May 26th, 2020

‘Green’ energy won’t meet needs


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on April 7, 2020.

Cosmos Voutsinos

The recent column by the Southern Alberta Group for the Environment (SAGE) promoted wind and solar technologies, based on a series of half truths and omissions. SAGE stated that renewable technologies generate more energy per energy input, ignoring the energy needed to build, operate, maintain and decommission all “backup” electricity generation facilities that renewables need. In addition, it claimed that renewables make fossil fuels more productive. Unfortunately, nothing can be further from the truth.

Relative to the energy needed to build them, wind and solar produce the least amount of electrical energy compared to any other technology. This is called Energy Return On Energy Invested, (EROEI). Wind and solar lifetime production is only 3.9 times the energy that went to build them (EROEI = 3.9). By comparison, gas turbines have EROEI = 28, coal EROEI = 30, hydro EROEI = 35, and nuclear EROEI =75. Professor Michael Kelly of Cambridge University considers renewables below the threshold to support a modern economy.

This poor energy return of wind and solar is the result of converting low grade energies, exacerbated by the short, 20-year lifetime for windmills and solar panels. EROEI for the other power supplies range up to 75 because they have a lifespan of between 40 to 100 years. Also, these long-life facilities can produce electricity between 85 to 95 per cent of the time and are available on demand, whereas wind and solar produce on average of 30 per cent and 17 per cent of the time respectively, and don’t respond to demand.

Thermodynamically speaking, the purpose of the wind is to remove heat from the Earth’s surface. In the dead of the winter when it is bitterly cold and demand is high, wind facilities tend to produce little power because there isn’t much spare heat to remove. So, they can often go days with low or no production. Output from large solar arrays in Alberta is far worse at only about 17 per cent of capacity on an annual basis. This output varies from 30 per cent in the summer to under four per cent in the winter. Such variation is also exacerbated by the reduction of daylight hours, from 18 during the summer to eight in the winter for Alberta latitudes.

Adding more and more solar capacity in Alberta is nothing more than a green dream. From last November to February, Alberta’s one $30-million solar facility produced total electricity of 5.5 per cent of its capacity which is essentially zero power compared to the demand. (2.3 GWh/30,000 GWh). So we get little power when needed most from either one of wind or solar technologies.

The low, intermittent output from wind and solar necessitates adequate backup from fossil-fuel power plants, for most of the time. Essentially, as more wind and solar enter our grid a similar amount of fossil-fuelled plants must be built to support renewables. The duplication of power plants and the lengthy operation of back up fossil fueled plants, works against SAGE’s goal to reduce pollution. In fact, when a backup gas turbine operates for 83 per cent of the year and a renewable operates for only 17 per cent, the renewable could be called “redundant.”

The switch to renewables is not as inevitable as SAGE claims. In Alberta our electricity production accounts for only 17 per cent of our energy needs. The remaining 83 per cent includes heating, manufacturing, transportation of people and goods, services, etc. It has not been appreciated that cities provide an artificial environment for humanity; it is made possible only by the supply of massive consumption of uninterrupted electricity, gas, water, manufactured goods, food and transportation, all of which require energy. Try to imagine what a city would look like if we stopped the flow of all these forms of energy.

It is inevitable that one day Alberta and the rest of the world will stop using fossil fuels. However, before that happens, we will have to replace all cars, trucks, ships, trains, planes, gas stations, most industrial processes, all engines, manufacturing, construction, farming and mining equipment, and all energy production processes. This unimaginable undertaking will require mining, refining, processing, manufacturing and transporting millions of tonnes of materials. The transition will require trillions of dollars in annual financing, millions of re-trained people and a significant increase in our energy consumption. The limitations of our resources will delay completion for more than a century.

At present, our world gets 85 per cent of its energy from fossil fuels. If we drive away investors in the oilsands, where we will get the energy and the money needed for the transition here in Alberta? Irresponsible actions are leading us to collapse into energy poverty exactly at a time when we need to increase fossil-fuel production in order to decarbonize, especially while oil prices are low.

Most of the emissions from hydrocarbons take place when we consume fuel, not when we produce it. Yet, Quebec, B.C. and the rest of Canada consume fossil fuels like drunken sailors and are concerned for our globe only when it comes to Alberta’s production.

As J. Constable recently wrote: “In a world of renewable energy nothing is what it seems.” “Environmentally friendly” turns out to be devastating to the natural wold. “Cheap” is expensive. “Local support” is found at a distance. “Sustainable” is strange to say, short lived and unaffordable. A “contract” is not binding, “secure” is actually unreliable. “Love” is hate, “black” is white, and “green” is a murky shade of brown.

Perhaps it is time for SAGE to meet with other groups, including non-dreamers, such as the Energy Collegium and Friends of Science, and start working productively, together. During the CONVI-19 isolation period, let’s start a communication process to organize a friendly discussion in a future conference meeting, where each participant group will be called on to explain and defend their ideas with rational debate and clarify the opposing ideas with sound science. In the end there will not be any losers, we will all be winners, especially our youth. Yes, we can do it.

Cosmos Voutsinos is a Lethbridge-based professional engineer whose career included work ranging from system designs in the Canadian nuclear industry to construction management of U.S. power plants in Taiwan.

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45 Responses to “‘Green’ energy won’t meet needs”

  1. Seth Anthony says:

    Slow clap Cosmos.

  2. SAGE Chair says:

    It seems that there is some shadow-boxing going on in this letter, as it argues many things that were not discussed in our Herald article (https://lethbridgeherald.com/news/lethbridge-news/2020/03/23/what-is-renewable-energy/)

    Beginning with EROEI, there is certainly a variation of values based on the technology, location, manufacturing processes, transportation, and so on. Unfortunately, the values provided by Cosmos are not supported by any recent analysis, which has been standardized internationally. A peer-reviewed metastudy of electricity generation can be found at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1364032113005534 which supports the values for wind and solar PV as presented by SAGE.

    Cosmos then seems to argue that wind and solar PV technologies provide intermittent production, as the sun sets and the wind sometimes doesn’t blow. I think everyone knows that an optimum use of renewable energy requires a functioning grid that can provide electricity upon demand. I can see nowhere in our article or information on the SAGE website that would suggest otherwise. Intermittency is certainly a (known) challenge but it is not an argument against renewable energy as it relates to our main point: that is, over their lifespan renewable energy produces 5 to 25 times more energy than it takes to manufacture, transport, install, and maintain them.

    That infrastructure is required to run an electricity grid – transmission lines, spinning reserves, etc. – is also expected, but the amount of ‘additional’ infrastructure will depend largely on the amount of renewables energy being produced to the grid. I can see no argument not to increase renewable energy production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to the point where the operation of the grid requires dedicated back-up or transformation. At this point, Cosmos’ argument that the ‘additional’ infrastructure required to expand renewable energy should be included in EROEI is correct from our estimation.

    Again, SAGE made no comments in our article with respect to the total energy requirements of Alberta including home heating and fuel. Our point was more modest – begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by installing as much renewable energy as feasibly possible. There is no dispute from SAGE that the transition away from the combustion of fossil fuels will be a substantial challenge. But this is not a reason to stand paralyzed – reducing energy demand, improved efficiency of energy use, and transitioning to lower emission generating technologies are proven paths available to us today. Not reducing our greenhouse gas emissions will have foreseeably negative repercussions according to the extant science, as compiled through scientific consensus by the IPCC. We are between a rock and a hard place, for sure.

    The so-called efficiencies presented in this letter seem to indicate a confusion between conversion efficiency and boilerplate ratings. It is kind of like saying the fuel efficiency of your car is 5% because it has 200 horsepower and you only use 10 horsepower to putt around town. Better to stick with EROEIs to avoid this confusion.

    It is also a dubious practice to pick a winter month to talk about solar PV output. The engineering designers are aware of the seasonal fluctuations of output. In the same vein, I’m sure Cosmos would object if one were to publicly celebrate the extremely high production in mid-summer. These are not really the objective arguments that are required in a discussion to transition society from fossil fuels.

    To reiterate the main points from SAGE’s article: renewable energy technologies make more energy over their life-cycles than it takes to manufacture and operate them; and, because of this, the greenhouse gas emissions per energy produced is lower. As such, they should be no more objectionable than any energy-efficiency device. If Cosmos feels this contains ‘half-truths and omissions’, I can find nothing in his letter that substantiates it.

  3. Seth Anthony says:

    One can argue the methodology used to determine EROEI until the cows come home. Look, here’s just one example of that:

    https://ourfiniteworld.com/2016/12/21/eroei-calculations-for-solar-pv-are-misleading/

    Viability is the main concern, and solar/wind is simply put, a very intermittent and weak energy source. It’s somewhat viable (if one can afford it) for powering low wattage devices, and that’s about it. That in of itself, is just one major drawback of this type of energy production, and just one major reason why almost no one installs solar panels on their roof. Very high cost intermittent output and poor storage.

  4. chinook says:

    No amount of evidence gets through to some people. Cosmos is one. He refuses to accept the reality that climate change driven by decades of producing, transporting and burning fossil fuel is killing our air, water, soil; wildlife; taking its toll on every living thing and with that, the *urgency* to switch to renewable energy with the same global thrust as we are doing with the Covid crisis. Difference is Covid will subside; destruction of our environment due to fossil fuel will not. The picture he focuses on is economics; the sky is falling; jobs will be lost. But just as corrections happen in the market place from time to time; a correction in how we produce energy is long overdue. While it may cost jobs in the short term; the long term benefits outweigh the immediate hardships. On top of it, Cosmos doesn’t seem to realize the need to preserve fossil fuel. Millions of years in the making, oil is about the most concentrated type of energy we currently know of and we should be saving it vs squandering it heating our homes and powering our cities and vehicles because down the road we might really need it. Many cities have already switched to run 100% on renewables and find it’s working well. With all the natural (and un-natural) resources we have in our locale, Lethbridge could be a self sufficient city also run entirely on renewable energy. That’s the future whether dear fossils like Cosmos approve or not.

  5. Michelle Stirling says:

    Don’t be IN THE DARK on Renewables. https://blog.friendsofscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/In-the-Dark-on-Renewables-FINAL-Nov-18-2018.pdf and a short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7ZUiz-vQgA&t=109s I am posting these as the Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society.

  6. Tris Pargeter says:

    As far as this letter goes, all that’s needed is to understand that the “Friends of Science” is a climate change denial organization, of which there are many, and none with a shred of credibility except on the gong show that the political right has become.

    • Seth Anthony says:

      Tris, are you able to refute the science and facts that are presented in regards to energy source viability? I think not.

      It seems you choose to ignore said facts and science because it doesn’t conform to your ideology.

    • Fescue says:

      When we see a peer-reviewed article cited by the Friends of Science regarding this topic, I’ll be ice skating in Hades.

      Note the extreme arguments of ‘ramping up electricity generation by 80% multiple times a week’. This is both a function of supply and ‘demand’. These people never talk about managing demand, as their utopic vision is a highly wasteful consumer society forever. It is also helpful to their arguments that they not only don’t accept the science of climate change, but are paid by oil companies to do what they are doing here (https://www.desmogblog.com/friends-of-science)

      • Seth Anthony says:

        Managing demand Fescue? Well that’s a step in the right direction. Too bad that step isn’t going to happen.

        Perhaps one day we’ll be forced to take that step.

      • DRP says:

        Even the DeSmog Blog serves a useful purpose. As originators of the despicable term “deniers” used to describe anyone questioning any aspect of climate change dogma, they provide an extensive listing of climate scientists and others with legitimate questions and analysis.

        https://www.desmogblog.com/global-warming-denier-database

        it is good to see Friends of Science listed there.

        • Fescue says:

          Always sad to see people hitch their horses to mercenary climate distractors and conspiracy theorists. The desmog list is not about the virtuous.

          There is something called the scientific process and peer review through which scientists can question science.

  7. biff says:

    once again, we have people stuck on at least 2 things that obscure moving forward with necessary change from our past approach: 1) the all one way or another; 2) that recent renewable technology is itself stuck in some past from which it will not/cannot evolve.
    we need to transition, and as renewables are fashioned, employed and re-examined, they will improve and lead to more efficient, clean, and sustainable sources of energy. as well, new things/approaches typically always require a period of experimentation and development; rarely is anything new at, or even near, its best until it has been worked with and studied and further developed/improved upon. consequently, almost no supporter of renewable energy alternatives demands that we stop using fossil fuels immediately. this childish approach of pretending this is what clean energy lovers are demanding is plain stupid.
    the idea is to reduce fossil fuel use as much and as quickly as is practically possible: PRACTICALLY POSSIBLE.
    moreover, i am among the hopeful that us fools – the humans – will come to accept that we cannot have exponential population growth pulsating with unlimited wants. despite how our false economy coerces us, we need to become far more needs based: this is our grandest challenge today; more important than clean energy. because even with an energy source that had no footprint whatsoever, our most damning footprint is the toxic waste and garbage stir up and create.
    a rather simple equation should be understood: the greater the number of humans on the planet, the less junk (wants) we can sustainably/safely create; the fewer humans, the more rubbish the planet might endure. examined another way, consider the earth as being much like the well you depend upon for water: if you keep tossing heavy metals and other garbage into it, over time your well is the cumulative effect of such an approach, and will become unhealthy and then altogether poisonous.
    newsflash folks, interrupting the covid19 24/7 coverage for moment: the garbage and toxic salad we create and stir up does not magically disappear or become cleansed by throwing it away somewhere or covering it up with some sand or tossing it into water systems. for example, as much and as quickly as humans and other life forms unwittingly gobble up micro-plastics (yeah, tasty as they are healthy), they are an ever increasing presence – everywhere.

    surely we can all take an honest, realistic look at how miserably we have affected the planet the past hundred years in particular. what we have is a veneer of the health and diversity we require in order to remain vital and healthy going forward. it is much like the thick trees left to line the highways where the forest just beyond has been clear cut to death.
    so what is it, folks? is it one’s denial, ignorance, or an actual hatred of oneself or our kids and their kids that would keep us on the unsustainable and ruinous path we have been on for too long. we now know better; therefore, we now need to do and be better.

  8. Seth Anthony says:

    Biff said,

    —————————————
    once again, we have people stuck on at least 2 things that obscure moving forward with necessary change from our past approach: 1) the all one way or another; 2) that recent renewable technology is itself stuck some past and will not/cannot evolve.
    —————————————-

    Except, no one said either of those things. In fact, we’ve been saying the OPPOSITE of those things.

  9. biff says:

    no seth, what those stuck in fossils say is that because renewables are not yet dependable on their own, then let us not use and develop them. how do we stay the course that is having a seriously adverse cumulative effect on the health of the planet? can we realistically do so until, by some magic flick of a switch, clean alternatives appear from nowhere to replace fossil fuels? the process of change is afoot, as integration that reduces fossil fuel use will move forward. as new approaches evolve, fossil fuels will be relied on less, and eventually, perhaps not at all.

  10. biff says:

    seth, i am not sure what you or i are not seeing together here. the letter decries wind and solar, as does michelle. in other threads there has been more of the same. wind and solar are not yet stand alone alternatives, but they may prove viable with more evolution. they are relative infants given they are so relatively new. they will likely require the development of efficient ways to store collected energy. this is also an ongoing pursuit. as for your preference, nuclear, we may be best to avoid that one.

    • Seth Anthony says:

      Biff, no one is decrying wind and solar. What’s being decried is wind and solar in its CURRENT technological state. We’re just saying that solar panel efficiency, as well as storage capabilities, need to be improved significantly before it’s seriously taken as a viable and strong energy contender (ditto for wind).

    • Dennis Bremner says:

      I always enjoy these discussions because it demonstrates just how brain dead people are when it comes to a “Climate Emergency”.
      The two sides of the story are distracted by “Climate Emergency” as if there is no time left, we MUST/SHALL select the teachings of Wind/Solar. The reason the term Climate Emergency and Solar/Wind are couple together is the intent is to market the useless under the Umbrella of “Emergency”! If you disconnect the two and think, you would never select Solar/Wind to satisfy an EMERGENCY! So its important for SAGE and Solar/Wind sellers to continue to couple the two together because the only idiots buying into the coupling are politicians and the huggers among us.

      In fact biff has fallen into the same group without realizing it, he closes his last comment with “as for your preference, nuclear, we may be best to avoid that one.”

      So, we have a “Climate Emergency” that must be dealt with NOW! That Climate Emergency can ONLY be addressed by the treehugger selection of WIND/SOLAR because WIND/SOLAR is the ONLY source being coupled with EMERGENCY!

      The purpose is NOT to solve the EMERGENCY, its to market a source that if analyzed appropriately would never be coupled with the term EMERGENCY! The sole purpose of this exercise its not to SOLVE the EMERGENCY, its to market a source and SAGE again attempts monthly to keep the terms connected and when the argument falls apart as it does EVERYTIME its discussed the fall back of “we have to do something NOW” pops to the forefront.
      This leaves the people with no brain, the final rant….. “NOW” + “EMERGENCY”= WIND/SOLAR and nothing else will be tolerated!

  11. biff says:

    you understand this, but the many fossil fuel only adherents do not. hence, my entries and others favouring alternatives also are aware that alternatives are not yet stand alone ready: this will take trial and error, like anything. they cannot improve without putting them into use. that i have clearly stated already in paragraphs 2 and 3 in my long entry. in that, i also state that we will need to focus on cleaner, needs based living approaches and not just clean energy. clean energy means little if we do not clean up our act more entirely.

  12. Clive Schaupmeyer says:

    Let’s avoid silly “ad hominem” responses as those presented by a couple of people here who apparently are unable to debate, so they just slag anyone who does not agree with their opinions. No facts. Just slurs.

    Biff raises an excellent point about population. Increasing population has so many repercussions as noted by the IPCC. IPCC concluded in the recent study on extreme weather that the ONLY provable contributing factor to the effects of extreme weather events on people is vulnerability of an ever-increasing global population. I digress.

    Brooks Solar is Alberta’s first large, grid solar farm and has an annual output of mere 17% on the year (2018 data). But it gets much worse. In the four winter months from Nov 2019 to February 2020, it produced effectively zero power—the output was 5.5% of its nameplate capacity and basically zero production compared to total demand. At Brooks Solar:
    * 99% of the hours were less than 50% of capacity
    * 90% of the hours were less than 20% of capacity.
    * 0.3% of hours were greater than 90% of capacity or 13.5MW or greater.

    This winter, because of the low production of power (which is normal in winter), the capital cost of solar was $40,000,000 per MWh vs capital costs of about $2 million/MWh for an efficient combined-cycle gas generation. Solar capital costs were about twenty times as much per unit of output.

    Large, effete solar projects having an output of about 17% of design capacity must be backed up with natural gas generated electricity because our society relies on a stable predictable supply of electricity. Seems that the cost of backing up ineffective solar should really be calculated into the cost for renewables. It is sheer folly to pretend solar and wind are emissions free when they can’t exist without fossil fuels to cover up their absurd weaknesses.

    Renewables like wind and solar are:
    1) Not dispatchable (i.e. not available on demand when we need it to stay alive, especially in winter!)
    2) They are largely unpredictable, yes, even solar.
    3) They tend to not be available when demand is highest.
    4) They reduce efficiencies of fossil fuel generation that has to ramp up and down to respond to the quirks of renewables.
    5) There is NO viable storage technology now and none on the horizon that can supply anywhere near the demands of our society. Current battery storage:
    a) is unimaginably expensive and b) would cause environmental destruction in the manufacture of millions of tonnes of batteries. Such impact would have to be assessed with the same rigor the federal govt has imposed on pipelines.

    Alberta’s original wind farms are spread out over a huge area. In 2016, the projects in existence at that time were spread out over an area the size of the Netherlands and required something like $2 billion of transmission to connect these far-and-wide generators to the grid. Compare this to Shepard Energy Centre (an efficient combined-cycle facility) in SE Calgary that is on a 60-acre site and basically right at the marketplace. In 2016, Shepard was capable (on the one small site) of generating almost twice as much electricity annually as all of the wind turbines combined spread over half of southern Alberta!

    So, our society can build all sorts of supposedly EROEI positive renewables, but the fact remains they can’t stand alone and are just part of the The Great Renewable Con Game promoted by local, regional and international “enviro” groups.

  13. Seth Anthony says:

    Thanks for that Clive.

    I often call it “The Great Fraud”, but your description of “The Great Renewable Con Game” is deliciously more apt.

  14. Clive Schaupmeyer says:

    “This winter, because of the low production of power (which is normal in winter), the capital cost of solar was $40,000,000 per MWh vs capital costs of about $2 million/MWh for an efficient combined-cycle gas generation. ” These numbers are incorrect. However, the capital cost per MWh produced was 20 times that for combined cycle gas generation in the same 4-month period. Brooks solar produced ~2,300 MWh on those four months of a total demand of ~ 30,000,000 MWh consumed. Nothing.

    • Fescue says:

      For the sake of intellectual honesty, CS, I look forward to your analysis during the peak of summer.

      I’ve never heard of a capital cost over production value … did you just make this up? Again, to be intellectually honest, one would have to do a complete financial analysis depreciating the capital over its life span, add maintenance and fuel costs, etc. Even better, you would add your externalities, like the cost of pollution.

      “Gee, I just looked out the window today and it wasn’t raining. Doesn’t that just prove that hydro dams don’t work?”

  15. DRP says:

    During the “peak of summer” solar and wind will be able to produce substantial amounts of electricity – very likely at the wrong time to be useful. The fossil fuel plants which can provide electricity when needed will be forced to curtail output, thus increasing the unit cost of electricity from them as they become underutilized. The following link illustrates some of the complexity involved in managing intermittent sources of electricity.

    https://bit.ly/34iU1NC

    Alberta recently missed an opportunity to develop a reliable energy source that can ultimately replace dwindling fossil fuels over the coming decades. Bruce Power Alberta spent several years trying to work with government and the AESO to develop a financial model to support nuclear power. The company finally gave up about a decade ago.

    Perhaps it would be timely to reconsider the “capacity market” concept studied by the AESO over the past two or three years. Such a system could be designed to reward electricity production facilities that can actually produce electricity when it is needed.

    • Fescue says:

      Thank you, DRP, for the link. It must be difficult for you to be the only person in your group to understand some of the complexity of transitioning the electricity grid.

      As you would know, Europe is much farther down the road than North America in this process, a couple of interesting studies are:

      https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/201406_report_renewables_integration_europe.pdf

      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148119302319

      I think we have to expect some innovation to occur in this area to increase the penetration of renewable energy – and maybe lower our expectations for having any energy at any time (yes, Seth, demand management). The common approach to this is to have different prices of electricity at different times of the day.

    • Dennis Bremner says:

      Missed opportunity may be too strong when it comes to Bruce Power. Bruce Power is quite able to mismanage its assets in Ontario and has demonstrated its ability to spend far more to keep Ontario running then Ontario Residents can afford. So every year the mismanaged asset continually costs more and more for Ontario with less and less reliability.
      The missed opportunity now puts us in a position to look at the Newest Generation of Nuclear rather then the multi-billion previous generations.

  16. biff says:

    while i lack expertise on this issue, in addition to everything else i comment upon, a few questions emerge. is the current system truly developed enough to integrate renewables efficiently/effectively? can it be?
    drp notes, “The fossil fuel plants which can provide electricity when needed will be forced to curtail output, thus increasing the unit cost of electricity from them as they become underutilized.” what is curious is how/why do we consider it negative to use less fossil fuel when able? the facade of money does not seem to be such an essential concern. so again, cannot the system be better adapted to integrate renewable energy?
    cs notes in his entry – which, if it is without much in the way of rebuttal, proves rather disheartening at this juncture – the “…Shepard Energy Centre (an efficient combined-cycle facility) in SE Calgary that is on a 60-acre site and basically right at the marketplace. In 2016, Shepard was capable (on the one small site) of generating almost twice as much electricity annually as all of the wind turbines combined spread over half of southern Alberta!” is this not then cause for pursuing this better model? is this model not something that can be built upon while renewable energy gets improved upon?
    cs also makes a valid point regarding batteries – the present state of the evolution of renewables will require efficient storage of energy in order to be stand alone. if this requires that we create a host of toxic batteries that are not net toxic free, are we not just setting ourselves up for a parallel issue? for example, such batteries will need to be wholly recyclable and with very little to no lasting poisoning and degrading effect upon the planet; if unable to do so, are we not then just trading one set of poisons for another?
    this is the same concern those not keen on nuclear would have (in addition to fallout related to meltdowns and disasters related to war, weather, and natural disasters). nuclear requires the mining/dredging up and disposal of long term and highly toxic substances; hence, we again are trading one set of pollution and planetary degrading issues for another.
    any way we look at this concern, we will need to learn to be far more needs based, and follow the simple formula of: the more humans we have, the less wants/junk we can create.

    • Dennis Bremner says:

      biff said……………..his is the same concern those not keen on nuclear would have (in addition to fallout related to meltdowns and disasters related to war, weather, and natural disasters). nuclear requires the mining/dredging up and disposal of long term and highly toxic substances; hence, we again are trading one set of pollution and planetary degrading issues for another.

      To which I reply “only people that do not have a CLUE about 4th gen would make those statements. Those people do NOT know what 4th gen is.

      4th gen reactors USE the depleted rods from the present Nuclear Plants. They do NOT require exploiting of new Uranium.
      4th Gen reactors work on the 5% U308 within the depleted rods and when finished have depleted the Rod to less than 1% which makes storage EASY.

      So those that espouse the philosophy you are passing on are among the same clueless people that think we can do it all with wind/solar

  17. cosmos says:

    LET’S START FROM THE BEGINING

    The title of the SAGE letter was “What is renewable energy”. Then it cherry picks only that renewables produce more energy than goes into building them. (I would hope so, otherwise why building them in the first place).

    My letter’s title is “Green energy won’t meet needs”. A couple of paragraphs were dedicated to the SAGE letter, and the rest of the letter is showing why renewables cannot meet our needs. If am correct in my conclusions, then we are wasting our time with renewables and perhaps we should look for something else. Therefore I invited SAGE to help in getting this discussion into a civilized conference where each interested group can present and defend its ideology, dream, or scientifically sound plan. I did this because it has become obvious that the problem cannot be solved by “Shadow boxing” through letters to the editor alone.

    Is any one of the commenters prepared to help establish communications leading to a likely Fall conference, where each group can present its solution and have it evaluated only on the basis of true and complete science and engineering.

    Right now we are building an alternative energy infrastructure without knowing all its elements. We have no clue of cost/benefit analysis, feasibility analysis, environmental analysis, an action plan, a schedule, not even a successful prototype – all of which are necessary steps even for small projects. This project of transitioning to decarbonization is going to be the largest project that humanity has ever attempted. Where we will get the massive amount of energy needed, other than fossil fuels?

    Our problem is how to dislocate paid promoters that try to confuse people in order to sustain their gravy train. A conference will stop them because they will not show up. If my estimates are correct, it will take us about 100 years to complete. We have about 300 years to decarbonize. I say this because access to oil sources will become more and more problematic and will need more and more energy to get at. Once EROEI for a barrel of oil becomes 1, we are finished. I think it would be better to proceed now with a well thought plan where the extra oil left in the ground after decarbonization is used to produce petrochemicals that don’t pollute. (They are not burned).

    So, let’s stop the shadow boxing and get together, without name calling and nonsense, and try to analyse and evaluate prepared presentations from opposing groups. Let sound Science and Economics decide the outcome.

    I believe I have done my part. Now you must do yours.

  18. phlushie says:

    just a thought. the kabal wishes to take over control of the economy with climate change crisis. too slow and ineffective, new try, covid-19, result more effective.

  19. biff says:

    while i remain hopeful that there are some able to shed light on my questions above, here is copy/paste from one of the links fes provided. it does not shed a promising light on nuclear dependency going forward, nor on carbon capture schemes.
    “Nuclear power generation and carbon capture and storage (CCS) schemes have been proposed as solutions for future low carbon energy systems [20]. However, both involve such high costs and significant risks that the relative benefits to society are increasingly difficult to see. Both industries also appear on the verge of collapse as many nations see greater promise in RE, as institutional investors seek to avoid risk through avoidance and divestment, and as most of the largest nuclear power plant manufacturers have experience serious financial challenges or have opted to end operations [21].

    Nuclear power has seen steady increases over the past decades in terms of LCOE. This is due to ever higher capital expenditures that result from increasing system complexity, high budget and construction time overruns, and a need to protect society from the dangers of nuclear accidents and threats of terrorism. Moreover, direct and indirect public subsidies for nuclear power are at high levels. Most notable of these involves the socialisation of many of the risks associated with nuclear power. As the insurance liability of nuclear operators is limited globally through various national laws, much of the financial responsibility for large accidents, such as the so-called “dragon king scale” events at Chernobyl and Fukushima [22], falls firmly on society as a whole, thereby creating unequal sharing of risk and reward.”
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148119302319

  20. Dennis Bremner says:

    Please stop biff, you do not have a clue as to what you are talking about. Its like telling people not to use cars because you went for a ride in a Model T and its dangerous. The author is referring to existing 3rd Gen technology, he needs to go to school too!

    • Fescue says:

      It seems that biff has a good handle on the realities of actually-existing-nuclear power.

      Though I’ve heard that there is a 4th Gen reactor being operated on the dark side of the moon by clones of astronaught Sam Bell.

  21. biff says:

    well, dennis, you may be right, but i know what i am not talking about. when nuclear no longer requires radioactive waste and radioactive material, i’m in.
    lol fes – see you all on the dark side of the moon…i suspect they do not have radioactive grass burning there (chernobyl), and they just might even have some leftover tang. mmm, chemical crystals…
    btw dennis, over a hundred years since the model t and cars still remain dangerous, from mining to their use to their disposal.

  22. cosmos says:

    biff, you must admit that it is very hard to know what you don’t know. Learning involves a process of approaching the new information with an OPEN MIND in addition to critical thinking. For example, here in Lethbridge we have a background radiation (from minerals in the ground) that is higher than some of the radiations you seem to be afraid of.

    An unseen danger such as COVIT-19, or radiation or the BOOGY man under the bed has frightened people always and you shouldn’t be blamed for being afraid. The way to overcome such fear is by opening your mind to learn, instead of getting sarcastic towards those that try to help you.

    You may want to enlarge the number of sites you get your information, as that will give you several perspectives to thin of.

  23. Seth Anthony says:

    Biff, the fact that you’re concerned about radioactive waste and Chernobyl happening again, means that you know nothing about nuclear energy other than the lies, myths, and propaganda that the people have been told.

  24. biff says:

    lol of course chernobyl is a fairy tale, as is 3 mile island, as is fukushima. i also love the fairy tale that reactors create waste, that the waste is toxic, and that the waste takes longer than the bible years old earth to break down….great fairy tale, too, that mining the stuff is good for the planet. like the fairy tale that the alberta oil industry really is just cleaning up nature’s mess.
    fear? i am fearing only the further fallout that is consequent of our corrupted economic system, and the consumer brainwashed masses that fuel our demise.
    meanwhile, i am aware we are in a radon zone. that as it stands is enough for me, though; don’t need more…don’t want to exceed the govt’s recommended daily dose.
    as for next gen nuclear, as i said already, if it works without poison mining and poison by-products, i’m in.
    don’t get me wrong. i also do not like how we presently try to harness wind. the turbines themselves are a disaster, as they are a mining and disposal disaster, and they kill too much of all that flies in their vicinity. solar is also a mining and disposal disaster at present. and the batteries needed at present are also a mining and disposal disaster.
    the reality is evident: even if we were to discover a fully noninvasive source of clean and renewable energy, our issues are most primarily related to wants and overpopulation, and this is a direct outgrowth of a sick economic approach to life. but we have been through this before in this forum numerous times. too few are willing to live with less stuff.
    notwithstanding this list of disasters involving radiation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_nuclear_disasters_and_radioactive_incidents, which does not include all the mess related to the mining involved, nor disposal, i am curious, and an honest question at that: why is next gen nuclear not endorsed by various govts?

    • Seth Anthony says:

      Well at least you partially see the significant drawbacks with solar and wind. To add, it’s also very weak, very expensive, and doesn’t work most of the time. Again, that’s why almost no one has solar panels on their roof. Those suggesting we can replace fossil fuels with solar and wind are living in la la land.

      In regards to your question about nuclear – next gen:

      The short answer is that it’s not politically correct. Again, the masses believe the lies, myths, and propaganda (irrational fear) that they’ve been told about nuclear. For example, Chernobyl should not have happened. It was the ruskies, and I’m sure you’re aware of their dismal track record when it comes to building things. Ever heard about their version of the Concorde or their rail lines? Anyway, they were warned by engineers that the reactor design was faulty, it had no protection, they hired unqualified workers, their safety and maintenance protocols were laughable, etc, etc. Add to that, laurel and hardy worthy human error.

      When the people think of solar, they think of incense and peppermints. When the people think of nuclear, they think of Chernobyl. If it wasn’t for those incorrect thoughts, then most of our energy needs would have already been met by nuclear, and this whole climate change thing wouldn’t even be an issue.


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