Peter Diamandis, of Abundance fame, put out this rallying cry in a recent post. Renewables definitely need a kick in the behind. A recent conversation with my lawn guy, Bruce told me how far they still have to go.
I asked him if he had considered one of the new robotic, electric lawnmowers for a couple of thousand before he invested in his $ 16,000, gas-fueled 35 hp Gravely. He smiled and said “I can cut your front yard in less than 3 minutes. The robots are much slower and often run out of battery, and then you have to restart the cycle. Also lawn in Florida grows taller than what the robots can tackle ”. The conversation then turned to his set of DeWalt tools. He has a whole collection which run on lithium-ion batteries. Even there he said “I only use the battery powered blower at night to not bother the neighbors with the noise of a gas powered one”. On and on he went on why gas fueled appliances are still so much more efficient.
Bruce is smart enough but he uses simple phrases. He was saying energy density matters as much as economics. Renewables need to scale up.
The opportunity has been around for decades to kill Fossil Fuels, but renewables continue to rely too much on hope and fear
Country after country is announcing plans to ban gas or diesel fueled cars in the next couple of decades. Reason to celebrate, right? Yes, if you are blessed to live in countries like Norway and Canada where utilities get the bulk of their fuel from hydro. In most other countries, EVs are only marginally greener than cars in Brazil where 25% of fuel is cane-sourced ethanol. This chart from Our World in Data ( a project at U. of Oxford) shows how far renewables have to go just to replace coal usage in utilities. Add nuclear to that, given skittishness around that, and the opportunity for renewables is almost intimidating.
Another hope of the renewable sector is we will soon run out of fossil fuels. Tell that to bankers who plan to take Saudi Aramco public next year at a valuation between $ 1 and 2 trillion. Yes, it will be the world’s largest ever IPO. M. King Hubbert came close on his projections of decline in US oil reserves in graph below. But he did not factor the stubbornness of George Mitchell and other energy entrepreneurs and their fracking and horizontal drilling innovations. Yes, some day we will run out of oil. For now, renewables need to quit hoping that day is anytime soon.
Then there is the fear mongering. 2017 was a torrid hurricane season (it officially ended November 30) and all the boo-birds are out saying if we had moved to renewables we would not had such a ferocious time. Hello – since records were kept, 2017 was only the seventh most intense season in the Atlantic basin. And here’s another contrarian data point “Harvey ended the record-smashing 4,324-day-long “major hurricane drought” in the United States when it crashed ashore near Corpus Christi, Tex. And then it stalled, maintaining tropical storm status for 117 hours after landfall, a record for a Texas landfalling hurricane.”
It’s uncanny that for a decade after the documentary The Inconvenient Truth was released, we had that hurricane drought. Now that its sequel has been released, hopefully we will see another long respite 🙂
So, yes I hope the renewables industry steps up to Peter’s rallying cry. Start executing relentlessly and quit hoping and spreading fear.
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)