100% renewable without fossil fuels?

Living on our solar budget can not power our "current" use
Rationing due to depletion will probably arrive first

solar will power a smaller, steady state society after finite concentrated fossil carbon

Directly using solar electricity since 1990 taught me it is wonderful but not a replacement for fossil fuels. Living on our solar budget after oil, coal and unnatural gas are depleted will force us to relocalize production.

It takes fossil fuels and mineral ores to make, move, install solar panels and wind turbines. We should use some of what is left for the "transition" instead of more consumerism and militarism. Here are some resources on how "sustainable" energy will power a smaller, steady state society, not based on endless growth on a round, abundant, finite planet. We all need to wean ourselves away from the American Way of Life (AWOL).


A Critique of Jacobson and Delucchi's Proposals for a World Renewable Energy Supply by Ted Trainer


Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society by Ted Trainer


Scientific American's Path to Sustainability: Let's Think about the Details
Posted by Gail Tverberg on November 9, 2009


100 Percent Wishful Thinking: The Green-Energy Cornucopia
by Stan Cox, author, Any Way You Slice It: The Past, Present, and Future of Rationing



What is "Energy Denial"?
September 17, 2019 by Don Fitz

The fiftieth anniversary of the first Earth Day of 1970 will be in 2020. As environmentalism has gone mainstream during that half-century, it has forgotten its early focus and shifted toward green capitalism. Nowhere is this more apparent than abandonment of the slogan popular during the early Earth Days: "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."

The unspoken motto of today's Earth Day is "Recycle, Occasionally Reuse, and Never Utter the Word 'Reduce.'" A quasi-taboo on the word "reduce" permeates twenty-first century environmentalism. Confronting the planned obsolescence of everyday products rarely, if ever, appears as an ecological goal. The concept of possessing fewer objects and smaller homes has surrendered to the worship of eco-gadgets. The idea of redesigning communities to make them compact so individual cars are not necessary has been replaced by visions of universal electric cars. The saying "Live simply so that others can simply live" now draws empty stares. Long forgotten are the modest lifestyles of Buddha, Jesus and Thoreau.

When the word "conservation" is used, it is almost always applied to preserving plants or animals and rarely to conserving energy. The very idea of re-imagining society so that people can have good lives as they use less energy has been consumed by visions of the infinite expansion of solar/wind power and the oxymoron, "100% clean energy."


Richard Heinberg and David Fridley, Post Carbon Institute
Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy
www.postcarbon.org www.ourrenewablefuture.org www.shalebubble.org

Our Renewable Future, Richard Heinberg
January 21, 2015

Yet renewable energy technologies currently require fossil fuels for their construction and deployment, so in effect they are functioning as a parasite on the back of the older energy infrastructure. The question is, can they survive the death of their host?
some solar and wind advocates apparently believe it makes good strategic sense to claim that a renewable future will deliver comfort, convenience, jobs, and growth—an extension of the oil-fueled 20th century, but now energized by wind and solar electrons. Regardless of whether it's true, it is a message that appeals to a broad swath of the public. Yet most serious renewable energy scientists and analysts acknowledge that the energy transition will require changes throughout society. This latter attitude is especially prevalent in Europe, which now has practical experience integrating larger percentages of solar and wind power into electricity markets. Here in the US, though, it is common to find passionate but poorly informed climate activists who loudly proclaim that the transition can be easily and fully accomplished at no net cost. Again, this may be an effective message for rallying troops, but it ends up denying oxygen to energy conservation efforts, which are just as important.
I have good friends in the renewable energy industry who say that emphasizing the intermittency challenges of solar and wind amounts to giving more ammunition to the fossil fuel lobby. Barry Goldwater famously proclaimed that "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice"; in a similar spirit, some solar and wind boosters might say that a little exaggeration of renewable energy's potential, uttered in defense of the Earth, is no sin. After all, fossil fuel interests are not bound by the need for strict veracity: they continually make absurd claims that the world has centuries' worth of coal and gas, and decades of oil. It's not a fair or equal fight: the size and resources of the fossil fuel industry vastly outweigh those of the renewables camp. And there could hardly be more at stake: this is war for the survival of our current civilization-supporting climate regime. Nevertheless, we will ultimately have to deal with the reality of what solar and wind can actually provide, and we will do so far more successfully if we plan and prepare ahead of time.



A globalised solar-powered future is wholly unrealistic – and our economy is the reason why
September 6, 2019 2.54am EDT


It is the logic of money that has created the utterly unsustainable and growth-hungry global society that exists today. To get our globalised economy to respect natural limits, we must set limits to what can be exchanged. Unfortunately, it seems increasingly probable that we shall have to experience something closer to disaster – such as a semi-global harvest failure – before we are prepared to seriously question how money and markets are currently designed.


Take the ultimate issue we are facing: whether our modern, global, and growing economy can be powered by renewable energy. Among most champions of sustainability, such as advocates of a Green New Deal, there is an unshakeable conviction that the problem of climate change can be solved by engineers.

What generally divides ideological positions is not the faith in technology as such, but which technical solutions to choose, and whether they will require major political change. Those who remain sceptical to the promises of technology – such as advocates of radical downshifting or degrowth – tend to be marginalised from politics and the media. So far, any politician who seriously advocates degrowth is not likely to have a future in politics.

Mainstream optimism about technology is often referred to as ecomodernism. The Ecomodernist Manifesto, a concise statement of this approach published in 2015, asks us to embrace technological progress, which will give us "a good, or even great, Anthropocene". It argues that the progress of technology has "decoupled" us from the natural world and should be allowed to continue to do so in order to allow the "rewilding" of nature. The growth of cities, industrial agriculture, and nuclear power, it claims, illustrate such decoupling. As if these phenomena did not have ecological footprints beyond their own boundaries.

Meanwhile, calls for a Green New Deal have been voiced for more than a decade, but in February 2019 it took the form of a resolution to the American House of Representatives. Central to its vision is a large-scale shift to renewable energy sources and massive investments in new infrastructure. This would enable further growth of the economy, it is argued.


we must consider whether solar is really carbon free. As Smil has shown for wind turbines and Storm van Leeuwen for nuclear power, the production, installation, and maintenance of any technological infrastructure remains critically dependent on fossil energy. Of course, it is easy to retort that until the transition has been made, solar panels are going to have to be produced by burning fossil fuels. But even if 100% of our electricity were renewable, it would not be able to propel global transports or cover the production of steel and cement for urban-industrial infrastructure.

And given the fact that the cheapening of solar panels in recent years to a significant extent is the result of shifting manufacture to Asia, we must ask ourselves whether European and American efforts to become sustainable should really be based on the global exploitation of low-wage labour, scarce resources and abused landscapes elsewhere.


Many believe that with the right technologies we would not have to reduce our mobility or energy consumption – and that the global economy could still grow. But to me that is an illusion. It suggests that we have not yet grasped what "technology" is. Electric cars and many other "green" devices may seem reassuring but are often revealed to be insidious strategies for displacing work and environmental loads beyond our horizon – to unhealthy, low-wage labour in mines in Congo and Inner Mongolia. They look sustainable and fair to their affluent users but perpetuate a myopic worldview that goes back to the invention of the steam engine. I have called this delusion machine fetishism.


solar power will obviously have an important role to play in generating indispensable electricity, but to imagine that it will be able to provide anything near current levels of per capita energy use in the global North is wholly unrealistic. A transition to solar energy should not simply be about replacing fossil fuels, but about reorganising the global economy.

Solar power will no doubt be a vital component of humanity's future, but not as long as we allow the logic of the world market to make it profitable to transport essential goods halfway around the world. The current blind faith in technology will not save us. For the planet to stand any chance, the global economy must be redesigned. The problem is more fundamental than capitalism or the emphasis on growth: it is money itself, and how money is related to technology.

Climate change and the other horrors of the Anthropocene don't just tell us to stop using fossil fuels – they tell us that globalisation itself is unsustainable.