Solar energy badly harms the environment. It must be taxed, not subsidised

From The Times of India

September 2, 2019, 10:12 am IST Sanjeev Sabhlok in Seeing the Invisible | India | TOI

The Modi government has been shovelling scarce taxpayer resources into solar energy, with a further $6.5 billion promised till 2022. This is over and above indirect subsidies that people pay through higher electricity bills because of renewable energy certificates. And while Donald Trump did the right thing by walking out of the Paris Agreement, Mr Modi unthinkingly remains committed to it and Niti Ayog has been touting subsidised electric vehicles.

Our party disagrees with this approach. First, because we oppose subsidies for any industry. But second, because we believe there is a strong case to impose Pigovian taxes on solar energy given the economic and environmental harm it causes.

Solar energy can do a few useful things. It can power a radio in an off-grid location. But it can’t support our day-to-day life.

The sun’s incoming energy is extremely dilute, requiring panels spread over vast swathes of land to absorb it, thus pushing out forests and harming biodiversity. The 648 MW Kamuthi solar plant in Tamil Nadu covers ten square kilometres. A tenth of that land would have been sufficient for a larger capacity nuclear facility.

A much bigger problem is that solar energy is only available when the sun shines. I installed a rooftop system last year. As expected, this system dies at night. But it is a complete joke during winter when it generates less than 10% of its capacity for days on end. It is simply not fit for purpose.

While the benefits to society of solar energy are close to non-existent, its costs are huge. Just by reading newspaper headlines you would never know. “Grid parity” and “cheap solar” has become part of the propaganda cleverly crafted by solar lobbyists and “researchers” to bilk taxpayers. Next time you read about cheap solar energy, insist on getting the full costs.

Rooftop solar is a massive drain. My rooftop system is a good example. Even after a taxpayer subsidy of $3,888 it cost me $10,730. And after a year’s use it has generated far less electricity than I was promised, so instead of a 6-year payback period it will now take 11 years – but only if I never spend any money to maintain it, the inverter never goes bad, the system somehow lasts 11 years and feed-in tariffs don’t reduce. Hard to think of a more effective way to burn money.

But what about large-scale solar projects which allegedly generate peak daytime electricity at a cost comparable with fossil fuels? Such claims are half-truths and hide much more than they disclose.

The only way to compare the costs of solar power with regular energy sources is to include all the costs of solar energy, including battery storage. And when that is done, solar turns out to be a deadly attack on the economy.

Batteries store almost no energy compared with regular fuels and this won’t get much better. Advances in battery technology are innately constrained by physical laws. In a March 2019 report, Manhattan Institute scholar Mark P. Mills showed that “$200,000 worth of Tesla batteries, which collectively weigh over 20,000 pounds, are needed to store the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil”. And that “the energy equivalent of the aviation fuel used by an aircraft flying to Asia would take $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft”. Imagine the ticket price for such a flight even if such a plane could take off.

Battery production processes consume vast amounts of energy, with “the energy equivalent of about 100 barrels of oil” required “to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store a single barrel of oil-equivalent energy”. And the natural resources needed for batteries are extremely scarce. A dramatic escalation of mining would be needed to build a solar grid with its own batteries.

But even then it would take a thousand years. “The annual output of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the world’s largest battery factory, stores [only] three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand”.

The idea of mass adoption of electric vehicles is a hallucination. EV batteries can hardly store any energy and need vast amounts of time to re-charge. And time is never free. These vehicles are not fit for purpose.

But don’t we get huge environmental benefits from solar? Not at all. Instead, solar energy is one of the worst enemies of the environment, even excluding the massive loss of natural habitat. Solar waste is extremely toxic. Michael Shellenberger has found that “solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants”.

Full article here.

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124 thoughts on “Solar energy badly harms the environment. It must be taxed, not subsidised

    • Yes India’s Trump.
      It is a sad commentary on the nonsense rhetoric spewed by a conservative. Wake up readers to Mr. Sabhloks status quo defence. His children and grandchildren will sadly endure the shame of his actions that did not secure their future.
      Manmade fossil fuel climate change is as undeniable as the sun itself.
      Don’t be fooled by partisan politics. This is a global issue and the words and deeds of misguided individuals impacts us all.

      • Kevin Wilson,
        Your statement is a sad commentary on your education.
        There is no man made climate change. Climate change is an ongoing natural process.

      • You didn’t read the article, did you? But I guess you don’t have to when you already know everything.

        But I will sum it up for you. WIND AND SOLAR DON’T WORK! And are toxic to boot.

      • Are you really shure that you don’t need therapy? Even if you cannot follow or understand arguments , just listen to
        “Don’t worry,- Be happy!”
        This may help!

  1. In the meantime the slums of Mumbai and the streets of Calcutta are rife with human flotsam. Seems to me to be near, if not outright, criminal.

  2. To put this in other terms, the amount of blighted land required for solar arrays, batteries and infrastructure to supply the power consumed by a typical single family home would be many times the amount of land occupied by that home. If you live in high density housing, the blight of your environmental footprint can be multiplied by a factor of many thousands.

    • Interesting comment. So how many planets would we need to support enough solar farms to power the population? As we keep being reminded we only have one planet

      tonyb

      • We could cover the Moon with solar panels, but the power lines would be difficult to string.
        We could “beam” down the energy via microwaves, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the receiver dishes and it would create havoc with the atmosphere above them.

          • Tesla was shut down by basic physics. It’s impossible to transmit electric power through the air with sufficient energy density so that usable power can be recovered on the receiving end. (Spend some time investigating the inverse square law.)

          • Mark, you forgot to add an important caveat, “without creating lightning bolts that are fun, but counterproductive”.

            It’s definitely possible. It’s just either too weak to be useful for much more than a light bulb over a hundred feet, or you are shooting purple lightning everywhere.

    • Uhh that’s totally incorrect. On Average of a larger home that’s 2,000 sq ft only requires 600 sq ft to fully power the home. Coupled with 20kwh in batteries you can completely offset 100% of the consumption of power in a small fraction of the size of the land.

      • 20 kWh of storage is about one day’s worth for a home in Canada that uses 600 kWh per month (and that’s not a 2000 sq ft home). Solar panels with even five times the home’s peak demand come nowhere near meeting the energy requirements from October to March. A home needs two to three MONTHS of storage to become independent of the grid. What might work in Arizona does not work everywhere.

      • Please give us all the numbers and pricing so we can fact-check your claim. Can you base it on a location near 40-50°N, so the numbers will be relevant for Canadians, and Northern US. Thanks.

        • I don’t about Edmund, but I’m at latitude 38 with an off-grid 12kW array (ground mount) feeding a 55 kWh AGM battery bank. It works just fine. We did change up a few things such as LED lighting everywhere, and heat based appliances are all on propane. Using electricity for heat is inefficient since grid electric is heat energy sourced. Capital wise is was comparable enough to a utility hookup – maybe a few $1k more. Our utility is the world infamous PG&E so thinking we dodged a major bullet not being dependent on them anyway. Solar isn’t for everyone everywhere such as Canada, but can be quite useful in the right circumstances. It isn’t a good solution for industrial power demand at all. For residential it has application in the right latitudes.

          Sanjeev got a little too hyperbolic in his blog so left me grimacing at times. His attitude was obvious so I’m doubting his objectivity, frankly.

          • You got to look at it from his POV, abject poverty almost everywhere and the govt is subsidizing luxury cars. Or here in the west, people living in boxes, begging on the street, hardly any help for their drug or mental issues or families struggling to make ends meet even with 2 jobs and govt handouts, yet the politicians crowing and competing to place the highest carbon taxes and subsidies.

          • So anything that requires heat runs on natural gas in your “solar” house. That likely means cooking range, water heater, house furnace and fireplace all running from ng/propane? Which means you are using solar for computers and lighting and refrigerators and similar. Unsure What happens in your example for well pump and a/c. However I’m guessing that no matter what you would need some kind of generator at night and in case of extensive cloudy periods. I would put in a propane-based 10kwh-minimum generator. That set up makes sense to me, but what is your break-even point? Even with subsidies it’s hard to see break-even in a decade, 30 years more likely, for what is at best 1/3 of you overall energy requirements.

        • Let’s not make it too hard on him, y’all. That white junk that falls from the sky on you ruins the calculation in any case.

          Prove it for Houston. Please note that you don’t just have to last through the night, but a 3 day rainy spell. Plus, air conditioning. Minimum consumption, 1,000 kwh/month. That’s actually rather low.

          Go on. If it’s your livelihood, sell us.

      • Edmund,

        I get that you must proselytize your business to get people to buy your product, but you’re not fooling me. Sure, 600 ft^2 of solar (about 10KW name plate @ $35K before batteries and subsidies) may work for some people in the peak of the summer as long as they’re rarely at home, live in a Southern latitude, have no AC, no electric heat, dryer, range or oven, no computers running 24/7, no EV’s to charge, prefer to live in a cold, dark home for the rest of the year and have a desire to spend about $50K to signal their virtue and then get rewarded with tax dollars that could be spent better elsewhere.

        You must realize that without subsidies, you wouldn’t have a sustainable business. You should prepare, since it’s absolutely certain that the subsidies will disappear whether or not the scientific truth about the relationship between CO2 and the climate rises into the public consciousness.

        I for one, have no desire to pay more to sacrifice my energy consumption and standard of living for virtue signaling purposes, especially when the scientific justification for the ’cause’ is so incredibly wrong it’s an embarrassment to the scientific method. I’ve done the math and even with the subsidies, there’s no long term savings, so what’s the point unless you can’t connect to the grid. Owing to the instability it can cause, solar should not be allowed to connect to the grid anyway.

  3. Don’t confuse me with facts. I can’t handle them. Just take my money, make my decisions for me, keep me codependent, and promise me it will be all right.

  4. This is the best for purpose criticism of solar energy I have ever read. To the point and accurate. Coming from a country that is on the cusp of providing life giving energy to their people to grow and prosper it is very telling.

    • I agree. This article is a very good summary of the problems solar panel energy poses.

      If someone thinks CO2 is a problem, there is a solution for them: Nuclear energy. Solar and Windmills cannot do what the alarmists want them to do. They do much more harm than good as the article describes.

      • Ignore Einestines equal& opposites reactions noble .it produces the speed of light wobbles then infinite values in your websters dictionary. That is from free wind or water currents that are x 1000 .
        Unless you hire a scientist puppet to change phyics .like 1919 betz limits falsehoods.

      • Dan

        this article is full of bad information, you have no clue what you’re talking about

        You have made the charge, now please justify your claim with real worldwide numbers. And a real argument. Not accusations.

  5. The Times of India brings forth a slice of ancient Indian Wisdom to combat the pseudo-religion of Climate Change. India is making great strides in raising its population out of poverty and the strides would be even bigger without the dead weight of ‘renewable’ energy hanging around its treasury.

  6. In Canada various governments take in about $24 billion a year from taxes on gasoline and diesel.

    If we get rid of fossil fuels what replaces that money?

    Taxes on electricity.

    • Joe says: “Taxes on electricity.”

      Studies are underway to determine how best to tax EVs. Likely by the miles driven.
      Maybe include weight and tire size.
      As the demand for electricity increases the cost ought to go up. However, increasing tax on electricity that is used for non-transport things cannot be justified.
      That is not to say tax will not be applied — only that it should not be.

      • In less than five year’s time, your car, whether an EV or otherwise, will do several things on its own although driving itself is not likely to be one of those things.

        First, if you exceed the speed limit by a set amount, an amount likely to be less than the traditional 7-9 mph excess that police now routinely ignore, your car will send you an email informing you that it has written a speeding ticket and sent it to the local authority to be included in your driving record.

        Second, your car will routinely compute the miles driven on various highways and calculate the tax owed on a per mile basis on each road, whether interstate, state, county or township, and will email you a notice of tax owed to each road’s taxing authority.

        Third, to relieve you of the burden of having to keep track of, and pay, each of the above amounts, whether penalties or taxes, your car will deduct from the bank account linked to your car the amount owed and will forward it to the proper recipient along with a 2% transaction fee collected by the car company for providing you this “hands-free” experience.

        Fourth, oh, there will be a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth…

        • Can’t happen if you stay away from these new generation computer controlled vehicles. My 06 Toyota Matrix (180,000 miles) and 09 f-150 (70,000 miles) should suffice for the remainder of my life. Government is sneaky though—the infamous “junker” trade in program of several years back was designed to take as many perfectly serviceable, but non complaint, vehicles off the road as possible.

        • Rod,

          As to your first point, I doubt your car ‘writing you a speeding ticket’ will occur. A piece of silicon is deciding you are guilty, something many states in the US have already outlawed. (Camera radar, anyone?)

          As to your third point, tied in with your first, is whatever happened to due process? Your fines cannot be automatically assessed without the accused having an opportunity to address the accusation(s) in court.

          However, it doesn’t mean your car can’t give you an electric shock every time you go some amount over the speed limit…..

        • And I would spend $30k plus for a car that automatically tells the cops if I went over the speed limit? I don’t think so. What would be my incentive in buying span expensive car that is supposedly fun to drive, but can’t be driven in any fun way without getting a ticket. Yeah, I’m sure people will be standing in line to buy a car like that! You know these industries (energy, vehicle manufacturers) employ millions of people and are a very strong driver of the economy. Why would we want to destroy our own economies on purpose? I can’t believe when all is said and done we would be that insane as a country. Meanwhile, the Russians, Chinese and Indians probably can’t believe their luck with how much of our population and our leaders are so incredibly clueless and shortsighted.

    • That’s why “peak Oil” projected during 1990’s for hitting around 2005-2010 was going to be such a gold mine for the Renewable Energy Green Slime. They invested heavily, but that Peak never came. Now oil is as cheap as its been since 1972 on an inflation adjusted value, with the world awash in excess oil and natural gas, and producers trying to cut back to stop a further slide.

      So now the Green Slime is funding the biggest science and economic fraud (called Climate Change) in human history to try and still their gold mine it happen. Problem is the socialists-Marxists have joined their little “get richer” party. That’s a poison pill for their scheme.

  7. Can solar and wind run the energy needs of our modern economy? No, it can’t. But can solar provide enough energy for most residential applications? Sure lights, small appliances even toasters and hair driers can be powered. Air conditioning? No. Clothes driers, hot water heaters & central heat? Those need combustion of one sort or another.

    Besides that, the solar electricity is more expensive and requires regular maintenance. People who choose it need to understand that up front.

    Are there any advantages besides virtue signaling? No power outages during storms. Communities that go solar would get rid of telephone poles provided land line phones are done away with and that seems to be happening anyway.

    So that leaves charging your electric car and air conditioning.

    • Ehrr … No. Some of that’s correct Steve. But a lot of it is backwards. In climates without hard freezes — which is where most of humanity lives — solar hot water works quite well and is often cost effective. That’s because water heating captures and uses a lot of energy that is lost in solar PV which captures only about 20% of the available energy. And in hot arid climates like California’s Central Valley, one can drive the air conditioning directly from the panels without an expensive and temperamental battery. Really hot days are likely to be clear in those climates. Anthony Watts has a setup like that although I’m not sure he’s ever told us how well it worked out. Solar for air conditioning won’t work so well in areas that are humid and uncomfortably hot at night or on cloudy days.

      FWIW, solar energy at the equator is roughly 1kw/square meter/hr. At noon. On a sunny day, At 20% conversion efficiency, that’ll be perhaps 400 watt hours per square meter of panel area per day. Even a small house will likely have 30 square meters of roof = 12kw/hr. Probably enough for lighting, entertainment and refrigeration Use a few of those square meters for hot water and you’ve got maybe 10kwh of electricity and adequate hot water on a daily basis . Not bad actually. Especially in rural areas in developing countries with limited, expensive, and not very reliable grid power. But it doesn’t work so well in cities, cold climates, or at higher latitudes. And you’re unlikely ever to comfortably support a typical North American/European house plus an electric car or two with your own personal rooftop solar facility unless your house roof area is huge.

      A typical American household consumes, on average, about 30 kwhr per day. That’s dropping a bit nowadays thanks to more efficient lighting, refrigeration, etc. But it’s an awful lot to expect from solar.

      Recommended reading from a guy who can actually do arithmetic and tries to use solar power in daily life. https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/ Well worth reading. Especially his opinions on batteries which are decidedly … ahem … unflattering.

    • Steve

      We used to live in a rural location where several times we had power cuts so we bought a small petrol generator as we pumped water from a well.

      It was extremely noticeable how even boiling a kettle made the generator struggle. Add in lights and it would cut out. A toaster made it struggle

      it could not have coped with an electric oven or central heating or boiling more than a kettle of water.

      I think people fail to realise how much power the modern home needs. Add in that solar is most effective in high summer in the hours around noon and powering a house through a long cold winters night illustrates the shortcomings.

      How much battery power would be needed to store power overnight for a domestic house? How much would it cost and what physical area the battery would take up perhsps others here know?

      tonyb

      • Depending on on your house and country, your house probably consume 1kW.
        You may have 8 hours of effectively running off solar and to charge batteries, if there is surplus enough from solar. That leaves 16 hours battery discharge at 1kW.
        Your battery drain over night would thus be 16kWh. You would not like to drain the batteries more than 50%. Therefore your batteries need to be the very least 32kWh.
        In real life it would far from do it. You have to add power loss in batteries, inverters, etc. You also have to hope for sunny days every day, or you have to install super overkill sized solar panel system.
        Electric solar panels are useful for camping, sailboats, motor homes and remote installations away from the public grid.

        • I’m sorry Carl, but you are sadly mistaken. I have a residential roof top solar system, grid tied with NO batteries. My backup IS the power grid. What does this do for me? My system produces the equivalent of about 60-70% of my total monthly power consumption. I have power 24hrs a day, with no restrictions because like I said, my backup IS the grid. When my solar system is not producing, I consume from the grid, when it is producing, I supply power back to the grid (any excess I don’t use myself of course). If everyone had a system similar to mine on their rooftop (no extra land required), we could effectively reduce EVERYONES power consumption by 60-70% or even more (I’m working on improvements on my system to get it to 100% of production soon). I think anyone would agree, reducing the entire world’s power consumption by 60-70% without having to sacrifice ANY modern world conveniences would greatly help our environment, don’t you think?? But of course, the fossil fuel industry would not want that kind of knowledge to be widespread. Those are the facts on solar, folks. (in the U.S. we call that a MIC DROP moment:)

          • Dan, what you say may be true about your grid tied system, but I hope you realize that when the grid goes down for whatever reason, so does your grid tied solar array. That is unless you have a disconnect switch (breaker) to isolate your system from the grid. Then you will have power while the sun shines, but not at night. I’ve seen the Texas grid stay down in areas for as much as 10 days (ice storm). Having power only when the sun shines and it is well below freezing is not a big selling point. Some claim that a major solar pulse, or a bomb generated electromagnetic burst could kill the grid for a real long time. Like I said, all’s well while the sun shines.

          • Well I dont know where you’re at, but I’m in Florida and our grid works about 99.99% of the time. Except when we have a hurricane or really bad storms, our grid works all the time. For the spuratic and UNUSUAL time we do have an outage, there are backup generators. Even during the last category 3 hurricane we only lost power for about 6 hours, during a major hurricane.
            So for the .01% of the time our grid is down, would I not cover 70% of my power bill the 99.99% our grid is working? That doesn’t make sense to me.

          • Dan,
            It’s a big world. When you say, “reducing EVERYONES consumption by 60-70% or even more…”, I think you are living in a very small world. Urban dwellers? Are you just referencing the power used in a home vs the power to make the home and the things in it?

            So everyone in the world lives in a suburban home with roofs and panels large enough to support their energy use, except when it is cloudy or at night. Then what? Those same people, all of them according to you, then get to pay for the spinning reserves that are on standby. The cost? Astronomical. The waste of resources? Absurd.

            Many people are living with the luxury of subsidies for solar and the bonus of having net metering. Good to about 20% penetration but after that it becomes uneconomical. Not everyone can use the gird as an energy bank. Enjoy what you have but please don’t pretend this works on a global scale.

          • “…If everyone had a system similar to mine on their rooftop (no extra land required), we could effectively reduce EVERYONES power consumption by 60-70% or even more…”

            Power consumption would stay the same. You would be reducing the reliance on public utility power. That’s not the same thing.

            “…I think anyone would agree, reducing the entire world’s power consumption by 60-70% without having to sacrifice ANY modern world conveniences would greatly help our environment, don’t you think??…”

            There you go again. You would not be reducing power consumption. And it was not free for you to install solar. You sacrificed conveniences to make that happen. In subsequent posts, you say that you live in FL, where solar energy is abundant. 60-70% of the world’s power can’t be run on solar.

            “…But of course, the fossil fuel industry would not want that kind of knowledge to be widespread. Those are the facts on solar, folks. (in the U.S. we call that a MIC DROP moment:)…”

            Pic the mic back up. Knowledge? You got simple “facts” totally wrong.

          • Dan, most of the world lives a fair bit further away from the equator compared to Florida.
            This drastically reduces the amount of solar energy available.

          • “…Well I dont know where you’re at, but I’m in Florida and our grid works about 99.99% of the time. Except when we have a hurricane or really bad storms, our grid works all the time. For the spuratic and UNUSUAL time we do have an outage, there are backup generators. Even during the last category 3 hurricane we only lost power for about 6 hours, during a major hurricane…”

            It works about 99.99% of the time thanks to FOSSIL FUELS.

            As a FL resident, surely you know about the BlueChip Energy failure that left homeowners with $20k-40k+ solar roofs that had counterfeit ULs seals and were potentially unsafe and unusable? And even those that did work…how long would they last, and how would they be replaced with the manufacturer gone? Furthermore, it appeared that those buyers were on the hook for $1.8M in stimulus money BlueChip had received. But of course, the solar power industry would not want that kind of knowledge to be widespread, lol.

            As for the rest…I know people after Charley who didn’t have power for 3 weeks in Charlotte Co. Irma knocked mine out for a week in Manatee Co (went out the day before the storm made landfall), and I know others who were out 2 weeks in Sarasota – areas not hit hard at all. 6 hours in a Cat 3? That’s called luck. I lost power for 3 hrs one evening last month in a brief squall. Irma made swiss cheese of powerlines across the state. Either you don’t live in FL, don’t want to admit that the fantasyland you are painting isn’t real, or are very, very ignorant.

          • Dan says:
            My backup IS the power grid. What does this do for me? My system produces the equivalent of about 60-70% of my total monthly power consumption. I have power 24hrs a day, with no restrictions because like I said, my backup IS the grid.

            Then you’ve wasted alot of money (money many could not afford, let alone waste). Simpler & much less costly just to go w/the grid. Buy a backup generator if your grid isn’t reliable enough for your satisfaction.

          • My backup IS the power grid. What does this do for me? My system produces the equivalent of about 60-70% of my total monthly power consumption. I have power 24hrs a day, with no restrictions because like I said, my backup IS the grid. When my solar system is not producing, I consume from the grid, when it is producing, I supply power back to the grid

            I suggest you search up “California Duck Curve” to see the issues that this causes when residential solar is deployed en masse.

            Plus you having a grid tie “battery” means you pay less than your fair share for grid maintenance, since grids must be resourced for MAXIMUM requirements as opposed to the AVERAGE usage that solar proponents like to discuss.

            Your thinking is typically simplistic in assessing the merits of solar as you do not appreciate how its characteristics affect grid operations.

      • How much battery power would be needed to store power overnight for a domestic house?

        I think people fail to realise how much power the modern home needs. Add in that solar is most effective in high summer in the hours around noon and powering a house through a long cold winters night illustrates the shortcomings.

        Great question, ……. but the touting and/or complaining about the unsurmountable problem(s) of trying to “power” a modern house or home via the use of “solar panels” on-site or on-grid …… will have very little effect on the general population, …. simply because most everyone is thinking “It won’t happen to me or mine”.

        Anyway, ….. forget about “solar” powering houses and homes ……..and start talking about “solar” powering “clusters” of 10s to 100s of homes, ….. apartment complexes, high-rise apartment buildings, condominiums, etc.

        Just how big of a solar panel array would it require just to “power” one (1) New York City apartment building? How big of a solar panel array to power 796,630?

        How many apartment buildings are there in NYC (exclude condo / co-ops)?

        According to the “The New York Property Tax FY 2012 Annual Report”, there are 53,378 4-10 unit apartment buildings citywide with 283,425 residential units and 23,849 apartment buildings with 11+ units that have 990,949 residential units. There are also 711,489 residential units just in 2-and-3-unit homes citywide. In Manhattan, there are 10,105 11+ unit apartment buildings with 395,341 units and 7,914 4-10 residential unit buildings with 52,017 units (Source: nyc.gov).
        https://www.quora.com/How-many-apartment-buildings-are-there-in-NYC-exclude-condo-co-ops

        53,378 + 23,849 + 711,489 + 10,105 + 7,914 = 796,630‬ multi-family apartment buildings in NYC.

        • Years ago, the ‘90s maybe I toured such a solar house in Door County, WI (45deg N) The owner heated with wood, had a gas stove & drier. No air conditioning and a conventional car. It was off the grid and at that time we were told that the auxiliary generator had never been used.

          Ever since then I’ve been of the opinion that it can be done but it’s more expensive.

          • With solar panel(s) charging a bank of 12V car batteries ….. and with 12V DC wiring for lights and a few RV appliances …… ya could have all the comforts of home.

            And iffen you have a gas stove ….. you can also have gas lights and gas refrigerator.

        • To completely power NY city, Industrial, Domestic and Commercial, AND to electrify all Transportation allowing for recharging, AND to allow for daytime battery backup recharging from Solar would require covering an area the size of the state of Connecticut with solar panels.

    • Of course Solar can run an air conditioner. Where are you getting your information from? If you’re solar only and utilizing a Net Metering agreement you don’t require batteries. You can offset 100% of the total energy you use from the Utility. I’ve installed 100’s of systems and analyzed real before and after numbers to calculate real world ROI’s and metrics. This article is proponent that climate change isn’t real, written by someone that’s not a scientist claiming things that are not accurate. This article is Swiss cheese and easy to counter argue on many levels. Also it agrees with Donald Trump walking out on the Paris Agreement as a good move. Guys if you think you know it all then that’s what you are a know it all, following that train of thought shows a lack of empathy for future generations that are gonna be stuck with our current decisions and views on these issues.

      • Edmund @ 4:45

        You’re either on the grid or you’re not. And if you’re on the grid because your system can’t run all of your appliances then you’re just virtue signaling.

        • Not “virtue signaling” but more like CYA’ing to protect his vested intere$t, as per his claim of ….. “I’ve installed 100’s of systems and ……..

      • I’ve installed 100’s of systems

        I understand defending your business, but then the virtue-signalling about “empathy for future generations that are gonna be stuck with our current decisions and views on these issues.” gives away your regressive eco-lunacy & destroys your credibility.

    • I absolutely hate when someone bash something without giving solutions or give any constructive comments.
      Reduce energy consumption is the way to go. Not mentioned here.
      For sure comparing renewable energy to fossil fuels do not make sense in the energy cost /density.
      Instead make home that need no or minimal ac heating.
      Technology exist for that….

      • Just use fossil fuels + hydro + nuclear (where it is not subsidised). CO2 is NOT a “problem”, so use the cheapest sources first.

  8. The best answer is the Thorium mox reactor in Norway. It uses a conventional LWR the Hadley reactor currently and utilizes fuel rods that use Thorium and Plutonium pellets. Essentially it looks like any nuclear waste will supply the neutrons needed to make Thorium fizz. This type of reactor will use up all our nuclear waste over time. Thor Energy

    The only problem being it gives us nearly unlimited energy potential and we could continue to live normal lives and have freedom. Therefore it will never be allowed to go mainstrean.

    • Plutonium? Which would mean reprocessing spent fuel. HEU and Thorium seems to me to be the way to go and keep the non-proliferationists from getting crazy about Pu.

      • We already have spent uranium rods and Plutonium. This process helps us use it up and get rid of a lot of waste. It would be for countries that already have the ability to make a bomb. It is extremely interesting stuff deserving it’s own article and discussion.

  9. The only way to compare costs of solar versus other sources is to ask for bids for the supply of say 300 MW for 99.5% of the time.

    • That is spot on. Otherwise the solar (and wind) companies skim off the cream and let the consumer pay the extra costs.

      JF

    • Carmicael Graig

      More Koch Brothers funded BS.

      Easy to say. Easy slur.
      Now, prove it. How much money at what times? You made the slur, now prove it.

      By the way, how many government-paid lawyers and government-paid self-called scientific climastrologists can you buy for 92 billion dollars of “climate change research” that was actually spent?

  10. ” The 648 MW Kamuthi solar plant in Tamil Nadu covers ten square kilometres. A tenth of that land would have been sufficient for a larger capacity nuclear facility.”

    While supplying 3X to 4X as electricity 24/7 (> 90% capacity factor) , unlike intermittent unreliable Solar PV with a capacity factor of about 25%.

  11. “But what about large-scale solar projects which allegedly generate peak daytime electricity at a cost comparable with fossil fuels? Such claims are half-truths and hide much more than they disclose.”
    ________________________________________________________

    Good question.

    At “peak daytime” generating electricity, when workers have their meal in the break room and the staff in the canteen.

    Electronic devices at standby, every 2nd machine manned – or 1 man responsible for 2 machines.

    Good question 2.

  12. OTOH: Germany went full renewable, solar + Windelecs.

    The problem with Germany:

    Now they haven’t the money for broadband speed –

    https://www.google.com/search?q=germany+lacks+broadband+speed&oq=germany+lacks+broadband+speed+&aqs=chrome.

    while the Arctic region constructs new digital highways on broadband:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=broadband+supply+arctic+region&oq=broadband+supply+arctic+region+&aqs=chrome.

    And German’s windparks in the North Sea have no connection to the power grid to the south where the German industry is concentrated:

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-offshore-wind-offensive-plagued-by-problems-a-852728.html
    _________________________________________________________

    There’s an old saying by Till Eulenspiegel: the German carry light in coal bags into their churches.

    God save the coal bags.

  13. The land used for solar panels in India is very often arid desert… it is not cropland. There are also many panels installed over irrigation canals (which also helps water loss from evaporation).

    a particular point about rural electrical use in India is that it is used in pumping water for irrigation, which of course creates demand during daylight hours.

    I do not have the figures to hand, but I believe on average India has 300 days a year excellent for solar power.

    (I am puzzled as to the authors note about panels dropping output in winter – are they not in India)

    In short this article is entirely misleading and devoid of accurate information. does nobody fact check these articles?

    • a particular point about rural electrical use in India is that it is used in pumping water for irrigation, which of course creates demand during daylight hours

      Which proves two things about Solar.
      It can be an optimal power source where
      1) Grid sourced power is unavailable (off Grid)
      2) Demand is time specific and night time demand is nonexistent (or overtly large back up batteries are installed and sufficient additional solar panels are installed for recharging.)

      • Bryan, if you read my other comments you will see that I have a residential rooftop solar system, grid tied, NO batteries. I currently produce 60-70% of my total monthly consumption with only half of my roof occupied by panels (no extra land needed) I am currently working on improvements to my system to get it to 100% production of what I consume, which is very achievable. If I was to cover ALL of my roof with panels, I would probably produce around 120-130% of my power consumption (yes, I would produce MORE then I use). I have absolutely NO restrictions, since the grid is my backup. So I have power 24hrs a day, rain or shine.

        So in summary, I DO NOT need huge amounts of battery storage, and I DO NOT have night time restrictions, or restrictions of ANY KIND. Those are the facts about real world solar applications which would GREATLY improve our climate, not to mention save us a lot of money in power bills

        • I’ve looked into it myself.
          With my current electric needs I would require a system that would require a separate structure with foundation for structural support. the system would wind up costing me around $80,000 to put in place. It would take around 35 years to recoup the cost with no added maintenance or replacement costs. I am 57 now and would be 92 by the tine the system reached the break even point presuming no costly fires like Walmart or like the Tubbs Fire in Northern Ca.
          If I require the Grid for back up, I’ll just stick with the grid for 100% and not worry about the costly weather dependent unreliables.

          • Bryan, if you are located in the US and have access to the grid now, there are many options for you. First off it sounds like when you are quoting $80,000 for a system, you are referring to a system that will provide you with 100% off the grid operation with full battery backup. That’s why it is so expensive. When you have grid access you dont need the extra expense and maintenance of a battery backup, I don’t have any batteries and mine works great. You can make your system as big or as small as you like. You can make it cut your utility bill by 50%, 60%,80%, as much as you want to spend. Also, there is a government credit available of 30% on the TOTAL COST of your system, I believe that ends at the end of this year. There’s no need to limit yourself to 100% off-grid production or nothing at all.

          • If the point is to eliminate fossil sourced electricity, and the grid is sourced by fossil generation, then the grid cannot be utilized without being hypocritical
            The cost of my system would include an engineered support structure with concrete foundation or a complete rebuilding/restructuring of my roof. For my daughter’s health reasons we can’t allow our inside temperature to get above 73f or she exhibits heat stress issues

        • Dan, you make a big error in your thinking regarding the true use of solar power and its flaws. the flaws still persist in your scenario. In case of clouds and night time you still need another source of power. Your panels are making power more expensive for those who do not have panels and the more people flip to your side the more expensive it gets. You might produce more then 100% of what u use, but you also use power that is not coming from your panels.

          The money you save comes from the increased costs due to renawable energy. If we did not build any windmill or use solar panels we would have ALL saved money on our bills.

          • Jeroen, I don’t know about where you’re located, but no one’s power in the US has gone up in cost due to people using solar power. The fact is my power bill has gone down by around 70%. And I have NO LIMITATIONS. Weather or otherwise. When it is sunny, my panels produce power. When it is cloudy, I use power from the grid, and it is made up for when it is sunny again. You don’t need sun all the time to have power. That’s what many don’t understand. Like Trump believes, if there’s no wind you can’t turn on the television. That is a totally uneducated way of understanding renewable energy sources.
            And if solar is so bad, why is our local power company building solar farms to sell power to its customers?? I think NOT

        • Dan,
          I have read much of your propaganda regarding your solar system.

          Exactly how do solar panels “GREATLY” improve our climate? Forget about the arrogance of claiming that the climate will be “improved” with solar panels, which is nonsense, but how do solar panels make “GREAT” change, improvement or otherwise to the climate?

          You have designed a good system in that you exploit your neighbors and the utility company to subsidize your energy requirements. so how does that work out if more and more people, and by that, I’m referring to people who can afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to generate their own electricity do so? For every wealthy person who can afford to lose the opportunity costs of a 20 year payback (assuming nothing changes and the equipment never fails or degrades in any way), how many poor, fixed and middle income people are going to have higher taxes and individual utility bills to subsidize the wealthy?

          I notice that you have conveniently discarded the environmental damage done in the manufacture of these solar panels, and later the decommissioning and disposal of the hazardous materials when praising yourself over your choice.

          I have considered the costs of solar panels since the idea of having lower utility bills does have a certain attraction, but the clear-cutting of trees that shade the house, the eyesore that it would produce, the increased fire risk, the property tax implications, the eyesore to the community and the increased insurance costs due to hail damage; having to tie up so much money and be dependent on the government using its police powers to force my neighbors to subsidize my energy use, the solar option lost much of its appeal.

          I hope the investment you made has had dividends in your virtue signalling here today. I’m sure everyone you hector about solar energy, and lie to regarding the imagined social and civic benefits, appreciate your effort.

        • Dan, you can’t use your grid connected system as an example of what would be good for everyone. If everyone had grid connected solar with no battery backup then the utility connecting you all would go out of business or would be charging you horrendous rates to provide nighttime only, cloudy day only power. Your system seems great to you because you are sponging off your neighbours and other utility rate payers who are paying the bulk of maintaining the system that gives you your backup. That’s why everyone here keeps asking about the batteries or some other way of storing power, to have a fair comparison, but also knowing that utilities aren’t going to allow free rides anymore and will start jacking up their monthly fees to home electricity producers.

        • Exactly the same as me. I’ve got a 6.6kw system on my roof and use the vast majority of my electricity through this. My parents and friends exactly the same.

          Before and after power bills do not lie.

          This article sounds like it is sponsored by the fossil fuel industry lol, it is full of bs.

        • It would be much cheaper all around if you just bought electricity from the grid. Less costs, less pollution from solar panel production, less gadgets to break.

          The only reason a solar installation makes sense anywhere would be subsidies.
          I know. I’ve got one. I freely admit it makes money off subsidies.

    • You make stuff up as it suits you. This bit is from the Times of India the biggest paper in India. The bit written is from a political think tank linked to the government according to a quick google search.

      The artical is not misleading. It sums up the short commings of solar power. If you just wave away these short comming I would advice you to unplug your home from the main grid and use wind and solar only. Don’t use batteries, because we can’t give those to everybody so that would be cheating of course.

      I see you comment often and it is always against the author or most opinions. Your comments are always constructed in a way to make your ideals work. This simply does not work in the real world. If you call bullshit in a post by all means post it, but come with some evidence or a good question that needs to be answered.

      The worst part is that you never reply back to people who respond to you so you appear to me as a troll that just eats his lunch and just browse the web looking to piss off some skeptics down at WUTW. I mean I hope you do it during lunch break and not at the cost of your day routine.

    • So build the nuclear plant and use it to pump water to the arid land, Griff! Is your problem solving imagination-bone really that stunted?

    • So if it’s arid, it’s ok to kill the plants and animals that do live there?
      Really, and you consider yourself to be ecologically knowledgeable?
      Do you have any idea how tiny the area above irrigation ditches are compared to the globe as a whole?
      Instead of imaging, why don’t you look it up?

      Fascinating how the griff compares his guesses and imaginings to be facts.

    • Dan, griff – that thread is not about garden irrigation but about energy supply India:

      India turnover umbrella production:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=India+turnover+umbrella+production&oq=India+turnover+umbrella+production+&aqs=chrome.

      India turnover defense production:

      https://www.google.com/search?client=ms-android-huawei&ei=xwxvXdPhLYXSxgOOoI_AAw&q=India+turnover+defense+production+2018&oq=India+turnover+defense+production+2018&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-serp.
      _____________________________________________________

      You won’t achieve that with PV solar panels, will you.

  14. “The annual output of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the world’s largest battery factory, stores [only] three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand”.

    interesting comment.

    Are there any official figures as to how much energy it would be prudent to store? 3 minutes to cater for a short lived power trip caused by an overload? 2 days to cover widespread damage from a storm or through someone hacking the supply? Presumably it would only need to cover locally produced power and not expect to cater for a nationwide situation

    There must be some sort of official recommendation which would help determine the costs of the battery, its size and its location and whether the assembly stands scrutiny

    tonyb

  15. Solar panels are specifically designed to capture incoming radiation and convert it into heat/energy. This is exactly what we are told CO2 does; so why are we replacing CO2 with solar panels? Something not quite right in the logic here if the objective is to cool the planet.

  16. I cant help but laugh at friends who have installed the solar pv on the govvy handouts of 2250 in cash and many yrs debt to repay the cost
    they all thought it was a great deal and didnt use the 2+k to repay the debt asap
    so they merrily leave the aircon going(rev cycle in aussie winters) do the washing and dry the clothes in a dryer during the day
    assuming…wrongly.. that the pv cells output covers what they use
    oh boy they get paid a lousy 6 to 9c per kwh to the grid
    the grid charges are
    29c or more during daytimes
    we are in a rural dusty area so their inaccessible panels dont get cleaned unless it rains
    and the supply charges per DAY are around 1.35 or more depending on the suppliers deals
    and their first bills were a LOT more than they thought theyd be
    Im waiting for a howler windstorm or some decent hail to add to their surprise.
    and they erroneously think that if the grid goes down theyll have power
    explaining that if theyre ON the grid and the power goes down theirs does too
    unless they add another 10k or so for battery backups
    the lure of a slow repayment and cash handout has suckered thousands per month into this scumbag idea.

  17. I love the lack of references in the article. Great, the author cites his own rooftop system as an example of the problems with solar, but three are many articles and studies out there to refute most of his other claims. No references here either, you’ll just have to search for them.

  18. “My rooftop system is a good example. Even after a taxpayer subsidy of $3,888 it cost me $10,730. And after a year’s use it has generated far less electricity than I was promised, so instead of a 6-year payback period it will now take 11 years – but only if I never spend any money to maintain it, the inverter never goes bad, the system somehow lasts 11 years and feed-in tariffs don’t reduce. Hard to think of a more effective way to burn money.”

    I had to dig hard to find the information necessary to avoid the same results in the Chicago suburbs. We even had a trusted radio home repair guy promoting the best solar roof at the time. It was hard to get at the full cost of installation and maintenance and even harder to get at an actual expected payback. I’m pretty sure the results aren’t that much better now in sunny places – or there would be no need to make these things mandatory on new construction or to offer any incentive to go there. Credits and mandates are proof of hype.

  19. The entire article is very good, but did anyone else read the comments at the end?

    The vast majority of them are just insults. The rest display gross ignorance of the subject. Favorable comments are few and far between.

    To say they represent a third-world educational system is an insult to third-world educational systems. India does not seem to have a promising future.

  20. “I installed a rooftop system last year. As expected, this system dies at night. But it is a complete joke during winter when it generates less than 10% of its capacity for days on end.”

    This is in India? So if your winter power generation is so badly affected, what about people that don’t live as close to the equator?

  21. The obviouse reaks.! solar is free energy no triple meltdowns. Or blackened blue sky of opportunity like solar powered trucks & cars and lots of gadgets .

  22. While I am intrigued by the writer’s claims, this article throws around a lot of numbers with few actual references to check their veracity. I am firmly in the skeptic camp, but if we demand that alarmists present verifiable facts, we should do the same. The following claim may be true, but there’s no easy way to test it –
    “Battery production processes consume vast amounts of energy, with “the energy equivalent of about 100 barrels of oil” required “to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store a single barrel of oil-equivalent energy”. And the natural resources needed for batteries are extremely scarce. A dramatic escalation of mining would be needed to build a solar grid with its own batteries.”
    If you are going to make a convincing argument, you need to confidently reference your facts’ source to add some weight to your otherwise easily disputed claims. This article would be easily torn down as propaganda by those who routinely use it to further the financial goals of the alarmists. It’s an interesting viewpoint, but it sure would be nice to make factually unassailable claims. I don’t expect a large effort from politicians to distribute facts, and I appreciate the push back against alarmism. I just wish people put a little more effort in making easily defensible claims we can all reference in the search for reality. I’d love to share some of these claims, but I’d like to say something besides,”because some random politician says so” when asked where I got this or that fact from.

    • Those numbers come from a Manhattan Institute paper by Mark Mills. He provides data to back up those numbers.

    • MichaelV September 3, 2019 at 11:35 am

      Those numbers come from a Manhattan Institute paper by Mark Mills. He provides data to back up those numbers.
      ___________________________________________________

      And you won’t share with us that data to back up those numbers.

    • James Allen-

      At fist I thought you were being a little hard on the author of the article, which was from a newspaper, not a report with references. He did say his numbers were from a Manhattan Institute report by Mark Mills. However, when going to that report I found I had to dig deep to find and verify the $200,000 in battery cost to store the energy in a barrel of crude oil. So perhaps you have a point after all.

      In my search I had to find the Manhattan Institute report, which was an easy google search. Then I had to find the quote in the report, which took a little reading. I finally found the quote, and it was referenced. When I went to references, which were on a different file, I found the numbered reference was the title of an article. If the reference had been in the correct format for a website, it would have been easier to find. I finally figured out it was from the website “insideevs.com”. Then I had to use the search feature of the website to find the article referenced by Mills, which gave a estimate of the Tesla battery cost of $150/ kWh with other companies claiming somewhat less cost.

      But that article did not compare the cost of the battery energy storage to the energy in a barrel of crude oil. Apparently Mills had do those calculations himself, but did not show his calculations in his report. So I looked up the energy of a crude oil on google and found the value 5.8 million Btu/bbl. Using 3,412 BTU/kWh gives about 1,700 kWh per barrel of crude. Multiplying by $150/ kWh gives $255,000 dollars to have the storage capacity of a barrel of crude. So the number is in the right ballpark if the if figure in the website article is accurate.

      It took a lot of work to verify the number, but it could be done. I guess that’s why we have comments here at WUWT. Maybe someone will take the time to check the validity of the number. Today it was me.

      • Really? Alarmist spout al kinds of climate porn without any proof ( like hurricanes getting more frequent and stronger due to climate change, when even the IPCC denies this) and this article writer is criticized for not including footnotes and citations for energy trivia. I used to be on the CO2 wagon train but then saw how any variance in thought was shut down harsely, and so realized quick that this was a new political cult.
        And since none of the alarmists will even consider ocean fertilization in spite of “less than x years” to save the world” then we all know they are full of shist and just want the subsidies and grant money, as well as doomsday senarios to sell papers, subscriptions and gather clicks.

  23. I guess there are no subsidies for oil? Solar takes up space, but don’t oil wells, pipelines, trucks, tankers? You make it sound like there are no oil use impacts on environment. Don’t get the article. Propaganda much?

    • Speaking of propaganda, your belief that the area used by oil wells and such is within 3 orders of magnitude of the area needed by solar panels indicates that propaganda is all you know.

      Nobody said that oil has no impacts, that’s your straw man. The whole point is that the impact of solar is thousands of times worse.

    • I guess there are no subsidies for oil?

      Apparently you are completely unfamiliar with the energy industry.

      Two words: “Severance Tax”

      The severance tax in Alaska, for example, is so great that there is a $37B severance endowment that is parceled out among Alaskan citizens.

      Exactly what sort of Solar Energy Endowment exists for energy derived from PV panels?

    • Democrats in the U.S. have changed the definition of subsidies. The new definition includes both standard subsidies (money taken from taxpayers and handed to companies and individuals), now termed ‘disbursements’, and tax deductions; many are fooled into thinking they are equivalent. Oil companies get basically the same tax deductions as every other business, and due to scale that adds up to billions of dollars per year. Solar and wind get the same tax breaks as oil, but on a smaller scale due to the fact the companies have much less revenue; in addition they also get disbursements that exceed oil by orders of magnitude. In addition to ignoring the economic difference between lower taxes and direct handouts, there is also the marginalization of the fact that oil companies get about 6 cents of profit per gallon in the U.S., while governments get about 40 to 80 cents per gallon.

  24. Forward a Generation or two, people will be asking who were twerps who introduced solar panels,and electric cars etc, when thousands of hectares of agricultural will have to be excavated to bury hundreds of millions of batteries and solar panels. These are not an adequate for a Modern electricity driven society. Unless we start building power stations, theDark Ages beckon.

  25. This whole thread is off target WRT the objectives of pushing solar in India. Even in India there is some idealisation of ‘old time village life’ that is ‘lost’ when it is possible to get adequate reliable power. Modi and co probably think of women singing as they follow the reapers to glean the fallen grain; villagers dong traditional dances around a fire at night; washing clothes in the river; lots more you can see in Indian oldtime movies. The purpose of pushing renewables in India is exactly the same as here: get back to a peasant lifestyle. Whether you can run a washing machine on solar is irrelevant to the real purpose.

  26. i dunno; recent contracts in US average $0.02/kwh. hard to walk away from that.

    as for the area it takes: the world and the us have lots of spare (non-arable) land. thats why landfills are so much cheaper than recycling.

    • All in, subsidized price? So, Green is a politically and socially practical choice, but an environmentally unfriendly solution.

    • Unfortunately, non-arable land is not necessarily being used. North of I-10, near Lake City, FL, Florida Power and Light purchased a HUGE amount of land to set up a solar panel park. It was purely arable land, I know because I drove by it on my trips across FL for over 20 years. I suspect that much non-arable land might fall under some sort of environmentally protected status in the US, which would negate its availability for any construction.

  27. Phew, had me worried there for a min. I work in solar and the clickybaity headline caught my eye. I’m open minded to arguments but somewhat relieved to see no substantial rationale behind the “bad for environment and economy” claim.

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