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  •  This raises the point about the 3+ billion people (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    who have no access to clean water, housing, etc.

    If you, a long time solar proponent who we may believe is relatively affluent, can only marginally afford solar energy, what does that mean about how realistic it is to claim that this technology will ever be a serious option for the billions described above?

    The more I look at the "solar energy will save us" meme, the more outlandish it looks.

    With all the cheering for it going on over the last 50 years, the fact that it is still a trivial form of energy speaks volumes.

    The external costs of solar are far worse than advertised, and are only missed because solar is, again, a trivial form of energy.

    What I look at when I see the solar industry is what I see is who is funding its big time proponents.

    Famous Anti-nuke Amory Lovins describes his revenue sources:

    Mr. Lovins’s other clients have included Accenture, Allstate, AMD, Anglo American, Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, Baxter, Borg-Warner, BP, HP Bulmer, Carrier, Chevron, Ciba-Geigy, CLSA, ConocoPhillips, Corning, Dow, Equitable, GM, HP, Invensys, Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi, Monsanto, Motorola, Norsk Hydro, Petrobras, Prudential, Rio Tinto, Royal Dutch/Shell, Shearson Lehman Amex, STMicroelectronics, Sun Oil, Suncor, Texas Instruments, UBS, Unilever, Westinghouse, Xerox, major developers, and over 100 energy utilities. His public-sector clients have included the OECD, the UN, and RFF; the Australian, Canadian, Dutch, German, and Italian governments; 13 states; Congress, and the U.S. Energy and Defense Departments.

    Suncor is not a PV company.  It's an oil sands to liquid fuels company, which is why Amory couldn't be anything but happy about his other employer's (BP) effort to create new oil sands all along the Gulf coast.

    I note that the "solar will save us" advocate Gerhard Schroeder, who once held two jobs, Gazprom financier and Chancellor of Germany, left the latter job, the day job, to work full time for Gazprom.

    Similarly Joschka Fischer left his day job as German Minister for the environment to work for Nabucco, the other Russian gas pipeline company.

    The reason that efforts to stem climate change will ultimately fail is that we only hear what we want to hear.

    As far as I'm concerned, the "Beyond Petroleum" BP subsidiary "BP solar" speaks volumes about the purpose of the solar industry, which is to greenwash the oil/gas industry, without which solar energy would collapse immediately.

    •  Explain this comment, please (1+ / 0-)
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      The external costs of solar are far worse than advertised, and are only missed because solar is, again, a trivial form of energy.

      how so?

      As to your statement that the solar power industry is there "to greenwash the oil/gas industry, without which solar energy would collapse immediately.".... how much more facetious can you get?  Most solar power companies are completely independent from the oil and gas industry....  

      •  Really? Independent you say? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, A Siegel

        How many owners of solar PV systems stop posting on the internet at night?

        It is easy to show that the solar PV industry is insufficient to run the servers running websites devoted to telling us how wonderful solar energy is.

        I have a 15 year old son, to whom I will have to soon turn over a destroyed world.   This year his class read the Odyessey, and we had lots of opportunities to discuss the Greek myths.

        Good for us.

        My disillusionment with the solar and wind energy industry did not spring from my forehead in the way Diana sprung from the forehead of Zeus.

        It was a process and I've covered in vast detail in this space, reifying to my own satisfaction the myth of Cassandra, who was condemned by the often sadistic Greek Gods to always know the future, and always tell the truth about it, but never to be believed.

        Frankly I'm sick of living this myth.   I don't write diaries anymore.   There's little point in it.  But I traced my arc in public, right here, not that it did any good.

        Thus, when I came here years ago, I was a proponent of solar energy (and wind energy) but I did something few people are willing to respect:   I changed my mind.

        I'm not an "off the grid" liberatarian trying to hole up in Idaho with a pile of guns and other survivalist gear.   I'm a liberal, an Eleanor Roosevelt liberal and for me, the essence of my political philosophy is described in Article 25 of Mrs. Roosevelt's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adapted by the United Nations and honored more in the breach than the practice.   (This declaration is currently in the news for trivial and silly reasons.)

        Here is article 25:

        Article 25.
        •(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
        •(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

        Note that this article is not about funding Amory Lovins breakfast meetings at Little Nell's in Aspen with his pal Jeff Skilling, should Jeff Skilling ever manage to spring himself from the Federal Pen.

        It's about the rest of humanity, that part which would consider itself fortunate to be able to wash Amory's Snowmass driveway every morning for a dollar a day.

        With this in my mind there is one, and only one, form of energy that has an acceptable external cost for a planet with 7 billion people on it.   That is nuclear energy.

        I'm well educated on the subject, and know full well whence I speak.

        Note that nuclear energy need not be perfect to be vastly superior to everything else.  It merely needs to be better than everything else, which, in fact, it is.

        Have a pleasant day.

        •  While I am not in 100% agreement ... (1+ / 0-)
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          I think that this is one of your best written comments / engagements, expressing your passion and opinions strongly and clearly.  

          As you are aware, where we part ways is the "is one, and only one, form of energy that has an acceptable external cost".  I am not arrogant enough to state, without any qualification, that you are wrong -- even as I have incredibly strong reservations against any single-point solution answer.  I acknowledge that you bring a great deal of learning / knowledge to the discussion.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 08:58:38 AM PDT

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        •  Ah, I see (0+ / 0-)

          you're one of those people who thinks that nukes are a panacea.

          In your original post you were trying to tie renewables producers to the oil and gas industry, which is highly misleading at best.  I pointed out that renewables producers are generally independent from the oil and gas industries, unlike your BP Solar example.  Companies like Q-Cells, First Solar, Solon, Schott, Würth, Yingli, etc., etc. are not generally known for their ties to the oil/gas industry.  BP Solar is BP's attempt to hedge its bets.

          And Solar PV, btw, works best when tied into the grid, as it tends to reduce peak energy needs.

          I respect your passion for being "an Eleanor Roosevelt liberal", but have to say that with your views on renewables I think you are not only living far behind the times but are just flat out uninformed about the rapid pace of human innovation that has taken place and is continuing to take place across an incredibly broad spectrum of renewables technologies.  

          When even the environmental ministry of the current conservative German Govt. thinks that 100% renewables can be achieved by 2050(in a country with far less renewables resources than the U.S.), then even nuke advocates should prick their ears and do a new, objective reassessment of the energy issue.

          There's a good article over at Treehugger that discusses the whole thing, with a very informative video:

    •  Several things ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, NNadir
      1.  Welcome back -- good to see you.
      1.  Please, in terms of that second paragraph, where you place me as a "long-time solar proponent", recognize / acknowledge that I am a proponent of a systems-of-systems approach which includes energy efficiency, conservation, improved power efficiency at fossil-fuel systems (to make then less foolish) en route to phasing them out, renewable energy systems, and clean power systems (e.g., nuclear).  
      1.  Now, there is a serious issue as to opportunity costs ... you argue, strongly, that every penny into renewables is wasted compared to a penny into nuclear power.  My perspective is that we are wasting a whole lot of pennies on subsidizing fossil foolish industries and energy inefficient practices/behaviors/investments. Slashing those subsidies and putting a fee on carbon would provide significant resources for EE/RE, nuclear power, RDT&E, other climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation.  

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 06:53:43 AM PDT

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    •  By the way ... (3+ / 0-)
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      RunawayRose, Lawrence, JayDean

      as to those 3 billion people, in many situations, solar is actually a quite cost effective path to have them save money to gain improved energy services.  Examples include solar lighting to replace kerosene lamps, integrated cooking including solar cooking, solar systems for irrigation ... Away from grid, especially, small solar systems can provide a meaningful bump upwards in energy services while cutting fossil fuel & wood burning.

      PS: Do you really need to dump so many "Amory Lovins/et al" are evil cut & paste comments?

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 07:02:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My answer to the last question is yes. (0+ / 0-)

        History is marked by big lies that resulted in vast tragedy because no one challenged them.

        I'm certainly ambivalent about both Cicero and Churchill.   Yet both men were indefatigable, in any context, about remarking on what they saw as the prime evils of their times.

        Let's play "Godwin's Law."

        My boy and I often discuss Stalin and Hitler.   We have a little running joke about my familial disipline, which goes, "Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin...Dad."  Recently I saw a historian discuss the Stalin v. Hitler on CSPAN-3 and he determined that it was ethically better to side with Stalin, since Stalin "only" killed roughly 30 million people, and, though Hitler killed fewer, had he won he would have certainly killed more, probably the entire population of the Soviet Union had he, and not Stalin, won the war.

        As much as I hate everything Stalin represented, I have to agree.

        Lovins is openly funded by the dangerous fossil fuel industry.   It's not like he's keeping a secret.   The quotation comes from his website after all.

        If his ideas are allowed to prevail, in opposing the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy, the death toll will be many thousands of Banqiaos, not that any one actually understands what Banqiao was.

        If Lovins pablum at been challenged by someone more significant than I, much earlier than now, might not the level of benzene in Gulf fish be lower?

        I think so, but I also think that much worse is about to come.

        I see Lovins as an evil person and have no compunction against repeating it, much as Cicero repeated at the end of every speech, even those about building public baths, with the words "Carthage must be destroyed."

        •  Look ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, JayDean

          I would value more substantive challenge of Lovins rather than the reciting of who he has consulted with.

          In the 'Silver Dust' spectrum, what if his / RMI's consulting was / is 'how to do piping more efficiently at a refinery so that the process is X% less polluting'?

          That would fit within the RMI focus on leveraging efficiency, across the economy.

          E.g., the list of contracts isn't necessarily damning depending on what those contracts involved.  

          And, you (and others) have highlighted how Lovins' projections have been off in significant arenas. You tackle him re his nuclear power stance(s). Etc ...  

          Again, I'd like to see the substantive rather than the vitriolic.

          PS:  And, well, when it comes to natural gas proponency, you might want to look at CAP’s American Fuel: Contaminated on so many levels.  (You might also appreciate FRACK YOU, Mother Earth ...)

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 09:16:57 AM PDT

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