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The myth of renewable energy
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist ^ | 22 November 2011 | Dawn Stover

Posted on 11/24/2011 11:10:45 AM PST by motivated

"Clean." "Green." What do those words mean? When President Obama talks about "clean energy," some people think of "clean coal" and low-carbon nuclear power, while others envision shiny solar panels and wind turbines. And when politicians tout "green jobs," they might just as easily be talking about employment at General Motors as at Greenpeace. "Clean" and "green" are wide open to interpretation and misappropriation; that's why they're so often mentioned in quotation marks. Not so for renewable energy, however.

Snip.....

Renewable energy sounds so much more natural and believable than a perpetual-motion machine, but there's one big problem: Unless you're planning to live without electricity and motorized transportation, you need more than just wind, water, sunlight, and plants for energy. You need raw materials, real estate, and other things that will run out one day. You need stuff that has to be mined, drilled, transported, and bulldozed -- not simply harvested or farmed. You need non-renewable resources:

Snip.....


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: energy; renewable
Excellent piece by Dawn Stover about what renewables can and can't do. The sun and wind may be practically inexhaustible, but 'renewable' energy isn't. Solar, wind, and geothermal power are not fundamentally different from other energy technologies that consume finite natural resources. Good reading for anyone who thinks they know how to combat climate change.
1 posted on 11/24/2011 11:10:55 AM PST by motivated
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To: steelyourfaith

Ping.


2 posted on 11/24/2011 11:14:56 AM PST by Army Air Corps (Four fried chickens and a coke)
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To: motivated

Renewable resources are expensive and apart from sunlight, they don’t pay for themselves. The truth is that in an advanced society, we can’t really go back to “Green” even if we wanted to.


3 posted on 11/24/2011 11:17:18 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: motivated
"Good reading for anyone who thinks they know how to combat climate change."

If you are referring to the normal cycles of global climate change then no amount of "combat" will prevent the inevitable. If you are referring to the myth of 'man made climate change, then I refuse to accept the premise in the first place.

4 posted on 11/24/2011 11:18:25 AM PST by ArchAngel1983 (Arch Angel- on guard / The democrat party "Can Go Straight To Hell".)
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To: motivated
Great find!

From the article:
Renewable energy sounds so much more natural and believable than a perpetual-motion machine...

It never before occurred to me that the sloppy-think concept of "Renewable Energy" is actually a convoluted way to get around the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Don Lancaster showed that all these efforts to create energy out of the ether will always cost more than they produce.

5 posted on 11/24/2011 11:21:57 AM PST by stormhill
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To: ArchAngel1983

I agree with you and don’t agree with ‘climate change’ as something that’s actually happening, but some people do ‘feel’ that climate change is happening and that text is for them to consider.


6 posted on 11/24/2011 11:22:44 AM PST by motivated
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To: motivated

Only thing comes close to dependable “green” energy production would be.. hydraulic production.. in rivers and tides..

Tide water production could out produce dams in some/most places.. rivers and streams could out produce wind by a long shot.. especially in large rivers...

The energy available is large and constant.. tide water is barely touched.. Hard to imagine this source has not been tapped even to this day.. This energy could be transported by microwave..if not thru mere conduits.. Many places are extremely rich in tide water possibilities..


7 posted on 11/24/2011 11:25:03 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: motivated

we get clean renewable energy every day, Its called the SUN!


8 posted on 11/24/2011 11:25:25 AM PST by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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To: motivated

The basic problem with it is it assumes demand is inelastic. In the real world, there will be increasing demand simply because there are more people. Renewable energy nowhere gets close to satisfying increased demand. And the notion we can do it cheaply and conveniently - with solar, wind and biomass fuel technologies is a mirage. We will be dependent on fossil and nuclear energy resources - in a word - non-renewables for a long time to come simply because nothing else comes close to satisfying the needs of our energy-intensive civilization.


9 posted on 11/24/2011 11:25:39 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: motivated

Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. That is the great enemy of green solutions. Anything electrical and/or mechanical will break, period. Solar panels only have an expected service life of 10 years before they too deteriorate in performance and reliability. Also, as time moves along, the price of everything goes up so replacement costs are more than the original and those replacement parts also have a disposal cost as well.

I’ll bet the eco-nuts have not found a way to mount all of those little cells without the plastic panels that are a product of the oil industry. So if they just say lets use wood, then we will have to cut down their precious trees. But then again, the fact that southern pines are harvested just like their veggies has escaped them as well.


10 posted on 11/24/2011 11:26:43 AM PST by mazda77 (and I am a Native Texan)
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To: mountainlion

We get clean renewable energy ALMOST every day, too...it’s called RAIN!


11 posted on 11/24/2011 11:27:57 AM PST by goodnesswins (My Kid/Grandkids are NOT your ATM, liberals! (Sarah Palin))
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To: goodnesswins

Rain is a greenhouse gas that causes us to overheat when the sun comes out. Ever notice how hot it gets when it rains and humidity is up and the sun comes out./s


12 posted on 11/24/2011 11:32:28 AM PST by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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To: motivated
" I agree with you and don’t agree with ‘climate change’ as something that’s actually happening, but some people do ‘feel’ that climate change is happening and that text is for them to consider."

My bad - happy Thanksgiving!!

13 posted on 11/24/2011 11:34:41 AM PST by ArchAngel1983 (Arch Angel- on guard / The democrat party "Can Go Straight To Hell".)
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To: mountainlion

HA...you aren’t from the NW US are you! Heat? during rain? (Yes, I saw the /s)


14 posted on 11/24/2011 11:34:45 AM PST by goodnesswins (Being Thankful I was born in the great U S of A!)
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To: motivated
Renewable energy source:


15 posted on 11/24/2011 11:52:03 AM PST by Iron Munro (Ben Raines For President)
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To: Army Air Corps

When President Obama talks about “clean energy,”

It’s a code to all his friends to say their company is in “clean energy” , so he can give them tons of free cash .


16 posted on 11/24/2011 12:01:26 PM PST by molson209
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To: steelyourfaith

Ping.


17 posted on 11/24/2011 12:09:46 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four fried chickens and a coke)
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To: molson209
It’s a code to all his friends to say their company is in “clean energy” , so he can give them tons of free taxpayer cash . There, I fixed it for you. :-)
18 posted on 11/24/2011 12:12:50 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four fried chickens and a coke)
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To: Iron Munro

At have a relative with three kids - they faced a $1,000 electric heating bill last winter - a surprise, so they put in a wood burning stove type heater, secured access to wood at a reasonable price - done deal - no more huge heating bills. Of course, wood in not cheap especially in some areas and at stores, but it’s a great renewable heat source.


19 posted on 11/24/2011 12:15:21 PM PST by motivated
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To: Iron Munro

At have a relative with three kids - they faced a $1,000 electric heating bill last winter - a surprise, so they put in a wood burning stove type heater, secured access to wood at a reasonable price - done deal - no more huge heating bills. Of course, wood in not cheap especially in some areas and at stores, but it’s a great renewable heat source.


20 posted on 11/24/2011 12:36:36 PM PST by motivated
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To: motivated

Of course it takes tools, manufactured goods, and infrastructure to access renewable energy. Same as for any other kind of energy. Of course it must be transported from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. Same as for any other kind of energy. There’s a lot of fuzzy thining about the source of energy and the sources of fuel.

The only source of energy to this planet is the Sun. We tap it indirectly when we burn hydrocarbons created from long-dead plants that performed photosynthesis. We move up in efficiency when we use the solar-driven water cycle to drive a hydro, or the solar-driven wind cycle to spin a turbine. We use solar energy directly in a PV cell and are still only starting to learn how to tape the energy of atomic bonds. Earth has stored energy for hundreds of millions of years and the Sun keeps producing it every day.

It comes down to how much processing or conversion must be done to put solar energy into a form we can use, or that is convenient for our needs. For example, it’s tough to duplicate the energy density, cost, portability, and availability of gasoline, but in time that may change, just as gasoline replaced wood and coal as fuel sources before it. It’s important to distinguish between energy, and fuel.
“Renewable Energy Standards” generally try to move consumption “up the food chain” to more direct fuels. I don’t agree that is smart policy, instead by removing government intervention and nanny-state “help” the free market would develop new fuels at a faster pace and in response to market needs rather that simply to comply with an arbitrary standard.


21 posted on 11/24/2011 12:41:06 PM PST by bigbob
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To: motivated

Good grief, the cleaning products suck. They don’t work so why should they tell us renewable energy the ones they are pushing does?

Well, because it’s a scam.


22 posted on 11/24/2011 12:50:46 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: motivated

Oh......

The sun shines on the ocean,
and it turns the water green.
The big fish eat the little fish,
it’s a bloody horrible scene.
Well, it all falls to the bottom,
tonnes of pressure smash it all down.
And it turns into petroleum,
Which makes the world go ‘round.

Everybody sing...


23 posted on 11/24/2011 2:24:41 PM PST by ROCKLOBSTER ( Celebrate Republicans Freed the Slaves Month.)
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To: ROCKLOBSTER

You sure that’s not the Poop Song?


24 posted on 11/24/2011 2:46:35 PM PST by motivated
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To: freekitty

the interesting thing is - the renewable products they are pushing do work, but only in a small insignificant way - perhaps to operate only coffee bean grinders, worldwide?


25 posted on 11/24/2011 2:50:17 PM PST by motivated
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To: Iron Munro

All about woody biomass (including the efficacy of biomass heat as a renewable resouce) http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/biomass.htm


26 posted on 11/24/2011 3:49:11 PM PST by marsh2
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To: motivated

Their cleaning products sure don’t. I have wasted some money there.


27 posted on 11/24/2011 3:58:38 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: Army Air Corps; rdl6989; bamahead; Nervous Tick; SteamShovel; Tunehead54; golux; tubebender; ...
Thanx for the ping Army Air Corps !

 


Beam me to Planet Gore !

28 posted on 11/24/2011 4:17:00 PM PST by steelyourfaith (If it's "green" ... it's crap !!!)
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To: motivated
I am writing from my IPad, it often gives me fits, don't be angry if I make a lot of mistakes.

I am a Global Warming skeptic, have been from the beginning. We think Oxygen is what makes us tick but in reality it is Carbon DiOxide. Carbon Dioxide is what plants use to make ALL our food. As far as the history of the earth is concerned our atmosphere has much less CO2 than it has had for most of its existence. I'm not worried about a little CO2. That being said there is nothing wrong with renewable energy if it is cost competitive.

There is promising research that may be an answer to some of our energy woes. One of them is oil from algae. another is liquid fuel from bacteria. The benefit is that it can be grown in a relatively small area, one of the Alge strains matures in about 24hours.

I see nothing wrong with renewable as long as it is not subsidized.

29 posted on 11/24/2011 7:17:30 PM PST by JAKraig (Surely my religion is at least as good as yours)
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To: JAKraig

Now, you sound like you’ve done your homework on this subject. Competitive cost and no subsidy from government are key issues. I view the real point of the article posted as all the current alternative energy sources are really “miscellaneous” in that, yes they all compliment oil, gas, etc, but they cannot replace those sources. Therefore, and as you state, real replacement alternatives must be pursued.


30 posted on 11/25/2011 8:16:49 AM PST by motivated
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To: motivated

I disagree on the subsidy issue. In the case of biomass heat, we NEED to have the forests thinned and fuels reduced. Western forests are horribly overstocked and in unhealthy condition - susceptible to catastrophic wildfire that kills people, destroys homes, water quality and natural resources.

Currently, the American tax payer is paying for fuel reduction on public lands through the federal budget. Funding cannot keep up with the pace and scale that this needs to be done. Consequently, we are seeing larger and more demaging fires that are costing the American taxpayers $millions to fight.

Subsidizing the start up of new businesses that utilize biomass makes sense in establishing a market framework to offset the costs of fuel reduction. The purchase of this forest material and its utilization in biomass energy, heat and value-added products helps reduce taxpayer subsidy for fuel reduction.

Right now, medium sized cogen (Heat and power) facilities are being sized at the 15 MgW scale or below to fit supply. Where grid infrastructure in rural areas is below capacity for transmission, then biomass heat is emphasized. Pellet mills work best when located in tandem with existing sawmill operations. In N. CA, much of that infrastructure is gone. In S. CA it is gone. Once a pellet mill is established, then municipalities, schools and eventually residences can convert over to clean, efficient biomass heat, such as the furnace systems developed in Austria or the boiler systems coming in place at schools and hospitals in Oregon.

Risks and costs must balance out before an investor will invest. Right now, supply is one of the biggest risks, because environmentalists can shut down timber sale for years on some obscure technical point. Financing is also hard to come by. Also, the utilities pay nothing for biomass energy. The elctrical rates are subsidized for solar and wind.

Incentives do work. Wind, IMHO, is a waste of money, but conversion to solar has been accelerated due to incentives. As a result, so have technological improvements and reductions in costs.

Getting rural communities converted over to district, municipal and residential biomass would stimulate these economies, create energy independence, reduce massive carbon emissions due to wildfire, help save communities and forests from burning. Subsidies, as have been given in Oregon, can prime the pump to make this happen. California is lagging waaaay behind the East Coast and Oregon in the development of this technology. If Conservatives stand firm on no subsidies, we will continue to be in last place in a renewable sector that really make sense to the taxpayer’s overall bottom line.


31 posted on 11/25/2011 11:40:40 AM PST by marsh2
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To: marsh2

That all sounds good, but what are the numbers behind it? Isn’t it really another “miscellaneous” alternative fuel that will not run much of anything in a big way - only the number tell the truth. And, if it’s so great why would it need to be subsidized?


32 posted on 11/25/2011 12:07:27 PM PST by motivated
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To: motivated

It needs to be subsidized because:

(1) wood based products infrastructure has been completely dismantled in many areas so it has to be completely re-established;
(2) Wood based heat costs half of what oil based heat costs. However, the initial investment is so great, many large public users such as schools and jails and courthouses can’t convert without some sort of loan. These are important bulk customer anchors to secure a wood pellet mill;
(3) Like most things, conversion of many users in one area is more cost effective than doing them one by one. Pellet and fiurnace/boiler businesses have to have a large enough customer base to offset start-up and location costs. [Its sort of chicken and egg. Customers first to attract location.]
(4) Much of the technology is European. Only a few American system designers and manufacturers in Oregon and New England. Also, small biomass entrepreneurs are still designing new equipment to remove the material under a variety of conditions (slope, etc.) as well as a transport it over old logging roads.
(5) In some cases, it does not pencil out but is a less expensive alternative to the cost of wildfire fighting, property loss due to fires and affects on water supplies. (Cost avoidance.)
(6) Puts people to work and is cheaper than paying for all their needs. (Many forested rural communities have 20-25% unemployment.)

Sometimes accelerated change requires incentive. These rural areas do not have the market concentration or the sophistication to reach the critical mass of conversion that in necessary to push this into a purely market-driven system. Here, particularly, they need a boost.

http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/biomass.htm

here are some Oregon projects: http://www.sustainablenorthwest.org/resources/biomass/community-based-wood-heat/
http://www.eastforkconsulting.com/page/oregon-biomass

Our northern CA County is now attempting to follow in Oregon’s footprints, but it is a tremendous battle without the incentives, financing packages, support of the air quality board, etc.


33 posted on 11/25/2011 1:31:19 PM PST by marsh2
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To: marsh2

It still sounds like it’s in the “miscellaneous” category - not a viable alternative to oil, just another relatively minor source of fuel.


34 posted on 11/25/2011 2:21:17 PM PST by motivated
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