So this is one of those obvious things I see in the world, but I’ve been having a hard time explaining it to people.
The Observation: Wind and Solar Power Suck, and will never amount to anything in our infrastructure.
The push back I always get is “Well it isn’t great now, but we’ll make some advancements, right?”
No, never, then I try to make an analogy that they fail to grasp and it goes down hill from there.
But I had an epiphany while doing the laundry. Yes, the laundry, and not just any laundry, my wife’s delicates.
See, Mrs. Weer’d has laundry that is made from spun angel hair, or the down from baby frogs and other such materials that just can’t be cleaned in normal ways. They aren’t “Dry Clean Only”, but we have a special hamper where she puts that stuff in.
How do I clean these magical things? Well step one is to dial back the washing machine to “Delicate” so it beat them to death like the rags I wear, and that setting will only dispense cold water so no delicate fabrics will shrink, and no colors will run.
Step two: Line dry only. This part SUCKS in the winter, I have racks I set up and it generally takes all day for the bastards to dry. But in the warm months it’s not bad, I have a clothes line that I hang them out in, and generally they’re dry in a few hours.
See today I was noting that it wasn’t terribly hot or sunny, but it’s retentively dry out, and there was a nice stiff breeze blowing….. EUREKA! WIND AND SOLAR!
My issue with wind and solar is not the technology, it’s the medium. Wind and solar just aren’t violent things, it’s energy for sure, but nothing compared to say the force of water dropping several hundred feet, or a raging fire generating steam.
Think about it, when I wash my clothes, I can just pitch them in the dryer and set that sucker on “Max” and I have dry clothes in 20 mins. think about it, a clothes dryer is simply a small gas fire on a rotating drum. There’s air flow and agitation too, but honestly that feature is mostly there so it doesn’t catch the clothes on fire. It’s so violent that it drys clothes in a fraction of the time, and might damage more delicate clothes. Oh and my gas-fired dryer costs pennies to run. Cheap, easy, and efficient power.
Now I’m not AGAINST wind and solar, I hang out my laundry in the summer because it costs nothing to dry vs Pennies, and what do I care if my clothes aren’t dry in 20 mins. So if there is a cheap solar or wind system that I can put up to make even a little bit of power on my house for free, I’m cool with that.
Except wind and solar isn’t cheap, in fact it’s really fucking expensive, and it simply can’t keep up with the types of power we use RIGHT NOW, and until we live in a planet where stepping out on a windy or sunny day is as dangerous as jumping off Hoover dam, or standing on a pile of burning garbage, it never will compete.
There is energy there, but frankly it just isn’t very much.
There’s also the problem that our atmosphere does such an amazing job at keeping us alive that it actively hampers the efficiency of solar power. We’d have better returns if we didn’t have all this pesky air in the way.
Of course, we could put solar collectors up in orbit, but that gives us a new problem: how to get it down to the planet without turning it into a city-destroying disaster if things go wrong? At this point the best solution I have is to build a space elevator (aka “beanstalk”) and use it to funnel the power down to the planet… but that level of materials technology is currently beyond our capability.
Meanwhile, we have nuclear, which gives us enormously efficient power NOW.
Old post, I know, but I had to share my 2c since I have some knowledge of this. 🙂
Wind and solar are great technologies, since it’s virtually no emissions to gather it. However there’s significant emissions to create the materials for it in the form of electronics, silicon needed for solar cells, and more. Plus in order to make it very efficient, it needs to be in a fairly remote place. For example, if you want good solar generation somewhere, look at the middle of Arizona where it’s sunny 99% of the year and open enough to have a large “field” of cells. Now you have to build the infrastructure to get the power from there to the nearest major city…and probably store it, so that means batteries or similar (and even more heavy metals).
“Green” power generation methods just aren’t efficient enough to meet demand. We need more nuclear power. Fission for now, fusion when it becomes sustainable.