all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

09 December, 2011

“The Future Is in Renewable Energy!”

All right, so much for wind; but, you ask, what about solar?  See “Rooftop solar panels overloading electricity grid”, by Annabel Hepworth in The Australian:
The runaway take-up of rooftop solar panels is undermining the quality of electricity supplies, feeding so much power back into the network that it is stressing the system and causing voltage rises that could damage household devices such as computers and televisions.  [...]
Adelaide solar panel installer Chris Hart said the problems were worse in the summer months, when airconditioner use added to the stress on the system.  Mr Hart, who owns EcoSouth Solar Electricity, said areas with a lot of solar panels pushed the voltage up to the maximum allowable level, triggering shutdowns in the individual systems and taking the load off the grid.
He said solar systems “drop out for a few minutes” when voltages get too high, a phenomenon known as “tripping out”.
“Then they try to come online again and it pushes the voltage up again and it’s very wearing,” he said. “That’s the problem with having too much solar in an area where the local authority hasn’t got enough wires or copper in the street to hold the voltage down.”
Mr Hart said the size of conductors and cables in the streets would have to be upgraded “so it can handle lots of solar, versus times when there’s lots of load and no solar”.
“If you get a very, very hot night and there’s obviously no solar, the mains voltage is going to drop a lot,” he said.  “If your wires aren’t up to it, you’ve got a problem.”
UPDATE I (12 December):  see “1500 accidents and incidents on UK wind farms” by .

UPDATE II (13 December):  see also Alan Caruba’s “The Wind Power Pipe Dream” (and, linked therein, from John Droz, Jr., Wind Power Facts).

UPDATE III (14 December):  “Environmental Scientist Caught Agreeing to Ignore Her Own Data, Make Up New Claims”:

UPDATE IV (15 December):  see German Solar Stock Pioneer Solon Plummets on Insolvency Filing”, by Bloomberg’s Stefan Nicola:
Solon, which in 1998 was the country’s first listed photovoltaic producer, fell 46% to 50.2 euro cents.
The Berlin-based company filed for insolvency after failing to reach an “amicable solution” with banks and investors, it said in a statement yesterday.
Solon had sought to speed up cost cuts and extend a year-end deadline to repay a 275 million-euro ([US]$357 million) loan to Deutsche Bank AG and a group of seven German banks.
The country’s solar manufacturers including Q-Cells SE (QCE) and Solarworld AG (SWV) are reeling from rising foreign competition just as demand ebbs in Germany, the biggest photovoltaic market last year.  Chinese companies have increased production capacity even as international prices slumped, tipping three U.S. solar companies including Solyndra LLC into bankruptcy this year.
UPDATE V (15 December):  see Solar Subsidies: Misdirecting Industry and Consumers”, by David Bergeron, at MasterResource:
Here is the real problem:  Subsidies make solar appear viable today, so where is the motivation for an entrepreneur to risk money, or even focus on developing real energy alternatives when solar is “almost” there?  How can an inventor justify striving with the effort it takes to really develop something great when he is competing against a straw man technology which can provide power at almost the same cost of traditional power sources today?  But of course it really doesn’t.  
The answer is he can’t justify the effort, so the next great thing is not developing, at least not with the sense of urgency it should be.  Why enter a contest when you are competing against someone with an unfair advantage?  You may be the faster swimmer, but your competitor is using flippers. 
Solar subsidies are a placebo which is giving the general public a sense of security about our energy future and is robbing the motivation of those entrepreneurs that could actually address our energy problems.  Subsidies are much worse that just wasteful, they’re diabolical.  They lull us into thinking we have almost solved the problem and they hinder us from seeking the real solutions.  [...]
Leprosy maims its victims by robbing them of their sense of pain.  The leper can put his hand on a hot surface and not feel the heat.  He can twist an ankle and will keep walking.
In the same way, on-grid solar subsidies will allow a homeowner to continue using much more electricity than he can afford (or the planet can sustain) and he will not know it.  If he felt the pain of the real cost, he would use less power.
But he does not feel it, since subsidies hide the pain, like leprosy.
Subsidies defeat market forces on both sides of the equation.  They reduce potential supply by hindering entrepreneurs from developing new energy supplies, and they increase demand by artificially keeping the price of energy down.  There could hardly be more cleverly disguised means of exasperating a potential climate issue.
UPDATE VI (16 December):  see “China’s ‘Rare Earths’: A Threat to America’s Strategic Standing”, by Michael Silver, at PJ Media:
future generations of Ford’s automobile may not require either iron or oil, but they will most certainly require neodymium (electric motors) and lanthanum (batteries).  Erbium, neodymium, and lanthanum are three of fourteen elements collectively called the rare earths.  The rare earths are essential to everything from modern automobiles, cell phones, televisions, and jets to countless military applications.  Every Prius has fifteen pounds of rare earths in it.
While the U.S. was the dominant producer of raw materials in the last century, China today controls nearly 100% of global production of rare earth metals.  That’s right, nearly 100%.  [...]
An American company that sells rare earth metals is Colorado-based Molycorp [which has] a mine in California.  Currently, Molycorp sells rare earths on the world market, yet [its] prices are essentially determined by China, which, given the size of its reserves, will always act as the OPEC of rare earths by dictating global prices.  China can at anytime drop prices to pre-2009 levels, effectively putting Molycorp out of business.  [...]
The U.S. environmental movement supports restrictions on mining [but the environmentalists] need to realize this is a Catch-22 that threatens the very future of our country—as they themselves envision it!  They cannot both demand a green technology future and simultaneously stand in the way of mining the raw materials essential to manufacture these products.  Simply not blocking approvals will not be enough; they must actively demand a fresh approach to critical mineral mining.

UPDATE VII (11 January):  see “Abuse of power against anti-windfarm movement” (and the references therefor) at European Platform Against Windfarms:
Mark Duchamp, Executive Director of EPAW, declared that he was respectfully asking UK government Ministers [whether] they intend to investigate and harass other members of the public who oppose the destruction of the British landscape, the killing of protected bird and bat species, and the deterioration of the health of wind farm neighbours.  Mr Watson’s only crime, he said, was to have found legal flaws in the way the UK government's energy policy is being applied.
EPAW claims that wind farms are ineffective, immensely expensive, and destroy jobs in the rest of the economy; that they are also seriously harming human health, resulting in home abandonment, or worse; and finally that they are killing protected wildlife into extinction.  In the circumstances, concludes Duchamp, the 514 associations from 23 countries represented by EPAW would like to know why their members deserve to be investigated and harassed by the authorities, using special powers reserved for criminals and terrorists.
UPDATE VIII (14 January):  the EPAW link above is no longer available, so see Tallbloke’s post thereon.

UPDATE IX (19, April 2013)see “90ft Aberdeenshire turbine felled by wind”, by Alan Shields of The Scotsman:
A 90ft wind turbine has been blown over in Aberdeenshire.
Three blades were found scattered on the ground in a field near Hatton, in Banff and Buchan, after the turbine collapsed.
Local residents yesterday described the turbines as “dangerous” and said it was lucky no-one was walking in the area at the time.
UPDATE X (2, July)see14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines in the USA
The US has had wind farms since 1981, what the left and the green movement don’t want to talk about regarding windmills is (as usual) the truth.  The truth is: windmills, like solar panels, break down.  And like solar panels, windmills produce less energy before they break down than the energy it took to make them.  That’s the part liberals forget: making windmills and solar panels takes energy, energy from coal, oil, and diesel, energy that extracts and refines raw materials, energy that transports those materials to where they will be re-shaped into finished goods, energy to manufacture those goods.  More energy than those finished windmills and solar panels will ever produce.
There are many hidden truths about the world of wind turbines from the pollution and environmental damage caused in China by manufacturing bird choppers, the blight on people’s lives of noise and the flicker factor and the countless numbers of birds that are killed each year by these blots on the landscape.  The symbol of Green renewable energy, our saviour from the non existent problem of Global Warming, abandoned wind farms are starting to litter the planet as globally governments cut the subsidies taxes that consumers pay for the privilege of having a very expensive power source that does not work every day for various reasons like it's too cold or the wind speed is too high.
The US experience with wind farms has left over 14,000 wind turbines abandoned and slowly decaying, in most instances the turbines are just left as symbols of a dying Climate Religion, nowhere have the Green Environmentalists appeared to clear up their mess or even complain about the abandoned wind farms.  […]
The problem with wind farms when they are abandoned is getting the turbines removed, as usual there are no Green environmentalists to be seen.  The City of Palm Springs was forced to enact an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio.  But California’s Kern County, encompassing the Tehachapi area, has no such law.  Imagine the outraged Green chorus if those turbines were abandoned oil drilling rigs.
The truth is: wind energy is just a tax scam.  Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst focusing on energy and environmental issues for the Heritage Foundation, is not surprised.  He asks:
“If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?  It’s a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end.”
And therein lies a lesson for those who seek to make fortunes out of tax payer subsidies, and for those who want to live in a dream world of “clean energy”, the whole renewables industry of solar, wind and biomass is just an artificial bubble incapable of surviving without subsides from governments and tax payers.  The Green evangelists who push so hard for these wind farms, as usual have not thought the whole idea through.
 UPDATE XI (15 October):

1 comment:

Peter Senior said...

One of the few certainties in life is that technologies advance, often at exponential rates.

If we apply this to solar generation of electricity, it may be less than ten years before solar becomes one of, or even THE major supplier of domestic non-city power world-wide .

Much improved and more economic solar energy materials, more economic inverters and far cheaper, high energy storage batteries are likely to be available.

Meanwhile, daft subsidies and illogical buy-back schemes compound the problems of grids incapable of handling variable rapidly varying loads.

If only governments would stop interferring and allow natural evolution of solar technology and economics to determine solar take-up. Pigs may also fly.