Tag Archive | Fossil Fuels

Can We Rely on Wind and Solar Energy?



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Is green energy, particularly wind and solar energy, the solution to our climate and energy problems? Or should we be relying on things like natural gas, nuclear energy, and even coal for our energy needs and environmental obligations? Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress explains.
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Script:

Are wind and solar power the answer to our energy needs? There’s a lot of sun and a lot of wind. They’re free. They’re clean. No CO2 emissions. So, what’s the problem?

Why do solar and wind combined provide less than 2% of the world’s energy?

To answer these questions, we need to understand what makes energy, or anything else for that matter, cheap and plentiful.

For something to be cheap and plentiful, every part of the process to produce it, including every input that goes into it, must be cheap and plentiful.

Yes, the sun is free. Yes, wind is free. But the process of turning sunlight and wind into useable energy on a mass scale is far from free. In fact, compared to the other sources of energy — fossil fuels, nuclear power, and hydroelectric power, solar and wind power are very expensive.

The basic problem is that sunlight and wind as energy sources are both weak (the more technical term is dilute) and unreliable (the more technical term is intermittent). It takes a lot of resources to collect and concentrate them, and even more resources to make them available on-demand. These are called the diluteness problem and the intermittency problem.

The diluteness problem is that, unlike coal or oil, the sun and the wind don’t deliver concentrated energy — which means you need a lot of additional materials to produce a unit of energy.

For solar power, such materials can include highly purified silicon, phosphorus, boron, and a dozen other complex compounds like titanium dioxide. All these materials have to be mined, refined and/or manufactured in order to make solar panels. Those industrial processes take a lot of energy.

For wind, needed materials include high-performance compounds for turbine blades and the rare-earth metal neodymium for lightweight, specialty magnets, as well as the steel and concrete necessary to build structures — thousands of them — as tall as skyscrapers.

And as big a problem as diluteness is, it’s nothing compared to the intermittency problem. This isn’t exactly a news flash, but the sun doesn’t shine all the time. And the wind doesn’t blow all the time. The only way for solar and wind to be truly useful would be if we could store them so that they would be available when we needed them. You can store oil in a tank. Where do you store solar or wind energy? No such mass-storage system exists. Which is why, in the entire world, there is not one real or proposed independent, freestanding solar or wind power plant. All of them require backup. And guess what the go-to back-up is: fossil fuel.

Here’s what solar and wind electricity look like in Germany, which is the world’s leader in “renewables”. The word erratic leaps to mind. Wind is constantly varying, sometimes disappearing completely. And solar produces little in the winter months when Germany most needs energy.

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Breakthrough in renewable energy – VPRO documentary – 2016



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It’s not in the papers but a silent revolution is moving across the world. Renewable energy is becoming cheaper than from fossil fuels. It means that progressively the choice for wind and solar energy is no longer an ethical one but an economic one. And this will speed up the transfer to renewable energy.

In countries like Brazil, Australia, Chile and parts of the United States people consider renewable energy because of financial reasons. The price of solar and wind energy will continue to drop and in more countries renewable energy will occur.

A surprising newcomer on the market is Morocco, where the government expects that in 2020 more than 40 percent of the energy could come from solar energy.

Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2016.
© VPRO Backlight March 2016

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Credits:
Director: Martijn Kieft
Research: Robert Kosters
Producer: Jolanda Segers
Commissioning editors: Marije Meerman, Doke Romeijn
English, French and Spanish subtitles: Ericsson.
French and Spanish subtitles are co-funded by European Union.

What YOU Can Do About Climate Change



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Reducing your carbon footprint just got easier. This video uses animations and humour to teach people how they can personally help prevent global warming.
This is just one of the free educational products available in the “Climate Insights 101” series. Created by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) — a collaboration of British Columbia’s four research intensive universities.

What if Carbon Emissions Stopped Tomorrow?



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Imagine that aliens landed and gifted us a clean, limitless energy source. And instead of killing each other over this technology, we decided to immediately transform the world into a carbon-free society. This wonderous source would power our homes, industries, cars and planes, and humanity’s annual rate of carbon pollution would almost instantly fall to zero. So if we kicked our carbon addiction tomorrow, what would that mean for global warming?

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———–
Host/Editor-In-Chief: Joe Hanson
Writer: Eli Kintisch
Creative Director: David Schulte
Editors/Animators: Karl Boettcher
Producers: Stephanie Noone & Amanda Fox
Story Editor: Alex Reich
———–

Produced by PBS Digital Studios
Theme Music: Eric Friend/Optical Audio
Music: APM
Stock images from

Thanks to the funders of Peril & Promise for supporting PBS Digital Studios. Peril & Promise is a national public media initiative from WNET telling human stories of climate change and its solutions. Learn more at

Renewable Energy 101 | National Geographic



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There are many benefits to using renewable energy resources, but what is it exactly? From solar to wind, find out more about alternative energy, the fastest-growing source of energy in the world—and how we can use it to combat climate change.
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Renewable Energy 101 | National Geographic

National Geographic