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Comments about ‘What other's say: A solar powered middle ground’

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Published: Friday, Oct. 19 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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one old man
Ogden, UT

Wow. A well thought out and well written piece filled with some common sense.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Solar and wind generation requires battery storage of some kind. We can't count on the wind or the sun when we NEED electricity, so we'll have to store that electricity. Will every family be expected to have a large bank of batteries in their basement, shed or garage? The only practical and affordable batteries are lead-acid, like those we have in our cars. Do we really want to have a bank of those batteries in our homes? Can you even start to image the toxicity that would result when those batteries begin to wear out?

Mc
West Jordan, UT

Solar is not clean. Google rare earth minerals or heavy metal toxicity. These heavy metals like cadmium are necessary for production of solar panels. China is the biggest source for these metals where mining them has caused toxic polution of rivers and whole villages with cancer. Many countries have banned or severely limited mining of these metals due to the polution caused by the process.

When solar panals age and break down they are considered hazardous waste. When Solyndra closed down the company left tons of hazardous materials to be cleaned up from the production of their solar panels.

Besides all this consider the amount of fossil fuel required for solar production. The bottom line is that solar is not the tremendous clean "green" energy it is touted to be.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

I tend to agree with Blaeloch that existing developed areas should be exploited first. They already have the infrastructure and transmission corridors. Little new construction would be required. While I'm encouraged that Salazar targeting areas that have few resource conflicts for solar development, we should be looking at urbanized areas first. What is lost in looking to the deserts is opportunity cost. A dollar spent installing a solar array in the Mojave is not available to install one on a shopping mall or warehouse.

For example, consider the Wal-Mart distribution center north of St. George. Its roof is about 1500'x670' (scaled from Google Earth image)-- 23 acres of flat sunny surface doing nothing but keeping toasters and blue jeans dry. How many kilowatts could that capture to offset peak air conditioning loads (current goes right into the grid, Mike, no storage needed) consuming no additional land? As a bonus, the photons the array intercepts would not be converted to heat, reducing the AC costs for the building.

Or parking lots-- The lot at the University Orthopaedic Center has tilted sunshades that are just screaming for photovoltaic cells. The arrays would keep cars sheltered while generating power.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

There are a couple entrepreneurial urban farmers locally (one featured recently in the DesNews) who have made successful businesses by leasing small plots of land across the city for cultivation. A bit of a backyard here, a vacant lot there, etc. The small scattered parcels add up in the aggregate to make enough land to support a business.

Why can't utilities do the same with solar? Lease warehouse, factory, and shopping mall rooftop space and parking lots for power generation. Like the urban farmers, they could sharecrop, letting the businesses skim off a portion of the electricity before it enters the grid.

The beauty and bane of solar is that it is diffuse; it's everywhere, but in small quantities (compared to coal or nuclear, which are very energy dense). Solar developers should exploit that. It makes little sense to build highly capitalized facilities covering thousands of acres to concentrate sunlight, just to spread it out again when it is distributed over the grid. Capture it at the end use location instead.

Mc: We must weigh the full costs of all the alternatives. Coal, oil, and nuclear are no beds of roses, either.

one old man
Ogden, UT

MR says, "Can you even start to image the toxicity that would result when those batteries begin to wear out?"

We can't even seem to imagine the harm done by the toxicity existing right now from coal and petroleum fueling our electrical system. I'll bet that if an analysis were done comparing the dangers of toxic materials in photovoltaic systems and the current fuels, there would no longer be any doubt as to which is worse.

L White
Springville, UT

Mr. One old man,

How well does your skin tolerate battery acid? Mine would be eaten away. My clothes are eaten away when battery acid touches them. I don't want my children or my grandchild to touch battery acid. You seem to mock the dangers of battery acid. You seem to ignore the very real consequences to all of us if we have to install batteries in our homes to capture and store wind or solar energy. You tell us that coal fired plants are more harmful. A single drop of battery acid will blind you. How does that compare to the dangers of a coal-fired generator? Can a single breath from that plant blind you or destroy your lungs?

one old man
Ogden, UT

Mr. White, haven't you noticed that almost all batteries sold these days are SEALED? The acid cannot leak, fumes don't escape.

Your argument doesn't hold much water. You're letting some unreasonable thinking control you. Do some research and learn the truth.

Sorry.

L White
Springville, UT

Mr. One old man,

It's "Mrs. White", thank you very much.

Sealed may be different than what you understand.

We have "sealed" batteries in our car, but they are not "sealed". The tops can be popped off. The cells can be checked. They are the batteries that you and I can buy from every parts distributor in America. They not only leak, but their is corrosian from every terminal. Why not spend a few minutes at your local "Checkers" or other parts supply store and learn for yourself.

It's a real shame when a woman has to correct a man about batteries.

Corn Dog
New York, NY

@one old man

Lead-acid batteries are not sealed when they are manufactured and recycled.

During the mining and smelting of lead and battery manufacturing some lead and acid vapors escape into the environment, raising the blood-lead levels of those who live near those facilities. Elevated blood-lead levels in children have been shown to affect their intellectual development, which is a very high price for those innocent children to pay just so a few greenies can feel good about themselves.

one old man
Ogden, UT

I did some extra research and must admit that much of what Mrs. White and Corn Dog have written is correct. But at the same time, rapid advances are being made in battery technology and associated dangers are diminishing.

However, if one looks at the big picture, there isn't any real doubt that the toxic effects of coal and petroleum are much greater than any dangers that may be posed by batteries.

Allisdair
Thornbury, Vic

The solution to availability of power when the sun is clouded or set is Concentrating solar power (CSP) with storage. It uses mirrors to concentrate the sun onto a collector that heats molten salt. The molten salt is stored until the heat is required to create super heated steam that is used in a conventional steam turbine.

For those who don't believe it, one is running in the MOJAVE DESERT and others in Spain.

Because it is a closed system there is no pollution unlike Coal or Gas fired power stations.

By using a combination of Wind, Solar Thermal, Photo Electric (PV),Wave and Hydro our electricity dependent life style will continue.

cjb
Bountiful, UT

Why are we not making use of Yellowstone geothermal? If global warming is really such a threat, we ought to.u

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah
Solar and wind generation requires battery storage of some kind. We can't count on the wind or the sun when we NEED electricity, so we'll have to store that electricity.

============

No they don't Mike.
Unless perhaps you want to be a lonely reclusive hermit living in a cabin somewhere in Montana, typing manefestos or wanting to be 100% independant and off of the of the power grid.

Wind and Solar energy does not need to be stored at all.
They supply electrical power directly to the nation power grid.

Electrical Power consumption is highest during the day - which just so happens to be presisely when Solar and Wind are supplying it.

L White,
It's a real shame when an Engineer has to correct a woman about Alternative Electrical Power supply, generation and redistribution works on a power grid.

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