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IEA says Lomborg claims on wind and solar energy are “rubbish”

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Bjorn Lomborg is at it again. The notorious climate contrarion – a favourite of Australia’s Coalition government – is writing a daily blog from the Paris climate talks and his bed-rock argument is a familiar one: that wind and solar energy are pretty much useless.

In his first column for The Australian this week – he is also writing for other international papers – Lomborg repeated his claim that even under the International Energy Agency’s most optimistic scenario, wind and solar will amount to no more than 2.4 per cent of the world’s energy needs by 2040.

“The reality is that even after two decades of climate talks, we get a meagre 0.5% of our total global energy consumption from solar and wind energy, according to the leading authority, the International Energy Agency (IEA). And 25 years from now, even with a very optimistic scenario, envisioning everyone doing all that they promise in Paris, the IEA expects that we will get just 2.4 per cent from solar and wind.”

lomborgLomborg uses these figures to reinforce his view that the world should stop adding wind farms and solar arrays, and find something else to do, mostly to spend its money on R&D. The fossil fuel industry would be grateful if they did.

RenewEconomy took issue with those claims a few weeks ago – he has been repeating pretty much the same thing for several years now – and now the IEA itself is sick of being verballed.

“That is absolute rubbish,” the IEA’s head of renewable energy Paulo Frankl told RenewEconomy at a side-event at the Paris climate talks.

Frankl point to the same graphs that RenewEconomy highlighted from the recent World Energy Outlook, the ones that show that the IEA – itself often criticised for its conservative forecasts of wind and solar  –  expects that wind and solar will provide 27 per cent of global electricity demand by 2040 in its most optimistic scenario.

This scenario is the one that limits greenhouse gases to 450ppm, which means that it is more optimistic than Lomborg’s reference of the “INDC” scenario. But he is wrong on that too.

The key is that the 27 per cent from wind and solar compares to just 12 per cent from coal. As a percentage of total energy consumption, including heat and transport, that would work out to nearly 10 per cent – not the 2.4 per cent envisaged by Lomborg.

(This is one graph below, and see this story, Bjorn Lomborg, time to check your numbers, for more on this claims and his estimates of the emission reduction pledges at the Paris climate talks).

iea renewable share 2040

“His claims are not correct. It cannot be,” Frankl said.

And, Frankl suggested, the role of solar and wind energy may increase beyond the IEA’s forecasts.

“Today, solar PV and wind don’t help heat and transport. But we will see. An increasing electrification of heat and transport sectors will increase the role for PV.”

But Lomborg has his finger on the reset button. And Rupert Murdoch’s media is happy to hand him a megaphone. Let’s hope that the Coalition government, and their other advisors, can read a graph.

 

   

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  • john

    My feelings are that the MSM have sacked their science reporters so turn to commentators like the discredited Lomborg to present their articles.

    To understand more about him please go
    http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/

  • Miles Harding

    Lomborg is only doing his job!
    Unfortunately for the easily confused (ie LNP politicians and the Murdoch press**), this means peddling a dangerous contradiction.

    ** SBS was absolutely on the mark! It’s a long time since stopped reading the Australian because of its virtually non-existent reporting integrity.

  • lin

    “Today, solar PV and wind don’t help heat and transport”
    This is changing very quickly. Already heat-pump hot water heaters and reverse cycle air-conditioners work very well with PV.

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/the-cheapest-way-to-heat-your-home-with-renewable-energy-just-flick-a-switch-92274

    • JohnM

      And I drive a Tesla model S, which I charge from my solar PV… not just zero emissions, -it also goes very fast.

      • lin

        what size PV installation do you need to keep a Tesla S running?

        • JohnM

          I have 6kw of panels overclocking 5kw of inverters. On a good day I get 45+kwh from the system. The Tesla S 85 takes 85kwh for a full charge = 500kms. I’m running At around 160 wh/km.
          So basically I get about two week’s worth of charge in two days.
          We have free charge stations here as well -(RAC Electric Highway), so I can top up any time for free. I like to think that this power also comes from solar PV or wind. I also have 6 acres of land and grow my own firewood for home heating, plus solar hot (rain)water.

          • Calamity_Jean

            “Lomborg is very wrong. On who’s payroll I wonder?”

            Some oil company’s, I imagine. Maybe several of them.

  • Alan S

    If the uptake of renewables is as low as he claims then it’s due to him and his blind followers in government so take a bow. Don’t blame the technologies, they’re proven but they simply don’t get built when idiots have the ear of government.
    Here in South Australia we’ve been powered 100% by wind a couple of times and three fossil fuelled power stations have been closed or mothballed. That’s clear evidence and no amount of bleating by a denier or coal industry stooge can contradict it. There’s plenty of other evidence in RenewEconomy, ReNew, Solar Progress etc so writing negative crap in The Australian is as effective as tilting at windmills.

    • Thomas

      …and that is why you had involuntary load shedding last month when the black coal generators of Victoria was constrained of.

  • Chris Fraser

    We should be taking care with these things. It looks like we are giving oxygen to them because the mainstream media are bored and love a bit of sensation.

  • Jacob

    15-20 years ago only 1% of the population had mobile phones.

    Long live the solar PV rvolution!

  • Ian

    This is an argument betwixt the incompetent (the IEA’s record on forecasting renewables has been so bad that it should be assumed that their current forecast is useless) and the discredited. Why is anybody paying either of these parties any head?

  • Alastair Leith

    And as if IEA has even been with cooey of accurate Solar and Wind projections rather than not seeming to understand exponential growth curves.