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Renewables Sector Crosses the Line with Ludicrous Claims

Forget about corruption and cover-up scandals in the energy industry. Europe’s renewable sector is specializing in perjury. They have begun claiming that all of Europe’s fossil fuel needs can be replaced with renewable sources by 2050.

The last culprit is the European Renewable Energy Council, the umbrella group representing the sector’s private industry, from research and trade to generation. In a report published last month, the EREC predicted wind energy and photovoltaics will make up 10% of total electricity in 2020, then reach 18% of total consumption by 2030 and 41% by 2050. The group also predicts that renewable fuels in the transport sector will rise to 10 percent by 2050.

The hardly-explained EREC conclusions are based on a series of assumptions, including a ten-fold growth in current renewable installed energy capacity, an unbelievable 40% total energy demand shrinkage, a gradual escalation in oil prices to $200 a barrel by 2050, and over $5 trillion in savings in carbon credit payments.

The closest EREC President Arthouros Zervos comes to explaining how all these assumptions will be met is by proposing a series of policies that would be harder to negotiate than world peace: “Clearly, the overarching precondition for this to happen is that the commitment needs to be established as the guiding principle for all European policies in the fields of energy, climate, R&D, industry, regional development and international cooperation.” In other words, an EU dedicated solely to self-sufficiency from renewable energy sources.

I can’t blame EREC for lobbying. It is part of the game, as is manipulating numbers to build a convincing defense for any particular sector. But there are legal limits. And lying to citizens and legislators so blatantly should be one of them.

If oil and power companies for decades have been accused – and in many cases convicted -- of a myriad of condemnable practices implemented in defense of their industry, from human rights abuses to political conspiracies to depose governments, why should the renewable sector get away with such ludicrous claims?

Alas, it’s not alone. The European Climate Foundation recently released a report which found that the EU could cut its emissions by at least 80% with renewable-based energy generation, without increasing the cost of producing electricity. Really? Because I’m sure any country would jump on that opportunity, unless the numbers are based on a series of unreal assumptions, which is indeed again the case.

The reality documented in recent trends, and backed by all reputable institutions including the EU itself, the IEA, the OECD, the EIA, is that renewable energy has a bright future in the coming decades. And policy-makers are rightly defending a growing share in the world’s energy mix, particularly in developed economies.

And yes, the potential growth, especially with still-experimental technology, is grand. But to say fossil and nuclear sources can or should be replaced is absurd and irresponsible, almost as much as attacking renewable energy as useless investments.

The only truth is the one revealed in several generations of human efforts to support an ever-growing demand for energy. We need all the sources and technologies we can cheaply develop over time and we need to plan for surging global demand.

As it turns out, most governments understand this, including European ones. The best energy mix is a diversified and secure one that we can count on for decades to come. Or to put it simply, we need fossil fuels, we need renewable sources, we need nuclear power, and whatever else we can feasibly come up with. And we need it cheap and in the most climate friendly form. That is what makes the European renewable energy industry’s claim all the more absurd.

There’s a reason why the renewable sector crossed the line. All of Europe’s energy industry, including the fossil-fuel one, has been producing all sorts of reports and proposals in the past few months in an effort to influence the EU Commission’s long term vision due next year.

To lie however is counterproductive, if nothing else because eventually citizens will see through biased claims. And it undermines decision-making.

I wonder, would the coal industry get away with producing reports saying CO2 is good for the earth? Or if the nuclear industry said they have found a fool-proof solution to waste that can be guaranteed for thousands of years? I’m guessing the outcry would be loud.

There is no way that renewable energy as we understand it today could replace all other sources by 2050. We expect it could meet, at best, and that’s stretching it, a quarter of demand by around 2030.

In fact, the European wind industry, which is represented in the renewable council, recently called for some governments to cut red tape or risk not meeting the 2020 binding target of supplying 20 percent of the block’s electricity with renewable sources.

Here’s a better advice for the notoriously bureaucratic EU: Clamp down on the lying to speed up decision making and to inform citizens of what their real options are.

By. Andres Cala

Source: Energy Tribune




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