TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 9)


Part 1: ..ENERGY (1/2)
Part 2. ..ENERGY (2/2)
Part 3: ..MOBILITY
Part 5:  ..FOOD
Part 6:  ..INDUSTRY
Part 7:  ..FINANCE
Part 12: My conclusion




In my last comment on the “Smart Economy” chapter I wrote that in my opinion this is the best chapter compared to the preceding ones. This alas can not be said for this chapter on the CIRCULAR ECONOMY, which contains an awful lot of repetitions of items from previous chapters (the authors did not refrain from simple copy-paste when talking about wind-energy potential). It would have been easy to keep to an intelligent discussion on circular economy, a not new concept that surely is interesting and perhaps vitals for Luxembourg’s industrial future. But no, again there are digressions into solar and wind power, the same silly rehashing of the visible catastrophe caused by climate change etc. That Luxembourg has the highest per capita GHG emissions is repeated, without insisting that this number comes from an idiotic calculation convention, and has nothing to do with reality.

9.1. Reverse logistics (p.349)

Reverse logistics is the knowledge of all the material contents (physical material and energy) which are contained in a product. A deep recycling and reuse makes this knowledge important, up to a certain limit. When this chapter asks for a knowledge down to the ppm level, things may become unworkable, and such a fine-grained knowledge probably is an extremely costly and unneeded overkill.

9.2. Product as a service

Many times (for instance at p. 351) the future should be one where individual property will be forbidden: the “prosumer” should buy a service, and not own anymore the product which allows this service. I do not know to what fine-grained structure this will be pursued: should I not have an electrical toothbrush anymore, but become it delivered every morning at my door and recollected late in the evening? There surely are products where buying the service (what finally means lending the product or the person with the product) makes sense, but seeing the future prosumer in a manner similar to the old communist dictators should not be the way to go!

9.3. Wind energy redux.

As said above, this chapter again makes a calculation on the potential of wind energy for Luxembourg and the globe…and it makes a very serious mistake. It is said that 1.96 million wind turbines à 5 MW (plate capacity) could satisfy 1/3 of the actual world energy. This is wrong: the actual total power consumption of the world is about 17 TW (see here); if we assume an extremely generous capacity factor of 30%, these wind-turbines could deliver not more that at most 1/5 of that power (ignoring the extremely important problem of their intermittency).

9.4. Bio-batteries

The theme shows up again in this chapter, for reasons unknown, as these glucose driven experimental batteries belong to the energy chapter (ch.1). Let me just say that SONY has built a bio-battery delivering 50 mW power: we are extremely far away from a commercial viable product (which could well be unattainable during the next 30 years). Suggesting Luxembourgs TIR should concentrate on this exotic development (and neglect other storage options) seems risky!


I will resume my poor impression from this chapter: instead on concentrating on the important and interesting  subject of circularity, the authors wandered into the well trotten fields of wind power, potential climate change, limiting the users liberty in owning products, rehashing words and phrases told in numerous preceding places of this report. It is a pity that they probably ignore the German dictum “In der Kürze liegt die Würze”!


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