Will, you stated in your article:

"This is because solar panels and wind turbines can easily survive extreme temperatures and keep working like nothing is happening."

Do you have any facts? Is this your bias on fossil fuel-powered electrical generation?

An article earlier this week showed one of the vulnerabilities of solar power. A Wyoming thunderstorm dropped some hail on a 5.2 GigaWatt solar farm and shattered them. They could get better at bouncing the hail off the surface, but they weren't.

What do they do with what would be classified as hazardous waste will all of these broken panels? Searching for a recycling point in the U.S. comes up empty.


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Hi David!

With things like this it is really import to bear in mind the engineering possible. For some background on my experience I have worked with inshore wind farm projects in relation to how they are developed.

No energy is inherently more reliable than any other, I should have made that more clear. What makes a difference is there peripheral engineering that enables them to survive and continue to produce power during these extreme weather events. This includes heaters on turbines and panels to stop ice, or think perspex shields on solar panels for hail or even sand storms.

But there are two things which makes renewables have a higher reliability ceiling. firstly they are modular, so they can take significant damage, but as long as a few panels or turbines are still running, they can produce power (sometimes even just a trickle can be life saving). In contrast, nuclear and fossil fuels can be very on or off during these events. Secondly, renewables are far far cheaper to build and maintain, meaning there is budget avaliable to install the devices that will enable them to survive extreme weather. The problem is right now we are prioritising building renewable infrastructure fast and maximising budgets, so a lot of places still don't have these device installed. Hence why places like Texas and by the sound of it Wyoming have troubles with renewables during extreme weather.

In a previous Medium post I covered how startups are scaling to meet solar waste issues too - https://medium.com/predict/solar-energys-biggest-problem-has-just-been-solved-c14082ce2064 - this is a problem, but it is one that is being solved

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Hi Will, I wanted to get back to you. Yes, your reply is spot on. A lot of effort is going into attempting to "build out," and much of this carries some nice tax credits. So the incentives are there to grow. Will it ever be enough, is my question? See Robert Bryce's latest LI remark about a piece on his robertbryce.substack.com, and he talks about scale. Even with all of the build-outs, wind, and solar need to catch up with the energy demand expansion. The amount of energy needed is so large, and the energy density source for wind and solar are not dense sources. They seem to be losing the race to grow. Sure, the growth numbers are double digits, but they are coming from a place so small in the big picture that it seems like decimal dust.


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