Friday, February 06, 2009

Green Energy Gets the Blues

Many people have had high hopes for "green energy" technologies such as wind and solar power. But honestly, when all the PV energy in the world amounts to only 1/200th (5 MW) of what a single nuclear reactor or coal power plant might produce with a much higher capacity factor, what kind of person puts his hopes in such over-hyped, under-substantiated technologies?
Because of their need for space to accommodate giant wind turbines, wind farms are especially reliant on bank financing for as much as 50 percent of a project’s costs. For example, JPMorgan Chase, which analysts say is the most active bank remaining in the renewable energy sector, has invested in 54 wind farms and one solar plant since 2003, according to John Eber, the firm’s managing director for energy investments.

In the solar industry, the ripple effects of the crisis extend all the way to the panels that homeowners put on their roofs. The price of solar panels has fallen by 25 percent in six months, according to Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, who said he expected a further drop of 10 percent by midsummer. _NYT
The wind does not blow everywhere, nor all the time. The sun only provides perhaps 6 hours of useful energy a day, at best. The capacity factors of these technologies is abysmal. That is why for baseline energy you get far more bang for the buck from geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil sands, gas, and soon from biomass and biofuels.

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