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Why wind and solar will never work

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Posted By: Hazymac, 7/12/2019 8:43:06 AM

This paper by Mark Mills of the the Manhattan Institute and Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, titled “The ‘New Energy Economy’: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,” does an excellent job of explaining why wind and solar energy will never replace fossil fuels or nuclear energy as a primary energy source. The problem is fundamental: the laws of physics. And, no, better batteries are not a solution. I really urge you to read the whole thing: * Solar technologies have improved greatly and will continue to become cheaper and more efficient. But the era of 10-fold gains is over. The physics boundary for silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells,

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Reply 1 - Posted by: Highlander 7/12/2019 8:49:34 AM (No. 121369)
There’s the law of physics and then there’s…liberals. Guess which will prevail.
5 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: jeffkinnh 7/12/2019 9:05:06 AM (No. 121384)
The critics of people who are not alarmed over climate change call us "science deniers". Yet, this article sums up the science, science that has been around for a while and that clearly says that the expansion of solar and wind capabilities is maxed out. It is not going to get more efficient. Further, the energy densities in hydrocarbon fuels is far beyond any alternative except nuclear, which the Left hates as well. One might suspect that what the Left really fears is a successful industrial society that, by necessity, is fueled by hydrocarbons because a successful society eliminates the need for Leftist "help" and control. Sure we can work on cleaner, more efficient technology that is cost sustainable. The US is probably the leader in that effort. But solar and wind are a costly joke. The science based reality is that they always will be.
13 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: hammondb3 7/12/2019 9:18:53 AM (No. 121389)
While I agree that this is business in bed with politics, Hinderaker is not being honest in his piece. He tells us that a given surface area of solar cells has a limit - and that is true. But the last time I looked, there is still room on planet earth for more solar cells. It is a matter of cost and the raw materials used to manufacture solar cells that is the limiting factor - NOT the power per square centimeter. Same with wind turbines. The editorial states that there is an efficiency limit on turbines and that, as a result, wind energy will never be viable. Well, if there was a set number of wind turbines then he would be spot on, but there is no set number. Hydroelectric generators also share the same kinds of limits to efficiency and always have. When the first few hydro plants were running were people claiming that water would never be a viable source of energy because a generator cannot exceed 61% efficiency (or whatever it actually is)? I doubt it. The answer was to make more of them. The one place where he is right is the storage problem. But nobody can say for certain that storage is an insurmountable issue. All we can say now is that, at the CURRENT RATE of production it would take 1000 years to have enough batteries to service the U.S. Nowhere does Hinderaker make the case that the CURRENT RATE is fixed or that natural resources would limit battery production. I am on the same side of the fence as Hinderaker, but an honest argument should still be the goal. This is not an honest argument as it makes numerous hidden assumptions that the reader will likely miss.
4 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: Marjbaldwin 7/12/2019 9:20:07 AM (No. 121391)
Depends on what is meant by "work". If your goal is to slash worldwide energy use to 1700's pre-Industrial Revolution levels, as the Left dreams of, then solar and wind will "work" quite well for that purpose. It is easy to make the mistake that the "sustainable" crowd has good intentions, even when it's obvious they'd take civilisation back to the Middle Ages if they could.
6 people like this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: Clinger 7/12/2019 9:39:11 AM (No. 121412)
I did the math on wind power once. To replace the energy we get from coal and oil, excluding things like plastics and jet fuel, it would take a grid of windmills over the entire country spaced out about 1/4 mile in every direction. For the record I have a degree in mechanical engineering and only got B's in thermodynamics. The last time I had a window seat I happened to notice that we don't have roads and electric grids over more than a small percentage of the country. The copper, aluminum, 9310 steel in the gears for the windmills then the construction equipment and materials, then the human labor not doing other things. It's pure suicide. No need to even explore the disaster storage presents.
9 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: JunkYardDog 7/12/2019 10:01:18 AM (No. 121433)
I have liberal friends on the West Coast who are pinning their hopes on solar and wind power. Try as I might to engage them in a meaningful conversation about the limits of solar and wind, they just plug their ears and say LA-LA-LA-LA-LA I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU. The have drunk the kool-aid and nothing short of the system self-destructing before their very eyes would convince them. Which is not to say we couldn;t at least install some solar panels on all our roofs to save a few bucks but the technology does not yet exist to abandon fossil & nuclear.
9 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: Ida Lou Pino 7/12/2019 10:18:43 AM (No. 121461)
Solar, wind, algae, nuclear, gas, oil - - but meanwhile - - everyone is overlooking a great traditional, readily-available, and renewable source of energy - - the horse. Why not replace fossil-fuel-burning 300 HP engines with 300 actual horses? The only "fuel" requirement is hay, oats, and water - - all abundant and renewable in all settled parts of the world. And - - as a bonus - - unlike mechanical engines - - when a horse's expiration date is reached - - instead of being discarded and creating huge junk piles - - horses can be eaten and/or turned into glue and leather. A simple, natural solution to an otherwise complex problem.
3 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: hammondb3 7/12/2019 10:30:24 AM (No. 121480)
Truth be known... It's ALL solar power. No way to get around that. Oil is solar power. Hydroelectric is solar power. Wind is solar power... All of it, were it not for the sun, would not exist.
5 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: Hazymac 7/12/2019 10:37:09 AM (No. 121483)
Yes, #7. Horses figure in our pasts and, if you believe Scripture, in our futures as well. One question: What about waste produce disposal? (That was the tag line in a classic Jeff MacNelly cartoon showing a forward thinking caveman walking behind a yak and a yoke soon after the hysteria following Three Mile Island.) Mainlining bums dropping trou and defecating in San Francisco is one thing--they probably weigh only about a buck sixty, and a pressurized firehose could and should move them and their alvine dejections rapidly along the sidewalk. If cars were outlawed and horses became the new thing, rich folks would just trade up and up from pinto ponies to Royal Lipizzan stallions. You could step into one of those road apples up to your knee.
3 people like this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: Geoman 7/12/2019 10:54:40 AM (No. 121509)
As a real geoscientist who began oil and gas exploration in the 1970s, I object to the word "never" being used in the context of science and technology. I recall when it was generally accepted thought that oil and/or gas could "never" be produced from limestone or especially, from shale. The art and science of directional (including horizontal) drilling and hydraulic fracking opened up many of our most prolific hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Austin Chalk, Eagle Ford and Marcellus Shale formations. I prefer the words spoken to students of a late Korean-AmericanTae Kwon Do Grand Master: "Today, not possible; tomorrow, possible."
3 people like this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: DVC 7/12/2019 10:57:46 AM (No. 121514)
The highest possible (due to the laws of physics, those pesky little critters) conversion of solar energy into electricity is 34%, about the efficiency of conversion of coal energy into electricity in a central power station, although certain more complex designs can attain 40% for oil or natural gas central power units. Solar panel prices are not going to drop much more, about all of that has already happened in the last 20 years. Neither wind or solar are cost effective if not subsidized and if regular mains power is already available. In remote areas, where no mains power is available, and in sunny climates, solar can be a viable specialty power system, as long as ALL major power loads (heating, cooling, refrigeration, etc) are off loaded onto conventional power supplies, usually that is propane. Forget solar and wind without huge subsidies and mandatory power company purchase of power laws from these sources. Solar and wind are at best a tiny fraction, and very expensive. In a sane world they have no place for grid power.
5 people like this.

Reply 12 - Posted by: LeftCoast 7/12/2019 11:41:22 AM (No. 121571)
#10 I am also a Petroleum Geologists and also began my career at the end of the 70s. I recall many arguments over peak oil, especially when it came to America becoming energy independent thanks to increased oil and gas production. My colleagues scoffed at the idea and said it would "never" happen. I'm not a soothsayer, I just strongly believed in American ingenuity. If American ingenuity isn't successful in making "green energy" more economically and technology efficient, it's "tomorrow possibility" is pushed much further into the future. Less of course liberal-controlled government forces it upon us, much like they do here in California.
4 people like this.

Reply 13 - Posted by: DVC 7/12/2019 1:00:11 PM (No. 121682)
The REAL answer for power is unicorn farts, once they get the technology all lined out this will be REALLY BIG. These people are idiots, will believe anything.
2 people like this.

Reply 14 - Posted by: Goose 7/12/2019 1:34:42 PM (No. 121721)
#7. An additional benefit of those 300 horse is about 25 pounds of fresh manure per horse, per day.
1 person likes this.

Reply 15 - Posted by: Nevadadad46 7/12/2019 2:23:41 PM (No. 121753)
Here is something to think about: (Stats based on Federal Energy Dept stats for 2018) -Take a lefty state like New York. New your produces only 846 trillion BTU's of usable energy. Yet, it consumes 3,600 trillion BTUs! Which means, it depends on outside resources to provide 4.5 times what it produces. Pennsylvania, Virginia coal and Texas natural gas flush into the Big Apple. Yet, the liberals in NY insist on shutting down coal fired electricity generators and are now closing off all new natural gas connections to new housing/business starts. So, how much, right now, is NY producing in wind and solar? 460,000 billion BTUs and the vast majority of that is hydro (thank you Niagara Falls). Which means- renewable energy in New York State is only 11% of the total being consumed and if you take conventional hydro off the table, leaving wind and solar, less than .5 of one percent of New York's energy demands are met by "Unicorn and Rainbow" renewable energy resources- and this is in one of the Nations most daring libtarded government run states! Nuclear energy it the only non-polluting energy resource that can even come close to meeting the energy demands of the future. And these idiot liberals stop it at every turn.
1 person likes this.

Reply 16 - Posted by: watashiyo 7/13/2019 1:29:21 AM (No. 122057)
There's these wind turbine, maybe 24 of them in my area, and only about 10 are spinning. The rest stopped spinning for several months. Why is that? Just asking.
0 people like this.

Reply 17 - Posted by: mathman 7/13/2019 7:21:25 AM (No. 122127)
All renewable energy needs mechanical devices. Energy is needed to make these devices. Only geothermal is available on demand. No Sun? No wind? No juice. And mining. And pollution. Trees, now, renew themselves. Back to the trees, greenies. Looked at out Sun recently? No spots. Electric cars are 140 years old. How come we are not all electric? Just a Socialist dream!
1 person likes this.

Reply 18 - Posted by: Smart11344 7/13/2019 1:36:35 PM (No. 122497)
Wind and solar cannot possibly produce the energy we need and at best not even close to an affordable cost.
1 person likes this.

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