10 Key facts about the INTRENEX energy system
We must retrofit our entire civilisation to be based on renewables in the next 30 years. To even closely do that we could downsize our whole economic system on the one hand (to build a smaller new system) and upscale renewables at very fast speed on the other hand. The build up of sufficient renewables in that short time frame can only be achieved when we use the most efficient approach which has been shown to be a supergird to connect remote locations with good quality renewable potential to the productive centres of the projected region. INTRENEX aims at building such a system in the form of a “transnational energy cooperative” where every private investor in renewables can consume the electricity generated from his own investment at the maximum efficiency, thus the lowest price possible. To start this company a basic funding period is being run to operate the company for at least five years. In these five years, energy futures are planned to be made available for private investors that should at least amount to 1 billion Euros that the project can scale up at sufficient speed. This energy-future is made available at a price of 1000 Euros and embodies the right to receive a certain fixed amount of kWh of green electric energy.
1. The task is gigantic and requires a coordinated worldwide effort
We inhabit a very rare Jewel in this universe:
The destruction of the biosphere of this Jewel already has picked up a lot of speed and to stop it, we all must engage in massive lifestyle changes. One of them is our energy industry. INTRENEX proposes the optimum layout for the new energy industry based on a scientific study
First we want to replace all fossil fuel fired power plants with renewables. For coal alone this would sum up to 6 TW worldwide. If we built the entire new system on wind alone with the largest onshore wind turbine available (E-126) at a nameplate power of 7,5 MW this would require 800.000 wind turbines. If we manage to build one in a day this would take 2192 years. INTRENEX will of course not use only the most expensive turbines (14 Mio USD for one E-126) but the cheapest turbine appropriate for a certain location.
This task really is gigantic but we managed to bring internet and mobile phones to every location in the world in the last 20 years. So it is not impossible. But you must know one thing: We face a possible resource shortage maybe as soon as 2030 starting with oil and coal and gas shortly after. If we start this task too late or are not ambitious enough, all the efforts will not be futile. That is also true for the CO2 budget on the other hand. It could be possible that our carbon budget for 2°C might be used up as early as in 15 years. INTRENEX has the most ambitious plan and this will in the end lead to the least disruptions.
Let’s say, we installed 800.000 Wind turbines and everything is ok, then we assume a replacement figure of 1/25 in one year as the installation lifetime shall be 25 years. That would mean, we will constantly have to replace 32.000 turbines in one year or 88 in one day. That is a very large industry!
The world is currently running at a constant energy consumption rate of around 15TW. With coal and gas and oil this system probably has an EROEI of about 50. So if we want to replace all of that with a new energy infrastructure the energy part of our economy must at least increase 6 fold compared to the coal fired power plants alone of 6TW, due to the lower energy density of renewables (EROEI of about 15) To get a grasp about the gigantic task that is ahead to replace our energy needs, I reccommend that you reas the Wikipedia Article about the cubic mile of oil
This can only be solved when the world energy need is reduced significantly. Maybe to 75% or even 50%. When we look at the OSCE countries, CO2 Emissions are at around 12 t/Capita but the globally allowed level is 2 t/Capita. That means OSCE countries will have to downsize to one sixth of current consumption. That is not something that you can win an election with.
2. INTRENEX proposes a new financing model but it will be very hard to collect the sums required
INTRENEX will create energy-future certificates that cost 1000 Euros each and entitle for the consumption of a yet to be fixed anount of kWh of electrical energy obtained from the network of the INTRENEX system. During the scale up phase of the project, the price can not be the lowest possible due to the fact that an ambitious growth target of 30% annually is required. We can not serve all the investors in energy-futures right from the beginning of the project with energy as the scale-up effects will only kick in at the very end. After the build up for 100% renewables is completed the price will be reduced to match the replacement and maintenance costs. This price will be very cost effective as INTRENEX will use installations that run at a much higher efficiency than land based installations in Europe for example. This will automatically lead to a much lower price.
We must therefore convince a very large number of investors to take a very long term strategy. The final price might only be available for the children and grand children of the first investors. It is very difficult to predict if such an investment strategy can be used at this large scale. It will only work when there is a broad consensus that this path should be chosen.
If we continue disputing between the INTRENEX approach and the smart-grid-storage approach (what is currently not economical but all people involved in it claim, that it will be economical shortly) the economic and political force required will not be there. Mind my words: The smart grid system involves a lot of complicated command and control infrastructure and storage (that is not yet availably on an industrial scale) that the people in the universities want to research for and there exist a lot of IT people that also want to make a lot of money with the data they might collect from this system watching every item in your household that consumes energy. The HVDC system INTRENEX proposes is very much a self regulating system that does not require a lot of human intervention and it will be much cheaper as there is only moderate storage involved that already exists.
3. Storage of energy is suboptimal
We can store the electrical energy for a family home for some days but even that is very costly and only very few people really live off-grid with an 100% solar powered electricity supply.
When we assume a global electrical energy consumption of about 6 TW and we want to store 1 hour of that we could use NaS Batteries which are available at industrial size. 1 NaS Battery is available for example at a power rate of 1 MW for 6MWh. Then when we build up 6 million of these, we had the required power level and with that enough electricity storage for about 6 hours consumption of the entire world. This would probably cost 18 trillion euros. It will not be necessary to spend this large sum and build up this large amount of machinery (1 unit probably 1 Container size) if we created an electricity system where the production meets the demand at 100% of the time. This is only possible when the installations of renewables are geographically spread over more than 3000 km. That is the reason why we really need to build up a very large system. The smaller the system, the bigger the storage needs. The higher the price in the end.
4 . The CO2 problem is getting worse by the day
Do not rely on the results of the IPCC for an estimate about what we should do until when because every day new data comes up that shows that the global CO2 problem is increasing faster than was appreciated the day before. Currently the Carbon dioxide emissions levelled out for the last three years at 35 Gt/year. The “Budget” by the IPCC for 2° C is at 1000 Gt, so we will have 28 years to stop emitting any CO2. That means a reduction rate of more than 3% annually. As of 2017 there was no reduction in CO2 in the last two years after the Paris COP 2015 Summit. The longer we wait to reduce emissions, the more we will have to reduce on an annual basis later. If we look at the actual emission, the IPCC claims that this “budget” equals a CO2 level of 450 ppm. In 2016 the CO2 level increased by 3,56 ppm and we are currently roughly at 400 ppm. So 450 ppm will be reached in 15 years. Where does that difference come from ? The IPCC claims there will be a “technology” available that will be able to reduce CO2 from the atmosphere by 2070 (CDR: Carbon Dioxide Removal). Come on, you can not make a reasonable forecast for that date with a technology that does not exist and needs to be applied on a gargantuan scale. These people lie themselves into their pockets.
The large increase this year is also alarming because we did not emit more than last year and still the increase is larger than last year. That means the following: The global ecosystems and in particular the oceans that took in our excess CO2 for the last years are literally soaked and there is no more capacity left due to our other impacts on the global ecosphere. This will mean that in the future the increase in CO2 is likely to rise even faster and we will be at 2°C in a shorter period of time than was anticipated.
Do you know of any strategy that exists what the world will do when 2°C will be reached? Ban all cars ? Ban air travel? Ban electricity ? I tell you what will happen: New research will come out that 4°C is no problem and the people will continue to consume as if there was no problem at all.
5. INTRENEX proposes a coordinated strategy for electricity security
Currently there exists no real strategy for Europe and beyond as of how to create a 100% renewable system. Each country has it’s own system and most of them provide subsidies for investments in renewables to encourage build up. The European target is to reach 40% by 2030 and 85-95% by 2040. There exists a small problem with it: The investors pick up any location that is suitable for them and have the right to dump their electricity onto the grid whenever it is available or simply produce zero when there is no sun or wind.
This strategy will in the end prove to be deadly as we can see that several industrialised countries (Denmark and Australia) already face severe blackouts due to problems in the management of the electricity grid. These problems will only get larger and the investors involved in renewables call for politicians to pay ever more subsidies that they can make money from installations in uneconomic places but they never deliver any support for the maintenance of the grid stability. Many governments in Europe are already on the brake for renewable subsidies because first the prices increase at a breathtaking speed and second the grids are becoming more and more unstable and no one invests in the grid due to the fact that because of liberalisation the electricity generation market is separate from the grid market.
There is no coordinated effort to build an efficient grid. Even Germany currently builds a HVDC line from the north sea to south Germany because in south Germany some nuclear power plants are to be switched off. But when there is wind in the north sea there is also likely wind in southern Germany and when there is no wind in the north sea it is highly probable that there will also be no wind in southern Germany. So this new HVDC line will not really solve the supply problems. This can only be solved with a transnational initiative that plans for a grid that can transport substantial amounts of electrical energy over a region that is larger than 3000 km.
6. INTRENEX will not impose any financial burden on every citizen
The financing strategy INTRENEX will use is independent of subsidies because the people that will receive 100% renewable energy from the INTRENEX network paid for it themselves. The price for this electricity will be set in two stages.
First the price during the build-up phase will be near the average electricity price in the EU at 13,9 ct/KWh.
That price is required to reach a growth rate during the installation period of 35 years of 30%
In the second phase, that is, when all the installations are in place, all the money INTRENEX customers will have to pay is for replacements and maintenance and some administrative costs. This will in the end result in the lowest price possible.
INTRENEX is a system used by the citizens and paid for by the citizens and is primarily not engaged in siphoning off the wealth of the citizens to investors. We will need a lot of institutional investment but the sums involved will be paid back with interest and that was it.
7. We will need a new energy infrastructure in all cases
We must at least get rid of coal fired power plants as soon as possible to mitigate the problem of climate change. To get rid of fossil fuels will be very costly and you must also keep in mind that many people invested in fossil fuels and their calculations are based on the assumption that these fuels will make some profit, that is, be used up. The organisations invested in these assets are, besides others, insurance companies and pension funds. They will not be happy if we make a large strike through their calculations and that is also part of the problem why it will become very difficult in PR aspects to communicate 100% renewables because these organisations have a large stake to lose. Some people estimate the losses to be between 50 and 100 Trillion Dollars. In these terms the price for renewables is quite small maybe less than 10 Trillion Dollars. But all the money that vanishes or has to be spent will have to be earned! You will be the one who will have to earn it. Be it in case you support the nuclear path or the renewables path, you will have to pay for it in any way. INTRENEX proposes a modest investment and a reliable energy source that does not exhaust and pose no radiation risk. INTRENEX proposes a multi generational project that will lead to a very low energy price in the future but is also only possible if the energy consumption in the future is much less on a per capita basis than it is today in the OSCE countries. That will include massive heat insulation for buildings, replacement of fossil heating systems with heat pumps, district heating systems with biomass and electrified car traffic. All these measurements will have additional costs and you must understand that these costs will have to be paid by you in the end. Be it via taxes or energy costs. So would it not be a good idea to choose a system where all components will be the cheapest possible?
8. Photovoltaics are not economical
I understand that a photovoltaic array looks impressive as it converts solar radiation directly into electricity. That is easy to understand and logically many people believe that Photovoltaics (PV) are a good solution to switch to renewables.
To judge this, we must look at the consumption patterns of a society and the generation pattern of a PV system. The PV system will not generate energy when it is dark. So half of the time it will not work. Second a PV system in northern Europe with a nominal capacity of 1 kW can only generate about 950 kWh of electricity in one year that is very little compared to the high investment required. Third and last, PV systems only generate 7 times the energy that was required to build them in their entire life time of 25 years, So the overall net result compared to the energy investment required is very low. All these points must be looked at in a systems point of view. It makes no sense to talk about installed capacity, if during large times the real produced capacity is zero. As a whole system, we must use the energy sources with the highest yield possible so that first the installation prices are the lowest and second the electricity prices will be the lowest
9. Other pipe dreams
There is a lot of talk about storing H2 or Methane gas (Power-to-gas or P2G) that can be obtained via electrochemical processes and stored and later be recovered to electricity when there is a need. These systems have a combined efficiency factor of around 30%. That means: renewable energy is quite precious when it is available because we are dependent on good weather. We can not waste 70 % of that energy in a process to store energy. This does not qualify as storage, that is pure waste.
There was recently publshed a study by Greenpeace about how “simple” it woud be to generate Methane from renewable sources to overcome the short period in winter when there is not enough wind and sun to power Germany. (“Kalte Dunkelflaute”) In this report you will find the following sentence on page 24 “… an installed capacity of 231 GW solar PV and 229 GW of windpower will only be required in very rare situations”. Well, I asked the company if this is a joke, but there was no reply. 450 GW renewables in Germany is roughly 7 times the amount the entire country uses on a regular day. I am not sure, if this will be economically vialble as Germany already has the highest electricity costs in the world and it has 26.000 wind turbines installed that deliver only 40% of it’s maximum power rate. This is pure nonsense!
Batteries as explained above are a bad idea as well.
Biogas usually is not much more than using fertilizer and diesel fuel to convert it into gas. The energy invested is nearly the same you get from the energy returned. It makes no sense. It is currently being done as farmers can need some subsidies and electricity is of higher value than bare soil.
Ethanol makes no sense at all as it consumes large areas and does not create sufficient yields to fuel millions of cars
Bio-Diesel might be an option but for heavy trucks in certain applications only. The energy yield is not very high but still positive.
Coal-to-liquid: There exists a technology to transform coal into products that come from refinig crude oil such as diesel, gasoline and kerosene. We can not use that technology in the scale of 95 Million Barrels of oil that we consume on a daily basis today.
Molten Salt reactors: This technology exists in theory but not in practice and not on the large scale required. If we need ten years to build one plant and we need to build 6000 of them, it will be a bit of a problem. 6000 nuclear power plants is 13 times the number of the existing plants that have been built in the last 50 years (450) and that for a technology that still is in research and development phase (GEN IV)
Fusion power plants: Fusion power is theoretically possible but in practice there exist a lot of problems with it. Actually it does not exist here on earth. Then, as this will be a new technology, it will be very costly to start with it. It will not ramp up quickly so that we stop CO2 Emissions before 2050. If we will get in some troubles with our economic system due to resource shortages after 2030, it will be very difficult to maintain a system of fusion power plants because this is very sophisticated technology. Renewable installations are relatively simple to be maintained. It is also unclear if a fusion power plant can deliver controlled output levels. We can be happy to have them working in switched on or off mode.
There exist two solutions to the bio-mass dilemma that is:
First: Usage of hemp in a good crop-cycle because hemp yields oil, that can be used for Bio-Diesel in the agricultural sector, and fibre and it is good for the soil biology. Unfortunately it is prohibited to grow hemp in the whole world. Hemp exist in a strain with drug substances (Cannabis indica ) and a strain without drug substances (Cannabis sativa ). Cannabis sativa is the talk here.
Second: Miscanthus is a very good plant to harvest energy for heating purposes in winter but miscanthus is not very well known to farmers and power plants with district heating systems that can use miscanthus are even more rare.
Yes, we can switch to 100% renewables and it can be done in a timely fashion that we can solve the climate change problem as fast as possible.
The problem with it is that the current approach “build some plants here and there” will not scale up due to grid limitations, efficiency deficits and intermittency problems that currently do not have a sufficient storage solution on the large scale required. That is the reason why the subsidy system has reached a dead state.
Of course you can put a PV array on your roof top, but this will not be the solution for our complex civilisation.
Only a globally coordinated effort with an international Supergrid as INTRENEX proposes is a strategy that will lead to a reliable electricity supply with a low price. We encourage you to understand that this task really is gigantic and will take maybe 2 generations to succeed. So we must learn to globally commit ourselves to a long term journey with this strategy and use all combined forces to reach this goal. It has never been tried if we humans can collectively buckle down for a long-term goal involving short-term sacrifice. Ok, so now I try it…