Renewable Energy is a Scam

This is Hornsea Project One, a wind farm currently under construction off the coast of Yorkshire When it is completed in 2020 it will be the largest wind farm in the world

It will power 1 million homes But this project will collectively cost consumers in the UK an additional £42 billion on their energy bills That’s fine, I guess if it’s going to save the planet But is it, really? It turns out that renewable energy isn’t as rosy as we have all been sold

97% of scientists believe that climate change is real and it’s an issue we need to face today It’s estimated that the effects of climate change will kill at least 150 million people this century All of these premature deaths could be avoided if the average global temperature could be reduced by just 15 degrees Professional hippies spend their lives doing two things, dying their hair and getting angry at governments for their apparent lack of action on climate change

There are a very small number of countries, however, that have heard the message loud and clear and are leading the way on fixing the planet’s thermostat by investing billions into Renewable Energy The most prominent is Germany Today between 40 to 50 percent of Germany’s energy comes from renewables such as wind, solar and hydro Germany is making an exemplary move in the right direction, aren’t they? Well, let’s take a closer look at Germany’s most popular renewable choice, wind power Wind turbines are fantastic for reducing CO2 emissions, we all know that

Building wind turbines, on the other hand, does actually produce a huge amount of CO2, to smelt and manufacture the humongous steel bodies and aluminium blades But once it’s up and running a wind turbine pays off its CO2 debt within 5 months, so it’s not really an issue No, the issue is that a low carbon footprint is just about the only benefit of Wind Turbines They kill endangered species of birds quicker than the Duke of Wellington on New Year’s Day Hundreds of thousands of birds are killed by wind turbines every year and thousands of those are rare species of large birds like eagles

Over a million bats are also killed each year by wind turbine blades And solar has its own unique issues, mainly toxic waste Well-made solar panels have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years But with their huge and growing popularity cheaply made Chinese solar panels are flooding global markets These can break down in as little as five years

And many of them contain highly toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health and can cause cancer such as lead, cadmium and chromium, unlike nuclear waste the toxicity of these elements never decays All solar panels can break and do with some degree of regularity; when the glass is smashed, toxic chemicals can leach into the soil and thus public water supplies Also we have no plan to dispose of them safely, the vast majority of solar panels will be shipped off to countries that have no safe way of dealing with their toxicity, countries where we already send millions of tonnes of our tech waste to such as Africa and other developing regions These are teething issues that will hopefully be fixed by better-decommissioning protocols and pipelines and improved solar technology Both solar and wind, however, have an inescapable issue that no amount of technology can fix: they only produce energy when the wind blows or the sun shines

In some locations thats as little as 10% of the time Even the most efficient wind and solar farms only work optimally 30% of the time Although to be clear most solar and wind farms produce some amount of energy around 75% of the time, even if just a little This means we will always need a more consistent energy source, such as fossil or nuclear to cover renewable’s downtimes Perhaps in the future battery technology will reach a point where it becomes feasible to store copious amounts of excess power from renewable sources and the grid can be fed off those whilst the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining

But currently, the technology isn’t even close, as it stands, no battery array in the world can hold even a fraction of the power needed to sustain a city for more than a few minutes The current largest, built by Tesla in Australia, is a 100-megawatt array that can sustain 30,000 homes for an hour In fact without having huge and expensive battery arrays dotted around every country, which would be an eyesore, solar and wind have seemingly insurmountable redundancy issues Fossil and Nuclear power plants both work within a similar framework, the fuel produces heat which is used to create steam which turns a large turbine, which turns a generator which creates electricity When I say large turbine I mean stupidly large – these goliaths usually weigh in at over 100 tonnes of solid steel

Its immense mass has some benefits Primarily, redundancy Nuclear power plants produce energy 24/7, 365 days of the year, they are only shut down once every two years to refuel But what if it has to shut down in an emergency, what if it fails and stops producing steam to turn the turbine Actually, what if every single fossil fuel and nuclear power plant in the country all shut down at the same time

The power would go out, right? Well not quite You see, because of the immense inertial mass of a spinning turbine, there is enough centrifugal force to maintain its rotation and continue to generate power as normal, for a couple of minutes without any steam input This gives the national grid a small but crucial time to restart the power plant and get it back online Because of this crucial redundancy window, unplanned power outages due to hiccups at power plants are extremely rare, most power cuts happen due to weather affecting other parts of the infrastructure such as overhead cables Wind turbines don’t have a large turbine to rely on if it fails, it stops producing power instantaneously, so does a solar farm

Although there is currently hype surrounding new hybrid wind turbines that have a backup battery in the base of the tower which will help overcome this issue But then there’s an issue of land usage and the environment To build these huge arrays of wind turbines and solar panels an area of over 5,000 square metres usually has to be cleared of all vegetation and wildlife This is disastrous for the ecosystem, the local environment and the various species that may call it home To power a country such as the United Kingdom using exclusively wind and solar power it is estimated that up to 25% of the country’s land surface would need to be cleared and transformed into wind or solar farms

Wind farms only return 25 Watts per square metre Compare that to nuclear which produces 1,000 Watts per square metre and it’s clear how inefficient renewables are when it comes to land usage We could mitigate some of this disastrous loss of nature by building all these wind farms offshore, although we still don’t fully understand the long term effects of offshore wind farms on marine species But this isn’t the plan

The UK currently has 271 wind farms planned over the next decade, about half of them are currently under construction But only 25 of these will be offshore, although the offshore arrays do tend to be far larger than their land counterparts There’s an important philosophical question to be answered here – by destroying huge swathes of nature to build renewables aren’t we destroying the very natural world the renewables are intended to save? But, what about the cost of human life caused by direct accidents, such as reactor meltdowns? Surely this is one area in which renewables can win hands down Well, the figures may shock you, as they shocked me The most dangerous are, as to be expected, the fossil fuels

Coal tops the figures with 100,000 deaths per Petawatt Hour, then oil at 36,000, then biomass with 24,000 deaths, natural gas at 4,000, and that’s not factoring in the millions of deaths each year as a result of the air pollution from all these sources But it’s the carbon-neutral energy sources that have the most interesting figures Hydro 1,400 (also, hydro secretly produces quite a large amount of CO2), solar 440 deaths and wind 150 (although there are no completely reliable data sources for wind turbine deaths, more data is needed here) It’s what’s at the very bottom of the list, however, that may surprise you Nuclear is just 90 deaths per Petawatt Hour, and that includes Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island

Nuclear energy has a really bad public image It’s no surprise, with its association with nuclear warheads and Chernobyl But you can’t ignore statistics and it is statistically the safest form of reliable power production we have today Nuclear energy and negative press go together like Greenpeace and propaganda, and so many countries have been decommissioning nuclear reactors in favour of renewable sources, but in an ironic twist of fate, nuclear may just be the energy source that could save our planet Nuclear fission is big and scary, but it has so many benefits that cannot simply be ignored

Nuclear power plants produce zero carbon emissions Their only byproduct is nuclear waste, but unlike byproducts of all other forms of energy production, this is 100% contained and doesn’t leak out into the environment, nuclear waste can also be recycled and reused in reactors multiple times It’s important to note however that the Uranium mining and enrichment processes do use fossil fuels and this does produce CO2 But when we average it out over a power plant’s life cycle a single nuclear reactor and all its related industries produce a median of 65g of CO2 per kWh – that’s roughly the same amount of CO2 produced by wind farms over their life cycle, taking their manufacturing and regular maintenance into consideration too But nuclear’s carbon footprint could be even lower than wind

Allow me to expand Since 1987, Russia and the US have been mutually decommissioning their nuclear weapons, even if recent political hiccups have put a spanner in this process, every year old nuclear warheads are still regularly retired and decommissioned This creates a steady influx of already highly-enriched Uranium fuel that can be used by nuclear power plants to create energy, completely bypassing uranium mining and enrichment and thus bypassing CO2 emissions Sceptics believe that nuclear power plants lead to nuclear weapon proliferation, but in fact, it’s the complete opposite – the absolute best way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world is by building more nuclear reactors In 2013, 19% of the world’s nuclear energy needs were fueled by Uranium 235 from decommissioned nuclear warheads

Take a look at two real-life countries that have taken completely opposite paths Germany has invested heavily into renewables and decommissioned 17 of their nuclear reactors and Merkel’s government pledged to remove all of their nuclear reactors by 2022 Today only 6% of Germany’s power comes from nuclear At the opposite end of the scale, France has invested heavily in nuclear as its primary source of power – they currently have 58 active reactors and more than 80% of France’s energy needs are met by nuclear, by far the highest per capita in the world The result? Germany’s CO2 emissions per capita are more than double that of France

And French households enjoy a much lower energy cost, they pay only 01799 EUR per kWh, Germans pay almost double that for their electricity, 03 EUR per kWh, the second-highest in Europe Notably, Germany’s energy costs have increased by 50% since starting their big push towards renewables I’m not trying to disparage renewables, I think they have an important part to play in saving the planet, but I believe it should be a far smaller part than what we are currently aiming for

If for no other reason than to not see our world’s beautiful landscape littered with gigantic, obnoxious windmills, not if there is no overwhelming benefit over the alternative Humanity’s cleanest, cheapest form of energy has been right in front of us since the 40s And until nuclear fusion comes along, we should be investing more in nuclear fission to reduce greenhouse gasses without needing to destroy thousands of square miles of our beautiful planet to litter it with bird blenders But what if nuclear energy can be improved even more What if it could produce little to no waste and be completely safe and meltdown proof? Well, maybe it can

In 1950 Indian Physicist Homi Bhabha postulated that perhaps another fuel from the typical Uranium 235 and Plutonium 239 could be used for nuclear fission, Thorium Thorium is a naturally-occurring radioactive metal that is four times as abundant on Earth as Uranium After World War II a reactor design that used Thorium as its fuel, a Molten Salt Reactor was created by the US government and the first experimental reactor of its kind was built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and it successfully generated electricity between 1965 and 1969 But the US government decided the future of nuclear energy was in Uranium not Thorium and so pretty much every reactor in the world since the 60s has used Uranium fuel There were many reasons for Uranium being chosen as the de facto fission fuel over Thorium, but one of the most prominent was that Uranium makes much better bombs

Uranium enrichment plants produce highly enriched Uranium that can either be used in nuclear warheads or power peoples homes Thorium on the other hand can be used to make nuclear weapons but it’s a lot more difficult and inefficient But that’s not the only benefit of Thorium-based power over Uranium Thorium reactors produce much less nuclear waste One chinese scientist claims that there will be a thousand times less nuclear waste from Thorium reactors

Also, since natural Thorium can be used as fuel it does not need to be enriched And it gets better, another Thorium reactor design known as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor or LFTR has a unique design that its proponents claim is meltdown-proof The most common cause of reactor meltdowns in current Uranium plants is excessively high and runaway temperatures, usually due to power failures which can lead to insufficient cooling But LFTRs contains a plug at the bottom of the reactor that is designed to melt if the temperature gets too high, this causes all the fuel to drain into an underground safe-storage tank which in theory should completely avert a catastrophic meltdown It all seems too good to believe

Science writer Richard Martin writes: ‘Thorium could provide a clean and effectively limitless source of power while allaying all public concern—weapons proliferation, radioactive pollution, toxic waste, and fuel that is both costly and complicated to process’ But like everything in life, Thorium isn’t short of its detractors There are some who argue that because Thorium is still highly experimental and it hasn’t been operational on a large scale like Uranium reactors, it can’t yet be trusted and it may not be all it’s made out to be But I guess the only way we can find out for certain whether Thorium is the golden goose of clean energy is by putting it into use, producing energy for consumers And that’s exactly what India is doing right now India has one of the largest natural supplies of Thorium and they have pledged to meet 30% of their energy demands with Thorium reactors by 2050

Britain, France, Canada, America, China and a few others are currently looking into Thorium as a potential energy source but India is currently the only country that has a well thought out, government approved and funded plan to ramp up Thorium-based energy production India plans to have over 60 functional Thorium reactors by 2025 And since India is the world’s third largest polluter it seems like a necessary step that could help preserve the planet for a little while longer But it’s going to require action from more than just one country to save it To be completely honest, the world needs to look to China to stop burning dinosaurs for fun

Just under 30% of the world’s carbon emissions come from China It’s not surprising since a staggering 55% of power production in China is coal based A tiny 4% of China’s power comes from Nuclear, as of 2018 I’m not saying we should abandon all forms of energy except nuclear, wind and solar renewables have a huge and beneficial part to play in saving the planet But all nations should be looking to eradicating coal-based energy production, it’s horrendously inefficient, you have to burn a lot of coal and release a ton of CO2 for a pathetic amount of energy, it kills millions of people each year from pollution and it’s quickly killing the planet too

But perhaps as most developed nations are looking to replace coal power, nuclear shouldn’t simply be swept aside for renewables Renewables may be the fashionable and popular option, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the better option Thanks for watching

About Thoughty2

Thoughty2 (Arran) is a British YouTuber and gatekeeper of useless facts. Thoughty2 creates mind-blowing factual videos, on the weirdest, wackiest and most interesting topics. Combining fascinating lists with answers to life's biggest questions.

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