Solar Power: Economic Disaster

Rated 1.43/5 based on 7 reviews
Even with free solar cells and batteries, solar power is too expensive. If safe nuclear power is expensive, solar power is a disaster (and so is wind). Here I present an analysis showing that wind and solar are NOT the way to go in terms of economics. Nuclear, geothermal and hydro are the way to go. Clean fossil fuel is a last resort.

Safe nuclear? I discuss that in my next book. More
Download: epub mobi (Kindle) pdf more Online Reader
About Theodore Ong

Theodore Ong is currently an undergrad scholar with a placing for chemical engineering Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. His main interests are science and clean energy technology. Besides writing and self publishing ebooks, he also plays the bass guitar, the Singapore stock market and enjoys good food.

Learn more about Theodore Ong


Is Solar Really That Cheap?
"Solar's cheap" claims the anti-nuclear environmentalists. Have they done their math? I have.

Readers of This Book Also Read


David Rice reviewed on on Jan. 21, 2018

Solar energy now costs less than energy from coal. Oops! Meanwhile, Bush2's renewable energy program, which President Obama expanded, has already paid for itself and is now snowing a profit of over 8 billion dollars.
(review of free book)
Fredric L. Rice reviewed on on Jan. 21, 2018

Looks like the author did not bother to do any actual research before opening his yap and spewing anti-science lunacy. Reads like a Koch Brothers anti-American, anti-science cult kook spew.
(review of free book)
Edward E. Rochon reviewed on on June 21, 2015

Lots of stats. I did not do, or verify the stats, and that is the problem with stats. On the face of it, he convinced me that thorium is a better option than uranium (except for making nukes.) But as for the solar critique, I deem solar more efficient in the long run when using direct conversion from collectors. That is, use it for hot water, for hot water heating, for low pressure turbines to deal with excess heat so as not to waste. One, we use solar hot water for residential and industrial hot water and heating. Two, have low temp turbines to burn off excess heat. Three, have a distributed network connected by pipes to reservoir that take advantage of area/volume savings in storing heat or cold. Area/volume means that as volume goes up, surface area dramatically decreases as a percentage of volume. This keeps heat or cold in much more efficiently. Solar trees could dot the city that open up to draw sun into a portal to underground storage tanks of water. The light goes in and reflective glass bricks or other reflective material fill the reservoirs with light to heat water. How hot? To just above boiling, so as not to put excessive pressure on surfaces and lower pipe bursting, etc. If water temp goes too high, cool by passing through turbine loops for electric power into grid. Low temp turbines work under less stress, are there in tandem with a whole network for cost justification. Hot water is cooled with cold water for that use. The hot water can be used for heating in winter and more electric power for A/C in the summer. Where to put tanks and reservoirs? Under lawns, under parks, smaller units in cellars, under streets. Basically, reinforced concrete with protection from water by sealant, reflective backing, and then glass tiling or bricks, such as to make good reflective surfaces. These will be repaired off season to keep the construction industry busy. The desperation of these contractors and employees to stay at work is a constant evil resource that corrupt pols and corruption uses that corrupt society. Check up on Boss Tweed, the Big Dig in Boston, etc. In cold climates, this is definitely a big problem. And construction contracts tend to be sporadic, giving a boom/bust factor that is not healthy for the commonwealth. A ready supply of work reduces the temptation to pad, job milk and corrupt the economy. Big reservoirs can store heat for days or weeks with considerable efficiency. A few yards below the surface, there is no penetration of cold, except in areas of permafrost. The earth is a heat sink. If these reservoirs are built to last, they will last for generations. The expense accumulates into bounty for the future. One unit of volume as a 6:1 ratio of area to volume. Ten units have a .6:1 ratio. Hundred has .06:1. Ships in New England hauled ice down to far away places without refrigeration in the nineteenth century. Big volume keeps cool or hot efficiently. Digging holes and covering them up with a few yards of cover is technically pretty easy stuff for construction. Then you have insulated access passages. As an extra benefit, rain runoff clarified and stored in these subterranean bunkers helps quench the thirst of the city and prevent loss to evaporation and runoff to the sea. The heating purifies the water. This is for washing and heating anyway, but still purified by boiling.
(review of free book)
Mike Laughrey reviewed on on March 21, 2015

The author is diligent in showing his work, both in the mathematical sense and in the links to sources so that his numbers can be confirmed. However, he still bases his own arguments using that data on very specific assumptions. The first of these is that all the technologies would have to be compared on a utility basis, that is to say, tied into the existing utility distribution grid. The simple fact that the grid exists to connect power supplies at Point A to consumers at Point B incurs losses from long range transmission, maintenance of lines and towers, and the manufacture of replacement parts. The impact of off-grid solar, wind, hydro and other renewable power sources in the form of reduced demand, utility buybacks, or even the overhauling of today's aging infrastructure in favor of some model of "smart grid" is not examined. Thus a false dichotomy is created where solar and wind must be scaled up well past the points of diminishing returns in their present designs rather than being allowed to play to their own strengths.

This false dichotomy occurs throughout the book: Hydroelectric power and dams are considered equivalent, but low head and micro-hydro systems don't need a massive reservoir. The speed the turbines reach is a function of the speed of the water - using the force of gravity and the pressure of a large reservoir is just one solution among many. The section on bio fuels and fossil fuels studiously ignores one of the key reasons fossil fuels became so useful in the first place (their portability) and using the same baseline for a central utility plant ignores the very important economic impact of vehicles and motorized transport even while complaining about vehicles greenhouse gas emissions. It defies belief that the author didn't know at that point he was comparing apples and oranges.

The most exasperating problem with the arguments made, though, are the arguments that would have supported the author's position but never came up. Wind farms have an issue with birds being killed by the rotating blades - this is both a strike against their position as an environmentally friendly power source and an ongoing addition to the costs of maintenance. I could not find any mention of this, often called a "hidden cost" of wind power, anywhere in the text. This is just one of several omissions that raise the question of just how thorough the author's research was.

The author did such a bad job making his case that when I started reading his book I was overwhelming in support of Thorium based nuclear power, but by the time I got to the section where he extolls its virtues, I found myself doubting both my sources and my judgement. After some rigorous double checking, my confidence is restored, but the fact remains that the author managed to completely undermine his core message in an attempt to present it as a superior option. That doesn't happen often outside of satire and parody, and I believe the author was earnestly serious instead of satirical. If he had just compared existing reactor costs and risks with those projected for various thorium reactor designs, he could have made his point easily enough. Instead, he had to take pot shots at other technologies, drawing inaccurate comparisons and undermining his credibility in doing so. This in turn undermined the credibility of the position he endorsed.

As a valid argument for or against any given power system, this book is almost useless. It is, however, available for free as of this writing, and so I recommend it highly as an example of how not to compare competing ideas.
(review of free book)
Fredric L. Rice reviewed on on April 10, 2014

The author failed to include the expense of hydro and nuclear in his essay, expenses that are passed on to the citizens of the countries where corporate criminals commit racketeering to be permitted to build their nuclear plants, assured that the cost of cleaning up after the corporate criminals have long since fled is passed on to the citizens of the countries where such plants are built.

It is a common problem around the world: Oligarchy fascists (in the Italian sense of the word) is rampant, a hand full of criminals reap billions of dollars, then when it's time to clean up their corporate eco-terrorism crimes against us, citizens are left having to pay the bills, none of which is mentioned in this author's right wing, uninformed, anti-science missive.
(review of free book)
Robert Smith reviewed on on March 29, 2014

There is not a single sentence in this set of notes and disgrams that makes any sense.

IF nuclear can be made safe (it cannot - there will always be systematic failures leading to a three-mile island, chenobyl or fukishima) THEN it is better (but only if you ignore the problems of handling Uranium and decommissioning).

Nuclear power operates with HUGE subsidies. There is no reason why we should use this process to boil water. The only reason governments like it is to subsidize their atom bomb making plans.
(review of free book)
David Rice reviewed on on March 29, 2014

The math is sound; the sources are sound; the numbers are sound; but the writer excluded several massive costs of using nuclear energy and coal-fired energy.

The "cost of coal" quoted in the pamphlet does not include the economic and social costs of human-caused climate change. The global labor production continues to increase (due to the increase in human population), even as the global GDP has been decreasing, and that is chiefly due to human-caused climate change: that change in climate is due chiefly to burning coal and gasoline. It does not matter is coal provides one watt at $3 (building the power plant and infrastructure), and solar costs $4 a watt--- the cost of human populations being displaced, the costs of mitigating against human-caused climate change, and the cost of decreased food and water production must also be included in the use of fossil fuels.

The same is true of nuclear power. If a power plant and infrastructure costs $3.36 a watt for nuclear power, the cost of storing the waste, and the cost of nuclear accidents (economic and social) must also be added.
(review of free book)
Report this book