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Cheaper, changing and crucial: The rise of solar power

27 Comments
By Kelly MacNAMARA

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Solar is an exciting technology. The elusive breakthroughs in battery technology will really change things when/if they are discovered.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Ah the love child of the environmentalists.

The problem despite the pipe dream of

Researchers from Stanford said this year they had produced a solar cell that could harvest energy overnight, using heat leaking from Earth back into space.

Wind is a far better, far more efficient, far smaller physical and environmental footprint producing 24 hours a day in most cases.

A simple fact the smallest commercially available traditional wind turbine in the UK and Canada needs 10 square metres space but produces the same powers as 40 square metres or solar panels, and can do so even at night.

The latest models will be available with hydraulic or gravity pistons to store excess energy to be released if the winds are low reducing the need for more batteries.

Even the more compact "bladeless" wind turbine that are even more compact and can fit of a roof, small front or back yard, are still far more efficient than solar 10 times the size and space.

So 2 small "bladeless" wind turbine attached to the sides of a roof, would produce more power than in the entire roof was covered with solar panels, and to come close the solar panels would need about 40 to 50 square metres (y house and most of my neighbour in Tokyo don't have a roof that big).

But I and my neighbours do have 3rd floor balconies just perfect for a "bladeless" wind turbine, as soon as the price drops and they are readily available in Japan, I plan on installing one.

A more lightweight bladeless wind turbine is nearing commercial release that will be near all carbon fiber, way approximately 20 kilos, require 1 square metres to install and produce power equal to 20 to 30 solar panels.

As usual with all new products including more recent Solar panel technology, the delays are due to regulatory rules, the above "bladeless" wind turbine has been in UK/EU certification process for 4 year now the product is ready but certification is only 50% complete ( after 4 years) so I am not holding my breath for this one,

We will probably have a Chinese knockoff long before if gets approval.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

The use of renewables should be bested utilized by what is the best source of any particular location.

I think having solar panels on every home, apartment block, school hospital, and office building are all very good sources. New solar films can be used on glass windows.

But I dislike the countryside being covered with acres of solar panels.

Undersea generators are another source. Geothermal could be better used.

Wind turbines out at sea or in bays. On land, the more modern rotary turbines are better. Not all locations have 24/7 wind.

Backup battery packs are dropping in price. 10kWh is about ¥1 million.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Sunshine POWER! Alright!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why not just design systems that don't use electricity like we made do with for thousands of years? We're overly dependent on technology as it is...

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Why not just design systems that don't use electricity like we made do with for thousands of years? We're overly dependent on technology as it is...

Is this a serious question?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

By getting bought up by a compliant gov't, TEPCO has dodged the losses that solar and other green technology would inflict and allowed cover for the gov't to keep supporting nuclear.

If you take Japan from a green energy perspective not a liquid fuels perspective it's actually energy rich. An island nation? Majority of cities on the coastlines? Geothermal and mountainous areas? It's silly how productive Japan could be versus other countries. If only it weren't held back by the oyagis

4 ( +5 / -1 )

But the technology is changing quickly. In a recent report, the IEA said these new solar cells have proven to be one-fifth more efficient in converting light to energy than standard modules installed just four or five years ago.

A major future problem is the impact on the environment solar and other renewable energies have when the panels, turbines, etc., are replaced or disposed of.

The recycling cost of a solar panel is about 20 times the cost to dispose of it in a dump.

There is another side to this matter, which is not being discussesd so openly.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

I use solar almost everyday to charge two batteries to run phones,fans,lights etc

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The wind is a more efficient power source than solar. Wind turbines release less CO2 to the atmosphere. A wind turbine produces 4.64 grams of CO2/1kWh while the solar panel produces 70 grams of CO2/1kWh. Wind power consumes less energy and produces more energy compared to solar panels.Jul 6, 2021

https://regenpower.com/articles/which-renewable-energy-is-better-wind-or-solar/

Also

> “Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a warning: the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces every year will rise from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the nation has no plan for safely disposing of it.” claims an article published on Environmental Progress. It continues to state that It is found that Solar panels can create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants. More alarmingly “If solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (52 meters), while the solar waste would reach the height of two Mt. Everests (16 km).”

https://www.sciencepolicycircle.org/66-solar-waste-eliminating-the-issue-before-it-becomes#:~:text=It%20continues%20to%20state%20that,than%20do%20nuclear%20power%20plants.

The problem is again feelings over facts.

Remember the paper bags issue back in the 80s?

'Oh save the trees stop using paper bags, etc..."

So the environmentalists pushed and pushed, so paper bags, paper cups paper straws all eliminated replaced by plastic.

Oops now the return to paper because it is better than plastic for the environment.

So again solar is Ok in a few situations but in reality it will be a bigger problem than a benefit just like plastic bags were over paper bags

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

@Antiquesaving,

Not sure why you got voted down so heavily. You raise some interesting points. While we may disagree on some points, I don't think anyone has any clear answers.

But I and my neighbours do have 3rd floor balconies just perfect for a "bladeless" wind turbine

Is this practical? I'm asking because my understanding is that wind generation is not so reliable close to buildings. The link in your second post suggests the same. ("Wind systems require environments that are almost barren of large windbreaks and buildings.")

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I have a small beef with describing wind and solar as "renewable energy". Are they not better described as "redirected energy"? And somewhere down the line, could there be a negative consequence of redirecting that energy? Note that I'm not saying they shouldn't be used. I'm fairly sure they're far better than relying on fossil fuels in the short term. But we should consider any negative consequences too.

Should "renewables" not be used in relation to things such as wood and plants which can be renewed relatively quickly?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Wind turbine blades cannot be recycled so they are piling up in landfills.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

We put solar panels on our roof a few years ago. Almost all of our electricity needs are produced on our roof, and the final cost after the tax rebates was less than 8,000 USDollars. The panels will pay for themselves in about 10 years, but have an expected lifespan of 30 years. They are expected to lose 1/2% efficiency per year.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Not as much is said about geothermal energy. I am proud that California produces more electricity from geothermal energy than any nation. It isn't just a question of utilizing available resources, but of having the willpower to do so.

For decades, California led the US in producing electricity from wind power, despite the fact that our wind resources are not all that great. Today several MidWestern states generate more electricity from wind, but then they have more wind to harvest. By having the political will to lead the way, we in California demonstrated what was possible.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“I like the lights on. I wanna stay up later at night. I don’t wanna have to go to bed when the sun sets. It’s so silly!”

MTG showing her opposition to solar and wind energy. Silly alright.

It’s these kind of people we need to push out of the way to make any kind of progress.

Solar isn’t clean but it’s a far better alternative than fossil or nuclear.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

1glennToday  04:31 am JST

Not as much is said about geothermal energy. I am proud that California produces more electricity from geothermal energy than any nation. It isn't just a question of utilizing available resources, but of having the willpower to do so.

For decades, California led the US in producing electricity from wind power, despite the fact that our wind resources are not all that great. Today several MidWestern states generate more electricity from wind, but then they have more wind to harvest. By having the political will to lead the way, we in California demonstrated what was possible.

I read in Arnold Schwarzeneggar's autobiography that as Governator he enacted that all new buildings be run on solar and/or wind power. Maybe that's a factor in why the GOP decided to stab him in the back by digging up his past with that secret illegitimate son.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Solar farms are not only a blight on the environment, but it simply wouldn't exist without the massive subsidies they get from govt tax dollars.

Subsidies per kWh

Coal $0.001

Nat. Gas $0.001

Hydropower $0.001

Nuclear $0.002

Biomass $0.002

Geothermal $0.014

Wind 0.035

Solar 0.231

Outrageously expensive, inefficient and environmentally damaging.

Where do all those old solar panels and their toxins go you ask?

Don't ask.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Where do all those old solar panels and their toxins go you ask? 

Don't ask.

Here’s a recent update for you.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/7/8/23200153/solar-panel-value-recycling-renewable-energy

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Give it up, it’s of no use. You just replace one problem with new arising ones. If you once managed everywhere to install all those many wind turbine, solar panel parks or whatever, plastering the whole landscape, agricultural areas and sea , where do you 8, 9, 10 etc billion of people on this planet get their daily food from then? Is it nicer starving to death at an average 1.5 degree lower temperature. I guess no, and you?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If you once managed everywhere to install all those many wind turbine, solar panel parks or whatever, plastering the whole landscape, agricultural areas and sea , where do you 8, 9, 10 etc billion of people on this planet get their daily food from then? 

Most cities have a huge amount of wasted roof space. Solar panel highways are in development in several countries. Japan is leading in ocean based floating solar panel islands.

Is it perfect? No.

Is it cheap? No.

But that is the beauty of technology, it tends to improve upon itself. We know what fossil fuels do, after centuries. Solar is still new and developing. Give it a chance.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

But that is the beauty of technology, it tends to improve upon itself. We know what fossil fuels do, after centuries.

They do very little to the environment except recycle CO2.

Solar is still new and developing. Give it a chance

"Give it a chance while 10s of millions slip into abject poverty"

No thanks. Im not willing to pull up the ladder behind me, leaving the 3rd world behind.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

But that is the beauty of technology, it tends to improve upon itself. We know what fossil fuels do, after centuries. 

They do very little to the environment except recycle CO2.

What?

No thanks. Im not willing to pull up the ladder behind me, leaving the 3rd world behind.

The ‘3rd world’ are doing well in off grid solar power.

They never had a footstep on your ladder nor cared about it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No thanks. Im not willing to pull up the ladder behind me, leaving the 3rd world behind.

Advocating a refusal of alternative energy technology in solidarity with ‘3rd world’ countries. How noble.

What has a century of oil done to lessen the gap? What have you done? It’s clearly a personal issue. Walk me through it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What has a century of oil done to lessen the gap? What have you done? It’s clearly a personal issue. Walk me through it.

Ok.

Step one; virtue signaling westerners with zero idea of how the climate works condemn the 3rd world to suicidal programs that will kill 10s of millions.

Step two; the same virtue-signalling westerners are either dead themselves or remain very, very quiet about the stupid, disastrous policies they supported.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bob FosseAug. 15  11:22 pm JST

But that is the beauty of technology, it tends to improve upon itself. We know what fossil fuels do, after centuries. 

They do very little to the environment except recycle CO2.

What?

No thanks. Im not willing to pull up the ladder behind me, leaving the 3rd world behind.

The ‘3rd world’ are doing well in off grid solar power.

They never had a footstep on your ladder nor cared about it.

And is the 'Great Again' America saying it can't do what other countries are doing? America needs to get off their butts and catch up.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All those panels are an eyesore.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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