Bravenewclimate: The following is a detailed guest post by Dr Ted Trainer, University of NSW (http://ssis.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/). In it, he provides the most detailed critique I’ve yet seen of the recent IPCC renewable energy scenarios report. Now, I don’t agree with everything Ted says — in particular the conclusion that the only feasible alternative to large-scale renewables is “The Simpler Way” — but that’s another matter. His analysis of the report is important and robust, and deserves wide dissemination. Ted is also looking for critical feedback, so please supply this in the comments at the foot of this BNC post.
Preamble, by Ted Trainer
Below is a critical discussion of the recent IPCC Working Group 3 Report on Renewable Energy. It is being referred to as a report from many experts showing that the world can be running mostly on renewable by 2050.
However I think it is a remarkably unsatisfactory document. Following are some of the main points I detail.
- It is not a report on an examination by the IPCC of the potential of renewables. It is a statement of the conclusions evident in 164 studies, which were not selected at random. The IPCC does not evaluate these studies; we do not know how valid their conclusions are.
- What the IPCC actually concludes is that more than half the studies reviewed project that renewables could provide more than 27% of energy in 2050. Again, the IPCC does not inquire as to whether such projections are sound.
- There is no reference to the studies I know of that doubt the potential of renewable energy.
- Even if this conclusion could be regarded as well-established it would fall far short of solving the greenhouse problem. According to the IPCC’s own figures it would leave us with a higher CO2e emission level than we have now. Yet the Report’s air is one of optimism.
- In the key Chapter 10 most attention is given to one study which concludes that by 2050 70% of world energy could come from renewables. This study, by Greenpeace, is highly challengeable. It does not establish its claims, and it fails to discuss a number of problems confronting renewable energy.
- The brief reference to investment costs is not derived or supported, and is highly challengeable. I sketch three approaches indicating that the cost would be far higher than claimed, and not affordable.
- 80% of energy through renewables by 2050 (chimalaya.org)
- In climate-change debate, business interests and green activism often converge (chimalaya.org)
- Q&A: Debate over Climate Panel Bias (chimalaya.org)
- Carbon-free by 2050? (chimalaya.org)
- Conflict of interest claimed for IPCC energy report (newscientist.com)
- Custard pie activist slams IPCC ‘grey literature’ habit (go.theregister.com)
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