Cost-Effective ‘Renewable’ Energy Is Like Unobtanium: A Fictional Construct

Wind power sits comfortably alongside Alchemy and perpetual motion machines: ideas that were both superficially attractive and utterly impossible.

No country has ever powered itself entirely with wind power, and no country ever will.

Putting aside their unreliability and chaotic intermittency, the amount of energy and resources that go into building a single wind turbine is colossal.

The figures in the graphic above are based on a single 1 MW turbine.

These days, most onshore turbines are 3 MW or more, with the latest 240m (787ft) behemoths that can push out 4.5 MW – weather permitting, of course. Accordingly, their increased scale and bulk requires magnitudes more coal, iron ore, rare earths, fossil fuels (for the plastics and fibreglass), copper and much, much more.

The Wall Street Journal’s Mark Mills details just how much of our earthly treasures are required to build a wind turbine that will only ever deliver power at the whims of mother nature.

If you want ‘renewable energy,’ get ready to dig – Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of plastic
Wall Street Journal
Mark P. Mills
5 August 2019

Democrats dream of powering society entirely with wind and solar farms combined with massive batteries. Realizing this dream would require the biggest expansion in mining the world has seen and would produce huge quantities of waste.

“Renewable energy” is a misnomer. Wind and solar machines and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. And they wear out. Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste.

The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste. Consider some other sobering numbers:

A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.

When electricity comes from wind or solar machines, every unit of energy produced, or mile traveled, requires far more materials and land than fossil fuels. That physical reality is literally visible: A wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals.

Global silver and indium mining will jump 250% and 1,200% respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels, the International Energy Agency forecasts. World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300% to 1,000% by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.

Last year a Dutch government-sponsored study concluded that the Netherlands’ green ambitions alone would consume a major share of global minerals. “Exponential growth in [global] renewable energy production capacity is not possible with present-day technologies and annual metal production,” it concluded.

The demand for minerals likely won’t be met by mines in Europe or the U.S. Instead, much of the mining will take place in nations with oppressive labor practices.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 70% of the world’s raw cobalt, and China controls 90% of cobalt refining. The Sydney-based Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global “gold” rush for minerals could take miners into “some remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.”

What’s more, mining and fabrication require the consumption of hydrocarbons. Building enough wind turbines to supply half the world’s electricity would require nearly two billion tons of coal to produce the concrete and steel, along with two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades. More than 90% of the world’s solar panels are built in Asia on coal-heavy electric grids.

Engineers joke about discovering “unobtanium,” a magical energy-producing element that appears out of nowhere, requires no land, weighs nothing, and emits nothing. Absent the realization of that impossible dream, hydrocarbons remain a far better alternative than today’s green dreams.
Wall Street Journal

Monica Showalter picks up the thread of Mark Mill’s piece in the article below.

Cost-Effective ‘Renewable’ Energy Is Like Unobtanium: A Fictional Construct
American Thinker
Monica Showalter
8 August 2019

The left just loves to tout “renewable energy” as the clean, green panacea, something that will save the Earth.

Just look at the foremost proponent of this, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom:

On day one, I will issue a directive putting California on a clear path to 100% renewable energy. It’s achievable and it’s necessary.

Frankly, I think we can surpass our 100% goal by positioning California as a net exporter of energy to other states and nations. It’s a moneymaker for us and the natural next step in our global leadership — a classic example of California innovation.

Under the leadership of the state’s Lands Commission, which I chair, California is reducing its reliance on nuclear and offshore oil energy and moving toward safer, cleaner, and greener alternatives.

We must continue diversifying our energy supply — that means increasing our output of solar, wind, geothermal, hydro- and ocean-based energy, all the while improving our energy efficiency through stronger green building standards, construction codes, and efficiency standards for electronics and appliances.

Blah, blah, blah. Anyone who works in real energies will probably know a different story.

The Wall Street Journal has a first-rate op-ed by an energy expert, Mark P. Mills, describing the vast quantity of non-renewable, not-even-recyclable waste that nifty green energy baubles such as wind-farm turbines generate:

Democrats dream of powering society entirely with wind and solar farms combined with massive batteries. Realizing this dream would require the biggest expansion in mining the world has seen and would produce huge quantities of waste.

“Renewable energy” is a misnomer. Wind and solar machines and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. And they wear out. Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste. The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste. Consider some other sobering numbers:

A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.

When electricity comes from wind or solar machines, every unit of energy produced, or mile traveled, requires far more materials and land than fossil fuels. That physical reality is literally visible: A wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals. Global silver and indium mining will jump 250% and 1,200% respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels, the International Energy Agency forecasts.

World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300% to 1,000% by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.

Read the whole thing here.

The waste is simply incredible. What’s more, it’s well-known that would-be petro-tyrants such as Vladimir Putin finance green activist groups in Europe and maybe Canada, just to get stupid lefties to buy into this nonsense and delude themselves into the idea that by building wind farms to generate ‘clean’ energy, they are indeed going green.

Pay no attention to all those waste dumps, or all that profit going to mining companies, or all the African, Asian, and Americas dictatorships exploiting child labor to git ‘er done.

Just as electric cars require belching coal plants to produce the gas to fire up the electrical power charging stations, so the wind farms require massive amounts of resources just to get those necessary rare earth minerals, along with Mexican-style quantities of concrete and other unpicturesque things Joni Mitchell once sang against.

These facts are out there and have been out there, as Mills notes, citing engineers’ contemptuous term for imagining that there really is a free and efficient energy source out there: unobtanium.

The most serious energy solution, in fact, is drilling oil and fracking away. It’s the most energy-efficient source of energy production. Because efficiency is part of the picture.
American Thinker

Coal miners and steel makers just love useless wind turbines.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  2. From memory when SF6 is burnt breaking the arc in a C/B the powder produced is highly toxic if breathed in by humans. As technology marches on so does the higher dangers to the human race increase also.

  3. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  4. Sorry to break everyone’s bubble about renewables for intermittent electricity that may make us feel good, but realistically they just don’t work as they’ve yet to replace any continuous and uninterruptable hydro, natural gas, coal, or nuclear power plants providing 24/7 electricity to people and businesses around the world. https://www.eurasiareview.com/12092019-renewables-may-make-us-feel-good-but-realistically-they-just-dont-work-oped/

    • Graeme No.3 says:

      Of course they will work! All you have to do is ignore reality and wish hard enough, and keep those subsidies flowing. And as that isn’t enough, so add lots (and lots) of expensive storage which will require lots of redundant renewables (and subsidies), and when that doesn’t work you go on the ABC and blame Climate Change or Climate Disruption or Extinction Rebellion (Oops, there still alive, so that won’t work).

  5. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    Unless our ‘leaders’ or more precisely our ‘little lap dogs following their masters directions’, stop and consider what fools they have been we will get nowhere.
    More waste, more potent greenhouse gases being pushed out by an industry which has taken control of their brains, almost as if some terrible undetected gas has been pumped into Parliamentary offices and chambers to turn previously (in most cases) sensible and rational thinkers into mindless puppets.
    We need that ‘gas’ to be turned off and for our leaders to rise up and turn things around before it’s too late – before the so called ‘renewable’ industry and its proposers can shut down Nations and bring about devastation on our environments.
    We here constantly about the lies and hidden truths these companies and their supporters spew out, so why can’t our ‘leaders’ heed the danger.
    In the Australian Senate chamber today a new Senator rose to give his maiden speech.
    Extract from the speech spoke of what we know to be the truth – “the reckless rush into the unproven, uncosted world of renewable energy”.
    Lets hope he can keep his head above the dirty water being poured on all sensible conscientious debate in Parliaments around Australia and manage to get our Federal Government to gain control over the nightmare we are facing and turn things around, so we and our children can have a future worth living.
    The article above mentions the size of turbines, unfortunately this industry is moving so fast the writer has not caught up with the fact that onshore turbines are now being proposed at least up to 8MW. Neon’s proposed Nelson to Kentbruck project in Victoria is proposing to use 4.5 – 8MW turbines, according to the referal 2019/8510 presented to the EPBC by Biosis on Neons behalf. But at an information session held at Nelson a short while ago, which I attended, I was informed by one of the staff there they were to be 9MW – another of the companies staff there said that was incorrect they were looking at 5MW – so which is right and does it matter they are all far too big, far to environmentally dangerous as well as a cause of human adverse health effects and misery.
    The waste which cannot be recycled has to go somewhere and that will probably be out in the countryside or maybe dropped out to sea – it will not be disposed off in the cities where most people will see it, because then the majority of this Nations citizens will actually have to face up to what they have supported has done to the world we exist in – not live in.
    Note turbines today being proposed in Australia are the sizes of those that used to be installed offshore. It will not be long before they are wanting to install even bigger ones as turbine manufacturers are now looking at turbines greater than 11MW capacity. Just think of the masses of un-recyclable materials they will be made from.
    The SF6 gas used in turbines and even solar panels is said to have a life span of at least 1000 years and is a danger to human health and far more damaging to the environment than CO2.
    Come on leaders start to lead and call a halt to this nightmare called ‘renewable’ energy, that is becoming more and more dangerous by the day. It is not clean it is not green it’s a dark joke which needs a blow torch put to it.

  6. All energy is free; but the cost of harvesting it is NOT.
    The basic rule being that the survival/quality of life depends entirely on the difference between the energy harvested and the energy used to harvest it. If that is positive then you will survive, whether you are a simple organism or a human being. As for quality the more positive the better.
    However you look at it the harvesting of renewable energy requires much of it to be used up in the harvesting as experienced in the pre fossil fuel era.
    Currently we can only harvest useful renewable energy courtesy of fossil or nuclear energy which appears to be both pointless and negative in result.

  7. Apologies for any duplication STT.

    The BBC, UK Telegraph, and SKY News are reporting on SF6…

    Quote…

    The Telegraph

    13th September 2019

    The most powerful known greenhouse gas has been leaking into the Earth’s atmosphere due to the green energy boom, it was reported on Friday night.

    Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents.

    It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2), and just one kilogram warms the Earth as much as 24 people flying London to New York return.

    The drive to use mixed sources of power, including wind, solar and gas, rather than coal as fuel has resulted in a rise in the number of electrical devices that use SF6, the BBC said.

    A study from the University of Cardiff found that across all transmission and distribution networks, the amount used was increasing by 30-40 tonnes per year.

    Emissions of the gas in the UK and the rest of the EU in 2017 were the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3million cars on the road.

    “As renewable projects are getting bigger and bigger, we have had to use it within wind turbines specifically,” Costa Pirgousis, an engineer with Scottish Power Renewables, told the BBC.

    “As we are putting in more and more turbines, we need more and more switchgear and, as a result, more SF6 is being introduced into big turbines off shore.

    “It’s been proven for years and we know how it works, and as a result it is very reliable and very low maintenance for us offshore.”

    In the UK, Ofgem, the energy regulator, says it is working with companies to try to limit leaks of the gas.

    “We are using a range of tools to make sure that companies limit their use of SF6, a potent greenhouse gas, where this is in the interest of energy consumers,” an Ofgem spokesperson told BBC News.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/13/worlds-powerful-greenhouse-gas-rise-due-green-energy-boom/

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