New 'World Energy Outlook' released.... times change.

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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,411
SE PA
The international energy agency (IEA) puts out annual reports on global energy usage. The 2021 was just dropped:


Like its US cousin the 'EIA' it projects future usage/demand/prices using current laws and regulations as a baseline. This was infuriating as they spent a couple decades making CO2 emission projections that were not consistent with a recognizable climate in 2100, when we already knew that.

Post Paris, their baseline now consists of what would happen if countries kept their current Paris pledges. Surprise: Waaay better than the 'Business as usual' model in 2010, but still above +3°C versus mid 20th century. The old BAU model was closer to +5°C.

For example: https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/charts/global-emissions-by-scenario-2000-2050

This does not mean that Paris is a 'failure' IMO, bc 3.x°C and a process for further reduction IS better the 4.5-5°C. It WILL be a failure if NONE of the major emitters come anywhere close to their existing pledges, let alone improve on them over the next 5-10 years.

Oh, and there is a LOT of news about a fossil energy crisis, $100 oil, gasoline (UK) and natgas (China) shortages. The usual suspects are trying to spin/pin this on renewables, the other side is trying to say 'Nope.'.

Your thoughts?
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,500
SE North Carolina
This sums it up pretty well.
“The APS sees a doubling of clean energy investment and financing over the next decade, but this acceleration is not sufficient to overcome the inertia of today’s energy system. In particular, over the crucial period to 2030, the actions in this scenario fall well short of the emissions reductions that would be required to keep the door open to a Net Zero Emissions by 2050 trajectory. One of the key reasons for this shortfall is that today’s climate commitments, as reflected in the APS, reveal sharp divergences between countries in the pledged speeds of their energy transitions.”

We aren’t even talking the talk yet, let alone walking it.

This is going to become a mired in political budget fight here I think.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,411
SE PA
I see it as a glass half full glass half empty way. Until recently, these very serious, data driven forecasters were forecasting an outcome that was not compatible with life as we know it in a couple generations (>5°C warming). And the biggest CO2 emitters were making forecasts slightly less dire than those (cough Exxon cough) and then claiming they were 'green'.

Now, those future projections are starting to bend down, which I see as a positive. And many of the changes pledged so far are zero or negative cost (as explained in the report for fugitive methane and future energy costs). Not spending more money to break the climate when you have a lower cost alternative...seems like a sane move.

If someone doesn't believe the analyses of the IEA, or thinks it is politically motivated or green motivated, I would disagree. They say that current pledges come in at 2.6°C warming (or 1.6 more than today). That's pretty dire (I won't pretend otherwise), but compared to 5°C (4°C more than today) its an improvement. While one can make the case that some current pledges will be broken, on the flip side, some new pledges (and tech) will go beyond the current plan.

Since most of the projection is global, not clear the current US politics or budget has much to do with it TBH.
 
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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,411
SE PA
Came across a 2020 solar price projection by futurist Naam:


Upshot is that cost of utility solar is projected conservatively to fall another 50% by 2030.

Future-Solar-Cost-Projections-by-Year-to-2050-Naam-2020-1-800x487.jpg



The green curve is typical of California. Saying that in 10 years solar will be cheaper than **operating** existing fossil plants.

He goes on to say that IEA has poorly predicted both the falling cost of solar, and the growth of installations. Naam's prediction from 2010 and 2015 were much more optimistic than the IEA, but still underestimated both global solar growth and cost reductions.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,223
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Electricity markets world wide need to operate on a free market system, power prices need to be live to the second and based upon the principles of supply and demand. Until this happens many government instituted monopolies will continue to utilize their fossil fuel based generation capacity until they force the tax payer to cough up money to replace it with renewables. Renewables can be, and in many areas are already cost competitive with traditional sources of electrical generation, and given the chance will prove their worth at generating low cost, low carbon electricity.

For various reasons Alberta has the highest CO2 production per kwh of electricity in Canada, but buildout of renewables has been increasing in the last few years. Checking today there are currently 44 proposed wind and solar projects in the province, with a development cost of $8.4 billion, the vast majority of this being funded without tax-payer dollars.

To circle back to the topic at hand I think climate change is going to be talked about lots again in the coming years, but I don't believe much action will take place. Covid spending has constrained many government budgets, and I believe austerity will be the monetary policy of the future for many nations. Inflation is taking hold on an unprecedented scale, and I believe many working class families will be more concerned about how they can afford to drive or heat their homes, instead of what the cleanest way to drive or heat their home is. If nations can implement policies to make green choices the most cost effective ones then this might actually drive CO2 reduction.
 
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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,411
SE PA
To circle back to the topic at hand I think climate change is going to be talked about lots again in the coming years, but I don't believe much action will take place. Covid spending has constrained many government budgets, and I believe austerity will be the monetary policy of the future for many nations. Inflation is taking hold on an unprecedented scale, and I believe many working class families will be more concerned about how they can afford to drive or heat their homes, instead of what the cleanest way to drive or heat their home is. If nations can implement policies to make green choices the most cost effective ones then this might actually drive CO2 reduction.

That's one take. I am still more of a 'long term inflation' skeptic, but don't have a crystal ball. Fossil fuel prices are spiking. Higher natgas prices from stupid cheap to still affordable are probably sustainable, but it remains to be seen if high oil prices are (bc of demand destruction and restarting Permian basin development).

I have seen some journalists speculating that we are looking at the 1970s all over again. Nope. At that time US families were spending 10% of their income on energy. Today it is still only 3%, and demand destruction would certainly occur if oil tried to go MUCH higher.

Overall, I think we are saying the same thing. The energy transition will come down to dollar and cents. While Raam's analysis may be simplistic (if sensibly done), the exciting thing about the gray band is that the top of the band is where you start building out solar for all (or nearly all) NEW generation (which has already happened in much of the US), and the bottom of the band is where you curtail existing FF generation when the sun is shining to save money. In sunnier places in the world, solar is nearly there NOW. In California, it will probably get there before 2030.

This will be a 1000 local stories. For folks in New England heating their homes with oil (the only part of the US to really still do that) they will indeed see a price spike. If perhaps one that is lower than 1978 or 2006-7 (when oil heating my home cost >$5000 in one season). And ofc the natgas pipeline limitation up there can lead to electricity price spikes (or steps up), something that doesn't happen in the rest of the US. My electricity costs are half (adjusted for inflation) what I was paying >20 years ago, and this is BEFORE a bunch of stupid cheap renewables showed up.

And for figuring out how to drive cheaply... EVs are penetrating the used car market. My 2015 volt costs <$10k used, and covers my 40 mile commute using $1.50 worth of electricity (and $0.75 of tire rubber). If gas keeps going higher, that dichotomy will pencil out for a LOT of people. The main issue with adopting cleaner tech and EVs for the last 10 years had been the LOW price of fossil energy...people have been buying upsized vehicles because the price of gas was negligible.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,500
SE North Carolina
Electricity markets world wide need to operate on a free market system, power prices need to be live to the second and based upon the principles of supply and demand. Until this happens many government instituted monopolies will continue to utilize their fossil fuel based generation capacity until they force the tax payer to cough up money to replace it with renewables. Renewables can be, and in many areas are already cost competitive with traditional sources of electrical generation, and given the chance will prove their worth at generating low cost, low carbon electricity.

For various reasons Alberta has the highest CO2 production per kwh of electricity in Canada, but buildout of renewables has been increasing in the last few years. Checking today there are currently 44 proposed wind and solar projects in the province, with a development cost of $8.4 billion, the vast majority of this being funded without tax-payer dollars.

To circle back to the topic at hand I think climate change is going to be talked about lots again in the coming years, but I don't believe much action will take place. Covid spending has constrained many government budgets, and I believe austerity will be the monetary policy of the future for many nations. Inflation is taking hold on an unprecedented scale, and I believe many working class families will be more concerned about how they can afford to drive or heat their homes, instead of what the cleanest way to drive or heat their home is. If nations can implement policies to make green choices the most cost effective ones then this might actually drive CO2 reduction.
While I’m not opposed to doin away with monopolies and encouraging competition, what happened in Texas last winter where rates went up 2000% in some cases is a failure of the free market. Regulation and competition can work simultaneously.

Since utilities are regulated at the state level and given the structure of the US senate I don’t see any changes any time soon.
 
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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,411
SE PA
If you can get past the paywall, the NYT has an article on just this subject today:


With a more negative slant that mine, ofc. Gotta get clicks.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,223
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
That's one take. I am still more of a 'long term inflation' skeptic, but don't have a crystal ball. Fossil fuel prices are spiking. Higher natgas prices from stupid cheap to still affordable are probably sustainable, but it remains to be seen if high oil prices are (bc of demand destruction and restarting Permian basin development).

I have seen some journalists speculating that we are looking at the 1970s all over again. Nope. At that time US families were spending 10% of their income on energy. Today it is still only 3%, and demand destruction would certainly occur if oil tried to go MUCH higher.

Overall, I think we are saying the same thing. The energy transition will come down to dollar and cents. While Raam's analysis may be simplistic (if sensibly done), the exciting thing about the gray band is that the top of the band is where you start building out solar for all (or nearly all) NEW generation (which has already happened in much of the US), and the bottom of the band is where you curtail existing FF generation when the sun is shining to save money. In sunnier places in the world, solar is nearly there NOW. In California, it will probably get there before 2030.

This will be a 1000 local stories. For folks in New England heating their homes with oil (the only part of the US to really still do that) they will indeed see a price spike. If perhaps one that is lower than 1978 or 2006-7 (when oil heating my home cost >$5000 in one season). And ofc the natgas pipeline limitation up there can lead to electricity price spikes (or steps up), something that doesn't happen in the rest of the US. My electricity costs are half (adjusted for inflation) what I was paying >20 years ago, and this is BEFORE a bunch of stupid cheap renewables showed up.

And for figuring out how to drive cheaply... EVs are penetrating the used car market. My 2015 volt costs <$10k used, and covers my 40 mile commute using $1.50 worth of electricity (and $0.75 of tire rubber). If gas keeps going higher, that dichotomy will pencil out for a LOT of people. The main issue with adopting cleaner tech and EVs for the last 10 years had been the LOW price of fossil energy...people have been buying upsized vehicles because the price of gas was negligible.

I haven't formed an opinion yet as of long term inflation, but for the short term inflation will be an issue.

For the most part we agree on many of these points.

For many I believe the will to change exists, but the products to allow them to change are in short supply. I believe companies like Tesla would sell many more cars if they could simply build more, and this seems to be true of all manufacturers building EV's or even PHEV's. My parents are looking for a new SUV and like the Rav 4 Prime, our local dealer is allocated 2 per year, and there are 10 people on the waiting list ahead of them to buy one. Currently they are contemplating what to do, my advice to them was to drive the wheels off their current vehicle and buy a pure EV in a couple years, when charging infrastructure in our area is actually built. But again the $20k cost difference between say a Model Y and a Prime will never (at least at current energy prices) be recouped.

In many ways it seems all we need to fix this is time; time to build out manufacturing capability for these products, time for these products to prove themselves as worthy replacements, time for society to shift to away from rampant consumerism towards minimalism, time for attitudes and opinions toward climate change to change, time for increased technological developments, time for increased study into natural means of carbon sequestration. Unfortunately time is the only thing we don't have.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,223
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
While I’m not opposed to doin away with monopolies and encouraging competition, what happened in Texas last winter where rates went up 2000% in some cases is a failure of the free market. Regulation and competition can work simultaneously.

Since utilities are regulated at the state level and given the structure of the US senate I don’t see any changes any time soon.

Every game needs rules, and every game needs a referee to recognize the breaking of these rules and the authority to issue penalties based on those rulings.

The decisions that lead to the blackouts in Texas were calculated business decisions allowed by the rules (or lack there of) of the game they were playing. Unfortunately that's what happens when the big power companies are allowed to alter or set the rules of the game. Really though this isn't a new idea to American democracy, corruption and lobbyists are a detriment to the American people in some many different forms.

A free electricity market that serves the interests of all parties is possible, if the overseeing body is tasked with the sole goal of creating cheap and reliable electricity. If anyone cares to do a bunch of reading on the topic I suggest they look at the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO) as an example. It may not be a perfect system, but it is far superior to that of Texas.
 
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