Shock News : Solar Cells Are Far More Evil Than CO2

Posted: February 21, 2014 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Real Science

BERKELEY, Calif., June 4, 2012 – Solar cells do not offset greenhouse gases or curb fossil fuel use in the United States according to a new environmental book, Green Illusions (June 2012, University of Nebraska Press), written by University of California – Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner. ”

Green Illusions explains how the solar industry has grown to become one of the leading emitters of hexafluoroethane (C2F6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These three potent greenhouse gases, used by solar cell fabricators, make carbon dioxide (CO2) seem harmless. Hexafluoroethane has a global warming potential that is 12,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is 100 percent manufactured by humans, and survives 10,000 years once released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more virulent than CO2, and SF6, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, is over 23,000 times more threatening.

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Comments
  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    WOW! Berkeley is right up on things.

    We knew this before 1980. Terrestrial solar is not a positive thing for industrial levels of energy production. It didn’t work in 1976 when I worked in that field and it doesn’t work now. It is a poorer solution for environmental protection then a hydro dam and electrical generation. Wind farms and terrestrial solar are not a good solution for the problem of environmental protection or for major energy production.
    We have known this for at least 30 years. This effort is the second attempt by the Ecoloons to force these solutions on the western world. IT DOES NOT WORK! Scrap them! pg

  2. oldbrew says:

    That’s it then – we’re all doomed 😉

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    😆 No Oldbrew, not Doomed. Just, time to speak out and wise up the population.

    “You have been Conned”, Ecoloons are just that, LOONs. Everything they learned in college was a Liberal Progressive Lie! To the general population this blue sky was sold on wonderful pronouncements of a better new world. Now the COLD, DARK reality is hitting home to the man on the street and it will get worse! We need to hit home with “You have been conned” while things get worse, so that the general population grows to hate all “Social Democrat” ideals. The philosophy of Thomas Moore must be discredited for all time or they will be back. pg.

  4. DirkH says:

    p.g.sharrow says:
    February 21, 2014 at 9:08 am
    “WOW! Berkeley is right up on things.”

    Pretty amazing for Berkeley. How did they do this?

    “We knew this before 1980. Terrestrial solar is not a positive thing for industrial levels of energy production. It didn’t work in 1976 when I worked in that field and it doesn’t work now.”

    Well, of course I fully enjoy the prospect of the warmists’ heads exploding about this new Global Warming conundrum. OTOH – the cost of solar has dropped by 50% once each decade since the 70ies so it’s slowly becoming viable, due to continuous improvements in the production process. Depending on sun hours per year in a locality, and type of use. For instance, to drive an A/C; perfectly matched production profile.

    You’re right about the “industrial levels” for the moment though.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Dirk; actually you can direct drive air conditioning with flat plate thermosolar. Ammonia-water asorbsion system will work at hot water temperatures. 160 to 180 F degrees, Lithium bromide-water about 25F higher is a bit more difficult and generally needs gas fire. This has been done commercially since the 1950s.

    As to the drop in PV panel prices. The panels cost at present is artificially below the real cost of production and the makers are going out of business all over the world. Panel prices are very cheap for now. Energy management of PV as well as the cost of all the infrastructure and operation costs have not decreased and are the real deal breaker.

    Due to retail cost of electricity and the projected loss of dependability, I am planning a PV Solar energy system for my farm in self defense. If I do everything myself. About $40,000 to replace $800 a month to the local electric supplier. Management and cost of the battery backup is the main cost problem over the long term. pg

  6. tallbloke says:

    PG: Get US made or German made panels if you can. More recently made Chinese panels have been failing young…

  7. A C Osborn says:

    Where is the original article that this refers to?

  8. tchannon says:

    ACO, looked into it. No idea. Wait and see if it’s a glitch elsewhere.

  9. geran says:

    There is plenty of solar energy. The problem is the PV conversion efficiency. You are already fighting only about 6 hours of max sun per day, on a GOOD day. Then you have to convert via a PV cell. Bad idea.
    (Hint: A magnifying glass can melt lead.)

  10. tallbloke says:

    Geran: as an engineer I like the sun tracking 1.5m parabolic reflectors with the hot end of the 1kw free piston stirling engine at the focus more than pv. Pricey though.

  11. DirkH says:

    p.g.sharrow says:
    February 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm
    “As to the drop in PV panel prices. The panels cost at present is artificially below the real cost of production and the makers are going out of business all over the world.”

    I’m not talking about the big drop caused by overproduction since 2008. Look at long term trend since the 70ies. E.g. here.
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/16/smaller-cheaper-faster-does-moores-law-apply-to-solar-cells/
    (They are wrong, it’s not a Moore’s Law; Moore-type laws only apply to information technologies. But the exponential trend is real.)

  12. DirkH says:

    Oh, and…
    “Energy management of PV as well as the cost of all the infrastructure and operation costs have not decreased and are the real deal breaker. ”

    Quite wrong. For instance, in 2008 big quantities of highly pure silicon started to come on the market, driving down the price. Recently, a new process was developed that reduces the amount of Silane needed for surface refining.
    Sometimes you find news like these on innovationsreport.de . It’s all run of the mill process improvements and experience curve (economies of scale).

  13. DirkH says:

    geran says:
    February 21, 2014 at 10:59 pm
    “There is plenty of solar energy. The problem is the PV conversion efficiency. You are already fighting only about 6 hours of max sun per day, on a GOOD day. Then you have to convert via a PV cell. Bad idea.”

    Unijunction PV cells like we use now are principally limited at 33% efficiency mac. 20% achievable with silicon in practice at the moment. Max Planck Institute has a multijunction cell in the lab with 53% efficiency, current record holder. Not in the wild for now.

    Coming decades will see further price reductions / efficiency gains.

    I’m against ruining economies through subsidation of uneconomic systems; but I observe the technological trends.

  14. Wayne Job says:

    When all the subsidies for buying and installing are removed and feed in tarrifs are reduced
    to what the coal fired plants get or are abolished. It would be a long time to recoup the initial costs
    the panels and inverter would be long dead before cost recovery. Getting 12 hours of sun each day would be a different kettle of fish.

    Though I do not live in England I have it on good authority that some months in England you can count the sunshine hours on your hands without running out of fingers.

    In OZ we get sunshine, it costs 100 to 150 thousand dollars to have a fully off grid reliable solar system. No subsidies for off grid systems. Then there is the maintenance and of course a standby
    diesel generator.

    Bloody expensive.

  15. It is hilarious when people claim that this or that gas is thousands of times more effective than CO2 when it comes to trapping Infra Red radiation from the Earth’s surface.

    Let’s take a look at SF6 which has an atmospheric lifetime of over 3,000 years. If you think that sounds scary you will panic when you look at the absorption spectrum of the gas. Earth’s surface radiates in the “Thermal Infra Red” spectrum. Over 90% of the outgoing energy is radiated at wavelengths from 4 to 30 microns. SF6 strongly aborbs strongly over most of that range so one would expect SF6 to have a dramatic effect.

    In reality, SF6 has a negligible effect as water vapor already absorbed most of the radiation that SF6 might have absorbed. The same argument applies to all those other gasses that are supposed to be thousands of times more dangerous than CO2.

  16. Wayne Job,

    In England there was a “Feed In Tariff” for locally generated solar power of ~$0.72 per kVAh compared to the $0.10 per kVAh that I pay in Florida.

    Even in sunny Florida solar power makes no economic sense without some kind of subsidy even though we have capacity factors of up to 24%. The UK is at a much higher latitude so solar power capacity factors are 13% or less.
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/15/solar-power-in-florida/

    The UK feed in tariffs have been reduced to ~$0.11 per kVAh
    http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Getting-money-back/Feed-In-Tariffs-scheme-FITs/Energy-Performance-Certificates-and-the-Feed-in-Tariff

    Given the dramatic reduction in feed in tariffs, rooftop solar in the UK no longer makes any sense to the average citizen. As you can imagine, UK investments in rooftop solar have diminished!

    Now we need to find out how windmill power will fare when the UK removes the subsidies.

  17. J Martin says:

    53% or not, ultimtely solar has the same long term problem that wind has, inadequate energy storage. When someone invents an entirely new form of battery then perhaps solar may make some contribution in some parts of the world. Until then all it can really do is offset daytime airconditioning.

    Meanwhile in the UK solar PV is springing up all over the South of England, field after field is being covered in solar panels, as a drive down the A303 will confirm. Even though many of these are still in construction / have only just been built, they must have signed up to an earlier subsidy I assume as otherwise they are surely uneconomic.

  18. DirkH says:

    J Martin says:
    February 23, 2014 at 9:30 am
    “53% or not, ultimtely solar has the same long term problem that wind has, inadequate energy storage. When someone invents an entirely new form of battery then perhaps solar may make some contribution in some parts of the world.”

    Yes, and the storage will drive the price up, delaying break-even further.
    This technology already exists; instead of Lithium it uses Sodium, which is more available and cheaper, but heavier:
    big old battery big ole battery bob NaS Natrium-Schwefel
    http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-04/texas-town-turns-monster-battery-backup-power

    And this is an interesting project under development. Big, heavy, cheap:
    liquid metal battery
    Molten Metal battery – Magnesium und Antimon

  19. bwdave says:

    So, 23,000 X 0 = 0.