Thursday, December 5, 2019

Solar panels an ecological nightmare

Total e-waste—including computers, televisions, and mobile phones—is around 45 million metric tons annually. 
...By comparison, PV-waste in 2050 will be twice that figure.

...At the same time, demand for everything from sand to rare and precious metals continues to rise. While supplying only about 1 percent of global electricity, photovoltaics already relies on 40 percent of the global tellurium supply, 15 percent of the silver supply, a large portion of semiconductor quality quartz supply, and smaller but important segments of the indium, zinc, tin, and gallium supplies. Closing the loop on these metals and embracing circular economy concepts will be critical to the industry’s future. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Wind turbines are neither clean nor green, and they provide zero global energy

Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Electric cars will help destroy the oceans

The future of electric cars may depend on mining critically important metals on the ocean floor.
That's the view of the engineer leading a major European investigation into new sources of key elements.
Demand is soaring for the metal cobalt - an essential ingredient in batteries and abundant in rocks on the seabed.
Laurens de Jonge, who's running the EU project, says the transition to electric cars means "we need those resources".

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

High cost of recycling wind turbines

While the turbines' steel and concrete can be disposed of without greater problems, the UBA found that the rotor blades will pose particular problems as the materials they are made of are difficult to separate properly. By 2024, about 70,000 tonnes of old blades could pile up annually in Germany alone. Moreover, the reserves set aside by operators could fall short of covering the financial needs by hundreds of millions of euros by 2038, which is why the UBA recommends reviewing the reserves' calculation base and have them reviewed by independent experts on a regular basis. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

EROEI -- looking at the true energy cost of using #renewables

If there is any plan to cease using fossil fuels, all of these backup electricity providers, including nuclear, will disappear. (Nuclear also depends on fossil fuels.) Renewables will need to stand on their own. This is when the intermittency problem will become overwhelming. Fossil fuels can be stored relatively inexpensively; electricity storage costs are huge. They include both the cost of the storage system and the loss of energy that takes place when storage is used. 

Exploited lithium miners fighting back

Monday, August 19, 2019

Renewable energy depends heavily on rare elements

To meet the demands of the Green New Deal, which proposes to convert the US economy to zero emissions, renewable power by 2030, there will be a lot more of these mines gouged into the crust of the earth. That’s because nearly every renewable energy source depends upon non-renewable and frequently hard-to-access minerals: solar panels use indium, turbines use neodymium, batteries use lithium, and all require kilotons of steel, tin, silver, and copper. The renewable-energy supply chain is a complicated hopscotch around the periodic table and around the world. To make a high-capacity solar panel, one might need copper (atomic number 29) from Chile, indium (49) from Australia, gallium (31) from China, and selenium (34) from Germany. Many of the most efficient, direct-drive wind turbines require a couple pounds of the rare-earth metal neodymium, and there’s 140 pounds of lithium in each Tesla.