Future Of Solar Power: Obstacles And Problems

Submitted by: trimble 2 weeks ago in News & Politics Science


Solar still faces a number of hurdles before it can truly replace fossil fuels for power generation for most Americans.

An excerpt from Science Magazine:

While solar generation is emission-free, the manufacture of solar panels and related technologies can involve some environmentally unfriendly substances. Nitrogen trifluoride is a common byproduct of electronics manufacture, including those used in solar cells, and it is a greenhouse gas 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In addition, many solar cells include small amounts of the toxic metal cadmium, and the batteries required to store generated electricity can contain a host of other heavy metals and dangerous substances. As solar technology improves, manufacturers may be able to move away from these potentially dangerous substances, but for now, they mar the otherwise impressive ecological benefits solar power offers.
There are 22 comments:
Male 5,643
The biggest obstacle by far is conservative's obstruction in funding clean energy research. All they are doing is hurting our economy. Whichever country comes up with the solution to cheaper renewable energy is going to control the world. At this rate it's going to be China.
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Male 41,403
markust123 Europe has already done the research and is using it.  Just copy them.
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Male 42,560
markust123 HA HA HA! oh wait you're serious...
China came and bought all the companies Obama gave millions to and took their research away... Chain doesn't waste their time researching, they are terrible at it! They just buy what others invent or licence it and mass produce it while paying a living $15 an hour wage a few bucks for a 10 hour day...

Who do you think owns the power companies that DO the research? Mom and Pop? Some guys in their garage? Heck no! It's Big Oil and Big Coal and the rest of the 'Vast right-wing conspiracy' that's who Obama gave the millions in free money to... 
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Male 42,560
Storage remains the #1 barrier. We simply cannot store massive amounts of power with any degree of efficiency. Never mind the cost! 

Transmission is the next one: building massive solar and wind farms close to the cities that need them is a terrible idea, but what choice is there? Any benefits would be lost with long transmission lines, and thus costs and damage to environments increases, not lowered.

And how do millions (tens of millions? hundreds?) of acres of pitch-black heat producing panels help cool the Earth? I've never heard an answer to that one... :-/
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Male 41,403
The US keeps bragging it's the leader in all areas... then why can Denmark make 42% of their energy from wind?  Germany is WAY ahead on cleaner energy {damn german efficiency} 

I think the only thing the USA is best at is bragging.
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Male 42,560
Gerry1of1 Denmark and Germany (especially) rely on nearby nations who produce power with Nuclear or Coal to 'fill in' for their power outages. Without that they'd have brown and black-outs regularly. That isn't factored into their 'clean emissions' calculations of course! But when it is? They're not much better than the USA at 3x or 5X the cost of electricity... who pays for that? The poor!

America recently cleaned up a lot, in spite of the obsticles Obama placed in the way. Germany shut its nuclear power and imported more coal power... the opposite of cleaning up.
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Male 738
5cats "They're not much better than the USA at 3x or 5X the cost of electricity..."
3x or 5x the cost? - hardly!
"German prices were 17.9 cents per kwh for industry, and 39.5 cents per kwh for residential customers, versus 7 and 12.5 cents respectively in the U.S."
-wiki

The high residential energy costs for households in Germany and Denmark are due to high levies and taxes.

"... who pays for that? The poor!"
You really care about the poor? Really? The residential energy use is 37%. The rest is commercial and industry. And industry sectors already pay reduced tariffs for energy.


- https://www.epa.gov/energy/electricity-customers
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Male 42,560
boredhuman So 'only' 3x then, by your own admission, thanks for the support!
Why do they have those levis and taxes? To PAY for the GREEN power. Sheesh man... this is basic stuff right here...
The POOR still see their bills double and then redouble, where will the money come from? They cannot raise prices or cut costs, they pay with their blood...

Look! Meaningless circles! Oooo! Aaaah!
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Male 738
5cats "So 'only' 3x then, by your own admission, thanks for the support!" Yes, for the residential sector ONLY.

"Why do they have those levis and taxes?"


Yep, 23.6% goes towards renewable surcharge, but that makes up only half of the taxes. If we remove all taxes except renewable surcharge, German residential energy would be 0.2916 E * 1.25$/E * (100-7-16-2.8-5.7)% = 0.2496 $. That's only 2x the price... And if we also remove the renewable surcharge, which would put it on par with non-taxed US energy, then it would cost 0.1636$, which would make it 31% more expensive than US electricity at 0.125$.

"The POOR still see their bills double and then redouble" Which poor are you so worried about? Germans or US? Germany has plenty of social programs to assist the poor. US has subsidies for low-income households. I find it strange to hear you worry about the poor all of a sudden... 
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Male 42,560
boredhuman Ontario, and soon every Province in Canada.

Mine have risen by 50% in the past 12-15 years (under the NDP) and will rise another 60% (compounded on the 50 remember) over the next 6 if the Gov't gets their way. This is due to gov't directly looting over 1B from the Public utility, in addition to wasteful 'green projects'. Manitoba already has the greenest power in all of Canada, bar none.

Ontario has had a 4-fold increase in that time and will double again on top of that in the next 6 years... ALL due to 'green policies'.

Where did the tens and hundreds of billions (in usd I mean) spent of wind and solar in Germany come from? Fairies? Unicorns? Where exactly? What price did shuttering the coal and then the Nuclear plants bring? You still haven't shown where their power comes from: large % from neighbors and their coal power, that's a fact you agree with I presume? Even if you cannot bring yourself to admit the facts...

Oh goodie! Take taxpayers money away and... give a fraction of it back to the taxpayers! What a terrific idea!

You do know I'm disabled, on a fixed income, which has risen about $20/ month total over the years while my electric bill has gone up by $30... and my water bill doubled (+15 a month), and gas up $25... all are 'public utilities' and hardly 'optional spending' yes? As well as food, gasoline, phone/cable and all the rest... all rising but not my income...
Also my income taxes rose quite a lot too... and deductions dropped a bit... even though I'm at or below the 'poverty line' I end up paying every year...
I know 'poor' ok? My house cost me $20,000...
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Male 738
5cats "You still haven't shown where their power comes from: large % from neighbors and their coal power, that's a fact you agree with I presume?" - I was going to put it up last post, but decided to limit myself to one info graphic :)



See any difference? Fossil fuels make up 2/3 of US energy production and only 1/2 of Germany. Renewables make up 16.1% in the US and 33.1% in Germany. And you gotta remember that Germany is much more (7x) densely populated than US leaving less room for wind farms; and Germany is further from the equator making solar energy less efficient.

Coal? In US, coal production has been replaced with natural gas. A decade ago 50% of energy was produced by coal.

"I know 'poor' ok?" - Yeah, I figured you had selfish reasons. 

What would a fiscally responsible republican tell you? "Instead of spending time on IAB, go get a job you can work despite your disability" "You should have saved for retirement ahead of time" "Cut your internet connection to save money."

Sorry. Bad joke. I hope you'll find other means of income to improve your living conditions. I wouldn't want you to cut your internet - I learn a lot from these conversations with you... 

I have no idea what your situation is or how Canada deals with the poor. Presumably, the Canadian tax-payers pay for your fixed income. The reason your fixed income is not rising, is probably because Canada is trying to balance its budget. Are you mad that your government prioritizes the welfare of future generations over the welfare of the current aging generation? 
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Male 42,560
boredhuman So America uses less coal than Germany and that's bad?

Population density is GOOD for wind farms: they need to be close to the demand or they're useless. Same for solar.

And that's production: Germany's usage is higher and nearly ALL of that imported power is coal.
America imports a little bit of Canadian Hydro power, which is pretty 'clean' yes? Otherwise American production is equal to its usage, unlike Germany, which is my point: it isn't as green as it pretends to be.

Burdening people with massive debt for the next 100 years is not looking after the welfare of future generations. Bankrupting the Provincial economy(s) and soon all of Canada's economy is not a good plan either.

There are many better ways to do this, but none of them line the pockets of the politicians and their friends like 'wind and solar' so that is the only reason those are pushed down our throats.

Oh, thanks for the researching! Well done! This was very informative. :-)
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Male 738
5cats "And that's production: Germany's usage is higher and nearly ALL of that imported power is coal."
Germany is the biggest exporter of energy in Europe: 68.5 TWh exported in 2017

I could continue arguing and researching, but I wanted to touch on something more important: 
If you're disabled and on fixed income, are you looking for opportunities to supplement your income? I can possibly offer some advice.  

From previous threads, I understand you had positive experience working with children? Have you considered working as a private tutor over the internet? The start-up costs would be minimal. You would have flexible hours, no commute, and could have private payment arrangement with parents... 
Demand should be there, because in many families both parents work, and having any kind of tutor beats leaving children unattended roaming the Internet and playing video games at home all day. 
The technical hurdle of setting up skype and paypal payment system; and finding first customers - those are nothing compared to finding the motivation and will to start improving your life. 
I know, "advice is cheap," but it might help you.
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Male 41,403
5cats Relying on imported electricity doesn't detract from the 42% they make themselves from clean wind. Even if they do import 58%
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Male 42,560
Gerry1of1 The 58% is dirty, all of it. Their claims of purity are only valid if you ignore that fact, which is seems you are willing to do...
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Male 41,403
5cats They are not claiming "purity". You're reading that into it.  I pointed out that they can do something the US seems incapable of.  42% is a good thing, whether the rest is clean or dirty - 42% wind power is a good thing.
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Male 42,560
Gerry1of1 But not all of their production is purely wind and solar: they have tons of fossil power too...

The actual % of wind and solar is pretty small, even in Germany, and cost a freaking fortune. It is 21% of their total production, not total USE so that's not counting imported (mostly dirty, none is solar or wind) power.

Denmark does better with the % but it's a tiny speck...
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Male 738
Written by a freelancer with background in finance on a site made by "science enthusiasts," not scientists. None of the resources come from scientific journals. 

May I offer some alternative sources to learn about viability of Solar power?
- The World Energy Council - a UN-accredited global energy body
- 'Solar Energy.' - peer reviewed scientific journal.

World Energy in 4 minutes (YouTube video by The World Energy Council)
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Male 1,638
The problems mostly are things like dust/dirt collecting on panels in deserts.  Solar and wind, when not forced on people, often DO make engineering sense.
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Male 4,657
spanz Well things like dust/dirt are just operational difficulties, I think the big problem is the manufacture, recycling and or disposal of them and the eco-disaster that would be created by mass producing enough to make any real dent in fulfilling energy needs on a large scale. Not that I don't employ solar of my own, more for cost savings than anything else, but am aware of dangerous side that needs to be kept in mind.
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Male 4,578
We only way to save the planet and consequently fix all the other problems. Is to limit the human birth rate. Less people less problems.
Course we would have to restructure our economy and not base it on exponential growth of population.
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Male 9,011

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