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My attempt at resolving this complex matter is summarised below.

Utilisation of electrical energy extracts, converts into electricity and then wastes as heat transferred to the environment, all of the chemical enthalpy in a fossil fuel, which is not replaced because it would be conserved on Earth by the First Law of Thermodynamics, as entropy, unusable energy. For an equal quantity of electricity, from solar, wind or hydro energy, it would be converted, used and wasted in the same way, but its enthalpy would have to be replaced to restore the Earth-Sun dynamic radiative equilibrium.

To maintain on Earth systems of wind, precipitation and solar energy for renewable energy technologies, the enthalpy taken and used has to be replaced from higher temperature sources, not entropy. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, allows heat to move only from warmer systems to cooler systems. Solar, wind and hydro enthalpies taken on Earth must be restored ultimately from the Sun’s higher temperature. To argue that Earth’s climate system energy would not be affected by renewable technologies because their amount is lesser is a priori, a fallacy and unsound.

Therefore, supposing that solar, wind and hydro technologies could equal the thermal efficiency of fossil fuel technologies, the renewable technologies would bring more solar energy to the Earth. The amount of heat trapped by carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels could be offset by restoration of solar, wind and hydro energy taken by renewable technologies.

Further explanation is in my book Animal Farm 2 on Amazon and posted on my blog.


Wind and solar energy on Earth must be replaced from the Sun when expended, bringing in more heat for release of equivalent electricity into the environment, than by depleting fossil fuels. Wind and solar energy cannot ultimately be renewed from lower temperature heat from the environment, by the First (conservation) and Second (transfer) Laws of Thermodynamics. Heat to produce wind for turbines and for solar absorption is more than fossil fuel heat, because renewable energy resources are replaced, increasing warming.

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No energy resource can renew energy, by the First Law of Thermodynamics: energy cannot be created. Because solar energy is abundant, it is sometimes assumed to be infinitely renewable. The solar energy driving the wind and solar panels on Earth has to be replaced from the sun, by the Second Law of Thermodynamics: heat can only flow from hotter to colder places. The only hotter place that can replace the solar energy converted on Earth is the Sun. If this was not so, the Earth would cool as incoming solar energy was converted, eventually, to low entropy heat, at ambient temperature, by the Third Law of Thermodynamics. Thus wind and solar technologies do not access renewable energy. Nor do any other technologies, including hydro.

See my writing on energy topics

An inconvenient hypothesis


All energy in the Universe is being converted into entropy, which is heat energy at temperatures too low to be used and is retained in the environment changing Earth’s climate. This is the second law of thermodynamics. Radiation of entropy into space is slower than it is being accumulated and may not be much slowed by an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect. The climate changes can be limited by reducing all types of anthropomorphic energy wastage and usage, especially energy-inefficient technologies such as solar and wind.
More information: Greenhouse teapot article


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