Thursday, August 10, 2017



Many materials used in our industrial world require energy from mining to manufacturing for processing and transportation.  The energy for some of these products is in the form of high temperatures.   1100°C - 2000°F

There are proposals that solar and wind energy collecting devices can provide the energy to maintain the industrial world.  To look at this possibility, solar electric panels, wind turbines and concentrated solar installations in the form of parabolic trough collectors (PTC) have been assessed.

The energy requirements in 2010 for the following essential components of our industrial world are provided: steel, aluminum, chromium, copper, manganese, cement and glass.  This energy would be mining, processing and transporting to name some.  Other important components of the industrialized world such as nickel and cobalt are not considered because they are part of the high temperature processing of other ore metals.

The kWh output and area required for installations of solar electric panels, wind turbines and PTC has been researched.   This then is divided into the energy (exajoules converted to kWh) required for global production of each material in 2010.

ExaJoules = 1000000000000000000

1.0E-18 exajoule = 2.7777777777778E-7 kilowatt hours = .00000028 kilowatt hours.

Smil, Vaclav.  2014. Smil, Vaclav.  2014. Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization.
“Net energy analysis for concentrated solar power plants in northern Chile” 

[] Solar Electric Panels []
Using the Topaz Solar installation as the example,
To provide the energy in electrical units for these
Seven essential materials would require
121,214.45 square miles of solar electric collectors
And 114,834,742,506 panels.

Three installations are used as examples

Shepard’s Flat Wind Farm
Alta Wind Energy Center
London Offshore Array

To provide the energy in electricity
for the named seven essential materials would require:

Shepard’s Flat Wind Farm
257,472 square miles and 2,807,276 wind turbines

Alta Wind Energy Center
30,985 square miles and 3,718,200 wind turbines

London Offshore Array
312,315 square miles and 797,400 wind turbines


Two installations are used as examples

To provide the energy in electricity for
the seven named essential materials would require:

Andasol Solar Power Station
77,183.4 square miles of PTCs

Solana Generating Station
52,791 square miles of PTCs


Solar Electric Panels:
Topaz Solar Farm (550-megawatt photovoltaic power station in San Luis Obispo, CA) 
9 million solar panels
550 MW Capacity
9.5 square miles
Annual output, 1,301 GWh (125 MW avg. power).

1,301 GWh = 1301000000 kWh
1.66111E+13kWh (total from chart)
divided by 1301000000 kWh
Equals 12759.42
Area needed
12759.42 times 9.5 square miles
121214.45 Square Miles of Solar Electric Collectors

Panels needed
9,000,000 times 12759.42
114,834,742,506 Panels

The sun shines during the day, not every day.

So of course the energy would need to be stored

Most high temperature kilns run 24/7,

365 days/year for up to 18 years.

The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine's size and the wind's speed through the rotor. An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5–3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year – enough to supply 1,500 average EU households with electricity.

The original "Alta-Oak Creek Mojave Project" plan consisted of up to 320 wind turbines occupying a 9,000-acre (36 km2) area while producing 800 MW (1,100,000 hp) of power.

Every wind turbine has a range of wind speeds, typically around 30 to 55 mph, in which it will produce at its rated, or maximum, capacity. At slower wind speeds, the production falls off dramatically. If the wind speed decreases by half, power production decreases by a factor of eight. On average, therefore, wind turbines do not generate near their capacity. Industry estimates project an annual output of 30-40%, but real-world experience shows that annual outputs of 15-30% of capacity are more typical.
With a 25% capacity factor, a 1.5-MW turbine would produce
1.5 MW × 365 days × 24 hours × 25% = 3,285 MWh = 3,285,000 kWh


How much land is needed for a wind turbine?
In an array that can take advantage of the wind from any direction, the GE needs 82 acres and the Vestas V90 111 acres per tower. In practice, the area varies, averaging about 50 acres per megawatt of capacity. On mountain ridges, the turbines are generally squeezed in at about 10 MW per mile.

Shepherds Flat wind farm is being developed in Oregon, US. The 845MW project will be the largest wind farm in the world. .  .  .  Annual output of the Shepherds Flat wind farm will be 1,797GWh. 
The project includes 338 wind turbines, with a 2.5MW capacity each
Shepherds Flat will cover an area of 80 square kilometres  (31 square miles)


1.66111E+13kWh (from chart) divided by
8305.55 more to provide for energy required

Area Needed
80 square kilometres = 30.8882 square miles
8305.55 times 31 square miles
257472 square miles of wind turbines
Turbines needed
338 times 8305.55
2807276 Wind Turbines


1.66111E+13kWh (from chart) divided by
6197 more to provide for energy required

Area Needed
3200 acres = 30.8882 square miles
6197 times 5 square miles
30985 square miles of wind turbines

Turbines needed
600 times 6197
3718200 Wind Turbines


.66111E+13kWh (from chart) divided by
2500000000kWh Equals
6645 more to provide for energy required

Area Needed
122 square kilometers = 47 square miles
6645 times 47 square miles
312315 square miles of wind turbines

Turbines needed
120 times 6645
797400 Wind Turbines

The wind does not blow constantly nor consistently.

So of course the energy would need to be stored

Most high temperature kilns operate

24/7, 365 days a year for up to 18 years.




2.3 square miles (1483 acres)   
Annual output 495 GWh

.66111E+13kWh (from chart) divided by
495000000kWh Equals
33558 more to provide for energy required

Area Needed
33558 times 2.3 square miles
77183.4 square miles of PTCs



Covers an area of 1,920 acres

.66111E+13kWh (from chart) divided by
944000000kWh Equals
17597 more to provide for energy required

Area Needed
17597 times 3 square miles
52791 square miles of PTCs

The sun shines during the day, not every day.
So of course the energy would need to be stored
Most high temperature kilns operate 24/7,
365 days a year for up to 18 years.

There are many other critical components of our global industrialized world that require industrial heat (lead, silver, tin, food processing) that are right at the top heating limit of solar devices.  They must also be included in an all “renewable” future. If only half of important materials were provided, what would our world be like?




  1. excellent work!

    well, what else is needed to understand that an industrial society can never
    be operated with so called renewable energy devices?


    1. What is needed Michael is psychological. It is hard to wrap our heads around the demise of our industrial way.

    2. I left the mailing list that you took over because almost if not every comment you made was critical and negative. You confirm my decision.

  2. The standard answer by the People in Power is Hope Optimism Technology.
    We'll HOTly manage, they say, if not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow.
    The HOT PiP understand nothing, Michael Dittmar!

    1. I posed the question to a climate scientist / physicist friend the other day about the improbability of solar panels being able to power an aluminium smelter. He simply enumerated how many millions of panels you would need, and said "it's not too far off". What hope is there if even our well educated academics have been convinced by the promise that low grade energy can power industrial consumer society?

      My feeling is that they don't even really believe it themselves. They just feel that we have to play the get-rid-of-coal card as hard as we can... even if not completely honestly.

  3. Hi John,

    You are still committing the same basic arithmetic errors, over and over again.

    You say we'd need 797,400 wind turbines, like those in the London Array, to power all that material manufacture. However, those wind turbines last 20 YEARS and would provide enough energy for THE ENTIRE WORLD for material manufacture. As a result, the entire world would need to build 39,870 (797,400/20) turbines PER YEAR to make all of its steel, aluminum, cement, etc.

    That figure of 39,870 turbines per year is MINOR compared to the industrial capacity of the entire world.

    You also say that the area needed for those wind turbines would be 312,315 square miles. However, it is apparent from just looking at that picture that approximately 99% of that area is empty space. It's not just a big machine filled with metal; it's almost entirely empty space. As a result, the question is whether we have enough AREA in the world for those turbines.

    Your figure of 312,315 miles^2 implies a square of 558 miles on a side, to provide enough energy for materials for the ENTIRE WORLD. The entire world obviously has more than a square of 558 miles on a side for offshore wind turbines.

    -Tom S

    1. Your error is not reading or understanding the essay. Don't waste my time with cornucopian bs. I will leave your post as evidence of hopium and wishful thinking.

  4. Hi John,

    I need you now to correct intelligent researchers who assume without proof that solar, wind, and biomass provide routes to renewable energy. This discussion is on ResearchGate. Tell me if you are willing to get involved.

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