By John Lawrence
This article is based on an excellent book by Tom Rand: “Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit – 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World.” It contains great information at a reading level that even an elementary school child can comprehend. And there are many superb pictures too. It is a wonderful resource in the numerous technologies that are in the process of ridding the world of fossil fuels – some of them hardly known to the literate public. At least I wasn’t aware of them, and I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about global warming and what we can do about it. He identifies ten different technologies. We will devote an article to each of them. Part 1 will deal with solar.
Most everyone is aware of solar panels. The sun provides the earth with an enormous amount of energy which we are learning how to convert into energy to power our cars and our homes. A square yard of desert absorbs as much energy over a year as you can get out of a barrel of oil. In fact a barrel of oil contains energy from the sun that was absorbed millenia ago and stored as fossils. An area of desert the size of the state of Connecticut absorbs enough energy to replace the entire oil output of the OPEC countries. The technology to convert this energy to power output useful to humans is available today.
Solar photovoltaics (PV), the solar panels that we put on roofs, is becoming increasingly prosaic. Currently they are made of silicon with more advanced materials on the way. Incoming photons from the sun knock electrons out of their orbits which are then sucked away by an electromagnetic field generating an electric current. The efficiency of this process currently maxes out at 25%. In other words 25% of the sun’s energy striking the panel is converted into electricity. New designs are achieving as much as a 40% efficiency. The next generation of PV will be thinner, bendable and will be able to be incorporated into building structures. One day the shingles on our roofs will double as solar panels which will power our homes.
A California company called Carousol is manufacturing a device that tracks the sun, magnifies its light 625 times and focuses it on a next generation PV cell. Another company Morgan Solar also has a device to concentrate solar energy which could make solar energy far cheaper then coal.
The neat thing about PV solar is that the energy from the sun can be produced by millions of solar panels on millions of individual rooftops. It turns farms, homes and businesses into energy producing entrepreneurs. For instance, Germany is awash in solar PV. In 2007 alone enough solar panels were installed throughout the country to power more than 1.2 million homes. The reason is that the German government has given people an incentive to install them. It’s called a feed-in tariff which allows individuals and businesses to sell energy so produced back onto the grid in such a way that it is profitable for them to do so. Here in the US lobbyists for the utility companies are fighting a similar plan because, when individuals and businesses not only produce their own energy but also sell the excess back onto the grid, the utility company loses the exclusive right to sell energy and their profits are diminished.
Other solar energy producing technologies make use of concentrated solar power. There are three common ways of concentrating the energy from the sun – the trough, the tower and the dish. First the trough. Long lines of parabolic mirrors concentrate the sun’s energy on a tube containing an oil-like fluid which heats to around 750 F. The fluid passes through a heat exchanger that draws heat from the oil and uses that heat to turn water into steam which in turn powers a turbine that generates electricity.
According to the website earthtimes.org:
California environment friendly legislation, that combines market based incentives as the proverbial carrot and regulatory requirements as the stick, have brought about a renewable energy boom. The world’s biggest solar project, Mojave Solar Park, is located in Mojave Desert in California. This mega solar plant can generate 553 MW and covers 2300 Hectares, the power and land covered being the world’s largest. The solar thermal power facility is being constructed for Pacific Gas and Electric by Solel Inc.
California’s Mojave Desert is home to a number of solar projects. This one was contracted by Pacific Gas and Energy and should power half a million homes. Existing parabolic fields in the Mojave Desert at Harper Lake, Kramer Junction and Daggett have been in operation for years and are generating enough power for more than 350,000 homes thus reducing California’s annual oil consumption by two million barrels. The materials for these projects – glass, metal, cement – are not exotic and are readily available so there is no reason why available desert land cannot just be built out with solar projects. When the Mojave Solar Project goes online, parabolic solar farms alone will replace 3.5 million barrels of oil annually.
Another example of concentrated solar power is the tower. Acres of parabolic mirrors focus the sun’s energy at a huge tower. At the tower temperatures of as much as 4000 F can be achieved. Tubes inside the tower are filled with molten salt that carry the heat away. The molten salt heats water, creates steam and turns a turbine. The salt can also be stored and used as a battery thus powering homes at night.
According to solarenergy.einnews.com:
Located in Mojave Desert, on the border of California and Nevada, the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility represents one of the largest solar thermal energy facilities in the world.
The $2.2 billion project will deploy 170,000 heliostat mirrors which will focus solar energy on boilers located in centralized towers spread across the 4,000 acre facility. As the water in the centralized boilers begins to heat up, steam will be created and used to drive turbines that will generate electricity.
At its maximum capacity the Ivanpah facility will produce 392 MW of power, with annual generation estimated pegged at 1,079,232 MWh.
Although the Ivanpah facility has been connected to the California power grid, it’s still in it test phases and hasn’t begun adding power to the grid. However, experts agree the facility should be contributing to California’s energy demands by year’s end.
The third method of concentrated solar power is the dish. Stirling Energy Systems (SES) has developed the SunCatcher solar dish for utility-scale power plants. Its mirrored concentrator dish focuses sunlight on a high-efficiency Stirling engine that powers a generator to produce electricity. There is also a small scale version suitable for individual home and business use. The Stirling engine is an internal combustion engine that burns sunlight instead of oil. Unlike the internal combustion engine which harnesses the power of a controlled explosion inside the engine’s cylinders, the Stirling engine uses heat generated from sunlight outside the cylinder to heat expanding gas.
The future of this technology, however, is in doubt. In 2011 SES filed for bankruptcy as the technology of solar photovoltaic outcompeted it on cost. Its projects in the Imperial Valley have been taken over by a succession of other companies after San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) canceled its original contract. However, PV panels are currently being installed at the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South near El Centro, CA by First Solar. In 2009, First Solar became the first solar panel manufacturing company to lower its manufacturing cost to $1 per watt (since reduced to 68 cents per watt).
They announced in September that construction has started on the 150 MW AC Solar Gen 2 project, which will be the largest solar power plant First Solar has constructed, in Imperial County. Under a 25-year power purchase agreement between SDG&E and First Solar, the 150 MW project will generate enough clean energy to power more than 60,000 average California homes, displacing more than 115,000 metric tons of CO2 per year (the equivalent of taking 22,000 cars off the road) and saving 93,000 metric tons of water per year.
This energy will be delivered to SDG&E and will arrive in San Diego over Powerlink, the controversial transmission line that was energized about a year and a half ago. It has been charged that most of the energy delivered over Powerlink is generated across the border in Mexico by conventional greenhouse gas emitting means and that the solar plants are a minor part of the picture which have been developed for advertising purposes.
This is from kcet.org:
The transmission line has been marked by controversy since its inception. The most heated battle involved a proposed northern route for the transmission line, which would have cut through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park — the state’s largest park.
Some opponents claimed that the emphasis on renewable energy was intended to distract from the line’s eastern terminus’ proximity to two large gas-fired power plants across the border in less-regulated Mexicali. The Mexicali plants are owned by Sempra, SDGE’s parent company, and are fed via Sempra’s Gasoducto Bajanorte pipeline from the firm’s Energia Costa Azul Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant near Ensenada. Critics have alleged that the Sunrise Powerlink is really intended to carry electrical power from the Mexicali plants. SDGE has no legal obligation to carry only renewable energy on the transmission line, but has pledged never to use it to carry power from coal-fired plants.
This is from SDG&E’s website:
Tenaska Imperial South is one of eight renewable projects SDG&E signed purchase agreements for totaling more than 1,100 megawatts (MW) of power in Imperial Valley that would be transmitted across the Sunrise Powerlink.
“The Sunrise Powerlink is the largest and most significant project in the history of SDG&E and we are thrilled that Tenaska is delivering its first energy from this project to our infrastructure,” said SDG&E’s senior vice president of Power Supply, Jim Avery. “SDG&E is a leader in the acquisition of renewable energy and our partnership with Tenaska is an important part of meeting the state’s clean energy goals.”
Currently, Tenaska Imperial South is producing approximately 40 MW. When the project is complete later this year, it will produce up to 130 MW, enough to power approximately 44,000 homes.
SDG&E and Tenaska have also contracted for a second solar project, the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, which will produce up to 150 MW and is expected to come online in 2015.
The first renewable project to connect to the Sunrise Powerlink was Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, a 265 MW project located near the community of Ocotillo, in Imperial County. A portion of this facility was energized in December. Several more SDG&E-contracted renewable projects are under construction, or will be under construction soon.
Another company, Tenaska, is also in the mix. Evidently they have control over the Imperial County project and First Solar is just a sub-contractor of theirs. The plot thickens. On October 28, 2013, just a few days ago Tenaska announced that Prudential Capital Group (Prudential) has agreed to acquire a minority interest in the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South project, a 130-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic electric generating station near El Centro, Calif., currently owned by a Tenaska affiliate.
The potential of solar is huge. Solar thermal plants built on just 1% of the surface of the Sahara could provide the entire world’s electricity demands. So why isn’t it being done post haste? Because the issue of privatization vs socialization always comes up. Even though the earth’s atmosphere is a commons which applies to all people everywhere and can’t be privatized, renewable electricity generation which is necessary to save the planet from utter destruction from global warming is thought by many, but certainly not by all, to be in the domain of private enterprise. Since private enterprise is all about profit, the best way forward is not the best way to save the planet but the best way to make profits. If we can’t resolve that conundrum, the planet may go up in smoke – not because the technology is not available – but because certain people put profit and the free enterprise system above all else.
After each chapter Tom Rand asks the question for each technology, “what would you get for $1 trillion?” His answer for solar? a trillion kilowatt hours per year or enough solar energy to replace half of the coal-based electrical production in the United States.
Next time: renewable electrical energy from the wind.
bob dorn says
Solar seems like a no-brainer. A hat on every house and a battery room below. Job, jobs, jobs. No exhaust gases. Tell us again, why isn’t it happening?
Own… your own home?
Got… a friend in the toxic disposal business to recycle the batteries in 6 years?
Got… $12-15k for new ones?
Those are the hurdles to prospective off grid users that power companies have absolutely nothing to do with. Some people are doing it but in the end when you factor the cost over say the life of the panels (20-25 years tops) it becomes appealing only to those wh8o desire to thumb their nose at utiliy companies and spite their face for the effort.
Now for grid tie scenarios John does introduce some valid points and companies like Sempra/SDGE could certainly be doing more to facilitate this. However in the end it’s still got the issues of a huge investment up front, limited life of the panels themselves, home ownership a must and not every home even has the southern exposure ability to create a daily surplus.
If the idea is pursued for merely being green then the only benefit at this point is patting yourself on the back. For some that’s plenty.
bob dorn says
You’d help yourself if you’d just cite some authorities for all this doom-laden chemistry. You’re talking about the production of panels — not the usage of them — and does the emission of these doomful chemicals exceed that of, say, laptops, the use of automobiles, travel by jet, warming by coal, shipment by diesel trucks and other users of conventional power?
People typically don’t use batteries; they have hybrid systems that use solar during the day and draw conventional current at night. That’s the secret behind being part of the grid; you can contribute your excess power and get credits for night time conventional, an arrangement your Sempra Co. has been fighting.
And you’re cheating new batteries of their claims to longer life.
I’m mystified by the absolutism expressed by many people who view energy reform (transportation, too) as a threat. So often solar, wind, wave power just draws out an anger from critics that borders on the personal. Why is it so?
“You’d help yourself if you’d just cite some authorities for all this doom-laden chemistry.”
I don’t need to provide references for common knowledge, Bob, and if I’m so wrong about the hurdles I listed and you’re right and it’s soooo easy….
Just go ahead and post up the photos of your house with your solar arrays and battery banks and/or grid tie hardware. Or the author of the article, where is his?
C’mon, it’s easy, the technology is here today! Everyone else should save the planet but you can’t be bothered?
Is it that you don’t care…. or it it that it’s just as aI say it is, cost prohibitive folly with little benefit to the environment when one adds up all factors.
If I’m wrong I don’t think I’m out of line asking why you’re preaching to others to do something that you won’t do yourself?
John Lawrence says
Well, John, how is it that in Germany every Tom, Dick and Harry ( or should I say Fritz, Karl and Dietrich) has solar panels on their roofs, and some of them are making a living selling solar power back onto the grid. The narrow minded types in this society are not willing to look at what has been accomplished in other countries. They close their narrow vision to make their insipid arguments. They do it in Germany with feed-in tariffs, a subject that possibly you should acquaint yourself with before you get so negative about the possibilities for this semi third world country with the greatest military in the world!
bob dorn says
John, (not you, John Lawrence) you’re a know-nothing fool. I have lived for 7 years with a solar/battery system. You’re the mope who’s talking bullshit. You should just walk away now; you’ve embarrassed yourself thoroughly.
Wow, a childish ad hominem outburst. Who were you trying to impress, your five year old?
So about that solar system, Bob, what was the initial capital outlay? Can we get some details here before you go off celebrating about insulting someone on the internet?
What ‘s the capacity of the system? Aren’t the batteries about to be replaced now? What happens to the old ones? How do you finance the new ones?
Better yet how did you finance the system in the first place?
Jan Freed says
Last year I put up 18 of 240 W panels. After rebate and 30% Federal tax credit, I payed $8.5. I do not pay an electric bill, other than a very small fee for using the Utility. I do not need batteries, as the Utility receives extra energy from me and “repays” it when production is low or at night,’
At historic rate increases of 6.7% I will have saved way over $80 K during the expected (and guaranteed) life of the panels.
They are MORE than affordable, as you can see
18x240w =4320w and that’s only for a limted time on sunny, cloudless days- the solar radiation available in coastal areas are far less than ideal. Probably 5-8 hours per day according to this user:
Yet according to you you’ll be saving 80k over the life of the panels.
Calculated at 25 years that’s $3200 a year in electricity. Doesn’t add up to the claimed capacity of the system.
jay powell says
John Lawrence says
This is happening because the power utility companies would experience diminished profits if everyone became an entrepreneur by installing solar on their rooftops. Power company profits would be diminished even further if every Tom, Dick and Harry could sell their excess energy back onto the grid. Profits would experience further diminution if feed-in tariffs were provided that would give individual entrepreneurs incentives for providing distributed solar.
Basically, the power companies don’t want anyone providing electrical power except themselves, and their lobbyists are making sure no laws will be changed that will change that status quo.
“For instance, Germany is awash in solar PV. In 2007 alone enough solar panels were installed throughout the country to power more than 1.2 million homes. ”
We can only wonder, is this part of the reason for the increase in greenhouse gas emissi0ns and the continuation of warming trends? Not just the workers buzzing around in their trucks putting them up, but the elephant in the room:
Solar panel production emits mass amounts of greenhouse gases including one 17,000 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. Conventional pollutant costs are horrific:
Colorado-based Abound Solar has been ordered to remove and bury in cement thousands of leftover solar panels “deemed unsellable” by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The company must also clean up other hazardous waste at a number of facilities statewide, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report (NCBR).
State health officials pointed to the carcinogenic metal cadmium in the panels as the source of concern. “At the time of the inspection these 2,000 pallets of solar panels were deemed unsellable and a viable agreement for reclamation of the solar panels was not evident,” the inspector’s report says. “Therefore, the department views these 2,000 pallets of solar panels as a characteristic hazardous waste for cadmium.”
The company concerned, Abound Solar, at the height of solar panel production was producing around 630 pounds of cadmium polluted materials every month, Abound Solar’s warehouse is reckoned to still have 4000 gallons of cadmium contaminated liquids stored inside.
Following the company’s bankruptcy, an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that the warehouse in Denver storing the unsold panels did not have a hazardous waste permit. The cleanup, NCBR reports, will require encasement and burial:
There’s only one treatment facility in the state, a landfill near Last Chance in eastern Adams County. The panels would likely be treated, mixed in cement and buried, Schieffelin said.
Violating state hazardous waste regulations carries an administrative fine of as much as $15,000 daily and a civil fine of as much as $25,000 per violation per day, according to the state.
The news report concluded, “Any [Abound] panels that cannot find a buyer would be deemed hazardous waste.”
Why is this being promoted as the “magic bean”? Claiming solar is good for the planet amounts to an outright lie when one takes in all the facts. Perhaps one day these factors can be mitigated but for now this is just another lesson in “no free lunch”.
bob dorn says
The Denver Post of July 08, 2013, reports that Solar Abound was using the cheaper technique of lining panels with cadmium, a carcinogen, in order to steal a march on companies using safe technology. But soon, the price of the alternative, silicon, had dropped two-thirds between 2009 and 2012 and “Abound was undercut,” and was forced to swallow its product.
John, you used that one piece of cheap chicanery in order to say the good solar does for the planet “amounts to an outright lie.” That was cheap.
I do agree with you, however, that things go better “when one takes in all the facts.”
I presented the facts as I believed them to be, and provided nothing false. How is this cheap chicanery? There’s a huge mess to clean up and it was caused by producing solar panels, are you going to dispute that? Is cadmium the only issue? There’s the energy used in manufacturing and installation. What about this?
Solar cells do not offset greenhouse gases or curb fossil fuel use in the United States according to a new environmental book, Green Illusions (June 2012, University of Nebraska Press), written by University of California-Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner. Green Illusions explains how the solar industry has grown to become one of the leading emitters of hexafluoroethane (C2F6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These three potent greenhouse gases, used by solar cell fabricators, make carbon dioxide (CO2) seem harmless. Hexafluoroethane has a global warming potential that is 12,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is 100 percent manufactured by humans, and survives 10,000 years once released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more virulent than CO2, and SF6, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, is over 23,000 times more threatening.
And since most panels are now made in China, do you have any idea what toxins are produced in the process?
At no place does the article make a single mention of any of the well documented negative aspects of the various forms of solar energy, it’s all a “win win” that isn’t saving the planet due to the evil corporations.
If you’re pointing fingers about “cheap chicanery”, now the hand is on the other foot. Or was it “if the foo shyte, wear it”? I always get those confused. :-)
Jan Freed says
Of course solar energy requires an input to produce the panels. The time required to offset the carbon emissions created by solar panel production has come down to 18 months. That leaves about 35 years of energy produced with no emissions.
And for parabolic mirror solar, there need to be no toxins at all in the making of panels.
I agree that there are tradeoffs. There are problems in solar, but “compared to what”? Coal was found (Harvard School of Medicine, Epstein lead author) estimates over 70 negative impacts of coal based energy with a price tag of $300-$500 billion per year. Deaths estimated at 24,000 (American Lung Assoc) to 30,000 per year (Physicians for Social Responsibility). That is a hidden tax we all pay.
So, let’s not present only one side.
If this is true:
Hexafluoroethane has a global warming potential that is 12,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is 100 percent manufactured by humans, and survives 10,000 years once released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more virulent than CO2, and SF6, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, is over 23,000 times more threatening.
Isn’t it pretty silly to manufacture solar panels to save carbon? These exotic chemicals really worry me because it’s not so unnatural to see a coal or oil fire happening in nature by itself. That other stuff….
Frank Thomas says
Prof. Ozzie Zehner’s book, “Green Illusions” is a worthwhile read. His main theme is we are focusing too much on clean energy PRODUCTION based on technology rather than on simple cost-effective methods to curb energy CONSUMPTION based on social changes. Social changes he addresses in detail include: passive solar, smaller housing and cars, walkable and bicycable communities, public transit, women’s rights, reduced population, not buying that 2nd or 3rd giant car, stopping ads to children, etc. I think most people could agree with these initiatives … though very time-consuming and difficult to implement.
Prof. Zehner argues that the obstacles to curbing consumption (and hence CO2 emissions and climate warming) are primarily social and cultural, not technological. I disagree. They are ALL obstacles to curbing the consumption of DIRTY energy … and avoiding the heating up of the atmosphere by more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. I do agree with his opinion that an Energy Tax would likely be far more effective than a Carbon Tax in bringing down energy consumption.
Prof. Zehner says the energy required to manufacture and maintain alternative energy sources are not often revealed. Further, he has little or no faith in the capability of green alternative energy sources to sustain our level of consumption nor to produce more energy with less carbon. Of course, fossil fuels are clearly not a sustainable energy source forever unlike the sun and wind. He suggests, falsely in my view, that the NET carbon emissions of producing solar, wind and even electric cars are comparable to, if not higher than fossil fuels.
Obviously, it takes energy to make energy. Most of the oil remaining in the ground (excluding costly difficulties with shale gas/oil exploitation ) lies in difficult, toxic drilling conditions much deeper and further offshore. This requires much more energy to extract the oil and gas. Thus, extraction costs are going higher and higher driving pump prices steadily upward while renewable energy is steadily becoming lower in cost and pricing.
In this regard, the EROI measurement is the common way to express the efficiency of the energy production process. It measures how many barrels of oil are gained compared to the number of barrels of oil it took to extract and process the oil. EROI = Energy Returned on Energy Invested. The HIGHER the EROI, the better. And that is clearly the trend for solar and wind, but NOT for oil.
Here are some illustrative EROI examples going from high to low:
(1) A 70:1 EROI means the efficiency of the production process is 70/71 = 99% Net Energy.
(2) A 10:1 EROI means the efficiency of the production process is 10/11 = 91% Net Energy.
(3) A 1:1 EROI means the efficiency of the production process is Zero since 1 barrel of oil is consumed to produce 1 barrel of oil.
Low EROIs like below 5:1 mean that a barrel of oil produced is consuming more and more energy, thus exponentially accelerating the consumption of oil. Cleaner renewable solar and wind energy are now showing much more favorable upward trends while EROIs for oil, coal, and gas are trending down. In Germany, large-scale solar power is already approaching the costs of conventional power of 10 euro cents $0.13) per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
According to the World Meterological Organization, in 2012 the total radiation forcing by the three main GHGs was 64% by CO2, 18% by CH4, and 6% by N2O. These three GHGs are closely linked to anthropogenic (human) activities and, as most know, they also interact strongly with the oceans and biosphere. The remaining 12% GHG emissions are stratospheric ozone depleting chlorofluorcarbons — including sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) — which come largely from the chemical industry. Today, the vast majority of these environmentally dangerous exotic gas emissions comes from traditional fossil fuel energy sources and production processes.
On a global scale in 2012, the contribution of the three GHGS caused CO2 in the atmosphere to reach 393.1 parts per million (ppm) or 140% … rising to 475.6 ppm CO2 equivalent including total radiative forcing by all GHGs (i.e., the 12% exotic gases, e.g., SF6). The CO2 increase in 2012 was 2.20 ppm compared to 2.02 ppm per year for the past ten years. So the CO2 pollution is dramatically accelerating. In addition, methane reached a new high of 1819 parts per billion in 2012 or 260% of pre-industrial levels due to increased emissions from human activities such as fossil fuel exploitation, land fills, biomass burning, cattle breeding, and rice agriculture.
In an earlier paper (“Arctic Methane: A Global Environmental Disaster in the Making”), it was noted that CO2 emissions in tons per capita were 17.3 tons (or 5.4 billion tons/year) for the U.S. vs. 7.5 tons (or 3.8 billion tons/year) for the EU27 vs. 7.2 tons (or 9.7 billion tons/year) for China in 2011. Why is the EU doing so much better? For some time, EU countries have been implementing the fundamentally important conservation and lifestyle”social changes” (Prof. Zerner refers to) that have led to far less energy consumption per capita than the U.S.
In addition, Europe has been moving relatively fast on the conservation AND effficiency fronts Prof. Zehner describes PLUS transitioning to renewable energy sources, with Germany and Denmark taking the lead. Germany has already an installed solar capacity of 400 MW per million people compared to 25 MW per million people in the U.S. Lack of sunshine has been no obstacle to scaling up solar energy in Germany. Rapid development of advanced energy storage systems is a German priority.The country hopes to be providing 33% of its electrical power from renewable energy sources by 2020 … almost triple the U.S. goal. And Germany’s as well as Europe’s CO2 emissions have been declining in recent years.
The devastating consequences to the future of planet Earth depend on a smooth but substantial substitution of green energy sources for fossil fuels in combination with energy conservation and efficiency actions that reduce energy consumption.