Solar PV + storage = net energy SINK!

Is Solar PV even a source of energy when one considers trying to ‘buffer’ it with storage? Does the energy cost of building the solar PV AND the storage render solar PV a net energy SINK rather than energy source? Or, in other words, do you pour more coal and gas and oil into building solar PV + storage than you get back as ‘clean’ energy? Apparently so! Not only this, but we need a minimum of 12 times the energy return on energy invested (ERoEI) to run the modern world. Solar thermal + storage only gives us 9, and that’s the best performing! Sorry folks. The ERoEI of a renewable grid + storage seems to be too low. Nuclear has an ERoEI of about 75. It’s nuclear or it’s climate change. The science says so.

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11 Responses to Solar PV + storage = net energy SINK!

  1. Eclipse Now says:

    Thanks for that post Heavyweather. It didn’t even TOUCH on the ERoEI of storage, and made some other very strange claims: claims so strange that even a non-scientist such as myself could document them. So I wrote a blog post about it.

    • heavyweather says:

      Why would you store it in the first place when you can use it right away? That would only make sense for off grid installations whichbnake sense on their own for other reasons.
      You fail to understand the role PV plays.
      Besides there is enough storage.
      The EROEI of solar also rises when you use solar to produce it.

      I see that you still fail to understand the Energiewende and how Germany and the world benefits from it. They along with China are responsible for decreasing solar prices.

      The German grid is the third stable in Europe…right behind Denmark and Luxembourg.

      But then there is Belgium which faces blackouts that winter…guess what the reason is failing nuclear.

      Renewables are cheaper and will keep pushing expensive plants like nuclear out of the market.

  2. Eclipse Now says:

    I don’t fail to understand PV’s role: renewable energy advocates do! I love solar PV in the *right context* which is:-
    * lowering home energy bills by providing a *little* daytime power and NOT attempting to store solar PV at night
    * lowering the cost of ‘gold plating’ a grid for the peak few hours or days demand a year, by smoothing supply and demand out in the actual suburbs and urban areas of the grid
    * power for remote areas
    * space

    Besides there is enough storage. The EROEI of solar also rises when you use solar to produce it.”

    How does a NEGATIVE energy source build the next round of energy systems? Sorry dude, wake up. Solar PV with storage is negative.

    I see that you still fail to understand the Energiewende and how Germany and the world benefits from it. They along with China are responsible for decreasing solar prices.

    I understand that bulk production reduces costs generally: but this specific article is talking about the energy cost, not the money cost.

    By discussing the very low ERoEI of renewables + STORAGE, this article also asks whether we have our em-PHA-Sis on the right sy-LLA-ble: is building a low energy system the right way to go when our world needs to:-
    1. Switch of fossil fuels ASAP
    2. Do so as fast and cheaply as possible
    Building a HIGH energy supply system would be better than a low one, no?

    • heavyweather says:

      Why bother with nuclear then?

      The economics are getting worse all the time and this is not going to get better either and most plants will have to be shut down when they aren’t making profits anymore. Then you have more problems. Wind and solar just keep running or get repowered. Solar has a rising EROEI and most of the energy invested is in production capacity. While nuclear has a low historical retirement age (22 years average) and old reactors get expensive (+5% O&M every year) and safety issues get worse with age some still believe that a plant can keep working at a loss for a total of 60years. Thats not going yo happen even ignoring the billions of investments needed to even make that happen. What’s the EROEI of the 3 Belgian nuclear plants that will probably get shut down permanently ( actually the other 3 where the plants scheduled for retirement). Those poor Belgians that have been let down by nuclear. Blackouts and cold winter nights ahead. Now they wish they had started wind development earlier.

  3. Eclipse Now says:

    1. Nuclear EROEI. I AM busy getting nuclear experts to look into Lenzen’s paper. But the short answer so far? Lenzen’s paper does NOT analyse breeder’s that don’t have to mine and refine vast quantities of uranium ore, so that will radically increase the EROEI. Indeed, Lenzen analyses the energy costs / emissions profile of mining, milling enrichment, etc. We can cut the first 3 with breeders!
    Sure a plutonium economy would eventually (after five centuries) require more uranium mining and milling and enrichment for future breeders. But Lenzen’s analysis only counts the energy gained from today’s out of date once-through model. This means he’s only counting 0.6% of the energy actually available in the fuel.
    In other words while his measurements of reactor inputs are probably only a *little* heavy (because of slight incremental improvements in reactor design), the energy input to reward ratio from the fuel cycle itself is off by a FACTOR of about 99! To put it another way: breeders extract 99 times more energy out of uranium than today’s once-through fuel model. So given we can rule out the first 3 stages in his energy inputs for centuries at least, I wonder what ERoEI breeder reactors actually have? In other words, we can have a fleet of a few ‘normal’ reactors that take mined and milled and enriched uranium, feed it through that (at a low EROEI of 5) and then spit it out the other end into the REAL powerhouse: those reactors that don’t have the high energy cost of mining and milling and enriching built in. They just burn the waste! PURE ENERGY PROFIT!

    2. Cost? You’re kidding me aren’t you? China are mass producing nukes to the point where they estimate they’ll soon be cheaper than coal! I’ve shown you that link many times. You just ignored i!

    3. EROEI

    Solar has a rising EROEI and most of the energy invested is in production capacity.

    Evidence? You’re just ASSERTING stuff again! If you’re going to make grandiose statements like that without any evidence whatsoever, it makes me wonder if you even know what ERoEI is, and what we are discussing.

    4. Retirement age of nukes

    While nuclear has a low historical retirement age (22 years average)

    You’re so wrong it’s LAUGHABLE. Try this article from Scientific American:

    Increasingly dependable and emitting few greenhouse gases, the U.S. fleet of nuclear power plants will likely run for another 50 or even 70 years before it is retired — long past the 40-year life span planned decades ago — according to industry executives, regulators and scientists.

    With nuclear providing always-on electricity that will become more cost-effective if a price is placed on heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions, utilities have found it is now viable to replace turbines or lids that have been worn down by radiation exposure or wear. Many engineers are convinced that nearly any plant parts, most of which were not designed to be replaced, can be swapped out.

    “We think we can replace almost every component in a nuclear power plant,” said Jan van der Lee, director of the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI), a nuclear research facility inaugurated this week in France and run by the state-owned nuclear giant EDF.

    “We don’t want to wait until something breaks,” he said. By identifying components that are wearing down and replacing them, he said, suddenly nuclear plants will find that “technically, there is no age limit.”

    Indeed, as U.S. regulators begin considering the extended operations of nuclear plants — the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) expects the first application for an 80-year license could come within five years or less…

  4. Eclipse Now says:

    Sorry Heavyweather but I’m going to delete your last comment because you STILL haven’t learned to provide evidence for your claims. Your claims regarding the Belgian reactors may or may not be true: YOU NEED TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE. If YOU are going to post it, YOU must verify it and not just shoot from the hip.

  5. heavyweather says:

    Just read your 2009 wind comments on BNC.
    Too bad you keep delaying my posts, you could check them in some years again as I just did on BNC.

    It is amazing how wrong the EIA got levelized wind cost predicted (for 2016) wrong 5 years ago.

    You can leave my comment as it is, don’t know what you are afraid of.

    There are differences in EROEI calculations. Counting electricity output in terms of its ‘Primary Energy equivalent’ raises PV in the range of 20-40.
    [The Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI) of Photovoltaics:
    Methodology and Comparisons with Fossil Fuel Life Cycles
    Marco Raugei, Pere Fullana,Palmer and Vasilis Fthenakis]

    There are other calculations that place nuclear around 5. Some studies even conclude that nuclear is an energy sink.
    A CANDU could do a little better than 5-6. You don’t have any documents for the other high EROEI breeders? Its all speculation on the Chinese.

    The Belgian reactors? Some (8000) cracks suddenly discovered in an old pressure vessel forced it to shut down (probably permanently) over 50% of their nuclear capacity and 25% of the whole capacity now missing. Both reactors scheduled for phase out in 2022 and 2025…the two reactors left are both scheduled for 2016.
    Those are Framatom designs and similar to a lot French reactors. That’s something to consider when upgrading those old reactors.
    Does it make sense to change parts when the whole thing could be forced to shut down due to some unrepairable damage?
    How does it make sense changing parts in old reactors when it is cheaper and less (financial) risk to build windturbines and PV instead?
    We will see how that works out.

    I know you are not interested but did you see what Skysails is up to? They are going to build offshore wind with their technology already used for towing ships.
    At The Oildrum they calculated the EROEI for that technology at over 350 with the Kitegen carousel even much higher. Massimo Ippolito is building another, bigger prototype already with 2000m operating hight. The team has also a finished 5GWe carousel design that they say would cost 1.5billion €.

    You also know that this is not going anywhere and I really got other things to do than guiding you out of nuclear delusion. Good luck to you.

  6. Eclipse Now says:

    I’m not afraid of anything: this is my blog, and my rules state that if you’re going to post controversial statements you need to back them up with REFERENCES! Is that too hard for you? Now if you’re just going to copy and paste stuff back in after it’s been deleted for a quite important reason, I would normally conclude that you are a troll and delete it. But the fact that you are actually reading around BNC indicates you are genuinely interested in this topic and prepared to give the other side a go. So I’ll leave your comment up: and just ask you to back up your Belgian reactor comment with references. Please?

  7. Eclipse Now says:

    OKAY, now we’re getting somewhere. Now I have to deal with this.
    1. What percentage of overall nuclear reactors does this sabotage deal trouble to?
    2. Is is permanent sabotage? Or does the very link you’ve offered say it will be up and running by the end of the year?
    3. Can’t criminals also sabotage solar plants, or anything they want to really?
    4. Was anybody hurt?
    5. Did any radiation get out?
    6. These were 40 year old reactors: modern reactors are simpler to build, simpler to monitor, and simpler to repair.
    7. By all reports, nuclear power in Belgian is actually pretty good: I like the French government ‘pump them out in an emergency’ model, but Belgian’s private model shows they are competitive.

    “There has been little government support for nuclear energy, and nuclear power generation, the lowest-cost source of power, incurs a EUR 0.5 cent/kWh tax.”

    8. Nuclear power advocates recognise that the demand for electricity is only likely to grow. An iphone takes as much energy as a fridge to run: it’s the servers and internet and telecom investments that demand the rest of the energy. So (from link above) we find:
    “Electricity consumption in Belgium has grown from 5800 kWh per capita in 1990 to about 7300 kWh in 2011. Nuclear energy typically provides half of the country’s domestically-generated electricity.”
    In other words, nukies are not the daydreaming hippies that windies and sunnies are. Windies and sunnies just assume they’re going to get society to drop HALF their energy use! Wow. Sounds like they’re running on magic and moonbeams. (BZE’s, an Australian sunnie thinktank, wants us to adopt RADICAL powerdown schemes that I just don’t think will be politically viable: no matter how much I might secretly ADMIRE their energy efficiency goals!)

    9. What has Belgian nuclear sabotage got to do with the fact that solar + storage does not have as much energy surplus as nuclear? World nuclear association says nukes have an ERoEI of 50. Nukes don’t need storage, which is an ENORMOUS energy cost. I’m still getting feedback from the more professional nukies over at BNC.

    10. Lastly, a personal note. You read my wind comments on BNC from 2009? Shows how much I’ve changed, hey? A little real world engineering data can do that to a person once they drop the moonbeams and magic and wishful thinking.

    11. I WOULD LOVE TO BE WRONG! I would LOVE renewables + storage to do the job, for Kitegen to generate ENORMOUS volumes of useful energy reliably to the marketplace, for new low energy input Solar PV from bio-organic dyes to give us abundant day time energy and some new gizmo to store it all for night. Society would be so enthusiastic for these technologies because:

    12: FUD; too many greenies I know are freaked out of their minds by the word ‘radiation’. They have been sold Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. They don’t understand that nuclear power is safer than wind or solar!

    Energy Source Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)

    Coal – global average 170,000 (50% global electricity)

    Coal – China 280,000 (75% China’s electricity)

    Coal – U.S. 15,000 (44% U.S. electricity)

    Oil 36,000 (36% of energy, 8% of electricity)

    Natural Gas 4,000 (20% global electricity)

    Biofuel/Biomass 24,000 (21% global energy)

    Solar (rooftop) 440 (< 1% global electricity)

    Wind 150 (~ 1% global electricity)

    Hydro – global average 1,400 (15% global electricity)

    Nuclear – global average 90 (17% global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)

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