Why Wind and Solar Will Never Work

This paper by Mark Mills of the the Manhattan Institute and Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, titled “The ‘New Energy Economy’: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,” does an excellent job of explaining why wind and solar energy will never replace fossil fuels or nuclear energy as a primary energy source. The problem is fundamental: the laws of physics. And, no, better batteries are not a solution. I really urge you to read the whole thing:

* Solar technologies have improved greatly and will continue to become cheaper and more efficient. But the era of 10-fold gains is over. The physics boundary for silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, the Shockley-Queisser Limit, is a maximum conversion of 34% of photons into electrons; the best commercial PV technology today exceeds 26%.

* Wind power technology has also improved greatly, but here, too, no 10-fold gains are left. The physics boundary for a wind turbine, the Betz Limit, is a maximum capture of 60% of kinetic energy in moving air; commercial turbines today exceed 40%.

* The annual output of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the world’s largest battery factory, could store three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand. Meanwhile, 50–100 pounds of materials are mined, moved, and processed for every pound of battery produced.

“Green” energy is the 21st century’s most egregious instance of cronyism. A great deal of money is being made on account of government mandates and subsidies, while consumers and electricity rate payers are needlessly paying inflated bills.

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