Eli, of course, got a couple of lumps this Christmas, but the Bunny has some thoughts about the recent Lomborg/Tol campaign for burning more, especially in poor countries. Now this is the start of something, not the end and more of a position paper (aka paw sucker) rather than a proof, but let us begin from the implications of "Does Africa Need Telephone Poles"
Lomborg and Tol and the Breakthrough Boys have been busy pushing the idea that Africa and other poor/developing countries need to burn more coal because, well, because on a per Watt basis coal burning to create electricity is cheaper.
However they neglect a few dozen important things.
As Eli pointed out, the cost is only cheaper if you don't count the cost of distribution to the sticks.
Somewhat sotto voce, Eli and others pointed out that maintaining large distribution networks is something that developing countries are not famous for.
Besides cost a particular stick that the Lomborg, Tol, Breakthrough Boys like to use is to point out that renewables can be intermittent. True enough, but as Eli would now like to point out, coal and a central distribution system is also intermittent in all developing countries. The distinguishing feature of operating in a developing country, even if you are connected to the electricity network is the diesel generator in the backyard. Even in the cities, where distribution is the best in the Third World. What does Richard Tol think them things are for??
So, each coal burning plant requires that every hut and factory have a backup diesel. These, of course are being replaced by solar PV and other systems, but solar PV and wind in small networks is by far the cheapest electrical source out in the sticks even without blackouts.
And now Eli would like to come to the developed world. With increased range (Tesla now has an all electric auto with 600 km range) rooftop solar recharging even through secondary batteries now becomes a viable transportation model. Exxon whines