Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ten Times Better

In his book, Zero to One, Peter Thiel states that "only when your product is 10X better can you offer the customer transparent superiority."

In the global warming discourse, it is often stated that fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable (solar, wind, geothermal) energy sources.

However the first question we should ask is if in fact renewables are ten times better than what they are supposed to be replacing.

Well, in reality renewables not only are not ten times better than fossil fuels, they are not even plain better. What's more, in most of the important attributes of an energy source, renewables are considerably worse than fossil fuels.

So maybe this is the reason renewables are barely represented in our civilization's total energy consumption.* And this is in spite of them being the recipients of considerable subsidies per unit of energy produced.

In his book The End of Energy Obesity, Peter Tertzakian states:

"The following framework of nine energy attributes will serve as a useful reference point for assessing how energy sources - renewable and nonrenewable - jockey for market share and for predicting how successfully we can incorporate them into our energy diet."

Following I will list Mr. Tertzakian nine energy attributes and will indicate in green where renewables are better than fossil fuels and in red where they are worse:

1. Versatility

2. Scalability

3. Storability and Transportability

4. Deliverability

5. Energy Density

6. Power Density

7. Constancy

8. Environmental Sensitivity

9. Energy Security

As we can see, the renewables loss is almost as bad as the Brazil - Germany one during the 2014 FIFA cup.

Consequently, if we are going to replace fossil fuels, we need something much better than renewables and we need a real sense of urgency in this endeavor unless we believe fossil fuels will forever be abundant and relatively inexpensive.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

* http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/Energy-economics/statistical-review-2014/BP-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2014-full-report.pdf

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At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look at the EROEI of renewables, many are too low to be sustainable in a modern economy. This leaves their energy security questionable.


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