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Scientific Method
Optimistic Renewables Study Gets a Reality Check
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  • Fat_Man

    Link to Rebuttal Paper at PNAS:

    ABSTRACT: A number of analyses, meta-analyses, and assessments, including those performed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the International Energy Agency, have concluded that deployment of a diverse portfolio of clean energy technologies makes a transition to a low-carbon-emission energy system both more feasible and less costly than other pathways. In contrast, Jacobson et al. [Jacobson MZ, Delucchi MA, Cameron MA, Frew BA (2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(49):15060–15065] argue that it is feasible to provide “low-cost solutions to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of WWS [wind, water and solar power] across all energy sectors in the continental United States between 2050 and 2055”, with only electricity and hydrogen as energy carriers. In this paper, we evaluate that study and find significant short-comings in the analysis. In particular, we point out that this work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.

  • Joe Eagar

    Good scientists never, ever, ever say “there is not one single error in my paper”. That is the mark of pseudoscience.

  • FriendlyGoat

    “Judging by all the heated rhetoric, it seems that this disagreement is getting a little personal”.

    Uh, yeah.

  • CaliforniaStark

    The Jacobsen study was never taken seriously. It was a pathetic attempt to contort the intermittent nature of renewable wind and solar energy production to show that it was able to provide power 24/7.

    What is gratifying is that scientists are now more willing challenge poorly written scientific papers. It is happening in other areas as well — such as with recent scientific papers discussing whether there was a “pause” in global warming, and at what rate global warming may actually be happening. We finally are beginning to have an honest academic discussion of these issues. The shrill ideological voices, which often received sanction from the Obama administration, are not as intimidating as they were in the past.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I’m glad to see the support for the Scientific Method here. But, this begs the question why Via Meadia still supports the “Global Warming” Hypothesis, despite the fact that there hasn’t been any significant warming, that can’t be explained by normal, historically supported, variability. During the Medieval Warm Period (before the recent rise in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide), the Russians were growing grapes and making wine in Moscow. This also illustrates that a warmer Earth is NOT a disaster, but rather beneficial.

  • Josephbleau

    Based on a previous article here at Mead, the IEA definitely thinks there is an error in this paper regarding Nuclear. A simplified model approximating a complex system + outcome bias is just pure science to today’s Academics. Does anyone really believe you can have it all with no pain or hard choices?

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