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When the EU wanted to crank up solar

In the news today that EU using record amounts of solar-generated power expressed as a percentage of total power used, now 10% of all power used.

The article started out celebratory but switched to a pessimistic tone, saying that we’re still lagging behind coal, which is 14% of all power used, and behind our 2030 goal, which is that solar should be 40% of all power used. “To reach that, we need to use 30 TWh solar-generated power yearly.”

That is completely cart-before-horse backwards wrong. What we need is to use less coal and other fossils. Lithosphere-originated greenhouse gasses needs to go down as an absolute number, not as a percentage of power used. We can’t outrace it.

Yes, we should ramp up production of renewables, I agree with that whole-heartedly, as one of many steps we need to take in order to reach what should’ve been the subgoal: to use less fossils total, to use less fossils absolutely, not start spending so much “green” electricity in there that the amount of fossils relatively goes down.

(I say subgoal because the real goal is to stop, prevent, reverse CAGW; stopping fossils is one important component to get there, but not the end-all.)

Ramping up solar is not the dumb part; that’s the good part. The dumb part is expressing their decreased coal-use goal in terms of a percentage, instead of as a total amount of greenhouse gasses, which is what needs to go down. If we have the same (or more) fossil use by 2030 as an absolute number, but we use so fricking much solar that the percentage number is 40% solar, we haven’t won. We’ve lost.

It’s frustrating to me when policy makers don’t get these basics—or maybe it was just these reporters, since this li’l rant of mine is all a reaction to a news article on teletext, which is how a web-hating luddite like me gets her news.

Europe’s appetite for electricity is ∞. We don’t decrease coal burning by using more other stuff. We decrease coal burning by using less coal. Which is why we need to ban coal (or tax it through the roof), since capitalism is a dumb baby system that can’t handle its own externalities.

Ramping up solar is good, but, the goal is to decrease fossils, not try to outspend fossils, which is not possible.


Same news outlet did the exact same thing a few days later, only with various categories of bovines this time.