The Law Of Unintended Consequences At Work

One of the problems with the idea of ridding ourselves from fossil fuels is that we really haven’t perfected the alternatives. Our economy runs on fossil fuels, and until we develop a safe, clean, inexpensive, efficient, and reliable alternative, our economy will continue to depend on fossil fuel. In 2014, I posted a story explaining what happened when Spain attempted to switch over to green energy. As far as I know, the only country in the world that has successfully made the switch to green energy is Iceland. They have been able to generate large amounts of electricity because of the volcanoes the island sits on. Recently scientists have discovered that there is a serious down side to solar energy (other than the birds that have been fried while flying over solar panels).

On March 1st, The Daily Caller reported that the construction of solar panels generates Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

The article reports:

Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is a key chemical agent used to manufacture photovoltaic cells for solar panels, suggesting government subsidies and tax credits for solar panels may be a driving factor behind the 1,057 percent in NF3 over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only rose by about 5 percent during the same time period.

NF3 emissions have rapidly increased in Asia as well due to its rapidly growing solar panel market, and researchers think that many nations are under-reporting their NF3 emissions by roughly a factor of 4.5.

NF3 emissions are 17,200 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas over a 100 year time period.

NF3 is also used in the production of semiconductors and LCD flat screens.

The article also points out:

The 1,057 percent increase in US annual emissions of NF3 from 1990 to 2015 compares to an increase of 5.6 percent in carbon dioxide emissions, according to EPA data in a recently-published draft of a new report

There is, however, some good news. The study concluded that the more modern solar panels will emit less NF3 and will have a positive impact on the environment. This conclusion was reached by considering the amount of CO2 that would not be released when the solar panels were used. After some adjusting of the numbers, solar panels could be shown to have a positive impact on the environment. It might be a good idea to keep in mind at this point that a good statistician can make any group of numbers say anything he wants them to say.

If It Won’t Work, Why Is The Government Funding It?

One of the biggest problems in the American economy right now is crony capitalism. Rather than a free market system where innovation is rewarded, we have devolved into a system where the federal government picks which companies will receive money from the government to become successful and which companies will simply have to rely on their own abilities to become successful. One of the places where this has been the most obvious has been the ‘green energy‘ industry. On Thursday, The Daily Caller posted an article stating some basic facts about green energy.

The article reports:

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have confirmed what many in the energy world already knew: Without government support or high taxes, green energy will never be able to compete with conventional, more reliable power plants.

…The MIT study also noted that solar and wind power are more than twice as expensive as natural gas, and tax on carbon dioxide emissions could increase electricity prices enough for green sources to compete. Even environmental groups such as The Sierra Club worry increasingly cheap energy will make the case for green power weaker.

The article goes on to explain that fossil fuel is cheap and reliable. As of yet, green energy is neither. We would probably have a better chance of developing green energy if the government would get out of the way and let the inventors take over and be rewarded for their efforts. Until change becomes extremely profitable (outside government subsidies), it is unlikely to happen.

The Use Of Coal Has A Positive Impact On The Environment???

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today about the increase in the use of coal to generate electricity. The article includes the following chart:

It seems that the environmentalists are caught between a rock and a hard place–they don’t approve of coal and they don’t approve of fracking, which results in cheap natural gas that generates electricity in a more environmentally friendly way than coal.

The article points out that India regards the use of coal to generate electricity as its path to prosperity. Even worse, coal-generated electricity has cut pollution in India because it reduces the use of small wood-fueled cookstoves.  According to a recent global health study, small wood-fueled cookstoves are the largest environmental health threat in developing nations.

So where are we? Environmentalists are doing their best to shut down coal plants in America, despite the fact that the global warming scare is pretty much over. Developing countries are using coal because it creates less of an environmental problem than small wood-fueled cookstoves. Natural gas, the clean alternative to coal in electricity production is out of favor with environmentalists because it is obtained by fracking. So what are we supposed to do?

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