Why solar power can’t save us from peak oil

Preface. Embedded within the posts below are many reasons why solar electricity can’t replace fossil fuels.  All solar and wind do is add to the giant fire of burning fossil fuels with just a tiny bit more power, about 4% of all the power we use. But that will end at some point when the maximum grid integration level for a given area is reached, which is already happening in California (California hits the solar wall).

Alice Friedemann www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer, Barriers to Making Algal Biofuels, and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Collapse Chronicles, Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report

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Solar power contraptions require oil for every single step of their life cycle

Look at all the fossil energy used to make solar panels in this youtube video: How It’s Made Solar Panels

If solar power and concentrated solar power plants can’t produce enough power to replicate themselves entirely over their life cycle, plus produce the energy needed by society, then they are not sustainable. Most of their life cycle depends on fossil fuels, with no electric alternatives. Oil is used by mining trucks, ships to take the ore to facilities that use fossil fuels to crush the rock, blast furnaces burning fossils to force the metal out that can run for 20 years around the clock and aren’t electric because even a short outage would destroy the brick lining. Every single part is made with fossil energy and these thousands of parts are shipped on diesel vehicles to the assembly factory.  In all of these steps, workers drove to work in fossil fueled vehicles over roads built by fossils and paved with petroleum asphalt.

Wind and Solar Power Require MORE Fossil Fuels

Solar is seasonal

Energy return negative

Integration into the electric grid

Energy density

Wind and solar can’t substitute for all fossil fuels

If solar is so great and cheap, why is it mainly built in states with subsidies?

Not enough materials for solar

Breakthroughs in the news usually don’t pan out

Solar PV, wind turbines, and hydropower destroy biodiversity

Climate change and extreme weather destroy solar panels

Concentrated Solar Power

Orbiting Solar

Orbiting Solar: launch costs way too high, too many technical issues

Too many toxic chemicals, byproducts, and greenhouse gases

Chemicals: hydrochloric acid, hydroflouric acid, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, phosphine and arsine gas, phosphorus oxychloride and trichloride, boron bromite and trichloride, lead.

Byproducts: trichlorosilane gas, silicon tetrachloride, toxic particluates from wafer sawing

Greenhouse gases: Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) – 25,000 times more potent than CO2, Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) – 17,000 times more potent than CO2, Hexafluoroethane (C2F6) – 12,000 times more potent than CO2

Not enough fossils left to build renewable solar and other contraptions

Richard Heinberg: “Oil has become far more expensive in the past decade; production costs are rising at over 10 percent per year. The major petroleum companies are investing much more in exploration today, but their production rates are declining. For oil, the low-hanging fruit is gone. Does Krugman believe there is still excess production capacity for oil to use in building out renewable infrastructure, while still meeting the needs of the rest of the economy? If not, how will society maintain economic growth during the energy transition? If so, what part of the economy would need to contract in order to shift oil consumption to the renewables build-out, so as not to lead to increased overall use of climate-altering fossil fuels during the transition?”

Solar panels are a waste management problem

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2020) in Nature Energy warns that by the end of this decade, some 8 million tons of solar panel waste could find their way into landfills across the world. By 2025, this could rise to as much as 80 million tons, 10% of all electronic waste. The U.S. has no dedicated solar panel recyclers.

Trucks are the basis of civilization. They can only run on diesel fuel, not on (solar) electricity

When Trucks Stop Running, So Does Civilization. Energy and the Future of Transportation

Why trucks can’t be electrified

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One Response to Why solar power can’t save us from peak oil

  1. Cleaning solar panel fields is mainly a diesel-burning exercise.

    In the link below, notice that by the time last segments of the field are started to be washed, first segments have already became covered with dust – and the week-long process starts all over again.

    This is not to mention that the segment being cleaned is taken off line!

    “Humans have never managed and will never manage to extract, collect and utilise one unit of excess Energy expanding less than one unit of Energy – all along.

    Energy, like time, only flows from past to future” (The Fifth Law).