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Economic impact of solar power is reportedly much worse than other renewable sources

By Justin Kahn · 28 replies
Oct 22, 2014
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  1. Solar power solutions have generally been considered to be a reliable source of renewable energy, with a seemingly continuous string of technological advancements being made. While harnessing the sun's natural power certainly seems like a good idea, a new report...

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  2. davislane1

    davislane1 Inquisitor Posts: 4,503   +3,500

    I think this pokes a few holes in the solar energy fanboy's moral ozone. Don't worry though, I've brought enough sunscreen for everybody.
  3. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +131

    Many "green" technologies are not green, and are expensive... in the short term (which this measured). If we take that same solar panel and apply the costs/pollution over the lifetime of the cell then it becomes a clear winner (provided proper maintenance is done). Another technology this applies to is Nuclear. It costs millions (if not billions) to build and creates pollution for thousands of years, yet, most plants have been in use for over 3 decades (in the U.S.) so that 500 Mill and the few tons of uranium are spread out resulting in much less pollution and cost per year than alternatives.

    This article explains and shows the trend for solar (see graphs at the bottom forecasting out to 2030 if reading is too difficult): http://blogs.scientificamerican.com...-faster-does-moores-law-apply-to-solar-cells/

    And one for nuclear: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Economic-Aspects/Economics-of-Nuclear-Power/

    Fossil fuels do not have this advantage because coal is coal (yes, there are different types of coal with varying BTUs and Sulfer per lb, but the cost goes up as those benefits get better, thus offsetting if looking at the money only) and the technology to use it (I.e., fire) was created a few thousand years ago with little improvement since.

    Finally, this article is mis-leading. Here is the full report from the EU: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/studies/doc/20141013_subsidies_costs_eu_energy.pdf

    In it's conclusions, they state:
    So, in reality, the EU sees huge value in their investments (interventions are what we call subsidies in the U.S.) and wants to increase subsidies for other renewables.
    DAOWAce, Footlong and cliffordcooley like this.
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,514   +900

    I'm not surprised that solar tech still needs improving. What I want to see happen is Nuclear waste being used for energy. I know someone is working on it, I think it was an article posted here long ago.
  5. Maybe this is the way it supose to be, so in the long run the technology will get better, if this never happenend the technology would not be as good or cheap as it is now.
  6. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 753   +347

    Without the beginning inefficient stages, the advanced stages can never happen. Solar paint (once it happens) will be the biggest step.
  7. Nilbud

    Nilbud TS Enthusiast Posts: 35   +10

    It doesn't you're just incapable of understanding due to low educational standards in the U.S.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 Inquisitor Posts: 4,503   +3,500

    This coming from a guy who can't discern between bald-faced antagonism and commentary.

    ...Or did I not bring enough sunscreen?
    Burty117 likes this.
  9. It may be expensive but so is PG&E. Depending on your usage, PG&E can be crazy expensive.
  10. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,042   +793

    Apparently not enough sunscreen...
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,173   +3,263

    Second article not loading properly for me. They must be tinkering with the forum code again.
  12. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,161   +831

    It's just you (Or at least I haven't had the issue).

    Not enough.
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,173   +3,263

    Probably because it is working now.
  14. One issue that skews the costs for coal fired power is that in the U.S. the rail transport of coal by rail has been a total mess because of transport forshale/sand oil in the Dakota area has tied up railway assets not only making coal more expensive to transport but also putting pre-winter deliveries way behind schedule. This has forced some power generating facilities to have to truck in coal, greatly adding to the cost.
  15. Solar and wind farms require large areas causing a big environmental impact and biodiversity losses even in desertic areas. On the other hand, aneutronic fusion can produce an awesome quantity of electricity in small areas without neutron emission and radioactive waste. It is to be the most environmentally friendly and dense source of energy than ever.
  16. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 2,146   +1,223

    I'm far from an environmentalist, but I use to live about 2 miles downwind of a coal power plant. In the summer you could hardly spend time outside because of how poor the air quality was. We had to use special filters for our heating and cooling, and holy hell you should have seen them when we had to replace them every year. Coal dust gets on everything. Leave something outside for a few days and it will get a layer of dust on it. This grey dust absolutely ruins clothing, you will never wear bright or solid color clothing again. There were frequently coal ash spills and that stuff just went straight into the river, you would always dead fish on the shores right after one. On top of that the powerplant hardly paid any taxes and left the community to clean up after it's mess. The clean coal bullshit they're pushing is just that, bullshit.

    They had a scam going for awhile where you could opt in to spend more on your monthly bill for them to invest in green technologies and that we could have "clean energy". As it turns out they were investing in fracking on some local farm land(I live in pennsylvania). While the farmers aren't having the flaming water problem that has been made popular by TV, there has been a large impact on crop yield and quality.

    I do understand the need for cheap energy, but seeing the environmental impact first hand really gives you a different perspective. They say it's cheaper, but what about all the families that have to spend more on expensive filters and change them frequently, the farmer whose crops don't yield as much, the human health costs associated with the pollution. The cost of living near the powerplant was ridiculous simply because of how much stuff I had to pay for in order to make my home habitable. Sure the rent was cheap, but then you find out why. You couldn't even sit on a public bench without ruining your clothes.

    Coal might be cheaper, but we won't be around to spend the money we're saving if we keep using it. And what the hell do we do when we run out of coal? With the way people talk they make it sound like we'll never run out of the stuff but it is a finite resource. We only have around 100 years of it left. While I won't be around to see it I'd like to know my children have a world to raise family in.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  17. EEatGDL

    EEatGDL TS Evangelist Posts: 536   +210

    So let me get straight what the article pretends: "producing solar panels in China pollute a lot because of the coal-based electricity generation the factories need", but then it doesn't state about pollution during its lifetime and while producing energy; but all the non "green" things are better because they don't pretend to avoid pollution in any point of their lifecycle? GMAB.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  18. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,161   +831

    I think the "greener" solution, would be to not buy anything from the Chinese, by doing this we are supporting child laboring and abuse all around, awful work environment etc etc, but hey, as long as we get it cheap... right? right?
  19. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    "Based on the analysis, commercial solar power facilities cost far more than other options at $127 per megawatt-hour. Coal and natural gas plants ran just over $64, wind systems were $102 and nuclear power plants cost $115 per megawatt-hour, according to the report."
    I don't buy that at all. Coal and gas are dirty, so they cannot be compared IMO. Also, solar has its advantages over wind. For example, it is more economical to put solar cells in a desert than a wind farm. Finally, nuclear is not safe.

    That all said, I find this report iffy.
  20. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 2,146   +1,223

    Nuclear is plenty safe. Many new reactor designs use convection to cool and can use nuclear waste as fuel.
  21. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    That can be argued, but still, it is best to stay away from it :).
  22. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,161   +831

    Although I agree with you about Nuclear being safe and clean (Actually the cleanest source of energy), we can't underestimate the forces of nature and even when they try to build the plants under the most rigorous procedures, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong (Fukushima).
  23. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    Fukushima could have been completely avoided by not building on the coast in an earthquake zone (or really on the coast at all). Not building near sea level should have been obvious, apparently it wasn't. It is now though, so another Fukushima is completely avoidable.
  24. Ray Boggs

    Ray Boggs TS Rookie

    Instead of boxy looking 1 1/2 to 2 inch thick framed Gen 1 solar panels, Hyper X 2 solar panels are only 1/4 inch thin and are made with a stronger, see through, glass on glass, frameless, construction that allows sunlight to pass through and reflect off the roof's surface, thus illuminating the backside of the double sided solar cells, producing additional power.

    A mere 10% boost in reflected light can raise this 340 watt solar panel's output to 374 watts without taking up anymore roof space. New Hyper X 2 solar offers a better PTC to STC ratio "Real World" performance according to the California Energy Commission's performance rating listings than over 100 of SunPower's solar panel models.

    And they offer a very high 92.88% PTC to STC performance ratio. Hyper X 2 also offers a heat busting -0.31%/degree C temperature coefficient for better performance in warm/hot climates. And when it comes to aesthetics, nothing even comes close to Hyper X 2's glass on glass, see through, frameless construction.

    With N-type mono-crystalline bifacial cells for double sided power production, up to a 21.5% efficiency rating, superior aesthetics, and a price that absolutely crushes the solar lease and PPA company's offerings, nothing compares to Hyper X 2 Solar. http://vimeo.com/108011035
  25. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    ^that sounds much like a sales pitch. I didn't click the vid because I'm watching other stuff right now, but if someone else reports it I'll believe them if they think it is spam. Otherwise, perhaps you should explain where you are coming from before going into a speech.

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