Talk:Renewable energy

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Some edit conflicts. I've got to do something else, so I'm leaving the field open for 15 mins or so.--Bobbing up 14:30, 16 November 2007 (EST)

I'm sorry, at least with all the little sections we can work wihtout interfering with each other as much? I didn't mean to get in the way of your work! This article is growing fast! humanUser talk:Human 14:39, 16 November 2007 (EST)
Well, that's my lot for now. Anybody else want to take a crack?--Bobbing up 15:14, 16 November 2007 (EST)
Hilariously, I had just written some wonderful prose about tidal power at about 3 PM EST, and got an edit conflict, when the, er, the power went out. Fired up the generator a couple hours ago and went to get more fuel for it.
So I am burning gasoline to make electricity to run my boiler which burns oil to make heat, and my refrigerator, which uses electricity to make itself as cold as it is, um, outside. humanUser talk:Human 20:35, 16 November 2007 (EST)

I have copied the conversation below from Talk:Hydrogen economy as it seems more apt here.

Problems with renewables.[edit]

The problem with renewable resources is not whether they will "last forever" - they will obviously last as long as the the wind blows, the rain falls, and the tide moves ands the sun shines. The problems are: 1. Is there sufficient ambient energy in the world to meet its energy demands. 2. Do we have (or will we ever have) the technology to capture it. 3. If we do have the technology to capture it are we prepared to tolerate the environmental impacts that such capturing would entail.--Bobbing up 13:49, 16 November 2007 (EST)

1. absolutely yes. I don't have the figures at my fingertips, but the sun provides us with a huge amount of energy. 2. we're trying, but it's tough work. 3. interesting question, I suppose it depends on what the technology would entail. If we had to cover 1/3 of our land mass with solar panels, that might be a disaster. If all we had to do was build them over everything we have already built/paved/etc., it might be an improvement. humanUser talk:Human 14:23, 16 November 2007 (EST)
1. for the moment absolutely not, and probably never will. But they will be an important contributor to overall energy supply. 2. The biggest problem. For the moment, every kW of installed wind turbine capacity requires a kW of "base" energy, this being the guaranteed 24h supply from conventional power plants. Another consideration is the need of transporting this energy to where it is to be used. Big steps forward are taken every year none-the-less in renewable energy technology. 3. I hope not. The surface per unit of power that for example wind turbines need is prohibitive, specially when considering where wind turbines are installed - usually wind availability and beauty of environment go hand in hand, at least in several European Countries. Editor at CP 14:37, 16 November 2007 (EST)
You know, I've seen so many different answers to question 1. that I'm confused. Some apparently well informed sources say "Yes, of course." others say, "No, no chance." It's interesting to see that reflected here. Although it may depend on how you interpret the question and the one that follows it. In one sense the sun gives us a lot of energy so "yes", on the other hand we can't realistically capture it so, "No".--Bobbing up 15:20, 16 November 2007 (EST)
Capturing even a small percentage of the sun's radiation is the key to our survival as an energy-consuming species. Like I said, I forget the figure, but it's like terawatts a minute or something. humanUser talk:Human 20:38, 16 November 2007 (EST)

Data from a 1977 paper[edit]

The normal flux of solar radiation at a mean distance between the Earth and the Sun is the solar constant (qsc = 81.167 kJ/min. m2)
The amount of solar energy that eventually reaches the Earth's surface is at an intensity of between 0 to 62.9 kilojoules per minute per square meter as a result of attenuation by absorption of water vapor, ozone, and carbon dioxide; by reflection of dust and water droplets, and by scattering of the air modules. — Unsigned, by: Cracker / talk / contribs

62.9 kJ/min is about 1 kW. At my building, living and running a business, I have never used more than 10 kW at the same time. So, let's say an average of 10 kJ/min (1/3 for latitude, 1/2 for night), or 180 watts/meter, to get about 5 kW, I'd need 100% of 25 square meters energy (plus of course storage devices or a flexible grid to bounce off). At 10% efficiency, that would be 250 sq m of solar panels, about 75 x 30 feet. My building is 72 x 42 plus 22 x 21.
So, assuming my kJ assumptions are reasonable (they may not be), and a goal of 10% eff. for photovoltaics, I could generate all the electricity I need just by adding a giant panel over the top of my building. Interesting. I suppose we should research the current (abysmal) efficiency of photovoltaics... humanUser talk:Human 21:16, 16 November 2007 (EST)
OK, I've seen similar numbers before. This site claims laboratory efficiencies of 13 to 24 % and production efficiencies of 5 to 17% depending on the technology. It suggests an upper theoretical limit for current technologies of 28%. Obviously these things come at a cost and the production process itself may well be energy intensive and polluting - but the question that always strikes me is, "If this is such a good idea why isn't it everywhere?" Where is the downside? Cost? Inertia? Grand conspiracies by oil companies? Shortages of raw materials (On noes, peak silicon!)--Bobbing up 04:26, 17 November 2007 (EST)
"If this is such a good idea why isn't it everywhere?" Well, first, it's still fairly new, right? Second: Cheap oil. Cheap oil makes researching and developing other energy sources cost-prohibitive. And PV's are making inroads - I think they stick small (50-100mA?) ones on top of new cars while they are shipping to keep the batteries happy. Remember all the solar calculators that used to be around? Trouble is building a nice 10 - 50 amp system for rooftops at a reasonable cost... humanUser talk:Human 13:19, 17 November 2007 (EST)

PS, in my building calcs above I neglected two things to "lower" the yield - cloud cover, which might be as much as another 1/4 to 1/3 loss, and snow cover (which might be melted off easily, but is a big factor). If I lost 1/3 to coulds, I'd be down to 1/18th, and things start to get very inefficient. Snow, if melted reasonably quickly, might just be considered to be a few extra days of cloud cover. At least the snow is occurring when efficiencies are poor anyway, so the percentage lost is of a smaller potential production. Now, if I could also add a 100 foot high windmill... and a heat pump... humanUser talk:Human 17:10, 27 November 2007 (EST)

Quite interesting breaking story on this. I put the ref in the article.--Bobbing up 06:07, 2 December 2007 (EST)

Disadvantages of biofuels[edit]

I have removed "Burning wood for heat carries substantial fire risks." as the same could be said about coal, gas or oil. Furthermore the issue is the creation ad use of biofuels and not burning wood directly.--Bobbing up 15:52, 27 November 2007 (EST)

It's more a matter of private burning - oil and gas burn very "cleanly" even in 10e5 BTU operations. Wood often does not, and can leave residue in chimneys that results in fires. Also, people using open fireplaces risk sparks or embers escaping the firebox. It really is an issue. Although, I guess, not in the broader context of "biofuels", as you point out. Perhaps it should be at the bottom, with a caveat that it is not about large scale production but small scale local direct use? humanUser talk:Human 15:57, 27 November 2007 (EST)
OK, it just seemed to sit a little strangely with the other points. A separate point or a subsection? --Bobbing up 16:02, 27 November 2007 (EST)
I agree it looked weird there. Yah, maybe a sentence or two about local heating via wood in the main description (versus conversion to biofuels) so tagging the fire risk on the end seems less out of place? I guess there's an "advantage" to be listed there as well, relative to potentially low transportation costs? (and, haha, wood heats three times - when you cut it, when you split it, and when you burn it) humanUser talk:Human 16:41, 27 November 2007 (EST)
OK, I've added something similar back in.--Bobbing up 16:47, 27 November 2007 (EST)

external link[edit]

Why should we link to a commercial company? Mei (talk) 03:44, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

I dunno. I didn't check the link, I just organized it. Lord of the Goons The official spikey-haired skeptical punk 03:47, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't sure about it, so I thought I'd let Maychill talk me through it. If they never reappear, it was probably just a driveby. It might all make sense though. I wasn't sure. Mei (talk) 03:50, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Misc section[edit]

Using WP articles as refs is really lame. Why not find the real source data and ref that? Palindrome (talk) 05:32, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

"The lakes behind dams convert large amounts of CO2 to methane, a far worse greenhouse gas, which causes further global warming."[edit]

I don't understand this, and the linky is broken. It's unlikey that anything is converting carbon dioxide to methane in an oxidizing atmosphere! But maybe I'm missing something. steriletalk 17:28, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Methanogenic bacteria will produce methane. But it would remain to be seen if the lakes would produce more methane than carbon dioxide that is saved. Valjean (talk) 17:31, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Is there a link? Just curious. steriletalk 17:47, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
I got that from a NS article. Looks like the link is busted. I'll have a look for it again later.--BobSpring is sprung! 20:56, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
here it is.--BobSpring is sprung! 21:00, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
better also here.--BobSpring is sprung! 21:04, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Wind power disadvantage[edit]

In my homeland this issue is currently heating up, with Bonneville Power Administration being sued by wind producers. The heavy runoff this year means that the dams in the Pacific Northwest have their hands full, and they cannot accomodate wind power producers, who are losing their tax credits becauase their power is not being used. So I added a little bit, with a reference, on how wind power in practice displaces hydroelectricity and natural gas.Gabriel Hanna (talk) 02:29, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

More options for biofuels[edit]

I was reading this page, and it seems the section dedicated to biofuels is only covered by plant-based fuels. What about biofuels from algae? It is a sustainable biofuel, an important characteristic for biofuels. It can be grown in a waste treatment center, the algae cleans the waste water of nitrogen while absorbing CO2. Algae fuel does not eat into the food supply (rather it can enhance it), algae can be made into any type of fuel, it does not cause deforestation, it is very efficient and uses 70% much less energy to make than ethanol or conventional fuel, and much more. It can also be used to collect materials for fertilizer, food, and such. Of course it has its downs, such as cost, but I sincerely think this is the fuel of the future. We also do not say much about fuels from waste, such as waste fish oil and vegetable oil. Of course vegetable oil will not solve the energy crisis, but I think it is important to emphasize a sustainable society where any waste can be used for fuel. Feredir28 (talk) 18:49, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Thermoelectric generators?[edit]

Someone needs to specify how exactly they fit into the whole "renewable" part. Both Plutium-238 and kerosene/paraffin are not renewable resources. :) --ZooGuard (talk) 19:36, 8 June 2013 (UTC)


This article is incredibly outdated. Wind is the cheapest source of new electricity in America:

A Real Libertarian (talk) 13:17, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Wouldn't it be better if...[edit]

We changed the title of this article to "Energy sources" and included fossil and nuclear sources? I think it's only fair we also talk about the legitimate advantages/disadvantages of the latter two. TheSocktor (talk) 21:16, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

We'd have to somehow make the blue links that linked to here into linking to the specific section about renewable energy. Also, if you meant "latter two" instead of "former two", then that may be useful, yes. Nullahnung (talk) 00:05, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Fixed. TheSocktor (talk) 23:33, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
@Nullahnung, or we could just say that fossil fuels are renewable too. Just much more slowly :P
We can just list that as one of its disadvantages. Brianpansky (talk) 16:40, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

"Fake disadvantages of wind power"[edit]

The article lists "Visual impact" as a "fake" disadvantage, but I don't know that this is justified...

It's true that it's something of a subjective estetic matter, but I wouldn't go so far as to label it "fake."

It certainly does make a very noticable change on the landscape - be it forested, agricultural, open plains, etc. - for large numbers of tall man-made industrial structures to be erected. And this isn't even just an issue for local residents ("NIMBY") but also for visitors, people driving through, etc.

Of course with pretty much any form of electric generation there will be people which don't find it attractive, but what sets wind apart from many other sources is the fact that it's such a diffuse, low-density, energy source.

With nuclear, for example, a half dozen or so reactor blocks (each with a capacity of ~1GW or more of baseload power) can be built within one square kilometer. And these plants can often be sited in areas where the landscape is already quite industrialized.

With wind power much much more land is needed to get the same ammount of power, and they're often built in areas with much more pristine landscapes...all adding up to a much greater visual impact per kw-hour. So I would argue that this counts as a valid disadvantage of wind vs. other sources. -Helvetica (talk) 09:11, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

There's also the issue that they never seem to even try to blend them in aesthetically, they're seemingly always painted high-gloss white and look like they belong in an airport. That's more or less just a problem with modern architecture's belief that stuffing anything anywhere without regard for complimenting what's already there is some kind of artistic expression as opposed to being a talentless, self-aggrandising prick. King Skeleton (talk) 09:32, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
and here we observe an art snob, venturing out of their native habitat. Seriously, some people have different aesthetic preferences. That doesn't make them "self aggrandizing pricks" (or talentless). And that's assuming there's much choice in the matter at all. It is possible there are very pragmatic considerations that result in the things looking the way they do. Brianpansky (talk) 09:50, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
"It is possible" is the very definition of an ad hoc claim. It's also possible I'm totally right, the idea here is you make an argument for one of these states to be more true than the other, not just tell me the other state exists. King Skeleton (talk) 10:28, 29 December 2014 (UTC)

Dioxins and furans[edit]

In the disadvantages of EfW section KingSkeleton has decided to replace "concern over emissions - dioxins and furans" with "Older plants have high output of airborne toxic byproducts, including dioxins and furans". I would argue that the former is a legitimate thing to watch out for when managing an EfW plant, therefore a con, while the latter is merely concerning older, outdated plants, which shouldn't really be counted as a con of the current technology. Nullahnung (talk) 11:12, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

It's a common anti-incineration claim that all plants are dirty, largely based on averaging emission figures of ancient plants with those of modern ones. Flatly calling them "emissions" glosses over the point that a modern plant does not emit them if it is working correctly. King Skeleton (talk) 11:19, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
You're missing the concern here. The concern is not that these plants are puffing the stuff into the air, they are properly controlled nowadays as I mentioned (I wrote the whole waste-based energy section back in the day), the concern is more that we have to even bother to spend the resources on monitoring emissions and by-products constantly for fear of dioxins and furans getting through. This is also why I have "ash residues requiring disposal" listed as a con. It's the mere fact that we have to even bother to spend the resources to deal with the the ash residues that makes it a con. Nullahnung (talk) 11:25, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, but that doesn't really come through as it stands, the point makes it sound like the plants are emitting these things and people are concerned about it. It's also a little weird alongside the positive "emissions are controlled" above it. King Skeleton (talk) 11:27, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough. How about we replace what it currently says about older plants with something like "needs constant emissions monitoring against dioxins and furans". Nullahnung (talk) 11:31, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, that works. King Skeleton (talk) 11:35, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps "Plants that are not built with new technology have high output of airborne toxic byproducts, including dioxins and furans"? It is still a legitimate thing to watch out for when building an EfW plant --TiaC (talk) 11:20, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

EfW vs Recycling[edit]

I'd like to point out that energy from waste is often NOT entirely compatible with recycling. Harrisburg PA has a waste incinerator, a nuclear power plant (that melted down), and recycling. But no paper recycling, because dollar bills don't produce enough energy when burnt. Seriously, the city is like $2B in debt now, primarily due to the incinerator. Anyway, yeah, burn things like construction waste, but incinerators often steal resources from recycling plants. StickySock (talk) 15:51, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

Well, no, I'm not sure if it could ever be. Some things work perfectly for recycling, like aluminum, where others work well for incineration. A good plan and city management be able to route those the best way they can (hopefully). Money should produce heat since they are made from cotton/linen, not paper, that catches fire and burns readily above 150F without any coating. What it sounds like to an outsider is the incinerator:
  1. Was already out of date and massively in debt ($100 million, not $2 billion)
  2. The city signed a contract with a private company to retrofit it for $125 million that did not have a protection clause in cause they screwed up. The plant was partially operational but not enough to generate a positive operational margin.
  3. The project went to hell, the company was fired and they couldn't sell it so a new company took over for $65 million.
  4. Losses continued to mount plus the money to complete the project. Council members that disagreed were replaced.
  5. The bond issues were done wrong and they are under investigation because they were too much for the city to handle.
  6. The people who went through with the project are under criminal investigation.
It sounds like very little was part of the incinerators operations and more general incompetence with lack of oversight with any teeth. Also trusting a company without performance milestones. No energy production plant could work under these circumstances. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 16:55, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
The debt is like 1.5-1.6B these days, but IIRC $350M was directly tied to the incinerator. Indirectly, a large chunk was tied to selling trash rights for far too cheap, where nearby towns got a too good to be true deal to use the incinerator (which is part of why the state allowed the problems to go on for so long). There's also the hydro dam which needs an upgrade but was built with a weird design, so even that can't be done right (forgot to mention, they have hydro). On top of all this you have an incompetently run education system where there are literally 40 schools in Harrisburg alone, because you historically have had all these tiny religious groups demanding their own schools. The city could save a small fortune on administrators and redundant teachers with a bit of consolidation. The Capitol is there and they could institute an income tax on state workers (they already charge like $6k a year for parking permits), essentially passing on the debt to the rest of the state; not something the government is too thrilled about. Maybe offer tours of the nuclear meltdown?
Oh and a huge homeless problem even though literally 1/5th of the apartments are vacant. It'd probably be cheaper to house the homeless in the abandoned properties, if you could filter out the crazies and junkies. StickySock (talk) 17:17, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
That tells a little bit of a different story. This might be the biggest single item at 22% of the total 1.6B but it sounds like general government fuck-up-itude in all facets of their job (or maybe life) along with lack of general maintenance on public infrastructure that are just being expensed now. It doesn't sound like anything is really working right so it feels a bit out of proportion and confusing that first comment seems to assign $2B of screw ups to the operations of any single item. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 17:53, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

How much wind power is there?[edit]

Like, available, in total, globally? Obviously, TANSTAAFL still applies, so if you have a 100 m^2 turbine that is sucking out 2 kilowatts on average, you can't just stack half a dozen of them up behind eachother and reach 12 kilowatts. They remove power from the wind. This means that the absolute most wind power one can ever make continuously is slowing all the air in the world to such a low speed that no practical method can be used to obtain power from it.

My question is basically as follows: how much wind power is generated/dissipated in the entire world via natural processes. Obviously, the atmosphere has a lot of wind energy, but I'm not sure if that's because there's a lot of power input/output or because very little of it is dissipated into solid objects and bodies of water in any given period of time. I know hurricanes dissipate fairly quickly over cold water or land, and indeed, I'm tempted to say such tropical storms may well make up the majority of all wind dissipation in the world. I suppose I could use the wind energy contained in a hurricane vs. The number of hurricanes per year as a lower bound, but does anyone have a more reasonable estimate?

Fusion Power?[edit]

Is there a particular reason that fusion power is not mentioned on this page? --Dolphinjamez (talk) 04:28, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

I haven't touched this article, but my guess is because we have no working fusion power generation. Every technology listed in this article is currently in-use for power generation. We have nuclear fusion and fusion woo (which, looking at them, I think ought to be merged together). --Ymir (talk) 04:41, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Fusion power is not renewable energy. another Jewish conspiracy by (((Laurogeita Hamabost))) (talk) 15:43, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Why not? The supply of hydrogen fuel is effectively inexhaustible. Most of the power sources in this article are indirect fusion power, since their energy comes from the Sun. --Ymir (talk) 19:58, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
"effectively inexhaustible" is not the same as "renewing itself as long as not more than x amount is drawn for as long as the sun shines". In that regard even geothermal energy may be misplaced here. another Jewish conspiracy by (((Laurogeita Hamabost))) (talk) 20:05, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
(Late to the party...) You might as well say Solar isn't renewable because eventually the Sun is going to burn out in a few billion years. CorruptUser (talk) 03:33, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Random ad in Romanian[edit]

@Altruist I reverted your edit because it was poorly written, poorly formatted, and doesn't explain why some random advertisement in Romania is important enough to be included on a general article on renewable energy. If you address these concerns, I'll let it stay. Chef Moosolini’s Ristorante ItalianoMake a Reservation 17:59, 9 August 2018 (UTC)