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Renewables – Warp 11 Mr. Sulu

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

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Someone posted that we have 100 months to 2030.

So what does that mean to getting enough renewables installed by 2030 with EVs taking to the road.

1)    We need roughly 1.1 million 2.5 Megawatt turbines for 50% of energy from wind or about 11,000 per month. You can remove 5 on shore turbines with 1 off-shore turbine. Currently, we are installing about 16,000 turbine per year – speed up needed 11 times (hence warp 11)

2)    We need roughly 320 acres of solar PV installed per day on approximately 960 acres of land (typical fraction of usable land for PV from just any piece of land). That means a 5 times increase each day

3)    We need 100 GW by 1 TWH of storage installed per year. In 2020 the installed new capacity was 1.1 GW and 4 GWH. Speed up required is 100 times.

That is what it will take with today’s renewable technology to hit the zero-carbon goal by 2030 for electricity and assumes no more than 10% of the vehicles are EVs in 2030.

NOTE: this includes all the nuclear, geothermal, and hydro facilities in the US today, turn any of those off, and the numbers increase. 

Some of the impacts from doing this are not trivial, either for our work force or our environment.

If we are serious, Congress needs to rethink the $3.5 Trillion dollar bill that is 3% about energy and 97% about other things.

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Sep 23, 2021

This makes me cringe when I think of the mining that is needed to produce some of the renewable energy sources.  I wonder what these factors would look like if we balanced this with nuclear, carbon capture, and other means to meet these goals? 

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Sep 24, 2021

Doug, I think we may be too late. It could be the only way to survive is to have WARP 11 or 12.  But if we keep building Renewable Energy we will have the best chance. The mining needed that Audra is concerned about will all be used and recycled for the best possible output. 

   She mentions Nuclear that takes a huge amount of energy to build. The Uranium is very limited and deadly to mine. The waste is just as deadly and the water it uses is very bad. carbon capture is also the monkey chasing it's own tail. Battery storage is getting better everyday with lower cost and longer life. Many companies are recycling at over 95% reuse of the materials.  Solar panels have longer life and the cost is so low like the promise of Nuclear that would be too cheap to meter and is just the opposite. 

     We can do it if we have more visionary doers like Tesla leader Elon Musk. His vehicles are sold out after automakers said no one wanted them. His batteries are the leader in vehicles and the same cells in Mega Watt GRID and Home storage. We can do it with great leaders and fair policies. 

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