Great book to read about energy and what pencils out:
"Power Hungry" is well worth reading - unfortunately, the "green" movement has never bothered to learn how to use a calculator.
Resolving battery cell management is an underlying issue for much of the hybrid / vehicle to grid discussion. While a traditional lead-acid car starter battery has six 2.1 volt cells in series, new lithium ion battery packs come with dozens of cells each of which should be independently monitored and charged. If they are to be charged quickly, this means that high current charger wires must independently reach cell. An elegant TOPOLOGY to allow charging (and maintenance) access to each cell might move things ahead. Or perhaps the solution is a DIFFERENT approach. Each cell could be connected to a massive common power bus with the control circuitry embedded within each cell determining when it demands charge, delivers power, or stands down. Control and error reporting signals might even be sent as high frequency superimposed signals over the same power bus.
Way too much of the energy we consume goes to waste. Heating and cooling energy in buildings can be reduced by half or more by retrofitting with much better insulation, windows, doors and roofs. New buildings can be designed to use 2W/m^2 or less for HVAC. Once we trim the waste, renewables will become very affordable. Our hydrocarbon minerals should be saved for future generations so they can use them as industrial feedstocks instead of fuel.
I agree with your reasoning regarding finite fuel sources, but I see no evidence to suggest that they can be replaced with renewables, in that most people think of renewables as solar, wind, and geothermal.
There is evidence, however, that nuclear reactors, and in particular liquid fluoride thorium reactors, could scale to meet energy needs for at least tens of thousands of years. LFTRs have low pressure passively safe cores, can burn waste from light water reactors as fuel, and makes it extremely difficult to produce bomb grade materials. Shouldn't we be focusing research funding on nuclear, since it has a far greater chance of actually supplying the needed energy?
Don't forget to burn down all the forests while your at it. We as scientists/engineers know that if something produces a positive result when done at a particular scale and during a particular time, it must produce the same result at any scale and for an infinitely long period of time. That's the 3rd law of the famous scientist, Lord Makebelieve.
"A key enabling technology...the study found, was improved grid storage." At what cost?
Another key enabling technology would be practical, commercially viable nuclear fusion.
Hey, if you're going to dream, go big.
80% renewables by 2050 sounds ridiculous unless all our other energy sources peter out by then and it's the only thing left giving us a fraction of the energy we're producing today. Love it or hate it, nuclear is the only clean and practical source that is going to be able to deliver energy in the quantities projected to be needed in the future. It's either that, or saddle up.
"juvenile" - really? I would have said that believing we can extract all our future energy needs from a finite and dwindling resource is far worse than juvenile. The US reached peak pil in the 1970's, the world as a whole reaches peak oil somewhere between 2010 and 2020. You can make do with fracked gas and other costly alternatives for a bit, but in the end finite fuel sources (and the finite ability for the natural environment to sink CO2) will catch up with us. So - do we wait until all this comes to pass before changing course, or do we do the wise thing and change while we still have relatively cheap fuel to help us make that change?
80% renewable by 2050? I doubt it. As of 2011, US electrical generation by source was 42.2% coal, 25.0% gas, 19.2% nuclear, 7.8% hydro, 5.0% renewables, and 0.8% oil. Hydro will not grow much, as there are already dams at every viable location. To expect a 16x increase in production from renewables is likely a pipe dream.
And that is not even considering the additional generation capacity needed to support replacing gasoline cars with EVs. Anticipating vast increases in battery capacity, leaps in photovoltaic efficiency, etc. just isn’t logical. Less than 1% of oil is used for electrical generation. Almost all of it is used as fuel for cars and trucks. Renewables currently generate about half a TWh per day, a tiny fraction of the energy from oil consumed. If EVs are the goal, then we had better start building some nuclear reactors.