Simon Michaux: The Green Energy Myth

There is no topic more important than today’s. Everything hinges on “us” getting it right. And by us I mean the entire global population.

That topic is energy. Specifically, the energy transition away from fossil fuels generally but oil most urgently. Why? Because oil is central to everything about our current way of life. The capital markets only function while expanding, literally millions of distinct products find the headwaters of their genesis in building blocks derived from oil. 95% of everything moves from point A to point B moves because of oil.

Heck, you eat oil in the form of oil-extracted or produced fertilizers, tractor activity, pesticides, and herbicides, and the fact that the average calorie you eat first traveled 1,500 miles before landing on your plate, every mile of that enabled by oil.

If we get this transition wrong - either by failing to plan appropriately or, worse, fibbing to ourselves by selling a set of technologies that cannot do what we’ll need them to do - then massive pain awaits. Economies will crash, as will populations. Wars will be fought.

Today we’re talking with Simon Michaud, an associate professor of geo-metallurgy at the Geological Survey of Finland and a key figure in the Circular Economy Solutions Unit. Dr. Michaux has done the math. He’s taken the time to study mining and resources and then performs some simple arithmetic to determine that…uh oh…we haven’t got a chance in the world of making an easy energy transition. None. The reasons are many, but the core of the problem is we’ve put the wrong people in charge and allowed flawed narratives to take flight unchallenged.

Consider, if you will, Simon Michaux’s work that defines the mineral and metal requirements to build out the first generation of wind and solar (assuming we’d like to have a 28-day buffer built in, necessitating huge battery development):

Oh. Nuts.

In many cases, it will take us humans hundreds if not thousands of years to mine the stuff we’d need given current technologies. Well, that isn’t in the cards. So what is?

Simon’s life journey is as intriguing as it is impressive. With a background combining physics, geology, and mining engineering, and a career spanning 18 years in the Australian mining industry, his insights are not just theoretical but grounded in extensive practical experience.

Green energy, it turns out, is something of a myth. And, given all that’s at stake, a rather dangerous myth.

As we navigate this conversation, we’ll be confronting some hard truths. This is more than just an interview; it’s a crucial dialogue about our collective future and the role each of us plays in shaping it.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

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But Do We Need 28 Days Storage?

Massive capacitance has always seemed to me to be the Achilles heel of renewables. However, there is a fellow here in Australia by the name of David Osmond who runs a weekly simulation of the Australian grid (scaling up the actual renewable generation data) for the past few years, and he claims that we can have an almost 100% renewable grid on enough capacitance to run the grid for 5 hours. (Some peakers required, but very little - basically he argues that getting to 100% is difficult, but getting to 96% is easy.)
I haven’t been through his work with a fine tooth comb, but it has made me think I need to research and review my assumptions about the level of capacitance necessary.
He publishes the weekly output on twitter:
And here is a summary piece he published back in August:


Odysee Resolutions

Hi, just wondering why on this video there is no way to lower the resolution?
I’m watching on my phone at work
The last few have allowed it but this one doesn’t

But The Wef Clearly Stated

The total population will be 500 million.


Very Enjoyable Conversation

Enjoyed this greatly. Thanks and keep it going.


No Exceptions

But… technology!


Well, the difference between what you posted and Simon’s work is that your fellow is seeking to solve current electricity consumption…in Australia.
That’s a fraction of the total power consumption.
Simon was solving for “no more fossil fuel use” for the entire world which is a vastly larger number. Also, under that scenario one does not get to have some peaker plants hanging around for those inevitable week+ long dark, calm spells. So he ran the numbers under a variety of assumptions ranging from just 4 hours of storage on up to 28 days (for a healthy buffer and so as not to drive the system to the zero battery bound too often, if ever).
It’s a real bummer when your grid becomes unstable because you’ve only got 5 hours of storage and a few peaker plants to squeak by and then the wind dies for a whole week…as it did in the EU earlier this year:
Oh and in Texas too:
But, just for the sake of being complete, here’s Simon’s table for 6 hours of storage… there are quite a few things on there with many decades if not centuries of mining required:


The Green Energy Myth Vs An Alternative Energy Reality?

I’m starting to see the trees in the forest. Many of the household systems that now run on power supplied by the local power company need to be re-engineered into independent systems that can be mostly self sufficient. For example, the pump that would circulate geo-thermal medium to my heat pump could run on a solar panel/battery system independent of the grid (like how an electric fence around a cow pasture is powered). Once the thinking changes, possibilities begin to be revealed. Cutting our grid usage “by a thousand paper cuts” - not everything all at once, but one thing at a time and being relentless in the pursuit of improvement. Isn’t that just another form of resiliency?

I was looking at solar powered irrigation pumps (no need for backup battery!) and wondered what their life span would be. If they only last a few years, not very resilient. There sure aren’t any easy answers!!

Venus Project City

Could someone explain to this rural peasant why designers of future cities opt for such ugly (to me) glass/steel/concrete buildings in weird shapes?

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This comment wasn’t meant to detract from the serious energy issues Simon discusses, especially the issues of replacing liquid fuels with minerals. This was purely about the assumption of how much backup do we need to maintain a stable electricity grid under real world conditions.
My gut reaction is along the lines that we would need a month’ supply of energy to stabilise the grid for just the reason you suggest - sometimes the doldrums hit and stay for a week, and I threw this out on twitter in a discussion once and was pointed towards Osmond. So his conclusion is that over the past two years, with linear scaling of the renewables, we never need more than an extra few percent of peakers available on standby and about 5 hours of extra total grid capacitance, rather than weeks or months. I found this clashed with my view of the weather, but he does have the data.
Perhaps we have just had a good couple of years? Well, one of his colleagues has taken the analysis back (admittedly not using real usage data) for 14 years and drew much the same conclusion. We haven’t had a weather system in Australia the past 14 years that would have caused a problem. Obviously Europe is a different situation as winter can be very hard.
I find this hard to believe. I know we have had weeks where the wind stood still over large areas of the continent, and there was a case a few years ago where South Australia had real energy problems due to their renewables not producing power, but, or so is claimed, the national grid would still have been fine.
As I implied above, I’m not 100% convinced but sometimes you have to look at the other side’s arguments and work out who is wrong.

My Reaction

What a fascinating conversation. It reminds me of my daydreams of thirty years ago, of complementary robots that could harvest surplus energy, mine minerals, manufacture goods, and reproduce themselves…and the reaction of normies to shut down the mad scientist experiment. Ah, techno-optimism, maybe even Star Trek powered by liquid thorium reactors but sans transporters (please!), if you can manage to incubate beyond the auspices of the jealous, short-sighted masses.
I suppose I now take religion more seriously and its answers to big existential questions, that (for example) the heart of man is corrupt even among those who see themselves as basically good. I agree that humans need to be rewired, but the utopian make-your-own-incentives proposition for that mostly kicks the can down the road while attention is urgently focused on problem-solving. The rewiring could instead be to take on the character of God, the only one who can be trusted with absolute power, and because I keep seeing evidence for God I’m parting ways with utopians, or at least the humanist flavor of them.
But I do wish Simon well with his project, since something cool is sure to come of it.


Sign Me Up

I would like to apply for a job at Porta Arantas. I’ll bring my own tools.

Ahh. Sounds wayyyyy to collectivist to me. No thanks I’ll watch it fail from afar. As all collectivist societies do.


That’s the only way to draw peasants in to work for the masters. He said the quite part out load. The investors get they’re cut first then the rest is distributed to the “community”. Ie. Collectivism


Chart Downloads

I was wondering if Chris could put up all the charts that were in the presentation in a downloadable form. We are having a public forum on a 50 mw wind farm in our city this Friday. I was taking screen shots as the conversation was happening. But being able to print off the charts and make notes would be more useful for me, at least for this Friday. This was perfect timing for a refresher on all the points I want to make. Please do what you can to make the charts easy to access

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ANYTHING except the original plan of God, right?
It seems to me that God had it right from the beginning and that we should live an agrarian life where we all worked for our own food with our own hands, and lived in harmony with creation around us.
Everything instead (since we’ve tried to kick God to the curb), is a mad dash for material wealth beyond what we actually need, and a life of supreme comfort without any effort, where we can lay back and do no work, making machines to do all work for us. But those machines and that wealth and comfort require the impossible.
God’s original plan is a better one.


Yes. I’d rather a little hut in the woods which i built with local materials. Very hobbit-like. Beauty is important.


The ‘easy’ answer is for us to haul water ourselves, instead of having machines to do it for us.

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Think, 12-48volt sail boat bilge pumps.