New Paper: 100% Renewable Energy Not Feasible, ‘Unsupportable And Reckless’ – Keeps Poor Impoverished

Comprehensive Analysis Crushes

100% Renewable Energy Fantasy


While fully accepting the perspective that fossil fuel energy production and consumption must be dramatically reduced to save the planet from dangerous CO2-induced global warming, four Australian researchers have compiled a comprehensive rebuke of the premise that renewable energies (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) can feasibly supplant fossil fuels to become the dominant power source for the world.

The authors’ analysis zeroes in on the devastating conclusion that each and every one of the 24 previous attempts to substantiate the claim that a 100% renewable energy grid is achievable have failed to satisfy even the most basic feasibility criteria.

Further, a commitment to all-renewable energy sources means there will need to be a massive and unprecedented increase in grid extensions (for new power distribution systems), as well as realized plans for extreme and unrealistic land-use expansion (for biomass production especially) that would threaten ecosystem preservation, biodiversity, and land conservation efforts.

From a humanitarian standpoint, it is conceded that attempts to “decarbonize” energy sources seriously hampers efforts to provide electricity generation to the world’s most impoverished people. In fact, Heard and colleagues conclude that a commitment to renewable-only energy supplies “appears diametrically opposed to [the] eradication of poverty … and social justice for indigenous people.”

Again, these damning conclusions have been advanced by researchers avidly committed to reducing or eliminating fossil fuel energy production for the sake of mitigating global warming.  And yet even staunch renewable energy advocates cannot find a way to substantiate the claim that 100% renewable power generation is feasible.

A very brief summation of the highlights from the analysis — as well as the link to the full paper — is provided below.


Heard et al., 2017

Burden Of Proof: A Comprehensive Review Of The

Feasibility Of 100% Renewable-Electricity Systems


Of 24 Analyses Of The Prospects Of Achieving 100% Renewable Energy, Zero Met Basic Feasibility Criteria


While many modelled scenarios have been published claiming to show that a 100% renewable electricity system is achievable, there is no empirical or historical evidence that demonstrates that such systems are in fact feasible. Of the studies published to date, 24 have forecast regional, national or global energy requirements at sufficient detail to be considered potentially credible. We critically review these studies using four novel feasibility criteria for reliable electricity systems needed to meet electricity demand this century. [N]one of the 24 studies provides convincing evidence that these basic feasibility criteria can be met. Of a maximum possible unweighted feasibility score of seven, the highest score for any one study was four. … On the basis of this review, efforts to date seem to have substantially underestimated the challenge and delayed the identification and implementation of effective and comprehensive decarbonization pathways.”

Reducing Fossil Fuel Consumption Will ‘Raise Problems’ For ‘Poverty Alleviation’


“Our review of the 100%-renewable-scenario literature raises substantial concerns. The widespread assumptions of deep cuts in primary energy consumption defy historical experience, are generally inconsistent with realistic projections, and would likely raise problems for developing countries in meeting goals of poverty alleviation.”
“[E]conomic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries is crucially dependent on energy availability. A reduction in primary energy is an unlikely pathway to achieve these humanitarian goals. To move beyond subsistence economies, developing nations must accumulate the necessary infrastructure materially concentrated around cement and steel. That energy-intensive process likely brings with it a minimum threshold of energy intensity for development. Across a collation of 20 separately modelled scenarios of primary energy for both India and China, Blanford et al. found a range of energy-growth pathways from approximately +50 to +200% from 2005 to 2030. None of those scenarios analyzed for these two countries — with a combined population of almost 2.5 billion people — suggested static or reduced primary energy consumption.”

100% Renewable Energy Demands Unrealistic Grid Extensions, Land-Use Commitments


“The remaining feasibility gaps lie in the largely ignored, yet essential requirements for expanded transmission and enhanced distribution systems, both to transport electricity from more sources over greater distances, and to maintain stable system operations. Fürsch et al. suggested that a cost-optimized transmission network to meet a target of 80% renewables in Europe by 2050 would demand an additional 228,000 km of transmission grid extensions, a +76% addition compared to the base network. … Rodríguez et al. [83] concluded that to obtain 98% of the potential benefit of grid integration for renewables would require long-distance interconnector capacities that are 5.7 times larger than current capacities. Becker et al. found that an optimal four-fold increase in today’s transmission capacity would need to be installed in the thirty years from 2020 to 2050. An expansion of that scale is no mere detail to be ignored.”
“Perhaps our most concerning finding relates to the dependence of 100% renewable scenarios on biomass. The British scenario is a typical example; even with the assumption of a 54% reduction in primary energy consumption, biomass requires 4.1 million ha [hectares] of land to be committed to the growing of grasses, short-rotation forestry and coppice crops (17% of UK land area). … The WWF scenario demanded up to 250 million ha [hectares] for biomass production for energy, along with another 4.5 billion m3 of biomass from existing production forests to meet a scenario of an absolute reduction in primary energy from today.”
“[I]n applying so many assumptions to deliver changes far beyond historical precedents, the failure in any or several of these assumptions regarding energy efficiency, electrification or flexible load would nullify the proposed supply system. As such, these systems present a fragile pathway, being conceived to power scenarios that do not exist and likely never will.”

Wind-Watch.Org Image “Steel Winds

Summarizing Statements:  Proposition Of 100% Renewable Energy Must Be…’Discarded’


1.      “To date, efforts to assess the viability of 100% renewable systems, taking into account aspects such as financial cost, social acceptance, pace of roll-out, land use, and materials consumption, have substantially underestimated the challenge of excising fossil fuels from our energy supplies. This desire to push the 100%-renewable ideal without critical evaluation has ironically delayed the identification and implementation of effective and comprehensive decarbonization pathways. We argue that the early exclusion of other forms of technology from plans to decarbonize the global electricity supply is unsupportable, and arguably reckless.”
2.      “The realization of 100% renewable electricity (and energy more broadly) appears diametrically opposed to other critical sustainability issues such as eradication of poverty, land conservation and reduced ecological footprints, reduction in air pollution, preservation of biodiversity, and social justice for indigenous people.”
3.     “The evidence from these studies for the proposition of 100% renewable electricity must therefore be heavily discounted, modified or discarded.”

 

129 responses to “New Paper: 100129 Renewable Energy Not Feasible, ‘Unsupportable And Reckless’ – Keeps Poor Impoverished”

  1. Newminster

    While fully accepting the perspective that fossil fuel energy production and consumption must be dramatically reduced to save the planet from dangerous CO2-induced global warming, … [because if we didn’t include that disclaimer our research grants would probably be cut off] … four Australian researchers have compiled a comprehensive rebuke of the premise that renewable energies (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) can ever supplant fossil fuels to become the dominant power source for the world.

    Without my edit it is hard to see how those two concepts can be reconciled in the same sentence. Either fossil fuel use must be curtailed or renewables can never become dominant.

    The only third option is that we finally give in to the enviro-nutters objective of sending us back to their seventeenth century “Golden Age” (joke!). No thanks.

  2. sod

    ” four Australian researchers have compiled a comprehensive rebuke of the premise that renewable energies (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) can ever supplant fossil fuels to become the dominant power source for the world.”

    the paper does not say this. If i missed anything, please provide a citation.

    There is a huge difference between a 100% solution and being the dominant power source.

    Especially as their criteria are pretty strict:

    “Criterion 2: The proposed supply of electricity must be
    simulated/calculated to be capable of meeting the real-time demand
    for electricity for any given year, together with an additional back-up
    margin, to within regulated reliability limits, in all plausible climatic
    conditions”

    Nuclear just totally failed this test in japan, after a minor Tsunami climate condition…

    1. AlecM

      The Fukushima plants went into meltdown because of four basic mistakes.

      1. They were Westinghouse Mk 1 PWR design with vulnerable external chambers; the US design engineer of the time warned of this and resigned.

      2. The diesel plant needed to keep the coolant running was at ground level.

      3. It was protected by walls that were much lower than past history recommended for the tsunami height at that position.

      4. The plant was using high Pu fuel rods from the UK so the cooling ponds for old rods had heat input that was far too high.

      Otherwise the plant was fine………

  3. Reasonable Skeptic

    24 yes, 1 no. Looks like a typical consensus to me.

  4. SebastianH

    So, some nuclear advocates suggest that 100% renewable energy supply is not feasible without considering nuclear power generation. Surprise suprise.

    If nuclear would not be as expensive as it is, waste disposal would be a solved issue and if nuclear would be capable to supply peak power, we all could agree that this should be the way to go … but that’s not the case, unfortunately.

    And of course everything is lacking when you make assumptions about the future. If you could implement a perfect 100% renewable power generation scheme with todays technology and prices it would have already been implemented.

    I guess we’ll see what pathways mankind takes. The first 40% renewables are easy, now comes the hard part (as soon as renewables start providing more than 100% of electricity several hours a year).

    1. Sunsettommy

      Seb and Sod,

      You still don’t understand grid instability.

      1. David Johnson

        Seb and Sod understand very little. It must be tough for them as the evidence inexorably builds up against their unrealistic world view.

        1. SebastianH

          It must be hard to ignore all evidence that contradicts your world view …

          The world will go fully renewable at some point in the future. It’s only a question of when or how fast.

          1. Sunsettommy

            Really you are that dumb,Sebastian?

            You just ignored a number of reports posted here,that says 100% renewable is not even close to being reasonable. It is YOU who is being illogical and irrational to push a fantasy.

            Go read the reports before you post another baseless drivel,in support over LOW MASS power source.

          2. sod

            “[A]n electrical supply system based on today’s PV technologies cannot be termed an energy source, but rather a non-sustainable energy sink ”

            The Ferroni paper is total garbage. Basically nobody is coming to any even vaguely similar conclusion. It is using a totally absurd ERoEI concept which is not used for any other source of technology.

            Please stop quoting this garbage!

          3. SebastianH

            Quoting Ferroni and making his views your own is a clear sign of insanity. If you don’t understand why that is, feel free to ask.

          4. SebastianH

            Come on Kenneth, Ferroni and Hopkirk claim that the capital costs alone (for PV) would be 1000 CHF/m² (935 € / m²) and that area would only produce about 100 kWh per year or 2500 kWh in 25 years.

            How does that compare to actual subsidies for and performance of solar panels? Is everyone installing them losing money? Are those 7-8 cent per kWh in recent biddings “fake”?

          5. sod

            “A fast growth of installed PV capacity could result in the creation of an energy sink, as the PV industry could embed energy in PV systems at a rate outpaced by these system’s ability to deliver it back.”

            this is a completely different problem. It is rather typical that new energy technologies can not cover the full energy need to produce them. Not new, not a big problem.

        2. David Johnson

          If you want laugh pop over to Euan Mearns Energy Matters blog where Sod intervened and was completely taken apart by for his troubles

          1. sod

            i want to laugh as well. please give a link!

  5. clipe

    sed/sob

    While we are paying through the nose for green electricity schemes here in Ontario, they are proving to be less than useless. In fact, they are a major drain on the economy.

    Electricity Generated in Ontario
    Apr 17 2017 17:45

    https://www.cns-snc.ca/media/ontarioelectricity/ontarioelectricity.html

  6. Graeme No.3

    Why go renewables at all? Apart from being unreliable, variable and expensive there isn’t much evidence that they reduce emissions very much (except possibly as minor components on isolated islands) or where there is abundant hydro installed.
    In the meantime forests and agricultural lands are being destroyed to provide palm oil for biofuel and biomass for burning. Killing off animals and increasing the cost of food for the poor.
    When it comes to starving africans sod & seb say “Let them eat cake”.

  7. clipe

    http://www.ieso.ca/power-data

    Scroll down and select ‘price’. Scroll down a little more and tick the box ‘HOEP and Global Adjustment’

    “Global Adjustment” is greenspeak for Greenschemes.

  8. clipe

    Oh, and the supposedly independent IESO ,until recently, made this info available on the home page.
    That’s why I had to go nuclear to find it.

  9. sod

    Comment on the paper, with replies by the author. Worth reading, including the comments!

    http://johnquiggin.com/2017/04/10/burden-of-proof/

    (link was provided by Sebastian above, but should get more attention….)

  10. Dennis N Horne

    We need to find the answers to supplying energy not harness the difficulties to fend of settled science: global warming and climate change is occurring right now and won’t go away.

    1. AndyG55

      “global warming and climate change is occurring right now and won’t go away”

      At the moment, the globe is cooling, after a natural El Nino transient spike.

      … and climate has always changed, and will always change.

      We are actually at the COOL end of the current interglacial, much cooler than the first 7000-8000 years.

      Arctic sea ice is at a greater extent than it has been for all but the Little Ice Age, ie, for about 90-95% of the Holocene, Arctic sea ice levels have been less.

      Greenland ice area is close to a peak for some 8000 years and the total Greenland Ice mass has barely changed since 1900.
      https://s19.postimg.org/ceo16fi7n/Greenland-_Ice-_Sheet-_Briner.jpg
      https://s19.postimg.org/vubfmdf8z/Greenland_ice_mass2.png

      The global warming farce is for suckers who don’t have the mental wherewithal to think and investigate the truth for themselves.

      .

  11. Dennis N Horne

    Sure the science is settled. Puffing insulation into the atmosphere will cause Earth to retain more energy just as surely as jumping out a window will cause you to fall.

    Governments around the world would be amazed and mightily relieved if scientists could show orthodox climate science wrong, that we could continue to burn fossil fuels business-as-usual. A Nobel Prize awaits.

    Climate science is complex in that has a great many pieces to put together to make the picture, but each piece is simple enough and although some pieces are a bit rough at the edges the picture is clear.

    Despite all these papers you claim show otherwise. That’s why you can’t find one single scientific institution or society to agree with you.

    Science concerns finding evidence and using it to explain phenomena, to the satisfaction of experts. When experts around the world agree, based on the evidence and science that goes back over a hundred years one has to be a very special sort of person to think one knows better.

    1. AndyG55

      Sorry Dennis, tests using CO2 in double glazing have shown that CO2 is a WORSE insulator that normal air,.

      Back to school, little child. !!

  12. sod

    ” the proportion of renewables could increase slightly in the next 25 years, to 18.7%. In the IEA’s more likely scenario, the share will reach just 15.4%.”

    yes, but the EIA has a terrible history of constantly totally underestimating renewables:

    https://assets.bwbx.io/images/users/iqjWHBFdfxIU/i8F.GB.lxH2g/v2/1200x-1.png

  13. Dennis N Horne

    Human activity has increased the atmospheric level of CO2 from ~280ppm pre-industrial to >400ppm: >40%. More GHG means a greater greenhouse effect.

    Our emissions account for more than all of this increase. Half the CO2 emitted dissolves, acidifying the oceans.

    Earth has retained more energy: equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs every day.

    More than 90% of the “extra” heat has gone into the oceans, which are warming. Ice is melting.

    Mean global surface temperature has risen >1C. Over land more.

    This is essentially the global warming/climate change accepted by every informed scientist on the planet.

    You pick up bits of the jigsaw and try to fit them together to make a different picture. You put a tree here and a tree there but you are lost in the forest, and will never find your way out.

    1. AndyG55

      “Human activity has increased the atmospheric level of CO2 from ~280ppm pre-industrial to >400ppm: >40%.”

      More GHG means a greater IMAGINARY greenhouse effect.

      Global warming since 1850 is TOTALLY BENEFICIAL..

      … and until someone PORVES otherwise, TOTALLY natural..

      … almost certainly solar.

      Please produce one single paper that proves by measurement that CO2 causes warming in a convective atmosphere.

      No calls to consensus,

      No calls to assumption driven models

      no rants.

      Just produce a paper….. Or NOT.

  14. SebastianH

    Dear Pierre,

    thank you for deleting a whole thread up there. I’ll stay away from commenting from now on as you apparently have no need for those comments and want to stay in the magical skeptics wonderland with those cherry picked quotes, etc

  15. Dennis N Horne

    There was no “hiatus” in the greenhouse effect. Earth continued to accumulate energy. Just as the Sun continues to shine during a thunderstorm. Just as brightly.

    What you fail to grasp is, ultimately what is important in science, is the balance of informed opinion – what the experts make of the science. The explanation must be coherent.

    Otherwise you get this sort of thing, above: The greenhouse effect is beneficial and totally natural, but imaginary and almost certainly solar.

    See what I mean?

    1. AndyG55

      What you FAIL to grasp is that the real scientific method has no room for pseudo-experts.

      The “consensus” claim is NON-science.

      But its all you have, isn’t it.

      Please produce one single paper that proves by measurement that CO2 causes warming in a convective atmosphere.

      No calls to consensus non-science,

      No calls to assumption driven models,

      No rants.

      Just produce a paper….. Or NOT.

    2. tom0mason

      @Dennis N Horne
      “Earth continued to accumulate energy.”

      Indeed the earth accumulates energy and sequesters it safely away via life. This sequestering is for a indefinite time and it is only temporary. The energy ends up as peat, coal, all that deep ocean sludge (vast, billion tons, of accumulated dead plankton, fish scales and other small dead animals and plants that once lived closer to the surface). Subsea decomposition components may also go to making methane clathrates.
      All of these processes and many more ensure that any excess solar energy is safely stored away in processes that, for a limited time, keep them stored but if required available for some lifeforms.
      So yes, life on this planet ensures that the energy balance of the planet is never perfectly balanced but that unbalance is perfectly natural utilized. Life does this because this planet has passed through periods of energy deficits called ice-ages when the ability to repurpose this store of energy at a premium.

      Around 3 billion years of Life and Nature, that is all there is, and man is part of that process!. Only those with a propensity for alarm, and a short term view, would consider this process as dangerous.

  16. Dennis N Horne

    The scientific method is what produces the science published in peer-reviewed journals, reviewed, verified and accepted, or rejected, by the global community of scientists, as represented by the Royal Society, National Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science etc etc etc.

    It is not defined by philosophers, self-anointed gurus or people on blogs.

    Climate science is complex and the conclusions demand the consilience of many lines of evidence. One paper in physics or chemistry or geology or biology won’t do it.

    Science produces knowledge and when the evidence is strong enough we call it a fact. Facts give is our best view of reality.

    The greenhouse effect is what makes Earth habitable for humans. The basic science is well understood. More CO2 means more warming: Fact.

    The increase in greenhouse gases accounts for the increase in warming. All of it. Nothing else does. Until someone shows otherwise, that is, to all intents and purposes, a fact.

    1. AndyG55

      You have just shown you have ZERO comprehension of anything to do with real science.

      Thanks !! 🙂

      You are STILL yapping the consensus line, which has absolutely ZERO to do with real science,

      proof that you know NOTHING ELSE.

      “More CO2 means more warming: Fact.”

      BS — NOT FACT.. or you could prove it.. and YOU CAN’T.

      Produce some EVIDENCE that CO2 causes warming in a convective atmosphere.

      That is what real science is.. not consensus yapping. !!

    2. AndyG55

      Peer review publication is NOT and has NEVER been part of the real scientific method. It is a journalistic methodology, subject to all sorts of scamming and fabrication and pal-review. It produces zero proof that a paper is actually correct or not.

      The very FACT that you don’t know that, shows just how little you know about anything to do with science.

    3. AndyG55

      “Science produces knowledge and when the evidence is strong enough… blah… blah…”

      Then produce some of that evidence.

      ….. or just keep yapping aimlessly..

    4. AndyG55

      “Until someone shows otherwise, that is, to all intents and purposes, a fact.”

      ahh… the old “argument from IGNORANCE” that AGW wannabees excel in.

      and which YOU are highlighting.

      There is plenty of REAL evidence that solar variability and ocean cycles easily account for the small amount of highly beneficial warming we have had.

      There is NO REAL evidence that changes in CO2 have any warming effect in a convective atmosphere.

      …. that myth comes from assumption driven models.

      You are free to produce some real evidence..

      .. any time you feel capable. 🙂

      Waiting !!

    5. tom0mason

      @Dennis N Horne,

      In science correlation does not equal causation, consensus does not equal correctness, and publication does not equal quality of purpose or results. As science is just a human construct, is not infallible! Science offers NO facts, only approximate truths and thus many more questions.
      Only a huge bubble of hubris would consider that science has settled any question satisfactorily, and certainly the ‘science’ of climate is nowhere near being settled.

      For instance there is NO provable method of assessing how and why clouds form, are maintained in the sky, and dissipate. A provable method that from atomic/molecular scale all the way up to global proportions show how the energy within cloud structures vary, show how and why they form exactly where they do and not, say, half a mile away.

      Science is all about verification and validation. Slowly inching closer and closer to the truth from verified measurements of observations using validated methods.
      So, with that said, where, Dennis, is the verified and validated observations proving that CO2 causes uncontrolled heating of this planet’s lower atmosphere?

  17. Dennis N Horne

    I don’t need to produce a paper.

    The science is settled. According to the global community of scientists. Read the declarations on the websites for the RS, NAS, AAAS.

    You need to produce the paper(s) to show otherwise. As you would to “disprove” plate tectonics, evolution etc etc etc … scientific waypoints that changed the direction of scientific thinking, the paradigm.

    That’s the way the world works.

    Thank you for giving me the chance to explain that to you. Again.

    1. AndyG55

      Sooooo….

      You AREN’T able to produce any evidence whatsoever to support the AGW farce.

      Is that what you are saying !!

      So hilarious :-).

      Just BLIND belief… that is called RELIGION.

      Its your belief .. defend it if you can.

      Or remain an object of ridicule.

    2. AndyG55

      Let me guess, Dennis, you totally FAILED any attempt at actually learning any science.

      Drop-out from junior high.?

    3. AndyG55

      “The science is settled.”

      roflmao.

      … you poor brain-washed climate kool-aide quaffer.

      Why can’t you produce any then.

      So sad to see a mind so washed and empty

    4. tom0mason

      Dennis,

      Science is NEVER settled!

  18. Dennis N Horne

    1975? How far back do you want to go? Fourier in 1824? Arrhenius in 1896? That’s the origins of climate science.

    2001? What is on the NAS site now? Are you saying science has moved forward and you are rooted in the past?

    1. tom0mason

      Dennis,

      Why can modern science not explain clouds adequately?

      Or maybe that is not part of your ‘settled’ science.

  19. Robert Folkerts

    Dennis N Horne says

    “The scientific method is what produces the science”

    And

    “You need to produce the paper(s) to show otherwise. As you would to “disprove” plate tectonics, evolution etc etc etc …”

    I would be interested to learn how the ” Scientific Method ” was employed to ” discover ” evolution, buddy!!

    Assuming we concur what the “Scientific Method ” is!

    1. P Gosselin

      Dennis forgets that Creation and static tectonic plates were the universal consensus, and that it took a single skeptic (and many funerals) to change all that. More recently (1970s and beyond) we were all told that the low-fat high carb diet was the right way to go – there was broad consensus – today, it is unraveling and turning out to be the greatest scientific blunder in human history.

  20. Dennis N Horne

    If you want to learn where you are going wrong go to skepticalscience.com

    If you want answers from real scientists go to realclimate.org

    If you want an assessment of your science go to physics.stackexchange.com

    Otherwise just talk amongst yourselves.

    1. P Gosselin

      That is what we did, and therein lies the problem.

      These sites are activist and not about science. They misuse science to give their arguments weight. they cherry-pick data, use science that is flawed and has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, insist they are always right and that the science is fully understood (it’s not), cling to the claim that there’s a consensus, and they refuse to discuss – they demand the matter be closed. The people who go there and who are allowed to participate are only those who agree. Sorry, that’s not what we do here, which is what agitates them. They’re dogmatic and they’ve long squandered all respect and credibility.

      They’ve been caught doing so many wrong things and making so many ridiculous claims that they will never gain any respect from the rest of us.

      At our right side bar here you’ll find hundreds of papers that dispel all their silly claims.

    2. AndyG55

      SKS.. roflmao

      Brain-washing central. Ignorance to the MAX.

      No wonder Dennis the twerp grovels to it.

      Home territory, hey Dennis. 🙂

    3. tom0mason

      @Dennis N Horne 20. April 2017 at 9:45 AM

      If these websites are your only points of scientific reference then it is no wonder that your balance of the scientific view is badly tilted towards the most hubristic. I strongly suggest you reset yourself and look at the less alarmist sites for a more balanced view of nature and science.

      Above all please keep in mind that in science there are no absolutes. None!
      What is thought to be ‘fact’ today is only a transitional state before it becomes obsolete, or rediscovered with some new insight. We are not masters of this universe or even this planet, we are all merely ignorant bit players stumbling around, misunderstanding the rules.

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