At Wired Daniel Oberhaus points out one of the challenges facing the “Green New Deal” or any other largescale plan to replace U. S. energy with something more carbon-free—the electrical grid:

The fundamental challenge with integrating solar and wind energy into the US electric grid is that the areas that are best for generating these types of clean energy are usually very remote. The Great Plains is the place to harvest wind energy, and the Mojave Desert gets sun 360 days a year, but these locations are hundreds—if not thousands—of miles away from America’s biggest cities, where clean energy is needed most. Piping this energy from wind and solar farms means building more interstate high-voltage transmission lines, which are expensive, ugly, and loud. Unsurprisingly, most people don’t want transmission lines near their homes, so new builds often face stiff political resistance from locals.

That’s also a problem with things like mass use of electrical vehicles which will inevitably place a greater load on the grid. It’s an interesting piece and you may find it informative. Something that goes unmentioned in the article is that the most efficient place in which to use energy is near where it’s captured or generated. Just conversion from direct to alternating current causes a drop.

3 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    A few weeks ago, I listened to a presentation about the problems of disposing of solar panels — a lot of hazardous materials that are hard to recycle, and no plans for when they are to be replaced. The number that stood out to me was 20 year lifespan. I think she was using a lower number to create some sense of urgency to plan for the end of life, but essentially panels start degrading upon installation, with the decline in output being slowed by regular maintenance and cleaning. Maybe technological improvements are on the way, but one of the issues with putting solar panels in remote locations is they are less likely to receive regular maintenance and cleaning.

  • The rule of thumb used to be that solar panels degraded at the rate of 1% per year so that at the end of 20 years they would be producing 80% of what they did when new. It’s been suggested that is pessimistic for panels made before 2000 which should be just about reaching end of life now and even more pessimistic for panels made since 2000. It will be an interesting real life experiment. I would assume that IBGYBG prevails but we’ll see.

    Prior to 2000 the majority of solar panels were made in the U. S.; now at least 60% are made in China and it may be considerably more—how many of the “Made in Taiwan” panels are actually made in China?

  • walt moffett Link

    Wonder how long the environmentalists could drag out their law suits when its California’s desert being paneled.

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