[ExI] massive "green" industrial transformation of the landscape

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sat Jul 28 17:35:46 UTC 2007

On Sat, Jul 28, 2007 at 09:28:14AM -0500, Damien Broderick wrote:

> Large-scale renewable energy projects will cause widespread 
> environmental damage by industrialising vast swaths of countryside, a 
> leading scientist claims today. The warning follows an analysis of 

I don't think so. Both about the environmental damage, but especially
about the "leading scientist". I've never ever heard of the Aus-Uebel

> the amount of land that renewable energy resources, including wind 
> farms, biofuel crops and photovoltaic solar cells, require to produce 

The hodgepodge of technologies purportedly studied doesn't forebode 
well for the study. It sounds like a hatchet job.

> substantial amounts of power.
> Jesse Ausubel, a professor of environmental science and director of 
> the Human Environment programme at Rockefeller University in New 
> York, found that enormous stretches of countryside would have to be 

How about the enormous stretches of contryside which are already
covered with structures? If 0.6% of land is enough for Germany
(where 12% of entire land is sealed, and some 6% is covered with
actual structures -- about zero of them solar) most other places 
would fare much better.

> converted into intensive farmland or developed with buildings and 

Farmland? It's clear enough that biofuels don't work, with the possible
exception of algaculture.

> access roads for renewable energy plants to make a significant 

If the renewable energy plant is your home, there's a very
nice access road to it already.

> contribution to global energy demands.
> Prof Ausubel reached his conclusions by ranking renewable energies 
> according to the amount of power they produce for each square metre 
> of land. The assessment allows direct comparison between the 
> different approaches, based on the impact they will have on the 
> surrounding landscape.

If your premise is bogus, no wonder the study is a crock of strong fertilizer.
> The analysis showed that damming rivers to make use of hydroelectric 
> power was among the most harmful to the landscape, producing around 

Hydro is developed, there's not much more where that came from.
I wonder why one would study a technology which can't be used.

> 0.1 watts of power per square metre. The world's largest dam, the 
> Three Gorges power station on the Yangtze in China, stores nearly 
> 40bn cubic metres of water, submerging land that was previously home 
> to more than 1 million people.
> Biofuel crops and wind energy fared better in the study, with both 
> generating around 1.2w to a square metre. Leading the renewable 

Given that the solar constant is 1.4 kW/m^2, a factor of 1000
is missing here. (And if you think it's less than half that, then
you're presuming too much already). 

> energy sources were photovoltaic solar cells, which use sunlight to 
> create electricity, at around six to seven watts to a square metre.

More strange thinking. You do not analyse a renewable source by
looking at a single scalar. Coincidentally, right now wind is
eating PV for breakfast. It will take a few more years until
PV can compete with wind.
> Prof Ausubel investigated how much land renewable energies would need 
> to provide electricity for large populations and compared them to 
> output from nuclear power stations.

And he did look at more than the area of a nuke plant in his analysis,
I hopes? I hopes?
> In one example he showed that damming rainfall and flooding the 
> entire Canadian province of Ontario would generate hydroelectric 
> power equivalent to 80% of that produced by the country's 25 nuclear 
> power plants.

Let me guess, this study was funded by nuke people.
> Another calculation revealed that to meet US energy demands for 2005 
> with wind power would require constant winds blowing onto wind farms 
> covering more than 780,000 square kilometres of land, the area of 
> Texas and Louisiana combined. A comparison of solar energy with 
> nuclear found that a hectare of photovoltaic cells was needed to 
> produce the same amount of power as one litre of fuel in the core of 
> a nuclear reactor.

No guessing. This study *was* funded by nuke people.
> The report breaks what Prof Ausubel calls the "taboo of talking about 
> the strong negative aspects of renewables", by focusing on examples 

O'RLY. That leading scientist is sure not reading much.

> that highlight their limitations. "When most people think of 
> renewables and their impact, they're mistaking pleasant landscaping 
> with what would be a massive industrial transformation of the 
> landscape," he said.

No shit, Sherlock. Wherever people live, they transform the landscape.
> "A fundamental credo of being green is that you cause minimal 
> interference with the landscape. We should be farming less land, 
> logging less forest and trawling less ocean - disturbing the 
> landscape less and sparing land for nature. But all of these 

Totally on the same page.

> renewable sources of energy are incredibly invasive and aggressive 
> with regard to nature. Renewables may be renewable, but they are not 
> green," he added.

As opposed to what, exactly? Nuclear industry? Burning dead dinos?
That guy is starting to pissing me off, big time.
> The report, which appears in the International Journal of Nuclear 
> Governance, Economy and Ecology today, also criticises plans for

I *knew* it! A journal nobody ever heard of, and with a rather
unlikely combination.
> widespread farming of biofuels. With current technology, Prof Ausubel 
> estimates that one to two hectares of land would be needed to produce 
> fuel for each of the world's 700m cars and other motor vehicles. 

And strangely enough, an electroscooter can carry its own PV panels,
and recharge right there in the parking lot. Land? Which land? 
That land is your land, that land is somebody else's land, but it's
damn sure PORTABLE LAND!!!!!!eleven!

> "From an environmental point of view the biofuels business is a 
> madness," he said.

It depends. It's mostly madness, with the possible exception of 
single-cell algae.

> Prof Ausubel said that despite technical and political concerns, 
> nuclear power plants still ranked as the most 
> environmentally-friendly for large conurbations. "The good news about 

MUAHAHAHAHA. The gall of the fellow. And the ignorance of the press,
to print that drivel uncommented.

> nuclear is that over the past 50 years all of the forms of waste 
> storage seem to have worked."

... An eunuch priest of the highest caste sets tapers before a pair
of old shoes.

... The dog worries the dirty glove which has seen many better

... The blind Norns strike a tiny silver anvil with fingers
that are mallets. Upon the metal lies a length of blue light.
> Power compared
> Dams
> Hydroelectric energy is the least efficient way of using land to 
> produce power. One square metre on average produces 0.1 watts.

In terms of the nukular analysis, he should have looked at the 
volume of the hydroturbine. And just on that, nothing else.
Let's compare wombats with furry fruit, shan't we?
> Biofuels
> A generator burning biomass requires crops from 250,000 hectares to 
> match the electricity output of a nuclear power station.
> Wind energy
> Wind farms generate around 1.2 watts for every square metre of land.

And of course the turbine just eats that piece of the land, or the 
sea, leaving a gaping hole in the landscape behind. And the sea, 
what about the sea? What does he do with the bloody sea, plow
it, or build malls upon it? What about hydro turbines in the tides
and streams under sea surface? Do these destroy km^2 of H2O, 
magickally? The fish wept, and turned vobla.
> Solar power
> Photovoltaic cells covering an area of 150,000 square kilometres 
> would be needed to meet US electricity needs for a year. To power New 
> York city would take 12,000 square kilometres, about the size of Connecticut.

So let's erase Connecticut off the map, right? Wait, it doesn't
work that way. Solar is decentral, and it doesn't make your house
unlivable. The opposite, in fact.
> [[Note: no allowance made here for technical improvements in solar, 
> for retrofitting of roofs or roads, etc--D.B.]] 

Damn right. And it makes no allowances by simply making the bloody
U.S. appoach EU in terms of energy efficiency.

Nevermind that standby devices and wall warts could make many ten
nukular plants obsolete. And don't get me started on home insulation,
passive solar, and roof PV driving air conditioning.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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