Doomed Planet

The Unaffordable Costs of ‘Free’ Renewables

Throughout the 99.9 per cent of human existence before the recent widespread adoption of fossil fuels, almost every individual toiled at manual labour from mid-childhood until the end of life.  Even with the help of horses, mules, and oxen almost all of the population was needed in food production in order to sustain themselves and produce enough extra to support a small population of nobles and town dwellers. Today, in developed nations three-quarters or more of the population now live in large urban areas, and about half of the populace is no longer engaged in any productive activity.

As a group these overwhelmingly urban non-producers seem to be remarkably unfamiliar with even the most elementary understanding of the basic principles underlying the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fundamental to modern society. 

Nowhere is this more clearly displayed than in both the mainstream media and in government policies pertaining to renewable energy. Although the idea of cheap, clean, endlessly renewable energy is fantastically appealing, it is just that, a fantasy.  The technology being proposed is extravagantly expensive, resource-intensive and has a relatively short service life.  It also requires huge quantities of many scarce materials which demand extensive mining and processing as well as complex manufacturing.  The mining and processing in particular result in high levels of toxic waste and have been greatly restricted in developed countries.  This has enabled China to simply ignore any environmental concerns and achieve a near monopoly dominance of the global supply.

However, all this is only the initial hardware level of the problem.  A further major difficulty involves the siting of energy farms.  Wind and solar are diffuse sources of energy.  They require extensive acreage devoted to energy farms where other important land uses can be displaced. Then, in addition to the limitations imposed by site suitability and an extensive environmental footprint, there is still another major problem. To be of any use, all of this diffuse and distant power must be integrated into a vast power grid. Worse still, to accommodate the requirements for storage and backup imposed by the highly erratic nature of wind and solar power, as well as adding a major increase in the use of electricity to power electric vehicles, all this is going to demand at least a doubling of both grid infrastructure and maintenance costs. It is further worth noting that about half of the cost of electricity is not in the generation of power.  It is in the grid, and in the 20 per cent of power which is lost in transmission.

Finally, for all of this enormous assemblage of technology, there will be an overwhelming difficulty in managing the highly erratic variability of wind and solar power generation, this further compounded by the huge demands and fluctuations of both a greatly expanded grid and increased demand for power. Finally, to top it all off, there will be a massive increase in vulnerability to accidents, equipment failures, weather extremes, terrorism, solar flares and cyber hackers. The bottom-line reality is that if earnestly pursued, a rapid large-scale switch to wind and solar power will be virtually certain to result in at least a doubling or tripling of power costs with frequent blackouts and a strong probability of occasional extensive longer-term outages with catastrophic consequences.

With respect to the more severe risks, it is important to appreciate that these are far more likely, sudden and severe than those predicted to arise from the comparatively gradual change in climate we are seeking to avoid. The severity of such risk should not be underestimated. Widespread extended outages in such a vast, vulnerable, technological and operational house of cards is far more likely than currently. 

 

NUCLEAR power in the form of small modular reactors (SMRs) is a proven technology backed by an extensive history of use in ships, submarines, and research reactors, demonstrated to be capable of providing the most reliable, safe, compact, and economic technology for power generation.  Designs, prototypes, and trial installations for commercial use are already in advanced stages of development in at least a dozen nations with the beginning of widespread commercial adoption expected before the end of this decade.

The only real obstacle to a rapid acceptance of nuclear power has been the widespread and irrational fear of radiation, this compounded by the conceit that opposing nuclear power is a signal of virtue.  Fortunately, however, anti-nuclear sentiment also seems to be approaching its use-by date, as recent polls show.  Also, the disposal of nuclear waste by secure underground storage in geologically stable locations where there is no groundwater is beginning to be accepted as an effective solution. In addition, the increasing use of thorium as a nuclear fuel should greatly reduce the volume, intensity, and half-life of radioactive waste, Thorium is also of no use for making nuclear weapons.

A further major advantage of the SMR approach to power generation lies in the virtual elimination of all the costs, complexities and risks arising from an extensive grid.  SMRs can be located close to wherever power is required and are relatively easy to add expand, remove, or replace as needed.  The whole insane cost, complexity, and vulnerability of giant power grids is unnecessary

The only real remaining obstacle to SMRs is political acceptance.  The eco-activists can be expected to continue to wave their anti-nuclear banners as long as the indoctrinated lapdogs of woke journalism continue to dominate the mainstream media and give activists the public attention they crave. This then, in the never-ending popularity contest of government, results in the major political parties continuing to shy away from anything controversial as they pander for popularity on a platform of vacuous waffle devoid of a clear commitment to anything.

Regardless of whether the real-world effect of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is a threat, or is grossly exaggerated, or might even be beneficial, there is still an overriding need to develop alternative means of power generation.  Oil and gas are finite resources and there is a rapidly growing global demand which is already pressing limitations of supply.  The boost in production from horizontal drilling and fracking can only be all too brief as the increase in flow from fracked wells after only a few months quickly declines into a long tapering tail. Although this insures against a sudden run-out it also assures that the current margin in surplus capacity will not last very long.  As shortages begin to develop, supply will go to the highest bidder.  Increasing unaffordability will impact many uses with major global political and economic consequences.

 

AUSTRALIA is at the far end of a distant and vulnerable supply line for fuel.  With only a few weeks’ reserve supply on hand, there is a critical dependence on continuing deliveries.  Any outbreak of hostilities in the Persian Gulf or the South China Sea, or any serious shortfall in production, is likely to disrupt shipments to Australia. This could very quickly bring food production and distribution to a halt. Although Australia does have some substantial crude oil reserves, these are stored in the US, and arranging for transport to Australia on short notice in a crisis situation is likely to be highly problematic.  That this vulnerability has been years in development and clearly apparent while successive governments did nothing is almost beyond belief, especially when there is a readily available proven solution that is not only affordable, but it would also avoid billions of dollars in the trade deficit.

The South African company Sasol builds synthetic fuel plants (above) employing the well-proven Fisher-Tropsch process which can produce petrol or diesel from natural gas or coal. These plants have been built and are operating successfully in several countries.  The fuel they produce reduces nitrogen oxide and has little to no particulate emissions owing to its low sulfur content. It also reduces hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions with a cost of production less than fuel refined from crude oil at current oil prices. The cost of such plants capable of providing fuel supply security for Australia would be far less than the proposed cost to replace the current naval frigates with a new generation of equally vulnerable surface warships. Alternatively, the Sasol plants could readily be built by corporate interests at no cost to taxpayers if government could only get their act together with some sound energy policies, a clearing away of the bureaucratic obstacles and perhaps an initial tax break.

In any event, and regardless of whatever future energy is adopted, an ongoing supply of liquid hydrocarbon fuels is going to remain critically important for a transition period that is likely to extend at least into a few more difficult decades.

Beyond all of the pros, cons, uncertainties, and unknowns of the science and technology involved in trying to decide what to do about the future supply of energy, there is the underlying concern about an existential threat from climate change.  Throughout history prophecies of imminent doom have been a recurrent theme. This probably reflects some combination of an inherent perversity of the human psyche, the use of fear for control, and simply the satisfaction of being able to respond to any scepticism with promises of doom. For the past three decades, the idea of an existential threat from the use of fossil fuels had been the popular doomsday prediction.  In addition to the usual psychological drivers for doom-crying, this one also provides power, publicity, and profits for many adherents as well as generous funding, plus a sense of self-importance and virtue for many others. It also comes with a claim to the credibility of cutting-edge science.   There is a lot to like, and the temptation of taking a conspicuous seat on the climate bandwagon has been irresistible to many among the cadres of third-rate academics.

With the widespread endorsement of academia, climate change has become an article of faith in the educational system and there is now a whole generation, from primary school students to adults in the prime of their working lives, who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the latest one true faith of Climatism.

However, like every other doomsday prediction, this one once again appears to be finding itself betrayed by reality, with more and more of its claims and predictions simply failing to hold up. Proclaimed deadlines for various events have been rescheduled so many times they no longer attract much credibility. The degree of warming predicted from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 has been cut to half of earlier projections. The frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, heatwaves, blizzards, tornadoes, tropical storms, sea levels, polar sea ice coverage and forest fires all remain within historical limits with no clear trends of acceleration. Global temperature averages from traditional weather stations show no apparent trend over the past three decades. In short, there is no indication of any trend or departure in climate outside the bounds of recent historical records.  The one clear global trend has been a significant greening of arid regions from increased plant coverage due to the stimulation of increased CO2, as was in fact predicted by some climate realists. The only indication of any actual warming has been in a modest trend in the satellite monitoring record for the mid-troposphere, which is not at all alarming. Certainly, there is no evidence for any imminent climate disaster nor any reason to continue terrifying children with doomsday claims of a hopeless future.

If all this level of muddled thinking and sanctimonious nonsense seems hard to believe, there are still a few more items worth considering:

♦ Australia has close to a third of global uranium reserves but is the only G20 nation with no nuclear power. If this is because it is too dangerous to use ourselves, why then are we a major supplier on the world market?

♦ Australia is also the only G20 nation in which estimated natural CO2 uptake exceeds emissions making it a net CO2 Why then, are we mindlessly trying to close down our cheap reliable coal-fired power when we should be receiving carbon credits for sequestering emissions generated elsewhere and at the same time continuing to sell millions of tonnes of coal to be burned elsewhere?

♦ The natural decomposition of plant material results in the generation of methane. The Amazon rainforest is, in fact, a major global source of methane emissions, and the methane from vegetated land is similar in amount whether the decomposition is by microbes in the soil and from digestion by myriad wild creatures, or from domestic livestock.  In Australia in particular millions of conspicuous ant mounds festoon vast regions and every one of them is a small factory continuously generating methane. Any plant material not consumed by livestock becomes food for ants or other wildlife and still ends up generating methane.  Why then is there such concern over livestock emissions?  Is fostering an increase in the proportion coming from ants somehow deemed to be more virtuous?

There is simply no sound evidence for an imminent global threat from a catastrophic change in climate.  That is an idea based mainly on unvalidated computer modeling from some hundred-plus models no two of which agree and all of which incorporate multiple estimates, assumptions, and “adjustments”.  All but one of these have also predicted warming well above the subsequent record which actually occurred, and the one exception has simply been ignored.

In contrast, an abundance of clear, sound, uncontroversial evidence that refutes every major claim of a climate change crisis is readily accessible in thousands of scientific studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.  Unfortunately the sheer volume of relevant evidence, the technical language employed, and the submersion of sound evidence in a swill of pseudo-science from self-appointed climate “experts” has created such a morass of information and misinformation that several years of extensive reading plus a technical background are needed to begin to be able to sort what is sound confirmed scientific understanding from the hypothetical speculations, propaganda and outright fabrications of activists committed to a cause they deem to be more important than any sound evidence or reason.

So, could all the esteemed “experts” possibly be wrong?  One of the most valuable lessons of history is that much of what is firmly believed and uncontroversial at any time is later found to be incorrect or is even regarded as painfully ignorant.  There is no reason to expect such does not still apply to current beliefs.

What then, might we do about the surging mania regarding climate change? The notion that it can and must be prevented by a crash effort to cease all use of fossil fuels and derive all our energy needs from wind and solar power is quantitively several orders of magnitude removed from any reasonable understanding of economics, resources, and technological capabilities. At present, the climate mania is immune to all reason and evidence. However, the threshold of debilitating costs, blackouts, shortages, and job losses also appears to be arriving, and attitudes about virtuous needs and deeds tends to quickly change when the costs and demands become personal.  As the costs begin to be felt and the failures more obvious, alternative possibilities will have a chance to be considered. Three aspects of energy policy seriously need reconsideration. In order of priority these are:

1/ Establishment of a secure domestic supply of diesel and petrol to assure continuity of food supply and to at least permit functioning of emergency vehicles and transport services. The only possible solution for this purpose in the required timescale is a synfuel production capability, Fortunately, this is eminently practical in all respects.

2/ The next essential but longer-term requirement will have to be a clean, reliable, dispatchable, and economic source of power independent of the erratic outputs, and massive grid infrastructure of wind and solar power with all its extensive vulnerabilities and operational complexities. Again, there is only one feasible solution with known technology and that is in the form of small modular reactors.

3/ The third more distant need will be for the development of a safe, secure, long-term disposal and/or recycling of nuclear waste. Fortunately, again, the lucky country is ideally suited for all this, with abundant high-quality coal and gas reserves for synfuel, large reserves of uranium and thorium for nuclear fuel, and extensive expanses of uninhabited arid regions with highly stable geology where numerous depleted mines are ideally suited for safe disposal of radioactive waste. Better still, this could also easily become a valuable industry in itself. Then too in this regard, a major political obstacle to anything nuclear has now been removed with the bipartisan decision to replace the retarded commitment to diesel-electric submarines with nuclear subs.

All of the immense costs and resources going into the hapless hopeless effort to capture the diffuse, erratic energy of wind and sun, then to somehow store the slippery stuff, are worse than wasted.  It is in fact a counterproductive obstacle to any effective solution.  What may be required next is some catalyst to focus attention toward an achievable, affordable, functional direction.  For this purpose, a clear assessment of the likely nature of the costs and benefits relating to the three technological approaches listed above would seem likely to find positive consideration if it is available when failure of the current approach has become unarguable.

A well-reasoned solution is a lot harder to ignore in the face of failure as well as much more likely to attract attention and spark debate.  Also, if there is unrest in the electorate and the opposition party has no good alternative to offer, they will be much more open to something to run with.

As a final consideration, it also appears that climate itself is not currently doing much of anything to help with promoting the alarm. Polar sea ice coverage is increasing, temperate region winter temperatures are trending lower, la niñas are dominating over el niños, and weather extremes continue to remain well within historical limits.  If the current solar minimum continues with even a modest but clear cooling trend, the necessity of increasing restrictions on fossil fuels despite the costs is going to almost certainly become the one thing that is truly unsustainable.

 

12 comments
  • Biggles

    As regards methane, it is readily oxidised in the atmosphere to CO2 and water vapour. A Good thing too, as otherwise the air would stink.

  • robtmann7

    An academic chem eng’r in Auckland from Sasolburg brought >400 pistons with holes burnt in them by the plasma torches induced (mainly in the top ring land) by high-speed preignition. This petrol requires dilution with petrol from petroleum before it’s useful.
    The ‘small’ nuclear power stations are mainly stock-market ramps up into mid-air. They do not exist and most of them never will. They are typically up to 300MWe which is not really small as power stations go. Their safety is unproven. The wastes they generate are similar per kWh to those from the big ones. A country with any such nuclear power station will require a relatively large bureaucracy for monitoring & training. Anyhow it would take at least a decade to get any such electricity in Australia. These ‘small’ nukes are an illusion unworthy of your attention.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Walter,
    You are not alone. If I was asked to write an essay on the same topic, it would be almost identical to yours. What is more, I could do it without having to look up references because the material is so familiar from past experience. Geoff S.

  • Tony Thomas

    2/ The next essential but longer-term requirement will have to be a clean, reliable, dispatchable, and economic source of power

    Walter , what do you mean by “clean”. .? Is coal etc dirty?

  • ianl

    The next two steps for Aus in this deliberate upheaval (New World Order):

    1) in September next, the foregone 20c/litre fuel tax will be reapplied – unless Elbow can override his Treasurer. Transport, food production and deliveries, generalised inflation, all will show the effects;

    2) by April, Liddell will close, removing about 1GW from the “national” grid’s dispatchable supply. (I agree this may not happen then, as Liddell’s closure has been postponed for three years in a row now to avoid just such a supply shortfall). On the assumption that this time the threat will be carried out, load shedding (aka blackouts) will be unavoidable, so power rationing will be introduced. The point of “smart”meters will then be apparent.

  • Rob H

    1.5C in 250 years does not make a climate emergency or AGW. The global warming case is completely unproven. It isn’t even a theory it is an untested hypothesis.

    We do not have to “prove” there is no dangerous global warming just as we don’t have to prove there are no visitors from outer space. All Warmies have are 24+ climate models (projections) that differ by from each other by 600% (1C to 6C) and are all redone every 5 years when the are proven to be inaccurate..

    If rational people continue to play along with the “climate emergency” crowd we will be faced with justifying impractical, costly and failed ideas like carbon storage (has never worked and never will) and nuclear, very expensive, subject to never ending court actions and aggressive protests.

    The global warms have no proof global temperatures today are significantly different from the Medieval Warm Period 750 to 1350AD or the Roman Warm period 250BC to 650AD. Both preceded by and followed by “little ice ages”.

    Until the global warmies can make a scientific case for their CO2 warming illusion we should stick with coal, gas and oil. You know, like the Chinese and Russians.

  • Daffy

    Ed: a typo?: “Australia is also the only G20 nation in which estimated natural CO2 uptake exceeds emissions making it a net CO2 ” A net negative CO2 ’emitter’?

  • rod.stuart

    Among the mountain of myths and fairy tales is the widely held belief that a “greenhouse effect” exists. Such imaginary nonsense results in the climate religion and the worry about “emissions”.

    https://www.climatedepot.com/2022/07/26/greenhouse-gas-effect-does-not-exist-a-swiss-physicist-challenges-global-warming-climate-orthodoxy/

  • Mark Dawson

    I think Walter has taken a small amount of literary licence with some of the facts in this article. In that sense, I don’t agree with all of the details but I do agree with the general premise. Conservative politics needs to get its act together and sort out a credible pathway to energy security. It needs diversity of source and security of supply.

    If nuclear is to be part of the equation, I suspect it will only be a small part. It remains costly as an end to end proposition, presently. But it does provide base load, and base load is critical … even if it comes at an attendant cost.

  • gilmay97

    A BIG dose of Facts on clean energy.
    The climate change fiasco is getting sillier, the writers and politicians generalised comments have no reality of the subject matter for CO2 is the basis of all life on Earth.
    Earth is a huge CO2 factory producing and consuming massive amounts of CO2 as it has always done, since time began and will do to infinity? The Earth must have a continuous supply of CO2 to allow plants to grow, life to form and exist, without it plants and all life will die including humans if it gets below about 150 ppm — we are all carbon based from Earth produced CO2. We are a product of the earth itself. The natural essential fuel to sustain all life comes from volcanic CO2 production — there are about 1,581 land volcanoes, 50 -70 active each year and about 20 erupting at any given time producing CO2 the fuel for life (as well and enriching soil minerals for plant growth), with an estimated 139,096 active under-sea volcanoes releasing CO2 with lakes of liquid CO2 under oceans. How can anyone be so ignorantly stupid to demonise this essential basis of all life.
    How wonderfully CO2 neutral wind and solar power are — Really?
    They have no idea whatsoever of how they are constructed, maintained or what is involved — Here are some interesting provable facts.
    Where do the construction components come from and what cost?
    The many metals required are mined using massive mining machinery, that swallow huge amounts of diesel fuel — that are not made by some mysterious fossil effect but by the earth itself and it is regenerating making expired oil wells in the US productive again. Check the atomic elements in crude oil and compare them with fossil carbon — Very different.
    Carbon based Oil is not running out it is constantly being produced deep within the earth by a natural serpentinization abiotic process. The US oil fields of Texas and Colorado once pumped out, are now full again. It is not a fossil fuel although there are small amounts that are fossil based.
    The Serpentinization condensation process occurs deep below the surface from 7,925 – 10,058 metres deep (26,000 to 33,000 feet), there has never been a fossil found below 4,877 metres (16,000 Feet). Oil is reportedly the second most prevalent liquid on earth but at great depth. The artificial price control of oil making it as expensive as possible by calling it a fossil fuel that may run out, as in the ‘peak oil’ baloney, it was created by reducing supply being processed — the plentiful earth source was still available.
    Rockefeller and the industry spent millions on propaganda brainwashing the population into that belief, no one bothered to do the research, as Lenin said – “A lie told often enough becomes truth”, and the lie became “a truth” entrenched in education, government and the population — it is still a lie and a big one too.
    Oil and coal don’t come from decayed matter. There is no chemical relationship between the hydrocarbons in black coal and those in Brown coal which comes from decayed vegetable matter (forests, peat, etc) Black coal is part of the same Serpentinization condensation process produced by chemicals bacterial and pressure.
    And you think you can produce electricity CO2 neutrally from wind and solar — Really.
    Calculate the CO2 emissions from these monstrous machines.
    Just one CAT 994K loader burns 295 litres (65 gallons/hr) over 12 hours or 597 litres (130 gallons) of Diesel over 24 hours. This machine is required to move coal or other minerals used in manufacturer of an electric car battery, wind turbines and solar panels. We have asked politicians, Greenies, and public, “What does a battery do — if we have a lot of batteries how will it help reduce power usage”. The common answer from politicians and Greenies was: ‘Batteries produce electricity, so more of them would produce more electricity and save burning coal and reduce CO2’. Most others said batteries do not make electricity they only store it, so it first has to be produced, by coal, fuel, solar or wind. A massive education program from the media is needed to explain to the ignorant off in fairyland, a battery is only a storage device like a fuel tank on your car.
    Every mining operation has massive structural and operational cost, a few below that run into millions per year.
    Machinery operational cost — After paying many millions to purchase them:
    CAT 6257G Wheel tractor-Scrapers 163 litres per hour (43 US gallons) = per 12 hour shift = 1,956 litres @ 24 hours = 3,912 litres
    CAT HEX D SERIES Excavator uses 73 litres per hour (19 US gallons) = per 12 hour shift = 876 litres @
    24 hours = 1,752 litres

    CAT D11T Dozer 138 litres per hour (36 US gallons) = per 12 hour shift = 1,656 litres @ 24 hours = 3,312 litres
    Workshop employee wages, cost, supplies, oils, and parts
    Operators are paid around $55 per hour. Plus, fly-in fly-out, transport and accommodation cost and on-costs.
    Administration and Management, staff wages and expenses, building, maintenance and operation cost, government fees and charges.
    The metals and mineral ore components and coal must be mined — then processed crushed, cleaned, before smelting — coal is turned into coke for smelting ores in furnaces, — crushed to enable it to feed mechanical stoker-spreaders into the boilers to generate electricity. All of these have massive cost factors to construct, operate and maintain, running into many millions per year.
    The water dams, pipelines, pumps, boilers, cooling towers (that emit vapour not steam) steam turbines, turbo alternators, control stations and ancillary equipment, and oil lubrication and cooling systems, are all part of the power station that cost many millions to construct and operate — electricity from other power station was used in the manufacture and construction of the next one. Without this electricity there would be no machinery manufactured for mining extraction, to produce components, or solar power units — or to produce your food.
    Coal is needed to produce the electricity to process the ores — into fluxes for other smelting, ingots and sheet metals — for later use as base components — then manufactured into specific items of the units.
    Fluxes processed for smelting, refining other metals and base components: –
    Sodium Bicarbonate, Potassium Cyanide, potassium nitrate, Argol, Charcoal, Metallic Iron, Lead and Lead Oxide, Borax Silica, Borax Glass, Salt, Fluor spa, Boracic Acid, Lime, Galena, Dolomite — these all require diesel powered machinery to mine process and transport —and electricity to manufacture.
    These are all vital components that cost billions to produce. ARE YOU GETTING THE PICTURE?

    Factor these costs into green energy and it clearly is not very green at all it is loaded with CO2 production.
    Batteries.
    Every battery requires a lot of diesel and electricity to manufacture. Base components are mined, smelted, processed, and manufactured. When expired they go into landfill, and eventually disintegrate polluting and poisoning the soil.
    The above details a few of the environmentally destructive production cost of this theoretical clean green pollution free energy— to produce it they have created massive pollution and more when their usability ends.
    Each Electric Auto battery require the processing of about 1,1340 kg (25,000 pounds) of brine for the lithium, 13,608 kg (30,000 pounds) of ore for the cobalt, 2,260 kg (5,000 pounds) of ore for the nickel, and 11,340 (25,000 pounds) of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 226,796 kg (500,000 pounds) of the earth’s crust for just – one – battery.

    We read an average battery contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminium, steel, and plastic. Inside are 516 cells in each module for a total of 8,256 individual lithium-ion cells? Do you have any idea of the CO2 footprint to produce these?

    Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls and appear devastating the environment, and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material — what price for diseased and dead children as part of the cost of driving an electric car?

    Solar Panels
    These have a life of 20 to 30 years, many in Australia have failed at less than 10 years — Mine and friends expensive 5 kw panels totally failed at nine years.
    Manufacturing solar panels often requires the use of several noxious chemicals. Because it’s not easy to properly dispose of the toxic metals inside the solar cells — and there’s an overall lack of oversight — it is often cheaper to discard them in landfills or send them to developing countries. As solar panels sit in dumps, the toxic metals they contain leech out into the environment and pose a public health hazard if they get into the groundwater supply.
    Very pure silicon must be used because the crystal structure it forms is most conducive to letting electrons flow. Production commonly includes nitrogen trifluoride and sulphur hexafluoride, some of the most harmful greenhouse gases around.
    Normally silicon is recyclable, but to improve the solar cells electrical efficiency, poisonous metals such as cadmium and lead are added. This makes solar cells difficult to recycle, since it will take considerable energy to extract hazardous metals. It often costs companies more to recycle a solar panel than to produce a solar panel.
    Most solar recycling plants simply remove the valuable silver and copper from the cells and then recycle the contaminated glass and plastic casing by burning them in cement ovens. Since the process is costly and time-consuming, it’s more convenient for solar companies to drop the dead panels into landfills or export them to third-world countries.
    Potential leaching of these metals into the surrounding environment can pose a public health problem, especially in a nation without the necessary disposal infrastructure. As society continues to adopt solar power, this problem will worsen in the coming decades, the ‘International Renewable Energy Agency’ (IRENA) predict 80 million tons of solar waste by 2050. Far more than from a Nuclear or Coal power plant.
    There is no clean green free energy at all — everything has a cost — a problem for those who have not thought this to the final conclusion and the end pollution factors — the future will be littered with piles of expensive waste to recycle using huge amounts of energy — the future does not look very green at all.
    Every solar farm is part of the environmental problem, from the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make the silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone — also requiring gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium- diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, these are highly toxic. Silicon dust is a hazard to the workers — and the panels cannot be recycled.

    Solar panels struggle to repay their carbon footprint during their entire useable life and are a pollution problem at the end. If you think otherwise start making them without carbon-based equipment — you won’t get far.

    Wind Turbines
    The entire aforementioned carbon-based machinery and manufacturing applies more so to wind turbines, they create a massive carbon embedded cost, never returned during their life — leaving additional CO2 costs at the end.

    These are getting larger every year now up to 12 MW. The towers on most commercial wind turbines are in the range of 60 m to 80 m (200-260 feet) tall. The blades, often well over 30 m (100 feet) long, when counted in total height push the number well into the 91 m (300 ft). The Gamesa G87 model wind turbine’s blades reach a height of 122 m (399 ft).
    Many weighs 1,688 tons (the equivalent of 22 houses) and contains 1,300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium that have high carbon footprints to extract and process. Each blade weighs 36,741 kgs (81,000 pounds) and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades.

    Now look at the new bigger units.
     the onshore Enercon E-126/7.5 MW wind turbine.
     The weight of the foundation of the turbine tower is about 2,500 tons, the tower itself 2,800 tons, the machine housing 128 t, the generator 220 t, the rotor (including the blade) 364 t. The total weight is 6,012 tonnes. (Equivalent to 70 house)
     has a hub height of 135m (443 feet), a 127m (417 ft) diameter rotor, and provides a swept area of 12,668m² (3 square acres).
     Takes 3 weeks to build from excavation to operation
     requires 40 to 100 geo-piers installed for stability, weight unknown
     Excavate 3 m (10 feet) deep 30.5 m (100 feet) wide
     Set 43,545 kg of reinforcing steel rebar = 48 tons
     53 concrete trucks pour foundations. If each truck can haul 6.2 m3 * 53 = 488,116kg 1,076,112 pounds = 538 tons.
     Move 1,500 cubic yards of soil @ 2,200 lbs per cubic yard = 3.3 million pounds = 1,650 tons = 1,497 metric tons
     3 blades: each 53 m – 173 feet long and 27,000 pounds for 36741 kgs (81,000 pounds) = 40.5 tons = 37 metric tons
     8 truckloads to deliver turbine components
     Nacelle: weight 181,000 lbs = 90.5 tons = 82 metric tons with the generator, gearbox, and rotor shaft
     Hub: weight unknown
     Base tower height 16 m (53 feet 11 inches), weight 97,459 lbs = 48.7 tons = 44 metric tons
     Mid tower height 26 m 84 feet 6 inches, weight 115,587 lbs = 57.8 tons = 52.4 metric tons
     Top tower height 36 m 119 feet, weight 104,167 lbs = 52 tons = 47 metric tons
     Final tower height to blade tip when fully extended 135m 442 feet = 135 metres

    Every aspect of these units require diesel powered machinery to extract the metals and minerals for their construction, they require coal powered electricity for the refining, processing, and manufacture of every part from the concrete in the foundations to the electrical wiring and electronic controls.

    There are hundreds of component parts from the timber that was harvested, the nails and screws used to put the formwork together, the steel that was mined for the heavier form work.

    Minerals, metals, coal, oil and gas, were mined and processed to manufacture every one of the hundreds of components, everything used in digging foundations, concrete, construction, assembly and finish; then cables to supply the power. Add to this the workers, have to get to work in vehicles, wear clothing, have houses and families all survive on carbon-based products, the food they eat grows using carbon to form cells, leaves, roots flowers fruit and seed.

    The average vast concrete foundations that keep wind turbine towers erect are, however, hidden from view below ground. These poured-in-place foundations are 6 metres 10-20 feet thick, 18 metres 60 feet in diameter, weigh about 910 metric tonnes, and take 40 truckloads of concrete, or around 400 cubic yards, to construct.
    Because cement, a fundamental ingredient in concrete, generates a lot of CO2, all that concrete, which stays in the ground even after the wind turbines are deactivated, is silently compounding the climate issue.
    Over a normal lifetime of a wind turbine, about 2.3 kg (5 pounds) of steel, fiberglass, and other materials are needed to generate 1 megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity. If you include the concrete foundation, the weight jumps up to 11.34 kg (25 pounds) per MWh.

    Right now, the average wind farm is about 150 turbines. Each wind turbine needs 80 gallons of oil as lubricant and we’re not talking about vegetable oil, this is a PAO synthetic oil based on crude… 12,000 gallons of it. That oil needs to be replaced once a year. It is estimated that a little over 3,800 turbines would be needed to power a city the size of New York… That’s 304,000 gallons of refined oil for just one city, creating a big CO2 footprint.
    Now you have to calculate every city across the nation, large and small, to find the grand total of yearly oil consumption from “clean” energy. Where do you think all that oil is going to come from, the oil fairies? Well, it now comes from our adversaries in the Mideast.
    Not to mention the fact that the large equipment needed to build these wind farms run on diesel or petroleum. As well as the equipment required for installation, service, maintenance, and eventual removal. And just exactly how eco-friendly is wind energy anyway?
    Each turbine requires a footprint of 1.5 acres, so a wind farm of 150 turbines needs 225 acres; In order to completely power a large city, you’d need 57,000 acres; and who knows the astronomical amount of land you would need to power the entire country. All of which would have to be clear-cut land because trees create a wind barrier and turbulence that interferes with the 32.2 kph or 20 mph sustained wind velocity necessary for the turbine to work properly (also keep in mind that not all states are suitable for such sustained winds). Cutting down all those trees will anger a lot of us.
    When the winds don’t blow for weeks — what then? When the sun don’t shine — there’s no power for heating in sub zero winters, in scorching summers and for water and food production and delivery — have a nice day and remember “You were told — but many were too stupid to understand”.

    The Wind Turbine Fraud — * Not so green at all.
    Its Renewable Energy or Reliable Energy – but Not Both

    Gil May
    Forestdale 2022

  • vickisanderson

    I am currently reading Ian Plimer’s amazingly thorough debunking of the Climate Warriors’ myths. As most readers will know he is especially scathing of the much touted accusation that Australia is guilty of inflicting vast amounts of emissions on the planet. He argues that, in fact, we are already at Net Zero since we absorb more CO2 in our vegetative mass than we produce through our industries. I note that Walter Starck agrees in this additional debunking of the woes and tales of doom that are currently peddled globally.

  • Lawrie Ayres

    The sooner some of the dire predictions come to pass the better. I am referring, not to the climate catastrophe which appears more beneficial than malignant, but to the collapse of the electricity grid. Only when there is a prolonged blackout affecting even the posh suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne will the penny start to drop and real solutions sought. I have my generator and will buy another. I just need to ensure I have sufficient petrol before our reserves in Alabama are required.

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