TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 11)


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


This comment is on the last chapter of the report, titled “EXPLORING THE POTENTIAL ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF THE TIR. INNOVATION SCENARIOS” (p.420 to 455).

This chapter contains much of what has been written in previous chapters, as the uttermost importance of energy (I agree with!). We are told that in 2016 Luxembourg spends 2 billion € for its combined energy needs, a sum that the adoption of the TIR proposals should lower by 250 million per year (p. 431) during the next period up to 2050. This approx. 10% economy is much less spectacular than the repetition of “zero marginal cost” suggests!

We find again speculations that are simply unbelievable: at page 421 we are told (by the Stanford report) that the avoided health costs effect might be over 3 billion € per year, if a 100% adoption of renewable energy will be implemented. This 3 billion number is pure guess, as the total healthcare costs are about 4.5 billion annually!

Saying that Luxembourg wastes today over 80% of its energy resources (p. 422) also seems largely overblown, as thermodynamic and other physics laws do not permit a 100% efficiency. As an example one could say that adopting solar PV wastes more than 75% of its potential (the max. efficiency being not higher than 25%, and probably much lower in real operation with dust-covered or partly shaded panels).

Luxembourg should by reducing its energy requirements and adopting at least 70% in-country produced renewables switch from a capital-intensive to a labor-intensive economy. As the shift to more ICT is suggested constantly, a figure from Statec (2013, p.427) rises some questions: per million € of added value the energy sector fosters 4 jobs, the ICT 4.9, not a spectacular difference!

This last chapter again makes some calculations on the costs and saving brought by adopting at a large scale solar PV on roofs. In all these scenarios, the uppermost important question of how to guaranty a reliable electricity when it is produced nearly exclusively from heavy intermittent sources is neither asked, nor given a serious answer. Storage solutions that still do not exist at the magnitude and cost needed after more than 100 years of research, seem magically to spring into existence. And the continuous refusal of nuclear energy (a non-intermittent and extremely reliable source) does not help to solve this dilemma.

Starting at page 435, several tables give scenarios on future population and energy use. The first table from Statec (the “reference case” suggests a nearly constant energy need (about 25 TWh) between 2015 and 2050, even with a population going up to over 1 million and a triple GDP. The corresponding TIR scenario with a 100% use of renewable energies in 2050 reduces the energy demand to about 17 TWh, all other parameters being the same. I doubt that a drop in conventional energy use to zero will be possible, and I think that 100% renewables ( PV and on-shore wind) without nuclear will be more of a a wishful and rather naive thinking than a physical/technical possible feature.

(end of part 11)

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