Paving the Road to Net-Zero

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

My wonderful friend Willie Soon sent me this photo.

Curious about the backstory, I used Google Images to identify the location and found an article describing the carnage. It happened last Friday. The article is stupendous, published in the “Cowboy State Daily”. As an erstwhile cowboy myself, I can only approve of the newspaper’s name.

The installation in the photo is a 5.2 MW solar farm, destroyed in a heartbeat by a hailstorm … “cheap electricity” they said …

The best parts of the article are the comments of the manager:

“Kevin Spencer, Scottsbluff city manager, told Cowboy State Daily the Nebraska Public Power District, which owns the solar farm, is still assessing the damage, but it’s going to need some repairs.”

“Gonna need some repairs”? Ya think? …

But it gets better:

“He said he was previously told the panels were hail-proof, but that might have meant hail up to a certain size.”

Ya think?

Oh, yeah, one more beautiful detail.

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks this area in its the highest category for hail risk on the national index.”

Is there a Darwin Award for suicidal climate projects?


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Joel O’Bryan
June 29, 2023 10:10 am

(Comment deleted by me)

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
June 29, 2023 10:37 am

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Richard Page
Reply to  barryjo
June 29, 2023 4:19 pm

When I first saw this image, I was hoping to see a pattern in the broken panels spelling out F-you or something to that effect – now that would’ve been hilarious!

Reply to  Richard Page
June 30, 2023 2:59 am


Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
June 29, 2023 11:37 am

Let’s see the follow-up cost estimate.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 29, 2023 12:33 pm

Who is going to pay for it? The supplier who said it was “hail proof,” or did they ‘unwisely’ purchase insurance?

Caleb Shaw
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 29, 2023 11:14 pm

The little newspaper Willis refers to is well worth reading. It hasn’t been bought out (yet) by the fools who think it is wise to turn the press into public relation puppets, and instead has old-style reporting.

One great detail was a mention of a bit of brinkmanship enacted by the solar panel salesman. The set up a pitching machine and hurl baseballs at the solar panel at top speed, to show how the panels don’t break. Only problem is: Even the best pitching machine only gets up to a hundred mph, while the terminal velocity of large hail apparently is up around 150 mph.

Reply to  Caleb Shaw
June 30, 2023 10:31 am

Also, a baseball is lighter and softer than a hailstone of the same size.

I didn’t know Nebraska was subject to so much hail, but I saw heavy hailstorms regularly when I was in the Air Force near Clovis, NM. There were times when we’d finish our work shift, look outside and decide to stay a little while, rather than courting a concussion walking out there. In the linked article, there’s map of hail hazards, and where I was isn’t even light red. Scottsville, NB is dark red!

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 1, 2023 7:32 am

Still not a pile of rubble.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
July 2, 2023 5:05 pm

But useless and soon to be rubble

June 29, 2023 10:13 am

Hail, the conquering hero

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  JohnC
June 29, 2023 10:52 am


Hail, conquering net zero.

Richard Page
Reply to  JohnC
June 29, 2023 4:20 pm

Barely a stone’s throw from the article.

June 29, 2023 10:21 am

Dear Willis, The Ethical sceptic has a different take on climate change.
See this tweet

June 29, 2023 10:35 am

What do we often say here about wind & solar needing to cater for the extremes of the conditions expectations, not just the “goldilocks” conditions?

James Snook
Reply to  Mr.
June 29, 2023 1:45 pm

A mid summer evening in the U.K. and, as I type, wind, including the largest off-shore turbine fleet in the world, is contributing a paltry 11%, solar has gone to bed for the night and coal is providing 3%. You couldn’t make it up!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 29, 2023 12:38 pm

After looking at the map, I can’t help but wonder how well the PVs will survive a tornado. Even it they don’t get ripped apart, they will have to survive being bombed by flying cows and trucks — not to mention being pierced by straws of wheat and such things.

David A
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 30, 2023 7:43 pm

And wind mills do not do so well either

June 29, 2023 10:43 am

Not sold in Nebraska /sarc

Solar Roof | Tesla

June 29, 2023 10:56 am

Everything is OK until it isn’t. Want to bet the odds of hail large enough to cause PV panel damage weren’t even considered? Or is this going to turn into a “climate change” is the culprit narrative?

Ronald Stein
June 29, 2023 10:56 am

A 23-minute interview with Armando Cavanha in Brazil and Ronald Stein on the subject of: The World Needs More Than Intermittent Electricity from Wind and Solar.

Wind and solar manufacture nothing for the eight billion on this planet as they can only generate intermittent electricity from unreliable breezes and sunshine. Without a replacement, curtaining fossil fuel sources and manufacturing is the kiss of death for America and the World.
Ridding the world of oil, without a replacement in mind, would be immoral and evil, as extreme shortages of the products now manufactured from fossil fuels will result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths, and could be the greatest threat to the world’s population.

Reply to  Ronald Stein
June 29, 2023 11:52 am

“Without a replacement, curtaining fossil fuel sources and manufacturing is the kiss of death for America and the World.” Not the world because in case you haven’t noticed only Western/Industrialized countries are participating in FF suicide. It’s part of the plan. Wake up.

Reply to  Ronald Stein
June 29, 2023 11:53 am

“Ridding the world of oil, without a replacement in mind, would be immoral and evil, as extreme shortages of the products now manufactured from fossil fuels will result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths, and could be the greatest threat to the world’s population.”

Which is scarier, turning world governance over to alarmist zealots who DO NOT understand the facts above, or turning the governance over to those who DO understand those facts?

Doud D
June 29, 2023 11:02 am

Someday solar energy will be ready for prime time,but not today

Reply to  Doud D
June 29, 2023 11:59 am

The experts were misquoted, they meant to say that “Solar energy is ready for Amazon Prime. They can quickly ship out replacement panels every two years!”

Reply to  pillageidiot
June 29, 2023 9:48 pm

You’ll be able to get them on a monthly subscription

Tom Halla
June 29, 2023 11:02 am

Another example of “weather dependent sources”?

Chris Nisbet
June 29, 2023 11:14 am

“going to need some repairs”
Alternatively, they could put some thought into whether repairing it would be just throwing good money after bad.

Rick C
Reply to  Chris Nisbet
June 29, 2023 11:35 am

Oh, I’m sure the owners have already contacted the politicians who will be quite happy to dip into their Inflation Reduction Act (LOL) funds to get the repairs started. Just look at it as a jobs creation program. I understand there are quite a lot of new Texas residents looking for work.

June 29, 2023 11:36 am

They said so…

The effects of climate change on hailstorms | Nature Reviews Earth & Environment
As a result of anthropogenic warming, it is generally anticipated that low-level moisture and convective instability will increase, raising hailstorm likelihood and enabling the formation of larger hailstones; the melting height will rise, enhancing hail melt and increasing the average size of surviving hailstones; and vertical wind shear will decrease overall, with limited influence on the overall hailstorm activity, owing to a predominance of other factors. 

  • Long-term observations and high-resolution modelling are crucial to understanding the effects of climate change on hailstorms. Future studies should focus on furthering process understanding and improving proxy relationships.
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 29, 2023 12:02 pm

When the models say highly damaging hail storms will go up, but the data shows the occurrence of violent tornadoes is going down – I am going to believe the data.

I live in tornado alley. The conditions for both types of storms are intimately related in my neck of the woods!

Lee Riffee
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 29, 2023 1:00 pm

So is this why so many dinosaur fossils are found with their bones smashed to smithereens from prehistoric hail storms? Gee, the hail must have been enormous back in the day when there was no ice on either pole!
Hey, common sense says that if it didn’t happen in the much warmer past, it ain’t gonna happen now!

June 29, 2023 11:40 am

What was the cost of spot market power purchases to replace this shutdown? Or is that asking too much?

Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 29, 2023 12:05 pm

If it was expensive to purchase that spot market power, then you can rest assured that it will be included in the annualized costs of FOSSIL FUEL power.

That truth is one of the great scams about “showing” that green energy is cheaper.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 29, 2023 4:51 pm

Over a year, this solar subsidy estate would, maybe if lucky with the sun, have produced about the same amount of electricity as produced by a decent size coal power station would in 2-3 hours.

Ben Vorlich
June 29, 2023 11:40 am

What about pollution from the damaged panels. Aren’t some considered toxic waste?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 29, 2023 11:56 am

CdTe is definitely toxic waste. But those are black. The even blue says these are mono-crystalline silicon, which isn’t. The P-N junction dopants are locked in the silicon.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 29, 2023 12:12 pm

It still counts as “clean” energy if we just throw the damaged panels into the gigantic toxic sludge pond in China that was created to process rare earths, right?

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 29, 2023 3:45 pm

Grind it up for filler in asphalt road work.

June 29, 2023 11:50 am

this is why we evaluate the cost of nuclear by looking at fukashima.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 29, 2023 2:14 pm

Willis, there was a serious fire at Windscale in October 1957, ranked in severity at level 5 out of 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The fire burnt for 3 days. It’s estimated that 100-250 people died of cancers caused by radiation from the fire. Also released was Polonium 210. Although no workers involved in the clean were harmed.
The British government tried it’s best to keep as much information out of the news as possible.
But subsequently UK nuclear power has done sterling service. We won’t know the full implications of using solar for another six decades, a similar time since first commercial reactor 1956, if you don’t count Oklo

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 29, 2023 3:27 pm

BS from top to bottom.

Richard Page
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 29, 2023 4:31 pm

‘Estimated’ casualties from one study; other studies give lower estimates, but none go higher. It should be stressed that these are estimated casualties only and not one single case of thyroid or other cancer has ever been linked to the Windscale fire.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 29, 2023 2:22 pm

Mosh is basically confirming that the solar industrial estate was built where it never should have been built.

The Scottsbluff solar factory builders knew there was a very good chance of hail.

Were the builders of Fukashima aware of the risk of a tsunami ?

Bryan A
Reply to  bnice2000
June 29, 2023 6:03 pm

A total of 143 tidal waves classified as a tsunami since 684 have killed 130,974 people in Japan. Tsunamis therefore occur comparatively often in this country. The strongest tidal wave registered in Japan so far reached a height of 90 meters. On 08/29/1741, this tsunami killed a total of 1,607 people.

Japan is certainly aware of the possibility of tsunamis along their east coast.

While the earthquake and associated Tsunami were unquestionably devastating to Japan causing
19,759 deaths,
6,242 injuries,
2,553 people missing

The associated Fukushima Daiichi damage and associated radiation release has only been connected to 1 cancer death and 16 hydrogen explosion injuries. (as of September 2018)

The remainder of deaths and injuries above were caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami

Reply to  bnice2000
June 30, 2023 2:10 am

More than aware. Fukushima’s sea defences were built to defend against the largest tsunami anticipated in the area. They were hit by one that was far larger than ever reasonably expected, and even then it was only the failure of a backup generator that caused the subsequent problems.

Reply to  Archer
June 30, 2023 10:40 am

Didn’t the backup generator fail because it was underwater? That’s not an independent failure, but the same failure to be prepared for a bigger tsunami.

Since we never really know what the maximum possible tsunami is, I would recommend never building a nuclear power plant near the shore, not even on a mountainside. Put it on the inland side of the mountain, or a hundred miles inland if the land is flat.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 29, 2023 3:25 pm

Somehow I suspect that there are more hail storms every year, world wide, than there are 30 foot tall tsunamis.

Even by your standards Steve, that was pathetic.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 29, 2023 3:59 pm

Fukushima was caused by the design of the external systems, which placed the backup generators low in the plant, and subject to flooding.
We have vastly better designs now.

June 29, 2023 11:52 am

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 29, 2023 1:14 pm

Figures that mosh would propagate standard Fake News.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 29, 2023 1:54 pm

I must have been out of town for the explosion. Plant produces butadiene, which is used to make butadiene rubber, so we must ban tires immediately.

Bryan A
Reply to  Mike McMillan
June 29, 2023 6:05 pm

EVs definitely should be tireless and Must be used on the road not paved

Reply to  Bryan A
June 29, 2023 9:54 pm

EV;s of the future:

Bryan A
Reply to  Redge
June 30, 2023 6:19 am

Gotta love those Equine Vehicles

Reply to  Bryan A
June 30, 2023 9:36 pm

very good

Peta of Newark
June 29, 2023 11:55 am

From actual experience and crazy as it appears, ‘most all those panels will still be alive and functioning.

My experience was from the ride-on lawnmower found a pebble in the grass of my lawn (Thank You to my then resident mole for digging it up and many more)

The blade of the mower connected with said pebble and fired across the lawn to dead-centre of an 80Watt panel I’d been experimenting with.
To say it looked a mess was understatement.
Patently the glass is ‘tempered glass’, as car windscreen used to be and the whole panel was just a crazed mess. No piece larger than ¼inch

BUT BUT BUT, those panels are all bonded/glued together, so although the glass was a total mess, none of it parted company with the panel.
But I gave the panel up for lost – how could it possibly still do anything?
Stashed it away in the back of the shed, just in case of ‘inspiration’

Couple of years later I wanted to salvage the extra-long leads it came fitted with but before cutting them off, put a ammeter across it in some bright sunshine

And this shattered panel, rated a nominal 12Volts, 80Watts and 8,33Amps (under a 1,000W sun) was still making a short-circuit current of over 6 Amps and an open circuit 21Volts = as it should.

What those panels need, before any damp/rain gets into them, is to be resealed with a new sheet of glass bonded onto the front of them.
Or maybe, some nice clear UV stable lacquer. From the car repair shop.
And the stuff they use in ‘nail parlours’ and beauty shops is epic.
It’s a single part crystal clear resin that sets almost instantly under a UV light
Also maybe even the polyester resin as used for making ‘fibreglass’
Or Yacht Varnish for that matter….

Because of the scattering effect of all the cracks in the old glass they won’t be 100% of what they were but you’ll still get 80%

(Folks going in there to dismantle that thing and take it apart want to be VERY careful.
If me, you or anyone gets hold of 4, 5 or 600Volts DC it does not let go and does not ‘take prisoners’ That array is still very much alive.)

Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 29, 2023 1:19 pm

When the glass sheet of a PV module is cracked, the moisture barrier need to protect the solar cells inside is compromised. That you left it in a shed is irrelevant; while in use, a module will corrode if the glass is cracked.

See how long your simple solutions survive outdoors in real weather…

Bryan A
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 29, 2023 6:10 pm

Even if you could replace the glass, would materials and labor be more costly than simply replacing the panel with a new piece of cheap Chinese crap?

David A
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 30, 2023 8:24 pm

I am thinking the hail stones melted.
( water damage is done.)

Rud Istvan
June 29, 2023 12:04 pm

Putting solar in a known high hail region is about as smart as putting solar in Germany where it is cloudy and snowy most of the wintertime. The German winter solar capacity factor ranges from 1.5 to 2.5%. In summer it is about 15-20%.

Mark BLR
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 30, 2023 2:23 am

BP handed over the production of their “Statistical Review of World Energy” to an outfit called the “Energy Institute” at the end of last year.

They released the new version, with annual data updated to 2022, on Monday (4 days ago).

The latest (.xlsx) spreadsheet can be downloaded from the following URL :

PS : I always appreciate the effort you put into your graphics. I’m not artistically inclined (and lazy), so the best I can do is attached below.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 30, 2023 5:06 pm

It is late so hopefully thread dead. But for the record, I lived in Munich for almost 6 years. I took the cited capacity factors off a German site in German since am fluent in that language. No confirmation was necessary—that was an ‘official’ Energiewende number. But thanks for the additional confirmation

June 29, 2023 12:16 pm

and the fun part is..

The top sheets may be replaceable, but the internal leaks will not be easily found until a year or so go by – after which the energy needed to get the cadmium pollution out will exceed the energy produced by the panels by at least 10 times.

Reply to  Paul Murphy
June 29, 2023 1:22 pm
June 29, 2023 12:32 pm

Looks to me like “climate change” is fighting back against attempts to mitigate…..”climate change”. Perhaps we’re seeing a new pernicious AI form of climate change???

Reply to  R.Morton
June 29, 2023 1:18 pm

I suppose AI climate can adapt but climate politicos cannot.

June 29, 2023 1:30 pm

That installation served it’s true purpose, the finance people collected their subsidy.

Reply to  max
June 30, 2023 12:59 am

And the politicians theirs.

June 29, 2023 2:03 pm

Is there a Darwin Award for suicidal climate projects?

Why no, but there are plenty of subsidies and kickbacks for replacement.

For a Darwin award to apply, the responsible individual(s) would be identifiable and rendered unable to reproduce. Neither applies here.

More Soylent Green!
June 29, 2023 2:12 pm

Don’t the climate change fanatics claim these hail storms are going to get worse and more frequent as man-made climate change wreaks havoc upon the earth? Isn’t it therefore folly to install infrastructure that is too fragile for the changing climate?

Smart Rock
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
June 29, 2023 2:50 pm

Of course they will blame climate change increasing severity of hailstorms. The remedy will be to “defeat” climate change by installing more solar panels.

Reply to  Smart Rock
June 30, 2023 1:01 am

Using weather dependent energy to control the weather. Now that’s an interesting tautology.

Peta of Newark
June 29, 2023 2:28 pm

While we’re on the subject/topic of broken glass

Time to wheel Mme la Guillotine out of retirement – our elders/betters/leaders really do think everybody, apart from them, is stupid

“”The regulations were introduced over fears that hotter summers brought on by global warming will lead to people opening their windows more frequently, putting them at risk of falling out.“”

iow: The activist/crazed/deranged/power-mad UK Civil Service really does believe that: Global Warming is going to cause people to fall out the windows of their own homes & houses.

Monty Python Lives

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 29, 2023 7:25 pm

I thought the idea was that windows are bad for home insulation, and therefore they are to be minimised. Also reduces the risk of solar heating in summer resulting in a need for aircon. The zero carbon housing designs that appeared when Huhne tried to mandate it as a building standard were deeply unpleasant and unlivable. It got cancelled after he was disgraced.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 29, 2023 10:11 pm

Isn’t this fake news from the Telegraph?

The current building regulations require floor to bottom of opening windows to be 800 mm from the floor for all houses.

1100 mm is for balconies etc.

Screenshot 2023-06-30 061041.jpg
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 30, 2023 10:11 am

Back in the1920s & 30s those high-rise buildings managed to have windows that opened for light and ventilation without significant numbers of accidental defenestrations. What’s changed?

June 29, 2023 3:22 pm

it was up and running for almost 4 years. That’s a return of $0.2 on the dollar. Practically a renewable success story!

Geoffrey Williams
June 29, 2023 3:33 pm

I just cracked up reading this . .

Joe Gordon
June 29, 2023 3:41 pm

Maybe they should combine wind and solar. That way the blades on the turbine could act as baseball bats, and harmlessly knock aside the threatening hailstones. Win/win…

At least that’s what my computer models told me.

Richard Page
Reply to  Joe Gordon
June 29, 2023 4:37 pm

Aha – I think we’re defininitely on to something here. Why not put the solar panels onto the wind turbine blades? That way they can simultaneously be a moving target and knock them away – plus you get both solar and wind energy from the installation. We should so patent this idea, it’s brilliant!

Reply to  Richard Page
June 30, 2023 10:21 am

And put a ring of mirrors aimed at the windmill with a Stirling engine to get thermal solar + waste heat from the wind generator. The cold side Stirling radiators can be in the shade of the mirrors.

June 29, 2023 6:06 pm

“Man plans, God laughs”.

June 29, 2023 6:26 pm

Build new fossil fuel and nuclear generators. We are not in a climate crisis, CO2 is not the control knob for earth’s climate and we are not going to reach a tipping point and suffer irreversible global warming.

John Hultquist
June 29, 2023 7:16 pm

I think a Darwin Award should only be available to those who show an intelligence greater than a slug. Green energy enthusiasts and ClimateCult™ members do not qualify.
Failure awards for engineered projects do not seem to have a single catchy-title award.

Bill Parsons
June 29, 2023 7:57 pm

Articles online suggest that you have to have an array up for at least 6 years to reach the “break-even” point. Considering that hail is only one of the “extreme weather” evernts that can destroy your investment, how valid are the 25 year warranties I see online? What is the decay rate of power production? Don’t they get fogged up?

June 29, 2023 8:45 pm

Just like solar energy is “for free” so solar panels are “hail proof”.

June 29, 2023 9:38 pm

 but it’s going to need some repairs.

He sounds like a Brit, we are the masters of understatement and self-deprecation

June 29, 2023 9:40 pm

Is there a Darwin Award for suicidal climate projects?

Yes, it’s called Net Zero

Reply to  Redge
June 30, 2023 8:04 am

Now THERE’S a theme worth developing –

Net Zero = Darwin Award

June 29, 2023 9:45 pm

Just erect a metal canopy above the panels to protect them from the hail – problem solved.

Caleb Shaw
June 29, 2023 11:45 pm

Green – n + d = Subsidies

June 30, 2023 4:41 am

I am surprised something like this hasn’t happened earlier. Makes you wonder how roof top solar would cope.

Reply to  gezza1298
June 30, 2023 11:06 am

I’m not sure how much of a problem it would be to lose the solar generating capacity, considering that these installations are mainly undertaken to get subsidies for installing the panels. However, there’s a chance the winds that generally come with a hail storm would tear the panels off the roof, leaving massive leaks – and flying panels would damage the neighbors’ houses, too.

I’m remembering an hour of high winds in Gaylord, Michigan in the 1990’s that tore apart a roofing and siding warehouse, blowing both the warehouse’s roofing and siding and the entire stock into the new high school. The school had just opened, now it was closed for months for repairs.

June 30, 2023 6:35 am

I can see the headline now…..”Climate change stopping efforts to stop climate change”

Harry Passfield
June 30, 2023 10:02 am

Can you imagine building any power station on a fault line ?

July 2, 2023 5:04 pm

We have solar panel farms in Alberta as well as hail storms/thunder storms. Yup – repairs needed. Funny how coal-fired and natural gas fired generating stations aren’t affected by hail. But then – what do we know?

Peter C.
July 3, 2023 9:11 am

That will buff out in no time,no worries.

July 7, 2023 6:04 am

And now the rain can leech heavy metals into the ground.

Fantastic, Dave the planet by killing it.

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