This Week’s Energy Unicorn

The belief that we can power the world with unicorn flop sweat, Obama’s incandescent speeches, refined banana peels, etc runs deep. I call it “energy romanticism,” and like all other kinds of romanticism it is hard to shake, even with things called facts, which are always inconvenient to the dreams of world-saving liberals.

Typical is the story last year about how we could put solar panels on roads, a really stupid idea that naturally has received federal grant money. (Is there really no adult in the room to ask how solar panels, which need cleaning on rooftops in the best of conditions, would hold up under car and truck traffic?) As usual, the news stories about this venture offer no details about costs or actual power output, which is the principle defect of about 95 percent of all media reports about new energy ideas. It is like reporting on a new car without giving the gas mileage or that it only seats one person.

Solar Bike Path copyThe Dutch have tried to push this idea with a $3.7 million solar bike path that provides enough electricity for  . . . one person.  And after six months, the solar bike path is already starting to come apart.  True, it’s only 70 meters long, but what a bargain for $3.7 million. It has “smart meters”! If we increase spending by an order of magnitude, to $370 million, we can power 100 households.

The predictably depressing part of the story is this:

The group behind the project is now in talks with local councils in the Netherlands to see if the technology can be rolled out in other provinces. A cooperation agreement has also been signed with the US state of California.

Of course. It would only cost about $450 billion to power all of California’s households with solar-powered roads and bike paths. No doubt this has deep appeal to Jerry Brown.

Up next in this new series: Tesla’s new home battery, which is also way overrated.

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