A few days back one of my favorite writers, David Roberts at Grist posted an article titled We can solve climate change, but it won’t be cheap or easy. This was based on an article in WIREs Climate Change, A critical review of global decarbonization scenarios: what do they tell us about feasibility? by a group of authors including Jesse Jenkins, a young energy analyst I've also been following for a while. Andy Revkin at dot Earth picked up on Roberts' post as a positive sign, while Joe Romm at Climate Progress had a rather pointed critique.
I don't want to get into the details of the report or most of these arguments here; there was just one point that I thought was very odd when highlighted in Roberts' post, and exemplified by the following figure from the report:
Roberts quotes the authors as follows on this:
These studies also envision a normalized build-out of generating capacity in the range of 5-23 GW/year/$T of GDP, or 1.4-15 times faster than historical experience. These unprecedented rates are a consequence of both the relatively low-capacity factors of wind and solar as well as increased demand due to the assumed widespread electrification of the economy.
What struck me was this measure of "build-out of generating capacity" in GW/year/$T of GDP. The graph suggests past experience on this measure should be a guide to the future, and therefore the Jacobson, WWF, etc. scenarios are unlikely to be feasible. But why did the authors pick this measure?
I've been meaning to say something about the energy/climate provisions in Obama's stimulus package, but just hadn't gotten around to it. I also have a post I've been working on that gets into the whole tropical troposphere mess - yeah, I'll get that out some day too.
Anyway, on the stimulus, this post by Jesse Jenkins at Huffington Post does an excellent job of summarizing the key points in the $80 billion that went to energy projects. I agree pretty much with his analysis of the good and the bad there. Some highlights:
A+: The act provides a much-needed, long-term extension of the critical Production Tax Credit that has spurred the booming wind industry, and makes tax credits for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources fully refundable for the next two years.