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Thu Sep 10, 2020, 03:58 PM

Just have a think

A refreshing and well done presentation

5 replies, 837 views

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Reply Just have a think (Original post)
Normanart Sep 2020 OP
Cicada Sep 2020 #1
NNadir Sep 2020 #2
Normanart Sep 2020 #3
NNadir Sep 2020 #4
Normanart Sep 2020 #5

Response to Normanart (Original post)

Thu Sep 10, 2020, 04:05 PM

1. I watch this guy. I find him kind of annoying but really smart.

For some reason I wouldn’t want to go out drinking with him, he seems sort of annoying. But I have no rational reason for that. His videos are always smart and logical.

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Response to Normanart (Original post)

Thu Sep 10, 2020, 04:59 PM

2. One should definitely have a think, particularly at what is being overlooked and minimized.

He is correct that perovskites have been investigated seriously as a solar panel material for over ten years. The pace of perovskite publications is accelerating, quite a bit.

The "only" 20 mg/watt nonsense about lead is extremely misleading and requires a critical thinking response, because, well, it's dangerous.

As of the 2019 edition of the World Energy Outlook, the world was using just about 600 exajoules of energy per year. The solar industry generally regards it's half a century old failure - complete failure - to address climate change despite the expenditure of trillion dollar quantities of money by using "percent talk," in which they point to the percent growth in solar output from a trivial output to a still trivial amount of energy produced. But let's embrace "percent" talk for the hell of it, and assume that this noxious technology reaches 10% of the world energy supply, that would be 60 exajoules.

California, which is on fire because solar energy and all the other "renewables will save us" hoopla didn't work to address climate change, is one of those rare places where - for a portion of the day - solar energy can provide a considerable percentage of generated electricity for a period of the day. Here is the CAISO line graph for so called "renewable energy" production in California recorded last night at 7:30 PDT.

If one looks into this - I spent much of the day checking in on it, and it was very clear that yesterday was a low wind day and the "massive" solar output was mostly solar during the daylight hours.

By evening, at pretty much the same time, the so called "renewable energy" profile looked like this:

Inspection of the first graphic indicates that the "peak" operating hours for solar energy - which dominated "renewable energy" yesterday as the wind was not available, lasted from about 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon (which was well before demand peaked in California). This means that solar energy was available for about 8 to 10 hours if we add an hour on each end for the ramp up. We are near the equinox, so we can leave out the effect of what it would look like in winter, but not get the benefit of the summer solstice.

So to get "10%" - something half a century of cheering for solar has never come close to achieving - we would actually need to generate 180 exajoules = 60/.3 since 8 hours is roughly a third of a day.

There are 31,557,600 seconds in a sideral year. This means the average continuous power requirement for solar would be 180 exajoules/31,557,600 seconds = 1.9 TerraWatts of power, 1.9 trillion watts. At 20 mg/watt, this translates into about 38,000 tons of lead, distributed widely in low concentrations. The low concentrations of course, have an impact on all of the handwaving that goes on about "recycling."

Lead has a half life in human flesh on the order of decades. If you are poisoned by lead - and let's be clear - we are going to have poor people manufacture this stuff and the waste from the manufacturing plant, and the waste at landfills.

And it will end up in landfills:

The reality is that because of low value as a recycled material, and the extensive energy requirements of transport and recycling, these cells will end up in landfills as toxic electronic waste, something that is already taking place even though the solar industry is trivial. We will then more or less be distributing lead continuously, basically until it runs out. And we are going to be placing it among people who are not educated in anyway with respect to hazardous materials.

Then of course, we have the wiring, inverters, and battery chemistry with which to deal which is another wholly ignored topic in this presentation.

Saying "it's not as bad as car batteries" is like announcing that having breast cancer is not so bad because pancreatic cancer kills you faster than breast cancer.

Finally, the most efficient solar perovskites are cesium iodine bridged hexaiodoplumbate solar cells. Neither cesium nor iodine are readily abundant elements. There is a lot of talk about tin bromide analogues, but they are far less efficient.

This guy is reasonably bright, and his simplified discussion was cute as far as it went, but it's more of the vague "rah! rah!" we've been hearing for half a century about solar "breakthroughs" with no result. Since we've begun throwing billions of dollars per year at the solar industry - sometimes close to a hundred of billions of dollars in a year - climate change has actually been accelerating, not decelerating. We have reached the unprecedented rate of 2.4 ppm/year for new accumulations of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere.

The "solar will save us" conceit didn't work; it isn't working and it won't work. The reason is physics.

The presentation beyond the surface is rather glib, which one could tell by having that awful person Elon Musk handing out his usual Trump scale lies.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #2)

Thu Sep 10, 2020, 11:58 PM

3. Just curious

Last edited Fri Sep 11, 2020, 01:09 AM - Edit history (1)

Do you believe there is a solution for the climate crisis? Personally, I can live without electricity, but that presents problems at scale. Serious question. Also, the current level of lead recycled in the US is about 1.2 million tons/yr, so 38,000 tons doesnʻt seem like much.

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Response to Normanart (Reply #3)

Fri Sep 11, 2020, 09:21 AM

4. There is very clearly a solution to the climate crisis; but the engineering challenge is enormous.

I've been studying the topic in the primary scientific literature for decades and have convinced myself - after changing my mind on a number of things - especially on so called "renewable energy" I have a strong feeling of what must be done to work, which is different than what is being done and probably different than what will be done.

I will say that for the first time in 30 years, it does seem that some of the approaches I suggest are increasingly being raised, because clearly the solar/wind/geothermal/tidal scheme has not worked, is not working and won't work.

The point I made is that the lead in solar cells will not be recycled, since at concentrations that low, the cost of transport, processing etc will not justify recycling. Car batteries are different, in that they are generally bulk lead. This is also true of lead pipes.

Lead perovskites are not entirely insoluble. This means that they can because of mechanical insult, leach toxic stuff into the environment. The permissible level of lead in drinking water is 15 micrograms/liter. 38,000 tons is enough to contaminate 2.5 billion liters of water. We may add to the 38,000 that will not be recycled because it is too diffuse, that which is actually in the cells, to runoff from mines - already a huge problem around the world, unavoidable manufacturing waste, and the fact that lead is already distributed from coal burning (along with mercury) widely, so we are certainly not starting from zero contamination.

I sometimes muse that the stupidity and ignorance of our times reflects the psychophysiological conseqeunce of breathing and eating lead and mercury neurotoxins.

There are far safer ways to generate energy, and the safest and most sustainable forms, though not risk free, have the highest energy to mass ratio. To produce one watt of power, 125 trillions of a gram of plutonium is required, significantly less mass than is involved in distributed lead in a perovskite solar cell. Moreover, this material can be contained in a relatively tiny volume, and doesn't require much transport. Moreover the components of used nuclear fuel are concentrated and extremely valuable.

My journal here on this website is peripatetic to be sure, but probably 80% is commentary on readings in the primary scientific literature, and of that, better than 75% probably relates to energy and the environment.

I oppose so called "renewable energy" because it is not actually renewable, nor is it sustainable. I strongly support nuclear energy, and my reasoning can be found by wading through my journal.

Nuclear energy is the world's last best hope. It's as clear as day, if, and only if, one thinks critically.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #4)

Fri Sep 11, 2020, 03:39 PM

5. Thank you

I have been reading a lot about the potential for nuclear energy sources, and it may be a promising technology for the short term.

Long term, increasing population pressure and unsustainable consumption patterns do not bode well for the human race. Not to mention the devastating effects of climate change.


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