What follows on this blog over the next few weeks will be a series of five important essays on sustainable energy, by David Jones (who also blogs as NNadir on Daily Kos, bio here). A previous article on BNC by David, on world energy demand and uranium supply, can be read here.
Here is Part I.
A lanthanide processing facility in China. From Lim, Nature 520, 426–427 (23 April 2015)
A group calling itself “The FS-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance,” working out of the Frankfurt School, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program and the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Group has published study called “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment, according to which, in the period between 2004 and 2014, the world expenditure on so called “renewable energy” amounted to 1.801 trillion dollars (US). Of this, 711 billion dollars was applied to developing wind energy, an amount exceeded only by the investment in solar energy, which was 875.1 billion dollars in that same period.
The total “investment” in so called “renewable energy” in the last ten years is greater than the annual GDP (2013) of 179 of 192 nations as recorded by the World Bank, only 75 billion dollars smaller than the GDP of India, a nation estimated to contain a population of 1.396 billion human beings as of 2015, roughly 20% of the human race. For the amount of money spent on so called “renewable energy” in the last decade we could have written a check for about $1,200 dollars to every man, woman and child in India, thus almost doubling the per capita income of that country. It is roughly comparable to the 2013 GDP of Canada, a few hundred billion dollars larger than the annual 2013 GDP of Australia.
Here is a graphic from the text of the FS-UNEP report showing the trends:
We shall look in this series at what we have to show for this “investment,” and then discuss what is and is not “sustainable energy.” For the record, though we need not agree, what the Frankfurt School defines as “Sustainable Energy,” is pretty much what one expects these days. The definition includes solar, wind, biofuels, small hydro, geothermal and marine energy.
The Frankfurt School does not define nuclear energy or “large hydro” as “sustainable energy.”
I agree, by the way, with the latter omission, since, on our path to “sustainable energy” as we have designed that path, a path more or less officially endorsed by the powers that be, we have basically killed or nearly killed every major river system on the planet, and are well on our way to destroying the major mountain glacier systems on which many of these already dying major rivers depend.