The Problem of Social Criticism and Renewable Energy
Social criticism gets more and more difficult, as the subject matter gets more and more unreal. Getting unreal is how criticism is evaded. The more unreal, the more impossible criticism becomes.
For this reason, social fantasies are going off the charts. A group of connected fantasies are being contrived around global warming, renewable energy, carbon free electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles and going to Mars.
To criticize such fantasies requires mowing down a lot of developed verbiage. Doing so is not allowed. All criticism must be superficial and trivial.
The problem is that the contrivers get by with it. Significant social criticism is not being allowed, while contrivers get more and more unreal.
The specific examples of how this works are very clear. Renewable energy is a contrived absurdity, as demonstrated in Europe, where Germany is building new coal plants, and England is building a new nuclear reactor, because their economies cannot survive more renewables. They have 25% renewables, while the price of their electricity is 8 to 10 times what it costs with coal.
For several years, engineers explained why the claims of renewable energy were unreal. The engineers were ignored, while the contriving expanded into the fantasy realm; and now the engineers gave up and are no longer heard from.
Here's a summary of the fantasized subjects: So-called renewable energy has a ratio of energy output to energy input of about 0.1 to 0.5. The first bit of evidence is that rationalizers talk about the wonders of a ratio greater than 1 to 1. Subtract the fantasized rationalizing, and the ratio has to be a lot less. Even if the ratio were 8 to 1, as claimed for a square inch of solar cells, renewables would be unusable, because the modern world requires about 30-50 times as much energy output as input.
In other words, there is at least 30 times as much of some other activity than producing energy in modern societies. If the ratio were 8 to 1, society would be totally transformed away from its present activities. Modern transportation and industrial production could not both exist with an energy output to input ratio of 8 to 1.
Here are some of the reasons why the ratio for renewables is closer to 0.1, meaning ten times as much energy must be used as yielded. Solar only produces high output for about four hours per day. A back-up system going on and off gains almost nothing from solar interruption for four hours. Start up and shut down takes up most of the four hours and requires increased complexities and expenses. This is true for rooftop solar as well as industrial solar. Solar never will be used, on any scale, anyplace in the US but the Southwest, where there is less overcast and bad weather.
Transmission lines are prohibitive for solar and wind power beyond home-owner devices. Energy facilities must be located at the edge of cities to eliminate long transmission lines. Not only are transmission lines more expensive than the sources of energy, they lose a large part of the energy.
For short lines, a minimum of 20% loss is built in; for longer lines it is 50%. The reason is because there is resistance in the metal which creates heat as a loss of energy. To reduce the resistance by half requires twice as much metal. To reduce loss from 20% to 10% would require two lines instead of one. To reduce long lines from 50% loss to 25% loss would require two long lines instead of one.
This is why there is a shortage of transmission lines in the US. The distances that must be covered are too large. It's a losing battle between energy loss and massive lines. It doesn't pay. Fantasizers, of course, omit transmission lines in their rationalizing.
Small windmills produce about a 1 to 1 ratio for energy output to energy input at the windmill. No society can function on a 1 to 1 ratio. Add the required transmission lines, and the ratio reduces to at least half as much for lines that are not extremely long.
Large windmills are less efficient for two major reasons. One is that the stand is the largest cost—often 90% of the cost. The larger the windmills, the larger the percent cost in the stand. The second reason is because tip velocities cannot be increased over about 200 miles per hour, which means the larger the circumference, the lower the rpms (revolutions per minute). Lower rpms means proportionately lower efficiency, because most of the wind, and its energy, goes between the blades unused. It's covering more space without gaining proportional energy. Yet windmills keep getting larger, because energy companies are getting paid by taxpayers and users on a cost-plus basis. The more wasteful the project, the more profit they make.
Supposedly, electric vehicles are going to run on carbon free energy. Why then have normal electric light bulbs been outlawed? Why aren't they using carbon free energy? Electricity is a convenience tool for appliances and demanding industries, not a substitute for crude energy uses such as transportation.
An electric vehicle requires about three times as much energy as a hydrocarbon vehicle due to inefficiencies in handling electricity. Autos and trucks run real well on natural gas, as some of them are doing. Why then use natural gas to generate electricity for electric automobiles?
Any time energy is touched, a large part is lost, and nowhere more so than in using electricity. An electric turbine will have about 40% efficiency, while a natural gas auto will have about 30% efficiency. But the electric system loses energy in many places. Transformers get 30-90% efficiency, and many are needed. High voltage transformers can get up to 90% efficiency when expensive designs are used, but low voltage (household level) transformers get 30-50% efficiency. Power lines lose 20-50% depending upon length. Applications of electricity (motors or brakes) get less than 40% efficiency.
It means electric autos would recover about 10% of the initial energy of natural gas, while burning natural gas in an engine would recover about 30% of the energy. It means electric autos are no way to conserve energy or remove CO2 from the air.
Self-driving vehicles will never happen. They are fantasized by/for 1.) engineers having fun, 2.) companies glorifying in altruism, and 3.) idiots who don't know any better. When the real engineers got the sensors developed and saw the programing contradictions, they got out. An invariable social phenomenon is that when rational persons get out, idiots take over.
Sensors have some limits, but when is enough enough? Perfect sensors could not solve the problems of self-driving, because the social complexities cannot be programmed into the computers. Not all of the quirks along the roads can be identified, because they change too much. The social situations cannot be resolved, because artificial intelligence will always be too distant in the future. Programming every identifiable factor on every road and intersection is beyond the time and space available, even without a thinking process.
Yet, the fantasizers pretend that self-driving already exists in Pittsburg and hesitantly in San Francisco. Self-driving means someone sitting at the wheel and taking over 20% of the time while following a predetermined path.
The Purpose of the Fantasizing
The purpose of the fantasizing is to monger power, and it is the reason why criticism is not allowed. Persons who want to get more out of life than they are worth resort to mongering power as a method of extracting what they cannot get through justifiable means.
The fantasies must be separate from objective reality, because rationality defeats them. The more unreal, the less exposure to rationality. Critics have to do a lot more spitting and chewing to counter more unreal fantasies. Overwhelming critics is the purpose, and it is the driving force for making fantasies less real.