Responses from IPCC SRREN

Some follow-up on responses to yesterday’s post by IPCC and others.

My interest in SRREN had been attracted by the following lead to the IPCC press release announcing SRREN:

Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.

This claim was widely covered as googling ’80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables’ will show.

I commented acidly on the execrable IPCC policy of issuing the press release before the report itself became available. I’d made this criticism previously, but this time Andy Revkin agreed. In my post, I observed that the scenario highlighted by IPCC was an extreme case among the scenarios, that the extreme scenario came from Greenpeace and that a Greenpeace employee was a Lead Author of the chapter supposedly carrying out an independent assessment.

The post was covered by Mark Lynas and Andy Revkin among others and has led to responses from IPCC. None of the responses rebut any of the criticisms.

Again, let’s start with the statement that had originally caught both my eye and the eye of the world’s media:

Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.

Based on my reading of the document so far (and it’s only been available a short time), this statement is untrue on its face. As far as I can tell, the report does NOT show that ‘close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies’. Yes, it lists a scenario from Greenpeace in which 77% of world energy is supplied by renewables, but the report itself did not conduct any independent assessment of the validity of the Greenpeace scenario and did not ‘show’ that the claim in the press release was true.

Ottmar Edenhofer of IPCC sent an email to Revkin cc me and Lynas, in which he said that later statements in the press release put the 80 percent claim into ‘perspective’.

It is important to note that the press release put the 80% figure into perspective:

“Over 160 [164] existing scientific scenarios on the possible penetration of renewables by 2050, alongside environmental and social implications, have been reviewed with four analyzed in-depth. These four were chosen in order to represent the full range. […]

The most optimistic of the four, in-depth scenarios projects renewable energy accounting for as much as 77 percent of the world‘s energy demand by 2050, amounting to about 314 of 407 Exajoules per year. […]

77 percent is up from just under 13 percent of the total primary energy supply of around 490 Exajoules in 2008. Each of the scenarios is underpinned by a range of variables such as changes in energy efficiency, population growth and per capita consumption. These lead to varying levels of total primary energy supply in 2050, with the lowest of the four scenarios seeing renewable energy accounting for a share of 15 percent in 2050, based on a total primary energy supply of 749 Exajoules.”

A couple of points here.

This later ‘perspective’ still doesn’t support the rash assertion that they led with and that interested so many people. The later ‘perspective’ concedes that there were other scenarios. However, the lead assertion was that the report ‘showed’ that close to 80 per cent of 2050 energy could be provided by renewables with the right public policy. All Edenhofer has done here is point to a section of the press release that wasn’t untrue. No one said that everything in the press release was untrue. The critical issues are (1) whether the lead statement – the one that was actually covered – was untrue and (2) based on a Greenpeace scenario that had not been independently assessed.

The other line of supposed rebuttal has been that some other lead authors in the SRREN were drawn from industry. Sven Teske of Greenpeace stated;

With Exxon, Chevron and the French nuclear operator EDF also contributing to the IPCC, trying to suggest that this expert UN body is a wing of Greenpeace is preposterous.

I doubt that any Exxon, Chevron or EDF were Lead Authors of IPCC chapters assessing their own articles or scenarios. If they were, this is unacceptable as well. But none of this is really relevant to the situation at hand. The issue is whether Teske should have been involved in the direct assessment of the Greenpeace scenario. Did anyone actually do any independent due diligence on the Greenpeace scenario to see if it made any sense past being numbers pulled out of the air? My surmise right now is that IPCC didn’t do any independent due diligence on the Greenpeace scenario – this doesn’t mean that they are ‘wrong’, only that the IPCC claims on its behalf were unsupported.

Edenhofer also stated that Teske had been nominated by the German government.

Sven Teske was nominated as an author by the German government and selected by the WGIII as Lead author in the IPCC’s continuous effort to draw on the full range of expertise, and this includes NGOs and business as well as academia.

In the case at hand, I am unfamiliar with German politics, but it seems odd to me that the German government nominated a Greenpeace activist to SRREN. Even if Teske were nominated by the German government, that is no justifies IPCC’s decision to let Teske be involved in the assessment of his own scenarios. Would a more thorough assessment have been done if Teske had not been involved? We don’t know.

While these backstories are interesting, I urge readers not to lose sight of the original point. The following IPCC claim appears to be untrue:

Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.

Yesterday I asked Edenhofer to support this assertion or withdraw it as follows;

The opening sentence of your M1y 9, 2011 press release says:

Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.

Quite aside from the matter of a Greenpeace author assessing his own work, the above assertion – one that was widely covered in the world press – appears to be untrue based on my reading of the report itself to date. I am unable to see anything in the report that ‘shows’ that 80% of the world’s energy could be met by renewables ‘if backed by the right enabling public policies’. The Greenpeace scenario merely asserts this, but does not ‘show’ this result. Nor, to my knowledge, is this assertion ‘shown’ in any section of the report. If I am incorrect in my reading, I would appreciate a reference to the section where the report ‘shows’ that ‘close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies’

Otherwise, you should issue a new press release, withdrawing the above apparently untrue statement from your press release.

No response yet.


  1. Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    I wonder if they are considering saying ‘…but the article was peer-reviewed…’

  2. Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    Fascinating reading (the whole debacle). I appreciate your due dilligence on this as it does shed light on the internal workings of the IPCC.

  3. stan
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    Note that the IPCC response is exactly what we see in politics all the time — irrelevant smoke and mirrors which never address the actual points raised. We would hope that an institution supposedly involved in the very best science would be able to engage in discourse where logic and rationality are employed. If you point out a problem with A and G, an appropriate response actually addresses A and G and the specific issues raised.

    Of course, that this IPCC response was standard for politics shouldn’t be surprising. If it walks like a duck ….

  4. Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    Otherwise, you should issue a new press release, withdrawing the above apparently untrue statement from your press release.

    That’s the focus, that’s the eminently reasonable focus.

    • JEM
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

      I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect ‘reasonable’ from Edenhofer.

      His past public pronouncements have been consistent in flavor and tone with the press release.

      Seems to me the best one can hope for is a grudging and reluctant acknowledgment of the rules.

      • clazy8
        Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

        Edenhofer says that the press release puts the 80% claim in context, but that is not so — it only observes that there IS context, specifically, the other three scenarios that supposedly provide a representative sample of the range. The press release offers absolutely no detail in regard to how these alternatives compare with the one they’ve chosen to hype.

  5. Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    So :

    1) “The most optimistic of the four, in-depth scenarios projects renewable energy accounting for as much as 77 percent of the world‘s energy demand by 2050, amounting to about 314 of 407 Exajoules per year. […]”

    2) “77 percent is up from just under 13 percent of the total primary energy supply of around 490 Exajoules in 2008”

    3) AS I understand it renewables for the IPCC are mostly dried animal turds and soot belching cleared woodland chucked on open fires.

    Between 1) and 2) the implication is for an overall reduction in world energy use despite a growing population and advancing industrial development in China, India and South America. Now I’ve one client who’ve Tits’ed their Oracle platform, Pre-sales to finish for another and a code red analysis delivery to put live, so i may not be focusing fully but the implications are, seeing as energy saving economies of the magnitude required aren’t technically practical, either :
    A massive collapse in the living standards of the already developed world. With the possible consequence of violent unrest, warfare, famine, pestilence and death

    Or :

    The majority of the worlds population living in extreme poverty with a lot of the renewables use being more environment destroying dung burning and deforestation for wood fuel. With the possible consequence of violent unrest, warfare ,famine, pestilence and death.

    Perhaps I’m missing the upside? been a busy day.

    • Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

      I feel like I’m harping on the same point constantly, but the real problem with this estimate is not the 314 exajoules that they expect from renewables as much as the total consumption they expect, which is utterly unrealistic.

      I actually believe renewables will reach something close to that total. But I expect energy consumption overall to almost triple.

  6. UC
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    • Gord Richens
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

      In other words, precision trumps accuracy.

    • Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

      Perfect, UC!

      • TAC
        Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 8:25 PM | Permalink


      • mark t
        Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

        Even his stats responses have an element of humor in them… slyly, of course.


    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

      Screen grab – has happened several times. Might be I need to upgrade settings on IE8.
      Prevents adding a comment as a reply.

      Anyone else have this prob?

  7. Gord Richens
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    “With Exxon, Chevron and the French nuclear operator EDF also contributing to the IPCC, trying to suggest that this expert UN body is a wing of Greenpeace is preposterous.”

    Let’s just use the endless supply of strawmen from Greenpeace for energy. Sheesh.

  8. Bernie
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    Edenhofer and the IPCC are in yet another deep, excrement filled hole. They should learn from their mistakes and stop digging. Or perhaps not!

  9. Don B
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    Bishop Hill links to Ben Pile talking about ideological money laundering; the incest is simply amazing. The EU gives money to NGOs and trade groups so they will write “independent” research supporting the policies the EU has already decided to pursue.

    • Don B
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

      Correction: Ben Pile wrote the guest post at Bishop Hill.

    • Viv Evans
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

      Thanks for the link!

      This analysis by Ben Pile is a must-read, because he shows the links between Greenpeace, EREC – a collection of trade associations lobbying for renewables, their close connection to the EU – and the huge amounts of monies they received from Brussels.

      It really, for once, is worse than wethought.

  10. stephen richards
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    It’s in the Independent newspaper in the UK. Already

  11. Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I suspect that what happened was this. An original draft exists somewhere on which someone scribbled in the margin: “Having the world get most of its electricity from renewables is about as likely as hell freezing over, or the Himalayas becoming a jungle!!!” Someone else thought it was actually supposed to be added to the text, and decided to tone it down by crossing out the “hell freezes over” part. Then someone else decided to tone it down a bit further, at which point it read: “The day renewables can supply most of the world’s electricity is the day the Himalayas melt.” During the next drafting stage a non-English speaking reviewer in another country relied on Google translator once too often and it ended up mangled as: “Renewables are be able being to supply most electricity in the world when also it is likely the Himalayan glaciers to melt.” Then a Lead Author of Working Group 3 doing the final edit decided to tighten things up by quantifying “most” as “close to 80%”, and, not knowing about the Himalayan glacier forecast fiasco, looked up the AR4 section on the timeline for Himalayan glaciers disappearing, rounding it up to mid-century. Once they added in some boilerplate about the need for political support, the text was finalized as

    Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies.

    which was unanimously approved by all 195 delegates to the IPCC plenary session.

    • Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

      It’s the combination of forensic skills and the kind of insider knowledge of how things ‘really get done’ at the IPCC level that is why I come back to this blog again and again.

    • Max_OK
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

      I imagine back in 1929 many would have thought a man walking on the moon in 40 years was about as likely as hell freezing over.

      • Bad Andrew
        Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

        “I imagine back in 1929 many would have thought a man walking on the moon in 40 years was about as likely as hell freezing over.”


        Anybody can take some unique historical event and then say people at a date prior to said they thought it unlikely. I bet many people in 1929 thought that walking on water in 40 years was about as likely as hell freezing over, and they’d be right.

        Your comment is irrelevant to the point, as they say.


    • Curt
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

      Mr. McKtrick, you are a very witty and talented writer. Thank you for cracking me up.

      • Curt
        Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

        Sorry for mistyping McKitrick.

    • Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

      Do you see a parallel situation here in Ontario between the renewable energy trade lobby, the ENGOs and the Liberal government? It appears that this identical framework has been set up worldwide. Parker Gallant has been writing articles about this same problem in Ontario.

    • Posted Jun 19, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

      Your … uh … “scenario” seems right on the mark, Dr. McKitrick – with one small procedural exception:

      which was unanimously approved by all 195 delegates to the IPCC plenary session.

      You see, the Press Release was dated/issued on May 9, and the IPCC 33rd session did not begin until May 10. Not only that, but – in accordance with the IPCC’s very own “rule” (which it would appear they actually probably observed for a change) – it would seem that the IPCC did not actually “approve” the SPM during the 33rd session but merely “formally accepted” it:

      Under this agenda item, the Panel will formally accept** the Summary for Policymakers of the SRREN. Section 4.3 of the IPCC procedures stipulates that “for a Summary for Policymakers approved by a Working Group to be endorsed as an IPCC Report, it must be accepted at a Session of the Panel. Because the Working Group approval process is open to all governments, Working Group approval of a Summary for Policymakers means that the Panel cannot change it. However, it is necessary for the Panel to review the Report at a Session, note any substantial disagreements, (in accordance with Principle 10 of the Principles Governing IPCC Work) and formally accept it.” [emphases added -hro]

      In IPCC-speak, there are distinct definitions for “Acceptance”, “Adoption” and “Approval”, although I’m not aware of any definition for “review” (nor of any “approval” process for Press Releases, btw). So unless all 195 delegates dutifully showed up in Abu Dhabi 2 days before their presence was required, in order to attend the WG III session at which the SPM was actually “approved” (May 8 at the latest!), the May 9 Press Release was also somewhat misleading wrt “approval” by the IPCC.

      It is worth noting, in passing, that by the time of the Press Release of May 13 (following conclusion of the IPCC 33rd Session), the “80%” had morphed into a “significant slice”; and, although it wasn’t an opening paragraph (it appeared immediately prior to the “Notes to Editors”), it was equally misleading wrt to “approval”:

      Earlier in the week, the Panel also approved a Summary for Policymakers on a Special Report on Renewable Energy and Climate Mitigation which assesses that, with the right enabling public policies, renewables could take a significant slice of the global, total energy supply by 2050.

      [Details at Then I didn’t see it … now I do]

  12. Gunnar
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    As some know, no one is more anti AGW than me, but this argument seems to be fallacious.

    >> withdrawing the above apparently untrue statement

    Except that it’s obviously true.

    Solar power could certainly provide the entire world with energy:

    That said, I strongly disagree that governments should have any part in this. However, this statement is certainly true:

    “Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies…”

    Perhaps the part that isn’t true: “a new report shows”

    • Paul Penrose
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s true because it ignores certain fundamental realities about solar power. Even if a country as wealthy as the US tried to get anything near 80% of it’s power from solar, our economy would collapse from the effort and the environmental degradation would be horrendous. This would halt the effort completely before we got even close to 80%.

      • Gunnar
        Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

        Paul, you are making wild, unsupported assertions. I’ve created a model for a solar power business. It previously only went out 25 years, but I’ve just tweaked it to extend to 2050.

        It shows that with an initial investment of 75 billion USD, it could grow to supply about 11 Terawatts by 2050. After the 75 billion, all future investment is supplied by the business.

        The average power usage in the US is about 1500 Watts per person. We can assume that the world population in 2050 will be 9 billion. We can also project that the world will use 1500 Watts per person by that time. This results in a world power usage of 13.5 TW.

        11 / 13.5 = 81%.

        Paul, 75 billion would not bankrupt the US economy. There would be NO environmental degradation, let alone horrendous degradation.

        • Jit
          Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

          The IPCC report itself talks of solar providing 57 EJ/yr or 36% of total energy needs in 2050.

        • Nial
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

          > Paul, you are making wild, unsupported assertions. I’ve created a model for a
          > solar power business.

          Interesting but without details of your ‘model’ you are also making wild unsupported assertions!

          > It shows that with an initial investment of 75 billion USD, it could grow to
          > supply about 11 Terawatts by 2050.

          Based on ?

          How are you transporting the energy to northern/southern countries where the
          energy density of the sun’s rays isn’t enough for power production?


        • Gunnar
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

          >> Based on ?

          Based on a financial model that projects the major income and expenses, year after year.

          >> How are you transporting the energy to northern/southern countries

          800 kV HVDC transmission lines, up to 1500 miles long. For example, a solar farm in Texas can deliver power to Montreal grid. A farm in the Sahara can deliver power to England.

        • JEM
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

          And of course how are you going to convert that electricity (because that’s what you get from solar, in your model) into something useful as a transportation fuel, particularly something with the energy density needed for aircraft?

        • Nial
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

          > > Paul, you are making wild, unsupported assertions. I’ve created a model for a
          > > solar power business.

          > Interesting but without details of your ‘model’ you are also making wild unsupported assertions!

          You still haven’t given us any details of this ‘model’.

          My ‘model’ (a pencil on the end of a bit of string) says it’s not viable.

          > > How are you transporting the energy to northern/southern countries

          > 800 kV HVDC transmission lines, up to 1500 miles long.
          > A farm in the Sahara can deliver power to England.

          It’s ~3K miles from the Sahara to the UK.

          A significant proportion of the power used in the UK during the winter is going to
          be heating and general living consumption when people get home from work, ie after

          It gets dark just after 6:00 pm in the sahara.

          How are you storing all this energy (I believe the UK is near the limit of hydroelectric
          storage capabilities and doesn’t have the geography to build much more).

          What inefficiencies have you allowed in the process?

          Have you _really_ thought this through?


        • Mike Davis
          Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 6:13 AM | Permalink

          It will be in the “Pipeline”! That Magical place where mising energy is stored!

        • Kan
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

          Back of the envelope calculation.

          The U.S EIA says the net electrical consumption in the U.S for 2008 was 3.9×10^12 Kilowatt-hours.

          If we take the solar radiation rate from one of the most sunny spots in the U.S, Phoenix AZ, we would get, on average 6.57 kilowatt-hours/m^2 per day of solar radiation. Or 2398 kilowatt-hours/m^2 per year.

          Assuming that our photovoltaic cells had a 100% conversion rate, and we had unlimited, uniform Phoenix AZ sunshine everywhere in the U.S. we would need
          (3.9×10^12 kilowatt-hours/year) / (2389 kilowatt-hours/m^2/year) = 1.6 x10^6 km^2 of photovoltaic cells to generate the electricity used in the U.S in 2008.

          The surface area of the U.S (including water) is 9.6×10^6 km^2

          Thus, 16.6 % of the U.S surface would need to be covered in 100% efficient Photovoltaic Cells to generate just the net electrical needs for the U.S circa 2008, given a of solar radiation equivalent to that received in Phoenix AZ.

          New solar technology is not going to help.

        • Kan
          Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

          Correction (thanks Zeke) – this is off by a 3 orders of magnitude. It should be 1638 km^2 area required for photovoltaic cells .

          Thus 0.016%.

        • Gunnar
          Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

          I = Insolation = 1000 Watts / m2
          SPE = SP Conversion Eff = .4 ( 40% of your figure )
          HPD = Hrs / Day = 6
          G = kWH / yr / m2 = I * SPE * HPD * 365 / 1000 = 876 ( 36% of your figure )
          LU = Land Utilization = .8

          SFSM= solar farm square miles = 1510 sq m = 40 mile X 47.8 mile
          SFA = solar farm acres = SFSM * 640 acres/sq mile = 966,400 acres

          K = kWH / acre / yr = G * LU * 4047 m2/acre = 2,836,037
          SFG = solar farm kWH generation = K * SFA = 2,740,746,136,637 kWH / yr
          L = Losses = 3% Inverter losses + 9% transmission line losses = 315,572,831,872 kWH / yr
          ED = energy delivered to the load = SFG – L = 2,425,173,304,765 kWH

          USA = US consumption = 3,906,000,000,000 kWH / year
          A = % kWH of US consumption = ED / USA = 62%
          B = % of US acres = SFA / 2,379,964,800 acres = .04%

          Unless my math is off somewhere, you are way wrong.

        • Greg F
          Posted Jun 28, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

          Springerville Arizona Solar Array sits 6500 feet above sea level, an advantage not afforded most solar installations. It has a capacity rating (standard test conditions) of 4.59 MW and covers 44 acres. In 2006 (the last year I could find data for) the Springerville Array generated a total of 7,765,000 kWh. Since there are 8760 hours in a year the average output for the Springerville array was 886.4 kWh per hour.

          The 2,836,037 kWh per acre per year in your model is 16 times higher then the real output from the Springerville array (176,477 kWh per acre per year) which happens to be in about as ideal a location as you will ever find.

          When considering long term output you also need to cell degregation which is about 0.7% per year. If your model uses solar panels it is in serious need of revision.

    • Lord Frijoles
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

      You do not seem to understand. The point is not so much that their claim is true or false. It could very well be true. The issue is that their statement, to this date, remains unsubstantiated and highly unlikely. It seems that the provenance of such an assertion is a Greenpeace story that is also unsubstantiated. That is really the problem in all of this. Pressure groups such as Greenpeace can make all the unsupported assertions they want in order to push their agenda. But the IPCC should think twice before giving such unsubstantiated claims any credence, let alone making them part of their policy-advising.

      • Gunnar
        Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

        Lord F,

        >> The point is not so much that their claim is true or false. It could very well be true.

        If you read my post, it’s clear that I’m dealing with whether the statement is true or not.

        >> The issue is that their statement, to this date, remains unsubstantiated and highly unlikely.

        As I’ve shown, it’s obviously true. You have no point.

    • HAS
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

      Gunnar your last sentence is the point. The rest is a virtual tautology (what those policies might do and how acceptable the consequences is another question).

  13. Kiwi
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    I would find it difficult to accept Herr Professor Dokter’s word on anything involving Science (or should I say, Climate ‘Science’). In his own words he admits to using Climate’Science’ to further a political agenda:

    Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection, says the German economist and IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer. The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14 November 2010

  14. Kiwi
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

    in German

  15. hagendl
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre
    Re: “it seems odd to me that the German government nominated a Greenpeace activist to SRREN”

    See: How Germany’s Greens rose from radical fringe to ruling power
    Holding the balance of power requires beanies.

  16. Klaus
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    If the lead authors were nominated in or before 2005 it doesn’t wonder me, that a greenpeace activistwas nominated. From 1998 to 2005 the Social Democratic Party ruled germany in a coalition with the Greens. The Ministry of Enviroment was handed to the Greens, which have very close ties to Greenpeace.

  17. Sean
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    Even if we take assume the robustness of the analysis behind the Greenpeace 77% scenario, the statement that Steve complains about is still problematic.

    The only uncertainty in the statement is “… if backed by the right enabling public policies.” But some of the variables in the scenario (such as population growth) are not considered to be subject to government policies.

    If you believe population growth is outside of government control, the statement is false because “the right enabling public policies” alone cannot produce the result.

    However, if you believe that the “right enabling policies” would include coercive population control, then the statement is at least an accurate summary of the scenario. Greenpeace surely believes this (remember their slogan “Stop at Two”?). For the IPCC to implicitly adopt it is hardly surprising.

  18. oneuniverse
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    A little old, but Dr. Richard Tol, a lead and contributing author of the IPCC reports since 1995, made some significant criticisms of the IPCC to the Danish parliament which are relevant. Some quotations from Donna Laframboise’s site in April 2010, which hosted an English translation of his statement to parliament :

    Over the years, the IPCC has changed from a scientific institution that tries to be policy relevant to a political institution that pretends to be scientific. I regret that. There are already more than enough climate activists, while there are too few solid and neutral bodies that make down-to-earth and well-founded statements about climate change and climate policy.

    The most important problem of the IPCC is the nomination and selection of authors and bureau members. This is not based on academic quality (as it should be) but rather on political colour. The IPCC member states are represented by their environment departments. This responsibility should be transferred to their research departments or their academies.

    Working Groups 2 and 3 of the AR4 violated all IPCC procedures. The conclusions are partly scientifically unfounded, and even partly copied from the environmental movement. The AR4 was substantially changed after the final review, also in parts that had already been accepted by the referees. Valid comments were ignored.

    As a result, AR4 contains crude errors, only some of which are public knowledge. These errors can be found in the chapters, the technical summaries, the summaries for policy makers, and the synthesis report. The errors are not random. Working Group 2 systematically portrays climate change as a bigger problem than is scientifically acceptable. Working Group 3 systematically portrays climate policy as easier and cheaper than can be responsibly concluded based on academic research.

    It looks like AR5 might suffer from the same lack of scientific integrity.

  19. Richard S Courtney
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Permalink


    My post on your previous thread concerning this subject said the basic information concerning IPCC Working Group 3 (WG3) is not news. I published a paper about it in 2001 (n.b. a decade ago).
    (ref. Courtney RS, ‘Crystal balls, virtual realities and ‘storylines’ ‘, Energy & Environment (2001) )

    As I said in my previous post, that paper explains and assesses the IPCC SRES “scenarios” as they are described in Chapter 2 of WG3 in the IPCC Third Assessment Report (the TAR published in 2001): that chapter describes the origin and nature of the “scenarios”.

    In the light of the comments by Edenhofer that you report above, it seems pertinent for me to quote some more from that paper which I published a decade ago.

    Having explained the adopted SRES modeling procedure, my paper says;

    “The Chapter considers only one type of quantitative future-predictive climate model and “does not include quantitative scenarios produced using other methods; for example heuristic estimation such as Delphi”. The Chapter does not state why it chooses only to consider one type of quantitative model, but says that its ‘Writing Team’ listed 519 scenarios of the type they decided to accept, and that 150 of these “were mitigation (climate policy) scenarios”. Also, “Of the 150 mitigation scenarios, a total of 126 long-term scenarios that cover the next 50 to 100 years have been selected for this review”. So, from the 519 scenarios of the only type they were willing to consider, the Writing Team considered 126. The ‘Writing Team’ formulated “narrative storylines” for the future and selected four models – from their selection of 126 models – to describe their four “storylines”. The Chapter says the Writing Team used few “storylines” because they “wanted to avoid complicating the process by too many alternatives”. But they later increased the “storylines” from four to six to obtain the 5.8 deg. C projection in the Chapter’s final draft. The Writing Team formed “modelling groups” that each had “principal responsibility” to develop a “marker scenario” for one of the “storylines”. The Writing Team’s choice of the marker scenarios “was based on extensive discussion” that included “preference of some modelling teams”. An original total of 40 scenarios were generated from four storylines and this was increased to 60 scenarios generated from the six storylines in the Chapter’s final draft. The Chapter says, “the markers are not necessarily the median or mean of the scenario family, but are those scenarios considered by the SRES writing team as illustrative of a particular storyline”.

    Simply, the Chapter explains that the six models selected as “markers” by the Writing Team are those that the Writing Team most liked, and these “markers” cannot be claimed to be typical of anything.

    Put another way, the “storylines” are a selection made using personal preference of 6 untypical models from 126 models that were chosen from a list of 519 quantitative models of one particular type, and other types of quantitative model also exist. The Chapter does not state the simple truth that such selection permits almost any storylines that could generate almost any preferred projections of the future.”


  20. Jit
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    I have read some of Teske et al (the article on which the headline-grabber was based). There are a few obvious errors, like:

    “For transport, global energy demand is projected to increase from 82 PJ in 2007 to 158 EJ in 2050 in the reference scenario.”

    These excerpts are interesting:
    “The overall global renewable energy share by 2050 could be as high as 87.1% of final energy supply.”

    “By 2050, around 95% of electricity can be produced from renewable sources in the Energy [R]evolution scenarios.”

    Most strikingly, I have estimated the number of wind turbines needed at about 2.5 million.

    • BillyBob
      Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

      A 3.5MW wind turbine needs 2 tons of neodymium.

      Last I heard, 26,500 tons was China’s production.

      13,000 3.5MW Wind turbines could be built each year is nobody used neodymium for anything else … like electric cars.

      192 years to get 2.5 million built.

      Steve -‘rare’ earths are not necessarily all that rare. Don’t assume that other sources of neodymium can’t be developed for a larger market.

      • BillyBob
        Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

        Ok. They double production from some unknown deposit.

        96 years.

        But I was being conservative using 2.5 million 3.5MW turbines.

        The figure I read was 3.8 million 5MW turbines.

        Back to 200 years again.

        • BillyBob
          Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

          1300 cubic meters of concrete and 180 tons of steel for an offshore 5MW wind turbine.

          “Concrete is responsible for 7-10% of CO2 emissions worldwide, making it the biggest climate change culprit outside of transportation and electricity-generation.”

        • Septic Matthew
          Posted Jun 19, 2011 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

          The mines are in California and other states. They closed down because of lower wages and looser environmental regulation in China. The owners have submitted plans to re-open them to the regulatory agencies.

  21. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

    The current UN figures for “renewables” includes a major portion from wood stoves, campfires, etc from the less-developed parts of the world, where these practices are major health threats and contribute to forest degradation.

  22. KnR
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    Bottom line the IPCC only knows this claim is worth anything becasue Teske told them so , a person by lucky chance who is actual the original author of the report these claims are based on. Lets remember the IPCC sells itself as representing the best of the science in the area, yet uses approaches like the use of market or advocacy literature as peer reviewed research, a approach that would lead to a first year science undergraduate miserable failing their course . So hardly the best science in the area .

  23. federico
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

    ‘Edenhofer also stated that Teske had been nominated by the German government’.

    This is a joke, Herr Edenhofer: The German government nominates from a group presented by official advisors. In climate issues, Mr. Schellnhuber is the official advisor to Ms Merkel. It is hard to believe that his friends (like Ramsdorff and Edenhofer) have nothing to say in this process.

    • Rick Bradford
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 8:38 PM | Permalink

      That was my thought as well – it would be very interesting to know who suggested to the German government that Teske be chosen. I’m sure the circle would be completed if we knew that.

  24. theduke
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 4:40 PM | Permalink

    “Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.”

    This is clearly (and merely) opinion masquerading as fact.

  25. tetris
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

    Meanwhile, Greenpeace and its political allies the Greens, have a perfect opportunity to show all us doubters how this transition to renewables will acctually play out in the real world.

    Germany’s recent decision to shut down its nuclear power – brought about by heavy political pressure from the Greens, kingmakers in German politics- was accompanied by an undertaking to replace the resulting 20-25% shortfall by bringing on line massive amounts of renewable energy over the next decade.

    Until this renewable miracle actually occurs, the country will likely need to rely on burning coal and its very dirty cousin brown coal [of which it has considerable reserves].

    Should Greenpeace and the Greens manage to politically curtail that alternative too, two avenues remain: make Germany even more dependent on Russian natural gas than it already is -de facto turning Europe’s dominant economy into a Russian energy satellite- or start de-industrializing.

  26. Alan Bates
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    I am not sure whether this has been covered but I note 2 things:

    1) The Report is well over 1000 pages – more than the vast majority of people can process. Which, of course, is why they have Executive Summaries and Press releases.

    2) This is not even the Final version of the Report – that comes out in August 2011.

    • tetris
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

      And the Executive Summary supported by carefully crafted press releases serve to tell people what the IPCC wants them hear. The details are immaterial.

  27. observa
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Let me explain to all the ‘Gunnars’ out there how my 2.1 Kilowatt rated solar panel feed-in system works in metropolitan Adelaide in a meditteranean climate like South Australia(the driest State in the driest continent)It produces zero/zilch/nought output at night and ranges from a high 1700-1800 watts on sunny, mild autumn/spring days when the temp is around 25C to 1100-1200 watts when it’s a stinker between 38-42C because solar panel output reduces with temp. Whilst I have seen the inverter output read over 2000watts on a handful of extremely rare occasions (all the planets aligning?)it produces a meagre 100-150watts output at midday on a wet overcast day and as low as 50watts. Bear in mind here that will likely be the same story for all solar panel installations across Adelaide on such days.

    It only stacked up as a risk free, after tax return of around 9-10% because 2 years ago, the $21,500 AUD installed price was reduced by an $8000 Govt subsidy(taxpayer clawback) and $1500 in RECs(forced on the power utilities) and a net feed-in power rate of 50c/KWhr from my less fortunate neighbours when the maximum peak summer rate any of them will pay is around half that rate and as low as 9c/KWhr off peak. They call it greening and as you can see I have been suitably greened. So much for ‘reshiftable’ energy producing 80% of the world’s energy needs by whenever we can manage it.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 7:48 PM | Permalink

      Unfortunately the Greenpeace scenario didn’t contain specifics on power output of solar panels – the numbers more or less come out of thin air. Perhaps solar is feasibile, perhaps not. My beef with the scenario was that it didn’t support its argument.

      • Richard S Courtney
        Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 7:03 AM | Permalink


        An SRES scenario does not need to “contain specifics” on anything. IPCC TAR WG3 Chapter 2 says a selected scenario merely needs to “be illustrative” of a “storyline” according to the “preferance of some modelling teams” on the basis of their “extensive discussion”.

        This is explained in my post in this thread at Jun 16, 2011 at 2:24 PM which quotes from my paper that reported these matters a decade ago.

        Also, the definition of “scenario” used by IPCC WG3 is – to be mild – unclear (my paper also explains this).

        In my opinion, it is a scandal that the natures of WG3, what it does and how it does it have obtained little publicity.


      • Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

        Solar power is not very close.

  28. kim
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 8:18 PM | Permalink

    The wind, the water and the sun are the earth’s natural climate regulating mechanisms. Because of efficiency losses, the energy taken for human purposes from these sources can never be worth as much as that same energy left in place to naturally regulate the climate. There is no cure for the tort, nay crime of raping Gaia in such a manner.

  29. PaddikJ
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

    I’m surprised that Steve’s fellow Torontoan, Donna Laframboise and her No Frakking Consensus blog isn’t listed on the Blogroll. She’s written several posts detailing the too-cozy relationshiip between IPCC & Greenpeace.

    • Political Junkie
      Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 7:31 PM | Permalink

      It’s a pleasure to see a couple of great Canadians get some well deserved recognition. However, Torontonians is a preferable descriptor!

  30. Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

    Somewhere in argument practical considerations go missing. In solar, production is only 10% of capacity (peak production only occurs at best 15% of each day), and is produced far from the place of use, so it requires huge investment in plant and backup generation, plus in dedicated transmission lines (which experience high energy loss in transmission). Then there is the shortage of usable land, and opposition to its use, even by – especially by – environmentalists.

    Instead of obsession with building a better solar mousetrap, for much lower cost and resource use the energy needs of now and far into the future could be met easily by Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR). The Chinese believe so, and earlier this year launched a program to develop LFTR and begin installation and use in 2020. India, and probably the United States, are going that way also.

    Solar advocates remind me that when a man’s only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  31. jorgekafkazar
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

    “This claim was widely covered as googling ’80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables’ will show.”

    It’s probably “worse than you thought.” Reparsing the search to “80 percent” + “energy supply” + “met by renewables” + 2050 + IPCC picks up 36,500 edited variants of the press release (with a few skeptical blog repeats) and this:

    100 Percent Renewables: The Resources are There, Says UN Report.

  32. Rattus Norvegicus
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 9:52 PM | Permalink


    Do you have any particular problems with the E[R]-2010 scenario. Looking at the figures I can see one beef that I have and that is their projection of increase in energy demand over they next four decades. They depend very heavily (much more so than it appears other scenarios do) on conservation and efficiency gains. They also seem to be quite optimistic on the uptake of solar electric, although their other rates of uptake are not out of line other scenarios.

    It is the optimistic outlier though, although the report also considers pessimistic and mid range scenarios also. I don’t think that we can get to a 450ppm stabilization level and as such I don’t think that this scenario is realistic, but it does represent one set of policy choice which could be made. As such, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, COP has basically endorsed 450ppm and 2C as a goal. What is wrong with showing what might have to be done to get there?

    • Rattus Norvegicus
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

      Note that I have not read Chapter 10 yet, just looked at the SPM and the Technical summary of chapter 10. Too much work, too little time.

    • tetris
      Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

      One of the cornerstone premises of the study has already been falsified: global carbon pricing as of 2010. This has not happened and since carbon pricing through exchange based markets, cap-and-trade or taxation is politically dead everywhere it counts, is not going to happen any time soon. Since that very carbon pricing is a “sine qua non” underpinning subsequent assumptions, the remainder of the report is nothing more than dressed-up junk science.

      • Rattus Norvegicus
        Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

        In the SPM, this is the only reference I could find:

        Wider policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions such as carbon pricing mechanisms
        may also support RE.

        Doesn’t seem like a sine qua non to me.

        • Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 12:41 AM | Permalink

          Rattus try this from the report then:

          Box 10.2 | Overview of the four illustrative scenarios and their underlying models.

          (snipped the other 3 out for brevity)

          ER-2010: The ER-2010 scenario (Teske et al., 2010) is based on the socioeconomic assumptions of the IEA-WEO2009-Baseline scenario, but assumes an increase in fossil fuel costs and a price for carbon from 2010 onwards. The scenario has a key constraint that limits worldwide CO2 emissions to a level of 3.7 Gt CO2 per year by 2050. To achieve this, the scenario is characterized by significant efforts to fully exploit the large potential for energy efficiency, using currently available best practice technology, and to foster the use of RE. In all sectors, the latest market development projections and the resulting cost reductions for the RE industry have been taken into account, and a stable development of the RE sector is pursued. To accelerate the market penetration of RE, various additional measures have been assumed, such as a speedier introduction of electric vehicles combined with the implementation of effective communications systems and technologies, smart meters and faster expansion of super grids to allow a higher share of variable RE power generation (PV and wind) to be employed.

          Right there in the first sentence Teske (remember he was a lead author of this section) admits that his scenario is based on just changing 2 assumptions from the IEA 2009 Baseline assumption and one of those is a price on CO2 from 2010 onwards. From those two assumptions he uses them to prop up more assumptions such as the effciency angle you mentioned earlier, but also to as he put it “foster the use of RE”. What would foster the use of RE? well his two base assumptions; price of fossil fuels increase making RE more competitive and then a price on emissions of CO2 rising the cost of non RE even more. Remove either one of his base assumptions and then his other assumptions start falling with them.

        • Rattus Norvegicus
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

          Thanks. I stand corrected.

        • tetris
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

          R. Norvegicus

          All the “below 440” scenarios are built on the assumption of global carbon prices by 2010. Since that fundamental assumption is clearly absent, the rest is wishful thinking dressed up as [junk] science.

          Also, have a look at another core assumption: that massive investments will be made in alternative energy and essentially none in hydrocarbon energy sources. The ongoing shale gas revolution [600% higher recoverable gas reserves globally than were on the books just 5 years ago!] is a perfect example of how far removed from reality these ruminations really are. It has been suggested that the collosal gas reserves we now know exist [250 years worth of it at present production rates in North America and likewise massive reserves in China, Russia and Australia] in fact probably represent not only “Peak Nuclear” but more to the point “Peak Renewables”.

          Meanwhile, as I pointed out elsewhere on this thread, given that Germany has shut down its nuclear power -by political agreement the 20-25% shortfall to be replaced by renewables- Greenpeace and the Greens have the perfect opportunity to show us doubters how that transition will play out in the real world. N.B.: with Europe’s dominant economy on the line.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 4:56 AM | Permalink

      My issue is with IPCC’s lack of independent due diligence. People are starving for analysis. IPCC can’t say that their report ‘shows’ that this is a viable path if it hasn’t been thoroughly cross-examined.

  33. Gunnar
    Posted Jun 16, 2011 at 11:38 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you have snipped some comments, but I would like to make one final comment. It is on topic, because if the underlying assertion is true, then this whole discussion is pointless. What’s the use spending energy arguing that although they are right, it’s for the wrong reasons?

    >> Gunner so your ‘model’ uses some James Bond fantasy to make it work

    No, it doesn’t. My model uses existing technology. It’s not fantasy. It’s already being done. For example, Ordos in China, Topaz out west.

    >> No sun no solar its really that simply and at night , when there lots of domestic demand no sun and in winter when demand peaks a lot less sun

    I’ve already answered that. 2/3 of total energy usage is during the day. So, we could get to 66%, using only the daytime. Sorry, but I’m an EE and I monitor electricity demand on the US east coast every day. Peak electrical demand is in the SUMMER, during the DAY.

    >> Let me explain to all the ‘Gunnars’ out there

    Observa, it’s about large solar farms placed in high insolation areas. Placing solar panels on your house is stupid. Claiming that a large solar panel farm won’t work, just because you can’t scale it down to a house is like saying that since a wood stove can’t power your whole house, a large coal plant won’t work either.

    >> Green essentially means unripe, immature, not developed so it’s a fruitful field just ripe for your mature input here.

    Observa, I realize that you don’t know me, but believe me when I tell you that I’m not pro large solar farms because I’m pro AGW. I’m the most anti AGW person here. However, it’s irrational to think that everything that greenies say is wrong, just because they are wrong about so many things. Large solar farms do make economic sense.

    >> $75 billion?? How much do you think the cost of the land of the single ‘disk’ in the US alone would cost? Over 120,000 square KM=~30 million acres!! I think $1,000/acre would be conservative
    >> 11Terawatts for $75B dollars invested? That means you can generate 146watts per dollar?

    Jim T & Harry, you missed the point. I said “grow into”. Initial land investment would be ~3 B. As capacity is built, electricity is sold. The revenues generated are invested into building more capacity. Btw, we won’t need as much land area as those disks, because that assumed 8% efficiency. The state of the art has advanced since then. Today, thin film CdTe. At some point in the near future, solar panels will absorb the whole EM spectrum. Besides, I was surprised to learn that the land is the least of the costs. HVDC costs a thousand times more than the land.

    Doug, it is economically feasible. That’s why there are many large solar farm projects being planned. Solar is like nuclear in that a large investment is required, but then, the operating costs are negligible. In the energy market auctions, solar will be able to beat all other sources, except for nuclear. The sun never sends a bill, yet coal has to be continuously dug out of the ground.

    >> Perhaps you can enlighten us with the details of your “model”?

    No, because this thread isn’t the right place. We can take this off line if you’re really interested. Instead, consider: All the entities investing in large solar farms are not crazy.

    Almost everything from the IPCC is wrong, but not the idea that renewable solar power will be crucial to meeting the energy needs of the future. Burning coal and oil simply won’t be able to compete, economically. That said, burning coal and oil does nothing to hurt/heat the planet.

    • harry
      Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 3:17 AM | Permalink

      Gunnar wrote:
      “Jim T & Harry, you missed the point. I said “grow into”.”

      Using your “CdTe” technology, Wikipedia lists the costs of the panels at $3/watt peak.
      For your 11TW requirement you’d need 33Trillion dollars (assuming peak production which we know to be wrong by several factors).

      Your claim of a $75B investment, and your new claim that revenues would fund the “gap” seem rather fanciful, since if you we lucky enough to get a 100% return on capital each year, you’d need over 300 years to generate $33Trillion (assuming $75B rather than your new $3B figure).

      Of course you could reinvest the whole lot and “double your money” and it would only take 10 years. But that would require you to be able to physically double capacity every year and a 100% return on capital. My guess is that the returns will be a lot less and this will blow your time budget badly. (All these numbers need to be multiplied by the actual efficiency rather than peak).

      Then there is your claim of “hardly any maintenance costs”. Thin film technologies are fragile. Vulnerable to storms, particularly hail and temperature extremes. The devices themselves have an expected life of around 20yrs (so start depreciating your capital assets at 5% at a minimum).

      Dust reduces their efficiency, heat reduces their efficiency, and of course these materials start losing performance the moment the first photon hits them, with a half-life of around 100yrs. So after 25 years, the panel will be significantly less efficient.

      • Gunnar
        Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

        >> Wikipedia lists the costs of the panels at $3/watt peak

        Harry, Your premise is wrong. It’s not sold by the watt. It’s about $100 / square meter. Over the next 40 years, it’s likely to drop to $50 / sq m. This radically changes the numbers. The rest of your post are just a lot of wrong guesses.

        Again, we can take this off line if you’re really interested. Instead, consider: All the entities investing in large solar farms are not crazy.

        • Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

          Gunnar can you support your claims? Somehow I do not think that maintenance and power distribution are trivial issues.

          The IPCC reports seems to be models with at best some assumptions pulled out of this air. Just sayin’

        • Gunnar
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

          >> Gunnar can you support your claims?


          WillR: >> Somehow I do not think that maintenance and power distribution are trivial issues
          harry: >> “hardly any maintenance costs”.

          For the record, I said “operating costs”. I’ve got maintenance costs handled. My point was that once built, the energy is free to generate. It’s reduced by transmission losses and conversion to AC, but otherwise, it generates revenues from free solar power.

          For example, a 15 billion USD investment in HVDC/Panels/Installation/Land will result in at least 1 billion in revenues. That’s a positive ROI.

        • Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

          Since you feel you can support your claims then clearly there is an engineering study.

          Can you post a link to the engineering study/proposal? Perhaps some investors I know would be interested in a look. But — no engineering study or fimr proposal? — then it is like the IPCC report — just speculation and some financial ratios. That is not hard to cook up. I would also expect to see land right studies for the installations and the transmission corridors.

          Looking forward to the information.

        • Gunnar
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

          >> Can you post a link to the engineering study/proposal?

          I do have a detailed business plan, so feel free to contact me about the investors.

          SNIP –

          Steve- GUNNAR, please limit your comments to IPCC and their sources. Your own business plans have nothing to do with that. I’ve deleted further comments along this line.

        • Keith W.
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

          With regard to the problems with nuclear power, tell it to the French, who get 78.8% of their electricity from nuclear plants.

        • Keith W.
          Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

          The French may have expensive plants, but those plants produce enough that the French sell energy to the EU and make a profit on those plants. Has any renewable energy plant yet turned a profit?

        • Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Permalink


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          Max. Power Current
          7.18A 7.14A
          1,610 × 861 × 35mm
          Module Efficiency
          18.0% 17.7%
          Cell Efficiency
          20.8% 20.4%

          Solar module Sanyo HIT H245E01
          Incl. Tax: € 612,26 (ea)

          16 modules 4kWp required for UK
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          Feed in inverter
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          total for 4+kW 11.2k eur

    • observa
      Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

      “Observa, it’s about large solar farms placed in high insolation areas. Placing solar panels on your house is stupid. Claiming that a large solar panel farm won’t work, just because you can’t scale it down to a house is like saying that since a wood stove can’t power your whole house, a large coal plant won’t work either.”

      No Gunnar, it’s like you saying I have a solar generator on my roof with all its shortcomings, that is a minor problem you can solve by economies of scale by sticking an upscaled version out in the desert, something South Australia has in abundance to be sure. I say piffle, not merely because the earth rotates and its atmosphere has clouds, but largely because there are no real economies of scale due to the energy density of the sun (and ditto for wind) no better articulated than here-
      You have been conned by the green pipedream of technological advances in solar and wind harnessing, when it is the upper physical density limit of solar insolation that is the overarching problem. You have negligible economies of scale, just a bigger, linearly costed version of my own systemic problem, a problem I dump on my neighbours and our brown coal fired power stations. Therein lies a serious fallacy of composition.

    • Peter Wilson
      Posted Jun 19, 2011 at 5:01 AM | Permalink


      Thanks for the link to a list of all those working solar power stations. I immediately noticed a couple of things though.

      a. They are all tiny (largest 97MW nominal power) compared to any coal, gas, nuclear or large scale hydro. Further, the capacity factors quoted range from 11% to 27%, averaging under 20%, meaning these are actually even smaller, in terms of power production.

      b. From the photos attached, these things are HUGE, ugly, and render the land beneath it otherwise useless. For, as noted above, very little power. It is obvious we would have to cover very large portions of the earths surface with these monstrosities to make the slightest dent in our electricity requirements.

    • Septic Matthew
      Posted Jun 19, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

      Gunnar, you wrote that placing solar panels on your rooftop is stupid.

      It depends where you live and what you pay for electricity. If you live in Southern California, and you use air conditioning, then you can now come out ahead, in the long run, by installing a system that you can buy from Home Depot. This is without subsidies. You can also use the electricity to power a heat pump in winter, and reduce heating costs. You can get the details, if you want them, from the Home Depot (for equipment costs) and San Diego Gas and Electric (for electricity rates) websites. Roof-mounted solar is even more economical if you run a small business, such as a restaurant. Peak demand and peak cost correspond to the peak power output of the solar system.

      Most of your other points are good.

  34. Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 12:04 AM | Permalink

    Bad Andrew said: “No, it’s to the point. If anyone tells me he knows for sure what will happen to renewable energy in 40 years, I will laugh at him.”

    I know Bad Andrew, I know! Wind and solar will still be diffuse and unreliable. Other renewables like tide and biomass will still be somewhere in the future, but will not be a better alternative than they are now, and in the case of biomass, much worse.

    However, in 40 years nuclear will have moved from its infancy into adolescence, and will be providing over half of the power needs of China, India, and the United States. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will be doing most of the work, but other nuclear will be investigated and found very promising. Fusion will definitely be closer to becoming the renewable power source for all future needs.

    People will laugh thinking of the foolishness of wind, solar, carbon sequestration, biomass, and there will be a special Hall of Shame for Al Gore and anyone involved in promoting ethanol. The world will be a better place because abundant, inexpensive energy will enable citizens of developing nations to achieve lives of comfort, well being, and promise for the future.

    And at 108 years of age, I will be enjoying a long, active life, and regretting it won’t last forever so I can witness all the miracles of mankind’s ever evolving future.

    • hunter
      Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 6:59 AM | Permalink

      Very nice.I like your optimism.

  35. RayG
    Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

    James Taranto is the editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web. He commented on this story today citing The Independent as his source. His closing is a condemnation of much of that is wrong with the “Climate Science” community when he says:

    “Live by the appeal to authority, die by the appeal to authority: Someone explain to us why we should even take “climate change” seriously as a hypothesis when the foremost authority on it engages in this kind of chicanery.

    And if there are honest scientists who think global warming is real, why aren’t they the ones blowing the whistle on the malefactors who discredit the theory?”

  36. Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

    Feet to the fire time. Loud screaming is anticipated.

    Edit note: you might like to render the following coherent:
    “that is no justifies IPCC’s decision”.

  37. Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 3:47 AM | Permalink

    A point I made on a previous post: Sven Teske is founder and board member of Greenpeace Energy which turns over well over $100 million per year in supplying electricity from ‘renewables’. Quite apart from his Greenpeace advocacy, he has a vested interest in getting nuclear power and fossil fuel power shut down in Germany and further afield and attracting huge subsidies so that he can sell more ‘renewables’.

    Making brazenly false claims seems to be part of his strategy. The report cited in AR4 in which he has a large hand (cited as Greenpeace, 2006: Solar generation. K. McDonald (ed.), Greenpeace International, Amsterdam) has a Foreword co-authored by Teske and Dr Winfried Hoffmann, President of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), which states:

    “We have now reached a point where CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions have already induced excessive floods, droughts and intensified hurricanes and typhoons…Fortunately, we have technologies at hand – the portfolio of renewable energies – that could change this downward spiral and lead to a green and sustainable future.”

    And what could this technology possibly be? Well, these shills tell us:

    “Solar power is a prime choice in developing an affordable and feasible global power source that can substitute fossil fuels in all the world’s climate zones…PV solar electricity can provide decentralised energy supply at the very place it is consumed.”

    This report was jointly written by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association to promote their members’ interests. And it is plain wrong. There are many climate zones for which PV is neither affordable nor feasible, and which it is no proper substitute for electricity generation. Even the report itself has a coloured figure, fig 4.4, showing the electricity generation cost of PV in northern Europe to be in the range 30 cents/kWh, with some parts of Europe being around 40 cents/kWh. And that’s just generation cost: add in amortization of investment, distribution and profit and we’re talking 7-10 times the cost of electricity from nuclear and fossil fuel plants.

    Neither does generation cost tell the whole story because PV is next to useless most of the time in northern Europe. There are some hundreds of millions of people living in northern Europe, and don’t they live in one of ‘all the world’s climate zones’? And, there are tens of millions of people in Europe that don’t see the sun for weeks on end in winter, or at best for only a few hours a day, and then weakly. So PV isn’t going to be able to provide ‘decentralised energy supply at the very place it is consumed’ in northern Europe. Perhaps Greenpeace think we should close down all industry in northern Europe, and exterminate ourselves so that we don’t need lighting, heating or transportation.

    If Teske had written “Solar power is a power source that can operate in all the world’s climate zones”, we would say, yes, technically, but by no means practically or economically, som that’s really a half truth. But to write that “Solar power is a PRIME choice in developing an AFFORDABLE and FEASIBLE GLOBAL power source that can SUBSTITUTE fossil fuels in ALL the world’s climate zones” (emphasis mine) is nothing but an atrocious lie, packed full of untruths. This shows that the document cited in AR4, which is self-serving for an industry body and an ‘environmentalist’ group, and for Teske as board member of a ‘renewables’ power generation company turning over a great deal more than a hundred million dollars a year, is nothing but crude advocacy, ‘spin’ and propaganda.

    It is shameful that the IPCC are quoting the work of such a biased propagandist, and that Teske, the Greenpeace activist and employee, was appointed an IPCC Lead Author.

  38. Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 3:57 AM | Permalink

    The story has been picked up by the Daily Mail today, with the headline “Leading climate change group used Greenpeace campaigner to write ‘impartial’ report on renewable energy”.

  39. hunter
    Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 6:48 AM | Permalink

    The response from the true believer community tells us all we need to know.
    They are apparently tired of their opinion leaders being held to normal standards of behavior regarding corruption, noble and less so, and really want the drumbeat from skeptics, especially you, to stop.
    Keep up the great work.
    Do not stop telling the truth.

  40. Alexander K
    Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 7:51 AM | Permalink

    My reading of the summary gives me a rather more sinister interpretation than the objection that Steve has on a point of principle; I have the nasty feeling that the ‘right public enablinbg policies’ will be the draconian mandating of only wind, solar and biomass as energy sources.
    I grew up in a household struggling with wood-fired cooking and heating and it was neither sylvan nor idyllic. Already forestry businesses in the UK are finding it more profitable (due to huge feed-in subsidies for wood-to-electricity plants) to process their trees into pelletised fuel than to process the trees into commercially-available timber.
    And I hat silly aphosisms such as ‘people who only have a hammer in their toolkit see every problem as a nail’ In my experience, people who have only a hammer in their toolkit have no idea about how to make or fix anything.

  41. Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 8:09 AM | Permalink

    “Tune into the blogosphere and drop out of the MSM. It’s there that you’ll find people like Steve McIntyre. Investigative journalism is alive and well; it’s just moved house.”


  42. Tom
    Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

    I don’t understand the fuss. The right kind of government policies could result in 100% renewable use. Simply outlaw any machine that can’t be powered by wood-fired steam. Boom – problem solved.

    I haven’t had a chance to think about any unintended consequences yet.

    • tetris
      Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

      Assuming you are not simply being sarcastic, wood fired steam engines have a thermal efficiency of approx 1%. So the unintended consequence is that you will have to provide 30-35 times the calorific input in order to match say a turbo diesel engine. Once you start think about that in terms of cubic meters of wood vs. 1 liter of diesel -including the ensuing rates of deforestation- you will no doubt see the problem.

  43. philh
    Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    Ihave been given to understand thatsolar arrays, because of dust contamination (aggravated, of course,in desert type installations) have to be washed periodically.Perhaps Gunnar could give us some estimate of the amount of water needed to wash hundreds of thousands of acres of desert solar panels.and, as well, where that water would come from, how it would be transported and what the environmental effect would be. Solar arrays in the Sahara? I don’t think so.

    • Gunnar
      Posted Jun 20, 2011 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

      Known effect. It would be compensated for with more sunlight and more acreage. If the installations are properly designed, there will be no edges for dust to accumulate. Therefore, wind will help clean off the panels, rather than water.

  44. Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    The IPCC guy Edenhofer emailed both Revkin and McIntyre. This is helpful. A Times reporter needs to be careful in this situation, because an independent auditor is being made equally aware of the same information as the Times. There is less room for mischief by the Times, hiding behind anonymous sources and the first amendment in order to spin AGW yarns.

  45. Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    It will require a great deal of economic contraction for the assertion of “eighty percent” to be realized. But don’t underestimate the conviction of those set on the path to restore the economy to levels that match their understanding of a primitive balance in resource utilization. Something to do with sustainability, I’ve been told.

  46. EdeF
    Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    I am not to be confused with EDF, the French nuclear company, nor the Environmental Defense Fund.

  47. NikFromNYC
    Posted Jun 17, 2011 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you deserve and need a vacation. Something outside of your comfort zone.

    I hate when people tell me that!

    I know this is the Most Important Question of All Time.

    But is it really?

    Today I took time off from AGW to look at the DJIA instead, and found hockey sticks:

  48. Bill Jamison
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 2:09 AM | Permalink

    Of course the report IS correct. If governments around the world mandated an end to fossil fuels and nuclear energy by 2050 and required 80% of all energy produced to come from renewables then it IS possible.

    Of course they fail to mention the COST involved. But I don’t think they care about the cost, monetary or human.

    • BillyBob
      Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

      Its not just the cost. One of the numbers floating around is 3,800,000 5MW wind turbines … up from around 40,000.

      I don’t believe they have enough rare earth metals for current production let alone 100x that production.

  49. Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 6:07 AM | Permalink

    So few are fooling so many with respect to how much electricity from wind contributes.

    In the report is is stated:
    “The wind power capacity installed by the end of 2009 met close to two percent of worldwide electricity demand.”

    It sounds like a lot and is unlikely to be true. The reason is that the figure 2% concerns the installed capacity and not what is actually contributed. If we multiply the 2% with the Capacity Factor, we reach 0.4%, which seems closer to the truth.

  50. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 6:08 AM | Permalink


    This post is about the responses of people upon their discovery of the origins of the IPCC news release.

    FWIW, many of us realised years ago that incremental gains in solar cell efficiency would be capped and not worth the money thrown at them. Principle of diminishing returns. All it does is give one manufacturur and edge (that might be illusory) over another when people are coerced into buying pigs in pokes. You might like to ponder what has changed since I wrote a letter on 16 Feb 1979 quoting the Chairman of the U.K. Central Electricity Generating Board, Mr R England, who wrote “… the only proven way in which the predicted shortage of fossil fuels can be counterbalanced in the field of electricity generation is by increasing out investment in nuclear power … In view of the drawbacks involved, the CEGB is not carrying out any work of its own on harnessing solar energy … it is too early to say whether geothermal energy is feasible, or what the likely cost would be…”

    Given that the physics have scarcely changed, one could feel justified in writing off the said IPCC press release, 32 years after this well-informed summary, as a distortion of long known principles, in pursuit of an ideology.

  51. DennisC
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    Rex Murphy at the National Post (Canadian newspaper) reports on this blog post at:

    Should be in Trackbacks I suppose…

    It was first reported on by Steven McIntyre on his blog, Climate Audit (and was run on the FP Comment page of Friday’s National Post). McIntyre revealed that the IPCC used a Greenpeace campaigner to write a key part of its report on renewable energy and to make the astonishing claim that “close to 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies.”

  52. DennisA
    Posted Jun 26, 2011 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    Mr Teske was doing a little trolling on behalf of Greenpeace last year when he submitted this comment on the CTV website about a report of the World Energy Congress,

    Sven Teske said
    “As a European I’m always shocked about the embarrassing low quality of comments and the way Greenpeace is treated in many of Canada’s blogs. Strange why those people do not really write about the real important subjects: How to organize the Energy supply of the future?! Do those people ever really take the time to listen to arguments? Or is it just a automatic reaction: Greenpeace? Don’t like them! Isn’t this a bit too easy? Political discussion requires listening – not just the repetition of prejudice and 30 years old stereotypes.”

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] More for ClimateAudit: Responses from IPCC SRREN […]

  2. By IPCC up to its old tricks? « Newsbeat1 on Jun 17, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    […] Update […]

  3. […] the IPCC is very much post-modern, post-normal (whatever you wish to call it) – look at the evasive and slippery responses given by Ottmar Edenhofer and the Greenpeace author Sven Teske. Its a bit like calling up custumer […]

  4. By Responses from IPCC SRREN « Bee Auditor on Jun 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM

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