A cost estimate of the energy transition

Herewith a summary of what it will take for the world to reach net-zero emissions:
The investment required for the green transition is indeed staggering: the entire capital stock that depends on fossil fuels will have to be replaced. This includes aeroplanes, heating systems, power plants and vehicles. Electrical grids around the world will need to become more resilient to withstand volatile renewable generation. The International Energy Agency, an official forecaster, estimates the total investment required at around $4trn or 4% of present global gdp a year by 2030.
ref: https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2023/07/13/the-world-is-in-the-grip-of-a-manufacturing-delusion

I don’t think any African country will even try to make the change unless someone else pays for it…

I think that was one of the points Andre de Ruyter tried to sell. There are people willing to pay for their (carbon) sins, and we could use that to make a (just) transition to renewables.

I do wonder however what is meant by net-zero. I know what it normally means, but I wonder if one is allowed to offset that with some plant-life capacity. I read somewhere that our CO2 emissions is about twice what our existing plant life can process. That implies, if I may be a bit naive, that halving our emissions may get us in a good spot. And the Pareto Principle suggests that we could get to 80% with 20% of the money, and it could buy a lot of time.

Of have I got that wrong?

There are weird things about these carbon credits that I don’t even pretend to understand and I may be talking tripe, but this is the only way it makes sense to me.
In Ireland, other EU countries’ utilities have bought some of the ancient ( but still capable of running) thermal (read dirty) power stations. Only to downsize to a skeleton staff and then not even run the power station anymore.

Which seems a daft business proposition on the face of it.
I was told they were bought purely for carbon credits.

I think it somehow allows the foreign utility to run a dirty power station back in the home country and claim carbon credits against the power station that isn’t running. It appears to me that there is a legal loophole along the lines of the utility having a lower average pollution per megawatt of generation in its fleet.


What I deduced a few years back, is “people willing to pay for their (carbon) sins” … let’s make some money from that.

Carbon Credit, in my simple brain, should mean, you produce X% carbon, you should plant Y% trees and maintain that until the forest is self-sustaining.

One example:

In basic terms, yes, although trees aren’t the only way to capture carbon. The point of making it a “market”, so to speak, is I don’t have to plant the trees myself. I can pay someone in a different country to plant the trees.

There was a South African startup, probably about a decade ago, who invented some other method of capturing carbon in the soil. I don’t remember who they were, or what became of it, just that they were somewhat excited about the idea at the time.

Adding money to the idea is not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to motivate people, give them money!

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The carbon tax is the same: pay more tax the more you produce…

That makes NO sense to me … who gets the taxes?

And WHAT is done with it?

If we don’t stop the heating up of the atmosphere, no amount of tax collected, that is not properly re-invested in solutions, is going to solve the problem we have created …

Your government.

In theory, it is used to offset the carbon it was charged for, or to pay for the medical expenses that are higher because of the coal plants you are running, to build infrastructure for electric vehicles, or to give subsidies so people can buy EVs.

In practice, it is like the fuel levy: Not ring fenced, it just ends up in the general budget.

An educated electorate should however be asking questions about it. Right?

On the upside, the tax does at least disincentivise large carbon-producing acquisitions. In theory.

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I think that those plant-a-tree schemes were well-intendioned thumbsuck.

I remember that some years ago FIA (who run motor car sport globally) announced that they had settled the matter of F1’s carbon footprint once and for all by buying a large number of credits in one of these schemes that plants trees in a sustainable plantation in the Amazon basin to off set the sport’s emissions.

Yet since then F1 has moved to hybrid engines (which probably would have happened anyway because of pressure from manufacturers), and they burn less fuel per race, but are also going to ever great lengths to solve the problem that supposedly was solved years ago.

Part of it is because the sums get done differently. It turns out that especially now with the hybrids, the actual activity of having cars whiz around a track accounts for a very small percent of F1’s footprint. But what about all those trucks that go to-and-fro across Europe? What about all the international plane flights? What about the emissions generated in the process of getting fans to the event?

Some of this was included in that carbon credit purchase, but not all of it.

Plus the teams are using more and more power in order to build the cars, and the cars are mostly carbon anyway. Teams are now running lots of IT during the races to model various strategic scenarios. There’s now a cap on how much stuff and how many people you can have at the track, so they all have satellite feeds to the factory where they can do more modelling and rich teams can have a test driver on standby to trial various changes in the simulator.

So now they are working on net-zero fuel (due in 2026) and they are trialling their own power station because the teams now use so much power that there’s not one circuit anywhere that can give them what they want with 100% reliability, and so they all run large banks of generators for the pits, the hospitality suites and so on.

Plus F1 now do all their own broadcasting and have LOTS of cameras at every race, not just for the broadcast but also for regulatory purposes. They monitor every radio call between pits and cars, monitor track limits, monitor battery deployment and fuel flow in real time.

Etc. And all of that needs powering.

This power station runs on bio-fuel and is supplemented by a large bank of PV panels. At the Austrian race it supplied the whole paddock area, the pits, race control, broadcasting and the actual race track.

Anyway, what was once considered adequate no longer is. Because we have learned more, and because people say “hey! What about that…”

And, of course, F1 is an easy target. The Tour de France accounts for far more emissions than any F1 race, but those are bicycles while F1 cars are carbon belching monsters. In the eyes of the public, and despite the fact that F1 is running internal combustion engines at a very impressive level of efficiency. So they have to be seen to be doing stuff.

The fuel aspect is interesting because there is input from big, real world petrol oops! I mean “energy” corporations, and so the hope is that they flip the current scheme whereby what goes into an F1 car is something that plausibly could be bought at a forecourt. They hope that forecourts will start selling something that plausibly could be used in F1.

And of course the energy companies are leaning on governments and telling them that it doesn’t have to be EVs if the petrol, over it’s life cycle, does not increase the carbon already in the atmosphere.

So the goal stays the same but the way we’re going to get there, and what it’s going to cost, change as we learn more and get more ideas.

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About 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus.

We are literally made of Oxygen and Carbon, so don’t get rid of carbon please :laughing: :man_shrugging:t3:


It’s not the carbon. It’s where the carbon currently resides (in the atmosphere) that has everyone all hot and bothered… pun intended :slight_smile:

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