Skip to comments.Not so Green Solar Energy
Posted on 01/18/2009 10:17:32 AM PST by Sammy67
You think solar electrical generation is going to save you or the Planet? Think again.
While it is true that photovoltaic solar panels do not pollute while they are producing electricity -- what about the manufacturing process? What happens when these panels reach the end of their projected lifecycle in twenty-five years? (This is, by the way, an optimistic view of their useful life.)
Those questions are addressed in a study by the watchdog group Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.
"Green Power" is being hyped as the "Safe Solution." It is anything but safe -- when all factors are considered.
Here is a partial list (eight of fifty) of chemicals associated with solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing and disposal:
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
Duh!! The panels come from heaven or somewhere like that,,, and they get recycled later into like,,,coffee tables or something!
PS,,, ever notice you also never hear about the importance of frequently cleaning the glass? Yellowed plasic covers or dirty glass covers result in a big drop in efficiency.
That said,, i love how the environmentalists eat their young. They look at everything thru their religion, even their things meant to save the earth,, even the email discussing it or the google search. It must make them so angry to never be able to stop breathing.
Those massive windmills that clutter the landscape of the Midwest undoubtedly chop up birds probably including some on the endangered list. There are some studies that indicate the very low frequency sounds generated by the massive blades have negative health effects for those who live around them.
What's happening is that what environmentalists are actually in favor of is no human use of energy at all. When they suggest a solution like solar cells, it's only so they can shoot it down as soon as anyone actually tries to implement it.
When they talk about the W/square foot available for solar energy, they leave out the need for access to clean and maintain the panels.
This effectively reduces the power available in a given area. If you have 1 acre available, you can't use all of it for panels. You need to be able to get into the panel area to clean. This means aisles for humans.
Combine this with the low efficiency and it is very expensive per kwh.
I'm not anti-solar, or wind. I am for what makes sense. We can't rely on PV solar to the extent they say we can.
Don’t forget the drop in efficieny as a result of the buildup of bug guts on the blades.
Big Solar Lied, People Died! /sarc
Solar thermal is an alternative to PV. Some greens are touting the advantages of solar thermal especially energy storage. I am not sure if solar thermal can scale as its advocates insist. Solar thermal technologies have been around for a long time but the technology is receiving renewed investor interest in the last few years. Perhaps someone with more expertise can comment on the economic viability of solar thermal as compared to PV for power generation.
We need to develop a way to turn liberals into energy. The byproducts may be just as nasty, but their abundant availability makes for cheap fuel.
The issues raised in this article have some merit but it is worth noting that the referenced organization (SVTC) and its founder Ted Smith have been objecting to anything and everything for well over twenty years. Smith is a hard-core leftie nutcase. "Protest" comes as naturally to these types as crying does to a baby. "I want! I want! Gimme, gimme, gimme!"
Yep. And that’s not even factoring in the battery issues. A smallish diesel or natural gas generator with all the bells and whistles beats those silly windmills anyday.
Actually, solar is effective, but not without considering increasing efficency in other areas of the home. I am designing off the grid small homes, not for the sake of being green, but for self sufficiency.
A combination of wind and solar on a properly designed home will free you from the bonds of utilities.
Some sacrifices are made but the payback is worth it.
producing ethonol (at least from corn) is also more polluting, biofuels probably too.
And come Tuesday at noon, they'll start being delivered on the backs of unicorns. :=)
A couple cord of wood and a rare generator fire up and all is well.
Its got a great deal to do with the design and construction of the house. The number of days needed to heat or cool are greatly reduced. Power for lights and appliances is pretty easy.
Keep you posted.
Someting that I have always wondered about solar panel arrays- they are just as land intensive as say, a strip mine. Land covered by panels is not going to grow anything, and no wildlife is going to be using it, and there's going to be big infrastructure aspects too, plus local temperature changes. I read somewhere that it would take 100 acres of solar panels to produce the same energy output as one natural gas well footprint at 1 acre.
Yet solar is supposed to be minimal impact ?
Wind, solar, and even hydro power is most likely more land intensive than coal and nuclear.
A strip mine can be reclaimed.
Ash landfill space can be reclaimed.
Millions and millions of acres devoted to windfarms and solar panels will be permanently used for that purpose. Add in ALL the extra wires that will occupy space and I believe you have more land per MW capacity used than conventional and nuclear.
The truth is, the true green movement doesn't even want us to use wind and solar. It's an issue they use to get us to commit energy suicide and shut down coal, oil, and nuclear power. They lie and tell us "renewables" have to be rushed into service, we need to shut down the conventional power sources, and conserve for the "energy gap" (which is HUGE). Once that is done, they will shut off the wind/solar energy too. They want humans to just go away.
Tower-based solar thermal with huge underground thermal storage reservoirs to level load a secondary working-fluid system for actual power generation makes a lot of sense for electric generation.
Locate it in vast areas of the desert southwest, and couple it with a new advanced high voltage direct current backbone across the continent to move the electricity across the country and into the existing AC grids.
Call it a 20 year project and this is a workable technology.
I am in the oil industry, and the only long-term substitutes for liquid hydrocarbons (most likely bio-engineered algaes) will take time also to come into place.
Fortunately there are actually huge amounts of oil and natural gas still in place, and accessible at rational prices that the economy can afford. Land and offshore drilling technology has been developed to the point that aversion to drilling has no truly substantive / fact-based underpinnings or justification. It is all emotion/”taste” driven (nimby bs). These are still factors - not adult ones, but childish ones.
So we have time for a 30-50 year transition for much electric generation and alternative liquid fuel technology to be developed.
Then we are talking about energy sufficient for a robust economy virtually without limits - plenty to get us to the next unstoppable nature-driven ice-age, Yellowstone-caldera eruption, or NEO asteroid or Oort-cloud comet impact - when all bets are then off.
Maybe we can get a colony with long-term viability on Mars before then, as a back-up plan.
It may be workable but it does not sound economically viable. I am not sure about the cost of the solar thermal systems themselves but the DC backbone will be cost prohibitive unless cost is no object. We will have dramatically higher electricity rates if that backbone is constructed. In addition, their is no nation wide grid. There will be a huge cost to expand the electric grid across the country. Have you objectively looked at the economics of your proposal?
Oh, you have it easy. Dry climes are fairly easy to cool and heat can be all passive. I live in the Kansas City area, where it gets to sub zero temps in the winter and 100+ with 90% humidity in the summer. That is very difficult to cool or heat.
You’ll want thick adobe or masonry walls, good shading with the roof structure, and rainwater collection setup. I’ll PM you some links and feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Nice spot, I am jealous.
US electric generation 2006 was about 4 terawatt-hrs. (70% of this is hydrocarbon based.) Lets say we want to convert 2 terawatt-hrs of this to be solar thermal. On a daily basis this means we need to generate 5.48 gigawatt-hrs per day.
Arizona averages 6 kwh/day per m^2. (Peak rate is 1 kw-hr/hr).
AT 66% actually captured = 4 kw-hr/day/m^2 - this means 1.37 billion m^2. At 1,000,000 m^2/km^2 = 1,370 km^2. Also Phoenix averages 300 sunny days per year. Factoring this in means we need 1,667 km^2.
Let's say net conversion efficiency given thermal storage - working fluid system - actual generation - etc. is 25% = 4X = 6,668 km^2 actual footprint (81.66 km sq)(50.75 mile square = 2575 sq.mi.)
Discount for actual physical layout (roads - infrastructure - greenspace (desertspace)) that we actual use 3x land needed = 20,000 km^2.
THIS MEANS that our “solar district” can be a single square land parcel of 141.42 km on a side (87.87 miles on a side - call it 88 miles or 7,744 sq.mi.).
Arizona is 114,000 sq miles, so we are talking about using only 6.8% of Arizona's land area for this program... and this from the hot deserty parts not otherwise heavily used. Arizona is 82% owned by governmental agencies and Indian reservations - only 18% of Arizona is owned in the “normal” way by private entities.
Also, there are plenty of agricultural areas of much greater physical extent than this, where almost nothing but a single “crop” - corn or wheat or cotton or etc. - is raised and almost all land is given to this crop.
Or 77 distributed 10-mile-square (100 square mile) solar farms scattered across the desert southwest.
Molten-salt storage can hold 1 weeks worth of thermal energy. A small number of times a year certain areas might go more than 1 week with cloudy skies (65 days a year total in Phoenix as noted above). One could consider having secondary heating with natural gas to maintain the molten salt reservoir temperature as a backup on those few instances of long periods of cloudiness that might occur.
We are talking a lot of money for infrastructure build.
But thereafter we are talking 2 terawatt/hrs each year of electricity for maintenance costs. Using heat that otherwise would just make the sand hot during the day and then would be lost at night.
NOW we are talking about building almost 11 square miles of actual facility per month to do this as a twenty-year project once POC and clearances are obtained. SO maybe this is a 30 or 40 year project...
BUT it is still something that is doable.
Firstly, we are going to be building new electrical infrastructure to convert energy use to renewable, as a matter of public policy.
Secondly - A DC backbone with spurs to tie to the existing grid would only be a fraction of the length of all high-tension transmission lines already in place. Some of them are actually convertable from hi-voltage AC to HVDC and would not need complete new construction. If we could afford to build what is already there over the years, we can afford to add another 15% or maybe less (note that HVDC has much lower loss of power - 3% vs 8% for existing power transmission).
Finally, yes is is not economically viable at 6 cents per kh-hr. BUT as an identified national priority for energy independence and solar-based renewable energy source, over a 20 or 30 year program life, it is actually no big deal.
The National Renewable Energy Lab of the DOE is actually looking at aspects of electical infrastructure build-out as a fifty-year infrastructure program.
We have to do something to modernize and redesign the grid. Combining this solar thermal concept with a new grid design and backbone, gets us to a good place by the time our grand-kids will need it.
And is probably a better place to spend money than some of the places the most recent trillion dollars got spent by the government... < grin >