The Elites Directing The Vitality Transition Actually Have No Concept What They Are Doing • Watts Up With That?


Francis Menton

We are on our way to Net Zero by 2050. It must be true because everybody says so. The entire $6+ trillion per year federal government is committed to the project, which obviously would not be the case if the whole thing were impossible. Equally fully committed are essentially all of the colleges and universities, where all of the smartest people are to be found. As well as every other elite institution of every kind and sort.

Take the World Economic Forum. If there is a number one elitest among all elite institutions, this has to be it. At their annual confab in Davos, Switzerland, they gather the greatest of geniuses to instruct the very top government and business leaders how to run the world. Would you like to go? It will cost you $52,000 to join the organization, and then an additional $19,000 to attend the conference. Chartering a private jet to get you there will cost a few more thousand. Once there, you can hear the very smartest people imparting their thoughts on the most important topics of the day, like “The Great Reset,” “Emerging Technologies,” “Diversity and Inclusions,” and, of course, “The Net Zero Transition.”

Is it possible that these people are completely incompetent and have no idea what they are doing?

A reader has sent me the very latest from the WEF on how the world is going to get to Net Zero. The piece has a date of September 5, 2023, and is titled “How battery energy storage can power us to Net Zero.” The authors are three people from the World Bank, with the lead author being one Amit Jain, who is the Bank’s Energy Storage Program Lead. This is the guy on the receiving end of tens of billions of dollars of government money to pass out to make the energy transition happen throughout the developing world.

Now, it so happens that energy storage is something I know a little about, and in particular about the problem of trying to store enough energy to make an electrical grid work without full dispatchable backup. See my energy storage Report, dated December 1, 2022, at this link.

So let’s take a look at Jain, et al.’s, take on how battery storage will “power us to Net Zero.” First, some excited happy talk:

Across the globe, power systems are experiencing a period of unprecedented change. Low-cost renewable electricity is spreading and there is a growing urgency to boost power system resilience and enhance digitalization. This requires stockpiling renewable energy on a massive scale, notably in developing countries, which makes energy storage fundamental. . . .

Making energy storage systems mainstream in the developing world will be a game changer. Deploying battery energy storage systems will provide more comprehensive access to electricity while enabling much greater use of renewable energy, ultimately helping the world meet its Net Zero decarbonization targets. International organizations and development institutions are leading the way forward to enable this decarbonization. . . .

So OK Amit, how much storage are we talking about here?

In 2022, approximately 192GW (gigawatts) of solar and 75GW of wind were installed globally. However, only 16GW/35GWh (gigawatts per hour) of new storage systems were deployed. A recent International Energy Agencyanalysis finds that although battery energy storage systems have seen strong growth in recent years, grid-scale storage capacity still needs to be scaled up to reach Net Zero Emissions by 2050. . . . To meet our Net Zero ambitions of 2050, annual additions of grid-scale battery energy storage globally must rise to an average of 80 GW annually between now and 2030.

Holy underwear, Batman! Could this guy really not even know what units he’s talking about? Thinking his readers might not understand the abbreviation “GWh” he helpfully defines it as “gigawatts per hour”! Could he really be this clueless? And he had two co-authors to check him!

And then there’s the statement that to meet the 2050 Net Zero ambition, annual deployments of grid-scale batteries “must rise to an average of 80 GW annually.” Of course he is using the wrong units (and undoubtedly does not know that). But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he is talking about the standard batteries available today, which are 4 hour batteries, meaning that 80 GW would provide 320 GWh of storage. If the world would add that much capacity every year from now to 2050, that would come to 8960 GWh of storage. How have Mr. Jain et al. come to the conclusion that this 8960 GWh of storage will be enough to “meet our Net Zero ambitions of 2050”? The piece contains no quantitative analysis or backup of any kind to support the proposition that this amount of storage would be sufficient.

My own energy storage Report does contain backup and calculations, although only for certain countries rather than for the whole world. For example, for the United States, the figures cited in my Report are that it would take some 233,000 GWh of battery storage to fully back up the electrical grid, assuming current levels and patterns of usage. Since the U.S. is about 4% of world population, we can multiply that figure by 25 to get the storage requirement for the world (assuming that the world electrifies to the U.S. level by 2050). The total would be 5,825,000 GWh. In other words, Jain, et al., are off by a factor of about 650, give or take maybe a few hundred.

But it’s OK, because Jain and his colleagues have no skin in this game. They just babble some happy talk to get their hands on a few hundred billions of money from rich governments, and pass it out to build impressive-looking battery projects that are actually next to useless to provide reliable grid electricity. They can be very confident that no one in their circles will ever check the math to see if the numbers add up. When 2050 rolls around and the whole thing doesn’t work, they will be long retired on generous pensions.


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