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Are Solar Panels Sustainable On A Large Scale?

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posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 12:48 AM
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After contemplating the solar panel industry ive come to the conclusion that its just not viable on a large scale with our current technology. From its environmental impact to the costs associated with producing the panels and sustaining them. id love for someone in the industry who has the actual numbers and statistics to chime in cause ive tried searching for hours but cant find the hard data with all the solar company ads.

1. Solar panels in some cases are a negative sum energy producer and the positive energy producers are just barely over the hump. to sustain such a system u have to dedicate a large % of the panels energy production straight back into the production of new solar panels to replace them since they have a finite life. lets say they were producing 50% more power then it took to manufacture the panel. that would mean 66.6% of all panels produced would have to dedicate their power generation straight back into the manufacturing of replacement panels. leaving 33.3% for residential and industrial use.

2. They rely on the fossil fuel industry for the most part to produce a panel from the outset increasing our carbon emissions initially. they also require various hazardous chemicals in their production. atm there isnt much of a recycling program for solar panels mainly due to the lack of quantity to make it viable.

3. Our infrastructure in the united states isnt up to the task of handling the finicky nature of solar panels power generation. its allready a failing infrastructure without adding solar to the equation and first needs to be upgraded to cope with these new sources of energy and be able to provide some sort of power storage system to supply power at night and when theirs prolonged periods of bad weather.

4. The cost is going to be enormous. if it takes over 200,000 people in the industry to provide less then 1% of our total power output then its going to take a large increase to provide for on a large scale. Labor is one of the more expensive things for a company so we will see costs on energy go up orders of magnitude without even factoring in the cost of the components and installation to produce the power.

so after thinking about all those factors it seems like the negatives far outweigh any positives from environmental impact to monetary impact. i feel like the only real benefit is to the companies making a profit off of the consumers. id love to hear someones thoughts who has the hard data on the energy costs and production of solar panels and the economic costs of such system. i just see mountains of landfills filled with dead panels at our current tech and id imagine to sustain such a system would require hundreds if not thousands of square miles of solar panels to even come close to producing 50% of our power needs.
edit on 30-3-2017 by TheScale because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 01:20 AM
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Why not compare the solar industry to say the gas industry.

Start with the billions of dollars required for exploration oil rigs, then the cost of permanent oil rigs, the huge cost of the ships to take the product from here and deliver it to there. Don't forget the pipelines and the cleanup operations needed from time to time including the big ones and the damage they cause.

Now add oil refineries, the enormous fleet of trucks to deliver the product, add in the gas stations and you may have a glimpse of the true costs needed to do a comparison!

The detractors never want to discuss these costs because fuel is expensive to manufacture ... unless you can rape the Iraqi oil fields for over a decade and shift your ill gotten gains to your home country.

You need to look at both sides of the argument otherwise the numbers mean nothing.

In addition, could you offer a few links to where you are getting your current 'facts' from? Otherwise it is just hyperbole.

Look at countries that are doing solar and doing it so well! Start with Germany!

P

edit on 30/3/2017 by pheonix358 because: (no reason given)

edit on 30/3/2017 by pheonix358 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 02:12 AM
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a reply to: TheScale

A handful of Las Vegas casinos are moving to solar and other methods of energy. MGM is the biggest one towards solar I believe. If the casinos are doing it, it costs less.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 02:15 AM
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a reply to: TheScale

Here is a somewhat older article (2015) that is pretty detailed:

www.lowtechmagazine.com...

electricity generated by photovoltaic systems is 15 times less carbon-intensive than electricity generated by a natural gas plant (450 gCO2e/kWh), and at least 30 times less carbon-intensive than electricity generated by a coal plant (+1,000 gCO2e/kWh)

That is the best case scenario and there are some gotchas involved. China is currently dominating production which hurts the numbers. Also installation location plays a big role just like with other renewables(wind, water). Another point is the need to adapt the electrical grid to cope with the varying inputs.

So you need to be clever about it, but it is totally worth it on the long run imho.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 02:43 AM
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a reply to: pheonix358

You can produce all the hard facts that you please. But in the end, every source of energy needs to be stable and constant because the grid can't handle instability.

Solar and Wind both require co-generation facilities based on coal and oil And it is much more energy intensive to keep a co-generation plant running on standby.

The bottleneck is and always will be that renewable resources are just not stable and constant. Without extensive energy storage...well then you have a host of problems

Environmentally, think of mining in China for rare earth metals and the fact that it relies on coal and oil. Think of the decrease in environmental damage and carbon emissions if the rare earth metals did not need to mined in the first place.

Not saying that renewables don't have a place in the grand scheme of things. It could be used for site specific uses (like casinos) and reduce the electicity demand that way but for grid....nope. Without energy storage, it just isn't feasible.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 03:19 AM
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a reply to: TiredofControlFreaks

Current energy productions require storage of energy as well. Have you ever heard of oil spills, rolling blackouts, or fukushima? There is negative in ALL energy production.

Solar, hydro, and wind are becoming more and more stable and reliable as energy storage capacity and reliability increases.

Do you have any idea how much energy is wasted via conventional energy production methods?



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 03:29 AM
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The OP doesnt make any sense to me. Solar panels are not complicated, they produce energy for a long long time and can be easily replicated. Just because oil / coal is currently cheaper doesnt make them non-viable. Thats a strange take on it imo. Solar panels are not negative energy producers. Wheres your evidence?



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 03:41 AM
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originally posted by: pirhanna
The OP doesnt make any sense to me. Solar panels are not complicated, they produce energy for a long long time and can be easily replicated. Just because oil / coal is currently cheaper doesnt make them non-viable. Thats a strange take on it imo. Solar panels are not negative energy producers. Wheres your evidence?



well what i mean is the fact that for every 1 solar panel that produces power for a consumer then u need 2 to produce the power just to sustain that eco system if say they produce 50% more power then it takes to manufacture them. thats in a perfect world just to maintain arrays of solar panels when they fail at the end of their service life. thats barring any catastrophic damages from hail storms or other weather related damage. since most solar panels are in the 15-20% efficiency range that are mass produced that means your going to need to produce an enormous number of panels to sustain that ecosystem and provide power for people and industry. the amount of waste and pollution with our current tech imo makes it unfeasible and we need to keep working on small scale tests till we have a breakthrough that greatly increases their output so we arent creating mountains of waste. on top of that many of the panels produced are a negative sum energy producer and if it had to rely on its own power to produce panel replacements youd eventually run out of power and panels so those rely on fossil fuels to produce no matter what.
edit on 30-3-2017 by TheScale because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:03 AM
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originally posted by: pheonix358
Why not compare the solar industry to say the gas industry.

Start with the billions of dollars required for exploration oil rigs, then the cost of permanent oil rigs, the huge cost of the ships to take the product from here and deliver it to there. Don't forget the pipelines and the cleanup operations needed from time to time including the big ones and the damage they cause.

Now add oil refineries, the enormous fleet of trucks to deliver the product, add in the gas stations and you may have a glimpse of the true costs needed to do a comparison!

The detractors never want to discuss these costs because fuel is expensive to manufacture ... unless you can rape the Iraqi oil fields for over a decade and shift your ill gotten gains to your home country.

You need to look at both sides of the argument otherwise the numbers mean nothing.

In addition, could you offer a few links to where you are getting your current 'facts' from? Otherwise it is just hyperbole.

Look at countries that are doing solar and doing it so well! Start with Germany!

P


yes but that infrastructure is generally in place and u dont have to build it from the ground up. the initial investment in solar is going to be tremendous and the waste and consumption in fossil fuels at our current level of technology is what worries me. plus the energy density of fossil fuels vs solar panels im sure leans greatly towards the fossil fuel side. id imagine a gallon of fuel has more potential energy then any solar panel could produce in a day. since our infrastructure cant handle the finicky nature of solar power generation id rather see us project out to where we believe solar panel technology may be in say 15-20 years, then upgrade our infrastructure to allow for that addition. then maybe instead of having to build billions of solar panels every year we can maybe only build tens of millions instead and cut down on that initial startup cost and pollution.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:08 AM
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originally posted by: pirhanna
The OP doesnt make any sense to me. Solar panels are not complicated, they produce energy for a long long time and can be easily replicated. Just because oil / coal is currently cheaper doesnt make them non-viable. Thats a strange take on it imo. Solar panels are not negative energy producers. Wheres your evidence?

The sun don't always shine and the wind don't always blow.

The grid needs a constant supply or things get ugly.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:09 AM
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a reply to: TheScale

Where are you getting your info from? Also, you are using percentages that aren't relevant. How much power does a solar panel receive daily in a sunny region? You are using percentages that power companies would use. An average household in the US uses about 30 kWh per day, a single consumer grade square meter panel can produce between 2.5-6.6 kWh per day.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:10 AM
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originally posted by: D8Tee

originally posted by: pirhanna
The OP doesnt make any sense to me. Solar panels are not complicated, they produce energy for a long long time and can be easily replicated. Just because oil / coal is currently cheaper doesnt make them non-viable. Thats a strange take on it imo. Solar panels are not negative energy producers. Wheres your evidence?

The sun don't always shine and the wind don't always blow.

The grid needs a constant supply or things get ugly.


The sun always shines in some places, and the wind always blows in others.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:13 AM
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originally posted by: Vector99

originally posted by: D8Tee

originally posted by: pirhanna
The OP doesnt make any sense to me. Solar panels are not complicated, they produce energy for a long long time and can be easily replicated. Just because oil / coal is currently cheaper doesnt make them non-viable. Thats a strange take on it imo. Solar panels are not negative energy producers. Wheres your evidence?

The sun don't always shine and the wind don't always blow.

The grid needs a constant supply or things get ugly.


The sun always shines in some places, and the wind always blows in others.


Umm, there's this thing called nighttime.

And no, you cannot rely upon the wind to always blow.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:15 AM
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originally posted by: D8Tee

originally posted by: Vector99

originally posted by: D8Tee

originally posted by: pirhanna
The OP doesnt make any sense to me. Solar panels are not complicated, they produce energy for a long long time and can be easily replicated. Just because oil / coal is currently cheaper doesnt make them non-viable. Thats a strange take on it imo. Solar panels are not negative energy producers. Wheres your evidence?

The sun don't always shine and the wind don't always blow.

The grid needs a constant supply or things get ugly.


The sun always shines in some places, and the wind always blows in others.


Umm, there's this thing called nighttime.

And no, you cannot rely upon the wind to always blow.


Batteries

When the wind isn't blowing, the rivers are always flowing. Hydro electrics shouldn't only be for dams.

* Oh and even when there seems to be no wind, there is.
edit on 30-3-2017 by Vector99 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:23 AM
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originally posted by: Vector99

originally posted by: D8Tee

originally posted by: Vector99

originally posted by: D8Tee

originally posted by: pirhanna
The OP doesnt make any sense to me. Solar panels are not complicated, they produce energy for a long long time and can be easily replicated. Just because oil / coal is currently cheaper doesnt make them non-viable. Thats a strange take on it imo. Solar panels are not negative energy producers. Wheres your evidence?

The sun don't always shine and the wind don't always blow.

The grid needs a constant supply or things get ugly.


The sun always shines in some places, and the wind always blows in others.


Umm, there's this thing called nighttime.

And no, you cannot rely upon the wind to always blow.


Batteries

When the wind isn't blowing, the rivers are always flowing. Hydro electrics shouldn't only be for dams.

* Oh and even when there seems to be no wind, there is.


With large scale photovoltaic solar production to feed the energy grid, it's not feasible to use battery energy storage.

What do you mean when there seems to be no wind, there is? If the turbine isn't spinning it's not making power.

Hydroelectric plays well with the electrical grid, it's always on.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:35 AM
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a reply to: D8Tee

Ummm
link
link
2 real applications of batteries being introduced



What do you mean when there seems to be no wind, there is? If the turbine isn't spinning it's not making power.

The areas that have wind turbines have them for a reason. Even on a non-windy day there is still some atmospheric movement, and they will turn slightly, generating some energy even if it's miniscule.



Hydroelectric plays well with the electrical grid, it's always on.

It's not well executed, and most hydroelectricity comes from dams, not natural flowing rivers.
edit on 30-3-2017 by Vector99 because: fixed broken link



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:37 AM
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a reply to: D8Tee



Umm, there's this thing called nighttime.


Quantum dot technology can now harvest the infra-red spectrum meaning that solar panels with quantum dots will produce energy even at night.

link

As to intermittent power, we just need to come up with storage solutions.



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:45 AM
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It's all about the location and planning. Below is a quote and link to a story about the utility's level power wall storage system. A good quality panel is warranted for 25 years and the price is dropping fast. The current installed cost for commercial solar is $1.41 per watt for the array.


Islands in the Pacific Ocean are some of the most practical places to install solar panels. Since there’s no natural gas pipeline or rail line to haul in coal, islands like Kauai in Hawaii have traditionally generated electricity by shipping in many barrels of diesel fuel.

These days, because so many residences and businesses have installed solar power, there’s a greatly reduced need to burn fossil during the day — but at night, the generators kick in. Tesla wants to change all that, with a massive new solar farm and energy storage project on the island.

Much of renewable energy generation is intermittent: wind and solar power generation peaks are often around times of low demand. So Tesla (which changed its name from Tesla Motors last year largely because of projects like this) offers the Powerpack, a massive battery that can store electricity during the day when supply is abundant, and discharge it when demand goes up after the sun goes down.

www.theverge.com...



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:46 AM
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originally posted by: Dr X
a reply to: D8Tee



Umm, there's this thing called nighttime.


Quantum dot technology can now harvest the infra-red spectrum meaning that solar panels with quantum dots will produce energy even at night.

link

As to intermittent power, we just need to come up with storage solutions.


Produce how much energy at night? Show me a technical paper that shows they can produce more than a piddling amount from IR radiation during nighttime.

As to the storage solutions, you are correct, we are not there.
edit on 30-3-2017 by D8Tee because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 30 2017 @ 04:51 AM
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a reply to: D8Tee




As to the storage solutions, you are correct, we are not there.

Google Tesla Powerwall and you will see we actually are.



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