Devastating Finding: New Study Deems Solar PV Systems In Europe “A Non-Sustainable Energy Sink”!

Despite hyped claims, much doubt has emerged over the years on whether or not renewable energies such as wind and sun would able to substitute fossil and nuclear energy.

Europe’s PV energy systems are not working out, new study finds. Photo: Prof. Knut Löschke. Source: www.eike-klima-energie.eu/.

Getting a sound answer to that question naturally would have been a reasonable step to take long before countries rushed to invest tens of billions of euros in solar in cloudy northern Europe.

A brand new paper by Swiss researchers Ferruccio Ferroni and Robert J. Hopkirk published by the Journal of Energy Policy now further intensifies that doubt, finding that solar power remains an inefficient way to produce energy in most cases. It’s beginning to appear that Europe has wasted tens of billions of euros in a mass energy folly.

Thus it should not surprise anyone that Germany’s fossil fuel consumption has not been falling over the past years.

The paper’s abstract states:

Many people believe renewable energy sources to be capable of substituting fossil or nuclear energy. However there exist very few scientifically sound studies, which apply due diligence to substantiating this impression. In the present paper, the case of photovoltaic power sources in regions of moderate insolation is analysed critically by using the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI, also called EROI). But the methodology for calculating the ERoEI differs greatly from author-to-author. The main differences between solar PV Systems are between the current ERoEI and what is called the extended ERoEI (ERoEI EXT). The current methodology recommended by the International Energy Agency is not strictly applicable for comparing photovoltaic (PV) power generation with other systems. The main reasons are due to the fact that on one hand, solar electricity is very material-intensive, labour-intensive and capital-intensive and on the other hand the solar radiation exhibits a rather low power density.

So is solar energy a worthwhile alternative in places like Europe? The authors conclude that it is not. They write in the conclusion that “an electrical supply system based on today’s PV technologies cannot be termed an energy source, but rather a non-sustainable energy sink” and that “it has become clear that photovoltaic
energy at least will not help in any way to replace the fossil fuel“.

The authors add that “photovoltaic technology would not be a wise choice for helping to deliver affordable, environmentally favourable and reliable electricity regions of low, or even moderate insolation“.

Sounds like much of Europe has wasted very huge sums of money.

31 responses to “Devastating Finding: New Study Deems Solar PV Systems In Europe “A Non-Sustainable Energy Sink”!”

  1. DirkH

    The typical German Green loves solar power and hates coal mining. That’s why he wants solar cells produced in China with coal power electricity, the coal being mined by underpaid slaves with no safety regulations at all. And he wants German brown coal business with its enormous safety and environmental regulations shut down.

    To me it appears that the typical German Green cannot connect two facts in his brain. Otherwise he would recognize that he is a lunatic.

    Also, these people invariably go into politics and logically, and mess everything up that they touch.

    That’s why I’m betting on societal collapse. And it already pays off. I would prefer no collapse but you gotta deal the hand you’re given.

  2. Buddy

    Hmmmmmmmmm….Fossil fuel consumption in Germany at 35 year low. I wonder why that is? Must be all that PV with weeds growing around it…:)

    Cheers mates….:)

    http://energytransition.de/2015/01/fossil-fuel-power-at-35-year-low-in-germany/

    1. DirkH

      I wonder whether being forced to squander 1.5 % of GDP on uneconomic subsidy mills (wind turbines, solar cells) has anything to do with a stagnating economy.

      1. DirkH

        Let us call the forced 28bn EUR a year redistribution a typical Keynesian “infrastructure spending” program.
        Like the Hoover dam or generally the Californian water projects.
        Now. The key question in ANY investment, even in that enforced by the state is WHAT is the return on investment.
        We can see that wind turbines can produce at approx 10 cent/kWh because that’s the subusidized price they GET.
        BUT they can’t produce when you need it so the ENTIRE existing infrastructure of coal and gas power plants needs to be maintained. It is only USED LESS.

        Now pray tell you Green geniuses HOW do you IMPROVE your infrastructure by DOUBLING it? In my book this doubles the capital needs, reduces the USE of the investment and overall drives up total costs.

        This is Keynesianism gone mad, or rather, a giant criminal siphoning off of 28bn EUR a year.

        1. DirkH

          The price we have to pay to keep the crazy, insane, criminal people that are our political caste more or less calm. Unfortunately it didn’t suffice so they embarked on their next insanity, removing all borders.

          So we will have to remove them.

        2. Colorado Wellington

          Dirk, this is the metric showing the madness. As you say, all the installed capacity is still there but forced to idle.

          http://energytransition.de/files/2015/01/01electricityfromfossilfuels1.png

    2. AndyG55

      “Fossil fuel consumption in Germany at 35 year low”

      With manufacturing gone to China and India, is it any wonder.

      Maybe they could going, and turn Germany to a third world country.. that would sure lower the fossil fuel consumption.

      1. AndyG55

        typo fix…

        Maybe they could keep going…..

      2. sod

        “With manufacturing gone to China and India, is it any wonder.”

        This claim is garbage, please show any evidence for it!

        China is also reducing its CO2 output and coal consumption. But any increase in developing countries CO” output is for their own development mostly, production for first world is not the explaining factor.

        1. AndyG55

          “China is also reducing its CO2 output and coal consumption”

          Yes dear.. OF COURSE they are !

          https://i0.wp.com/www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/01021/inline_e358737c-98_1021170a.jpg

          1. El Bearsidente

            Keep in mind that CHina, as of January 2016, also has 40 nuclear power stations under construction and development. That makes them #1 in the world, even before Russia (25) and India (24). Even the UK is working on one, because they realized that, in winter, “renewable” is not really working. It seems the cold winter of 2010/2011, where they had to import power from French nuclear plants, because their own wind and solar produced nothing, taught them a lesson.

        2. AndyG55

          The only reason for the current slight slow-down in construction is the economic slow down, and the fact that they already have enough capacity.

          If the world economy picks up again.. those coal-fired power station will go ahead rapidly.

          India, of course, is only just starting to expand its thermal/fossil fuel electricity supply network, as are many other places in the world.

          So DON’T WORRY, little sob..

          …there will be PLENTY of CO2 EMISSIONS, feeding the atmosphere, for many , many years to come 🙂

          1. sod

            “The only reason for the current slight slow-down in construction is the economic slow down, and the fact that they already have enough capacity.”

            contradicting yourself?

            yes, they build too much coal plants and mines. They did so, because they expected massive increases in electricity demand. But in places all around the world, electricity demand is dropping, not increasing.

            Demand is dropping, because new GREEN technolgies like LED lights and PV solar have hit the market hard.

            so coal will struggle with over capacity and with new technologies being cheaper than new coal. Basically coal is dead, but will stay in zombie mode for some more decades.

          2. AndyG55

            Funny, isn’t it

            You say these “renewables” are cheaper, but I have yet to see you saying that subsidies and feed-in mandates should be removed so as to reduce the burden on taxpayer funds so those funds can be used for some actually worthwhile purpose.

            But we know will never say that, because you know that if they take away the subsidies and feed-in mandates, and renewables will die a natural death….

            You really don’t care about the massive waste of taxpayer funds, and the deprivation of energy supplies to developing countries where decent solid energy supplies could save thousands or even millions of lives, do you !

            You just don’t care about that… only about supporting the anti-CO2 regressive socialist agenda.

    3. Green Sand

      “Fossil fuel consumption in Germany at 35 year low.”

      But the world’s fossil fuel consumption is at an all time high and one of the reasons is because it is needed to manufacture the ineffectual and already obsolete pieces of kit you naively rejoice in.

      The rest of the world increases their use of fossil fuels in order for fools in the western world to feel better about themselves? I don’t think history is going to view Buddy and his ilk as the ‘enlightened ones’. More likely viewed as 21st century Luddites.

    4. BobC

      Yes, those weeds are the symbol of the Green Jobs for German workers from now on. The PV cells are the too-difficult type of jobs done in 3rd world.

      1. yonason

        Or, they can just keep importing 3rd world workers to do the mowing as well (from the looks of it they have already started), and then native Germans won’t have anything left to do at all.

    5. El Bearsidente

      The reason for this is solely Merke’s “Energiewende” and the hysterical screaming about “nucular power!” which is going to kill everyone, apparently, and that “Fukushima could happen in Germany tomorrow” (verbatim from the German green party in 2011, that was also the year when Germany completely surrendered to nuclearphobia and engaged in some pretty nasty anti-Japanese racism, thanks to one German journalist making the most ludicrous, outrageous and offensive claims about Japan’s nuclear power stations, which German media picked up without double checking or thinking, this then led to Professor Zöllner -Japanese Studies, university of Bonn- to write a very angry open letter -published in Die Welt under the title “Apokalypse jetzt! Wir Deutschen sollten uns schämen”, available online- in which he concluded that, if you have friends like Germany, you don’t need a nuclear disaster.)

      In reality the fact that power production based on the weather is causing engineers in Germany a lot of grey hairs. Since the weather can change in a whim the stability of electricity in the power grind cannot be guaranteed with solar and wind. Conventional power stations run on hot standby to catch the changes in weather, which is not very efficient either. And when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow all the “renewable” energy produces zero anyway.

      Engineers in Germany refer to “renewable” energy as NIE. Neue Instabile Energie, aka New Unstable Energy, because that’s what it is. It’s unstable, it’s unreliable and looking at the net production, what is fed into the grid, inefficient.

      That brings the issue of storing excess energy when it’s produced. There is no way. Pump storage? Okay, where in Germany can they build pump storage for storing tens of thousands of MW? That storage needs to be enough to last for days, even weeks, because look at Germany’s normal weather in winter. Look into the South, there are areas that are fog zone for weeks with no sun and thus solar net production of zero.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, using solar and wind as a supplement? Sure, why not. But using a non-linear, chaotic system like the weather as source for the mainstay production of electricity in an industrialized country? That’s just madness and can only lead to self destruction and massive de-industrialization.

      And that’s not even touching the rise in costs for power that the consumers will have to carry, which will lead to turn electricity from a commodity that did only good into a luxury item for the rich. The number of households in Germany that have their power turned off, because they can no longer afford to pay the bill, is increasing.

  3. Oz

    Great comments from Dirk

  4. DirkH

    Thanks.

  5. lemiere jacques

    greens have to hide the fact that it is likely humanity will be poorer if it stop using fossil fuel…

    let s admit that if we stop using fossil fuel we save the planet…
    we still face that:

    save the planet and be more rich…yeppeeh!
    save the planet and be poorer , hey wait a minute, how poor?
    save the planet and die..are you kidding me?

  6. sod

    EROI depends on a lot of assumptions.

    What places in Europe are they talking about?

    What lifetime do they use for solar panels?

    what assumptions do they make about credits?

    What do they consider to be todays solar PV?

    From what i have seen of the article so far, there is no evidence for their conclusion. Can anyone access the tables?

  7. GWeberBV

    You can find the study (without paywall) here: https://collapseofindustrialcivilization.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/ferroni-y-hopkirk-2016-energy-return-on-energy-invested-eroei-for-photo.pdf

    Have a closer look to it and you will find a few very weak points. A few examples:
    1) The authors are discussing the lifetime of PV installations. They find that by the end of 2015 about 7600 tons of PV modules were put to waste in Germany. This is roughly the amount of existing PV installations in 1998. From this the authors conclude that the empirical lifetime is something like 17 years. So far, so good. But there is absolutely no logic link between the weight of scraped PV modules in 2015 and the other number. (Later the authors use 25 years anyway).
    2) All PV installations have to be backed up by hyro storage plants. Because … hm … because the authors say so. But in reality not a single hydro storage plants was built in Germany because of PV installations. A more realistic model would account for the loss in efficiency of the FF plants due to increased ramping as a result of PV peak. But I do not think that contact with reality is a major concern of the authors.
    3) According to a study from 2005 (stone age of PV) the typical PV installation is not working for 5% of the time due to various malfunctons. With such an outage number ALL PV projects of the last years would be loosing money. Totally unrealistic.
    4) Cost of PV installation is 6000 CHF/kWp – or 5500 Euros/kWp (result of personal experience of the authors). Sure. For my new house I have a quote for a 5 kWp system at 1350 Euros/kWp. Maybe, I can resell it to those well-informed authors with a moderate price tag of 5000 CHF/kWp.

    Always read studies carefully and compare the input parameters to reality!

    1. sod

      Thanks for the link. Why did no one reply to this?

      Now we have the real data and we see, that (as i said above) this is based on bizarre assumptions.

      Even a 25 year lifetime is too low. The modules can work longer and will do so in many places. By using bad numbers like that, and false numbers about costs, we get a completely false result.

      I will write more comments, when i read the whole article. Many thanks for the link again!

  8. yonason

    Ah, yes. The good old “UNTENDED CONSEQUENCES.”

    1. yonason
  9. yonason

    I wonder how many windmills they would have to put up to slow the wind down to the point of causing a measurable increase in ground temperature due to lack of convective cooling?

    Oh heck, let’s just keep putting them up until we find out.
    http://www.mdpi.com/ijgi/ijgi-03-00942/article_deploy/html/images/ijgi-03-00942-g004-1024.png

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    […] The authors add that “photovoltaic technology would not be a wise choice for helping to deliver affordable, environmentally favorable and reliable electricity regions of low, or even moderate insolation.“ (Source) […]

  12. Maury Markowitz

    If you don’t mind the blogroll:

    https://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/another-pv-eroei-debacle/

    All I did was replace their numbers with ones from easily accessible industry standard sources. All EROEI results are positive from a low of just over 1 to a high of 2.8.

    All of these numbers are easily found in Google, I suggest you try it for your own locale.

  13. sod

    Thanks to Maury for those informations. I wanted to reply, but forgot about it. You have summed the problems up perfectly.

    Meanwhile, the EIA has been caught and called out for its completely false renewable projections:

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/us-government-finally-responds-me-others-renewable-energy-jigar-shah

    But instead of changing things, they continue on the same course.

    The preview of the 2016 report is more of the same garbage. The EIA keeps assuming that electricity use will keep growing (it will not!) and is making absurd low assumptions about the percentage of renewables (23% to 27%) in 2040.

    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/pdf/0383er%282016%29.pdf

    Solar PV was sold at below 3 ct per kWh in Dubai recently.

    Any developted country that is using less than 50% of renewables in 2040 will face economic disaster.