Solar Energy NOT The Answer

4 10 2009

atree_huggerIf any of you were here at the very beginning of Giovanni’s World, you would know that I took great pleasure in mocking Ecofascists at any opportunity. I still do! You may not have seen me write about Ecofascism lately, you can blame Obama for that. Really, it’s Obama’s fault. I have been so worried about his Marxist ways that I have overlooked Ecofascism for quite sometime, but I found something today that got me back in the Ecofascist bashing mood.

What I found leaves me wondering if I should even try to classify it. On one hand it could be classified as “un-intended consequences”, then on the other hand you could classify it as “conveniently overlooked facts by the Ecofascists that want to tell us all how we should live”.

At this point I think I will just go ahead and give you the info, then let you decide how it should be classified.



Water Sucking Solar Farms Breed Water Wars

If you thought there were water wars brewing before, just wait. The sun is often touted as a fantastic source of energy, which it is, but there’s a hitch: Many solar projects consume enormous amounts of water. How much water are we talking? According to a recent New York Times article, proposed plans for two solar farms in Nevada would gulp up 1.3 billion gallons of water annually–or 20 percent of the area’s available water. And the worst thing is this heavy water use in renewable energy projects is all about the bottom line.

High-Profit Solar Technology Devours Water
According to The New York Times article, many solar developments are solar thermal plants, not solar cells like those you would find installed on roof-tops. Solar thermal plants use mirrors to heat water, which creates steam, which in turn drives turbines to generate electricity.

The water use comes in with the cooling process. Wet cooling consumes vast quantities of water is far cheaper than dry cooling, which uses fans to cool the water. Dry cooling is less efficient and there are added costs, so the profit margin is lower.

The push toward water-intensive green energy technology is a problem, Michael Webber, an assistant professor at the University of Texas in Austin, told The New York Times, “When push comes to shove, water could become the real throttle on renewable energy.”

In Nevada, the issue flared up after a German company, Solar Millennium, proposed building two large thermal solar farms and revealed the process would require more than a billion gallons of water each year. Residents began to worry that their wells might dry up, and environmentalists sounded the alarm about the effect on ecosystems.

Other states are also dealing with this problem. Some local governments in California have refused to allow solar companies to draw huge amounts of water, forcing developers to use the more costly technology, and the legislature is now dealing with the battle between concerned residents and companies looking to make top profits.

Solar’s Water Woes Hit California Legislature
Current California policy prohibits the use of drinking water for power plant cooling, but that could soon change.

A bill that has been introduced in the California Legislature would allow companies to draw on drinking water for their cooling process. While there are conditions, the shift in policy concerns residents, politicians and experts.

As California Energy Commission Deputy Director Terry O’Brien told The New York Times, water use would not even concern companies: “By allowing projects to use fresh water, the bill would remove any incentives that developers have to use technologies that minimize water use.”

But more worrisome is the potential such a bill has to depress efforts to develop technologies that would allow for less water usage with increased efficiency and profits–technologies like the one developed by BrightSource Energy, which uses a tower system (as opposed to a trough) that employs efficient dry cooling.

In a world where areas are experiencing life-threatening drought, freshwater resources should be fiercely protected. This doesn’t have to be to the detriment of solar power–it just means companies need to do a better job of developing technologies that are not reliant on high water use. Continuing down the water-depleting road we’re on is irresponsible and unnecessary.




4 responses

4 10 2009

Do these idiots realize that only 3% of the Earth’s water is potable?????? People cannot live without water. One of these days potable water will be more valuable than gold.

4 10 2009


Back in 1989 I had the very same thought about water. So much so that I almost bought a peice of property in rural Arkansas that had a strong running natural spring on it. This spring put out something like 3,000 gallons per hour. I wanted to buy the property and work on developing the spring into a full-time business. The one thing that stood in my way was my wifes family. She had always said that she would go where I go. That was until I said we should move somewhere.

Oh well, that’s water under the bridge. (pun intended)


4 10 2009
Cec Moon

I have long maintained that these morons are the epitome of childishness. They are more than willing to accept long term problems for instant gratification. If you remove the federal subsidies and tax advantages of many of the so called “clean” solutions to energy we find they are the most expensive available. This water problem is just one more thing to discredit this dream world policy.

Drill now! Drill deep! Drill here!

5 10 2009

About solar energy — and all alternate energy sources:

If they are economically viable, that is, if they make sense free market-wise, they’d already be up and running without the need for government to step in with incentives taxpayer-financed subsidies.

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