[p2p-research] Earth's carrying capacity and Catton
Paul D. Fernhout
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Mon Aug 17 07:16:31 CEST 2009
You make lots of great points (very well presented and nicely organized)
I'll have to think more about.
Michel Bauwens wrote:
> No doubt solar has a great future ahead of itself,
> but come on Paul, whenever did corporate press releases become accepted as
> the truth,
> if you want to engage with the serious critics, you have to come up with
> third party material ...
> corporate PR may not be outright and full lies, but they are 'massaged' are
> they not, and unless there is transparency, difficult to verify,
> you have a belief in abundance, which to my mind goes like this:
> - abundance is a possiblity
> - therefore achieving it is trivial
> - but in fact, it's already there, could have been achieved decades ago
> - so if it's not there, it because people are activitely fighting it,
> including those who come with those pesky detailed questions ...
> I suggest an other approach:
> - there's a polarity between abudance and scarcity, with many shades in
> between, and we must carefully distinguish them; none of these distinctions
> are purely objective, social structures, cultural constraints, political
> struggles are involved in defining/achieving them
> - every abundance creates its own scarcities ( such as mutual media creating
> attention scarcity), and they need to be carefully assessed
> - where abundance is possible: 1) how can it be engineered, which is a long
> and messy business; 2) what are the politics in which this technology is
> embedded, i.e. which actually determines which options are chosen and how
> I feel that many of our discussions turn around because you proceed much as
> the transhumanists do
> there reasoning is mostly:
> 1) there are interesting technical and scientific leads and possiblities; 2)
> let's assume they are all achieved together already, or just around the
> corner; 3) therefore, there are no real problems in the world that could not
> be solved soon by miracle transhumanist technologies
> Again the reality there is: 1) there are interesting leads, but most of them
> will never be achieved; and most of the assumptions of their achievement are
> terribly reductionist and ir-realistic; 2) the ones that are achieved at all
> it will be through a long social and technical process of human adaptation;
> 3) real technologies exist today which could solve many human problems but
> are not adopted because of value choices and the political weakness of the
> majority who would benefit from them
> There is a Pleasure principle of easily attaining a perfect world responding
> to one's desires; and there's a Reality Principle, and between it, the
> difficult path of Ananke ...
> To me this means:
> 1) immaterial abundance could be achieved in many areas, but the hard and
> continuous struggle for free culture shows many obstacles to that
> 2) the material world is determined by hard choices of cost-recovery and
> resources that are mostly limited, and require abandoning any belief in
> easily achieved permanent abundance and waste ... the very basis of infinite
> growth thinking in capitalism; nevertheless, there is the objective
> possiblity of giving the whole humanity a decent material basis, but again
> this will not happen automatically ...
> The argument that we can do this is powerful, and shows that social
> structures are geared against it, and it shows how the latter must be
> changed before achieving the former;
> but the argument that natural abundance is just around the corner, because
> of infinite oil and sunshine is fallacious, an expression of the pleasure
> On Mon, Aug 17, 2009 at 3:55 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
> pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>> Ryan Lanham wrote:
>>> Paul Fernhout wrote:
>>> Are you saying all these people are either stupid or lying?
>>> Others here have brought up nanosolar claims. So far they are hype. No
>>> science, no product. If they produce something that comes in at a wide
>>> scale implementation cost under 0.25 USD, I'll start to listen. For now,
>>> is lots of industrial waste, short-term burn out, and a lot of marketing
>> So, this press release from 2007 is a lie?
>> "Nanosolar said Tuesday it has begun production at its San Jose, Calif.,
>> facility and has shipped its commercial thin-film panels to its first
>> customer, Beck Energy."
>> And they lie on their web site about shipping products?
>> # Nanosolar Utility Panel™.
>> Specifically designed for utility-scale power plants, Nanosolar Utility
>> Panel™ is the industry-best solution for MW-sized PV systems.
>> A high-power, high-current panel, the Nanosolar Utility Panel™ features
>> proprietary cell and panel design innovations that enable our panel product
>> to have an entire factor more power and to carry 5-10 times more current
>> than typical thin-film panels.
>> Available wholesale to select system integrators and electric utilities.
>> # Nanosolar SolarPly™.
>> Light-weight solar-electric cell foil which can be cut to any size.
>> Non-fragile. No soldering required for electrical contact.
>> Available wholesale to strategic partners.
>> And the people who just invested US$300 million dollars in them (beyond an
>> earlier US$200 million) just now are just complete gullible idiots?
>> "As part of a strategic $300 million equity financing, Nanosolar has added
>> new capital and brought its total amount of funding to date to just below
>> half a billion U.S. dollars. ... Last December, we introduced the Nanosolar
>> Utility Panel(TM) to enable solar utility power — i.e. giving utility-scale
>> power producers the solar panel technology to build and operate cost
>> efficient solar power plants. The tremendous demand for our unique product
>> was matched by the desire to support us in scaling its availability even
>> more rapidly and ambitiously. ... The new capital will allow us to
>> accelerate production expansion for our 430MW San Jose factory and our 620MW
>> Berlin factory. (Earlier, Nanosolar secured a 50% capex subsidy on its
>> Germany based factory.)"
>> OK, a lot of investors are sometimes idiots, I'll agree. :-)
>> But then are the twenty jobs listed here perhaps just for show?
>> So, let's say Nanosolar is just hype. Lots of companies have raise hundreds
>> of millions or even billions on hype, sure, though generally in the dot com
>> bubble. Lots of companies have shipped product that later were defective or
>> that did not perform as expected. Anybody can put up a web site that says
>> anything, especially a private company. OK, so for the sake of argument,
>> let's say it is just hype.
>> And let's say that the Google billionaires who funded Nansolar are unable
>> to do any sort of due diligence like from using a search engine or hiring
>> someone to do it for them. Billionaires invest in all sorts of nutty things
>> like "Cheap Access to Space (CATS)" instead of "Design of Great Settlements
>> (DOGS)". :-) And investing in green energy is, admittedly, great PR for
>> Google. So, maybe it is just that.
>> So, now that we have dismissed Nanosolar as hype, :-) consider what this
>> publicly traded company (First Solar) is saying:
>> "By enabling clean, renewable electricity at lower costs, First Solar is
>> providing a sustainable alternative to conventional energy sources. This
>> goal has driven First Solar to become one of the fastest growing
>> manufacturers of solar modules in the world. First Solar FS Series 2 PV
>> Modules represent the latest advancements in solar module technology, and
>> are rapidly driving the cost of solar electricity to rates comparable with
>> traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources."
>> Sure, some weasel words there "comparable" and "rapidly". Could be twice as
>> much in fifty years, right?
>> Or pundits:
>> "The quest for inexpensive solar panels continues, with cadmium telluride
>> generating enthusiasm among investors and hopeful followers of the advance
>> of alternative energy technologies. Over at IEEE Spectrum, Richard Stevenson
>> speculates that First Solar might beat over 80 competitors to achieve
>> manufacturing costs low enough to market solar panels at less than $1 per
>> Watt, the target considered necessary for solar to compete with coal-burning
>> electricity on the grid."
>> And they have 84 jobs listed here in our job-meltdown economy:
>> Is that because everyone is leaving First Solar too because of hype? :-)
>> And while you are at it, you might as well edit their Wikipedia page to
>> reflect whatever you know to be the correct figures for this part:
>> The manufacturing cost per watt reached $1.23 in 2007 and $1.08 in 2008. On
>> February 24, 2009, the cost / watt broke the $1 barrier with .98 cents a
>> watt. First Solar is contractually bound to reduce price per watt by 6.5%
>> per year and plans to be competitive on an unsubsidized basis with retail
>> electricity by 2010. 
>> From the referenced SEC document:
>> "Our objective is to become, by 2010, the first solar module manufacturer
>> to offer a solar electricity solution that generates electricity on a
>> non-subsidized basis at a price equal to the price of retail electricity in
>> key markets in North America, Europe and Asia."
>> So, are you are basically saying, all this is "Lies, ALL LIES", as Frau
>> Farbissina did in Austin Powers? :-)
>> If so, maybe you should go to the SEC with your misgivings about First
>> Solar? :-)
>> I know, they did not listen to several people about the Bernard Madoff
>> Pyramid scheme either, so why bother, right? :-)
>> And I know, we saw it all before in the 1980s with the failure (sabotage?)
>> of Chronar, right? I literally was in a laundry room in some grad student
>> housing at Princteton when someone who worked there told me about "short
>> I still have one of their small panels for car battery trickle charging.
>> "September 17, 1990 PRINCETON, N.J. - Without an immediate injection of
>> cash, Chronar Corp. may be forced to suspend its operations and seek
>> protection under federal bankruptcy laws. ..."
>> People really seem determined to fight abundance to the end. :-(
>> Fossil fuels have been a physically dirty business for a long time, but
>> they have also been an economically dirty business for a long time. Why
>> should now, at the end, be any different?
>> --Paul Fernhout
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