When I was a young teenager I read science magazines making future predictions about how wind and solar energies would replace all bulky power plants. I believed it then because I was naïve, but after studying physics in college I found the reality is quite different.
All of us are subject to the first law of thermodynamics stating that no energy can be destroyed, it only degrades to a lower, less useful state. Men can not create new energy despite the wishful thinking of our politicians. Only the sun is able to replenish energy on earth.
The true cost of “green energy” is typically misstated by the liberal press eager to push political agendas. For example, take battery operated automobiles. They are supposed to save energy and save you money. Quite the opposite is true. If you count all the energy consuming steps from the time fuel is brought to a power plant generating the electricity until the battery is finally charged, the total energy level consumed far exceeds the energy contained in equally energy-contained gasoline. According to a study* a typical mid-sized car can travel about 30 miles with one gallon of gas, while an electric car, using the same energy as one gallon of gasoline, could travel only 17 miles — tell that to Mr. Elon Musk. But then again I doubt that Mr. Musk wants to lose his billion dollars of federal and state subsidies and tax credits that keep him afloat. Who would not build himself an empire on the taxpayer’s expense?
One of the worst energy wastes occurs in batteries. Even the most efficient lithium batteries give back only 75 percent of the amount charged. So what happened with the other 25 percent? Well, it created heat. Sometimes so much of it that the battery burns, as the latest Samsung smartphone experienced.
One of the most expensive green energy schemes are wind turbines.
Here are some eye-popping statistics:
Cost to build power generating plants.**
Conventional gas fired: $1023 per KW
Wind powered: $2088 per KW
Solar cells: $3873 per KW
Operating cost to produce 1 KW hour**
From a gas powered plant: 6.2 cents
Wind turbine generated: 21.2 cents
Solar cells generated: 24.2 cents
One must realize that wind turbine manufacturers tout much less cost by not including maintenance and finance charges.
Looking at the above numbers one wonders why electric companies built such inefficient plants? The answer is these companies are coerced by local governments trying to please the beguiled constituents and, secondly, companies receive huge subsidies from the federal government amounting to $30 billion so far***.
Another way the public is misled is by misstating the generating capacity of wind turbines. Newspapers may announce that a proposed new facility will generate 100,000 KW to light 17,000 homes. One should realize this is rated capacity, which is only available if there is constant wind at say 35 miles per hour (if the wind blows above 50 miles per hour the turbine shuts down for safety reasons). Here the reality is that for onshore locations the wind only blows steady on average 20 percent of the time, making the actually generated power only 20,000 KW (1/5).
How about solar cells to generated electricity? Here again, besides the very high cost (see above table) the actual electric power generated is only a small fraction of what it is rated for (and what you are told it would do). On a sunny day the sun generates about 1,000 watts of equivalent electrical power per square meter. The best solar cells have an efficiency of 35 percent. That means, on a sunny day and if the sun is directly over head, one square meter could generate 350 watts per hour. Unfortunately, at dusk and dawn the sun power is reduced by about 50 percent. Finally, at night there is no sun power. Now let's add that up: 4 hours at 350 watts, 8 hours at 175 watts, and 12 hours of zero watts totals daily useful power of 2,800 watts (instead of the rated 8,400 watts), not counting cloudy days. There are also seasonal factors to consider. In any case you always need a powerful coal or gas fired power plant to keep your lights burning.
Too bad our Government salesmen don’t have to abide by the “truth in advertising” rules.
One final thought regarding global warming: Recently, 175 countries agreed to limit production of chemicals used in air conditioners. What a clever way to convert us. They are sure that when our air conditioners fail, due to lack of Freon, we all become believers in global warming.
*See: H. Baumann blog, “The Mystery of the green car,” March 20, 2015.
** Per U.S. Department of Energy.
*** Newsweek report.
Hans Baumann is a licensed engineer in four states and a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. He is an adviser to the dean of the University of New Hampshire Business School. Baumann has published manuals on valves and was a contributor to many works including the "Instrument Engineers' Handbook" and the "Control Valves Handbook." He has also published several books on business management and German history. His book "Hitler's Escape," suggests that Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide and survived World War II. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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