In conclusion, calculating only the energy payback times of individual solar panels or wind turbines greatly overestimates the sustainability of a renewable power grid. If we want to match supply to demand at all times, we also need to factor in the energy use for overbuilding the power generation and transmission capacity, and the energy use for building the backup generation capacity and/or the energy storage. The need to overbuild the system also increases the costs and the time required to switch to renewable energy.
How (Not) to Run a Modern Society on Solar and Wind Power Alone (cache)
Efficiency vs. resiliency. The latter always requires some kind of redundancy. And this is why capitalism leads to the former. When you think with short-terms achievements, efficiency is way less costly. And capitalism is all about reducing costs.
For the current generation only…