Assuming the latter isn't the exact same as the former when push comes to shove, as it is in so much 'organic industry' which is just done by regular food manufacturers all those vegans and animal rights activists hate.
Regardless of your belief about environmentalism, fossil fuels are finite, and until they make a car that runs on coal, we need some sort of alternative for the future. Of course america is exactly about future investments
TheSpiderFromMarsFeatured By OwnerDec 11, 2012Hobbyist Traditional Artist
We have to do our best to solve this climate problem as much as we can, no matter what the costs. If the Earth are turning towards disaster (which it is) money won't do us any good. We will all be in the same boat, rich and poor alike, humans and animals and plants. I find it very hard to understand that so many seem to find this so very hard to understand.
I understand that renewable can be costly, but honestly we need to start shifting toward them, even if they might lack some benefits of other fuels. The carbon emissions of fossil fuels are leading to the destruction of our climate. If we want to avoid the heavy consequences this will bring, we have to use renewable energy whether it is more efficient or not.
My question to people is What is wrong with SCIENCE. This should not even be a fucking issue of economy, this is an achievement of mankind and SCIENCE. Instead of guarding investments perhaps business leaders should look on how to best diversify their investments. This is why the American solar panel industry is paling in comparison to China, a country without proper infrastructure, because investors there see solar panels and think, DAMN I can be making money of this stuff.
Sigh... it is sad that science these days is often the bitch of capitalism. If it has not short-mid term profit - it gets scarpped or at best sold/canned. Just look at aerogel, we could have been making insulated glass for windows for like... 30 years already, but the costs of mass producing the damn thing were all to high up to mid 00s. And aerogel is almost 80 years old!
Part of it could be that in China they can get away with breaking safety requirements, and therefore save themselves a ton of money. It's tough to get away with dumping silicon tetrachloride, a corrosive, toxic pollutant that produces toxic gas hydrogen chloride upon contact with water, in the US, but apparently it's acceptable in China.
I am for deregulation, although I'm not quite so anti-government that I believe we should be able to dump tons (literally) of highly toxic biproducts. Regardless, the point was that there may be another reason for us not having much of a solar industry besides "Teh Chinese are smarter hurr hurr."
I know part of the problem with solar power is that the panels are reflective. Which doesn't sound like a big deal, BUT when you have a solar farm, or even just a neighborhood with a lot of environmentally conscious people, it can mess with airplanes and impact pilots vision.
I've never heard that, and I can't imagine it's an especially big issue (but what do I know?). A more prominent one is that solar panels have to be powerwashed regularly, but the ideal solar farm location are all deserts, where water isn't exactly gushing out of the ground.
I'm sure renewable energy will be great and all once it gets up and running. As for the renewable energy industry, on the other hand, I suspect that everything people hated about Big Oil will be just as true about Big Green.
There are various problems with renewables. The most obvious is they cost a lot more and have far lower energy densities. I'm for renewable energy but I think it should be able to compete on an even footing with current energy sources (and potentially future ones as well). Something I'm more in favour of than moving to renewables is looking at ways to reduce energy usage and improve efficiency. I'm also in favour of the idea of micro-generation.
That's because they aren't necessities yet. They would become necessities if we were having power shortages, we had exhausted all our supplies of fossil fuels and the price of alternatives was much higher. As it is we are constantly discovering new sources of fossil fuels and markets don't tend to tap into unprofitable markets if they are currently in one that is highly profitable. Governments need to keep energy costs down for their populations and doing that with renewables requires huge subsidies. Subsidies tend to prevent people from bothering to innovate as they are guarenteed to still have their stuff bought. Ultimately I don't think renewables have an economically viable future ever. As I said, the energy density of the sources is simply too low. A more viable future would be in things like nuclear making up a baseline and other systems for peak production such as natural gas.
The problem is that wind/solar are expensive as fuck-all, and provide little benefit. According to the DOE, solar energy recieved a massive $775.64 per MWh in subsidies, yet as a percent of US energy it accounts for 0% and a rounding error. Wind's better at $56.29 per MWh for 2.3% of national power generation, but it's not that good when you take into account that the next most expensive energy source, nuclear, costs a mere $3.14 per MWh at 19% of US energy generation. Some "investment."
Fact of the matter is that emphasis should be put on nuclear power and hydroelectricity, which are relatively cheap and efficient (unless you want to stick with fossil fuels). Sure, maybe someday solar and wind will be capable of powering a country, but "someday" isn't the same as "now." So unless you want global warming and pollution to choke the planet to death as you wait for solar/wind to actually become practical, you should advocate nuclear/hydro.
I have some issues with hydro being classified as ecologically viable and a good subsititue for fossil fuels. The effects of large dams on river system's are hugely damaging to riparian habitats. I'm no greenie by anymeans, but I do think that if we are going to be shutting down coal plants because they have adverse effects of the environment, shouldnt we hold all sources of power to the same standard?
Re: Wind turbines - 1 of the key elements for building them is extremely rare. Something like 80% (not sure of the exact number) of the known world supply is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you don't know what is happening in that country, look it up. Personally I'd rather go back to candle light than support that country.
Solar - will be great in a few years but currently is near useless. An 8 to 10% energy efficiency is no way near where it needs to be to be useful. You'd almost be better of generating energy by burning wood.
Hydro - Great except for the permanent enviromental destruction
Oil - most it is coming from Middle Eastern and African countries which have little to no regulations for emissions
Nuclear - Even disregarding recent issues in Japan, there is always the issue of disposing of the spent fuel.
Japan got hit dead on by both an earthquake and a tsunami, and as well their nuclear reactors were outdated and weren't in as secure of a formation as they should have been either. As for the waste [link]
Rare earth metals are merely -superior- to the alternatives; they aren't a necessary element, merely an improvement.
Wind turbines have two significant issues; first, they're extremely unreliable. You can't replace existing power plants with wind turbines, you can only supplement them. For every hundred megawatts of power supplied by wind, you need eighty megawatts available by another mechanism. Nuclear power plants can't be turned off (it can be turned down, sort of, but not off), and coal is expensive to fire up and fire down; natural gas power plants sitting in reserve are pretty much a requirement for a regular power supply. (Energy storage may be viable in the future, but right now it's too expensive to serve as a viable alternative.) The second issue is that they're extremely expensive; in general, they cost around $2,500 per kilowatt for an onshore installation; offshore tends around $5,000. (And only provide about 25% of the kilowatt that was paid for.) Natural Gas costs between $685-2,000 per kilowatt. You can pretty much throw in $500-1,500 plus operating expenses for natural gas backup systems to the cost per kilowatt for a wind farm. Wind turbines have lifespans of 20-30 years, as well; other power plants have historically had lifespans around 50 years, so the turbines have even higher capital costs than represented, since they must be replaced more frequently.
There are approximately 220,000 hours in a 25 year timeframe; multiply by .27 to account for inactive hours and you get, over the life of a turbine, 59,400 active hours. At $2,500 per kilowatt of power generation, that's 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour of power produced for capital costs. Which looks pretty good. Annual maintenance runs approximately $28.00 per kilowatt; that's an additional $700. I'm not done yet, however; let's not leave out property taxes, because wind farms take up land that could be put to other purposes. Property taxes vary from .6% to 2% annually; assuming .6% and ignoring depreciation and the value of the land itself, that adds another $375 to the 25 year costs. Throw in a cheap $600 backup natural gas plant, and you have around 7 cents per kilowatt hour. (Missing from this is the cost of the transformers and power lines, which are substantially higher for wind power than for centralized power plants, which brings the average cost up to 9-11 cents per kilowatt hour, comparable with coal, and about 50% higher than just running the natural gas backup system and ignoring wind altogether. Theoretically you could eliminate or reduce the need for the natural gas backup system with a large enough system, however in practice you'd need significantly more wind turbines; large percentages of electricity would be functionally wasted on account of coinciding power peaks, and coinciding power troughs would still require a massive backup system.)
Some of them are rare enough to give the argument some weight; I chose to ignore them altogether in consideration that they aren't actually necessary. It's a misleading argument regardless of how common they are.