Renewable energy has become a cause. There is a lot of driving force behind it. Supposedly, survival depends upon the result. But what if the science, engineering and rationality of the subject are being flushed down the drain. How does survival benefit? It doesn't.
A disconnect from reality is occurring due to complexities which activist-journalists cannot evaluate. When they cannot understand the complexities, why do we need them telling us anything about it? Supposedly, a good cause just needs to be promoted, and everything takes care of itself. That certainly doesn't work with complex technology, and probably not politics either.
The entire analysis of such activist-journalism is projected into the future, which means the material is not descriptive but imaginative.
The claim is that solar energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2021. No technology can be cheaper than petroleum while petroleum is being pumped out of shallow wells, which will occur long past 2021.
A common claim is that solar is as cheap as coal at this time. A round-about line of logic is used. The cost of producing a solar cell is compared to the cost of generating electricity with coal. For solar, the extended costs are ignore, and for coal, the total costs are included.
The rationalistic logic emphasizes how cheap solar is by relating to the cost of producing solar cells on a square inch basis. Most of the cost is in other factors related to distribution, storage and backup systems. There is no number for such costs, which vary with circumstances.
The circumstantial costs are not getting cheaper, they are getting more expensive, because the easy and cheap results have already been produced. The yet-to-be installations are located where the solar radiation is less intense and the transmission lines get longer. These factors create irrelevance for the cost-per-square-inch of solar cells.
Of course, battery storage keeps getting cheaper, as always mentioned in the hype. But the word salad misses the fact that cheaper batteries means going from way too expensive to slightly less than way too expensive. Batteries will never be practical on a large scale because of the chemistry. Batteries will always take a lot of expensive chemicals and rare metals which take up a lot of space at so many dollars per cubic inch.
In other words, the projections into the future are nothing but exaggerated arrows with no relationship to the barriers that get more and more insurmountable. There is an impenetrable wall at about 15% solar and wind. In the U.S., solar and wind are now about 12%. In Germany, UK and Texas, the 15% barrier has already been hit. Germany is reverting to coal, UK is reverting to nuclear, and Texas is just sitting at 15%.
The reason why the 15% barrier exists is because electrical systems cannot tolerate more than 15% fluctuations, and backup systems are not perfect enough to remove fluctuations. Even a few seconds outside the level of tolerance can take down an energy system over a wide area.
The promotional hype ignores the insurmountable problems. Backup systems must be 100% for solar and wind. There is no place on planet earth where solar radiation is high intensity for more than 6 hours per day. In most places, it is a lot less. It means backup systems must replace solar infrastructure at least three fourths of the time.
The cost and clutter of transmission lines rapidly increases as the low hanging fruit gets used up. Long transmission lines cost more than all other expenses. Lines must get a lot longer when the only realistic locations for solar and wind are quite some distance from consumers.
Fossil fuels can be moved to a short distance from consumers, which shortens the length of transmission lines. Solar and wind must be a long distance from consumers, which makes transmission lines prohibitively expensive regardless of all other factors.
So rooftop solar is the imagined solution, but only in the southwest is the sunshine suitable, and no time in the foreseeable future will the average person find rooftop solar affordable or acceptablecertainly not by 2021. The batteries and external infrastructure are not economically practical at this time, and no significant improvement will occur any time soon.
An underlying assumption of promoters of renewable energy is that the any expense should be met, because the cause is so important. What they miss is that it takes energy to produce energy.
A lot of coal has to be converted into coke for smelting the metals which go into transmission lines. A lot of energy is needed for manufacturing cement by heating it to change the chemistry. It takes more than a hundred truck loads of concrete at the base of a large windmill. In other words, throwing money at the problem does not improve the energy situation.
Rationalizers are taking a square inch of solar cells and projecting the result as dollars per kilowatt through all energy infrastructure in all fifty states. They are leaving out too much. It's like saying a trip to Timbuktu only costs five dollars for wear on shoes.
The only thing renewable energy really consists of is imaginative projections into the future. The 1.2% solar and 11% wind are not rapidly increasing, and they haven't hit the 15% barrier yet.
A few places produce more than 15% wind power, but they are in high density areas where they can export into other grids, which buffers the fluctuations. And they use the electricity for special purposes such as ethanol production in Iowa. They have incentives for maximum push on renewables for indirect economic purposes and job creation. Such isolated examples require surroundings which absorb the inefficiencies, which means they cannot be replicated on a broad scale.
In other words, renewables are being used for demonstration purposes attempting to prove their worth, because they are supposed to expand into 100% carbon free energy and electric vehicles. The demonstration is like having someone jump over a garbage can to prove that humans can jump to the moon.
Why are the demonstrations so isolated? Because renewables are not practical anyplace else. Real technology doesn't require demonstrations and propaganda to prove its worth.
The engineering facts and laws of physics cannot be defied. Propagandists pretend that there are no such things with their fake numbers and values. The bigness and expense of their wantonness are supposed to prove the overwhelming value of their schemes, as if spending a thousand dollars on rollerskates were proof that rollerskates are going to replace automobiles.