Wind and solar weaknesses — Part I
So-called “Green energy” threatens our culture, our freedoms and our pocketbooks, yet provides no net electricity to our electrical networks. Zero-Zip-Nada. They remain a Green delusion.
A bold statement, yes? Bolder still is the fact that wind and solar power plants are more efficient when they are not running and are the most efficient and eco-friendly when:
- They are never bought, never installed, and never operated because they produce little or no net electrical power for a community’s electrical network, called the grid.
- They make no significant reduction in CO2 emissions or pollution, and little reduction of fossil fuel burning.
- For the “green-plants” already bought and installed—the best option for an electrical utility and the community is to tear them down, recycle the materials, restore the wastelands, and give your wallet and the Earth a big green smile.
Those are the tips of the “Inconvenient Fact” icebergs and are fully documented in the newly published book A HITCHHIKER’S JOURNEY THROUGH CLIMATE CHANGE by Terigi Ciccone and Jay Lehr, now on Amazon/Kindle. We will preview and substantiate these startling and other revelations in detail, after a brief sidestep to Mr. Michael Moore.
THE DAMAGES STARTS. Michael Moore, of all people and a lifelong champion of humanity and the environment, has exposed the eco-charlatans in his newly released documentary PLANET FOR THE HUMANS. This is a five-star, must-see movie destined for at least one Oscar. In the process, Michael plants many gut-wrenching images in our psyche. [i]
- First, is the vast and extensive damage done to our environment and the Earth’s bio-system to land strip, mine, produce, transport, install and operate these solar and wind plants. We start with preparing the installation sites, where thousands of acres of trees are cut,[ii] and the landscape razed. They bulldoze hills down and fill over the valleys and streams. That is bad enough for the installation site, but….
- But then, Michael pulls the curtain further back and attacks our senses with the stark images of the ecological and biodiversity damage paid just to build these devil-machines. Open-pit mines gouged deep into the Earth all over the world to extract the steel, aluminum, copper, and other minerals needed for these solar/wind plants. Hundreds of tons of cement produced to anchor the base of the hundreds of 300 to 500-foot towers and their 300-350 foot long wingspans.
- Untold tons of Earth and rocks are blasted with thousands of kilos of dynamite to extract a few kilos of rare earth metals. Solar panels are not made from sand, as they lead us to believe, but precious and purest quartz that will need hundreds of tons of coal to make solar cells.
- In a two-minute segment, Michael puts before our eye the millions of tons of coal, oil, and gas that are burned to mine, process, and transport the raw materials into solar and wind components. All of them emitting billions of tons of CO2 and pollution. Will these solar/wind plants ever recover the electrical energy that it took to Just build them? Most probably not, as detailed by C. Le Pair, in his article “Windmills increase fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions,” Oct 2011.
- You will never see the destruction of animals and the bio-system going on in these remote sites all over the world, or on a guided media/political/school-sponsored tour of your local electric installations. The hundreds of birds, bats, and eagles killed by the turning blades [iii] will be picked up before you arrive. But most egregious is that they will not show you the fossil-fuel power plants, hidden from view, that are needed to back up the intermittent, unreliable, and expensive solar and wind plants 100% of the time.
THE DAMAGE DOESN’T STOP. Most plants will never reach the advertised 20-year useful life but averaging in the 12 to 15-years. But then, what, repeat the above costs and destruction to replace these monstrosities? The choices are few, and none are good. Let us peek into our crystal ball:
- Replace the machinery? As a minimum, we must tear down all the working components, haul them away, and load them on ships. What then, drop them into the oceans, releasing the toxins where one sees them? Or burn more fossil fuels to detox the egregious parts, recycle some parts or find a developing country desperate enough to take them in exchange for a few dollars.
- Tear everything down? Or, having seen the futility of the enterprise, do we tear everything down? Spend countless more tons of fossil fuels to break the many tons of steel-reinforced concrete, meltdown the metals, recycle the plastics and fiber materials, and haul away the debris, but to where?
- Abandon it and walk away? All too often, we have utilities conveniently declare bankruptcy and walk away, leaving behind rusting towers like headstones on endless cemeteries or in fields scattered with broken mirrors and solar collectors?
LET’S SUMMARIZE: In this first of a three-part series, we examined the costs and environmental damage of deforestation, mining, production, transportation, and installation of these solar and wind plants. For this, we say again, thank you, Michael Moore, for opening our green eyes, and wish you success with this outstanding movie. Alarmingly we got a hint that after these costs, fossil fuels burned, CO2 released, and eco-damage, these machines may not even produce the energy that it took to build and install.
In the next segment, we dive deep into the science, engineering, economics and environmental impact of their operation and maintenance and see what the benefits at the end of the tunnel are, if any.
Spoiler alert, we find a rule of thumb instead:
ALL SOLAR AND WIND POWER ON AN ELECTRIC GRID MUST BE BACKED UP WITH AN EQUAL OR GREATER AMOUNT OF FOSSIL FUEL POWER RUNNING ON STANDBY 100% OF THE TIME.
CFACT Senior Science Analyst Jay Lehr has authored more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books. Jay’s new book A Hitchhikers Journey Through Climate Change written with Teri Ciccone is now available on Kindle and Amazon.
Engineer, Science Enthusiast and Artist. Loves reading and travel, Naturalist, Author of the new book “A Hitchhiker’s Journey Through Climate Change.”