And it’s peer-reviewed

Here’s a post just for Alan Kohler and Ben Potter who continue to live in la-la land with other green rent-seekers.

It is sourced from the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 76, 1122-1133.

Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems


An effective response to climate change demands rapid replacement of fossil carbon energy sources. This must occur concurrently with an ongoing rise in total global energy consumption. While many modelled scenarios have been published claiming to show that a 100% renewable electricity system is achievable, there is no empirical or historical evidence that demonstrates that such systems are in fact feasible. Of the studies published to date, 24 have forecast regional, national or global energy requirements at sufficient detail to be considered potentially credible. We critically review these studies using four novel feasibility criteria for reliable electricity systems needed to meet electricity demand this century. These criteria are: (1) consistency with mainstream energy-demand forecasts; (2) simulating supply to meet demand reliably at hourly, half-hourly, and five-minute timescales, with resilience to extreme climate events; (3) identifying necessary transmission and distribution requirements; and (4) maintaining the provision of essential ancillary services. Evaluated against these objective criteria, none of the 24 studies provides convincing evidence that these basic feasibility criteria can be met. Of a maximum possible unweighted feasibility score of seven, the highest score for any one study was four. Eight of 24 scenarios (33%) provided no form of system simulation. Twelve (50%) relied on unrealistic forecasts of energy demand. While four studies (17%; all regional) articulated transmission requirements, only two scenarios—drawn from the same study—addressed ancillary-service requirements. In addition to feasibility issues, the heavy reliance on exploitation of hydroelectricity and biomass raises concerns regarding environmental sustainability and social justice. Strong empirical evidence of feasibility must be demonstrated for any study that attempts to construct or model a low-carbon energy future based on any combination of low-carbon technology. On the basis of this review, efforts to date seem to have substantially underestimated the challenge and delayed the identification and implementation of effective and comprehensive decarbonization pathways.

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45 Responses to And it’s peer-reviewed

  1. RobK

    Much of the dream is based on technology we don’t yet have (hence the focus on r&d). The obvious thing to do is use the best we have (HELE Coal and nuclear) and sort this mess in an orderly manner. To do otherwise is simply going to jeopardize the economic base which is the means by which change can be afforded over time. A spiral into anarchy is not particularly sound, especially in an enviro sense.

  2. James Hargrave

    Peer reviewing is quite often end-of-the-pier show comedy.

  3. Motelier

    I challenge any renewable/intermittant electricity suppurting green to go fully of the grid and maintain their current lifestyle for 12 months without using any form of hydrocarbon or coal based energy supplies.

    Not one green taken this challenge. I wonder why that is?

  4. Bruce of Newcastle

    Going to 100% renewable energy is entirely feasible.
    Provided you don’t mind being blacked out three days a week forever.

    Still no global warming this millennium.
    How strange that we need to fix something which isn’t happening?

  5. RobK

    It’s not just the lifestyle, it’s the entire economic base that relies on cheap dependable energy.
    Commerce and industry require affordable, dependable energy. Certain lifestyles not so much. Some seem to think if they have solar PV suddenly their world is freed from the sins of CO2. It is a blinkered view.

  6. Judith Sloan

    Let SA go it alone and see how they go. What’s a few blackouts between friends?

  7. Andrew

    Well when all grids are decarbonated, they won’t need

    resilience to extreme climate events

    because there won’t be any.

  8. RobK

    I agree we have a non-problem. Going to intermittent, low density energy is technically feasible, even without blackouts but the cost makes it very prohibitive, so why youd do so is the question. If the answer is CO2 abatement the obvious logical response would be do as the Chinese do, build the best existing technology and allow the rest to follow in good time (should it be viable). There’s no need for panic or squandering of wealth and resources.

  9. RobK

    Let SA go it alone and see how they go. “
    That would be fine if it wasn’t our GST paying for it.

  10. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    Leftism is a mental illness.

  11. Leo G

    Still no global warming this millennium.
    How strange that we need to fix something which isn’t happening?

    Likely, no net warming for the past 1000 years, possibly 2000 years.

  12. Louis Hissink

    While many modelled scenarios have been published claiming to show that a 100% renewable electricity system is achievable, there is no empirical or historical evidence that demonstrates that such systems are in fact feasible.

    1. Theoretically modelling is always achievable.
    2. There is no evidence (aka historical data) renewables are feasible?

    Which has to be meant that renewables, (energy wise), have never been able to meet demand. (And that means there actually is a market demand for renewable energy?).

    Judith’s emphasis on the last sentence simply means they haven’t worked out the consequences of their policies.

    Reminds me of an anectdote during the European Christian Inquisition when, in France, some of the executioners wondered how to discriminate the non believers from the believers; their authority commanded them to kill all and then let God to determine the faith of the recently deceased, and, like our present day immigration systems, determine who goes where.


  13. Rabz

    Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems

    My comprehensive review: Absolute bullshit.

    Almost 25 years, you frauds.

  14. Nerblnob

    Forty years of subsidies and they’re looking at theories and projections?

    What about peer reviewing the last forty years you thieving pricks?

  15. Baldrick

    100% renewable-electricity systems …

    Bwhahahaha … says 3 South Australian and 1 Tasmanian university academics.
    Oh the ironing!

  16. RobK

    How pumped storage works well for baseload power, less well for renewballs-
    From Der Spiegel:

    Germany’s Energy Poverty
    How Electricity Became a Luxury Good
    By SPIEGEL Staff. 2013,

    The Storage Conundrum

    The Cossebaude reservoir is Dresden’s largest and most popular open-air pool. On summer days, up to 8,000 sunbathers lounge on its sandy beach or cool off in the 10,000-square-meter (2.5-acre) lake.

    Cossebaude is also part of the enormous Niederwartha pumped storage hydroelectric plant. At night or on weekends, when there is plenty of available power, lake water is pumped electrically through big pipes into a second reservoir 140 meters above the main reservoir. At noon, when electricity is scarce, the water is released from the higher-elevation reservoir, spinning giant turbines as it descends. The system generates electricity when the cost is high and consumes it when the cost is low. Plant operator Vattenfall makes its profit on the difference. When the plant was connected to the grid in November 1929, it was considered the technology of the future.

    Now the power plant, along with the recreational lake attached to it, could soon be gone. The company plans to shut down the energy storage facility within the next two years. This is bad news for Dresden’s swimmers, but it’s especially detrimental to Germany’s energy transition, which depends on backup power plants like the Niederwartha facility.

    When the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, gas-fired power plants and pumped storage stations are supposed to fill the gap. A key formula behind the Energiewende is that the more green energy is produced, the more reserves are needed to avert bottlenecks.

    This is true in theory, but not in practice. On the contrary, an ironic result of the green energy expansion is that many of the reliable pumped storage stations could be forced out of the market. There are roughly 20 of these power plants in Germany, with Vattenfall being the most important operator. The plants were very profitable for utilities for decades, but now the business has become highly unreliable. Dresden is a case in point.

    When it’s sunny and people are most likely to head to the lake, solar power is abundant and electricity prices drop. This means the pumped storage station earns less money, so the power plant is shut off. In 2009, for example, the turbines in Niederwartha were in operation for 2,784 hours. Last year, Vattenfall ran the facility for only 277 hours. “Price peaks that last only a few hours aren’t enough to utilize the plant to full capacity,” says Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s German hydro division.

    No Incentives for Storage

    Not surprisingly, the company invests very little in its pumped storage plants today. In Niederwartha, the buildings are filled with the musty smell of earlier floods, the paint is peeling from the walls and the reservoir leaks.

    It would cost Vattenfall €150 million to modernize the plant. But company executives are hesitant, fearing they won’t recoup that money with future profits. Vattenfall has also hit the brakes elsewhere, like in Hamburg suburb of Geesthacht. Plans to increase the capacity of the existing reservoir there have been put on hold. Instead, the plant is used only as a backup.

    Meanwhile, competitors RWE and EnBW have also shelved plans to build a large pumped storage power station in the southern Black Forest. Trianel, an association of about 100 municipal utilities, withdrew from a similar project at Rursee Lake in the western Eifel Mountains in late June.

    All this gives credence to the claim that Germany’s energy reform is its own worst enemy. Despite the erratic expansion of wind and solar projects, the backup power capacity those projects require is lacking. One study found that Germany’s expansion of renewable energy will require additional storage capacity for 20 to 30 billion kilowatt-hours by 2050. So far the storage capacity has grown by little more than 70 million kilowatt-hours. And hardly anyone is interested in maintaining the existing storage facilities.

    At least that isn’t the case in Dresden, where a grassroots movement is working to keep the old pumped storage facility open — partly because of the popular swimming lake.

    Back1 | 2 | 3Next
    Part 1: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good
    Part 2: The Regressive Energy Tax
    Part 3: Incentives for Pollution

    Related SPIEGEL ONLINE links
    Photo Gallery: The Costs of Green Energy
    Turbine Trouble: Ill Wind Blows for German Offshore Industry (08/02/2013)
    Unfair Competition? EU Takes on German Green Energy Law (07/15/2013)
    Eco-Blowback: Mutiny in the Land of Wind Turbines (07/12/2013)
    High Court Clash: Land Dispute Could Curb German Coal Mining (06/04/2013)
    From the Archives: Is Germany Killing the Environment to Save It? (03/12/2013)

  17. john constantine

    We will have an economy run on 100% renewables.

    Unfortunately it will simply be all the economy that ruinables can support.

    Will we import a few seed plantations of Amish to smooth the way to our brave new bollardised and ruinable future?.

  18. dauf

    Just get rid of useless-Mal and his mates before they totally destroy the joint

  19. RobK
    The whole three page article is worth a read, if only to see it’s been tried already and the prognosis isn’t good. We aren’t in a position to make the same mistakes as the Germans.

  20. Spider

    The ABC believes if you just keep repeating something often enough it becomes a FACT.

    Which is why they can sit there with a straight face and repeat the mantra that solar and wind are “cheaper” than coal666.

  21. Rafe Champion

    China leading the way after Trumpie pulls the plug on Paris.

    At the same time, however, China substantially reduced its state-established targets for new solar installations. China diverted solar panels previously slated to be used in the domestic market to the export market, flooding Europe and America with below-cost solar panels, putting domestic manufacturers out of business. China also regularly takes it massive wind farms off-line as demand for electricity has slowed, and it has built many turbines that are not linked to the grid, generating electricity, sent nowhere, used by no one. In that sense the turbines are similar to China’s ghost cities, built to artificially drive economic growth. They now dot the countryside, uninhabited by anyone, falling into disrepair. By the way, all those ghost wind turbines and ghost cities required a lot of concrete and steel to create and fossil fuel to construct, adding to China’s carbon dioxide emissions.

    While slowing the growth in domestic use of coal, China is supporting expanded coal-fired power plant construction in other countries, building or financing large coal-fired plants on the African continent and in India, Indonesia, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Turkey, and Vietnam. In a real sense, China is exporting its carbon dioxide emissions but not getting the blame.

  22. Rafe Champion

    Under the Paris agreement, China has not said it will cut emissions; rather, it promises emissions will peak by 2030. China’s emissions may peak earlier than that, but what matters is not so much when they peak but at what level. If China’s carbon dioxide emissions peak at double or quadruple today’s emissions, the emissions cuts made by other countries won’t matter from a carbon dioxide concentration perspective.

    How can the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, which will continue to grow emissions, be considered a leader in emissions reductions? It can’t. The claim is pure environmentalist and global bureaucrat wish fulfillment combined with hatred of Trump—absolute hogwash!

  23. classical_hero

    Green energy is based on the big lie. Keep repeating that it’s viable and actively punish reliable energy. Fossil fuels are the enemy of the state.

  24. Pingback: And it’s peer-reviewed | Catallaxy Files | Cranky Old Crow

  25. Sydney Boy

    Yes, it is peer-reviewed. Of course their peers are other rent-seeking enviro-Nazi socialists. So the whole thing is nothing but a circle jerk.

  26. Rob MW

    Wonder why the kleptocrony class and kleptoswampturd class won’t admit or even advocate the historical fact that more often than not existing technologies are much more efficient at technological improvement (i.e – internal combustion engine) and meeting market demands than say some fairy in the bottom of the garden shooting lightning and wind from its arse with a limited life span and compound replacement costs.

    Technology Roadmap: High-Efficiency, Low-Emissions Coal-Fired Power Generation

  27. Nerblnob

    Since the greenies discovered the phrase “peer review” they’ve been spraying a layer of it over every pile of crap, thinking we won’t notice the smell.

  28. Jannie

    An effective response to climate change demands rapid replacement of fossil carbon energy sources.

    The first sentence tells you everything you need to know. Its the assumption and the conclusion. The rest is just words to adjust the evidence to fit.

  29. John constantine

    Just like Mugabe in Zimbabwe purged the wrong sort of farmers from the economy so his cronies could take over, because of social justice, and Venezuela was praised for copying, Australia proves that it is legally one of the world’s most corrupt kleptocracies, but that the Looting class has done it the right way, by paying off the legal system first, then signing eternally binding international conventions legalising social justice corruption.
    Then when bribery and corruption on a grand scale is legally the basis of our ponzi economy, it is back up the stolen truck to the treasury time.

  30. JohnA

    James Hargrave #2421545, posted on June 24, 2017, at 5:39 pm

    Peer reviewing is quite often end-of-the-pier show comedy.

    That sounds like the programmer’s dictum:



  31. Muddy

    How long before we are giving our loved ones ‘energy vouchers’ for Christmas and other occasions?

    “Happy Birthday Grandma, please enjoy this 12-hour voucher for electricity to stay alive during those Gippsland winters, Love Muddy. P.S. I wish I could afford to give you more, but I still haven’t paid my monthly PieceBollard Tax yet. Sorry.”

  32. Dr Fred Lenin

    There is one great thing about fixing a “problem” that doesnt exist you make things up as you go along ,the truth is of no consequence ,there – is no responsibility involved ,you cannot fail .
    Its a typical politicians thing the old maxim “never try to fix things that are broken its too hard “fix”things that work and when you inevitably stuff it up cay ,”it was the previous governments fault we were just too late to save it ,now I am leaving politics to spend more time with my family ,I will take up a highly paid job as a part time director of a renewable s –=company that has boomed during my time in office . iI
    want to thank the party for shaping my future ,and wish the party hack who is taking my seat well,thank youse comrades “.

  33. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    How strange that we need to fix something which isn’t happening?

    That seems to be something that the paper neglects to address, viz its premise at the start. Living on buttered bread as they do, even if they think that anthropogenic carbon-dioxide induced climatic change is unproven or false, they would find no academic publisher if they said so.

    In everything else, these authors points out some very significant home truths which should if we were sensible about these things keep the coal fires burning for a long time to come. Unarguable, if we wish to pour more resources into a technological ‘fix’, whether it is needed or not.

  34. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    errata – these authors point, not points.
    The grammarian in me objects and insists on a correction.
    It’s just a typo, I shriek back, but get nowhere with this interior dictator.

  35. val majkus

    Peter Lang explored the figures some years ago:

    Here I review the paper “Simulations of Scenarios with 100% Renewable Electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market” by Elliston et al. (2011a) (henceforth EDM-2011). That paper does not analyse costs, so I have also made a crude estimate of the cost of the scenario simulated and three variants of it.

    For the EDM-2011 baseline simulation, and using costs derived for the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET, 2011b), the costs are estimated to be: $568 billion capital cost, $336/MWh cost of electricity and $290/tonne CO2 abatement cost.

    That is, the wholesale cost of electricity for the simulated system would be seven times more than now, with an abatement cost that is 13 times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price. (This cost of electricity does not include costs for the existing electricity network).

  36. Paul

    Heard et al was reviewed in detail at Energy Matters here

  37. New Chum

    At the JoNova website in comments under this post read the comments by TonyfromOz and you will see coal fired power will be around for a long time to come.

  38. Rafe

    Rob M W thanks for the link on modern coal fired power but leave out the carbon capture and storage!

  39. jupes

    How can the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, which will continue to grow emissions, be considered a leader in emissions reductions?


    Does my head in every time I hear some warmist fuckwit spruiking that utter bollocks.

  40. Hydra

    How does a monthly journal on renewable and sustainable energy have 1133 pages?

  41. Tim Neilson

    and you will see coal fired power will be around for a long time to come.

    That should read, “would, if there were someone moderately sane, competent, honest and public spirited at the helm, “.

  42. Rob MW

    Rafe – #2422292, posted on June 25, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Rob M W thanks for the link on modern coal fired power but leave out the carbon capture and storage!

    Sorry Rafe, but you will understand that the carbon capture storage was/is part of the link and unfortunately I didn’t have anything to do with writing the material coming from the link, nevertheless, high efficiency low emission coal fire power generation is new objective technology, and along with the objective technology of Trump tm that will help cripple the bullshit of AGW armageddon.

  43. OldOzzie

    Energy is fast going down telecommunications route

    Things used to go from bad to worse. Now they go from dreadful to execrable.

    Energy policy is Exhibit A in that respect. A death wish seems to be at work, as we shred low-cost options, pile distortion on ­distortion and reward rent-seeking at the expense of efficient ­investment.

    The Finkel report was supposed to break that cycle. Its central proposal, the clean energy target — which would replace the present renewal energy target with a scheme better targeted to the emissions intensity of alter­native forms of generation — may have its merits, at least compared with the present shemozzle. But the report is flawed by cavalier conclusions and unacceptably poor modelling.

    Moreover, the errors in the ­report are hardly random: they systematically overstate the ­advantages of renewables and understate the continuing ­impor­tance of coal, Australia’s most abundant energy source.

    Nothing better illustrates the pattern than the report’s assertion that “delivering a secure power system with a high penetration (of renewables) is technically and economically feasible”.

    That assertion, which the ­report says is based on “a number of studies”, is crucial to its ­recommendations. However, it is inconsistent with the weight of evidence.

    For example, in a recent survey published by the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews journal, BP Heard and his co-authors tested 24 studies that purport to show that a 100 per cent renewable target is feasible, only to find that all those studies breached ­elementary network reliability, security and stability constraints.

    And it isn’t merely the published literature that casts doubt on the report’s claim: its own modelling does too.

    As Brian ­Fisher, the highly ­respected former head of the Australian ­Bureau of Agricultural and ­Resource Economics, has pointed out, the scenarios presented in that modelling would not meet Australian security and reliability standards. Ensuring the lights stayed on in the high renewables scenarios would require extra ­investments the report ignores, thus understating the costs ­renewables impose.

    The problems are every bit as severe with the report’s modelling of coal-fired generation but here the bias runs the other way.

    The modelling focuses on the cost of financing coal-based power plants, relative to that of ­financing investment in renew­ables. How its estimates are ­derived is not ­explained, nor are the estimates compared with standard analytical benchmarks. What is clear, however, is that the assumed ­financing costs for coal-based plants are so high as to be prohibitive.

    They are, for example, well above recent estimates by France’s auditor-general of the financing costs of new nuclear plant, which surely involves greater risks than coal, and are almost double those for the large US coal-based generators. Moreover, the report’s estimates are significantly higher than those the same firm of consultants used in its work for Treasury’s modelling of Labor’s carbon tax, despite the fact that interest rates have collapsed since that work was ­undertaken.

    Other modelling choices then accentuate the biases that creates. While the modelling is very poorly documented, its estimates of ­renewables costs are far below those used by the Australian ­Energy Market Operator, and even those low estimates are ­assumed to fall steeply as the stock of renewables rises. That ­assumption was also made in Treasury’s carbon tax modelling and proved wildly optimistic. But placing hope above experience, the report repeats the error.

    At the same time, the report seems to assume, in stark contrast to reality, that the technology of coal-fired generation is at a standstill, so compounding the flaws in its assessment.

    The unsurprising result is that the modelling produces estimates that verge on being incompre­hensible. In particular, when the review’s preferred option is im­plemented, costs rise but prices fall. The most likely explanation is that the subsidies built into the clean energy target distort generators’ bidding behaviour, undermining the market’s long-run viability; but the report does not even attempt to explain those outcomes or assess their ­implications.

    In all those ways, the report undermines its credibility. There is, however, one finding the report gets right: it is ill-considered political interventions that have caused Australia’s energy crisis.

    That makes it all the more ­unfortunate that the government, as part of the energy package it ­released last week, announced that it has unilaterally decided to abolish merits review of decisions by the energy regulator.

    The government’s announcement is extraordinary: by claiming that the courts, when they overturned the regulator, repeatedly “ruled against consumers”, it is accusing Federal Court judges of breaching the law, as the statute under which the appeals were heard specifically prohibits any decision contrary to con­sumer interests.

    It is made even more extra­ordinary by the fact that the government is simply walking away from an agreement it reached merely two months ago with the states, establishing a joint process to determine the future of merits review.

    And by setting regulators above the law, the abolition of merits review flouts every principle the Liberal Party stands for. There are, after all, good reasons the courts overturned regulators’ decisions: those decisions were ­incorrect. But instead of addressing the causes of poor regulatory decision-making, the government has chosen to give the regulators carte blanche.

    Life, said Kierkegaard, is lived forward but understood backward. Once the dust settles, it will be clear that we are doing to electricity what was done to telecommunications: destroying the market and making renationalisation inevitable. The only question left is when and at what cost.

  44. Rob

    It’s sad to see the once highly credible and widely respected Alan Kohler trashing his reputation so comprehensively.
    It’s as if he has totally closed off one side of his brain – the side that takes in all alternative views, digests them, and arrives at conclusions that are supported by real life fact and reality.
    He has allowed one side of his brain to romp free of restraint – impenetrable by any push back from the other side.
    Alan Kohler is now dominated by the left wing of his brain.

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