Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Cost of Renewable Energy

Nothing like a few hard cold facts to rain on the renewable energy parade. You know that a motley assortment of visionary imbeciles is currently militating for green energy, that is, for energy that comes from renewable sources… as in solar and wind.

And you also know that these energy sources require extensive government subsidies to be economically viable. 

But, did you know how much it will cost to blanket the planet with solar panels or to construct bird killing wind turbines across the landscape? Better yet, did you know how much non-renewable energy would be required to do the job? And did you know how much toxic waste will be produced by this grand experiment?

If you did not, hang on tight. You are about to be shocked. I myself didn’t know, and I trust I am not the only one who is suitably ignorant of the cost of these grand schemes.

Mark Mills explains in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

Wind and solar machines and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. And they wear out. Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste. The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste. …

A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.

Or else, we can compare wind and solar farms with turbines, in terms of the amount of energy produced per acre:

A wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.

Not only inefficient, cost ineffective, but also a waste of space.

And then there is the cost of the materials required to produce all of the solar panels and windmills:

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals. Global silver and indium mining will jump 250% and 1,200% respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels, the International Energy Agency forecasts. World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300% to 1,000% by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.

The minerals needed will be mined in developing countries. As you know China, through the Belt and Road initiative, is gaining a foothold in those countries. Similarly, now that the United States has given up on mining rare earth elements, China has become the world’s leading producer:

The demand for minerals likely won’t be met by mines in Europe or the U.S. Instead, much of the mining will take place in nations with oppressive labor practices. The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 70% of the world’s raw cobalt, and China controls 90% of cobalt refining. The Sydney-based Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global “gold” rush for minerals could take miners into “some remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.”

And then there is the cost in hydrocarbons. You know, the ones we need to produce all the turbines and panels:

What’s more, mining and fabrication require the consumption of hydrocarbons. Building enough wind turbines to supply half the world’s electricity would require nearly two billion tons of coal to produce the concrete and steel, along with two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades. More than 90% of the world’s solar panels are built in Asia on coal-heavy electric grids.

While the Western world has been going into terminal conniptions about the end of the world, China has been building coal power plants as fast as it can. If the crisis has reached apocalyptic levels, how come an autistic Swedish girl, an idiot Congressperson from the Bronx and the American Democratic Party are the only ones who know it?


Derek Ramsey said...

You should have suspected this a decade ago. Remember when they mandated turning our food supply (corn) into ethanol at a net energy loss? It's never been about saving the environment, but about power and money (as always).

trigger warning said...

DR, youre right. Even the Pharaohs knew not to burn the crops. Gen Sherman understood the effect.

On the EV topic, published the following last Monday:

"Because we're still in the relatively early days of electric cars, it's still challenging to predict just how long a battery pack will last in a given vehicle, especially when you consider the almost infinite variables that go into determining that life. Automotive News cites the owner of a 2012 Leaf which after just 60,000 miles will only charge to half of its rated capacity. That's not ideal..." :-D

Sam L. said...

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, it's GREEN!!!!111!!!! Takes lots and lo9ts of green (dollars) to make these things "work".

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

And then where do all those used heavy metal battery packs go?

The trash.

Kind of like electric cars that are charged up on an electric grid powered by coal. That doesn't make any sense.

But the environmentalists won't go for nuclear power. Or much else.