Peak Renewables

The more I try to explain to people that it is physically impossible to have a 100% renewable energy world, the more I’m ignored. I now realize that I’m cursed with a thankless, endless task. So, I might as well get on with it.

Gail Tverberg recently wrote an article about the inadequateness of our grid system for adjusting to intermittent energy. Here is the link.

Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity

We do not have enough minerals to provide the world with solar and wind energy.

Renewable Energy Needs A Huge Mineral Supply

At this point, many people will ask, what about the latest research? To which I answer, you go to market with the solar panels you have, and not the solar panels you wish you had. Most research never makes it to the manufacturing stage due to cost and resource restraints.

Fact Sheet: The Minerals Used To Make A Solar Panel.

Solar and wind power manufacturing is a dirty business.

The Dirty Truth About Renewable Energy

The manufacture of solar panels lets off some of the most dangerous greenhouse gases known to humankind. These include:

hexafluoroethane – 12,000 times stronger than CO2

nitrogen trifluoride – 17,000 times stronger than C02

sulfur hexafluoride – 23,000 times stronger than C02

Solar manufacturing plants produce 500 tons of hazardous sludge each per year. This sludge is not always included in the solar industry carbon footprint data.

Five kilograms of hydrogen chloride per square meter of solar panel is used to liquefy the metallic silicon. Silicon carbide is used to cut the silicon into wafers. Cadmium telluride panels ( thin-film technology ) utilize nanomaterials that pose a threat to the environment and workers during the manufacturing and recycling stage. They also wear out faster than ordinary panels.

Our hi-tech, green energy world depends on many metals that are either uncommon, environmentally damaging, or located almost solely in places like China, Bolivia, or the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

A Periodic Table Of Elements We Are Running Out Of

The growth in world population, along with emergence of new technologies will result in some key metals being used up quite rapidly.

Antimony, 15-20 years
Gallium, 5 years
Hafnium, 10 years
Indium, 5-10 years
Platinum, 15 years
Silver, 15-20 years
Tantalum, 20-30 years
Zinc, 20-30 years

A Shortage Of Rare Earth Elements Threatens Renewable Energy

Electric cars are all the rage, especially as they can now go really, really fast. Never mind that the roads they run on are made of oil sludge. Everybody says, what are you talking about?, there’s enough lithium for a quadrillion years. That would be true if lithium batteries only used lithium.

Nickel is one the most important metals on planet earth. It appears that world nickel extraction will peak around 2025.

Peak Nickel

Copper will peak between 2030-2040. There is no substitute for copper. Aluminum is fire prone as a conductor and far too expensive.


Solar Panels use one gram of aluminum per kilowatt hour.

Peak Copper


We will run out of water, food, soil, minerals and energy before we have 100% renewable energy. By 2050, all of today’s solar panels and wind turbines will have to be replaced at exactly the same time we run out of everything. Then, it’s back to wood and coal, if we have any.

So, how much renewable energy do we need?



4 thoughts on “Peak Renewables

  1. Yeah RC, you’re an optimist! 🙂 I’ve set my personal goal at making it to 2035. Mostly because I have kids and if I can shepherd them into adulthood it’ll be psychologically satisfying for me and easier to face my own death, under whatever circumstances it may arrive.

    Regarding your frustration: don’t be too down. You’re right that the vast majority will never get your message. But new people are being awakened to the truth every day- it’s why the readership at these blogs keeps growing. It’s just that it takes much longer than we imagine it should, and it’s only a very small audience that has the background knowledge and intellectual receptiveness to actually take the facts to heart.

    I imagine as we get closer to the end and things fall apart harder and faster, there will be greater numbers of converts. Late-comers who will accept things once they are obvious and undeniable. So we have that to look forward to…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Oh Me Too! Me Three! Like What She Said! | Loki's Revenge

  3. Of course it is possible to have a world running on 100% renewable energy! Not only possible, necessary. The main question is, will it most resemble the kind of world we had 500, 5000, or 5,000,000 years ago?


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