5 Common Renewable Energy Myths Busted.

The rise of renewable uptake around the world has seen with it a violent kickback from detractors and opponents to the revolution towards a cleaner future.

The major opposition is coming from the fossil fuel industry that refuses to innovate their businesses and as a result, are set to lose trillions of dollars in a desperate last stand to save their corporate empires.

The vested interest of these groups seems to be lost on their supporters who simply repeat cherry picked, manipulated and in some case downright slanderous lying statements about renewable energy.

Below we will explore some of the common myths about renewable energy.

Myth # 1  Renewable Energy like Solar and Wind are more carbon intensive than Coal and Gas power.

This is a downright lie.

To compare renewables vs fossil fuels, the carbon footprint of the power plants need to be compared from construction to decommissioning. This is 30-50 years worth of data and the simple fact is renewables like Solar and Wind are far better than Coal and Gas.

Carbon footprint 1

[1]

One of the most common ways of attacking Solar and Wind is to present incomplete information and cherry-picked facts to put renewables in a bad light.

The truth is that the building of Wind and Solar infrastructure does have a carbon cost. This is not a surprise. Smelting steel, aluminum, and building concrete are carbon-intensive processes.

This is all in the construction phase of renewable energy.

Detractors like to end their arguments at this point completely ignoring the fact that a power plant’s carbon footprint does not end at construction. Power stations operate for decades, and this data is completely ignored like it does not exist by opponents.

Coal and Gas plants have a smaller carbon footprint during the construction phase but this is eclipsed by their intensive operating demand over the course of decades. It is important to note Gas plants have about half the carbon footprint of Coal plants.

Wind and Solar have virtually zero carbon demand during their operational phase.

Multiple credible studies and reports in circulation attest to these facts.

Even when using future technologies like CCS (Carbon capture system) to reduce the emissions of Coal and Gas power plants, renewables are far better.

Carbon footprint 2

Carbon footprint 3

[2]

 

Myth #2 Solar and Wind can not produce reliable energy around the clock

Once again cherry picking facts and manipulating information can mislead the population.

Yes, traditional Solar needs sunlight to produce energy which only occurs during the daytime and winds can drop off at any time reducing the power output of a Wind power plant. This fluctuation in energy production is called intermittency.

Clever integration of Solar and Wind coupled with Battery storage facilities solves the issue surrounding intermittency.

Power is stored during peak production hours of the day and night then battery storage can meet shortfalls during events that may see less energy production. [3]

Further Solar Thermal is a new technology of harnessing the energy of the sun that can operate even at night time.

This might sound illogical but sunlight is not harnessed in this process but instead, the heat of the sun is reflected into a tower that contains molten salt.

This molten salt is able to retain enough heat to turn turbines that create electricity even at night time. [4]

 

Myth #3 Renewable energy is too expensive, look at South Australia

As of July 1st 2017, electricity prices in SA were set to jump up by 18%.

This leads many people to blame South Australia’s renewable uptake as the culprit to the rise in electricity prices without looking closely at the problem.

Approximately 50% of South Australia’s power comes from Gas powered plants.

No other state in Australia relies on gas as much as South Australia.

Recent power increases in South Australia are mostly due to the Gas shortage and price increase of Gas on the Australian East coast.

This is backed by the fact that customers are also being slugged with a 13% increase to their Gas bills in addition to the rise in electricity bills.

Furthermore, NSW is also seeing a 15% increase to its electricity bills and it is the most coal-intensive state in Australia. With little comparative renewable energy sources, how is the NSW price hike justified if the source of the issue is renewable energy? [5]

gas prices vs electricity

According to The Australian power generation technology report, (the most up to date independent study commissioned by more than 30 Australian utility providers, environmental organizations, and governments), Wind is as cheap as Coal and by 2030 Solar, via photovoltaic solar panels (PV) will also be as cheap as Coal.

levelised cost[6]

 

Myth #4 Disposing of Solar and Batteries will create a toxic waste problem for the world

One word. Recycling.

The automotive industry faced the same situation twenty years ago, for recycling lead-acid 12-volt starter batteries used in gasoline-powered vehicles.

Recycling of lead-acid batteries is now one of the most successful recycling stories of any industry. The EPA estimates that over 90 percent of lead-acid batteries are recycled, and a typical battery contains 60-80 percent recycled materials. [7]

Lithium Ion batteries will be the same.

Solar panels are also recyclable. Australia has its own Solar recycling company. [8]

Myth #5 Solar is only for the wealthy

Support for solar cuts across all demographics and political affiliations. In fact, most Australians who have solar live in rural regional areas, or postcodes where median incomes are low. [9]

 

There are many many more myths involving Renewable energy but like the above cases most are propaganda pushed to the public by multinational corporations that feel their economic empires crumbling beneath them.

 

References:

[1] http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/technical-articles/carbon-capture/parliamentary-office-of-science-and-technology/carbon-footprint-of-electricity-generation/file_9270.pdf

[2] https://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn_383-carbon-footprint-electricity-generation.pdf

[3] https://theconversation.com/baseload-power-is-a-myth-even-intermittent-renewables-will-work-13210

[4] http://www.solarreserve.com/en/technology/molten-salt-energy-storage

[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-09/18-pc-power-price-rise-set-to-hit-agl-customers/8604840

[6] http://old.co2crc.com.au/dls/brochures/LCOE_Executive_Summary.pdf

[7] https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/blog/teslas-closed-loop-battery-recycling-program

[8] http://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-panel-recycler-leads-australia-in-emerging-industry-99038/

[9] http://reneweconomy.com.au/rooftop-solar-uptake-still-highest-in-low-income-australia-63263/

 

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