Sunday, December 23, 2018

Land Area Requirements: Conventional vs Alternative Energy Schemes

Image  -  Armando Sanchez, Environmental Health & Safety Field Representative

I was curious about this question of how much land area would be required from a real world infrastructure standpoint across the globe to make alternative energy schemes a success in replacing mankind's present needs for energy through the traditional conventional way of generating electricity. It became more important to me after I saw this piece of the pie graphic above which shows the alternatives (wind & solar) account for only 0.7% of the planet's energy needs. I found this image from a Linkedin page of Armando Sanchez, Environmental Health & Safety Field Representative at City of Toronto, Canada. This has been updated from previous estimates like the graphics from below in 2014 where alternative (wind & solar) electricity generation accounted for on 0.3% of the world's needs.

Image - Key Renewable Trends IEA 2016

Keep in mind, the pie slice fraction here in the illustration is strictly, when referring to renewables or alternative energy, listing only wind and solar. This does not include hydroelectric or biofuels. But so often when dealing with percentage calculations when attempting to promote alternative energy solutions, these will also be included and in so doing the stats become misleading. The hydoelectic and biomass burning have already been around for decades, they are not new, nor are they necessarily ecofriendly. Biofuels do pollute and hydroelectric dams block rivers and migration routes of fish and drown valuable forests. That's not exactly eco-green friendly according to the new rules. Still, the solar and wind people will always try and sneak them in their to give the appearance of a bigger pie slice. But getting past that for the moment, my problem is more about the land acreage area requirements needed for the wind and solar farm infrastructure to actually work. Are they really all that productive and efficient for the land area needed ??? Is such a massive land acquisition really all that eco-friendly to wildlife and plant ecosystems ??? Take a look below at what is presently required.

Image - Google
Google - Subject Sunroof
"The Google logo is spelled out in heliostats (mirrors that track the sun and reflect the sunlight onto a central receiving point) during a tour of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border February 13, 2014. The project, a partnership of NRG, BrightSource, Google and Bechtel, is the world's largest solar thermal facility and uses 347,000 sun-facing mirrors to produce 392 Megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power more than 140,000 homes."
Image -
Apple spends $850million to build giant solar farm that will power its new HQ producing enough energy for 60,000 homes
"Apple will spend nearly $850million on a solar energy project that will generate enough power for the computer giant's new corporate headquarters, retail stores and other operations in California." 
"The tech company will be the biggest single consumer of energy from the new solar facility, which is being constructed on 2,900 acres in rural Monterey County, south of the San Francisco Bay Area where Apple is headquartered."
Image Credit: SolarReserve
Solar Reserve: Sandstone Solar Energy Project - Nevada

So multi-billion dollar net-worth companies like the high-techies Google and Apple invest billions of dollars into these two very specific alternative energy schemes, Solar and Wind Turbines. Good important tax write offs for huge profit generating companies and even better with the added benefits of any government subsidy programs and/or land grants. Thus far this appears to be the only way profit is ever assured. Still I'm amazed at the shear volume of raw land needed for these vast infrastructures to operate and where the actual return on investment is so incredibly low. Matt Ridley who is a British journalist and businessman wrote about this low energy output which he states is actually 0%:
"…world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many wind turbines would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. So we’d have to build 350,000 wind turbines every year just to keep up with the growth in electricity demand each year."

My issue is not only about the 1000s of more wind turbines needed, but also the massive land area required for them to actually function properly with enough space in between one another to negate any propeller wake or turbulence effecting neighbouring wind turbines. That eventually comes to 1000s of square miles more needed across the globe to meet all energy to be delivered as promised. If the present system and way of doing business this way continues, what will our planet eventually look like ??? I never hear any alternative energy promoter advocates ever state any of these concerns and many of them are the very eco-activists who are up in arms of positive change for the future. We also never hear response from them when it's revealed that both Solar & Wind Turbines actually increase air temperatures on and within the vicinity of their business addresses. So far we get only Crickets

Image by David Gardner

Image - Google
Solar of course is my other issue. While people insist it should be put on existing human infrastructure like houses, commercial buildings, parking garages, irrigation canals, etc (& I agree), it's still not enough to fly off the drawing boards and meet the real world's energy needs. Plus, most of these Solar Farms are extremely land requirement intensive. Often wildlands are aquired or farmland taken out of production. And we have the same low energy output not only because they do not perform as advertised, but also the fact that they require these billion$ in subsidies and grants if any company involved is to see any profit and even that is no guarantee against bankruptcy. How many more square miles of acreage are needed across the globe to meet real world demand (present & future) ??? No one knows, but like wind turbines the solar farms barely scratches the surface. What would our planet physically have to look like in order to get even remotely close to taking over from oil, coal and gas industries ??? Interestingly it takes petroleum to manufacture all these wind turbines and solar panels. It takes large amounts of oil to run giant land wrecking and destroying mining operations for rare earth elements which these things require. Then there are the many components of wind turbines which cannot be manufactured within the environmentally conscious countries like the USA or E.U. Why ??? Because of strict clean air, water and land laws, regulations and requirements. So as an example wind turbines which need special magnets required to generate electricity require a special dirty method of manufacture to make them cheap. Once made they can they be shipped to their destinations to be installed.
Science and Public Policy: "In China, The True Cost of Britain's Clean, Green Wind Power Experiment: Pollution on a Disastrous Scale
Land Acreage Requirements for Conventional Energy Generation
Image - Sherco Plant - Excel Energy

Image - Wallpaper
I'm by no means a proponent for or against any type of power source. But there are certain logical variables to be considered when justifying one form over another. For the conventional electicity generating plants, their land requirements are rather  small by comparision to wind or solar land requirements. Yet their electrical generation output far excels over that of both solar and wind combined on less land area. What all rational thinking people with common sense should ask themselves is, how many hectares of land on planet earth are needed to be wallpapered and carpeted with Solar Farms and pockmarked like a giant pincushion with behemoth Wind Turbines over how many square miles of earth in order to replace all those demonized evil dirty (coal, gas, oil, biofueled, nuclear, etc) conventional power industries ??? So far I've never found or been provided a satisfying answer to this question when I've asked for it. I can only surmise from my own observation over the past couple of decades when I go back and visit Southern California where I am from that it must require 50 times the amount of industrial blight on the once former wild landscape that I experience when I travel across the backcountry. Given the mess we have now and at almost nothing as far as putting any major dent into that illustrative pie at the top of this post, we are headed towards a future planet Earth looking like some alien robot world from some SciFi episode of Star Trek. Seriously, how ecological is that ? How much wildlife (animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, all plant ecosystems, etc) have to be sacrificed so that some disconnected from reality secular worldview becomes their approved vision of the way things should be ? Do people really want to live in SciFi World ? Here's an interesting piece on land area requirements from 2015, but I'm sure it needs updating.
EnergyCollective Group: "How Much Land Does Solar, Wind and Nuclear Energy Require?"
This article came out on December 24th 2018 in the Tribune News from northestern Arizona. It's a great piece about the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Station west of the town of Buckeye Arizona and it's historical success story.
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Arizona
Image Courtesy of Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
"As the largest nuclear generating plant in the United States, powering an estimated four million homes and businesses in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, and being the only nuclear plant in the world that was not built near a large body of water, Palo Verde is on the cutting edge of the new world of nuclear technology."
The Tribune: "Arizona’s nuclear plant is on the cutting edge of clean energy"
Again, comparing land area required, which business model is more eco-friendly ? Yes in the past, there were issues with safety regarding early Nuclear plants and Hollywood as usual took up activist roles in demonizing the technology through a series of exaggerated disaster films like "China Syndrome." But technology has advanced and vastly improved. Whole Navy ships run decades without refueling. But again, the land area for Palo Verde is miniscule compared to the wholesale destruction of wildlands required for Solar & Wind farms. Plus the output return as you can see from the article is also superior by far. Here's another article from High Country Journal back in July 2018. After extolling Palo Verde's great clean success, it explain how a political stunt by the Solar & Wind proponents want to expand wind and solar and force Arizona to pass a measure which would constitutionally require Arizona utilities to use 50 percent renewable resources by 2030 and the plant authorities are worried the measure would force Palo Verde to close in six years.
"West of Phoenix, Arizona, where cooling towers billow steam into the air, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station churns out more carbon-free energy than any other power producer in the country. But, in the light of a controversial ballot measure meant to steer Arizona towards renewable energy, Palo Verde’s fate has been caught in the crossfire of a battle between state utilities and environmentalists."
High Country News: "Arizona’s nuclear power caught in crossfire"
Unbelievable, you just have to shake your head. Human run government and leadership continues to make no sense. How many millions of acres of raw beautiful wild Arizona will further be required to shut down Palo Verde ? Again I ask, how much more land destruction is required for renewables ? Take a closer look at this video below made back in 2015 of the construction of the massive industrial Topaz Solar Farm on the Carrisa Plains in Central California which is just north of the famed Carrizo Plains National Monument to the south. Again, compare the shear volume required and the less than advertised return on investment which is dependent on government subsidies.

Environmentalists and eco-activists everywhere are fond of demonizing every type of irresponsible behaviour when it comes to deforestation, strip mining, oil drilling, etc, etc, etc, but almost none will ever consider the industrial ruin their own blind faith eco-solutions will have regarding alternative energy's negative side effects to our Earth with regards to environmental ruin. They even draw up clever memes about a ruined Earth caused by human activities and force feed them virally around social media sites to get their message shoved 24/7 in people's faces. Not one of them will ever consider the alternative energy side effects and when the question is brought up you are treated like some kind of sinner to the modern enlightened new age secular religion. See folks, there's nothing new here.
Sadly, these ecosolutions the so-called climate experts have pushed and shoved in the public's face are also junking up our planet. In reality these are not eco-solutions and not what the public agreed to. Yes, the old technology has it's clear and obvious flaws, but so far the alternatives are hardly a recipe for the restoration of our Earth into a paradisaic planet. Nobody would ever say anything if massive solar & wind farms were able to put out the same amount of power output within the same land area requirement as your average conventional electrical generating power plant (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, etc). Again, I'm not necessarily for these, but they also have advantages which the alternative do not. While there is the obvious potential for environmental harm, the alternatives also harm in ways the conventional do not. But then there is the extreme weather factor. How well will wind and solar hold up to natural disasters ? Well, we have Puerto Rico & Hurricane Maria to provide an answer to that question.

Our Planet's Landscape is becoming a Dystopian SciFi World 😱
Image - Interiors Journal
Many within the major environmentalist leadership movement are fond of parroting this intellectual faith-based belief that we are headed towards the sixth extinction. It's a scaremongering tactic in the hopes of coercing a majority of mankind to put their full trust in their misguided worldview. Yes, clearly things are going wrong on the planet and you don't need credentialed experts with alphabet soup initials behind their names to tell you so. Common sense and a keen eye for change alone should be enough to tell most people something is definitely going wrong out in Nature. But the solution for fixing things are not going to be the result of finding more advanced technological materialist innovations. Human behaviour needs changing for the better. As you watch the Media's daily news reports, how likely is change for the better going to haappen ? The present course this planet is headed on is not one requiring more scientific enlightenment which is the very thing that has gotten us all here in the first place. Scientific dogma of how badly designed, flawed and imperfect Nature is, has given us the pseudo-scientific solution known as the Green Revolution which really wasn't. Conventional energy generation alone has NOT caused climate change. The ongoing continued misuse and abuse of science by flawed human beings will only lead us into a SciFi original version of a Soylent Green apocalypse scenario with the failed alternative energy infrastructure lying in ruins as a testament to mankind's intellectual arrogance. More than anything, people just need to use common sense and it's free.
Image - Soylent Green Apocalypse

"I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step." Jeremiah 10:23
Boy isn't that becoming more and more the truth ? 😕

1 comment:

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