Can renewable energy sustain consumer societies?
The figures just do not support what almost everyone assumes; that is to say, they do not support the argument that renewable energy can sustain consumer societies.
This is because the enormous quantities of electricity and oil required by consumer societies today simply cannot be converted to any mixture of renewable energy sources, each of which suffer from various limitations arising out of such things as intermittency of supply, storage problems, resource limitations (e.g. rare metals, land for biomass competing with food production, etc.), and inefficiency issues. Ultimately, however, the cost is the fundamental issue at play here. Trainer provides evidence showing that existing attempts to price the transition to systems of renewable energy are wildly understated.
wotfigo; More & more studies are reaching this conclusion. That is that no matter which combination of renewable energy sources are used in the future it will be impossible to produce the same levels of energy achieved today with fossil fuels. Energy decline is absolutely unavoidable.
And no, nuclear fusion, which appears to be an unattainable dream, will probably not ride to the rescue. Nuclear, including molten salt Thorium reactors may help the energy decline but will not reverse it. You can expect every last chunk of coal to be ripped from the deep bowels of the earth to keep the electricity going for as long as possible.
A further problem of course is that all the renewables produce electricity. Liquid fuel production from biomass will produce only a small fraction of the petrol, diesel, aviation gas & marine bunker fuel that the worlds’ transport, construction & farming machines need. We are almost certainly on peak oil now. There are only a few short years before this problem really starts to worsen.
Energy decline is absolutely unavoidable. Liquids first. The age of the car is in its twilight.