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Renewable Energy - Infographic

Carrington College’s Renewable Energy Degree

Category: Digital Media, Energy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

22 Responses to “Renewable Energy”

  1. TerryC says:

    This would look lovely in a 7th grade science book.

  2. patfla says:

    Oh – I think it’s a little more interesting than that.

    There’s a fair amount of information in the graphic so let me address just one section: Renewable Energy Usage By State.

    Nominal numbers are nice and useful but, say, the population of California is much greater than that of the state of Washington. I think there should be something of a rule that says that whenever you publish nominal numbers you have to give per capita (or per unit or whatever’s relevant) alongside.

    Both CA and WA are producing > 50 GWH of renewable energy? That’s a lot. Power generation has scaled differently over time (although this shouldn’t be surprise). Coal burners maxed out (maybe 40 years ago) at about 2 GW. This was the sweet spot and presumably decreasing returns to scale set in.

    The sweet spot today (with say co-gen natural gas) is 500 MW.

    So 50 GW (we can handwave at this point over the distinction between GWH [over time] and GW [instantaneous]) is = to 100 of the conventional power plants that are built these days.

    I mean it’s still probably a drop in the bucket but sometimes it worthwhile seeing the glass are 1/10th full as opposed to 9/10th empty.

  3. Orange14 says:

    I assume the mention of Kohls and Whole Foods as 100% running on renewable energy only refers to the corporate headquarters and not their retail stores (most if not all are hooked up to traditional power grids). This is a little misleading.

  4. Brendan says:

    I appreciate the attempt they’re making here, but ugh… Can we stop pretending hydrogen is a renewable energy resource? It’s like saying the lake at the top of a hydroelectric dam in a renewable resource… no the rain that keeps refilling it is! If the rain stops, it’s no longer renewed. You could make a stretch of an argument that earth-based hydrogen fusion could be considered renewable (if we knew how to do it with net energy gain), but not fuel cells, which is the only thing they have listed under hydrogen. By this logic, dozens of elements, most notably lithium and zinc, would be renewable energy since they are used in batteries. I’ll get off my soap box now.

  5. Orange14 says:

    @patfla – good comments and of course hydropower is a weird one, being dependent on flowing water (as in the case of WA where a number of federally built dams are responsible for the power generation). I also would not classify hydrogen fuel cells as “renewable” since it is not yet clear that the energy inputs required for manufacture are favorable (the same can be said for corn ethanol which is only with us because of the subsidies and is only mildly “green”.

  6. rtalcott says:

    Einstein…Nobel…Solar Power …Experiments….

    Where did this come from…

  7. farfetched says:

    1. Hydro power can be much more renewable. Many countries use ‘pump up’ hydro, where water is pumped back up to reservoirs using low peak power or excess off peak wind energy of which Washington currently has an excess. This substantially increases the use of water falling as snow or rain. It seems some here may not be familiar with Washington State, but aside from coastal Alaska and perhaps some portions of the Big Island of Hawaii, we have the highest rainfall in the U.S. Much of that water falls as snow in the Cascades and most of it falls as rain in the Olympics.
    Some portions of the western coast of the Olympic Peninsula get in excess of 120 ” of rain annually and are the only temperate rain forests in the U.S.
    While the majority of you are baking in 100 plus degree temperatures this summer our highs have been in the 80′s on just a handful of days and my pastures are still green. It rains a lot here. I live in an average area and we get over 70″ of rain annually.

    2. Whole Foods, Kohls and other green businesses buy green power from their electric utilities that has been designated as generated from renewable sources and is sold at slightly higher prices.
    For the less than versed, electricity is largely fungible. A KWH is a KWH, the source is the only difference. So yes, all of Kohls and Wholefoods stores are run on renewable green energy that is generated by renewables and sold as such.

  8. Brendan says:


    These companies buy “offsets,” “credits,” or whatever name you want to use, meaning they’re paying a company to produce renewable energy in the amount they’re using, sell it to the grid and then take from the grid elsewhere. Which generator creates the actual voltaic force to run their lights at all of their corporate headquarters and retail outlets may come from many different non-renewable and renewable sources, but they’ve made agreements to buy wholesale power in the amount that they are using. Some purists would argue that it’s closer to accounting than science and is therefore not valid. I disagree. For the purists, I don’t think it’s any more misleading than saying you bought an item for $10 when in reality you friend agreed to buy the $10 item because you didn’t have cash with you, and then you paid his roommate back when he wasn’t home and his roommate charged him $10 less for rent the next month. The cash may have never went directly toward the item, but in the end everyone’s accounts are no worse or better off. You still own the item and you still paid $10 for it, for all intents and purposes.

    P.S. Again, hydrogen isn’t renewable. It’s 100% clear that the energy inputs will always exceed the output due to the laws of thermodynamics. It may still be useful for some applications, but it will never be a renewable source of energy. A fuel cell is a flow battery, meaning that there are inputs and outputs that are not contained within the cell, unlike a traditional battery. To “recharge” the battery you must turn the output, water, back into the input, hydrogen and oxygen, to “renew” the system. This requires the same amount of energy taken out plus the energy used in system inefficiencies to be put in. It cannot be a renewable resource like biofuels which use energy from the sun in the form of photosynthesis.

  9. rtalcott says:

    A nice discussion of some basic limits on energy:

  10. Jojo says:

    When are we going to put up a satellite network in Earth orbit to capture the energy from the sun and beam it down to the planet? This seems like the ultimate clean energy solution.

  11. farfetched says:

    IMO we need to stop relying on big business to provide centralized power. ALL of their “solutions” involve a central generating facility with it’s inherent loss of efficiency due to fuel inputs and transport, and the standard 2% voltage drop built into the electrical code due to resistance. This results in a lot of inefficiencies and it’s just another way for the powers that be to enslave everyone with a meter.
    As some here will remember nuclear power was supposed to be so cheap that we wouldn’t need to meter it.
    The meter system is the same fiscal model as the gas pump, the parking garage, home rentals and Microsoft.
    They just LOVE to keep the reasonable option out of reach and then charge you over and over for software, parking, gas and electricity.

    This is like Barry’s story of those buying the Lincoln MKX. Why not put capital into the one that saves the most fuel in the long haul if the price is the same?

    Individuals get the same offsetting tax breaks as large energy corporations for solar, wind and efficiency upgrades and the law provides for selling excess power back to the utility at a profit.
    YES, you have to pay up front but the payback is relatively quick and thereafter the power is free and free from increases in rates that the metering utilities pass on with increasing frequency.
    Does anyone think electric rates are going to go down? A solar array, a wind turbine and certain;y insulation, better windows and efficient appliances are excellent investments. Not to mention they all produce better employment.
    Millions of calories fall on the planet every day, all we need to do is harvest them. No increased expenses for a power grid, no voltage loss in the grid, no loss of resources fueling generation, no pollution, better self sufficiency and reliability and freedom from the meter.

  12. alex in cambridge says:

    Einstein got the Nobel for explaining the photoelectric effect (light hitting metal liberates electrons, but depends on frequency, not intensity — because of photons, quantum levels, etc.).

    Solar power is the photovoltaic effect. Except for the fact that it also depends on photons, not really related.

    IOW, whoever wrote that part knows nothing about physics.

    As for the rest, renewable energy replacing oil, coal, etc. is at this point a sophomoric fantasy. A breakthrough in fusion, for example, could change that.

  13. Chad says:

    It’s a sophomoric fantasy that oil, coal, and natural gas will last forever. We are just at the beginning of this shift in power generation, so of course replacing these seems foolish. Numerous feats and discoveries throughout history were considered foolish and sure to fail endeavors before they were tried.

  14. speaking of ‘sophomoric fantasy’…

    when are We going to drop the Charade that ‘Hydroelectric’ is ‘cost-free’ “renewable Resource” ?

    peep should bother to read some of


    to begin with..

    also, most of the rest of this ‘Graphic’ makes ‘Renewable Energy’ sound like ‘Perpetual Motion’ ..

    LSS: one gets Nothing, for Nothing. All of these sources have Costs.


    you forgot the ‘Agitprop’-Category tag..~

  15. alex in cambridge says:

    Chad, I said ___ at this point. Of course, oil etc. won’t last forever. So what? We’re likely to move beyond oil as a fuel long before it is exhausted. But right now because of oil’s energy content and flexibility there is no alternative.

    Here’s an example of how this works — before oil was discovered in Pennsylvania, whale oil (not sure if the real word, sp*rm oil, would be bl0cked) was the main source of fuel for indoor lighting because it burned clean and bright. The growing demand for whale oil led to the huge whaling and boat building industry in New England. But as the demand grew and we decimated the whale population, the boats had to go further and further out to sea to find enough whales to kill, and prices rose accordingly. With the discovery of oil in Penn., and the refining of that oil into kerosene, etc., the demand for whale oil and the whaling industry collapsed. And the discovery of oil also led to the car industry, and the collapse of the buggy whip and horse carriage and stable and horse breeding industries.

  16. alex in cambridge says:

    Sorry — hit the submit button by mistake. Here’s the rest:

    The same will happen to the oil business, but at this stage it is not clear what will replace it. There are some huge developments in the battery industry that are not public yet that may make the electric car really practical as a replacement for gasoline powered cars, but the energy to charge the batteries still has to come from someplace, and it’s not solar or wind. The numbers just don’t work.

  17. victor says:

    March 27 -2009 (Bloomberg)

    March 27 (Bloomberg) — Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

    For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

    U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

    The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – - which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

    “The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.

  18. silverfox8028 says:

    WOW! All this information from a college that offers degrees in dental hygiene, fitness training, Medical billing and training and of course… Massage Therapy.

  19. JerseyCynic says:

    Put your GREEN HELMETS on for the next round. Ban ki-Moon is looking for a few good companies..

    “The things that are moving faster are the investments in renewable energy, the kind of actual investments and changes on the ground that will make a difference,” said Tariq Banuri, director of the division of sustainable development at the UN’s department of economic and social affairs. “There should be enough forums to accelerate and support those – some may have to wait for climate negotiations and some may not.”

  20. Chad says:

    “The numbers just don’t work.”

    Not true. The numbers are very close to working. Solar is closing in on the cost of coal per KWH and it will get cheaper as more research is completed and production techniques improve. Wind is already within .003 cents per KWH of coal. It’s just a matter of time. Everyone dreams of fission, but it seems much less likely than more efficient solar and wind tech.

    And, as you stated, batteries are improving.

    “The growing demand for whale oil led to the huge whaling and boat building industry in New England. But as the demand grew and we decimated the whale population, the boats had to go further and further out to sea to find enough whales to kill, and prices rose accordingly.”

    Yep, and this is happening right now with oil. Oil production, especially cheap oil (sweet), is declining, while demand is increasing. I’m unsure how your example doesn’t prove my point.

  21. alex in cambridge says:

    Chad: To repeat, I said — “at this point,” meaning there is no viable alternative now.

    You are wrong about the numbers, as per Victor’s quotation from the Bloomberg article. Green Energy would collapse w/out the massive subsidies propping it up, and those subsidies are a net destroyer of jobs. The idea that “green technologies” would fix our energy and CO2 problems and also create jobs is a sophomoric and adolescent fantasy that has cost Spain billions and will cost us billions (eg., see the idiotic ethanol subsidies).

    The whale oil history shows that it is market forces that lead to fundamental changes in our energy regime, not government bureaucrats trying to pick winners and losers.

  22. Braden says:

    I dunno. This graph makes it look like we ought to just set up a bunch of solar panels & windmills. No mention of battery technology not being advanced enough to store all of that power & service a grid, no mention of the energy it would take to make the switch.

    I call “Fail.”