Windmills and solar power

5.5 Renewables


What about clean energy from renewables? Solar power on earth is likely not going to be sustainable enough. Maybe in the future we can harvest solar power from space but for the moment giant wind farms can be a solution. In his book Heat from 2006, George Monbiot proved that from all the renewable, giant wind farms, in combination with adjustments in our lifestyle could be the only solution to provide the world with enough energy.

On the other hand, a study from the World Bank in 2017 discovered that the mining of all materials needed to produce enough power plants working on renewables will cause another environmental problem. Constructing these new power plants will require the extraction of millions and millions of tons of aluminum, zinc, lead, copper, and iron. There might not even be enough silver for this amount of solar panels, neodymium for the wind turbines, and especially lithium to produce all the necessary batteries. On top of that, wind turbines are less effective than turbines on fossil fuel. This means that in comparison to the same energy output, you will need more of the dangerous sulfur hexafluoride gas (chapter 3.7) to stop sparks inside their transformers. And last, but maybe the most important downside of power supply from renewables is that it isn’t flexible and consistent enough to provide our societies 24/7 with a reliable flow of electricity. So we’re still going to need backup power stations on fossil fuel, or nuclear energy.

This leads to the conclusion that with the technology currently available it is likely impossible to produce enough clean energy to support our whole population with the same Western lifestyle. Coincidently the recently published new documentary Planet of the Humans, directed by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore is now showing a similar message. So what we really need is a holistic approach with a change of mind and lifestyle.

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