Wood McKenzie Confirm Gipe-Freehling Estimate of Missed Opportunity from Middle East Wars

By Paul Gipe

Research by the consulting firm Wood McKenzie confirms the approximate opportunity cost of converting the US to 100% renewable energy in electricity lost to wars in the Middle East that I and Robert Freehling had calculated.

Wood McKenzie’s results were published in an article by Greentech Media, The Price of a Fully Renewable US Grid: $4.5 Trillion. Greentech Media is a subsidiary of Wood McKenzie.

In a simple calculation of what the US could have done if it had not invaded Afghanistan and Iraq nearly two decades ago, we found that the US could have installed enough wind, solar, and battery storage to provide 100% of the electricity in the country. See Beating Swords into Plowshares or Wind Turbines & Solar Panels–We Could Have Done It.

We included 700,000 MW of battery storage in our calculations. In contrast, Wood McKenzie estimated the US would need 900,000 MW of storage. Our calculations were well within the margin of error for estimates of this scale.

We called for four hours of battery storage, amounting to 3 TWh, as required by the California Independent System Operator. However, Wood McKenzie said the nation would need 24 hours of backup, requiring 16.8 TWh.

Wood McKenzie based their estimate on installing the entire fleet of wind turbines, solar farms, and battery storage within ten years.

In contrast, we prorated development over the period from 2001 to 2020, reflecting the period of US war expenditures in the Middle East.

Not only does the Wood McKenzie study confirm our estimates but illustrates how much cheaper the transition would be if we began it today. Indeed, the transition could be made within a decade and for much less than we estimated.  Battery storage in particular is much cheaper today than it was two decades ago.