Weed-Covered, Neglected Solar Park: 20 Acres, $11 Million, Only One And Half Years Old!

German solar skeptic website SOLARKRITIK.DE here provides the background on the rundown, weed-covered solar facility in former communist (and now “green”) East Germany, which I presented in my last post here.

Solar panel field near Markranstaedt, Germany. Photo taken by Prof. Knut Löschke on June 26, 2011. Source: http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/

It’s much worse than we thought. The story behind the above photo and the project itself appears here at the online Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper. The facility is sprawled over an area of 20 acres. The Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper wrote just before the facility went into operation:

‘The park is finally realized,’ beams mayor Carina Radon (CDU) nowadays, and praised the 7.5 million Euro investment. 36,300 modules will be installed in the weeks ahead. It will generate an annual amount of 2.7 million kilowatt-hours. The facility will produce a peak amount of 2722 kilowatts.

Wow! With that kind of performance, you’d think the facility would be well-maintained so that it could continue to generate cash – and so save the planet. Letting such investments go to hell is usually the last thing one does with a money making machine like that. The Leipziger Volkszeitung article writes:

The solar park saves the environment an emission of 34,500 tons of CO2 and one expects it will be in operation 20 years.”

20 years? As the date of the article shows, the park was set up in December, 2009 – much less than two years ago. Now it is already overgrown with weeds and on the verge of being useless. Your subsidies at work, folks. The green economy – Germany’s job engine!

Solarkritik.de writes:

This photo also shows that the solar park in no way delivers electricity maintenance-free, as the green lobby likes to claim.

The author of the photo provided the following information along with the photo:
‘A rather large, obviously run down facility, which as one sees is overgrown everywhere. I took this photo on June 25, 2011 shortly before 6 pm as I happened to be driving by (and concerning our ‘renewable’ energy world, it certainly opened my eyes). Exect location: Markranstädt, intersection of Schkeuditzer Str. / Nordstraße.’

It goes to show you that nature cannot be controlled by man. They can’t even get weeds under control, yet they would have us believe they can regulate the climate? In my view, the above facility borders on criminal neglect.

Meanwhile Europe is planning a $600 billion monster solar facility in the SAHARA called Desertec. At least there it won’t have to worry too much about weeds. But what about dust storms, wind and other elements?

A clue of what can happen is provided by Solarkritik.de, which shows us a solar plant on top of an elementary school at Haltern-Flaesheim, Germany taken on 25 April 2011.

The panels on the above pictured elementary school are coated with a heavy layer of pollen and dust. I guess there’s a lesson here for school kids.

And here is another beauty of a solar facility in northern Germany. This is what they really look like after 20 years, photo from Solarkritik.de. Take a look at its condition. Everywhere cells are missing. Now it is out there decaying and its dangerous elements are likely leaking and poisoning the ground by now. Photovoltaic-park from 1989.

113 responses to “Weed-Covered, Neglected Solar Park: 20 Acres, $11 Million, Only One And Half Years Old!”

  1. Ecotretas

    Great pictures!
    Now, we can say that PV systems can really be green (eventually brownish-grey)
    Ecotretas

  2. Jerry F

    Your comment on the Sahara project:
    “Meanwhile Europe is planning a $600 billion monster solar facility in the SAHARA called Desertec. At least there it won’t have to worry too much about weeds. But what about dust storms, wind and other elements?”
    Dust will cover the panels in a very short time during mild wind conditions. Wind borne sand will abrade and erode the panel surfaces during strong wind conditions. I wouldn’t expect a solar panel to last more than five years in that environment.
    How much damage to the facility could be done in five minutes by someone with an AK-47 shooting from two hundred meters outside the security fence? Accuracy not important. One bullet – one panel. Rate of fire on full auto? How many 20 round magazines can you fire in a minute? Twenty such amateur saboteurs could totally destroy the facility without using any sophisticated strategy or weapons. On the plus side – lots of permanent green jobs replacing the panels.

    1. DirkH

      AK47? Maybe overkill. A paintball gun suffices; just make sure to use some non-water-soluble paint or liquid PU or something else nasty and sticky.

      (This comment is not intended to encourage anyone to try this out with solar panels that belong to a different person. Damaging other people’s property is illegal.)

    2. Jack Hamilson

      Terrorist estimation? Really? A little c4 on the side of side of those big oil containers would cause an incredible financial toll on someone like Exxon. Or say, shooting at an oil-carrying pipe in Alaska, which -happened- (drunk farmer), spilling oil out all over.

      1. anarchocapitalist

        When the Alaskan Pipeline first opened, an environmental terrorist placed dynamite on one of the valves. My point being that these people do not love the earth as much as they hate humans. They will create an environmental crisis, just to get their radical and unsustainable agenda to be generally accepted.

    3. Jabba the Cat

      A magnet for anyone with a catapult and a bag of marbles ;-))

      Sigh! The misdeeds of ones youth…

    4. ericshrugged

      The shifting sands of the Sahara have buried pyramids….upkeep on dunes would be very expensive…..will eventually be lost treasurers for future archaeologists to play with…Hey, folks. we have been there done that in seventies with solar and wind energy. Carter failed at it miserably and so will Obama. We do not have tech to handle or store the intermittent energy systems. Not now and not in near future. Enjoy the gift from God called hydrocarbon….most efficient energy system on planet …..

  3. dave ward

    Thanks, Pierre for another good article. Duly bookmarked for future reference.

  4. Robin Pittwood

    Good article Pierre,
    I should confess too, that I have a small solar panel on my caravan which trickle charges the battery.
    Through lack of attention over winter I let it get dirty. While I could clean the panel and it works well again now, the very expensive deep cycle battery went flat and was damaged beyond repair. A new one cost me about $200 (NZ).
    Robin.

  5. business review

    McCormick of Rutgers The State University of New Jersey today joined commissioners of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities BPU and other university officials to break ground for the construction of a seven-acre solar energy facility the largest system on a single campus in the United States…Photovoltaic solar energy which converts sunlight into electricity is one of the cleanest renewable energy sources. By partnering with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to construct this remarkable solar energy facility Rutgers demonstrates our commitment to responsible environmental stewardship. It is expected by to be in operation in the spring of 2009…The solar energy facility is only the latest in a series of cost-saving and environmentally friendly initiatives implemented by Rutgers .. Rutgers has begun a five-year program to retrofit or replace lighting fixtures.

  6. DirkH

    They should have used more Round-Up.

    1. ericshrugged

      Roundup, a major toxin to environment. Would have to use thousands of gallons. Would runoff and percolate into the water systems…is that what we want? i think not.

      1. anarchocapitalist

        Roundup becomes inert when it reaches the soil. It is only active on vegetation.

  7. Alex

    Obama was right, green investment creates jobs: Cutting grass. But, on the other hand, a goat or two would have done the trick.

    1. betacamsp

      Next problem – the goats will likely climb on the PV panels:-(

      1. Rational Db8

        Bingo. Goats would have an absolute field day (no pun intended!) playing and chasing each other all over the tops of solar panels like those. They love to jump on things and climb. Trying to use goats around a solar facility would be a great way to utterly ruin the place in no time flat.

  8. Phillip Bratby

    It looks like it created strips of desert, with strips of weeds growing in the shade.

  9. Robert of Ottawa

    I wonder what the economics of the solat tax farm were? Was the profit made in subsidies in construction; were they made in Feed In Tarrifs (I doubt that) or maybe they just sold a bunch of carbon credits. Clearly the solar park no longer has a meaningful economic purpose.

  10. John F. Hultquist

    The opening photo seems to have a nice crop of thistles. Moisture must run down the surface and through the slit. Between the rows of panels they must mow but the mowers leave the strip under the center. Some places have butterflies that lay an egg on the tops of the leaves and the caterpillar then has a food source. This may now be protected habitat and must be maintained this way. Just a thought.

    The last photo (mostly blue) looks like one of the landscape artist things where hundreds of acres are cover with rippling cloth, streamers, and other junk. Call this one the “Cosmos in blue and white wave lengths” – put a fence around it and charge admission. It will change over the years so people can come back again and again. Why not?

  11. Rainer Hoffmann

    Thanks for Linking…

    Regards
    Rainer Hoffmann from Germany
    http://www.solarkritik.de

  12. The Australian Climate - Page 30 - TheEnvironmentSite.org Forum

    […] Weed-Covered, Neglected Solar Park: 20 Acres, $11 Million, Only One And Half Years Old!. Weed-Covered, Neglected Solar Park: 20 Acres, $11 Million, Only One And Half Years Old! ……….. . __________________ . …just some thoughts from a nomadic plebeian […]

  13. Ulrich Elkmann

    The story is making the rounds. Greenie Watch has just linked to it: “Germany’s alternative to nuclear power” (http://antigreen.blogspot.com/2011/07/germanys-alternative-to-nuclear-power.html>)
    On a more serious note: shouldn’t this have legal consequences? Seems like a clear case of defrauding a) either the state of Saxony or the whole country (depending on to shelled out the subsidies for building this), b) the gold diggers who hoped to gather feed-in subsidies “for 20 years” (serves them right: never give a sucker an even break & all that – but they may feel a bit cheated & can have recourse to the law), c) the Big Greens, since it makes their master plans look like a snake oil selling scam that even country rubes from Way Back East manage to exploit. The only question is which of these parties will get out the tar and feathers first…

  14. Bob W in NC

    In the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s 2011 State of the Coast report, this otherwise excellent conservation group devotes the entire issue to a new energy future of alternative energy sources, including solar. It is an interesting read.

    Link: http://www.nccoast.org/Newsroom/images-pdfs/socreports/2011SOC.pdf

    Oh – and no mention of the very potent greenhouse gas nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) used to clean the photovoltaic panels.

    Let’s hope our state does not dive into this morass with both feet until the legislators have a chance to review Europe’s experience with these energy sources, as you have reported here.

  15. Mervyn Sullivan

    First I thought this could be a joke? Then I thought maybe it’s just a belated “April Fools Day” prank! But then I realized this is no joke… it’s actually bloody serious! And it needs to be investigated and those responsible should be held to account.

    What happened? Did taxpayer-funded subsidies dry up?

  16. MrCannuckistan

    It does seem weird that weeds would be allowed to grow like that. Perhaps the photos were snapped just before a routine maintenance cycle. The grass in between the rows appears to be regularly cut.

    In countries like Germany, the proponents of solar farms are only paid for production and all install and connection costs are born by the proponent prior to commercial operation. It’s the type of public/private partnership that conservatives normally promote.

    Whoever is running this particular solar farm is losing money. The government and taxpayers are losing nothing other than a source of electricity. Lower production means lower payments.

    MrC

    1. Brian H

      I.e., producing solar power is a loser. Building and selling solar is a winner.

  17. Jeff Todd

    Regular cutting would ensure that NO weeds would be poking their heads up between the panels – a quick weekly scoot of weedkiller would kill them, or a length of old carpet would have the same effect.

    The whole “sustainable” energy industry depends on one simple thing – a big fat subsidy from taxing the use of “fossil” fuels. An industry that relies on revenue from the use of such fuels is neither “green” nor “sustainable” despite its name.

    Or as Cicero used to say Qui Bono?

    1. Ric Werme

      “… a length of old carpet”

      More like 20 acres of old carpet, I should think!

      Not that old carpet will slow down a determined weed for more than a year or two.

  18. Ulrich Elkmann

    “Lower production means lower payments”: only when you hire people. Otherwise, lowering payments can only be used as a last emergency for large firms with a signature prominence in the media (and if they have cleared it with the unions), otherwise such measures do not stand a chance in court. So the only was out is a massive loss of jobs. Which seems likely to be first first real consequence of Frau Angela’s “Energiewende” (besides a few rolling blackouts in winter), since it will send energy costs skyrocketing. If I were a politician running for the opposition, I would start that making my selling point, pronto.

    1. MrCannuckistan

      I think you misunderstood what I meant by “Lower production means lower payments.”

      Your incentive is paid through the kWhs your project generates. You will always get the same ‘rate’ for every kWh you generate but if your project is covered in weeds it will only generate a fraction of the kWhs you expect. No generation, no payments. To use your wage analogy think of it like an hourly wage paid to a worker. He may get paid the same hourly wage but his income will rise or fall with the number of hours he works each week.

      MrC

  19. Solar showdown: weeds -vs- silicon | Watts Up With That?

    […] Weed-Covered, Neglected Solar Park: 20 Acres, $11 Million, Only One And Half Years Old! […]

  20. George B

    The problem we have with such facilities in California is that they completely destroy habitat. In places such as deserts where the plants and animals are adapted to direct sunlight, installing these panels completely destroys the original habitat and replaces it with another. Desert is very delicate and it does not take much of a change to put things out of balance. Remove sunlight and add water for the cleaning of the collectors and different species of plants begin to take hold while native species die from lack of sunlight.

    Most desert plants are quite low to the ground. There are exceptions to that, of course, but most of them are low. When solar panels are put into place, sees blown in on the wind or tacked in by people or vehicles or spread by birds can take hold due to the increase in shade and water and then take over the entire ecosystem around these facilities.

    These “environmentalists” would destroy desert habitat, slaughter birds and bats (from wind power) and cause much greater industrial pollution (every windmill requires a copper mine and smelter, every solar panel requires a semiconductor fab) in order to mollify their CO2 phobia.

    1. vfx

      You are too extreme. What power generation for bllions of people is good enough for you. Those people are real and you can’t wish them away. Solar and wind is the lessor of fuel evils. Even the Sierra Club has endorsed solar and wind now.

      1. itzman

        There is only one that fits the green bill that actually works.

        Nuclear power.
        Compact, reliable, clean, dispatchable, very low environmental impact and cheap enough to compete with fossil without subsidy.

        Guess why everyone is afraid of it? Not because its dangerous top PEOPLE(other things are far worse) but because it threatens the whole renewables industry AND big coal and Big Oil.

        since solar panel;s and windmills cannot function without fossil backup, the fossil companies love that fact that renewable energy wont make a a dent in their profits (since its basically all but useless at reducing fuel burn, most of the gains are lost in the inefficiencies of ramping fossil plant up to balance it, and down again) ad it hugely distracts investment and attention away from the one technology that can wipe fossil generated electricity off the planet.

        Remember when you see a really smart renewable energy brochure that cost a lot of money, that someone is paying for it, and not out of love for the planet. Big business sees renewables as a way to make ore profit at the public expense. Nothing more and nothing less.

      2. Rational Db8

        Have to disagree with you. The lesser of fuel ‘evils’ is nuclear by far, in virtually any way you look at it.

        1. LNDN

          Nuclear is the only way to go.

          Advanced reactors can burn nuclear fuel that is already available for several centuries, replacing all other kinds of power plants at the same time.

      3. Brian H

        The power output of any dilute “natural” source is highly variable. Society MUST have steady and reliable controlled power. Renewables thus must be backed up (locally; cross-country balancing is a fantasy — transmission losses wipe out most of the current). At about 10% of total supply, the grid begins to become unstable and suffer damage. You REALLY don’t want that …

        Hence, renewables are delusory.

        That’s the skinny of it.

  21. Jack Hamilson

    They should have paved under the solar panels.

    1. nonplused

      What is pavement made out of? Oh ya, gravel and oil.

  22. Brian H

    At least the grass looks nicely cut in the 1989 site!

    LOL

  23. Brian H

    As for Desertec, it may become the modern “Ozymandias Effect” poster white elephant. I give it 4.2 years. Give or take 3.8.

    1. Rational Db8

      What I’d like to know is just where the water to clean the panels will come from. Water is in short supply here in the SW, and we are talking in the middle of the desert no less…. plus evaporative losses would be massive compared to non-desert locations – and typically the water is very hard, which would leave serious deposits on the cells too unless they do some pretreatment to pull out the minerals.

      I’ve had friends who’ve never lived in the desert pipe up (no pun intended) that since it is arid desert, there won’t be much dirt or dust accumulating on the surface…. which is one of the biggest laughs I’ve had in a long time. It’s the DESERT. There is dust everywhere, and it plates out on surfaces in two seconds flat, especially with the slightest bit of wind to carry it. If you want your car to look clean, you have to wash it really frequently out here. Not to mention that all too often the little bit of rain you do get just carries and deposits more dirt on everything than it ever begins to wash off.

      Sigh…. I suppose unless someone here knows offhand and enlightens me, I’ll have to go ahead and see if I can’t find info on just how Desertec plans to address some of these things.

      1. Rational Db8

        Oops, my bad – I was confusing the name Desertec with some of the proposed large solar plants for the SW USA. Even so, the question holds for either location.

      2. Brian H

        Easy-shmeasy! Use some of the power to run condensers (even desert air has about 25% RH), and spray the water on the panels.

        Of course, that’s going to super-fertilize the weeds. And will take about 40-50% of the power output off the top…

        The only solution to solar farm dysfunction involves numerous bulldozers.

  24. AndyG55

    I am puzzled about the effect of putting a large solar farm in the middle of a desertmight have on the region. The farm will absorb a LOT of energy, and may have quite a significant effect on the local climate. Will the shade encourage plants to grow? How will it affect evaportation etc, Do they even know what affect it will have ??

    Maybe that is exactly what is required to bring the plant life back to the Sahara, seems to have worked in Germany ;-)

    Does anyone know?

    1. Brian H

      Actually, given the risible total efficiency ratings of the panels, very little heat will actually be “lost” to the conversion process. But reflection … here’s what greenhouses can do:

      http://geographyfieldwork.com/AlmeriaClimateChange.htm

  25. Rod T

    Who said goats for weed control. Great idea, but a big no no
    They just love shiny slipery surfaces.

    40 years ago a friend of mine took his new Pontiac Lurentian out to show his friends that just happened to have, by now you guessed it, goats.
    After a fine afternoon tea they ventured out to take the Ponty for a run and 6 goats were waiting as well .
    Hail damage didn’t wash with the insurance coy

  26. Renewable Energy follies: Subsidies discourage maintenance « The k2p blog

    […] Weed-Covered, Neglected Solar Park: 20 Acres, $11 Million, Only One And Half Years Old!  Solar panel field near Markranstaedt, Germany. Photo taken by Prof. Knut Löschke on June 26, 2011 […]

  27. Ulrich Elkmann

    Watts Up With That has linked to the entry (htp:/wattupwiththat.com/2011/07/05/solar-showdown-weeds-vs-silicon/#more-42806//). Appropriate comment by Corky Boyd:
    “A couple of observations . The idea that PV electricity is free is idiotic. It costs money to keep weeds and undergrowth from taking over. And the panels need to be cleansed of dust and bird droppings regularly. My guess is this costs more than the feed in tariff generates and the owner is just walking away from it. Subsidies probably paid for the purchase and instalatlion of the panels, so it’s the government that’s taking a bath, not the operator.

    The other is the total misdesign of the project. There is no room to get mechanized mowing equipment under the panels. They should be 8 feet (2.5 meters) high so mowing equipment can get under it. Also there is no edge protection for the panels. They are vulnerable to contact from maintenance equipment.

    I thought Germans did better design work.”

    1. Rational Db8

      I’d like to know what the actual power output of that plant has been, compared to it’s rated capacity….

  28. Ulrich Elkmann

    And to remind everyone: there is a Nice German Technical Term for this kind of thing: “Schildbuergerstreich”. The “Wise Men of Gotham” di not quite fit this mold, since they only feigned madness (ditto with Odysseus among the women). “The localizing of fools is common to most countries, and there are many other reputed imbecile centres in England besides Gotham. Thus there are the people of Coggeshall, Essex, the “carles” of Austwick, Yorkshire, the “gowks” of Gordon, Berwickshire, and for many centuries the charge of folly has been made against silly Suffolk and Norfolk (Descriptio Norfolciensium about twelfth century, printed in Wright’s Early Mysteries and other Latin Poems).[6]

    In Germany there are the “Schildbürger”, from the town of “Schilda”; in the Netherlands, the people of Kampen; in Bohemia, the people of Kocourkov; and in Moravia the people of Šimperk. There are also the Swedish Täljetokar from Södertälje, and the Danish tell tales of the foolish inhabitants of the Molboland. Among the ancient Greeks Boeotia was the home of fools; among the Thracians, Abdera; among the ancient Jews, Nazareth; among modern Jews, Chełm; among the ancient Asiatics, Phrygia.[1]” (Wikipedia)

    1. Brian H

      In future ancient America, DC.

  29. Pete H

    “Meanwhile Europe is planning a $600 billion monster solar facility in the SAHARA called Desertec.
    @ Jerry F

    You say you would not expect a panel to last there for more than 5 years!

    Laugh? I want to cry and let me tell you why!

    I live in Cyprus. Just a few weeks ago I washed my car. During the night we had a nice breeze and the next morning my car was covered in so much dust that you could not see through the screen. Where did it come from? The good old Sahara! Trust me, we get this all the time and for any crazy fool to build a solar park in the actual desert…..absolutely insane! One of the driest places on earth and they propose to clean the panels with what?

    Once they have had the first sandstorm those panels will be sand blasted beyond description. Ask any of the poor old soldiers who served there during the war about windows on their vehicles, sand goggles that were ruined in days etc.

    The best thing to do would be to get these bureaucrats and have them stand naked for just an hour as one of the regular storms blows through.

  30. Rainer Hoffmann

    I also have a new record of visitors on my website today and in this times…heavy…

  31. Rich
    1. DirkH

      Caution. Often, the google aerial images for Germany are several years old.

      1. Rich

        Good point. One and half years isn’t long enough to be sure Google maps is up to date.

        1. VinnyG

          There is a settings toggle in Google Earth that will display the year that the satellite photo segment was taken. Don’t know if there is any way to force Google Maps to display that metadata.

          -VinnyG

  32. Tony Mach

    Is it even possible that anything would leak out solar-panels?

  33. DK

    Solar farm in the Sahara? Utter foolishness!

    A living example from mars, mars of all places where there is only 1/10 the atmosphere, as to why anyone is a fool to build a solar plant there!

    Dusty Solar Panels on Spirit

    The deck of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is so dusty that the rover almost blends into the dusty background in this image assembled from frames taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) during the period from Spirit’s Sol 1,355 through Sol 1,358 (Oct. 26-29, 2007).

    Dust on the solar panels reduces the amount of electrical power the rover can generate from sunlight each sol. Earlier self-portraits by Spirit, such as one taken on Sol 586, offer a comparison view of cleaner solar panels.

    http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/spirit/20071210a/JC4-Sol1355A_1358A_DeckPan_L456atc_br2.jpg

    1. Peter Hill

      Then one day the wind got up and blew it all away. “Cleaning event”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleaning_event

      1. Brian H

        Some of it. Some always remains, and abrasion doesn’t “blow away”.

  34. Viv Evans

    Cross-post (sort of) from WUWT:

    These weeds are thistles. There’s no way some greenie jobbers can get rid of them now, it is too late for that. See this:

    ‘‘Creeping thistle persists and spreads chiefly by means of the horizontal underground creeping roots that can exceed 5 m long. Fragments of root from plants in the field margins can be carried into the field and spread during cultivation. The collection and burial of root pieces by rodents has resulted in the unexpected appearance of the weed in previously clean areas. There is also evidence that undisturbed pieces of swollen root can remain dormant in the soil for several years until disturbed by cultivation.’
    Link, with more interesting info: http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/organicweeds/weed_information/weed.php?id=5

    Thanks for this blog – I bet people will find similar solar ‘farm’ damages in other countries.

    1. Brian H

      “Getting rid” isn’t necessary. Perpetual work for weed-whackers! Then the slash can be bio-composted into methane and used to make up for the solar power shortfalls …
      :D

  35. Fred2

    The best part? Partial shaded and partially broken solar panels efficiency usually tanks to effectively zero. Even a little shade on one corner of a panel has a huge effect.

    And then ve will run gas mowers between the rows, because you know electric ones aren’t very time efficient at large runs…. Snort.

  36. DirkH

    Google News Deutschland for “Portugal Krise Erneuerbare Energien”.
    You will find dozens of articles that suggest to build “renewable energy power plants” in our broke Southern European neighbours (Portugal and Greece) because that will give them “a new highly valued export good” and make them part of the “Energiewende” (Energy U Turn, political term in Germany for the nuke switchoff).

    None of the articles draws the connection between the Spanish 2008 Solar bubble and their unemployment now.

    Here’s an example:
    http://www.badische-zeitung.de/wirtschaft-3/kann-griechenland-mit-sonnenkraft-aus-der-krise-kommen–47098133.html

    Even Helmut Schmidt is quoted as supporting the idea; none of the articles mentions that Portugal already has an extremely Green energy policy.

    Total delusion.

    1. Ed Caryl

      They’ve never heard the phrase, “When in a hole, stop digging,”

      1. DirkH

        I did the search to see whether any journos already recognize that pouring money into the PV hole will do nothing to make you richer.

        Even knowing the abysmal quality of journalism in Germany, i’m still baffled that not even the conservative/economic papers grasp it. Spain 2008 should have been a hint.

        1. Rainer Hoffmann

          Look about “Renewables” of Greece and Spain here:

          http://solarresearch.org/sk2010/solarefakten/photovoltaik/69-eegsubventionensolar.html

          Greece will suffer the same fate like Spain !!…only in shorter times !!

          1. DirkH

            Thanks. Didn’t know that the renewables Bonanza is already rolling in Greece… they’re fu***d!

  37. Ken Finney

    >>> The Markranst installation doesn’t seem to be there any more.

    The Google Earth Imagery is from 1999.

  38. Charles Higley

    “Green” jobs are mostly maintenance jobs (aka, low paying jobs) and nobody wants them. And those that take these jobs appear not to be the most reliable workers (duhh!) unless there is strict oversight.

  39. Ramon H Leigh

    Actually, I plan on installing a solar array in my next house.
    Back then they didn’t have microinverters, and even today, commercial solar arrays such as these only use central inverters,
    which means that 1) one poorly performing panel – due to dirt
    or shadows – can drag down the other panels in the series it is a part of, severely reducing the output from that series. 2) replacement panels will have to match the others in the series in their electrical characteristics.
    Whoever designed this array obviously never thought about plants
    growing beneath the panels (maybe he thought plants can’t grow
    except in direct sunlight, who knows?). Obviously the supports should have been arranged to allow a lawnmower unobstructed
    access to the entire ground area. The Germans should also have not leaped into this technology back then – early adopters of any new technology invariably get taken to the cleaners. A few years ago a
    crystalline panel cost $5 per watt and more, and a 200 watt panel
    couldn’t produce as much as they can today by using microinverters.
    Today’s better panels, with a 30 year warranty, can be had for as low as $1.50 per watt. And with microinverters, boy, are they simple to install and hook up.

    1. Brian H

      You describe the ideal application: a niche small-scale personally managed supplement in a high-sunshine area. Government sites, especially in Germany (about the same sunshine hours as Alaska) fulfill none of those criteria.

  40. I Have To Have A Beer! | Frank Davis

    […] Our Green future. I’m not in the least bit surprised. […]

  41. jonathan

    Green is simply a euphenism for ‘subsidy grabbing’. Once they have the (unearned) money the planet can go to hell. Does anyone think green means anything worthwhile any more? I sure don’t.

  42. cynical

    I SMELL A RAT!!!!
    Look at the first photo again.Notice where the weeds are?Now,did you notice where the weeds weren’t?????
    The weeds are ony growing directly under the solar panels,why are the weeds not growing on the paths between the solar panels?
    Weeds left to themselves would spread ALL over the paths,not confine themselves to underneath the solar panels ONLY.
    I am a Gardener for a living and in my opinion,the paths are clear of weeds because people regularly walk between the solar panels and the weeds are not given a chance to grow…The real question should be.Why have the people that walk on the paths ALLOWED the weeds to grow through the solar panels??This stinks of a set-up.

    1. DirkH

      Why would people constanly walk up and down between the rows of solar panels? German “solar parks” are not amusement parks and fenced off to prevent theft of the modules (doesn’t help much, though). From time to time you’ll have a cleaner, a technician or a gardener walk there but that wouldn’t suffice to impress a determined weed.

  43. goldie

    Sheep! No I’m not talking about the green movement, I’m talking about removing weeds………though come to think of it! Alternatively try bigger stands next time, though of course that represent more embodied energy. Hmmm this could be more difficult than I thought!

  44. Ian Byrne

    As a strong supporter of PV (in the right place), I think this shows the danger of having a subsidy-led approach. Solar farms are not a good use of potentially productive agricultural land in Europe and several people have suggested that this would only have been built to make use of subsidies or feed-in tariffs. Even if there were sheep grazing around them (and there might be an issue with animals chewing cables or knocking panels off alignment) it would not be a sensible installation. PV is best placed on roofs, or where it can usefully span some other man-made structure (such as car parking spaces).

    Our own office has a PV array that has performed well for over 7 years, with no regular cleaning necessary (just English rain!). It is also high enough to ensure there are no losses due to overshading.

    1. Brian H

      Roofs. Did you notice the second photo? That brown surface is an inch or two of dust and soil build-up on a large flat SCHOOL ROOF. Think about that for just an extra millisecond or two.

  45. observa

    When you own a 2.1 solar feed-in system like I do in mediterranean Adelaide, the capital of South Australia and you casually observe the inverter output in your workshop from time to time, you know implicitly that solar will never go close to running a modern industrial economy. The only reason it’s on my roof is because with the initial Govt subsidy, added RECs and a forced multiple price of coal-fired power buyback, it provides me a risk free, 9-10%, after tax return. Yes I’m suitably Greened by my fellow taxpayers and neighbours with this ‘reshiftable’ energy, mass stupidity but as the man said it’s every citizen’s fundamental right to stick his hand up for whatever taxpayer rort is going down. Now I was going to provide some striking data examples of its extreme variability but somewhere on the net, some tech-head will have it all down pat already –
    http://htpc.avenard.org/power/home

    1. DirkH

      Well, you basically have a Bell-shaped curve over the day from dawn to dusk, and then you have sudden dropoffs due to the “Cumulus effect” – whenever a fat cloud comes over… Yeah, really evil for the grid.

  46. Craftsman

    You had a minor good point that the weeds are shading the panels. Yes, shading reduces the power output. But not to zero. And a short visit with a weedwacker fixes three months of neglect. Now try that with a nuclear reactor!

    Second, you go off the deep end stating that “Now it is out there decaying and its dangerous elements are likely leaking and poisoning the ground by now.”

    Dude, solar panel construction is not a trade secret nor a top military secret. They are made out of sand with some tiny controlled addition of things like gallium. They are a solid at normal temperatures. There is no “leaking”.

    If this is the worst criticisms the RadRight can make of “Remote Thermonuclear Receptors” (Solar Panels) … then I’m PROUD to be a “greenie” and I will be eating your lunch in just a few short decades!

    1. DirkH

      Craftsman, you might be surprised to hear that i for one am not against photovoltaics. You can buy and install as many panels as you wish, and godspeed to you… but ON YOUR OWN DIME, how about that for a change. As a defender of property rights, i will defend YOUR right to do with YOUR property and YOUR money whatever you wish. But don’t expect me to pay for you.

      And that is what the Greens expect – that we happily make and obey laws that force all of us to pay for their desires. They are just socialists.

    2. jk

      quoting you:
      Dude, solar panel construction is not a trade secret nor a top military secret. They are made out of sand with some tiny controlled addition of things like gallium. They are a solid at normal temperatures. There is no “leaking”.

      Find out what goes into panels – is it rare earths, yes/no? (hint, yes)
      Find out what environmental damage mining of REEs does to the Chineese farmers and the skyrocketing rates of cancer in their area.
      What material is used to clean manufactured panels? Is it a toxic noxious greenhouse gas that destroys the ozone layer? (yes/no) hint…
      At present EROEI of solar panels is near 6. That is close to a limit on being useful at all, yet without good storage its very bad for grid stability and reduces efficiency of thermal plants – due to subsidies and the priority of having to pay and use this ” green” electricity, thermal plants are cycled to acommodate fluctuating power(at less than 3% of total supply, its managable, at 10% such as wind in Germany, Germany uses the grids of its eastern block neigbors Poland and Czech Republic for cheap buffering which has led to significant unhapiness with the eastern utilities that are now building power flow transformers, which will cause significant problems to German utilities once they are built > they will force power to flow the way contracts were signed, and not to how the wind blows in northern germany.)

      Find out what elemntal silicon does when dispersed in fine particles on human health, especially the lungs of children.
      Also uranium and plutonium is solid at normal temperatures, yet one of the methods for mining Uranium is to send down warm carbonated water to leach Uranium out of deposits…so the imbecillic idea that solids do not dissolve in water is laughable.
      The sheer volume of waste produced per MWh of solar cells is much larger for PV than for example nuclear > and BOTH are long lived highly cytotoxic and neurological poisons. The difference is nuclear produces forty tons for running a nuke plant for twenty years with one terrawatt yearly production. That waste is then convertible to further nuclear fuel, or can be deposited in a controlled fashion into salt deposits which will stay stable for the next million years until the spent fuel is as radioactive as freshly mined uranium ore.

      1. DirkH

        jk, can you give me a source for PV EROEI = 6? Thanks in advance.

  47. Andyj

    The Solar investor made a mistake. He thought it was a weed in tariff, not a “feed in …”

    The other photo shows some panels that have suffered from a dose of children with a couple of panels showing poor quality control.

    Myself I’ve fitted a vacuum tube solar panel to my roof. Did not seek subsidies nor paid the rip-off for buying/fitting.
    £500, paid for itself in 18 months and it looks good for the next 25 years of free hot water for 8 months of the year.

    Absolute no-brainer. No energy supplier can better that figure.

  48. DanW

    Agree with everything Andyj has put – would add, these are examples of poorly maintained systems. This can be applied to any engineering context. Interesting picture, but hardly a point to put our hands up for hyrdocarbons.

    1. The issue with the first picture is poor design, maintenance and project management. That’s all. The panels seem of poor/no quality, whilst the green roof is attracting herbaceous ‘groundsel-like’ plants, which will require nutrients, water and light to reach such heights. This means the substrate is too thick, nitrates are probably getting onto the roof and the panels (if that’s what they are) are poorly installed with a maintenance contract to mow between panels.

    2. Rain will wash this away. Imagine what solar panels in central london/new york have to put up with – PM10s/5s, soot, pollen, etc.

    3. Vandalism. This is risk putting anything static with glass at open ground level. Just because people vandalise play parks doesn’t mean they are a bad thing. Being 20 years old for a then-fledgling industry, insurances and guarantees would have been hard to come by. Again, this is an issue of maintenance.

    Although there are massive improvements to make to solar, wind, etc – for all of their foibles they are the best of a bad bunch. Sure improvements will come, but they are the best of what we have – science tells us this. We should be discussing ways to mitigate such risks, rather than use such insignificant examples as propaganda and ‘rant platforms’ for the carbon-lovers out there.

    1. Brian H

      Science tells us that dilute dispersed power sources with uncontrolled variability are fools’ gold. So sparkly! So worthless!

      Enjoy.

    2. DirkH

      “Sure improvements will come, but they are the best of what we have – science tells us this. ”

      If you refer to scientists like Michael Mann or James Hansen, then better be prepared to have very deep pockets.

  49. Stephen Brown

    Sahara solar farm?

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear —
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

    Percy Bysshe Shelley