Renewable Energy -- Stop The Lies

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"Renewable Energy" phrase just goes to show how political and anti-science our "sciences" have actually become.

 

Any person with a reasonable education in the sciences and energy know very well that there are zero . . . ZERO renewable energy sources.

Read about the First & Second Laws of Thermodynamics.

 

I mean, hell, oil is a renewable energy source according to the political definition.  Just stop pumping it out of the ground, wait a long time and the oil will start spurting out of the ground again on its own.  

 

Our general confusion and hysteria in society have everything to do with dumbass politicians completely destroying intellectual discourse in their appeal to emotions.  Fuel crops are THE WORST example of renewable energy . . . dumbass leftist morons.  Those crops are grown with regular oil . . . and then just converted to another type of fuel (ethanol) which ends up being a more expensive fuel than if we just used the oil for regular energy use in the first place.

 

If you want to bring up solar energy as a "renewable energy" source, please comment below.  I would love to hear your rationale of how that is "renewable".

 

I can't believe how stupid we have become in society.  Well, yes I can believe it when the cult-left, the tyranny of the weak and stupid, have dominated cultural and public education for decades.  It is entirely up to you, the general public, to start rejecting these terms used to manipulate the dumbest people in our society (more than half of us).  For me, it is morally & intellectually outrageous we have allowed our society to become dominated by half-wits.

 

Source articles:

Michigan State University

Nation Geographic

 

 

 

Comments

Benjamin Goldstein Added Apr 1, 2018 - 2:41pm
The dumbest one is the biogas power generation. The silos aren't tight and biogas is methane, a highly climate active gas. Not only is food waste used as advertised, no, they grow corn in latin america to have it rot away for the energy production in Europe. But when I think about it...they are really all stupid.
Neil Lock Added Apr 1, 2018 - 2:46pm
William: Of course, I agree with your technical case. And that's because I look at reality, not at what I'm told by the mainstream media. But I think that you are (a little) too harsh on those who have unwittingly let themselves be misled by the "renewables" claptrap. And not nearly harsh enough on those that have done the misleading.
Bill H. Added Apr 1, 2018 - 3:41pm
William-
The only reason one would lash out at any attempt to lessen pollution, or do anything to threaten the profits of oil companies and electric utilities is due to your obvious platform and beliefs. You have been trained well!
I suspect that you shudder at the sight of a Prius, or even viewing solar panels on your neighbor's roof. I'll bet that when your city began making residents use recycle bins, you were angered. Any mention of banning plastic bags in your community probably really pissed you off. You are instantly reminded of the "Pinko Commie Democrats" who's only mission in life is to stick it to the "Evil Corporations". I'll bet you even support Trump's call for the killing of more Elephants in the name of conservation.
I believe that any attempt to move us away from the use of fossil fuels is a good move. Of course, much of the effort initially involves the creation of some negative byproducts, but in the long run, it's a good thing. What then are your suggestions to help minimize the use of oil resources?
But of course to you and others, what we do for the "long run" is not a consideration.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Apr 1, 2018 - 3:59pm
In the strictest of terms, William is kind of right.   But for all practical purposes he is so very wrong.
 
Yes, sunlight will one day, when the sun dies, run out.   So, against a timescale of millions of years, it is not renewable.   However for us humans, it is effectively continuously renewed at the surface of our planet... whether we harvest directly as solar power or indirectly as wind energy or fossil fuels.
 
Fossil fuels can also be said to be renewed over a period of years... a smallish number of years for things like peat... much much longer for things like oil.
 
However our usage of these fuels is so much greater than the rate at which they are renewed that, for simplicity, you can think of them as being a fixed resource.
 
There are some stupid practices though.
 
Electric cars, for example, may well reduce pollution ... but only at a local level.   The electricity to drive them has to be produced somewhere, somehow.  Unless that electricity generation in from "renewables" or nuclear... it merely means that someone else gets the "benefit" of the pollution that you are responsible for.   You also get transport losses in energy transmission which are much greater for electricity that for fossil fuels.
 
Much more sensible, if we really what to do something about saving the planet as a whole, is to make our use of power generally more efficient, reduce our need for it (local produce, business by telecom etc) and, where possible, use "renewables" for primary generation.
Stephen Hunter Added Apr 1, 2018 - 4:08pm
Bill, solar is not renewable but there is enough there for about another 5 billion years. And we do not have to do damage to mother earth to tap into it. Biggest reason we have not switched to solar is storage of electricity to feed the grid. But looks like major advances are happening in that area now. 
Joe Chiang Added Apr 1, 2018 - 4:22pm
Actually, I believe we can and will have renewable energy.  I came up with what I call "Stacked Blades" which can take any fluid flow and magnify it to generate power.  It does work in a model I have made.  The model was small, but appears to increase power generation about 400% over current windmills for example.  It can use wind as the fluid or water, which I then call a "WaterMill".  LOL  Progress in this has stalled in the USOPTO.  Maybe someone there is trying to kill it so GE can make some minor alteration and patent it.  At least GE has the money to bring this to market and really don't.  A few bucks on each one would be nice though.  LOL
Logical Man Added Apr 1, 2018 - 6:35pm
The sun is good for about another 4 billion years.
Humans have been around for about 200,000 years, give or take.
If humans don't figure out a sensible energy policy (ignoring all other insanely risky scenarios we face) they won't last another 2,000.
I think that makes solar as close to 'renewable' on a human timescale as you need to get.
Here's an idea.
What do you need most to produce solar panels?
Silicon - from sand.
What do you need to produce electricity with solar panels?
Sunshine.
Why not put a small solar set-up in the middle of the Sahara, Gobi and Arabian deserts, use the initial energy to convert sand to solar panels, I realize that's a huge simplification, but the concept makes sense as the largest and heaviest resources required is just sitting there.
Install more and more panels in rings around the central set-up until it becomes necessary to start another 'cell' - think beehive.
Use 10% of the available energy to make the panels and feed the rest into the world's electrical system - starts small but increases, almost exponentially for a while and would eventually be levelled off.
This would not end pollution, but it would massively decrease it.
Why stop at the Sahara, Gobi and Arabian deserts?
There are deserts in the US, South America, Southern Africa and Australia.
We have a very efficient thermonuclear reactor sitting off at a nice safe distance. Seems silly not to use it.
Humanity must figure out that it is part of a hugely interconnected system that sustains them and see the wisdom of preserving it.
Energy needs to be used responsibly. There's only so much to go around.
 
 
opher goodwin Added Apr 1, 2018 - 6:36pm
William - the term renewable is perhaps not the right term and I would agree that a number of the strategies that are being deployed do not seem very productive.
What we really need is a production of energy that is not damaging to the environment or polluting. We have a number that fit the bill.
At this moment in time we are causing a great deal of harm and driving many species to extinction. We need to stop.
Pardero Added Apr 1, 2018 - 7:12pm
William Stockton,
Your point on the bio-fuel insanity is a great one.
 
A superior  writer and thinker like yourself is capable of adding some exceptions without diluting your main theme. Reasonably intelligent citizens should be able to discriminate between bogus feel good strategies, and true efforts that limit damage to the environment. Extreme polarization leads to good ideas being neglected, so as to appear to be consistent with a certain 'camp.'
As with so many ideas, any one deviating from the orthodoxy of the extreme is considered a 'traitor.'
The paper industry has some cost effective products for packaging that are superior to the plastic alternatives. It seems to me that there should be a consensus in the use of paper for disposable packaging and containers.
Although I am employed in the petroleum industry, I see great benefit in paper grocery bags, for example.
Dino Manalis Added Apr 1, 2018 - 7:23pm
Ethanol should be made from other sources, not our food, while we need to research and develop all energy sources to protect the environment; save/create jobs; and keep energy costs down.  Even fossil fuels have to be made cleaner!
Steve Bull Added Apr 1, 2018 - 8:19pm
As John Maynard Keynes is credited with saying "in the long run we are all dead" or, as Zerohedge (one of my favourite sites) paraphrases: "On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." Yes, most of the energy sources we have developed and/or depend upon are, on a long enough timeline, not 'renewable' in perpetuity. That being said, for the purposes of the human species on this planet, solar and wind would be the best 'renewable' sources for us to depend upon.
 
But neither, I believe, are panaceas for the impending energy cliff many predict. The issue of energy-return-on-energy-invested is particularly important and we are increasingly having to rely upon sources that give far less energy in return for what we have to invest. Solar and wind, for example, have been estimated to return much, much less than conventional crude oil--solar and wind providing, perhaps, 10-50% of what oil can. This is a significant loss in terms of economical energy to sustain human systems. 
 
What I object to even more than the term 'renewable' is the term 'clean' energy. None of the energy sources we rely upon are close to 'clean'. Some may be a 'bit' cleaner than others but they all depend upon less-clean sources to procure and maintain/replace them, thus ensuring they are not really 'clean' at all. 
 
Take solar photovoltaics, for example. They depend upon environmentally-destructive processes and other energy sources to procure the mineral sources to process the materials to manufacture them; they depend upon fossil fuel resources from mining to manufacture, to distribution, to maintenance/replacement; the batteries required for the storage of the energy generated also require energy-intensive and environmentally-questionable processes for their creation and eventual 'recycling' or 'disposal' of toxic chemicals. These are not clean processes to say the least. We probably aren't even aware of all the negative repercussions of their existence and use on the environment yet. 
 
 
Rusty Smith Added Apr 1, 2018 - 8:31pm
Renewable energy is a weird thing to say, what I think most people who use it mean to imply is that creating it is "nicer" to the mother earth than the alternatives.  I rather doubt the people who live around solar panel factories or the hazmat dumps they fill, would agree solar is really all that friendly to people or the earth.  There are places in China where they really don't agree at all.
 
It takes a lot of energy and resources to make solar cells and all the other electronics it takes to put solar on your roof, and the only reason it is economical is because it's highly subsidized by taxpayers.  If not for that subsidy no one would consider it economical unless they had no access to the power grid. Solar is actually one of the most expensive ways to make electricity, wind is not far behind.  
 
So you panels were cheap and you don't care!  Well wait until they need replacement and the equipment you have isn't even made anymore and no subsitizes will be offered to keep it running.  You just might see thousands of systems being abandoned because they are too expensive to repair, like happened with similarly subsidized hot water heating panels in the past. Just wait until you roof needs repair or replacement, oh didn't they mention that?  Repair or replacement might be twice as expensive now that you have to have a ton of electrical equipment removed and replaced just so they can do the job, and of course cover up and warranty all the holes in your roof that wouldn't otherwise have been there.
 
Solar and wind both have other distinct problems, they don't provide power 24/7, so even if you think you have plenty, you still need to keep the good ol power plants around so that you can still turn on the lights when the sun isn't shining strongly, and the wind isn't blowing.  Did I mention most power plants can't turn on and off quickly?
 
Oh yea, especially those powered by coal and oil, they take a long long time to fire up so if you idle them in a quick standby mode you might as well use them.
 
Even water power has it's issues.  Sediment quickly fills up dams and it's very expensive to remove.
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:26pm
Yes Benjamin, a good example of the insanity.  Thanks
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:28pm
Neil,  "And not nearly harsh enough on those that have done the misleading."
 
Who is telling the lies?  Damn politicians. 
Who is voting them into power?  Damned us! 
 
Plenty of guilt to be shared.
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:30pm
Bill H,  "Blah, blah, blah . . ."
 
Sorry, you were incoherent again.  Perhaps you can try speaking without your head up your ass.
Cheers!
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:38pm
Robin,   So, against a timescale of millions of years, it is not renewable.
 
See Robin.  You are a great example of a dupped generation of yesteryear.
There is a cost, in energy to make those panels.  Have you ever looked at the return on investment, the actual energy produced by those panels compared to the energy it takes to make them? (without government subsidies).
 
It turns out that solar panels have about an even ROI over the lifetime of the panels.  In essence (and fact), it takes the same energy to produce, install, and maintain these panels as they produce over their lifetime.
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:40pm
Stephan, solar is not renewable but there is enough there for about another 5 billion years. And we do not have to do damage to mother earth to tap into it.
 
However, solar farms also pose real environmental challenges, including habitat degradation and harm to wildlife.
 
Look up the articles on google.  Plenty of articles about this.
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:43pm
Logical man,  What do you need most to produce solar panels?
Silicon - from sand.
 
I question your use of the word "Logic".
In mass, volume or cost . . . any way you want to measure it, OIL is the most resource used to produce solar panels.  wtf are you smoking?
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:47pm
Opher,  We need to stop.
 
Stop what?  Breeding?  Ya, I would agree with that. 
But I think you are being naive about the planet you live on.  Our planet loves to kill off its best creations and replace them with something better.  We are just episodic characters, Opher, on this great spacecraft.  Enjoy your time in the sun.
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 10:00pm
Pardero,  Extreme polarization leads to good ideas being neglected, so as to appear to be consistent with a certain 'camp.'
 
Who is being extremely polarizing . . . me?  LOL


Are you familiar with the rampant idiocracy in the west?  I would say, at this time, calling for people to kindness and being generally more open to stupid people . . . 
wait for it . . .
 
Is just a good fucking waste of time!  I find so little about the modern cult-left to merit hearing more of their lies, ignorance, and general bullshit.  It's time for them to prove their worth and their words.
 
I would also add that the moderate righties, as yourself, that for years have been taking the "high road" have lost the arguments.  You cannot logically debate or argue with a lefty.  They don't operate logically.  It is 90% emotion.  You lost the battle to the tyranny of the weak and stupid.  Lost culturally to people who lack a legitimate frontal cortex and operate primarily with their hippocampus.
William Stockton Added Apr 1, 2018 - 10:09pm
Rusty,  Renewable energy is a weird thing to say, what I think most people who use it mean to imply is that creating it is "nicer" to the mother earth than the alternatives. 
 
I agree there are many more accurate descriptions of alternative fuels.
 
But you are missing one of the main points of this article.  The people who play on words like "renewable energy" are not playing nice . . . they are not being just "weird".  These people are manipulating and deceiving with words.  This has been going on for decades.  I could write one hundred articles about the misuse of the English language, by scientists (gasp!), politicians, teachers, environmentalists . . . with the intent to DECEIVE.   Stop excusing that which is evil.  It is evil both in words and intent.
Bill H. Added Apr 2, 2018 - 1:03am
Sorry Stockton-
The truth from an observer has a way of pissing one off.
Don't it!
William Stockton Added Apr 2, 2018 - 1:57am
Bill H
Another example of your cunning intellect . . . 
. . . you apologize and then tell me it's my fault.
 
You are a tard, Bill.
opher goodwin Added Apr 2, 2018 - 4:16am
William - I agree with nearly all of that. We definitely should control our fertility and reduce our numbers. That is where most of our problems stem from. We are episodic and will be replaced with something else (not necessarily better). And I certainly do enjoy myself on this most beautiful green spaceship. The only thing I would not agree with is the implied consciousness of nature. It is blind and arbitrary. What comes out from evolution is random.
Neil Lock Added Apr 2, 2018 - 5:02am
Steve: I'm having a hard time understanding your energy-return-on-energy-invested argument. Yes, solar and wind are far worse than oil or gas from this point of view. So why are we bothering with them at all? The reason is not economics, but politics.
 
The greens have demonized fossil fuels to such an extent that too many people have been suckered into believing that using them is bad. And they have also demonized our next best backstop for base load, which is nuclear power. It's well known that the extremists among them have always wanted to kill our industrial civilization, and this is their chosen method of doing that. We mustn't let them.
 
The only reason I can see to cut use of fossil fuels is if there is a real, believable and imminent (e.g. a few decades) danger of running out of them. And from what I see, I don't think we're there yet. So we should cut out the crap and the politics. As long as fossil fuels are still better than wind or solar from an energy return point of view, we should be using them in preference to wind or solar. And they have a much smaller impact in terms of land use.
 
Of course, we should also seek to develop alternative sources for the future - but not in the illogical and politicized way that is happening currently.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Apr 2, 2018 - 5:18am
William:  Yes every method of energy generation has an energy cost associated with it's establishment and maintenance.  Of course it does. That does not stop some forms from being "renewable" in the sense intended.  The question, as always, should be the amount of environmental damage caused per unit of power produced globally... i.e. not on local benefits for privileged communities
 
As I mentioned later, the best strategy is to focus on using less energy.   Use local produce, conduct business using telecommunications etc etc.  Also wean people off of the idea of using air conditioning everywhere and get them used to the idea of wearing more clothes indoors during the winter etc.
 
Then the next focus should be on trying to make power generation as "clean" as possible.  Nothing can be completely clean... so we are really talking about using the least damaging form of power generation
Steve Bull Added Apr 2, 2018 - 8:19am
Neil Lock
From the energy-return-on-energy-invested (EROEI) perspective, conventional crude oil is certainly a much better bang for the buck than say photovoltaics or biodiesel. This being said, the best by far seems to be hydroelectric followed by coal. But as with most things (everything?) in life, there are pros and cons. And complex systems by their very nature impact countless variables with their various feedback loops and emergent phenomena. 
 
I think we're stuck in some nasty feedback loops that have us on an unsustainable path that is leading to a fairly serious reckoning in the not too distant future (I'm not about to give a potential date as that is foolish). Those who might be categorized as cornucopians or techno-narcissists are adamant our human ingenuity will solve the various dilemmas with some technological magic, but I'm not convinced of that; although only time will tell. 
 
Every energy source we have developed has huge environmental and ecological costs, whether it is the deforestation of using wood to the earthquakes and water poisoning of hydraulic fracturing, to the chemical pollutants of coal and the radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors--to say little about the production and maintenance costs of these varied sources. 
 
Another one of our dilemmas is the Law of Diminishing Returns. We tend to take the cheap- and easy-to-access and -transport resources first, leaving the more-expensive and -difficult-to-access and -transport later, but we keep increasing our production demands exponentially to keep up with our economic and population growth. We end up having to funnel more and more of our energy/wealth into procuring these resources as the EROEI falls--too say little about the pressure we are placing on other fundamental resources as we pursue perpetual growth.
 
Such growth is impossible to maintain on a finite planet. I know there are those who believe the biophysical limits of the planet can be ignored or overcome (sometimes they literally reach for the starts in their twists of logic to proclaim we will harvest mineral and energy resources from nearby planets or passing asteroids--in the human mind anything is possible but reality is almost always very different). I am convinced we have already surpassed the natural carrying capacity of the planet and are in the overshoot phase of the biological phenomenon of 'overshoot and collapse'. We have just been very good, so far, at pushing the carrying capacity a little bit further again and again. 
 
From my perspective, we need to be considering shifts in human culture and growth as that proposed by the Transition Town and/or Degrowth movements. I believe the complex systems most of the world's citizens have come to rely upon are close to the breaking point. It could be years/decades, maybe even several centuries, before they snap but the more reliant we become on the complex systems we have created to support our current sociocultural and sociopolitical ways, the greater will be the fallout when the systems begin to fail. 
Steve Bull Added Apr 2, 2018 - 8:24am
Apologies for typo above:
"...they literally reach for the stars..."
 
Autumn, how does one edit a comment when a typo is missed??
Leroy Added Apr 2, 2018 - 8:52am
William, you are a little too fastidious in your use of the word "renewable."  We all know what the term means in today's vernacular.  May lightning strike me dead, but I agree with Robin's response.
 
Politicians and liberals do a lot of dumbass things because they are short-term thinkers.  Ethanol from corn has to be the stupidest one yet.  On that, we can agree.  Strangely, hydropower isn't considered "renewable" by many.  I laugh at those that oppose nuclear because someday we will run out of matter.
 
The liberals say we must stop using fossil fuels to save the earth.  They will soon change their tune, hopefully in my lifetime.  The liberals' worst nightmare isn't fossil fuel; it's nuclear fusion.
 
The real goal of renewals is not to provide the world with clean, cheap energy; it is to make energy so expensive that we use less of it.  As energy has become cheaper, the environment has become cleaner.  Restricting energy will only dirty our environment.
 
Yes.  The elephant in the room is nuclear fusion, which promises to bring us clean, cheap energy--the so-called environmentalists' worst nightmare.  With clean, cheap energy, population control becomes their enemy.  It's about controlling the population.  Once we have nuclear fusion, the earth will be able to support more people.  Clean, cheap energy will be available to everyone, even the poorest of the poor.  That is the last thing these racist bastards want to see.  They want to keep the developing nations poor.  They want redistribution of wealth so that the developing peoples will be content to frolic in the sun naked for the rest of their lives, while the West has to conserve to survive; i.e., the population decreases.
Bill Kamps Added Apr 2, 2018 - 9:06am
The point really is not whether energy sources are "renewable" or not, the point is what kind of pollution they cause, and how much. 
 
The reason oil is running out of favor is not because we are running out of oil or natural gas.  We keep finding lots of it.  The reason is because we dont like the pollution it causes.  The same with coal.
 
Also in the strictest sense, all forms of energy cause some pollution, if we look at the full life cycle of making the windmills or solar panels, storing the energy in batteries, and what have you. 
 
Some forms of energy cause more pollution than others.  Some forms of energy cause pollution that is more difficult to deal with than others. 
 
The elephant in the room is nuclear fusion
 
Nuclear fusion has been right around the corner for 50 years or so, and it still "right around the corner".  I recently saw an article where they hope to run an experiment that will finally demonstrate a small net gain in power when running a fusion experiment.  So far that hasnt happened, but of course one day it might. 
Dave Volek Added Apr 2, 2018 - 10:45am
The article has some good points and bad points. 
 
There is indeed an environmental cost to all forms of "renewable" energy. For example, all those wind turbines require a large concrete anchor so the windmill remains standing. This anchor is all underground and is probably twice as large as the windmill itself. Manufacturing concrete and shaping it underground has its "hidden" environmental costs. 
 
So renewable energy detractors quickly like to make this point as a reason to stop renewable energy. But they too are guilty of the same misinformation. Every oil and gas well also has its own large concrete anchor and steel anchor that is hidden underground. But this anchor is OK, while the wind turbine's is not.
 
In an ideal world, we would have unbiased economists trying to determine which is better from an environmental perspective. Unfortunately both sides of this debate will only hire economists who will bend the data to suit a particular political agenda. To me, this is a another reason to seriously consider Tiered Democratic Governance. 
 
Mankind has been using oil seeps for thousands of years. The world's first real oil wells were built in Petrolia, Ontario in the early 1850s. Workers dug a hole in the ground; oil seeped into the hole; workers hauled it out with rope-and-buckets; then it was hauled to early primitive refineries. Colonel Drake drilled the first well in Pennsylvannia in 1859. But it too was taking oil near the surface that might have all seeped to surface in a century or two. 
 
All this easy oil has been removed. Today's oil is much harder to find and produce. True it is that the petroleum industry has been great at using technology to get this oil. But it should be known that the USA's current state of near energy self-sufficiency is due to the today's technology for oil shales. The petroleum industry knew about these shales since the 1940s, but it lacked the technology to produce them in an economically sound way. 
 
Other than a few sedimentary basins that have not been well explored for oil, there really are not any GREAT BIG DEPOSITS that we can see "not now, but later". If we bet on the petroleum industry to continue to find those reserves for 40 or 50 to sustain and enhance our consumption, we will likely be making a bad bet. If we don't make some provision for a transition for a different kind of energy, we could be in for a little surprise. 
 
I see this petroleum vs. alternative energy decision similar to personal investing. Keep your eggs in several baskets. 
 
Rusty Smith Added Apr 2, 2018 - 10:47am
Neil Lock we also demonized Nuclear energy and have ignored it's potential for a whole generation.  Gen 3 reactors don't have the potential to melt down and could be powering large portions of America without polluting the air.
 
They are larger but that's good because they are so large that they can't melt down even if they have no cooling water at all.
Neil Lock Added Apr 2, 2018 - 10:56am
Bill Kamps: The reason oil is running out of favor is not because we are running out of oil or natural gas.  We keep finding lots of it.  The reason is because we dont like the pollution it causes.  The same with coal.
 
Who is this "we" who don't like this "pollution?" If you're talking about CO2, it isn't pollution. Plants love it! As to real pollutants from fossil fuels (like sulphur dioxide or particulate matter), the real question is whether the use of those fuels, taking into account the pollution side effects, is a nett benefit to human beings or not. And I think it is. The polluters should, of course, be required to ameliorate the worst effects on others, and to compensate the victims where sufficiently bad effects have been proven.
 
But what there is here is a group with a political agenda, that are seeking to drive up the cost of energy and make life more difficult for everyone; except themselves, of course. And they don't care what lies they tell - otherwise said, how much they pollute our mental environment - to get their agenda implemented. Some here - including William, who wrote this article - can see this. Others, regrettably, seem to be looking (whether intentionally or not) through blinkers.
Leroy Added Apr 2, 2018 - 11:10am
Anyone who is pinning their hopes on Musk solving the energy storage problems will be sorely disappointed.  I used to be a Musk fan, but the more I read about him, the more I realized that he is a charlatan.  Telsa will be bankrupt by the end of the year unless the hapless Chinese buy him out.  His voyage to Mars anytime soon is a pipe dream.  Dream on.  If by some miracle, Telsa survives, he will suck the company dry with his compensation.  He has suckered the world.
Bill Kamps Added Apr 2, 2018 - 11:33am
Neil, no matter what the fuel, there is some pollution associated with generating and using it.  That may be in manufacturing the wind mills, manufacturing solar panels, creating batteries, drilling for oil, burning the oil, burning gas in cars, mining and burning the coal, all of it causes some degree of pollution.  I made no value judgements.
 
The increased use of wind mills, and solar power is certainly not because of the lack oil, gas and coal.   It is because "we" dont like the pollution caused by those forms of energy.   Whether this "we" includes you and me specifically, whether or not we correctly measure the pollution, is besides the point.  That is the stated motivation.  I did not get into specifics about whether CO2 was the pollutant with oil.   To some it is and to some it isnt.   Yes of course some people have differing agendas, always is the case.
 
My  point simply was that the moniker of renewable is a false moniker since we are not running out of oil, gas and coal.  For the foreseeable future those are also renewable sources of energy.  The current debate is focused on the type of pollution each causes, rightly or wrongly.
opher goodwin Added Apr 2, 2018 - 12:02pm
Roll on nuclear fusion! I think that in the meantime
Nuclear fission is far too dangerous and expensive to deal with the waste.
Coal is far too polluting.
Oil is far too polluting.
Gas is polluting.
Solar and Wind are coming down in price and becoming much more efficient. There is a cost to producing the hardware.
Hydro and geothermal have great potential.
We have to find a method of storing energy produced - there needs to be a revolution in batteries!
Whatever we do I would suggest that the environment must be the foremost consideration.
Neil Lock Added Apr 2, 2018 - 12:16pm
Bill: You're right. You're agreeing with William that the renewable energy idea is supported by a raft of lies. And with me that the matter is a political one, so rational argument gets one nowhere.
 
Of course, there are also issues such as depletion of "rare earth" mines for the materials required to build wind turbines. William probably knows more about these things than I do, and I don't want to divert his thread, so I'll leave it to him to say more on that if he wants to.
Ian Thorpe Added Apr 2, 2018 - 12:19pm
Opher, as a non theist myself I understand your objections to the concept of 'the consciousness of nature' as it suggests an ability to intervene in events.
I do however recall having some fascinating exchanges with a research biologist named Ann Marcaida, an intelligent and good looking woman who shuffled off this mortal coil far too soon at the tender age of fifty.
Several of our multi -mail conversations concerned the rudimentary intelligence of plants (and more humourously whether describing seriously brain damaged people 'in a permanent vegetative state' as cabbages was insulting to cabbages.)I'll post an article summarising those exchanges sometime.  
Ian Thorpe Added Apr 2, 2018 - 12:33pm
William, there's a lot I agree with in your article: 'renewables' are a political scam rather than a practical solution. Someone mentioned sun farms in the desert, it has been tried but the solar panels proved how renewable they were by creasing to generate energy after the first desert sandstorm scoured the surfaces, thus forcing the plant operator to renew them.
Wave power fares little better, a huge experimental wave power project off the Orkney Islands to the north of Scotland looked very promising until the next Atlantic storm hit it.
Wind turbines, the big ones that generate serious amounts of energy, have a very narrow operating range, the gap between minimum wind speed required to generate and the maximum they can handle before falling apart is surprisingly narrow. And they have to be anchored to vast blocks of concrete which play havoc with natural drainage in upland areas and seabed environments offshore.
Katharine Otto Added Apr 2, 2018 - 1:04pm
William,
Whatever terms you use, the crucial issue is that the market for energy has been deliberately created and expanded since the industrial age began.  The question is whether we need to use so much energy, and if so, how should it be supplied?
 
I'm a big fan of reducing energy use, including private automobiles, war, shipping, reliance on the power grid, and frivolous inventions like electric can openers.  I don't believe in over-production for export, or in importing plastic junk, single-use packaging, or other wasteful overkill.
 
Life is an organizing force that defies the second law of thermodynamics, which is why "fossil fuels" contain energy.  The sun is the source of all energy, except maybe nuclear.  I like the idea of solar panels for individuals to reduce reliance on the power grid, like for my water pump for when the hurricanes strike and the power goes out.  You're right that solar and wind farms defeat the purpose of presumed energy savings because of the distribution networks they entail, among other things. 
 
And I've been lividly opposed to the ethanol mandate since its enactment in 2007.  Ethanol (which is old-fashioned corn liquor) is less efficient, co-opts arable land and water that should be used for food, and ruins engines.  It is basically a government subsidy for food giants like Archer Daniel Midland. 
 
I wish we had better public transportation, including passenger rail.  I wish the USPS would triple rates on junk mail and all that self-promoting professional and university propaganda that fills my mailbox.  
 
I've been reading a lot lately about the beginning of the industrial age and the fascination with machines.  We take for granted things like indoor plumbing and air conditioning now, yet flush toilets, electric stoves, and thermostats are incredibly wasteful.  I would contend we need to make more efficient use of what we have and quit pushing "growth" and new power plants to support it.  Our version of "growth" is like a cancer.
Neil Lock Added Apr 2, 2018 - 1:17pm
Opher: The issue with nuclear fusion isn't making it happen, but making it happen safely. Maybe space exploration might help... Fission I see as basically OK for a couple of hundred years or so. The waste products problem, if I may repeat myself, is political not technical. I don't know much about thorium, but it's a possible.
 
And you say "Whatever we do I would suggest that the environment must be the foremost consideration." As I've said to you before, if you want to preserve a particular kind of environment, get together with like minded others, buy some of that environment, and preserve it. To use some nebulous idea of "environment" as an excuse to damage the environment for other human beings is a very cheap trick indeed.
Bill H. Added Apr 2, 2018 - 1:30pm
Opher -
You nailed it. The environment needs to be our priority, not simply the profits of those who presently control our energy sources. Finding ways to produce cleaner energy should be a prime goal. If we continue to politicize this, nothing will get done.
This is a common sense issue (not a "Cult-Left" concoction)  and should also be viewed as a prime source of new jobs. We are missing the boat on this, as those in power continue to bow to the lobbyists who wish to hoard the profits for themselves as we watch the job opportunities in this field continue to benefit other countries.
This is my beef with both Stockton and Haluska (to mention a few out here) who simply march in-step with what their political heroes demand, and use this subject simply as a way to push their platform and create more hate and discontent as their Orange God would demand.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Apr 2, 2018 - 1:40pm
There have already been experiments which show nuclear fusion generating net power gain.   The problem is maintaining the magnetic "bottle" which holds the plasma in place.   By it's very nature it tends to be unstable and when it fails, it tends to melt the reactor... but without any radioactivity....
 
Of course solar power is ultimately nuclear fusion.   The sun is one huge fusion nuclear reactor.
 
If it can be done, fusion does sound like a way out.  And, if I ruled the world, I would be investing heavily in making it work or proving, for once and all, that it is impractical.
 
Otherwise, being on a finite planet, we do face diminishing reserves of energy sources.   The sensible route, as I suggest above, is  I think to wean ourselves off of heavy energy consumption and then choose the least damaging form for generating power.
 
Of course, what we actually have, is a situation where the most profitable form of energy generation is chosen.   This may ruin the planet as a vehicle for supporting enjoyable human life...
opher goodwin Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:14pm
Neil - If I had a few million quid I couldn't even manage to save the rhinos, let alone the gorillas, elephants, giraffes (just moved onto the endangered list), orangutans, bonobos and hundreds of thousands more. What you say is nonsense. We all have an interest in maintaining the natural world for future generations. It is fundamental.
opher goodwin Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:16pm
Bill - Thank you. The environment is certainly not a political football. It is our (and the rest of life on this planet) future. We owe it to future generations to look after it.
opher goodwin Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:18pm
Neil - nuclear fusion is much safer than fission. We can do it and get a net gain in energy. What we have to achieve is sufficient magnetic strength to stop leakage so that we can di it consistently on an industrial basis. A few billion more and a bit more effort and we could do it. We're nearly there.
opher goodwin Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:21pm
Robin - certainly more efficient technologies have dramatically reduced our energy needs and there is probably a lot more to be gained from that direction.
Solar cells have got so much more efficient and that energy is constant. All we need are good batteries to store it.
But I would agree - fusion is the future. A big investment now will pay off handsomely.
Bill H. Added Apr 2, 2018 - 4:12pm
 
If fusion becomes (or even now is) a viable alternate energy source, you can bet it will be held back and resisted by those who now control the energy market. Just as will a cure for cancer that may have already been discovered, but the fiscal impact of which would upset the bottom line of those who rely on cancer patients for profits.
Doug Plumb Added Apr 2, 2018 - 5:00pm
"Renewable energy" is just one of a whole range of lefty ideas that warp and twist the mind. Good point - I never had thought of this.
Doug Plumb Added Apr 2, 2018 - 5:02pm
re "What we really need is a production of energy that is not damaging to the environment or polluting. We have a number that fit the bill."
 
for example?
Doug Plumb Added Apr 2, 2018 - 5:04pm
re "Coal is far too polluting.
Oil is far too polluting.
Gas is polluting."
 
how?
Logical Man Added Apr 2, 2018 - 6:46pm
William, you criticize my logic by saying that oil is the biggest factor in the production of solar panels, but that is only because the worlds main energy source is, at present, oil.
Based on your logic, we can't get away from using oil for energy because we use oil for energy.
Re-read my comment with an open mind. If the first panels produced only output 5% of their energy to external use and the rest to producing more panels it wouldn't take too long to start reaping the benefits. Added to this, the saving in transport costs having the raw materials close by would add up to a very significant energy use reduction.
Bringing the insane financial system we suffer under into the argument doesn't help you either, as it is unsustainable too.
 
Bill H. Added Apr 2, 2018 - 11:21pm
Logical Man-
Good to see some real logic out here for sure.
As I stated in another thread, not only can we now produce solar panels without using fossil fuels, but panels are nearing a whopping 30% efficiency lately. This, along with ever-increasing battery storage and inverter efficiency makes the arguments of the "deniers" pretty much baseless at this point. With some additional research and efforts, this will move forward even faster.
Why would this be something that the "deniers" would want to continue to bash, or label as a "Cult Left Socialist Pinko Commie Democratic Liberal Snowflake Progressive" plot to overthrow America? I believe it would move this country rapidly in the "right" direction and create immense amount of jobs.
The outcome would only be positive.
What am I missing?
Leroy Added Apr 3, 2018 - 8:29am
Bill H., firstly, we should not favor any technology because it would create jobs.  That's idiocy.  If it happens to create jobs, great, but it shouldn't be the motivation.  The motivation should be whether or not it makes improvements.  The government should not be in the business of choosing winners and losers.  If it makes sense, the technology will be adopted.  We don't need the government to subsidize solar and wind power any more than we need it to subsidize iPhones.
 
Solar cells can go to $0 and inverters can go to 100%.  It is the labor which will prove to be determining factor, whether is installation, maintenance, or repair.  Inverters are becoming cheaper, but it is by leaving components out.  They operate fine without the load side impedance.  But the first major surge to come its way will blow out the semiconductors.  But, hey, that is not solars fault.   The last time I checked, solar accounted for less than 1.5% of the electricity used.  It has a long, long way to go.  Hey, I am all for it if it works.  Let the free market decide.
Bill H. Added Apr 3, 2018 - 12:11pm
Inverters are becoming cheaper and more efficient due to both the integration of clocking, synchronization, monitoring, and control functions into single multi-layer redundant integrated circuit devices, along with ever more reliable IGBT and MOSFET devices. Prior to retiring, I worked in several paralleled, geographically-separated facilities that supported  Nortel DMS-500 switches and the associated digital/RF interface systems to serve over 12000 phone subscribers. Both of these facilities used solar systems as a major source of power, supplemented by both utility and dual diesel generator systems. The only failure that I witnessed occur over the 4 year period of operation that I was there was the failure of one of the 8 paralleled inverters used to supply non-DC powered electronics. The failure was due to an electrolytic capacitor, but the system continued to operate on the remaining inverters with the only indication of a failure being a warning light.
opher goodwin Added Apr 3, 2018 - 12:35pm
Doug - re "Coal is far too polluting.
Oil is far too polluting.
Gas is polluting."
 
how?
Here's how Doug:
Coal, Oil and Gas put a variety of poisonous gases into the environment - this includes Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrous Oxides which dissolve in water to create acidification (Sulphurous and Nitrous acids) which poison lakes and cause damage to forests and buildings. They raise the pH of seas and lakes which affect life there. They also cause irritation to lungs resulting in chronic lung disease and cancers.
Scandinavia has had huge destruction of its lakes and forests due to UK coal power stations.
These fossil fuels also put out huge amounts of carbon dioxide which is the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.
opher goodwin Added Apr 3, 2018 - 12:37pm
Doug - https://sustainabilityandthecommons.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/scandinavian-moan-acid-rain/
opher goodwin Added Apr 3, 2018 - 12:40pm
Doug - re "What we really need is a production of energy that is not damaging to the environment or polluting. We have a number that fit the bill."
Solar, Geothermal, Wind, Tidal, Hydroelectric.
Bill H. Added Apr 3, 2018 - 1:04pm
 
Opher - Many of those who "oppose" alternative energy sources do so simply because they have been conditioned to negatively react to words like "Green", "Renewable", and "Prius".
Here's a favorite pastime of some of these people.
Mike Haluska Added Apr 3, 2018 - 2:57pm
As an engineer, I don't "oppose" any form of energy so long as it makes it on its own merits.  What we don't need is the government interfering with the energy market on any producer's behalf.  
 
You all talk about "alternative energy" - just how do you propose to transmit it to homes, businesses, etc.?  Add more power transmission lines?  Surely you don't think the power company is just going to vacate the lines it paid billions to install and maintain to its competitors?
Larry Kauf Added Apr 3, 2018 - 4:03pm
Good conversation topic.  Mike makes a good final point.  But the facts on the ground in TX (and I know this is unique) is that there are only Transmission companies here.  There are NO Utility's for Electric (except for Co-Ops).  If you want electric you have to select a Power Supplier, that then connects you with the Transmission company and it is the Supplier that bills you, not the company that owns the transmission.  There is no fallback Utility to go to.
As an Energy consultant, this is my area and not speculation or conjecture.
You might certainly make the argument that Trash has to be dumped and those same dumps are turning the trash into Electric.  Create a mountain of Trash with a liner, Add a little water and some collection piping and you get Methane that can be collected and burned in a Gas fired Generator to produce electric.  Many times there is so much gas created, certain times of the year,  it has to be burned (flared) off. 
 
You can talk about the pollution or cost to collect the trash and the equipment to dump it and all those costs but at the end of the day.... you would do it anyway unless you're planning on burning it in your backyard.  Trash is certainly an infinite supply.  Is that renewable?
Even A Broken Clock Added Apr 5, 2018 - 1:45pm
William, I certainly agree with you that the charade of requiring corn-generated ethanol is a horrendous strategy. Unfortunately, it gained status as a politically-protected program, and now any attack against the ethanol standard gets beaten down by all of the farm state politicians. Would that it were different.
 
On solar power, there is hope regarding the new type of perovskite solar cells. Using much lower-costing materials than silicon / silver cells, they may further reduce the energy cost of manufacturing solar cells so that the energy roi for these cells goes much higher into the positive range. Or it may be that you can do a dual-use cell that captures the energy bandwidth for both types of collections and brings up collection efficiency well above 20%.
 
One other type of energy production needs to be considered, though. I wrote about this last year - production from thorium nuclear fission reactors. Here's the link: http://www.writerbeat.com/articles/16983-Nuclear-Power-Doesn-t-Need-To-Be-Scary  Thorium reactors do not create transuranium long-lived radionuclides, and they literally cannot melt down due to their nature. True, they do create short-lived daughter radionuclides but you only need to segregate them from the environment for a few hundred years, instead of hundreds of thousands of years.