Last week I penned a piece on hydrogen being promoted at the G7 as an alternative energy source for Europe. My conclusion was: Europe would do itself as massive favour if it accelerated the supply of Russian gas via North Stream.
In this article I clinically debunk the myth that power generators: solar, wind and batteries, are the solution to protect the environment. In fact, I demonstrate that these, “Green Machines” will cause massively greater environmental damage than is the unfortunate by-product of the mainstream providers of power.
Some basic physics: there are limits on the natural sources which cannot of can’t be exceeded.
Best conversion rate of sun photons to electrons is 33% We achieve 26%
Best wind conversion is 60% We achieve 45%
Therefore, we are close to maximum capture of energy from these sources – providing the sun shines and the wind blows.
The solution some say is batteries.
Taking Tesla’s battery factory in Nevada – the world’s biggest; it would take 500 years for that factory to make enough batteries to satisfy energy consumption of one day in the USA.
This begins to explain why, that after 20 years and billions of dollars subsidies, solar and wind only produce 3% of world electricity needs.
Putting aside physics and economics, if your mission is to protect the planet with solar, wind and batteries; as always: Be Careful for what you wish.
Solar, wind and batteries are built from non- renewable materials.
A single electric car battery weights about half a tonne. To build a battery requires moving and processing about 250 tonnes of earth – somewhere on the planet.
To build a single 100 mw windfarm to power 75,000 homes requires some 30,000 tonnes of iron ore, 50,000 tonnes of concrete and 900 tonnes of non-re-cyclable plastic for the huge blades.
The cost to get the same power output from solar, the amount of cement, steel and glass is about 150% greater.
Other elements required include rare earths materials. To satisfy current plans for production of solar, wind and battery power, the world will need a 200 – 2000% increase in mining for elements such as in cobalt, lithium and dysprosium.
These materials will largely come from China, Russia Brazil – and will require intrusion of earth-shattering machinery into biodiversity areas which as yet have not been disturbed. If your quest is to protect the environment of natural nature, the reality of earth destruction of natural resources, may cause you to recalibrate your thinking.
The mining process will require massive amounts of conventional energy. Then there’s the energy use for refining and factory processing and distribution.
And then then there’s the more deleterious issue of – waste.
Solar, wind and batteries have relative short life – 20 years.
Machinery for conventional methods such as gas turbines lasts twice as long before replacement required.
IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) calculates by 2050 the worn-out solar panels tonnage will almost double the weight of the total of current plastics wastes. Worn-out wind turbines and batteries will produce millions of tonnes more of waste.
The probability that child and or virtual slave labour will be a feature of some aspects of mining the raw materials for batteries, might be a consideration for the humanitarian among us.
To briefly juxtapose current costs of energy against the costs projected in this article if we go down battery alley:
- It costs about the same to drill one oil well as it does to build one giant wind turbine.
- Yet, while the turbine generates the equivalent of about one barrel of oil per hour, in the same our, the oil rig produces 10 barrels per hour.
At a time, the current government is, in its surreptitious style, signalling banning petrol cars by 2050 (1), it may well fall to the next government to get back to the basics of physics and review imposition of a regime which may well see New Zealand taking the wrong turn.
For doubters as to the integrity of content and as a matter of personal academic integrity, my source for the above is: Mark Mills senior fellow Manhattan Institute, Prager university,
Ross Meurant, graduate in politics both at university and as Member of Parliament; formerly police inspector in charge of Auckland police spies; currently Honorary consul for an African state; Trustee and CEO of Russian owned commercial assets in NZ and has international business interests.