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Another PV ERoEI debacle May 17, 2016

Posted by Maury Markowitz in balonium, solar.
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Your face should have this expression when you read Ferroni and Hopkirk’s paper.

recent report by Ferroni and Hopkirk explores the energy balance of solar power, and concludes that using PV is energy negative. That is, building PV requires more energy than the panel will produce over its lifetime.

Claims like these pop up from time to time, and normally end up being based on definitional tricks on the part of the authors. This example is no different in that respect, but in this case they also add a liberal dose of bad data.

The paper is so filled with errors and omissions that’s it’s almost breathtaking. Once again, dear reader, it’s time for the deep dive.


Does solar generate more waste than nuclear? No. June 18, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in nuclear, solar.
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Picture of the star of Highlander

There can be only one!

As I noted in an earlier post, one of the things you often come across in the energy blogging world is that supporters of one technology attack others.

This example takes the cake. It’s a somewhat old article (archived here) that claims to demonstrate that solar power generates more waste than nuclear.

Update: a reader pointed out a rather obvious error, and when I checked against my original calculations I found a whole section was missing. Both fixed.


太空电力 March 30, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar power satellites.
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That's a lot of paper to crunch on that CRT!

That’s a lot of paper to crunch on that CRT!

Once again the undead topic of solar power satellites has raised its hand and flagged down the hoards of space enthusiasts over on Slashdot (thanks for the stats bump everyone!).

A post entitled Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space might lead you to falsely conclude that some actual work is taking place. A slightly more accurate title can be found if you click through to the linked article, Chinese scientists mull power station in space. And if one takes the time to actually read the article in question, you might conclude the title should read Retired Chinese rocket engineer gets some free press.

Harsh? Maybe. The person in the article is Wang Xiji, formerly of China’s space development agency and best known as the lead designer on the Long March 1, China’s first space booster. He indirectly launched their first satellite, Dong Fang Hong 1, in 1970. As is always the case with these stories, the real motivation quickly becomes evident when you consider quotes like “we need a cheap heavy-lift launch vehicle”.

Xiji is an astonishing 93 years old, and clearly hale. I should be so lucky! And if age really does translate into wisdom (we should all be so lucky) then clearly my feelings on space power have to be wrong. But in this case, I’m going to chalk it up to age before beauty.

Thorium laser car. Yeah, right. November 11, 2013

Posted by Maury Markowitz in balonium.
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Thorium powered car

Looks can be deceiving.

I never cease to be astonished at the total bologna that gets the bloggers all a Twitter.

Oh I know all about link bait and click throughs and all that garbage, but still, don’t you want to avoid looking like a complete idiot?

Well apparently not, because the entire technosphere was blogrolling a story about a thorium powered car that never needs fuel, ever!



With friends like these… March 21, 2013

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar power satellites.
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I can’t believe I missed this… Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, was giving a talk on, well, stuff, when someone asked him about space based solar power. His response?

“You’d have to convert photon to electron to photon back to electron. What’s the conversion rate?” he says, getting riled up for the first time during his talk. “Stab that bloody thing in the heart!”

What makes this most amusing is that Musk’s name is continually dropped as the way that space based solar power will become economically attractive. His rockets, it’s claimed, points to a future where SPS’s are economically possible. But they don’t, and even he dismisses the possibility.

So the power companies don’t want it, the solar power industry doesn’t, people looking to save outer space think it’s terrible, and even the people making the rockets they would buy think it’s dumb. That’s pretty much the royal flush.

V3Solar, another stupid idea January 30, 2013

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.
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The nerdy portions of the interwebs were all alight with the news that someone had figured out how to lower the cost of solar power to below that of coal.

The company, V3Solar, claims to have invented a new way to dramatically simplify concentrated solar power, a thorny problem that many companies as great as Boeing have failed to solve. And through this miraculous invention, solar will be only 8 cents a kWh!

Oh reeeeealy?

Update 2015: In the time since I wrote this in 2013, the price of commercial PV has fallen to under 8 cents. And as I predicted originally, the company still consists of nothing more than a web page and some animations.