What are the undefined clean energy alternatives that Pembina's survey refers to? Solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, nuclear, hydro-electric power? As soon as a person researches the science underlying every 'green' solution they run into the same reality - there are no 'green' solutions to the environmental degradation being caused by human over-consumption.
The self-interested entrepreneurs and the bankers who finance the latest gizmo want profits. They understand the numbers, the science, the embedded energy involved. They are the deceivers. But they also understand the materialistic mentality of the believers who want to believe in a free lunch. The capitalists know that the government pigs will go along with anything and provide huge subsidies, to keep themselves in power and near the trough.
For sure, the promoters and advertisers can easily fool huge numbers of people who are looking for any reassuring pile of crap that will allow them to continue shopping. Most people want stuff, they feel entitled to it, They won't accept or even listen to a scenario whereby they must either voluntarily choose to immediately stop consuming anything beyond what's necessary for survival or the biosphere will collapse. The consumers will cherish and embrace any lie that tells them "Don't worry, keep shopping." The promoters and advertisers can use fear and desire to fool those yearning to believe, hell they may be believers themselves, but they can't fool physics, they can't hide all the energy embedded in their new gizmo. They can make money with slick slogans, but they can't fool the second law of thermodynamics. The only real solution to over-consumption is consuming less.
'Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism', is an excellent source on the really inconvenient truth behind the 'clean energy' that folks want so desperately to believe will save their consumptive souls. It covers each of the illusions, but, for today, The Mud Report will look at the #1 fairy tale - solar energy. As Ozzie explains in this interview, each of these clean energy solutions is simply fossil fuel usage wrapped up differently. That they all offer no challenge to the powers that be is why they are allowed access to the mass media's microphone
Real conservation is a heresy that threatens the core beliefs of capitalism like endless growth. The capitalist doctrine, like all belief systems, fears heresy above all.
Andrew Nikiforuk's article 'Solar Dreams, Spanish Realities', focuses on Pedro Prieto, a 62-year-old engineer who has worked in Spain's photovoltaic industry since the 1970s as part of Spain's famous solar revolution. In it Prieto says, "Solar power in its current big industrial mindset is just another extension of fossil fuels." He goes on to explain that, "The sun is renewable but photovoltaics are not. Just to make the silicon used to trap the sun's rays on manufactured wafers requires the melting of silica rock at 3,000 Fahrenheit (1,649 Celsius). And the electricity of coal-fired plants or ultrapurified hydrogen obtained from fossil sources provide the heat to do that.
The making of solar photovoltaic cells requires rare elements such as gallium, tellurium, indium and selenium. Called "hitchhiker" metals, most are the byproduct of industrial copper, zinc or lead production. New thin-film solar sheets, for example, depend on indium. Moreover indium reserves are largely located in China and the U.S. Geological Survey predicts global supplies could be depleted within 10 years. It also takes a fantastic amount of oil to make concrete, glass and steel for solar modules." In the end Prieto offers this advice, "We need to deurbanize and localize as much as it is possible, and to return to the countryside, as much as it is possible, and to use more animal draft force."
Spain’s attempt to replace fossil fuels with Solar Photovoltaics was disastrous. It was built with huge government subsidies, money that was borrowed in the $billions from the IMF and other international bankers. Technologically the numbers used by the promoters were derived from controlled laboratory experiments that had little to do with the realities on the ground.
Prieto's project was the 2nd largest installation of PV on earth. It produced about 10% of the world’s PV power: 4,237 MW—equal to four large 1000 MW coal or nuclear power plants when it was running optimally which was almost never due to everything from dust [deserts are dusty, labs aren't], to rats chewing on wires. In 2009 Spain's plants generated 2.26% of Spain’s electricity, the largest percent of any nation in the world. To replace the energy of all of Spain's nuclear and fossil fuel plants [not transportation consumption] solar panels would have to cover 2,300 square miles and you’d also need the equivalent of 300 billion car batteries to store power for night-time consumers.
As Spain sunk further into the financial abyss following the Wall St. debacle of 2008 they were forced to cut subsidies 15 different times. When the solar electric industry had to stand anywhere near on it's own feet it went bankrupt. Tomorrow we'll look a bit at the other green illusions and see that in each case they are actually investment vehicles who only exist because deluded believers want them to be real and governments will subsidize them in order to keep themselves at the trough of corporate corruption.