Close Welcome writers, influencers and dreamers, make the world a greener place
Register here
Forgot password
Forgot password
or
or

Close
Close Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations
Close Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations
Close Reset password
your profile is 33% complete:
33%
Update profile Close
Close WhatsOrb Global Sustainability X-Change

For writers, influencers and dreamers who want to make the world a greener place.

WhatsOrb reaches monthly about 28.000 thousand visitors who want - like you - to make the world a greener place. Share your expertise and all can benefit.

Become an influencer and write and share sustainable news and innovations globally
Are you a writer or do you have ideas about sustainability which you want to share? Register and share your green knowledge and news. WhatsOrb offers you global exposure for your article.

If your article meets certain standards, you receive promotional gains like Facebook promotions and Google Ads advertising.

Energy is michael moore right  solar energy busted  | Upload Solar

Is Michael Moore Right? Solar Energy Busted!

by: Sharai Hoekema
is michael moore right  solar energy busted  | Upload

Think or say what you want about Michael Moore. He might be your source of trustworthy intel, or he might be not your cup of tea altogether, but he might just have been right about one thing all along. We should not be looking for more renewable ways of fuelling our ever-increasing hunger for electricity, only like we should not foster a toddler’s tantrums by giving it an endless supply of unhealthy snacks. Instead, we should provide it with a filling, nutritious meal. Here’s to feeding the world a broccoli stir-fry instead of choc chip cookies. 

For those missing the analogy - you are forgiven - the clue is to use whatever energy we have wisely and find ways of dealing with it more efficiently, instead of giving in to the ever-growing thirst for expansion.

Michael Moore: Planet Of The Humans

Earth Day in 2020 was an event that was unfortunately somewhat overlooked as the result of another, not to be named global catastrophe. Michael Moore did not forget about it, though. He worked together with Jeff Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner on the documentary ‘Planet of the Humans.’ Despite its unfortunate launch, it has drawn quite some attention - and criticism on top of that.

Why? Well, the men singled out a rather unfortunate target: renewable energy, including solar, wind, and biomass. Those sources that have often been hailed as the potential solution for global warming have fallen from grace after being uncovered as a fraud of the first order. Moore et al. are claiming that the green technologies in question do, require more fossil fuel energy for the creation of the energy than they offset. Or, in the case of biomass, generating more carbon than they save. 



                         Michael Moore Presents: Planet of the Humans | Full Documentary | Directed by Jeff Gibbs

 

This is a huge issue if right. It would mean that renewable energies are setting us back instead of propelling us forward. It would mean that an entire industry is built on deceit and misrepresentation. So, is it true?

Michael Moore And Criticasters

One thing is for sure; the green energy industry is not taking this insult lying down. They were quick to fire back and hurl accusations right back at the movie and her makers. Their general response was that it was uninformed and a real detriment to all the hard work of those working hard to push the renewables market. 

cinema front characters

Recommended: Renewables Illusion: Solar And Wind Don’t Save Us

The renewable lobbyists have done everything in their might to discredit the movie, even going so far as having it pulled from YouTube and getting it replaced by an even more dubious copyright violation claim. (Although at the time of writing (11/09/2020), it is available again.)

The vehemency with which those involved protest the accuracy does not quite match up to the provided facts for this. For instance, claims are that the clips of solar panels used in the film are from a decade ago, just as other pieces of technology shown are outdated and have been improved substantially since. These arguments are meant to debunk the idea that the creation of renewable energy requires more energy than that it will eventually deliver in its lifetime. 

To be fair, Moore and his friends are not the first ones floating this claim. Where there is smoke, there is fire - or so you might conclude from finding that pretty much all renewable energy proponents included this very same claim as a true/false statement on their website—obviously, pointing out that it is just a myth. Folklore. Renewable energy is profitable.

Or is it? Who is right here?

Is Michael Moore Right? The Calculation On Energy Offset

Thankfully, it seems relatively easy to pass judgment on this matter once and for all. A quick Google search already gets you to the right sources that will provide an answer. Various of those calculate the energy consumed while building a solar panel, like this one.

This source stipulates that the energy consumed in the production of a solar panel adds up to some 1373 kWh, while other sources put this number somewhere between 1200 kWh and 1400 kWh. So, 1373 kWh seems a good number. Let’s use it.

Next, we have got to find out the amount of energy produced by a solar panel over its lifetime - adjusting for power output and available new technology. Simple subtraction will allow us to fact-check the claim made in ‘Planet of the Humans.’

Recommended: Green! The New Black: Are Renewables, Renewables?

Solar Energy Busted: Typical Values

Energy consumed in manufacture (Emanuf)= 1373 kWh
Panel power output = 300W
Lifetime of a panel = 25 to 30 years
Hours of power generation per day = 6 hours
Total energy (Epanel) = 25years x 365days x 6hours x 300W = 16,425 kWh

There you have it, a simple equation. The numbers seem irrefutable: 16,425 is always > 1373. So you will earn at least ten times the amount of energy that you put in back. Moore, Gibbs, and Zehner must have been really bad at math.

It seems too simple to be true. Does it reflect the sustainability of solar panels? Is it a valid comparison of input vs. output? Or are we missing something here?

Solar Energy: Sustainability

The question may as well have been rhetorical. We are missing something, and it is huge. For a solar panel to be sustainable, it has to be capable of offsetting and mitigating its footprint - as the production process itself requires a lot of fossil fuel energy, which harms the environment. Simultaneously, the new energy source should also be capable of generating sufficient energy for its replacement at the end of its life.

mining machines, open pit, truck

The Cerrejón open-pit mine in Columbia supplies “Blue Gem” coal, a primary source of carbon for solar silicon smelters around the world.

So, a solar panel should generate enough energy to both help in mitigating the harm done to the environment and making sure that a new solar panel can be constructed at the end of its life. These actions require a steady, intermittent flow of energy - and let that be something that solar panels cannot provide just yet without using a storage device, such as a battery. 

Recommended: Renewables In Danger! Solar And Wind Energy: Start Digging

Taking this factor into account makes the math somewhat more complicated: a battery allows for the creation and use of more sustainable energy, but it also poses more significant harm to the environment as its production is, once again, very harmful. First off, the additional energy requirements for manufacturing. 

We already established that the solar panel required 1373 kWh, while a battery requires some 55 kWh for every 1 kWh of battery capacity, or so this paper found. For this calculation, a battery was used with the following specs:

Battery Capacity = 14.5 kWh
Battery usable capacity = 13.5 kWh
Ebatt = 14.5 x 55 = 797 kWh

There is more, though. Now, we also have to account for the harm done to the environment during the manufacturing process. Think about wasted energy and material spent. No single manufacturing process has an efficiency of 100%, with most of them at or around 30%. This means that wasted energy and materials are up to 3x the actual work of manufacturing.

factory, orange sky. clouds
The Rand Carbide silicon smelting plant in South Africa is a great example of how silicon solar often just transfers pollution from the 1st to the 3rd world 

Let’s put those variables in the equation, using Harm1 for the footprint of the panel itself, and Harm2 for the footprint of the battery. 

Harm1 = Epanel and, Harm2 = Ebatt
Total Harm to be mitigated = Harm1 + Harm2 = Totalharm
Energy required for Harm mitigation = Eharm = Totalharm/Efficiency
Panel replacement energy = Erepl = Epanel/Efficiency

Plugging the earlier results and using an efficiency of 33%,

Totalharm = 1373 kWh + 797 kWh = 2170 kWh
Eharm = 2170/0.33 = 6575 kWh
Erepl = 1373/0.33 = 4160 kWh

So, the total amount of energy required for the production, offsetting the harm done, and providing enough energy for a replacement, is the outcome of Eharm + Erepl = Esustain

Plugging in the numbers, this gives us Esustain = 6575 + 4160 = 10735 kWh

Keeping in mind that an average battery only stores 13.5 kWh at a time, this means that the solar panel can only repay its ‘debt’ after many, many years of charging and discharging. During these years, it should also keep a reserve for maintenance and replacement of parts of the battery itself, something that is undoubtedly needed as it must stand up to a lot of hard work.

We are not just making a solar panel to earn itself back. It has to provide energy for productive use as well, not only for repaying her debt. So, let’s say we can use 50% of the generated energy for debt repayment, and the remaining 50% for something productive. So, using 50% of a 300W solar panel to charge a 13.5 kWh battery, using only six productive power hours per day:

Charge time = 13500Wh/(50% of Wdaily) = 13500/900 = 15 days

After 15 days, we have a full battery. Discharging it instantly and starting back up again gives us 365/15 = 24 charging cycles per year.

During those 24 cycles, we can generate 13.5 kWh x 24 cycles = 324 kWh of energy per year.

As the total amount of energy required to sustain its use (Esustain) was 10735 kWh, this means that we need Esustain/324 kWh = 10735/324 = 33 years to fully cover the panel’s footprint if we use half of the energy it generates.

This is the moment to gasp in shock and horror and admit that perhaps, just perhaps, Michael Moore may have been on to something. Especially knowing that the panel has a lifetime of 25 to 30 years, it should be shocking. It will take longer to recover its footprint than its lifetime. And this, mind you, assume that the panel and battery will continuously operate without breaks or breakdowns. Something that is once again pretty unlikely.

So there you have it. Solar energy is busted. Unless we spent all of its generated energy on clearing its footprint - which is just pointless and does not help us get more electricity for things other than building and maintaining solar panels -, there is no way it will ever generate enough energy to sustain and expand our electricity-fuelled lifestyle. 

It is never a good idea to close gaps by making new gaps. Instead of spending more energy finding new sources of energy, we should try to reduce our energy needs. That’s the only way Earth will be able to keep up with us in the long run.

TL;DR: Sorry, Michael Moore haters, he is once again painfully on the money.

Before you go!

Recommended: How Inexhaustible Is Earth’s Geothermal Energy

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

Like to write your article about renewable energy?
Send your writing & scribble with a photo to [email protected], and we will write an interesting article based on your input.

Andrew Dabrowski - 5 DAYS AGO
Post Reported Report Post
Your Comment is Under Moderation
I'm confused: you added in the energy cost of a replacement panel, but then only considered the lifetime of a single panel. To be consistent shouldn't you consider the lifetime of the original panel and one replacement to be 50 or 60 years?

Also, Re: your choice of figure of 50% of the energy production going towards debt replacement:
That's completely arbitrary, you could have set it higher and found that it takes less time to pay its debt.
It's better to just say that over its lifespan it provides about x kWh of surplus energy.

Finally: Solar energy is still young, improvements in efficiency happen constantly - but will cease if that industry isn't supported.

Reply
Michael Sheiman - 6 DAYS AGO
Post Reported Report Post
Your Comment is Under Moderation
One major flaw I see, why are you using a huge 14.5kwh battery with a 0.300 kwh (300 watt) panel?
I have 12 300 (3.6kwh) watt panels and a 4.5 kwh battery and the system performs just fine, in fact 3kwh would be enough to handle the AC compressor surges in my house, for example. So that is more like 250 not 797 kwh battery waste for my system and more like 20kwh waste assuming battery for one panel instead of my 12.

The real whopper though, still, is manufacturing inefficiency. How do we now inefficiency is not part of manufacturer's energy to produce calculations?

Reply
Chris Scerbo - 6 DAYS AGO
Post Reported Report Post
Your Comment is Under Moderation
Congratulations on designing the most inefficient solar deployment in history. Try putting the panel kn the shade that will help your numbers be even more skewed.
Reply
Gideon Agware - 1 WEEK AGO
Post Reported Report Post
Your Comment is Under Moderation
Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything. Nevertheless think about if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this site could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its niche. Amazing blog!
Please check out my blog https://tecteem.com/toxicwap-download-free-tv-series-musics-movies-games-videos-toxicwap-com/ and contact me.
Reply
Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations
SIGN UP FOR MONTHLY TIPS & TRICKS
More like this:

Is Michael Moore Right? Solar Energy Busted!

Think or say what you want about Michael Moore. He might be your source of trustworthy intel, or he might be not your cup of tea altogether, but he might just have been right about one thing all along. We should not be looking for more renewable ways of fuelling our ever-increasing hunger for electricity, only like we should not foster a toddler’s tantrums by giving it an endless supply of unhealthy snacks. Instead, we should provide it with a filling, nutritious meal. Here’s to feeding the world a broccoli stir-fry instead of choc chip cookies.   For those missing the analogy - you are forgiven - the clue is to use whatever energy we have wisely and find ways of dealing with it more efficiently, instead of giving in to the ever-growing thirst for expansion. Michael Moore: Planet Of The Humans Earth Day in 2020 was an event that was unfortunately somewhat overlooked as the result of another, not to be named global catastrophe. Michael Moore did not forget about it, though. He worked together with Jeff Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner on the documentary ‘Planet of the Humans.’ Despite its unfortunate launch, it has drawn quite some attention - and criticism on top of that. Why? Well, the men singled out a rather unfortunate target: renewable energy, including solar, wind, and biomass. Those sources that have often been hailed as the potential solution for global warming have fallen from grace after being uncovered as a fraud of the first order. Moore et al. are claiming that the green technologies in question do, require more fossil fuel energy for the creation of the energy than they offset. Or, in the case of biomass, generating more carbon than they save.   {youtube}                          Michael Moore Presents: Planet of the Humans | Full Documentary | Directed by Jeff Gibbs   This is a huge issue if right. It would mean that renewable energies are setting us back instead of propelling us forward. It would mean that an entire industry is built on deceit and misrepresentation. So, is it true? Michael Moore And Criticasters One thing is for sure; the green energy industry is not taking this insult lying down. They were quick to fire back and hurl accusations right back at the movie and her makers. Their general response was that it was uninformed and a real detriment to all the hard work of those working hard to push the renewables market.   Recommended:  Renewables Illusion: Solar And Wind Don’t Save Us The renewable lobbyists have done everything in their might to discredit the movie, even going so far as having it pulled from YouTube and getting it replaced by an even more dubious copyright violation claim. (Although at the time of writing (11/09/2020), it is available again.) The vehemency with which those involved protest the accuracy does not quite match up to the provided facts for this. For instance, claims are that the clips of solar panels used in the film are from a decade ago, just as other pieces of technology shown are outdated and have been improved substantially since. These arguments are meant to debunk the idea that the creation of renewable energy requires more energy than that it will eventually deliver in its lifetime.   To be fair, Moore and his friends are not the first ones floating this claim. Where there is smoke, there is fire - or so you might conclude from finding that pretty much all renewable energy proponents included this very same claim as a true/false statement on their website—obviously, pointing out that it is just a myth. Folklore. Renewable energy is profitable. Or is it? Who is right here? Is Michael Moore Right? The Calculation On Energy Offset Thankfully, it seems relatively easy to pass judgment on this matter once and for all. A quick Google search already gets you to the right sources that will provide an answer. Various of those calculate the energy consumed while building a solar panel, like this one . This source stipulates that the energy consumed in the production of a solar panel adds up to some 1373 kWh, while other sources put this number somewhere between 1200 kWh and 1400 kWh. So, 1373 kWh seems a good number. Let’s use it. Next, we have got to find out the amount of energy produced by a solar panel over its lifetime - adjusting for power output and available new technology. Simple subtraction will allow us to fact-check the claim made in ‘Planet of the Humans.’ Recommended:  Green! The New Black: Are Renewables, Renewables? Solar Energy Busted: Typical Values Energy consumed in manufacture (Emanuf)= 1373 kWh Panel power output = 300W Lifetime of a panel = 25 to 30 years Hours of power generation per day = 6 hours Total energy (Epanel) = 25years x 365days x 6hours x 300W = 16,425 kWh There you have it, a simple equation. The numbers seem irrefutable: 16,425 is always > 1373. So you will earn at least ten times the amount of energy that you put in back. Moore, Gibbs, and Zehner must have been really bad at math. It seems too simple to be true. Does it reflect the sustainability of solar panels? Is it a valid comparison of input vs. output? Or are we missing something here? Solar Energy: Sustainability The question may as well have been rhetorical. We are missing something, and it is huge. For a solar panel to be sustainable, it has to be capable of offsetting and mitigating its footprint - as the production process itself requires a lot of fossil fuel energy, which harms the environment. Simultaneously, the new energy source should also be capable of generating sufficient energy for its replacement at the end of its life. The Cerrejón open-pit mine in Columbia supplies “Blue Gem” coal, a primary source of carbon for solar silicon smelters around the world. So, a solar panel should generate enough energy to both help in mitigating the harm done to the environment and making sure that a new solar panel can be constructed at the end of its life. These actions require a steady, intermittent flow of energy - and let that be something that solar panels cannot provide just yet without using a storage device, such as a battery.   Recommended:  Renewables In Danger! Solar And Wind Energy: Start Digging Taking this factor into account makes the math somewhat more complicated: a battery allows for the creation and use of more sustainable energy, but it also poses more significant harm to the environment as its production is, once again, very harmful. First off, the additional energy requirements for manufacturing.   We already established that the solar panel required 1373 kWh, while a battery requires some 55 kWh for every 1 kWh of battery capacity, or so this paper found. For this calculation, a battery was used with the following specs: Battery Capacity = 14.5 kWh Battery usable capacity = 13.5 kWh Ebatt = 14.5 x 55 = 797 kWh There is more, though. Now, we also have to account for the harm done to the environment during the manufacturing process. Think about wasted energy and material spent. No single manufacturing process has an efficiency of 100%, with most of them at or around 30%. This means that wasted energy and materials are up to 3x the actual work of manufacturing. The Rand Carbide silicon smelting plant in South Africa is a great example of how silicon solar often just transfers pollution from the 1st to the 3rd world  Let’s put those variables in the equation, using Harm1 for the footprint of the panel itself, and Harm2 for the footprint of the battery.   Harm1 = Epanel and, Harm2 = Ebatt Total Harm to be mitigated = Harm1 + Harm2 = Totalharm Energy required for Harm mitigation = Eharm = Totalharm/Efficiency Panel replacement energy = Erepl = Epanel/Efficiency Plugging the earlier results and using an efficiency of 33%, Totalharm = 1373 kWh + 797 kWh = 2170 kWh Eharm = 2170/0.33 = 6575 kWh Erepl = 1373/0.33 = 4160 kWh So, the total amount of energy required for the production, offsetting the harm done, and providing enough energy for a replacement, is the outcome of Eharm + Erepl = Esustain Plugging in the numbers, this gives us Esustain = 6575 + 4160 = 10735 kWh Keeping in mind that an average battery only stores 13.5 kWh at a time, this means that the solar panel can only repay its ‘debt’ after many, many years of charging and discharging. During these years, it should also keep a reserve for maintenance and replacement of parts of the battery itself, something that is undoubtedly needed as it must stand up to a lot of hard work. We are not just making a solar panel to earn itself back. It has to provide energy for productive use as well, not only for repaying her debt. So, let’s say we can use 50% of the generated energy for debt repayment, and the remaining 50% for something productive. So, using 50% of a 300W solar panel to charge a 13.5 kWh battery, using only six productive power hours per day: Charge time = 13500Wh/(50% of Wdaily) = 13500/900 = 15 days After 15 days, we have a full battery. Discharging it instantly and starting back up again gives us 365/15 = 24 charging cycles per year. During those 24 cycles, we can generate 13.5 kWh x 24 cycles = 324 kWh of energy per year. As the total amount of energy required to sustain its use (Esustain) was 10735 kWh, this means that we need Esustain/324 kWh = 10735/324 = 33 years to fully cover the panel’s footprint if we use half of the energy it generates. This is the moment to gasp in shock and horror and admit that perhaps, just perhaps, Michael Moore may have been on to something. Especially knowing that the panel has a lifetime of 25 to 30 years, it should be shocking. It will take longer to recover its footprint than its lifetime. And this, mind you, assume that the panel and battery will continuously operate without breaks or breakdowns. Something that is once again pretty unlikely. So there you have it. Solar energy is busted. Unless we spent all of its generated energy on clearing its footprint - which is just pointless and does not help us get more electricity for things other than building and maintaining solar panels -, there is no way it will ever generate enough energy to sustain and expand our electricity-fuelled lifestyle.   It is never a good idea to close gaps by making new gaps. Instead of spending more energy finding new sources of energy, we should try to reduce our energy needs. That’s the only way Earth will be able to keep up with us in the long run. TL;DR: Sorry, Michael Moore haters, he is once again painfully on the money. Before you go! Recommended:  How Inexhaustible Is Earth’s Geothermal Energy Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about renewable energy? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input.
Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations