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Old 18th September 2023, 12:02   #1
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Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

While reading up on renewable energy and CO2 emissions, I did some number crunching and things don't seem to add up.

Question No.1:

1) Power generation is apparently responsible for 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Installed power generation capacity of wind/solar in the world is around 1500 GW while fossil fuels is 4500 GW.

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_6.jpg

Now logically, this large renewables portfolio should have reduced global CO2 emissions. However, global CO2 emissions is chugging along in an uptrend as usual. Why?

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_2.jpg

Last edited by SmartCat : 18th September 2023 at 13:19.
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Old 18th September 2023, 12:46   #2
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Question No. 2:

Western countries are investing heavily in renewable energy and their emissions are dropping. But China's emissions is zooming and now accounts for 28% of global CO2 emissions.

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_1.jpg

That's because most of Chinese manufacturing activity (including manufacture of EVs, solar panels and wind turbines) is powered by old and new coal power capacity. So by adopting renewables, is CO2 emissions merely being transferred from Western nations to China?

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_3.jpg

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Last edited by SmartCat : 18th September 2023 at 13:19.
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Old 18th September 2023, 12:49   #3
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Question No. 3:

Apparently, solar & wind plants have a capacity utilization of just 20% to 25%, because sun is not shining and wind is not blowing all the time. Does it really mean a 1,000 MW solar farm will only generate as many power units as a 250 MW coal or natural gas power plant? If yes, the narrative that solar plants now cost the same as coal plants per MW is not being honest.

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_7.jpg

Tesla sort of solves this issue by installing energy storage (lithium ion batteries) for Tesla solar roof. Can such a solution be applied to large scale solar & wind farms too, so that capacity utilization of solar/wind farms goes up from 20%?

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_4.jpg

Last edited by SmartCat : 18th September 2023 at 13:20.
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Old 18th September 2023, 12:56   #4
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Question No. 4:

No doubt that CO2 emissions of solar/wind power is negligible compared to coal/natural gas during its operation. But apparently, solar/wind plants have a life of 25 years. After which they have to be disposed off and replaced resulting in never-ending activity of solar panels/wind turbines manufacturing.

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_5.jpg

So is the emissions reduction during operation enough to offset CO2 emissions during mining of quartz sand (for solar panels)/lithium (for battery storage) & manufacturing of solar panels/wind turbines/EVs? Especially if this activity is powered by fossil fuels?

After all, raw materials are mined with third-world countries with little focus on emissions during this activity. It is then transported to China (adds to emissions), processed (adds to emissions) and converted into solar panels/lithium ion batteries (adds to emissions)

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Old 18th September 2023, 13:05   #5
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Question No. 5:

If more and more cars are powered by electricity, won't it result in additional electricity demand? To cover for this new demand, one has to again manufacture more solar panels/wind turbines than one would normally need. Approximately, if 10% of fossil fuel cars are replaced with EVs, that would result in how much increase in electricity demand?

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-screenshot_8.jpg

Note that planners have to account for the fact that a large number of cars will be plugged into the electricity grid at the same time. Peak demand and regular demand numbers will change as more and more people buy EVs, and planners will have to increase power generation capacity keeping this in mind

Last edited by SmartCat : 18th September 2023 at 13:17.
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Old 18th September 2023, 17:15   #6
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
While reading up on renewable energy and CO2 emissions, I did some number crunching and things don't seem to add up.

Question No.1:

1) Power generation is apparently responsible for 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Installed power generation capacity of wind/solar in the world is around 1500 GW while fossil fuels is 4500 GW. ] Now logically, this large renewables portfolio should have reduced global CO2 emissions. However, global CO2 emissions is chugging along in an uptrend as usual. Why?
Simple because our consumption increased in the period. Development or Vikas .

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 2:

Western countries are investing heavily in renewable energy and their emissions are dropping. But China's emissions is zooming and now accounts for 28% of global CO2 emissions.

That's because most of Chinese manufacturing activity (including manufacture of EVs, solar panels and wind turbines) is powered by old and new coal power capacity. So by adopting renewables, is CO2 emissions merely being transferred from Western nations to China?


Note: It is approval per week!
Every one will have to cut down western/eastern, the quicker the better. There are no doubts about that. You might not like the facts but facts are what they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 3:

Apparently, solar & wind plants have a capacity utilization of just 20% to 25%, because sun is not shining and wind is not blowing all the time. Does it really mean a 1,000 MW solar farm will only generate as many power units as a 250 MW coal or natural gas power plant? If yes, the narrative that solar plants now cost the same as coal plants per MW is not being honest.

Tesla sort of solves this issue by installing energy storage (lithium ion batteries) for Tesla solar roof. Can such a solution be applied to large scale solar & wind farms too, so that capacity utilization of solar/wind farms goes up from 20%?

Attachment 2505080
I am not aware of any such large battery solutions but what is wrong about each house having its own battery pack. The nexon EV battery pack has a capacity of about 40 KwH. Our monthly consumption including the battery charging is about 400 KwH. Our roof top
solar produces about 10 KwH a day (average). A home unit like that of the nexon EV would be more than enough for us to run our house. The battery charges from solar at our home or from solar and wind farms from the grid and use it in the night.

We do not need to use new batteries for it. Recycled battery can work out for us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 4:

Apparently, solar/wind plants have a life of 25 years. After which they have to be disposed off and replaced resulting in never-ending activity of solar panels/wind turbines manufacturing. Is the operational CO2 emission reduction by adopting renewables enough to offset CO2 emissions during mining of quartz sand (for solar panels)/lithium (for battery storage) & manufacturing of solar panels/wind turbines/EVs? Especially if this activity is powered by fossil fuels?

Attachment 2505085
This is a problem if and only if the total power produced per panel in its life time (20-25) years is less than the emissions produced during its production. Which by any stretch of imagination it is not. The production emission can further be reduced by recycling old panels. Unlike oil these can be recycled you know


Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 5:

If more and more cars are powered by electricity, won't it result in additional electricity demand? To cover for this new demand, one has to again manufacture more solar panels/wind turbines than one would normally need. Approximately, if 10% of fossil fuel cars are replaced with EVs, that would result in how much increase in electricity demand?

Attachment 2505093

Note that planners have to account for the fact that a large number of cars will be plugged into the electricity grid at the same time. Peak demand and regular demand numbers will change as more and more people buy EVs, and planners will have to increase power generation capacity keeping this in mind
Let us get this clear. If we have to save ourselves from climate change we need electrification EV or not. Cooking for example should move to electric ovens and not LPG, agricultural operations, you name any activity that involves energy it should move to electricity. This is the prerequisite for fighting climate change.

If this is the scale then EV charging will be insignificant. In fact EV charging can act as batteries and be like our grid stabilisation procedure. Also do not forget that, the power saved from shutting down oil wells, the oil pipe lines refineries etc are more than sufficient for this.
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Old 18th September 2023, 20:09   #7
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Now logically, this large renewables portfolio should have reduced global CO2 emissions. However, global CO2 emissions is chugging along in an uptrend as usual. Why?
I found a better graph. So many sectors are going green, going renewable and electric is the only solution.

There is no reduction in CO2 because still China, India and Africa are developing.

Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-20230918_185148.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
That's because most of Chinese manufacturing activity (including manufacture of EVs, solar panels and wind turbines) is powered by old and new coal power capacity. So by adopting renewables, is CO2 emissions merely being transferred from Western nations to China?
Battery factories and solar panels factories are coming up quiet fast in Western countries too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Does it really mean a 1,000 MW solar farm will only generate as many power units as a 250 MW coal or natural gas power plant?
I just googled and found that capacity utilization of coal plants is 65%. Still the wholesale prices of Solar is ~2₹/kwh for new solar projects compared to ~3-4₹/kwh for existing coal projects.

Tesla Hornsdale battery storage.
Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-hornsdalebigbattery.jpg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...f-in-australia

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
manufacturing of solar panels/wind turbines/EVs? Especially if this activity is powered by fossil fuels?
True, also batteries, new wind turbines blades and most components of Solar are recyclable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Approximately, if 10% of fossil fuel cars are replaced with EVs, that would result in how much increase in electricity demand?
The answer is effeciency, the renewable and electric future needs less energy, less mining.

We moved from Tubelights to LEDs, moving to BLDC fans, EVs, ACs and space heaters to heat pumps. All the energy savings mean we need less increase in electricity generation. Also to refine 1 litre of petrol needs 1.3kwh electricity, when we stop refining petrol we will save that 1.3kwh of electricity.

Edit: We should use smart electric meters and different rates for different times of usage, this will make EV owners to charge at night when power consumption is low or during day when solar generation is high.

Norway electricity consumption is decreasing even after high EV penetration.
Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-20230918_200109.jpg

Norway total energy consumption
Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions-20230918_200122.jpg

Also, 40% of world shipping carries only oil, the energy and emissions savings will be huge if that ships even reduce to 10% of world shipping.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Coal and natural gas power plants capacity utilization can be manually controlled. A country always has to maintain extra capacity for peak loads. This extra capacity comes from fossil fuel plants. So if you look at its overall capacity uitlization on an annual basis, its average will be less than 100%
Also, I believe they cannot be switched OFF when not needed, as it could be difficult to switch ON when needed.

Last edited by SKC-auto : 18th September 2023 at 20:38.
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Old 18th September 2023, 20:22   #8
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

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Originally Posted by SKC-auto View Post
I just googled and found that capacity utilization of coal plants is 65%.
Coal and natural gas power plants capacity utilization can be manually controlled. A country always has to maintain extra idle capacity for peak loads. This extra capacity comes from fossil fuel plants. So if you look at its overall capacity uitlization on an annual basis, its average will be less than 100%

Quote:
I found a better graph. So many sectors are going green, going renewable and electric is the only solution.
Your infographic assigns 22% to food/agriculture/land. This probably includes contribution of cattle/livestock towards greenhouse gases.

However, some folks exclude these as 'natural' emissions and not related to human industrial activity (although I do see the logic of including them in the list). I don't think these numbers are included in the main global CO2 emissions chart in the first post. That's because it is not in a country's control to reduce these emissions, unless they force their citizens to change their food habits.

If we exclude these activities, power generation contributes 40% to global CO2 emissions and not 25%.

Last edited by SmartCat : 18th September 2023 at 22:45.
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Old 19th September 2023, 09:42   #9
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Sorry, did not notice these replies:

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Originally Posted by electric_eel View Post
Simple because our consumption increased in the period. Development or Vikas
We have world GDP growth data too, and there is no perceptible increase in GDP growth during this period (compared to last 20 or 40 years) for the world. Basically, the point is:

(a) World CO2 emissions have been growing at 2% pa BEFORE investments in renewables in the last 20 years
(b) World CO2 emissions have been growing at 2% pa AFTER investment in renewables in the last 20 years

Also:

(a) Western world has seen reduction in emissions despite seeing GDP growth. So we have to be clear that renewables invesmtent does indeed reduce a country's emissions.
(b) China's emissions have shot up rapidly, thereby negating the gains made by the Western world.

Hence the question: Is emissions merely being transferred from the Western world to China? In other words, does mining/manufacturing activity of solar/wind power/EVs in China cancel all the gains made by the Western world that invests in renewables? If no, why isn't the growth rate of emissions falling?


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Originally Posted by SKC-auto View Post
There is no reduction in CO2 because still China, India and Africa are developing.
The chart shows emissions data from 1950s. And it has more or less steadily grown at 2% pa, with or without investment in renewables. Every 2 decades, some or the other region have been developing or industrializing.

1950s: Europe reconstruction after WW2
1970s: Japan mega-industrialization
1990s: Asian Tigers
2000s: China
2020s: India/vietnam perhaps
2040s: Africa perhaps

The baton of growth/industrialization and hence emissions have always shifted from one region to another. This is not something new.

Last edited by SmartCat : 19th September 2023 at 09:53.
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Old 19th September 2023, 10:22   #10
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
1950s: Europe reconstruction after WW2
1970s: Japan mega-industrialization
1990s: Asian Tigers
2000s: China
2020s: India/vietnam perhaps
2040s: Africa perhaps

The baton of growth/industrialization and hence emissions have always shifted from one region to another. This is not something new.
World population grew from 4 billion in 1975 to 8 billion today, also when Europe and Japan had growth China, India, Africa and South America were poor, today the consumption has increased a lot many times. If we look back the way we were living in 1990s is very different to today's.

One very important aspect we missed when talking about CO2 emissions is the increased forest fires from Australia, Canada to Brazil. Also, reduction in renewable Hydro generation due to severe droughts.
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Old 19th September 2023, 10:39   #11
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No.1:
The emissions are chugging along because

1. The world economy is growing as well. It grew at 3.4% last year as per IMF data. We as humans are consuming more and more. Small example - Car sales numbers in India have just been on a rise since the pandemic.
2. CO2 emissions don't only come from electricity production. They also come from manufacturing or simple thing like livestock farming or production of fossil fuels.
3. China and India are polluting more because they became the manufacturing hubs for the west. And they don't have as much capital to invest into green energy as the advanced economies like US, UK, Europe etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 2:
China and India have world's 4th and 5th largest coal reserves in the world. Hence they have relied on coal as the primary source of power since last 100 years. The solar panel cost, demand and supply gap, lack of energy storage options are some of the factors which play against solar plants today.

But the things are changing -

1. In a first of firsts in the last 4 months (the peak power usage months), Rajasthan saw a de-growth of energy produced by fossil fuels. 34TWH electricity produced by fossil fuels, 1.6% lesser YoY. At the same time 27 TWH was produced by renewable sources a YoY growth of 28%
Source - Economic Times (Today's article).
2. India’s first large scale Solar PV cum Battery Energy Storage project was implemented in 2020. Source - L&T Construction. There are many more BESS projects in pipeline or implemented - Example 1, 2, 3

In summary, everything has an inflection point. First coal power plant in India was implemented in 1920 where as first solar power plant was implemented in 2012. Solar implementation has had only 11 years to overtake coal and it is happening. The issue is we are expecting an 100 years worth of impact in nearly 1/10th of time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 3:
Battery energy storage solutions (BESS) is the answer for this and it is getting implemented. I gave examples above. Also, in addition to this micro level solar implementations (roof top solar) need to get much higher traction than what is happening today specially in large residential societies or commercial establishments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 4:
There are clear cut processes of recycling batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. As the grids get cleaner, the process of recycling will also get cleaner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Question No. 5:
In railways, we replaced all steam powered engines with diesel engines and then with electric engines. We planned to import as much diesel to support diesel engines and then to produce as much electricity to support electric engines. Have you ever heard that a train got stuck because there was not enough electricity? Yes, there may be breakdowns but never a power cut. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. As the need arises there will be someone present to capitalize on the opportunity and provide a solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
While reading up on renewable energy and CO2 emissions, I did some number crunching and things don't seem to add up.
Finally my two cents on the topic. There is one thought process, i always try to instill in my teams. That is rather than wasting time on thinking how something is not possible, spend time on thinking how i can make this possible. Asking questions, raising concerns is good but finding solutions to a problem is the key to success.

While your analysis raised some pertinent questions about the "green" implementation and its future but it didn't divulge on what is need to make the "green" dream a success. It is always easy to ask questions, it is 100 times more difficult to provide solutions. Forums as big as teambhp with the amount of reach should be pioneers in bringing thought leadership to the industry rather than just raising questions leaving it to others to find answers.

To give some examples on how we can make community impact
1. A lot of BHPians live in residential societies or have businesses, members can try and push these societies or businesses to implement roof top solar. Even pioneer some BESS initiatives like trying to replace some level of diesel gensets with batteries.
2. Our forum can conduct talks on sustainability and how it can be implemented in the automotive world.

Final thought - We the current generation need to take important steps so that our future generations see a better tomorrow. Green energy is the stepping stone to a better tomorrow and we need to make it a success

Last edited by ferrarirules : 19th September 2023 at 10:46.
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Old 19th September 2023, 10:52   #12
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Not sure batteries will solve the storage problems. Cant imagine the scale needed and even if its the way. Last week was reading about the concentrated solar power that can store heat energy in molten salt and itself can last 3 to 4 hours during night. Will reduce recycling and energy needed for same with batteries, photovoltaic etc.
We will not run out of hydel power and can be used during day time or cloudy days. Adding wind energy, solar energy for direct power during day should reduce emissions.
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Old 19th September 2023, 11:43   #13
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

I realised some of the sentences in my post are misleading so let me clarify

Quote:
Originally Posted by electric_eel View Post
I am not aware of any such large battery solutions but what is wrong about each house having its own battery pack. The nexon EV battery pack has a capacity of about 40 KwH. Our monthly consumption including the battery charging is about 400 KwH. Our roof top
solar produces about 10 KwH a day (average). A home unit like that of the nexon EV would be more than enough for us to run our house. The battery charges from solar at our home or from solar and wind farms from the grid and use it in the night.

We do not need to use new batteries for it. Recycled battery can work out for us.
We do have solar at home but currently it is connected to grid (net metering). As such we do not have a Li-Ion based battery pack yet but what I outlined above is a setup that
should not be difficult to achieve with current technology by a company like Tata Power.

Quote:

This is a problem if and only if the total power produced per panel in its life time (20-25) years is less than the emissions produced during its production. Which by any stretch of imagination it is not. ....
I wanted to say "if the total power produced per panel in its lift time is more than the emission produced during production". So for the initial panels you would need to pay in CO2 emission but then the subsequent production will be done through clean energy.
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Old 19th September 2023, 11:44   #14
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartCat View Post
Tesla sort of solves this issue by installing energy storage (lithium ion batteries) for Tesla solar roof. Can such a solution be applied to large scale solar & wind farms too, so that capacity utilization of solar/wind farms goes up from 20%?
In the medium term, the answer is to burn cleaner fuels like LNG to produce power but we will have to move to renewable sources in the long term to cut down on emissions. Battery technology is expected to play a pivotal role in achieving reduced emissions by helping to store and release power as and when required. Once this tech develops, we will no longer need peaker power plants that are put on standby and can be turned on quickly to address the demand & supply gap.
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Old 19th September 2023, 12:53   #15
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Re: Unanswered Questions about Renewable Energy & CO2 Emissions

I wonder why solar system owners are not allowed to claim carbon credits for excess production over consumption? They have already reduced what they pay us by almost half in a period of 3 years, yet they claim that they want to encourage new solar installations.
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