Social deterioration is occurring everywhere. The cause is power mongering by incompetent persons.
Carbon Free Energy
The Moral and Social Meaning
More and more, the term "carbon free" is being used to describe wind and solar power. Everyone knows that it takes energy to produce wind and solar. Is carbon free energy being used to produce carbon free energy? Not yet, of course, but maybe someday. Not if it takes more energy to produce wind and solar than they yield. In fact, not if the energy source does not yield 30-50 times more energy output than required for production.
Everyone knows that steel is smelted with coke derived from coal, which is not carbon free energy. Even if someday electricity is used to smelt steel, it won't be any time soon. What then is being gained before then?
The claim is that society is moving toward carbon free energy. It is not. The purpose here is to explain why society is not moving toward carbon free energy.
It takes more energy to produce a windmill than the windmill produces. If a windmill produced 10 times more energy than required to produce it, the social order would disintegrate from such an energy source. It takes something like 30-50 times more energy output than input by all sources of energy to sustain a complex society, because there has to be enough net energy output to sustain everything else that society does.
Realistic engineers have done detailed analysis showing that it takes more energy to produce a windmill than it yields. Greens do not believe a word of it, because they don't trust someone else's numbers. So engineers gave up trying to convince the greens, and greens get more and more unreal, day by day, in their claims.
Therefore, the purpose here is to avoid the numbers and explain the logic. Perhaps the pre-logic must be considered. It is the question of knowledge base. Greens do not have a knowledge base. They rely heavily upon energy bureaucrats who produce nothing but propaganda.
One of the most imposing facts of bureaucratic propaganda is that it never includes enough information to determine the basis for claims. Propaganda liquefies the page. Misrepresentations and irrelevancies are all that are produced. The purpose is to promote a cause rather than explain the basis for claims.
Logic shows why a valid analysis cannot yield the conclusions of the propagandists on carbon free energy. The entry point is to look at the amount of energy it takes to produce a windmill in terms of logic. Huge amounts of steel have to be smelted, not only for the windmill itself, but for the transmission lines, which are more expensive than the windmills.
Transmission lines lose 20-50% of the energy that goes through them. No engineer would build a transmission line of significant length that does not lose at least 20% of its energy, because more metal would be required. Twenty percent is the universal standard for give-or-take in electrical engineering. The major transmission lines lose closer to 50%, because high voltage is used (up to 5 million volts), where humidity and weather draw out energy diverting much of it to the ground. The alternating current is like a TV transmitter sending energy into space due to inductance in the metal.
A transmission line that gets 5% loss requires 4 times as much metal as one which gets 20% loss, when resistance is the only consideration. Four times as much metal means 4 times as many towers and 4 times as much land cleared beneath them. A lot of engineers would be tempted to go for 25 or 30% loss. Or maybe no lines at all, which is why there is a shortage of transmission lines in the USA. There is a lot more ground to cover in the USA than in most countries.
Windmills require more length for transmission lines than other types of energy do, because they have to be widely scattered. They require a lot of short runs nearby and very long transmission lines due to location limitations.
Besides smelting the steel, every iota of energy used by the workers in constructing and delivering energy goes into the amount of energy used to produce the energy. Every time the office secretary for the energy company turns on a light switch in her home, it is energy being used to produce the energy. It's energy that cannot be used for other social purposes. All of the gas going into the autos of the energy workers, on or off work, is energy required to produce the energy, which cannot be used for other social purposes.
Traditional energy sources yield 30-50 times more energy than they divert for energy production. To reduce this proportionality is to shift the economy toward energy production. If the proportion is reduced in half, then twice as much economic activity must be directed toward energy production. Greens say it is good to create jobs producing energy. Regardless, it takes twice as much energy to shift twice as much economic activity towards energy production. Using up energy to produce energy is a losing energy battle.
Shifting the economy to energy production or creating so-called green jobs producing energy results in less energy and economic activity for other purposes. In fact, the same is becoming true for all types of industrialization. Workers are not available for shifting the economy. There has to be less of something to shift the economy.
The so-called carbon free energy sources don't get close to meeting the needs of society for energy. An analyst recently said (The source disappeared.) an advanced photovoltaic cell will yield 8 times more energy than goes into its production. A modern society cannot function without more then 8 times as much energy output than input from its energy sources.
The 8 times output over input exists only for a photovoltaic cell in the laboratory. Putting it on a roof and using it results in less energy output than input. Engineers who used to calculate the numbers for such things gave up and left the numbers to propagandists who avoid essential details. For estimates, we can look at the economics as an indication of input to output.
No one will touch rooftop solar without taxpayer subsidies, which are around 30% of installation cost. On top of that, rooftop solar consumers expect the energy company to buy excess energy at the same price they sell it. No company can buy something at the same price it sells it and stay in business.
Solar is only relevant in the southwest of USA. It produces maximum output for about two hours per day and less output for a few more hours. About one third of such energy could be supplied by rooftop solar with two thirds coming from some other source. Battery storage will not be relevant in the foreseeable future.
One of the sad facts of renewables is that companies now get to charge customers anything they want due to absence of regulations and local competition. They produce energy at cost-plus. The more wasteful, the more money they make. After finding out how this works, energy companies decided they love green. The lower classes end up paying for expensive toys of the rich.
This is why windmills keep getting larger. The larger the windmills, the less efficient they become, and the more profitable they become for energy companies that get paid on a cost-plus basis.
Size reduces efficiency of windmills for two reasons: One is that the stand is the largest cost, and the proportion increases with size. (More than a hundred truckloads of concrete are needed.) The other reason is because tip speed is limited and cannot increase with size, which results in lower rpms (revolutions per minute) with increase in size. Low rpms reduce efficiency by requiring a larger diameter of motion for the same energy, which means longer blades and more weight.
Efficiency is a relative concept. Relative to what? Whatever is put in the denominator. Propagandists stick some irrelevancy in the denominator to promote fake efficiency. For the public, the denominator needs to be the cost per unit of energy. Larger windmills result in more cost per unit of energy output, yet windmills keep getting larger.
The truth is being demonstrated in Europe, where renewables were developed earlier and faster than in the US. The maximum renewables that an economy can withstand appears to be around 25% of total energy. When Germany and UK got that far, they had to revert to traditional energy sources. Germany is building 12 new coal plants, and UK is building a new nuclear plant. A few years ago, they were going to solve their energy problems with endless renewables. Realistic engineers told them it wasn't going to happen. Green bureaucrats had to waste a lot of resources to find out by trial and error.
With 25% renewables, the needy pay 40¢ per kwh for electricity, while coal costs 5¢ per kwh. Mercury can be removed from coal exhaust infinitely easier than renewables can be produced. When one fourth of the electricity is produced from renewables, the cost of electricity increases by a factor of 8.