class and bring in a 95% Greenie Tax on all income for anyone who waffles about the need to make sacrifices to save the planet. Sorted!

      • How can he not realize that his lifestyle is a problem – he is not re tar ded.

        The reason these guys live massive is because they know that a) GW is a scam and b) even if it were not a scam there would be no stopping it because without burning fossil fuels BAU ends.

        They are doing EXACTLY what one with their knowledge would be expected to do — help calm the sheeple by misdirecting them — think of it as public service messages — kinda like Charlie Sheen fronting for the Say No to Drugs campaign —- and meanwhile living large.

        This is all theatre — and the sheeple are just too stooopid to recognize it.

        You do not live in a f789ing house of that size — if you believe in GW

        No bloody way

        • You’re thinking about this too deeply. WYSIWYG with humans. The same way they cannot understand they are living in a bubble created by the one time release of fossil fuels, they believe that the modern IC is a permanent condition of human beings, and that no significant change is required, beyond exchanging carbon credits & lifestyle change at the individual level. No systemic reform is deemed necessary, or even possible. That’s what makes them sheeple, delusistanis etc. You know?

          • My thinking is on the money.

            Al Gore is a front man for GW. He was asked to perform this service for the world.

            Just as Elon Musk has been asked to be the front man for the relocation to Mars.

            Do you think that when someone suggests to Elon that it is not possible for humans to live for long periods in space due to cosmic radiation — and he ignores the question — that he is not aware of this?

            Of course he knows this is utter nonsense. That’s probably why he takes Ambien and red wine cocktails — it helps him hold a straight face when he has to explain the Mars project.

            Both of these men are doing their part to help make sure the sheeple don’t get spooked.

            How much more obvious can it be?

            Once again —- there is NOTHING that could be done about GW if it did exist. NOTHING. We MUST burn coal and oil — we MUST. Or we collapse and die.

            So pray tell why the MSM is constantly harping on about GW — about how we have to do something about it???

            When there is nothing that can be done.

            Anyone? Anyone?

  7. Wrong

    I changed my position on GMO Monsanto – when the facts and my understanding of the issue changed. I then realized how I had been such a MOREon before. To this day I am embarrassed by how I argued with people over this issue

    I changed my position on renewable energy – when the facts and my understanding of the issue changed. I then realized how I had been such a MOREon before. To this day I am embarrassed by how I argued with people over this issue

    I changed my position on AGW – when the facts and my understanding of the issue changed. I then realized how I had been such a MOREon before. To this day I am embarrassed by how I argued with people over this issue

    Gail has done an excellent job of working out the reason why we are fed this pack of lies.

    Tim has done an excellent job of presenting many of the facts that lead to my escaping from my state of MORonism with respect to this issue

    Thank you Gail and Tim — and a tip of the hat to James Lovelock and Patrick Moore as well as my trusty assistant

    It takes a monumental effort to ‘see the light’ — I can see clearly now…

    Meanwhile so many remain mired in the muck and slop and ooze …. suckered by Leo and Al… and the MSM…. and the forces of illogic.

    • I disagree. The sooner we bite the bullet the less the human suffering. Collapse now! Collapse now for the common good.

        • and, human extinction is inevitable.

          the sooner we go extinct, the less the human suffering!

        • Spent fuel ponds — another example of how people will never change their minds…

          The facts and evidence are overwhelming — there is no way to stop these from burning up post BAU — and the release of radiation will be catastrophic,..

          But yet people just gloss over all of that…. they just pretend that cannot happen — because they don’;t want to happen

          The human brain should have its own Cirque du Soleil — it can perform some amazing feats

          • Hm, again, the spent fuel cartridges at temporary ponds at the NPP site are there for 3+ yrs (max ~10yrs), depending on the type of reactor-fuel mix, most of the NPP sites are purposely placed near vast pool of flowing water, there are several redundancy systems in place for water circulation to these pools. We can perhaps get the data on the necessary m3/h pumping throughput or kW/MW demand of it all in 365/24 fashion, relatively speaking it won’t be much anyway for semi collapsed society to allocate resources to this temporary goal.

            Hence on the assumption there will be enough people and fuel available to cool these pools, it’s not that pressing issue. So, is the scenario of universal instantaneous abandonment (doom) of all infrastructure (incl NPPs) legit? Yes it is, but with certain probability, given the above I put it in my book as relatively low probability.

            Much more pressing concerns are bogged spent fuel (mid-long term) depositories across the world. For example even the supposedly hitech and green powerhouse W/Germany has got one, which is probably under worse standard than in North Korea! These corrupt idi#ts just used an old and shallow salt mine (~700m) and literally dumped the spent fuel barrels into the pit (up, down, sideways), only after few decades they somewhat started to place it correctly. Nevertheless, the porous salt mine structure is leaking water all over throughout, it’s a time bomb. Now, they recently opened a proper one in better geological site elsewhere, but the first one is so huge already it won’t be likely solved in time. Typical German mentality, evidently the higher “misplaced priority” has been for past 30yrs rather to dismantle perfectly working reactors in the Eastern part, instead of using available methods to safety upgrades, running it easily till ~2030s..

            Well crippling the landscape with wind+PV, stressing stability of neighboring grid networks, eventual coal renewal.. and or natgas quarrels with the US/RU.. apparently very worth it. What an island of sheer logic in that crazy country again..

  8. Parallels ….

    I sometimes read the Mish blog — as I do Wolf – they do have some useful info … I almost never post

    But Mish recently wrote a fat article on self driving cars and how by the early 2020’s they would be ubiquitous — I chimed in with a post that surely you do not believe this…

    He absolutely believes it. As do most people on his site. As no doubt to most people in the general population – it’s just a matter of time

    Someone posted a very good article about the delusion of self driving cars on FW – so I dropped into onto the Mish site.

    To howls of anger and recriminations — I did it knowing that the FACTS and LOGIC in that article would have no impact on what these fo ols believed… I did it to antagonize them…. like sticking a bomb in a crowded cafe and walking away …. although I was getting alerts by email for responses to my post…

    So you see — no matter what logic you present — no matter what facts — they will NOT see the light.

    Remind you of anyone?

    • FE, of course there will be self driving trucks and cars. Neural nets are stupid. But they can deal with simple sensory input as in the car is too far to the right so steer left. the car is down the center line keep going. No long chain of logic or reasoning.

        • A self driving car is called a tram…

          In case you had not noticed… the auto industry is on the verge of collapse … because BAU is on the verge of collapse

          This talk of self driving cars is just another misdirect — to keep the sheeple’s minds off the slaughter that is imminent

          Cars are NOT smart — they need to be programmed to react in a certain way — they are literally infinite numbers of potentialities that require split second thinking to deal with when driving a car.

          You cannot program for all of them — and since a computer cannot think on its own — it is absolutely inevitable that there would be massive numbers of accidents and deaths caused by self crashing cars.

          I have gone 30+ years driving cars without a single accident — no f789ing way am I putting my life in the hands of computer…. that would be a death wish.

          • FE, “self-driving cars” is “The Next Big Thing”. It is technically feasible but totally impractical because it will be resented by almost everyone who drives today. And, as you say, Ji-hadis any anyone else who wants to cause mayhem will love it.

            So I’m guessing that the people in charge of spying on us all and controlling our choices are thinking, “This is wonderful. This is another huge advance in establishing our web of 1984-style total control over the proles. Let’s make it happen.”

            The trucking and transport and taxi companies love it because it will eliminate millions of pay packets, which they think will be great for the bottom line. Also, the automotive industry loves it because it’s research and development that keeps their labs busy and will result in products they can look forward to selling as part of the next revolution. And governments are subsidizing this R&D with seed money from their deep coffers because they think it will help transform the economy. (I know for a fact the Japanese Government for one is actively funding and guiding this research.)

            What’s more, we must never underestimate politicians’ (and bureaucrats’) logic: “Something must be done. This looks like something. Therefore we must do it.”

            But I’m also guessing that they haven’t thought this thing through so it may well all end in tears. But for the moment, it is The Next Big Thing.

      • There will be self driving cars by the time the first shipload of human rats leaves for Mars.

        That ship will be called the Mayflower

    • All this talk of autonomous vehicles and AI taking over, not to mention drones, hyperloops and flying cars as another manifestation of fake news.

        • Ok, not GW. But maybe the way it’s being cynically used to perpetuate the final looting of the planet, right before dieoff hits, by the elites.

          • Why would solar and EVs be considered fake —yet not GW?

            All 3 are endlessly repeated by the MSM

            • Because GW is real FE, and can’t be faked. The evidence is all around. What is fake is the political reaction to GW, in that decisions to deal with it in any meaningful way are delayed or ignored, because of the existential threat it poses. Not to future generations, but to today’s profits and profligate lifestyles. Which is why the Daily Mail and Forbes etc print so much rubbish about it. Because any efforts at really dealing with it are a threat to their owner’s existences, and the class they belong too. Have you not noticed that overwhelmingly the top 1% are rabidly anti anthropogenic GW?

            • There is evidence that solar works all around — I have panels on my garage – they pump water…they work….

              Thousands of scientists tell us it works — Germany and Spain and Norway are spending fortunes on solar — they are generating energy from it… it works…. it is real….

              Yes of course there are a few brave souls out there who are disputing that it works…. but almost everyone believes that it works. That is just needs a bit of tweaking. I don’t think I know of anyone who does not think solar is the future aside from a few people on FW.

              How is that different from GW? Most people believe in it — even though there has been NO warming for 20 years — and that is FACT.

              Just because the MSM and scientists say it is real — does not mean it is real.

              WMD were real.

              Solar is real.

              EVs are real.

              You have a brain – use it – oh but sorry you are human — once you have been indoctrinated you generally do not change your mind. Logic does not matter.

    • FE same thing happened to me I live in Michigan and have a close friend who works for Ford. I shared him that article and he replied . By 2021 fully autonomous cars would be on the roads and in 20 years every car will be automated. Then he said ‘i should know I work for Ford”. He is totally delusional and he works in the IT department. lol There is no convincing the sheep they will always claim the technology will make major breath through ahead and that the check is in the mail.

      • Once someone believes something … once the MSM indoctrinates them…. no matter what facts you put in front of them…. they will not change their minds…

        I could list a dozen issues like this off the top of my head…. where people have been hammered by the MSM for years — and they will believe what they believe until they die …

        They have not even the slightest bit of doubt…

        e.g. GW

    • Not to mention the Russians will hack them and drive them around like a video game.

      • And not a peep from the MSM about how the NSA records communications globally and uses said recordings to no doubt blackmail/control people as they see fit.

        There is a bit of projection going on here — it is the US that does all the things that the MSM is accusing the Russians of doing.

        But not a peep on that from the MSM…. not a peep.

        And yet people here on FW — swallow much of what the MSM feeds them …. without questioning it.

        Rather disappointing …. one would have thought that those who landed on FW would be la creme de la creme ….

        It seems not — it seems that with some issues they are no better than the blunt people they are forever mocking …

        FWers get so pissed off when they attempt to explain how the oil is running out of how EVs and solar are futile — they bleat on and on — it is so frustrating to deal with such people — oh whatever shall I do — I have pulled half my hair out — and STILL they will not see the light — no even a silver of light or doubt makes it through!!!!

        They refuse to accept facts and logic — they have made up their minds and they will never change them — no matter what

        And what’s worse -they get ANGRY with me — they insult me — they ridicule me — because I am providing facts that prove they are wrong — or that at least should convince them to think a bit more deeply about the issue — but nooooooo they get angry!

        Oh I hate such people — they are so stewpid and ignorant. Dogmatic. Pathetic.

        But when the tables are turned — our supposedly open=minded — almighty FWers — well what do they do?

        Yes of course — they reject the facts.

        They react in the exact same way as people they despise.

        This is priceless!!!! Well actually — it is shameful

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