Energy transition, renewables and batteries: a systems view

In the concluding section of the report made available here last month, I hinted at a view on the role of batteries in global energy supply that, in the wake of the announcement from Tesla CEO Elon Musk on 30 April this year, may seem rather at odds with prevailing popular sentiment. I suggested there that, while significant numbers of electricity consumers will likely be motivated to go “off grid” as battery costs reduce, this will entail feedback effects with implications that can reasonably be expected to make for a change trajectory far less linear and predictable than many commentators envisage. Such a view is, of course, entirely consistent with the systemic approach to thinking about energy transitions for which Beyond this Brief Anomaly advocates.

In this post, I introduce the energy transition model I’ve been developing over the past few months, to help make better sense of the physical economic implications of a global energy shift in which wind and PV generation with battery buffering dominate electricity supply. Continue reading

Post Carbon Institute’s ‘This is Our Energy Reality’: visualising this Brief Anomaly

I’m a little slow on the uptake with this one. The promotional slide show ‘This is Our Energy Reality’ was released on publication of the Post Carbon Institute’s book Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth in October last year. I’d seen the book (and the accompanying Energy Reader), but only just discovered the slide show when I went hunting for a reference for the next post in the energy efficiency series, that will take a closer look at energy return on investment.

It’s a powerful addition to the occasional visualisation series that I started last year—and certainly no less relevant now than eight months back:


From the website accompanying the books,

Energy is at the heart of the human predicament in the twenty-first century, and we now face a transformational moment in our energy story. As we leave the age of seemingly cheap and plentiful fossil fuels and enter an era of extreme energy, the ever-rising financial, social, and environmental costs of fossil fuels can no longer be ignored.

How we embrace this moment may well dictate the very future of our species — and millions of others.  

Please join Post Carbon Institute in a national campaign to increase energy literacy, with the ultimate goal of remaking the energy economy as if nature, people, and the future mattered.

Fostering increased energy literacy lies at the heart of Beyond this Brief Anomaly, and the course ‘Energy for the Future’ from which it evolved. Seems like a very worthwhile connection to make here.