Will we remain in the dark or broke: The price of climate fanaticism

Will we remain in the dark or broke: The price of climate fanaticism

Many 100% renewable energy fanatics refuse to understand that one of the main problems with the proliferation of green energy sources on electric grids is the grids themselves. First of all, this is because renewable energy installations have more constraints than traditional installations in terms of location (for example, wind turbines must be located in windy areas, while solar panels must be located in sunny areas), but above all, because the transition from centralized to distributed generation requires more efficient use of energy. It can flow in both directions in networks.

Let’s give an example to clarify the situation: Let’s say we have a large-scale facility in Gotham City that also provides electricity to the surrounding areas of Metropolis (a very sunny city), Rapture (a city rich in water resources), and Petoria (a city). rich in wind) and you want to replace it with a series of renewable power plants, what will happen to the networks? Before the switchover, the grid needs to move power from Gotham to three cities, and so it serves three main lines, each with X capacity, running from the traditional power plant to the regions.

After the passage, I will have many sunny moments, but very little wind, and so Metropolis’s photovoltaic systems will have to power all four cities (I will have to strengthen the electrical connections to and from Metropolis); then there will be moments when I will get a lot of wind and little sun, and then the mills in Petoria will have to provide energy to everyone (other lines need to be upgraded); then there will be moments when wind and sun are abundant, and then I can use the excess energy to accumulate energy in the Rapture pumping pools, but this requires the lines to Rapture to be more capable; And eventually there will be moments when there is no sun or wind, and then I will have to use the accumulated energy, and if that is not enough, I will have to restart the Gotham City power plant.

Copper rails of energy transition

i.e. electrical grid

Essentially, I went from a situation where I needed 3 links, each with X capacity, to a situation where I needed 6 spoke links, each with 3X capacity.

This is done assuming that all four cities have established energy communities and thus each city can self-supply the energy it produces without needing to feed it into the grid, otherwise the number of wires would have to be doubled to avoid congestion (electricity cannot flow in two opposite directions on the same wire at the same time).

To this we must also add electrification, which will require more connections (for example, new charging stations for electric cars) and, if electricity cannot reach everywhere, new lines to connect isolated areas.

How many new cables will I need to run at the end of the day? Prepare yourself because the answer is interesting.


The International Energy Agency actually published a report analyzing the risk that the electricity grid could become a bottleneck in the transition to clean energy. Data – scenario based Net Zero EmissionThat is, a situation where climate-changing substances are not released into the environment to produce energy is surprising.

“To achieve climate targets, 80 million km of power lines will be needed by 2040, that is, those built in the last 100 years,” explains IEA Director Fatih Birol.

According to the scenario considered by the IEA, nuclear energy will provide only 11% of the world’s energy in 2050, that is, it will “limit” itself to doubling compared to today. The result is that by 2040 (and therefore within 15 years) it will be necessary to build or repair 80 million kilometers of power lines; this will be about twice the distance between Earth and Venus and slightly more than the distance between Earth and Mercury. as well as 120 turns from the Earth to the Moon, that is, the length of a cable that goes around the Earth’s equator two thousand times.

But the situation gets worse, because if at the kilometer level alone this means that the entire global power grid (built over a century) will double in 15 years, in reality the capacity of the new lines will have to be much higher than the existing ones. Therefore, the amount of copper and aluminum needed in the next 15 years will be much higher than what was used for all electrical connections in the last century.

electrical grid

If we assume that 3% of the new networks are in the very high voltage range, just for this 3%, an amount of aluminum will be needed, ranging from 30 to 56 million tonnes, depending on whether the line is single or double circuit (production). Annual global aluminum production reached 67 million tonnes in 2021, and aluminum is used almost everywhere.

If 30% of the new networks consisted of medium voltage overhead cables, as in our national grid (where medium voltage accounts for approximately 30% of the connections), the amount of copper required for this part alone would be 75 million tonnes. that is, almost four times the current world production.

Besides raw materials, there is also the issue of cost: in the UK alone, and just to connect offshore wind farms, the cost of new connections will be 54 billion pounds (about 65 billion euros at current exchange rates), meaning that for the entire planet the expenditure will be in the order of tens of trillions of dollars We can safely assume.

I cannot say exactly how much would be saved by greater nuclear penetration in a Net Zero Emissions scenario. However, it is clear that those who argue that the time and cost of nuclear energy will be very high have no idea what they are talking about.

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Source: Today IT