In the spirit of honesty and “data driven” thinking, this piece from the FEE has some eye-opening numbers on global energy usage, renewables, and the economics of the energy sector. I’d place myself in the category of a skeptic in general about the “new energy” movement, but certainly with an open mind to new (and occasionally radical) solutions to address climate change impacts and global scaling of population.
What these numbers uncover are the maddeningly huge scope of what’s required to make renewable technology work effectively at scale. The problem of energy storage is a particularly acute one, given that so many novel advances in generation also require us to figure out how to generate on-demand if we can’t cost-effectively store it.
A few highlights:
To make enough batteries to store two day’s worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).
At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.
It takes the energy equivalent of 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store the energy equivalent of a single barrel of oil.