While governments from Washington westward to California are forcing vaccinations on Americans whether they want the shots or not, don’t forget that policymakers want to do much the same with renewable energy. But renewables aren’t the unalloyed good we’re told they are. They have nasty downsides.
The forms of energy accepted by activists and politicians as “renewable” or “green” are restricted to wind and solar. While both are renewable (and are intermittent and therefore unreliable), neither is truly green. In this editorial, we will focus on solar, just to keep things short.
Solar power depends on photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight to electricity. Those panels, indispensable to the process, are where solar power’s green reputation breaks down.
To start with, solar panels have a lifespan of roughly 25 to 30 years, so at some point, they become trash. (For the record, powering the world with solar energy would require more than 51 billion panels, which would take up more than 115,000 square miles, a parcel of land larger than Arizona.)
There are nearly 1.5 million panels right now in the lower 48.) What do we do with them?
Solar panels are recyclable – technically. But “the process in which materials are separated can be tedious and requires advanced machinery,” says CED Greentech, which means energy will be burned to extract the components.
According to Joel S. Holmes, who has experience as an alternative energy engineer, and “had the misfortune to work with solar electric panels occasionally,” we should expect there to be “literally … mountains of” solar panels in the waste stream, which will create “mountains of toxins,” as solar panels are simply “toxic metals embedded in glass.”
Holmes also points out in The Lid blog that “the land on which they were placed is no longer suitable for agriculture. Or for people to live on.”
“Toxins from the solar panels,” he adds, “and the associated mechanical and electric equipment will have leached into the soil for 25 years. Thus, when more farmland is needed to grow food, the massive areas covered by solar panels are not a candidate.”
Solar energy’s green cred is actually ruined long before facilities are built and panels become trash. Again, here’s Holmes from The Lid.
Making a solar electric panel produces more CO2 than the panel will ever save.
And it’s also a sword of truth that solar electric panels are made in China. Made in factories using huge amounts of high heat in production. And these are powered by coal-fired electric generating plants.
Solar electric panels are basically created by fossil fuels. And as mentioned, their preparation produces more CO2 than they will ever save.
Scraping up raw materials for green energy is another dark corner politicians and activists avoid. For instance, mining for silver, indium, and the rare earths needed to make solar panels and other renewables-associated hardware “is dirty, ecologically destructive, and consumes significant amounts of hydrocarbon energy,” say Henry I. Miller and Andrew I. Fillat.
And then there’s the glass, steel, and concrete needed to build solar farms. They require about 15 times more of those materials than gas-powered plants.
We now live in a world where political enemies accuse each other of telling the “Big Lie” to make points. But we’re not sure that there’s a bigger lie out there than the one that says renewable energy is the path to a cleaner environment. It’s like Pinocchio with his pants on fire.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board