Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Did Renewables have it's "Sputnik Moment" in Spain this year?

Grumpy Old Men resistant-to-change ("geezers") love to rant in great detail about how renewables will never work, continually quoting already-debunked statements like "it's impossible to get above 20% penetration without MASSIVE investment in unproven or non-existent technology" or "the wind doesn't always blow, then what?" etc etc.

Well let's look at Spain's progress up till now and especially let's focus on what happened during 2010.

Previous to 2010 one particular region in Spain, Navarra had at times achieved penetration of up to 60% of it's electricity supply from a combination of wind and hydro. Pretty impressive you might say, but not everywhere has hydro (though plenty places do such as Norway, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia among others - and it should be pointed out that Ontario is an industrial powerhouse, producing more cars by volume than Michigan so we might say that the industrial base to produce electric cars without being affected too too much by oil declines already exists but that's another story for another day....).

Anyways returning to the point: Spain as an example and it's progress on renewables up to 2010.

In this post here there are some juicy details:

Translated from Spanish, what it basically says is that across the entire country, between wind, solar and hydro, Spain produced an *average* of 35% of it's electric demand from renewables such as wind, hydro and solar and and additional 19% from Nuclear and the balance from oil and gas. This when demand *increased* by 2.9% on an annual basis. I make that to be Spain 55% covered by non oil-and-gas. Or a little bit better than glass is half full.

That's interesting. I thought it was impossible to get above 20% without MASSIVE upgrades to the grid. Oh wait, perhaps the doomers and old change-resistant curmudgeons were actually WRONG? Could it be? Oh woe.

What's also interesting to watch is that Spain is a testbed for solar. In Spain they already have close to 3% being generated by Solar methods and they're nowhere near maxxed out. Given that a radical new solar energy technology is on the horizon with greatly increased efficiency we could conceivably be looking at 10% Solar electricity in Spain in the next decade and perhaps much more optimistically speaking.

And on a sarcastic note one of the reasons hydro was able to produce much more was due to all the extra RAIN that Spain received. Turns out that the evil global warming made Spain WETTER rather than drier. Excuse me but I thought global warming was always EVIL?!?!?

Returning from sarcasm to the real world where money is made, it's also interesting to point out that another of the myths the change resistant geezers promote is that fossil fuel plants need to be built to cover times when renewables produce low volumes. Turns out, that rather than import electricity from fossil fuel powered domains, Spain in fact EXPORTED electricity to France in 2010. And not just in 2010. They've been doing this since 2004.

Anyways, Spain's national target is 40% renewables by 2020, a laudable goal. They're already 70% of the way there and we're only at the end of 2010.

Combine this mix with a healthy increase in nuclear power and we may see the Spanish at least being entirely off of fossil fuels for electricity within the foreseeable future. Now we just need to get off our asses in North America...

So returning to debunking dieoff, could it just possibly be that unlike what the dieoff crowd say, the lights are NOT GOING OUT??

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