Time for Solar Energy and Wind Farm Supporters to Stop Living in the Stone Age

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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Sometimes environmentalists get a bit confused and they can be forgiven for that. It can’t be easy living in perpetual ignorance while shivering every time the volcano god rumbles and Al Gore forewarns another warm winter unless a few virginal carbon credits are sacrificed.

Mr Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, accused Conservatives of attempting to “destroy” the UK’s renewables industry.

The Daily Telegraph last month disclosed that officials in Mr Davey’s energy department have attempted to block a report commissioned by Mr Paterson on the impact of wind farms on the countryside.

Government sources claimed that Mr Davey was concerned that the report, which will also examine how turbines affect house prices, would not “fit with Lib Dem ideology on wind farms”.

In his speech to the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow, Mr Davey said that he is being forced to fight “battles” with Mr Paterson over wind turbines.

“Take the battles I fight over wind power,” Mr Davey said. “Owen Paterson would cull wind turbines faster than he can cull badgers.

“But we have prevented the stone age wing of the Conservative Party from destroying our leading renewables industry.”

However, Mr Davey said that it is wrong to suggest that fracking “answers all Britain’s energy problems”.

Windmills have been around for over 2000 years. Wind turbines have been around since 1887. They’re not exactly a groundbreaking technology.

Fracking on the other hand dates back to 1947 and 1949. That’s generations later making it the more advanced tech. And if the Lib Dems really want to break out of the stone age… why not go nuclear?

Nuclear power plants are a truly modern technology. They’re more modern than solar cells which date back to 1888. Funny how the eco-left seems obsessed with 1880 technology while neglecting the wonders of modern technology. They seem to be the ones in the stone age.

Consider the heyday of the wind turbine.

Around the time of World War I, American windmill makers were producing 100,000 farm windmills each year, mostly for water-pumping. By the 1930s, wind generators for electricity were common on farms, mostly in the United States where distribution systems had not yet been installed.

In the fall of 1941, the first megawatt-class wind turbine was synchronized to a utility grid in Vermont. The Smith-Putnam wind turbine only ran for 1,100 hours before suffering a critical failure. The unit was not repaired because of shortage of materials during the war.

Or the heyday of solar energy

Commercially, solar power made its debut in the late 1800’s. After black boxes started dotting the rooftops of Baltimore, Charles Kemp patented the first solar water heating system. The original systems were basic: the back boxes held water that were heated throughout the day. Kemp combined this style with the scientific principle of a hot box and the Climax was born.

Known as the simple batch system, the Climax cost $25 and would save homeowners around $9 a year. Sales to wealthier Marylanders supported the business originally, but Kemp would later move to the sun-rich grounds of California. By 1900, the Kemp had sold over 1,600 systems.

By 1909, William Bailey transformed the solar heating system, fixing one of the major flaws of the Climax. Since Kemp’s system was entirely housed outside, it meant hot water was only possible during sunlight. The water would cool off as soon as the sun sank below the horizon.

Called the Day and Night, William Bailey invented and patented a thermosyphon system, which kept the heating component outside to reach the sun, but stored the heated water inside so it would retain heat. Bailey also targeted sunny California to sell his solar energy system, and soon put Kemp out of business. The Day and Night sold over 4000 units from 1909 through 1918.

As production of the solar thermosyphon system prospered during the 1920’s, economics soon made the solar heat irrelevant. With the discovery of large amounts of natural gas in California, the cost to heat water plummeted and solar energy systems could no longer compete for business. Bailey did invent a gas version of the Day and Night that flourished in Florida, but the mass production of electricity made the new system obsolete as well.

We’ve done wind and solar already. They don’t work too well. Solar is great if you’re sending a satellite into space outside the atmosphere. If you want to power a modern home, it doesn’t work unless you raise the price of electricity so sharply that solar suddenly becomes competitive.

And that’s the environmentalist tactic.

Instead of making better energy technologies, they generate electric poverty and make their old inefficient systems competitive by making energy into a luxury good.

Meanwhile they keep misrepresenting “renewables” as advanced energy technologies. They’re only advanced if you’re living in 1891. Time for environmentalists to join the modern world where truly modern technologies like nuclear energy and fracking revolutionize the way we live and make it possible for the poor to heat their homes without sinking into electric poverty the way they do under the eco-frauds of the UK and Germany.

  • bob e

    i b’lee michele o’fraud aught to have an ample wind machine afixed on her backside & jet her off to her next well earned vacation…

  • trickyblain

    In the early 1920′s, it was faster to cross the country by train than by plane.

    Maybe we should look at the efficiency of technologies, I don’t know, today — rather that ninety year ago?

    • truebearing

      You’re right about one thing….you don’t know.

  • Andy_Lewis

    You lie.

    • ziggy zoggy

      How so? Did he forget the apple butter? Not everybody is into that.

  • UCSPanther

    If we want to bring back old technology, I want to see the return of the old ALCO diesels:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc2-GObmqNk

    Fine, smoke-belching machines where you can actually HEAR the engine run…

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Water pumping windmills on farms and ranches were manufactured by Aermotor….that sort of device was fondly referred to as a “high lonesome”

  • j Ray

    Given that millions of people have died due to “environmentalism” (75 million in Africa alone since Rachael Carson), and that insect born diseases like Denge Fever, Yellow Fever and Nile Virus are re surging, it’s time to treat “environmentalists” as criminals who have committed crimes against humanity.

    These people have committed murder in “Gaia’s Name” – to advance a cause using lies and propaganda, causing needless hurt to people and their lives. It’s about time that some of them go to the gallows.

    • Naresh Krishnamoorti

      Exactly right. The Environmentalist movement and the Population Control movement both have the same eugenicist roots. They are against technology inasmuch as technology has improved the ability of the poor and the “inferior races” to survive the vagaries of weather, ward off diseases, and reduce infant mortality rates. That’s why they seem, at times, like Neanderthals; although they’re all in favor of the latest technology if it can help to reduce human populations. Yes, this may be about “earth worship,” but it’s more directly a manifestation of hell’s hatred of God and Life itself.

  • UKGary

    This is an absurd article filled with error and prejudice.

    Take for example Daniel’s assertion that commercial solar power had its début in the late 1800′s – does he not know the difference between electrical power and heat?

    Whilst the photovoltaic effect was recognised in 1839 it was 1954 before the first practical cell was made and 1958 before the first use of such cells to power a satellite. These first cells cost $250 per watt before they were integrated into any kind of product. Since then, there has been a huge amount of research and development to refine a commercial product and bring down costs.

    Since 1958, the price of solar cells and of the solar panels they are used to make has dropped dramatically. Current ex factory cost for solar panels are around £0.40 to £0.55 per watt, and continues to reduce whilst panel efficiencies are rising. Installed solar arrays on houses now cost around £1.50 per watt whilst commercial arrays can cost from around £1.00 per watt depending on scale.

    True, for the moment, solar power is subsidised, but on a per kWh basis far less so than in the past, and in some countries e.g. Chile, it is now possible to build on grid solar farms based entirely on power purchase agreements on the same basis as any other power plant. Given another 5 years or thereabouts, this is likely to become the case even in the UK.

    As for wind power, in the best locations it has been possible to build unsubsidised wind farms for decades.

    • truebearing

      Why is Germany’s power so expensive then? Or Denmark’s? They are the leading “beneficiaries” of wind and solar and have the highest electricity costs in the world.
      Wind generators are unreliable, breaking down far too often. Photovoltaics are useable, but create significant pollution. They are still too expensive.
      If solar is so wonderful, why did Obama’s foray into venture socialism fail so spectacularly?

      • UKGary

        Germany was a “first mover” in large scale solar, and very early into wind in a big way. Germany has not got the best resource for either solar or wind power with sunshine figures on average on a par with or slightly lower than Alaska, and wind resource far inferior to the UK or Ireland.

        Costs of both are now much lower, but Germany is still paying high rate feed in tariffs to a large amount of solar capacity put in when costs were much higher. Interestingly, very large numbers of Germans benefit from revenue provided by their own rooftop solar power, or from work in the solar installation industry and most Germans would seem to still support the policy in principle even if they are starting to moan about the cost.

        As for Denmark, I think the price of electricity has more to do with the overall tax system and with the fact that Denmark has little if any indigenous fossil fuels than with specific higher costs for wind power.

        There are other European countries with high electricity prices not very different to Germany and Denmark – specifically Cyprus, Malta, Ireland, Belgium, and Italy. In the USA, Hawaii has even higher prices, and I believe the same is true of Japan.

        http://www.energy.eu/

        It should also be said that electricity prices in the USA (mainland) are substantially lower than most other jurisdictions largely due to the availability of cheep gas extracted and sold on the US market at prices way below the global market price.

    • Gee

      Solar power does not always require photovoltaic cells. That is what the article pointed out.

      Solar energy has been used for many thousands of years in food preservation

    • Sussex Girl

      Here’s the rub–in Denmark, they haven’t closed ONE coal-fired plant with all their wind farms. That’s because they need to keep the coal plants running as backup for when the wind doesn’t blow, like on the most bitterly cold nights. Those nights are that cold exactly because the wind isn’t blowing.

      But it also means those coal plants aren’t turned off, of course. They have to be kept running because you can’t just crank these things up at the drop of a hat. That also means they are running at, like 35% or 40%, well below the 85% running capacity that is the most efficient. So to keep them running as backup, the Danes are actually adding more carbon to the atmosphere than if they were just using the coal plants for power.

      Isn’t that a delicious irony.

      • UKGary

        It is true that coal fired power stations are less efficient at generating power when operating at 35% to 40%, however it is not true to say that they use as much fuel at part load as at full load.

        Operating at 40% uses considerably less fuel than at 85%, and in the specific case of Denmark, every coal fired power station operates in combined heat and power mode so that even this efficiency penalty is likely to be less than in electricity only operation.

        Denmark is also connected to the Norwegian and Swedish power systems, so that a lot of the variation in supply and demand is taken care of by adjusting the operation of hydro-electric power plants.

  • Jason

    In my country, Australia, we have no nuclear power. Why? Because despite both major parties saying they wanted nuclear power at one point, the small Greens party, with less than 8% of the vote at this election, opposes them. My country has the MOST uranium of any country on earth. Nuclear is the best power, as it is clean, cheap and VIABLE! Until people can come up with a better solution, nuclear power is the best way to reduce CO2 emissions, if you were going to do it at all.

    Moral of the story, most of the time a whinging minority will ruin a perfectly good plan.

    • Richard McCargar

      Nuclear power is a disaster. No one wants to store the spent fuel rods, and when something goes wrong, it’s a catastrophe.

      Fortunately, the world is getting wise, and turning away from nuclear power.

      • Jason

        Then what do you propose? Coal power, which produces acid rain and destroys forests? Wind and solar, too weak for baseline power? Hydro? Well look at what Brazil’s Hydropower has done to the native tribes of the Amazon.

        The benefits of nuclear power far outweigh the negatives. To look at Fukushima and Chernobyl is to look at two poorly managed sites. Fearmongering of the highest order.

        • Richard McCargar

          To ignore Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima is criminal negligence.

          According to the NYT article “Nuclear Plants, Old and Uncompetitive, Are Closing Earlier Than Expected,” nuclear power plants are being retired early because they are too expensive to repair, and not commercially viable because of the newly found natural gas deposits.

          According to a September 15 BBC article: “Japan is shutting down its last functioning nuclear reactor, with no timetable for a restart.”

          Sorry, it’s over for nuclear power.

  • brossen99
  • BagLady

    Can I resurrect you?

    I see this week there is much in the media ridiculing solar power and its adverse effects on nature. I can only think that such attacks are driven by big money invested in ‘dirt’ and not logical thought.

    If we take a blank canvas and ask ourselves: “What is THE most powerful source of energy known to man?” We would have to argue the ‘big five’. Of these the heat from the Sun would win every time. Thankfully, we have water to cool Her down when needed and wind to fan her flames in the lulls. Logically, with this starting block, once should have thought that research would have gone more aggressively down this path. Instead, it has been consigned to the Hippie commune.

    The fact that we have lagged behind our 21 centuries of knowledge of the elements is simply because we have always put ‘people’ before ‘people’.

    Know wha’ I mean, bro?