Green energy? Solar toys won't cut it

By the time solar energy reaches Earth's surface, it is spread very thin — even midday sunshine will not boil the billy or make toast.  And solar collectors will convert only about 20% of that weak energy into electricity.  Thus, thousands of solar panels are needed to collect significant energy, and lots more to charge the expensive batteries needed to maintain electricity supply overnight and during cloudy weather.  Despite these disadvantages, force-feeding of "green" energy by all levels of government has given Australia nearly three million solar collectors (mainly imported from China).

It requires scads of land to generate significant electricity from the sun's weak rays.  But even in sunny weather, they produce nothing for sixteen hours every day.  And a sprinkling of dust, pollen, ash, or salt, or a few splatters of poop from birds or flying foxes, can reduce output by 50%, while night, snow, or heavy cloud cover snuffs them out.

Solar energy collection is maximized if the panels face the sun exactly and follow the daily and seasonal movements of the sun across the sky.  No rooftop collectors and only 40% of ground facilities can do this.  Thus, to produce the planned energy requires an even bigger area of collector panels, covering even more land.

More interested in propaganda than science, greens call land-based arrays "solar farms," suggesting that they are plant-friendly places.  However, solar panels steal sunlight, leaving real plants beneath them to die.  Solar "farms" have nothing in common with real farms except the need for large areas of open countryside — usually consuming valuable flattish cleared farmland or open grassland.

In fact growing plants are a liability to solar "farms" because they can block solar energy, so the operators must prevent grass, weeds and bushes from shadowing the panels and stealing their sunshine.  Thus, most plant life in solar "farms" is killed —by the blocking of the sun or by regular applications of herbicide or by roadways.

A big solar "farm" in Australia could contain one million solar panels and smother 2,000 acres of land.  Each operation also needs miles of cleared access roads and transmission lines to maintain the facility, collect the electricity, and transmit it to urban demand centers.  Most of the time, these transmission lines are operating well below capacity, creating an expensive web of inefficient maintenance liabilities.

Australia is also a world leader in installing subsidized rooftop solar.  But a quick drive around the suburbs will show that few panels have the size, the ideal orientation, or the cleanliness to be efficient collectors of solar energy — they are green status symbols designed to collect subsidies.  Many will fail to recover the real cost of manufacture, transport, installation, and restoration.  They destabilize the electricity network and elevate average electricity prices for industry and for those who cannot afford a house, let alone one with its own solar panels.

All for zero climate benefits.

The picture here illustrates what is wrong with rooftop solar.  Random panel orientation plus a cloudy sky equals negligible solar electricity.

Intermittent "green" energy forces coal and gas plants to operate at full capacity to cover peak demands around sunrise and sunset, but to wind back or shut down when solar energy pours into the system around midday.  Recently, in just one week in South Australia (Australia's green energy guinea pig), electricity generation went from "over 130% renewables to less than 4% renewables with everything in between."  Despite South Australia being home to "the biggest battery in the world," the energy regulator has been forced to lease diesel back-up generators and to order gas-fired plants to stand by in case the wind suddenly drops.  This encourages mechanical and financial breakdowns and high electricity costs.

Europe has also gone out on the green energy limb, but this is no comfort for Australians who cannot import nuclear power from France, gas from Russia, or hydro power from Scandinavia.

Every solar installation consumes energy to mine metals; manufacture, transport, and erect panels; and build access roads and transmission lines over long distances.  Careful analysis will show an energy deficit over their short lifetimes.  And when an earthquake, hailstorm, cyclone, or hurricane smashes these exposed rows of solar panels, dumps of mangled trash will be left.  Most of this debris cannot be recycled, and tons of metals, glass, and plastic are destined to end their life as toxic, non-degradable landfill.

Bureaucrats will try to force solar operators to clean up, but smart operators will have bankruptcy petitions prepared for such emergencies.

Here's a solar "farm" after a cyclone or typhoon.

Proven and reliable electricity generators, driven by coal, gas, hydro, or nuclear, with a small land footprint and housed in storm-proof structures, are far less damaging to the green environment than these landscapes of inefficient, intermittent, expensive plant-killing "farms."

Where are the Green objectors now?

More Food for Thought:

Solar Energy in Australia:

The Effects of Dust on Solar Panels:

The Growing Solar Panel Waste Problem:

Paving Virginia with solar slabs is bad law:
by David Wojick

Australia's looming energy security disaster:

Concentrated Solar Power — another Solar Scam:

World's Biggest Battery becomes World's biggest Joke:

Image via Pxhere.

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