50 Shades Of Solar Power

You would be forgiven if your adult children thought solar panels were made by elves in Silicon Valley and that we’re just so gosh-darn fucking good at making them cheap that we should thank Adam Smith’s invisible hand job. Creepy!

Solar panels are cheap. How cheap? They’re so cheap that I’ve even seen them on street corners offering to light up my life for $20.  I’ll leave out what wind turbines say, just for the sake of decency. So let’s crack that whip! My  safety word is, “Don’t Stop!”

When reading about why solar panels are so cheap, you may have come across the phrase “economies of scale” which is a Greek way of saying that a con is tipping the scale. and that scale is tipping towards Asia, not here.

The real reason solar panels are so cheap is that Asia manufactures about 75% of all the solar panels on the whole planet and ships them worldwide, either that or else the pimps in Washington are doing a bang up job. Here’s some data.

Top 10 global solar panel manufacturers in 2013:

  1. Yingli (China) – 13 million solar panels
  2. Trina Solar (China) – 10 million solar panels
  3. Canadian Solar (China) – 8 million solar panels
  4. Sharp (Japan) – 8 million solar panels
  5. Jinko Solar (China) – 7 million solar panels
  6. First Solar (USA) – 7 million solar panels
  7. ReneSola (China) – 7 million solar panels
  8. Kyocera (Japan) – 5 million solar panels
  9. JA Solar (China) – 5 million solar panels
  10. Hanwha SolarOne (China) – 5 million solar panels

Source: IHS Research May 2013

In 2013 the Top Ten solar companies made:
07 million panels in U.S.A.
 68 million panels in Asia

U.S.A. Total World Market Share
45% in 1995,
03% in 2013.

Germany Total World Market Share
20% in 2000
04% in 2013

China & Taiwan Total World Market Share
02% in 2000
75% in 2013  source:

No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus

These Asian companies break pretty much every health, safety, environmental and wage law that exists. Asian currencies are peanuts to the dollar.
That’s the real reason solar panels are so cheap.

Six out 10 of the world’s biggest solar panel makers is Chinese owned.
.. http://www.greenworldinvestor.com/2015/05/11/china-increases-its-dominance-in-the-global-solar-industry-with-70-global-marketshare-in-solar-panels/


Renewable energy needs a HUGE mineral supply.
.. http://www.climatecentral.org/news/renewable-energy-needs-huge-mineral-supply-16682

China controls 90% of the world’s rare earth minerals.
.. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/rare-earth-mining-china-social-environmental-costs

A periodic table of elements the world  is running out of.
.. http://www.fastcoexist.com/3044467/a-periodic-table-of-elements-that-the-world-is-running-out-of

A periodic table of elements we don’t have substitutes for.
.. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/elemental-urgency-most-metals-have-inadequate-or-nonexistent-alternatives/

Here’s all the minerals & metals solar panels use. We need cheap phosphorus for our food, the easy-to-get-stuff is going fast.

40% Green Energy requires 200% more copper says Ars Technica.
.. http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/10/making-lots-of-renewable-energy-equipment-doesnt-boost-pollution/

Solar panels use a lot of aluminum,  1 gram per kilowatt hour.
.. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/renewable-energys-hidden-costs/

Peak copper hits 2030 – 2040 says Ugo Bardi.
.. http://energyskeptic.com/2013/ugo-bardis-the-universal-mining-machine/

There is no real substitute for copper says Motherboard.
.. http://motherboard.vice.com/en_ca/blog/there-are-no-substitutes-for-the-metals-in-your-smartphone

Post peak copper production cannot accelerate at any price says Dave Lowell. This is true of any post peak mineral production.
.. http://www.mining.com/web/peak-copper/

Here’s the dirty truth about solar energy.
.. http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-Dirty-Truth-About-Some-Clean-Energy.html

Prof. Jian Shuisheng of the Jiatong-University estimates the production of just 6 solar panels requires one ton of coal. This works out to about 660 lbs of coal per square yard of solar panel. This is because the silicon has to be baked at 2,000°F.

I know!!! Shocking right? Who’d a thought you’d need coal to make a solar panel? I always assumed some guy named Gepeto went to sleep at night whilst elves magically made them from fairy dust they collect in the ghetto each day.

Snakes, snails & puppy dog tails,
that’s what solar panels are made of.

You may have gotten the impression that solar & wind power run on the sun and the wind which are free. They don’t. Solar & wind power run on minerals mined in the deadly dark mines of Asia. The manufacture of solar panels lets off some of the most dangerous greenhouse gases known to humankind. These include:

hexafluoroethane – 12,000 times stronger than CO2

nitrogen trifluoride – 17,000 times stronger than C02

sulfur hexafluoride – 23,000 times stronger than C02

Solar manufacturing plants produce 500 tons of hazardous sludge each per year. This sludge is never included in the solar industry carbon footprint data.

Five kilograms of hydrogen chloride per square meter of solar panel is used to liquefy the metallic silicon. Silicon carbide is used to cut the silicon into wafers. Cadmium telluride panels ( thin-film technology ) utilize nanomaterials that pose a threat to the environment and workers during the manufacturing and recycling stage. They also wear out faster than ordinary panels.

Dust storms, humidity, haze, and even heat dramatically affect solar panel output. If you cover just one cell of a solar panel with your hand, the output of the whole panel drops 80%. Solar panels are very inefficient when dusty, you need a lot of water to keep them clean.

Solar panels lose 1% efficiency per year lasting some 25 years, after which they become toxic waste, containing things like cadmium and other heavy metals.

The expensive inverters fail every 5-10 years and must be replaced. While the cost of the silicon wafers are dropping, they only make up 20% of the installed costs.

The deep cycle batteries are expensive and need regular replacement.

An Excellent Rare Earth Primer By 60 Minutes

Wind Turbines

The manufacture of 5, one-megawatt, wind turbines produces 1 ton of radioactive residue. They also produce 75 tons of acidic waste water that is used to leech out the neodymium from the ore. Neodymium is a rare earth mineral. Rare earth minerals are not rare, they are just usually found in concentrations so low they are not worth extracting.

Neodymium is extracted from crushed rocks using sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. Then it is processed using solvents, heating and vacuum techniques that require plenty of coal power. Vast unregulated tailings ponds of poisonous water have destroyed whole villages in China.

There are 16 other rare elements. All with much the same story.

There is no replacement for neodymium. During its mining, metals such as arsenic, barium, copper, aluminum, lead and beryllium are released into the air and water, and are toxic to human health. Neodymium is only one of many rare-earth metals that our smart phones and green energy systems need.

Wind turbines only produce 25% of their rated power 90% of the time. Since nobody likes the sound of that, they prefer to say wind turbines produce their average power 40% of the time. Sounds way better doesn’t it? But, it still doesn’t tell you what that average power is, and believe me, it’s nowhere near what it says on the papers or box it shipped in. https://www.wind-watch.org/faq-output.php

Smithsonian Institute calculate wind turbine bird deaths.

Study on bat deaths due to turbines.

Wind turbine maintenance is only a matter of “when”, not “if”. Due to high demand many parts take a long time to replace. Issues include unbalanced blades, misalignment, shaft deflections, mechanical looseness, foundation weakness, gear damage, blade or tower vibrations, inadequate lubrication and leaks, etc… http://www.windsystemsmag.com/article/detail/53/maintenance

Pissing Into The Wind
by Rusty Bullets

Wind turbines do not work when there’s no wind and they don’t work when it’s too windy, only when everything’s just right, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get damaged in storms.

5 Wind Turbine Fails

Fail #1 is last. It’s the scariest thing I saw since Jaws. I couldn’t pee in a toilet for a week after that movie. If it gets too intense just scream, “Don’t Stop!” I’m pretty sure I’ll know what you mean.




8 thoughts on “50 Shades Of Solar Power

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