Myth busting solar energy in Germany

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I am much too busy writing up my thesis to publish anything substantial on energy at the minute. But I churned out a very quick one over the weekend (or more accurately I finished something I wrote two months ago) debunking the rather popular meme that Germany now gets half of its energy from solar panels. Read it here.

I suspect this will be the last thing I write for a couple of months. Though I have a primer on capacity factors that I wrote a year ago and have yet to tidy up. So, if I’m in the mood I might tidy up the loose ends in that one a month ago. Anyway, you probably have better things to be doing…..

 

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One thought on “Myth busting solar energy in Germany

    Malcolm Simpson said:
    August 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Hey Robert;
    I’ve really been enjoying your thoughts on energy and busting some of the myths that seem to run rampant in the press these days.
    If you’re looking for a little distraction in between pushes to get your thesis finished, someone with your mindset for investigative-thinking might be in a position to appreciate my concerns over wind power and the scale that it is being developed.
    A few years ago I got on a flight in Midland Texas and flew to Dallas, about a 1 hour flight at about 30,000 feet. Looking out the window, I could see wind turbines below the whole way without a break. In most places there were 2 or 3 banks of turbines in formation to catch any wind funneling through the pattern of the first row(s). No doubt this part of the plains is a wind corridor and folks living there are probably happy to see wind being put to use as they’ve had to tolerate it their whole lives. I guess up until that time I’d imagined wind power and generally though it was a good thing but I had no idea of the actual scale and perhaps someone like yourself might be able to help me “do the math”.
    Since then I’ve heard proponents of wind power say we should be really increasing our wind generating capacity because its relatively benign and overall quite green. But I couldn’t help but wonder where this trend is headed. These are not the small water pumping farm windmills of our grandfathers. These are huge (and getting bigger) monsters that need to be illuminated at night so small aircraft don’t fly into them. Certainly wind exploitation is being ramped up on a scale the likes of which we have never seen before.
    If we continue to ramp up wind farms to the degree that is being proposed by say T. Boone Pickens (who has stated that most of America’s power could come from wind), what would be the consequences? How many gigawatts of power can we expect to take from wind and what will be the outcome? What are the limits and how will we know when we are getting close to the max? What will be the indicators?
    If the plans to increase wind power continue to ramp up on a trend that we’ve witnessed in the last 20 years, will the big wind corridors of the planet begin to be affected, diminished or even shifted. We all know that the winds of the world really define our weather and we’re really watching these days for any evidence of global warming so any unusual weather occurrences are seen as evidence and therefore justification to argue against burning of fossil fuels. This past winter in North America was one of the longest and coldest on record ever for Canada and the Eastern Seaboard of USA. In Canada the warm Chinook winds that normally punctuate the bitter cold winter of the Western Provinces failed to show up. And in summer the activity in the tornado belt (a diagonal line across the lower 48 states where the hot air of the southeast juxtaposes the cold air masses of the northwest) has noticeably intensified in the last few years taking its toll on the people that live along that deadly path.
    Could it be that the wind belt of the great central plains is being taxed to a point where it is not pushing its warm air as far north as it used to in winter? Could those diminishing winds be causing increased segregation of summertime hot-cold air masses, exacerbating the tornado problem?
    And how would this all be perceived by the current popular perspective? No doubt global warming would be the whipping boy. The counter-push would then be that we need to put up even more wind turbines, a misplaced logic-feedback-loop.
    So finally Robert (phew! after all that preamble), my question to you (when you find the time in between pushes on your thesis, you go Man) is how much energy are we now taking out of the wind and how much can we realistically expect to take out in the future without having some adverse affect on the “normal” circulation and mixing of warm-cold air masses (that we call “normal weather”) of our planet?
    Are we “killing the golden goose”?

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