Sunday, November 9, 2014

Prove This Wrong

It would be elegant if wind and solar energy capturing devices could actually maintain a modicum of the wonderfully rich lifestyles many of us live.  I believe this is a false dream and that BAU (business as usual) is not sustainable or “green” nor really desirable for the future of the earth or even our species.

Prove This Wrong

Many people believe wind and solar energy capturing devices can replace a substantial percentage if not all of our fossil fuel usage.  Below you will find pictures and charts detailing the necessity of the fossil fuel supply system and the massive industrial infrastructure in this “renewable” dream.

Wind, Water, and Solar Power for the World
Nix nuclear. Chuck coal. Rebuff biofuel. All we need is the wind, the water, and the sun
By Mark Delucchi/ SEPTEMBER 2011
“We don’t need nuclear power, coal, or biofuels. We can get 100 percent of our energy from wind, water, and solar (WWS) power.  And we can do it today— efficiently, reliably, safely,
sustainably, and economically.

We can get to this WWS world by simply building a lot of new systems for the production,
transmission, and use of energy. One scenario that Stanford engineering professor Mark
Jacobson and I developed, projecting to 2030, includes: 3.8 million wind turbines, 5 megawatts each, supplying 50 percent of the projected total global power demand.”

Mark Z. Jacobson Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University was coauthor of another article. It can be found in Scientific America – “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030”.

They proposed that starting in 2012, 50% of the worlds needs could be supplied by 3,800,000 five megawatt wind capturing devices to be installed by 2030.  Here are the numbers:

                       3,800,000  5 megawatts each supply
                  50% of the world’s energy needs in 18 years
                                        THIS MEANS
                                                   211,111.11 Machines a year

                                                 578.39 Machines a day for 18 years

                                      24.10 Machines each hour each day for 18 years

                                           EACH ONE INSTALLED EACH DAY

I am choosing wind energy capturing devices because they have a higher Energy Return on Energy Invested than solar energy capturing devices.  I continually use the phrase “capturing devices” for what are usually called solar panels and wind machines because these are devices that capture the sun or wind energy.  It is misleading to not realize they require energy and natural resources.

Let me cut right to the results of this study.  The base of this 2.5 megawatt turbine in the pictures that follow (half the megawatts in the Jacobson/Delucchi study) used 45 tons of rebar and 630 yards of cement.  This computes in barrels of oil and in tons of CO2 for each base:

For the Concrete
478.8 Barrels of oil in 630 yards of concrete.
409.5 Tons of CO2 released for 630 yards of concrete.

For the Rebar
Taking a conservative 3 barrels of oil per ton the rebar would require 135 barrels of oil for the base of the 2.5 MW Turbine.
89 tons of C02  released for 45 tons of steel for the base.

All Together
The concrete and steel together for one base use
613 barrels of oil for each base alone.
Each base release 498 tons of CO2
(A barrel of oil is 42 gallons)

Before looking at two of the energy requirements to install these 3800000 machines here are some interesting pictures of installing a wind energy capturing device from .  
The machine we are looking at is only 2.5 MW turbine not the larger 5 MW proposed by Jacobson and Delucch.

The turbines, each standing 485 feet tall and weighing 2,000 tons
The project utilizes 2.5 MW turbines on 100 meter towers.

The pictures clearly illustrate that the fossil fuel supply system and a vast industrial infrastructure support the manufacture and installation of these wind energy capturing devices.  The tons of rebar and the yards of concrete offer a chance to look at the energy requirements for both.  It is also important to point out that all the equipment used to install the turbines also have the fossil fuel supply system and the massive industrial infrastructure supporting them.

In researching this, the information for concrete was more definite than the range of energy required to make rebar.



“Common rebar is made of unfinished tempered steel, making it susceptible to rusting. Normally the concrete cover is able to provide a pH value higher than 12 avoiding the corrosion reaction. Too little concrete cover can compromise this guard through carbonation from the surface, and salt penetration. Too much concrete cover can cause bigger crack widths which also compromises the local guard. As rust takes up greater volume than the steel from which it was formed, it causes severe internal pressure on the surrounding concrete, leading to cracking, spalling, and ultimately, structural failure. This phenomenon is known as oxide jacking. This is a particular problem where the concrete is exposed to salt water, as in bridges where salt is applied to roadways in winter, or in marine applications. Uncoated, corrosion-resistant low carbon/chromium (microcomposite), epoxy-coated, galvanized or stainless steel rebars may be employed in these situations at greater initial expense, but significantly lower expense over the service life of the project. Extra care is taken during the transport, fabrication, handling, installation, and concrete placement process when working with epoxy-coated rebar, because damage will reduce the long-term corrosion resistance of these bars.”

“Under the most ideal circumstances, the energy required to produce solid iron from iron oxide can never be less than 7 million Btu per ton (MMBtu/ton). Since the energy required to melt iron under the most ideal circumstances is about 1 MMBtu/ton, the inherent thermodynamic advantage of making liquid steel from scrap rather than from iron ore is about 6 MMBtu/ton. When process heat losses are included, the advantage falls in the range of 9 to 14 MMBtu/ton.  .  .  .  current total energy requirements for the pro- Petroleum provides only a small amount of enduction of finished steel products in different pIants and countries from iron ore range from 25 to 35 MMBtu/net ton.”
The range above supports the 25 to 35 MMBtu/net ton.  With various iron making processes, iron has a range of Btus per ton.   Converted to barrels of oil the range is 2.17 to 4.83 barrels of oil per ton of rebar.

Taking a conservative 3 barrels of oil per ton the rebar would require 135 barrels of oil for the base of the 2.5 MW Turbine.

On average, 1.8 tonnes of CO2 are emitted for every tonne of steel produced.

This means 1.98 tons of C02  emitted for every ton of steel produced.



         Multiply 1.10231 to convert tonnes to tons
            One yard of concrete equals two tons
                Two tons equals 1.81437 tonnes
              4426832.62 Btus in a yard of concrete
                 5800000 Btus per barrel of oil
              0.76 barrels of oil in a yard of concrete
            32.06 gallons of oil in a yard of concrete

              0.65 tons of CO2 per yard of concrete

         478.8 Barrels of oil in 630 yards of concrete
          20195.52 Gallons of oil in 630 yards of concrete

              409.5 Tons of CO2 per 630 yards of concrete


On-site energy values are based on actual process measurements taken within a facility. These measurements are valuable because the on-site values are the benchmarks that industry uses to compare performance between processes, facilities, and companies. On-site measurements, however, do not account for the complete energy and environmental impact of manufacturing a product. A full accounting of the impact of manufacturing must include the energy used to produce the electricity, the fuels, and the raw materials used on-site. These “secondary” or “tacit” additions are very important from a regional, national, and global energy and environment perspective.

Normal weight concrete weighs about 4000 lb. per cubic yard. Lightweight concrete weighs about 3000 lb. per cubic yard. If a truck is carrying 10 cubic yards, then the weight of the concrete is approximately 40,000 lb.

The tonne (British and SI; SI symbol: t) or metric ton (American) is a non-SI metric unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms;[ it is thus equivalent to one megagram (Mg). 1000 kilograms is equivalent to approximately 2 204.6 pounds,

It is important to realize we have only looked at the energy for the concrete and rebar for the base of a 2.5 MMwatt turbine.  Behind this device and most sun and wind capturing devices are a global system of providing energy and materials.  And this support is further supported.   Here is one mining truck among a worldwide fleet of trucks that also must be manufactured.  It is like a thread on a knitted sweater that when you pull it thinking you will get a small piece, you end up with a whole ball of yarn.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Small windmills do not return their energy or dollar investment during their entire life cycle:

  2. Great work John. Figured that was so.

    Also quite sure that without liquid fuel the manufacture of windmills and solar panels will cease. No electric 18 wheelers yet are there?

    On top of that I would add that they are energy capturing devices. That means they are removing energy from the environment in order to use it in another way. Energy in the environment is not sitting there static - it is doing something. Removing it from the environment means it no longer does what it is currently doing. Thus if we ever captured such energy in a massive way we would then find out whether removing it will be a harm, neutral or good. Oil and coal we thought was doing nothing sitting there in the ground. We discovered that in fact they were sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and it isn't that easy to put back. Large solar and wind projects could well change our weather in ways we don't expect.

    1. you get the same problem when you tear the electric battery and new vehicle production apart.

      there is NO sustainable energy from tech that has yet proven itself actually 'sustainable'. the only truly sustainable age was the stone age.

  3. This is a very impressive analysis and the clear implication is that large wind turbines have a large cost that is not generally understood. So perhaps we should not be building them. The analysis starts with the statement that "I am choosing wind energy capturing devices because they have a higher Energy Return on Energy Invested than solar energy capturing devices."
    It may be that solar panels now have, or soon will have better performance on this measure than wind energy. The manufacturing processes are rapidly improving, and I think that economic performance is now around $1 per peak watt of output.
    Of course, we only get output when the sun is shining, while wind energy devices do much better at supplying more constant power. So we need energy storage on a large scale. Hydroelectric power is limited by available water flow, but it can be combined with pumped storage at a reasonable efficiency. So if solar panels continue to improve, the economic balance may shift in their favor. There are also some interesting proposals for improved and safer nuclear energy that uses thorium and spent fuel from traditional plants. This might be a very good long term solution but still needs design work.

  4. I would cross check the 613 barrels of oil per base of 5 MW wind installation by multiplying the market price quoted by the contractor by the current local value of E/GDP; but, if it is at all correct and reasonably comprehensive, we can pay off the base in only 1628.2 kilowatt-hours/barrel of oil times 613 barrels of oil per base divided by 5000 kilowatts = 200 hours, which is too small to worry about. I never worry about carbon loading caused by eliminating carbon loading. John has produced some very large numbers; but, we should expect large numbers and handle them like we handled the immense cost of World War II. The problem is that NOTHING can handle perpetual; economic growth, which would be required by perpetual population growth or, worse yet, capitalism AND population growth. By all means, let us power down - preferable in an orderly fashion. Of course, I am only dreaming. Most skeptics would do well to start scheming - in particular, how to eliminate resource dominance even in the face of powerful genetic propensities.

  5. Charles Hall made some rough calculations of the EROI from my posting and email them to me

    INPUT :
    Energy cost of rebar and concrete = 613 barrels of oil * 6.1 GJoules/Barrel =3740 GJ
    Charles also did the calculations using other energy costs

    1260 tons of concrete * 1.1 (English to metric ton) * 5.1 GJ/T = 7068 GJ
    45 tons of steel * 1.1 (English to metric ton) * 21.3 GJ/T = 1054 GJ
    Total 8122 GJ

    2500 KW * 0.3 (time wind blowing) * 24 hrs/d * 3.6 GJ KWhr-1 = 64800 GJ/day
    = 64.8 MJ/day
    3740 /64.8 = 57 days of output to pay for concrete and steel rebar or
    8122/64.8 = 125 days of output to pay for concrete and steel rebar

    Assuming transport, lifting etc would double that, then the base would be paid back in a half year roughly, maybe double again for including energy cost of a turbine etc. then it would seem that it might take very roughly a year to pay back the cost of the wind turbine. Someone (not me) can do the calculations. If the turbine lasts 25 years then EROI would be roughly 25:1, or something less for maintenance, failure of some etc. Close enough to value fo Kubizeski and Cleveland of about 20:1.

    1. LMAO that you actually think a wind turbine has a 25 year life span!

  6. Charlie - My main contention is that these devices are part of the fossil fuel supply system and the massive industrial infrastructure. I don't see them reproducing themselves, nor their auxiliary parts, nor manufacturing the objects that we want to use the electricity for. The crane, the huge mining dump truck at the end of the essay, the whole process is interconnected. With the world "scalping the bottom of the barrel", what do we do at the 25 year mark? My opinion is we will have used precious, limited resources on a dead end mainly to continue the unsustainable.

    My main reason for doing this research is trying to bring reason to the supporters of these devices. They have an almost religious fervor making them (willfully?) blind to the total system needs and are living with and creating false hopes. These false hope will add to the trauma of facing the need to live at much, much lower energy level. It will also have us making decisions that will be detrimental to the next generations.Perhaps, it is best not to point the achilles heals of wind and solar devices.

    1. Making new steel and cement definitely requires hydrocarbon fuels. As far as I can tell, steel can be effectively and efficiently recycled using electricity, through Electric Arc Furnaces. Recycling steel is much more dollar and energy efficient than mining and processing new ore.

      Making longer-lasting components, using higher quality steel and cement seems like a really good idea, if investors can be convinced to take a longer time preference; having the steel in the base rust or having the cement crack and crumble in a few decades seems like a waste, when galvanized steel and Maya cement could be used to make a base that lasts 1000+ years.

      The dollar and energy cost of site preparation is likewise something that should average out to maybe once every 1000 years, since the land will stay flat barring flooding, earthquake, etc.

      In short, exponential growth cannot work with sustainability, but with investment in higher quality materials and longer term thinking, I'm confident renewable energy has the capability of providing us with fairly decent quality of life, at perhaps half to a quarter the energy per capita we enjoy currently.

  7. Reply from Charles Hall:
    I have no idea about how good your or my estimate is: I just give what I have available. I guess the point is that all that energy to build the base (and the rest) is not enough to kill wind by itself....

  8. Charlie - I agree that energy in and of itself won't stop wind. Actually nothing will stop wind unless the price of oil and other fossil fuels sky rockets, in my opinion. Not going into wind with a pollyanna picture that doesn't include all the fossil fuel input and the industrial infrastructure is what we often do with technology. I expect simply willful blindness for most.
    It feels like your assessments and my assessments meet in the middle.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Excellent reference that can be useful for assessing any large construction project. Thank you.

    Also I'll point out to another assessment of renewable power generation, Limitations of 'Renewable' Energy by Leo Smith

    Some notable quotes from his essay:

    "... renewable energy necessarily has a massive impact on the environment, simply because the scale of it has to be so large to collect what is - any way you look at it - a very diffuse and fleeting amount of energy." pg 7

    "... renewable power capacity factor is almost 100% a metric of the availability of the energy source, not the plant quality, or the dispatch." pg20

    "The capital cost of producing an engineering service (and some of its running cost) depends on the worst or peak case, the value of the service and its income stream however depends on its average or mean usage pattern." pg21

    "I have finally given up being polite about the renewable lobby. They are, I have concluded, simply a marketing lobby operating outside the legal constraints that would exist if they represented a particular company or product, and are free to say whatever they like, fact, spin or fiction, about renewable energy." pg 23

    "Coal, gas and renewables all have common cause to use whatever means they can to suppress adoption of nuclear power." pg 29

  11. I just came across which provides a lot of information germane to this discussion.

    1. Ike - thank you for the reference. It looks very interesting. Will get it through interlibrary loan.

  12. Thanks for this analysis, John. I came across this on the Deep Green Resistance facebook page, along with their own analysis of the drawbacks of Green Technology & Renewable Energy which your readers may find interesting.

  13. Kill off unique ecosystems by building roads and plonking over 1000 tons of steel and concrete in pristine countryside - collect dilute wind energy with a 500 feet high structure - run a thread of cable to the nearest city and (in the UK), all that monstrosity is capable of powering is a single (concentrated-energy), 375 kW industrial electric motor. It weighs under 2 tons and would fit in a crate 5 feet x 3 feet x 3½ feet.

    We need thousands of such prime movers to power our industrial-based society, to give us the lifestyle we all seek.

    How can anyone, with a modicum of environmental concern justify the imbalance of this obscene degree of resource use and pollution?

  14. I'm a bit pusseled by the claim that 3 800 000 wind machines @ 5 MW running 2 100 h/y can supply 50% of the world’s energy needs after 18 years.
    That is 39 900 TWh or 0,896 Cubic Mile of Oil (CMO). We now uses 1 CMO of Oil, about 1 CMO of Coal and 0,8 CMO of NG.
    That is about 33% of our fossil use, far from 50%

    1. That's because we don't use oil to generate electricity (much). The vast majority of oil is used in transportation and heating.

  15. Useful information like this one must be kept and maintained so I will put this one on my bookmark list! Thanks for this wonderful post and hoping to post more of this!

    Solar Panel Installers UK & Solar Energy UK

  16. Hi..
    Thank you for posting this blog and sharing this information On top of that I would add that they are energy capturing devices. That means they are removing energy from the environment in order to use it in another way. Energy in the environment is not sitting there static - it is doing something. Removing it from the environment means it no longer does what it is currently doing. Thus if we ever captured such energy in a massive way we would then find out whether removing it will be a harm, neutral or good. Oil and coal we thought was doing nothing sitting there in the ground. We discovered that in fact they were sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and it isn't that easy to put back. Large solar and wind projects could well change our weather in ways we don't expect. really this post is very nice and useful..Exel Alternator

    thank you

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Its really innovative analysis John, That can be useful for any large Global Power Infrastructure Project

  19. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

    Oracle & P6

  20. I calculate that you would require about 500 of these behemoths to provide the equivalent supply of energy from the 66000 tonne FPSO I worked on.

  21. Informative and interesting Blog! Beautifully written, as usual, I like the post. Thank you so much for nice sharing with us. Keep posting! best solar tracker suppliers

  22. Wow! Thanks for sharing this valuable blog with us. In Australia, renewable energy is growing at a per capita rate ten times faster than the world average. Installation of solar panels contributes to eco - friendly environment & the biggest benefits of using solar power is based on renewable energy which leads to eco - friendly pollution free environment & less electricity bills. So it become very crucial to choose the right Solar Company for the installation of solar panels.

  23. What a fantabulous post this has been. Never observed this sort of helpful post.
    Economics Essay Writer

  24. The information inside this blog seems very useful to us. This is very appreciable blog. Keep posting please.
    Online building design

  25. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.
    Windows 10 activator

  26. Long time trying to get a complete guide for event based blogging…Satisfied. Thank you brother.
    AVG Driver Updater

  27. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post’s to be
    precisely what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content
    for yourself? I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a few of
    the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome site!

    microsoft office 2007 keys
    Easeus Data Recovery
    Windows 7 activator
    4k video downloader
    Microsoft office 365
    Windows 10 activator
    xforce keygen

  28. Valuable information. Fortunate me I discovered your site accidentally,
    and I’m stunned why this coincidence did not came about in advance!
    I bookmarked it.mixed in key
    push video wallpaper
    3d lut creator
    grids for Instagram
    4K YouTube To MP3
    Express VPN
    HD tune pro
    utorrent pro
    Adguard premium

  29. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. 먹튀검증

  30. It's so nice to know you. I hope you also welcome me.카지노사이트검증If you welcome me, please visit my blog and write. My blog is on It's hard because of Covid - 19, but let's do our best!!

  31. I'm so happy to finally find a post with what I want. 오공슬롯 You have inspired me a lot. If you are satisfied, please visit my website and leave your feedback.

  32. The welcome bonus is a simple one. You can claim a 100% bonus on your first deposit up to $200. 온라인카지노
    Halloween Party promotion is running up to November 1. You can win up to $2,000 in bonuses and 30 free spins. You start with ten instant bonuses.

  33. I didn t know there was a place like this. I think it s good because there are many good comments. Let s get along well from now on. 토토

  34. Wow, amazing blog layout! How long 스포츠토토사이트 have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy.

  35. Attractive portion of content. I simply stumbled 안전한놀이터 upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your weblog.
    Feel free to visit my website

  36. They were active listeners and 보증업체 viewed meetings deadlines as an imperative.

  37. Cool thing to have read this article bro ! Please feel free to visit my website and learn how to earn real cash online ! 슬롯사이트