A Conversation for How Power Stations Work
Solar and fuel cells
NAITA (Join ViTAL - A1014625) Started conversation Jun 27, 2002
Solar and fuel cells
A_Missing_Reagan Posted Dec 11, 2003
I know that everyone sees renewable resources like solar power and fuel cells as our savior, but I don't believe we know enough to make that decision. Sure they do less harm then burning fossil fuels as far as we know, but there has to be consequences. You can't get something for nothing.
Quick example... when there was only a few cars on the road, no one thought that car exhaust was dangerous to the environment. Multiply a little exhaust by millions of cars, and now it becomes a problem. Fuel cells release hydrogen, a gas found in nature just like all the dangerous gases found in car exhaust, and a little hydrogen doesn't do any damage. But what about when a quarter of the world is powered by these devices? Could an over abundance of hydrogen contribute to the hole in the ozone, or change the world climate in ways we can't predict yet?
Solar energy rained upon the earth for millenia. A balance was reached, albeit a balance that oscillates, between the heating from the sun and the release of heat to the universe. What happens when we turn this heat into electricity and use it as light or to power your computer? Once again, a few solar panels don't hurt, but what about 1 billion solar panels? And you can't say that we disturbed the release of heat with construction such as homes and roadways, because homes and roadways turn solar energy into heat, just like every thing else other then plants and solar panels.
Wind generators and ocean current generators aren't perfect either. The wind energy used to move seeds and distribute weather conditions around the world is being used to turn those bird killing eye sores (and I've seen a bird get taken out by a wind generator, its not a pretty sight, and it DOES happen). And enough ocean current generators could stop the gulf stream.
You can't get something for nothing. I know this may not have been your point NAITA, and I'm sorry for ranting, but some people refuse to acknowledge this little point.
Solar and fuel cells
NAITA (Join ViTAL - A1014625) Posted Dec 15, 2003
Of course there are consequences, but I think you are wrong about most of them.
First, fuel cells burn hydrogen, so any release of hydrogen will be as fuel leaks. The end product will be H2O, which is a green-house gas, but I doubt replacing release of CO2 with release of H2O will have a negative impact.
With solar panels we intercept light from the sun, and turn it into electric energy, which, in the end, is released as heat. This heat would have been produced with any source of our electricity, so we can ignore that. Now, can we say that a slight cooling of areas covered with solar panels won't have an adverse effect on the environment, or even that it will have less of an adverse effect on the environment than releasing fossile solar energy while adding CO2 to the atmosphere? No, we can't, but again, I doubt the effects will be worse than what we're doing today.
Homes and roadways do "just" turn solar energy into heat, just like everything else other than plants and solar panels. But most of the time they are not replacing everything else, they are replacing _plants_. And homes and roadways add heat and pollution, which has been shown to affect local climate. The impact of heat capture and distribution will be different with solar panels, and we don't know that it won't be worse than with fossile fuels, but we know it won't pollute in addition. (Unless we accept pollution production mechanisms, or toss broken cells in landfills.)
These weren't my original points, but your rant is irrational, and your points are indeed small. Your last ones in particular. Wind and ocean generators are indeed not perfect. But the impact on bird life has been greatly reduced by changing the gearing so wind generators turn more slowly, thus being easier to avoid for birds, while producing the same amount of energy. And the impact on wind conditions and ocean currents are no bigger, or more dangerous, than landfills and high-rises, and much better researched.
Of course, if people refuse to acknowledge these are valid points they are making a mistake, but they are very minor points, and they are not being ignored by the people doing the research and studying the impact.
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