[p2p-research] Earth's carrying capacity and Catton
Paul D. Fernhout
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sun Aug 16 23:05:13 CEST 2009
Ryan Lanham wrote:
>> Photovoltaic (current from light) is highly problematic so far. It
>>> lots of waste plastics and requires many nasty chemicals. Plus the
>>> electronics burn out...some over longer times than others, but they burn
>> Oh, come one. Citations? Solar panels usually have twenty to thirty year
>> warranties, and seem to last even longer. In thirty years we'll likely have
>> all kinds of amazing material science -- maybe including nanotech
> It's a great question. What exactly are the waste products associated with
> solar...and how much carbon is used to make a panel?
> Whenever I ask these questions to the "green" solar manufacturers, I get
> blank stares or angry and factless retorts. I don't believe there is green
> active solar yet. Until someone shows that they have long mean-time
> between failures, low waste energy and carbon costs per Kw/h, and can be
> disposed of without major issues...I am skeptical of the whole industry.
> For now, it is moot because the costs rule them out as serious contenders
> for wide scale use.
> That these are nasty to produce is not controversial. Cadmium and selenium
> (both nasty) are widely used. There are numerous patents and methods meant
> to rectify the problems. None are industry scale so far as I know.
And you are saying, that producing enough solar panels in the USA for
everyone is very much worse that producing the 250 million cars currently on
the road, in terms of pollution? Let alone all the asphalt cars run on?
(Ignoring the oil they burn and what that takes.)
You're grasping at straws here. Sure, there will be some pollution. Nothing
like what coal and oil or nuclear have.
Example from 2008:
"Dark Side of Solar Cells Brightens: A life cycle analysis proves that solar
cells are cleaner than conventional fossil fuel power generation"
It takes power to make power—even with a solar grand plan. From the mining
of quartz sand to the coating with ethylene-vinyl acetate, manufacturing a
photovoltaic (PV) solar cell requires energy—most often derived from the
burning of fossil fuels. But a new analysis finds that even accounting for
all the energy and waste involved, PV power would cut air
pollution—including the greenhouse gases that cause climate change—by nearly
90 percent if it replaced fossil fuels.
Environmental engineer Vasilis Fthenakis, a senior scientist at
Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., and his colleagues examined
the four most common types of PV cells: multicrystalline silicon,
monocrystalline silicon, ribbon silicon and thin-film. (Other contenders,
such as amorphous silicon or superefficient multijunction cells were
excluded for lack of data or lack of widespread application to date.) Even
taking into account the low efficiency of thin-film solar cells or the
energy needed to purify silicon for the other types of PV, all proved to
entail significantly fewer emissions in their entire life cycle than the
fossil fuels needed to produce an equivalent amount of electricity.
In fact, most of their dirty side derived from the indirect emissions of
the coal-burning power plants or other fossil fuels used to generate the
electricity for PV manufacturing facilities. ...
Even though thin-film solar PVs employ heavy metals such as cadmium
recovered from mining slimes, the overall toxic emissions are "90 to 300
times lower than those from coal power plants," the researchers write in
Environmental Science & Technology.
The energy benefits of solar photovoltaics will only improve as the
technology continues to boost its efficiency at converting sunlight to
electricity or proves to last longer than the 30 years anticipated by
manufacturers. "There is no reason for this not to last a lot more than 30
years," Fthenakis says.
If solar energy begins to power its own production—a so-called PV breeder
cycle, in which PV-generated electricity goes to produce more PV cells—the
outlook is even sunnier. "I think 30 percent of the energy consumption in
the [manufacturing] facilities is easily met from the land they have
available [on] the roof and in the parking lot," Fthenakis says. ...
So, within a few years, even that fossil fuel use pollution will go away as
we use solar panels to make solar panels, and we will be left with 1% of
what we have now from coal.
Let me be frank. In *every* forum I have ever been in, for more that ten
years actively discussing these sorts of issues, there has been tremendous
resistance to solar power. Every single one. Yet all the facts are in
solar's favor, increasingly so, including the fact that solar is a more
inherently democratic technology.
Why is this? Follow the money is all I can say. Or, also, follow the power.
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