The Replacement of Renewables

The following are copies of an exchange of comments on Tim Morgan’s Surplus Energy Blog confirming my view that the current policies being followed worldwide are misguided.


The resource requirements for RE expansion and replacement are enormous and would place vast demands on the legacy FF energy needed to access and process them.  Even the ‘green’ credentials of renewables are open to serious questions. 

Solar panel waste could amount to roughly 315,000 metric tons by 2050.  ”That’s an excellent example of how there is no such thing as ‘green tech”.  The significant shift in consciousness needed is that *no* technology (as the term is commonly used) is sustainable *at all*.

Solar panels have a productive lifetime of around 25-30 years.  However, a solar panel will not expire after 25-30 years; its output will significantly drop.  A report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency highlights that “large amounts of annual (solar panel) waste are anticipated by the early 2030s” and could reach 78 million tonnes by the year 2050.  About 6 million metric tonnes of new solar e-waste will be generated annually.

The effect of these solar panels on the landfill is significant.  Heavy metals in solar panels, such as lead and cadmium, have been proven in studies to seep out of the cells, enter groundwater, harm plants, alter soil fertility, and affect our livelihood.  These metals have also been linked to health problems in humans.”

The most significant cost escalation is likely to occur in decommissioning, a complex and expensive endeavour involving the disassembly of turbines, removal of foundations and cables, reverse logistics of moving the blades and towers back to shore, and responsible waste management.  However, most economic analyses on wind farm design assume these costs will be negligible or diminish over time.  They also underestimate maintenance costs, which are known to increase over time.  Moreover, they do not explore the implications of building larger turbines situated farther offshore on decommissioning and maintenance costs, which are typically set arbitrarily at 50% of the turbine cost.

Wind power plants generate massive amounts of waste.

1.35 Million Tonnes of “Hazardous Material”, Germany Admits they have no plan to recycle Used Wind Turbine Blades.

There’s also the problem of the massive steel-reinforced turbine foundations, which are also swept under a dirt layer.  These too will forever have an impact on ground and groundwater.”

A recent report on ZDF German public television explains that there is currently no plan on what to do with the turbine blades, which weigh up to 15 tonnes each.  There is no way to recycle them as raw material for new blades.

The old blades are shredded, and the chips are mixed with concrete.  “You need too much energy and power to shred them,” says Hans-Dieter Wilcken, a German recycling company operator.  Burning them is also not an option.”


We were amongst the first to invest in a heat pump in 1998, which needed to be replaced 22 years later. We were leading the way in replacing renewables.

It was an air-to-air heat pump for a house requiring whole-house heating and ventilation. It was so heavy that two strong men could hardly lift it.

Imagine in 25 years when thousands of these are being installed now, which will need replacing and processing. Of course, by then, replacement may be unaffordable.

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