Today’s Government and many people talk about going to Green Energy, but they have no idea the science and physics behind what they are proposing. The main problem with Green Energy is what it takes to produce the energy. For example, the solar panel arrays need many chemicals to process silicate into the silicon which is used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. The silicon dust produced is also a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.
Then come the batteries needed to store the energy and this is where the story is even worse. These energy storage devices simply store electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, or diesel-fueled generators. So, we are just trading energy produced from gasoline to energy produced by power plants. Yes, there is some energy produced from solar panels but that is only during the 8 hours of daylight when they are being used.
For those of you excited about the Green Revolution, you need to take a closer look at the manufacturing cost of batteries, windmills, and solar panels These three technologies share the detrimental cost to the environment, costs that are hidden by the hype. The actual cost of building something and the cost to the environment of obtaining the materials need and untimely the disposal of the product after its lifespan must be considered.
After their useful life of about 20 years for solar panels, into the landfill, they go. The panels need to be replaced so the cycle needs to be repeated. More panels need to be made with all the environmental damage repeated.
Windmills have the highest embedded costs and one of the highest levels of environmental destruction. Believe it or not, each windmill weighs over 1600 tons or about 3,200,000 pounds. This includes concrete for the base, steel for the tower, and rare earth minerals which mainly come from China. Each blade weighs over 80,000 pounds and lasts only 15 to 20 years. Used blades cannot be recycled so off to the landfill they go. Some reports say that the energy required to make all the components will never be recovered by energy produced by the device.
The United States uses more than three billion small batteries a year and most are not recycled, so they end up in landfills. If you throw your small, used batteries in the trash, they slowly rot out, and the chemicals inside ooze out. The ooze in your ruined flashlight is toxic, and so is the ooze that will inevitably leak from every battery in a landfill.
Why is this important, because an electric car battery weighs about one thousand pounds, and inside are almost 7,000 individual lithium-ion cells very similar to the double-A battery we buy. After their lifecycle, they must be replaced, and the old ones are sent to the dump. Just think of the number of batteries going to the dump and the ooze.
Not only is that a lot of dump material but the replacements and new batteries require components that come from mining as the cycle repeats. To manufacture just one electric car battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of the ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of the ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of the ore for copper. All told you to dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just – one electric car battery.
After that sinks in, remember this mining, for the most part, does not occur in the United States but in places like China and the Congo which do not have anywhere close to the worker protection, pollution controls, or slave labor/child labor laws. We should factor in these things when choosing an electric car or calling for Green Energy. The good news is that most of the lithium needed is produced in Nevada.
There is a place for these technologies, but we must look beyond the myth of zero emissions and low initial product cost (supported by Government subsidies). The additional cost comes from environmental destruction, pollution, child and slave labor. Not to mention much of the material cannot be recycled.
*This article was written by an anonymous writer and is an opinion piece.