Wow. A well thought out and well written piece filled with some common sense.
Solar and wind generation requires battery storage of some kind. We can't
count on the wind or the sun when we NEED electricity, so we'll have to
store that electricity. Will every family be expected to have a large bank of
batteries in their basement, shed or garage? The only practical and affordable
batteries are lead-acid, like those we have in our cars. Do we really want to
have a bank of those batteries in our homes? Can you even start to image the
toxicity that would result when those batteries begin to wear out?
Solar is not clean. Google rare earth minerals or heavy metal toxicity. These
heavy metals like cadmium are necessary for production of solar panels. China
is the biggest source for these metals where mining them has caused toxic
polution of rivers and whole villages with cancer. Many countries have banned
or severely limited mining of these metals due to the polution caused by the
process.When solar panals age and break down they are considered
hazardous waste. When Solyndra closed down the company left tons of hazardous
materials to be cleaned up from the production of their solar panels.Besides all this consider the amount of fossil fuel required for solar
production. The bottom line is that solar is not the tremendous clean
"green" energy it is touted to be.
I tend to agree with Blaeloch that existing developed areas should be exploited
first. They already have the infrastructure and transmission corridors. Little
new construction would be required. While I'm encouraged that Salazar
targeting areas that have few resource conflicts for solar development, we
should be looking at urbanized areas first. What is lost in looking to the
deserts is opportunity cost. A dollar spent installing a solar array in the
Mojave is not available to install one on a shopping mall or warehouse.For example, consider the Wal-Mart distribution center north of St. George.
Its roof is about 1500'x670' (scaled from Google Earth image)-- 23
acres of flat sunny surface doing nothing but keeping toasters and blue jeans
dry. How many kilowatts could that capture to offset peak air conditioning
loads (current goes right into the grid, Mike, no storage needed) consuming no
additional land? As a bonus, the photons the array intercepts would not be
converted to heat, reducing the AC costs for the building.Or parking
lots-- The lot at the University Orthopaedic Center has tilted sunshades that
are just screaming for photovoltaic cells. The arrays would keep cars sheltered
while generating power.
There are a couple entrepreneurial urban farmers locally (one featured recently
in the DesNews) who have made successful businesses by leasing small plots of
land across the city for cultivation. A bit of a backyard here, a vacant lot
there, etc. The small scattered parcels add up in the aggregate to make enough
land to support a business.Why can't utilities do the same with
solar? Lease warehouse, factory, and shopping mall rooftop space and parking
lots for power generation. Like the urban farmers, they could sharecrop,
letting the businesses skim off a portion of the electricity before it enters
the grid.The beauty and bane of solar is that it is diffuse;
it's everywhere, but in small quantities (compared to coal or nuclear,
which are very energy dense). Solar developers should exploit that. It makes
little sense to build highly capitalized facilities covering thousands of acres
to concentrate sunlight, just to spread it out again when it is distributed over
the grid. Capture it at the end use location instead.Mc: We must
weigh the full costs of all the alternatives. Coal, oil, and nuclear are no
beds of roses, either.
MR says, "Can you even start to image the toxicity that would result when
those batteries begin to wear out?"We can't even seem to
imagine the harm done by the toxicity existing right now from coal and petroleum
fueling our electrical system. I'll bet that if an analysis were done
comparing the dangers of toxic materials in photovoltaic systems and the current
fuels, there would no longer be any doubt as to which is worse.
Mr. One old man,How well does your skin tolerate battery acid? Mine
would be eaten away. My clothes are eaten away when battery acid touches them.
I don't want my children or my grandchild to touch battery acid. You seem
to mock the dangers of battery acid. You seem to ignore the very real
consequences to all of us if we have to install batteries in our homes to
capture and store wind or solar energy. You tell us that coal fired plants are
more harmful. A single drop of battery acid will blind you. How does that
compare to the dangers of a coal-fired generator? Can a single breath from that
plant blind you or destroy your lungs?
Mr. White, haven't you noticed that almost all batteries sold these days
are SEALED? The acid cannot leak, fumes don't escape.Your
argument doesn't hold much water. You're letting some unreasonable
thinking control you. Do some research and learn the truth.Sorry.
Mr. One old man,It's "Mrs. White", thank you very
much.Sealed may be different than what you understand.We
have "sealed" batteries in our car, but they are not "sealed".
The tops can be popped off. The cells can be checked. They are the batteries
that you and I can buy from every parts distributor in America. They not only
leak, but their is corrosian from every terminal. Why not spend a few minutes
at your local "Checkers" or other parts supply store and learn for
yourself.It's a real shame when a woman has to correct a man
@one old manLead-acid batteries are not sealed when they are
manufactured and recycled.During the mining and smelting of lead and
battery manufacturing some lead and acid vapors escape into the environment,
raising the blood-lead levels of those who live near those facilities. Elevated
blood-lead levels in children have been shown to affect their intellectual
development, which is a very high price for those innocent children to pay just
so a few greenies can feel good about themselves.
I did some extra research and must admit that much of what Mrs. White and Corn
Dog have written is correct. But at the same time, rapid advances are being
made in battery technology and associated dangers are diminishing.However, if one looks at the big picture, there isn't any real doubt that
the toxic effects of coal and petroleum are much greater than any dangers that
may be posed by batteries.
The solution to availability of power when the sun is clouded or set is
Concentrating solar power (CSP) with storage. It uses mirrors to concentrate
the sun onto a collector that heats molten salt. The molten salt is stored
until the heat is required to create super heated steam that is used in a
conventional steam turbine.For those who don't believe it, one
is running in the MOJAVE DESERT and others in Spain.Because it is a
closed system there is no pollution unlike Coal or Gas fired power stations.By using a combination of Wind, Solar Thermal, Photo Electric (PV),Wave
and Hydro our electricity dependent life style will continue.
Why are we not making use of Yellowstone geothermal? If global warming is
really such a threat, we ought to.u
Mike RichardsSouth Jordan, UtahSolar and wind generation requires
battery storage of some kind. We can't count on the wind or the sun when we
NEED electricity, so we'll have to store that electricity. ============ No they don't Mike.Unless perhaps you want
to be a lonely reclusive hermit living in a cabin somewhere in Montana, typing
manefestos or wanting to be 100% independant and off of the of the power
grid.Wind and Solar energy does not need to be stored at all.They supply electrical power directly to the nation power grid.Electrical Power consumption is highest during the day - which just so happens
to be presisely when Solar and Wind are supplying it.L White, It's a real shame when an Engineer has to correct a woman about
Alternative Electrical Power supply, generation and redistribution works on a