the_truth_is_in_the_footnotes (4742)
Joined 2016-08-02
Submissions: 35 (17 featured)
Creations: 90
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Untitled Image in fun
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0 ups, 3m
MechaLeo, excellent question! Exactly my point. You got it.
Solar panels don't make themselves. in fun
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0 ups, 3y
P.S.: The first photo is (part of) China's newest and largest polysilicon plant, the air is orange because most of China is covered by coal smoke most of the time. The second photo is from Shaanxi province where many of the "older" polysilicon plants are located, and the grid is 100% coal powered. Between 2005 and 2015 China built somewhere between 40-200 new polysilicon factories, and nearly doubled the world's production capacity. The photos are real, there actually are much scarier looking photos available.
Solar panels don't make themselves. in fun
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1 up, 3y
Evilmandoer, you got it! Don't forget to add in the fact that the three main ingredients need to reduce the raw mg-Si needed (the first of about 200 process steps) are coal, wood chips, and quartz rocks. Where coal is too expensive, charcoal (made from trees) is used, and at least some of that charcoal come from the slashing and burning of rain forests. So, the very first step in making "clean energy" from the sun is to dig up a lot of coal and rocks, chop down a lot of trees (including rainforest trees) and burn them all in a huge electric furnace that uses 30MW of fossil grid power. And that is the LEAST energy-intensive and pollution-generating of the next 199 steps.
Solar panels don't make themselves. in fun
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1 up, 3y
Evilmandoevil, Thanks for the comment! You are getting pretty "warm" in your search for understanding. Here's a clue: the cost (in $$$) of anything is a reasonably realistic way of estimating the amount of energy that was expended in making it, at least as a rough guide. Yes, of course part of the cost of anything physical represents labor, profit, and other "non-energy" expenses, but those costs are about the same for everything. The reason that solar PV power costs 10 times what fossil grid power costs is because it takes at least 8 times as much grid energy to make the PV modules than they will ever produce.
Solar panels don't make themselves. in fun
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1 up, 3y
Your first statement is 100% correct, there is no such thing a "clean energy"! Bravo! Sadly, I must disagree with your second statement, as solar panels do NOT bring any benefits for the world as a whole. The transition to "renewable energy" that so many misinformed environmentalists envision cannot possibly happen, because solar modules do not ever make as much power as it took to manufacture them. The real "energy balance" of PV power is profoundly negative, anywhere from 8x to 40x, and all of that energy must come from existing power grids. Haven't you ever wondered why NO solar panel factories are powered by solar PV? If you don't believe me, will you believe Elon Musk? The quote is real, the article is real, please go read it:

“Sometimes the solar roof is positioned as sort of a competitor to utilities, but we’re actually going to need utility power to increase and we’re going to need local power generation. Because if you transition all energy to electric, that roughly triples the amount of electricity that is needed.” - Elon Musk
http://www.powermag.com/elon-musk-the-future-is-bright-for-utilities/
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