estimates of renewable energy are overstated by 45%

Michael Bernard in CleanTechnica Michael Barnard has a light bub moment and estimates of Renewable Energy are overstated by 45%. He realises there is a huge energy wastage with fossil fuels. This lightbulb moment means you don’t need to build out billions of new RE.

Most models have at their core, the replacement of fossil fuel with renewable energy on a 1:1 replacement. 45% of the fossil fuel energy fuel is wasted as per this Sankey diagram.. The very large “rejected energy” is the inefficiency of using fossil fuels. Renewable energy does not have that waste Moreover, heat pumps actually negative – they are 3x better!.

USA energy flows

Australia Energy Flows

Dr Saul Griffiths in his work on Rewiring Australia has a similar chart for emissions.

Emissions – from Rewiring Australia. Note – this is emissions, not energy use

Australia AEMO Model Assumes 2.5 Times More Energy Needed

Australian modelling shows projected energy demand out to 2050 to increase by 2.5 times from 80GW out to 250GW. Demand is currently about 18-22GWh at peak. Coal and gas have capacities that often do not exceed 50%, Wind is about 60% capacity, and solar 40%.

AEMO estimates of renewable energy are overstated
From AEMO Integrated System Plan 2022

Why Estimates of Renewable Energy are Overstated

Electrification and heat pumps radically reduce the requirement to build new wind, solar, nuclear, hydro and geothermal primary energy sources. Is this the likely outcome? No, not at all, at least not in the US by 2050. Human nature is built on Jevons Paradox. People will open windows in the wintertime while turning the heat up. Fixing industrial heating faces many headwinds.

In Barnard’s analysis, he highlights how much energy is lost or “rejected”. In 2022, USA only uses 57% of total rocks burnt. With renewable energy, over 20 Quads (Quadtrillion BTUs) is no longer rejected energy. Rejected energy is down to just 4 Quad (16% of total usage.) Yet every commentary is that we have to build out the full 46.6 Quads., not the 24.6 (I.e. 45% less ).

Heat Pumps – One Cause Why Estimates of renewable energy are Overstated

Heat pumps can provide significant energy savings compared to traditional heating and cooling systems. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a well-installed and maintained heat pump can reduce energy consumption by up to 60% compared to electric resistance heating, and up to 30% compared to air conditioners. However, the actual amount of energy savings will depend on several factors, including the climate, size of the building, and the efficiency of the heat pump system. Moreover, higher efficiency heat pumps are on their way (such as Blue Heart energy heat pumps)

In Australia, hot water accounts for up to 40% of current domestic energy usage in many areas. Changing from resistive heating to heat pump, where 1 unit of energy provides 3 units of heat is would reduce energy demand by 20%. Movig that to midday usage soaks up over capacity during the “duck curve”. No batteries need. Industry is set up to use convective heating, which is 1 to 1 electricity to heat. Heat pumps need a third or a quarter of the electricity needed. Technology such as CSP and storage of heat in salt batteries at 400o C is an alternative for some applications. Green Aluminium is an Easy Technology change. Cement production emissions can be reduced today with renewable energy.

Waste Heat – from Burning Rocks

Waste in fossil fuels is seldom talked about. Elon Musk at Investors Day in March 2023 put up this graphic of an electric car versus the same size ICE car.

estimates of renewable energy are overstated
From Tesla Investor Day – A Tesla Model 3 is 4X more efficiency wheel to wheel and 21% reduction in Fossil fuel use.

More Reading

Prof Mark Jacobson 2023. No Miracles Needed

Tony Seba, Rethink X

Dr Saul Griffiths, Rewiring Australia