About Raymond Castleberry

I come from a big family and they are very important to me. I enjoy going out socially with friends for meals and a few drinks. I love reading when I get the chance mostly historical fiction.

The Perfect Blog Post Length and Publishing Frequency is B?!!$#÷x – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The perfect blog post length or publishing frequency doesn’t actually exist. “Perfect” isn’t universal — your content’s success depends on tons of personalized factors. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why the idea of “perfect” is baloney when it comes to your blog, and lists what you should actually be looking for in a successful publishing strategy.

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the perfect blog post length and frequency

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about blog posts and, more broadly, content length and publishing frequency.

So these are things where a lot of the posts that you might read, for example, if you were to Google “ideal blog post length” or “ideal publishing frequency” will give you data and information that come from these sources of here’s the average length of content of the top 10 results in Google across a 5,000-keyword set, and you can see that somewhere between 2,350 and 2,425 words is the ideal length, so that’s what you should aim for.

I am going to call a big fat helping if baloney on that. It’s not only dead wrong, it’s really misleading. In fact, I get frustrated when I see these types of charts used to justify this information, because that’s not right at all.

When you see charts/data like this used to provide prescriptive, specific targets for content length, ask:

Any time you see this, if you see a chart or data like this to suggest, hey, this is how long you should make a post because here’s the length of the average thing in the top 10, you should ask very careful questions like:

1. What set of keywords does this apply to? Is this a big, broad set of 5,000 keywords, and some of them are navigational and some of them are informational and some of them are transactional and maybe a few of them are ecommerce keywords and a few of them are travel related and a few of them are in some other sector?

Because honestly, what does that mean? That’s sort of meaningless, right? Especially if the standard deviation is quite high. If we’re talking about like, oh, well many things that actually did rank number one were somewhere between 500 words and 15,000 words. Well, so what does the average tell me? How is that helpful? That’s not actually useful or prescriptive information. In fact, it’s almost misleading to make that prescriptive.

2. Do the keywords that I care about, the ones that I’m targeting, do they have similar results? Does the chart look the same? If you were to take a sample of let’s say 50 keywords that you cared about and you were to get the average content length of the top 10 results, would it resemble that? Would it not? Does it have a high standard deviation? Is there a big delta because some keywords require a lot of content to answer them fully and some keywords require very, very small amounts of content and Google has prioritized accordingly? Is it wise, then, to aim for the average when a much larger article would be much more appreciated and be much more likely to succeed, or a much shorter one would do far better? Why are you aiming for this average if that’s the case?

3. Is correlation the same as causation? The answer is hell no. Never has been. Big fat no. Correlation doesn’t even necessarily imply causation. In fact, I would say that any time you’re looking at an average, especially on this type of stuff, correlation and causation are totally separate. It is not because the number one result is 2,450 words that it happens to rank number one. Google does not work that way. Never has, never will.

INSTEAD of trusting these big, unknown keyword set averages, you should:

A. look at your keywords and your search results and what’s working versus not in those specific ones.

B. Be willing to innovate, be willing to say, “Hey, you know what? I see this content today, the number one, number two, number three rankings are in these sorts of averages. But I actually think you can answer this with much shorter content and many searchers would appreciate it.” I think these folks, who are currently ranking, are over-content creating, and they don’t need to be.

C. You should match your goals and your content goals with searcher goals. That’s how you should determine the length that you should put in there. If you are trying to help someone solve a very specific problem and it is an easily answerable question and you’re trying to get the featured snippet, you probably don’t need thousands of words of content. Likewise, if you are trying to solve a very complex query and you have a ton of resources and information that no one else has access to, you’ve done some really unique work, this may be way too short for what you’re aiming for.

All right. Let’s switch over to publishing frequency, where you can probably guess I’m going to give you similar information. A lot of times you’ll see, “How often should I publish? Oh, look, people who publish 11 times or more per month, they get way more traffic than people who publish only once a month. Therefore, clearly, I should publish 11 or more times a month.”

Why is the cutoff at 11? Does that make any sense to you? Are these visits all valuable to all the companies that were part of whatever survey was in here? Did one blog post account for most of the traffic in the 11 plus, and it’s just that the other 10 happened to be posts where they were practicing or trying to get good, and it was just one that kind of shot out of the park there?

See a chart like this? Ask:

1. Who’s in the set of sites analyzed? Are they similar to me? Do they target a similar audience? Are they in my actual sector? What’s the relative quality of the content? How savvy and targeted are the efforts at earning traffic? Is this guy over here, are we sure that all 11 posts were just as good as the one post this person created? Because if not, I’m comparing apples and oranges.

2. What’s the quality of the traffic? What’s the value of the traffic? Maybe this person is getting a ton of really valuable traffic, and this person over here is getting very little. You can’t tell from a chart like this, especially when it’s averaged in this way.

3. What things might matter more than raw frequency?

  • Well, matching your goals to your content schedule. If one of your goals is to build up subscribers, like Whiteboard Friday where people know it and they’ve heard of it, they have a brand association with it, it’s called Whiteboard Friday, it should probably come out once a week on Friday. There’s a frequency implied in the content, and that makes sense. But you might have goals that only demand publishing once a quarter or once a month or once a week or once every day. That’s okay. But you should tie those together.
  • Consistency, we have found, is almost always more important than raw frequency, especially if you’re trying to build up that consistent audience and a subscriber base. So I would focus on that, not how I should publish more often, but I should publish more consistently so that people will get used to my publishing schedule and will look forward to what I have to say, and also so that you can build up a cadence for yourself and your organization.
  • Crafting posts that actually earn attention and amplification and help your conversion funnel goals, whatever those might be, over raw traffic. It’s far better if this person got 50 new visits who turned into 5 new paying customers, than this person who published 11 posts and got 1 new paying customer out of all 11. That’s a lot more work and expense for a lot less ROI. I’d be careful about that.

*ASIDE:

One aside I would say about publishing frequency. If you’re early stage, or if you were trying to build a career in blogging or in publishing, it’s great to publish a lot of content. Great writers become great because they write a lot of terrible crap, and then they improve. The same is true with web publishers.

If you look at Whiteboard Friday number one, or a blog post number one from me, you’re going to see pretty miserable stuff. But over time, by publishing quite a bit, I got better at it. So if that is your goal, yes, publishing a lot of content, more than you probably need, more than your customers or audience probably needs, is good practice for you, and it will help you get better.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

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from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-perfect-blog-post-length-and.html
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California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy

The La Paloma natural gas plant in California filed for bankruptcy last December because it was not getting enough operating time to cover its costs due to solar and other renewable energy receiving preference. The plant, which serves as back-up to the state’s renewable generating technologies, was also denied a reliability charge by the state that would have allowed it to continue to operate. The owners project an annual loss of $39 million without a reliability contract or other support. In its bankruptcy filing, the plant owners listed assets between $100 million and $500 million and liabilities of $500 million to $1 billion.[i]  La Paloma is a 1200-megawatt merchant plant located 110 miles northwest of Los Angeles and is able to serve both the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets.[ii]

The La Paloma Power Plant

La Paloma, an independent power plant constructed in 2003, was built by private developers at a cost of about $500 million and is the state’s eleventh largest plant. Its capital cost is completely paid and, even though it is 14 years into its operating life, its lifespan could last another 30 or 40 years. Unlike regulated utilities, it does not have retail customers and is dependent on contracts from utility companies. It gets its natural gas from a pipeline located nearby.

Between 2014 and 2016, La Paloma’s operating level dropped from about 78 percent of capacity to just 50 percent.

 

What is ironic is that the agency that operates the state’s power grid would rather have a new generating plant built, charging consumers for it rather than allow this merchant plant to operate. As IER’s study shows, operating an existing natural gas power plant is about half the cost of operating a new natural gas power plant.[iii]

La Paloma’s troubles began last year due to low market power prices, the lack of a guaranteed contract for its electricity and a new annual review by the grid operator of local electricity demand in ten state energy regions, including Los Angeles. The review was conducted with the premise that each region should be energy self-sufficient, supplied with electricity primarily from natural gas plants within the region to more reliably respond to sudden drops in electricity supply from solar, wind and other renewable sources. La Paloma fell outside the boundaries of all ten regions. The regional boundaries have been used to justify construction of seven new natural gas projects in Southern California to provide reliable power when renewable energy is not producing.

The California Independent System Operator wants a new power plant, the Puente power plant in Ventura County, to be constructed at a cost of about $250 million, which would be paid for by electricity customers. The Puente power project in Ventura County is being developed by Southern California Edison and will be built and owned by NRG Energy Inc. Edison customers would pay for the plant’s construction, regardless of how much the plant produces.

California regulators continue to approve more plants and increase electricity rates, even though California consumers are using less power. The building of new power plants and transmission lines is costing Californians $40 billion a year for electricity, $6.8 billion more than nine years ago, which is a reason why the state’s residential electricity prices are about 50 percent higher than the national average.

Conclusion

La Paloma is not the only power plant in California facing closure due to its policy promoting renewable energy. Pacific Gas and Electric’s Diablo Canyon plant is in a similar situation despite its solid operating experience. The result of California’s poorly designed energy policy is higher prices for its constituency, but that seems to be of little concern to state leaders.


[i] Los Angeles Times, A Central Valley power plant may close as the state pushes new building at customers’ expense, June 10, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-la-paloma-capacity-20170609-story.html

[ii] Kallanish Energy, California gas power plant La Paloma files for Chapter 11, December 12, 2016, http://www.kallanishenergy.com/2016/12/12/california-gas-power-plant-la-paloma-files-chapter-11/

[iii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

The post California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy appeared first on IER.

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/california-gas-fired-power-plant-files.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy

The La Paloma natural gas plant in California filed for bankruptcy last December because it was not getting enough operating time to cover its costs due to solar and other renewable energy receiving preference. The plant, which serves as back-up to the state’s renewable generating technologies, was also denied a reliability charge by the state that would have allowed it to continue to operate. The owners project an annual loss of $39 million without a reliability contract or other support. In its bankruptcy filing, the plant owners listed assets between $100 million and $500 million and liabilities of $500 million to $1 billion.[i]  La Paloma is a 1200-megawatt merchant plant located 110 miles northwest of Los Angeles and is able to serve both the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets.[ii]

The La Paloma Power Plant

La Paloma, an independent power plant constructed in 2003, was built by private developers at a cost of about $500 million and is the state’s eleventh largest plant. Its capital cost is completely paid and, even though it is 14 years into its operating life, its lifespan could last another 30 or 40 years. Unlike regulated utilities, it does not have retail customers and is dependent on contracts from utility companies. It gets its natural gas from a pipeline located nearby.

Between 2014 and 2016, La Paloma’s operating level dropped from about 78 percent of capacity to just 50 percent.

 

What is ironic is that the agency that operates the state’s power grid would rather have a new generating plant built, charging consumers for it rather than allow this merchant plant to operate. As IER’s study shows, operating an existing natural gas power plant is about half the cost of operating a new natural gas power plant.[iii]

La Paloma’s troubles began last year due to low market power prices, the lack of a guaranteed contract for its electricity and a new annual review by the grid operator of local electricity demand in ten state energy regions, including Los Angeles. The review was conducted with the premise that each region should be energy self-sufficient, supplied with electricity primarily from natural gas plants within the region to more reliably respond to sudden drops in electricity supply from solar, wind and other renewable sources. La Paloma fell outside the boundaries of all ten regions. The regional boundaries have been used to justify construction of seven new natural gas projects in Southern California to provide reliable power when renewable energy is not producing.

The California Independent System Operator wants a new power plant, the Puente power plant in Ventura County, to be constructed at a cost of about $250 million, which would be paid for by electricity customers. The Puente power project in Ventura County is being developed by Southern California Edison and will be built and owned by NRG Energy Inc. Edison customers would pay for the plant’s construction, regardless of how much the plant produces.

California regulators continue to approve more plants and increase electricity rates, even though California consumers are using less power. The building of new power plants and transmission lines is costing Californians $40 billion a year for electricity, $6.8 billion more than nine years ago, which is a reason why the state’s residential electricity prices are about 50 percent higher than the national average.

Conclusion

La Paloma is not the only power plant in California facing closure due to its policy promoting renewable energy. Pacific Gas and Electric’s Diablo Canyon plant is in a similar situation despite its solid operating experience. The result of California’s poorly designed energy policy is higher prices for its constituency, but that seems to be of little concern to state leaders.


[i] Los Angeles Times, A Central Valley power plant may close as the state pushes new building at customers’ expense, June 10, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-la-paloma-capacity-20170609-story.html

[ii] Kallanish Energy, California gas power plant La Paloma files for Chapter 11, December 12, 2016, http://www.kallanishenergy.com/2016/12/12/california-gas-power-plant-la-paloma-files-chapter-11/

[iii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

The post California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy appeared first on IER.

California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy

The La Paloma natural gas plant in California filed for bankruptcy last December because it was not getting enough operating time to cover its costs due to solar and other renewable energy receiving preference. The plant, which serves as back-up to the state’s renewable generating technologies, was also denied a reliability charge by the state that would have allowed it to continue to operate. The owners project an annual loss of $39 million without a reliability contract or other support. In its bankruptcy filing, the plant owners listed assets between $100 million and $500 million and liabilities of $500 million to $1 billion.[i]  La Paloma is a 1200-megawatt merchant plant located 110 miles northwest of Los Angeles and is able to serve both the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets.[ii]

The La Paloma Power Plant

La Paloma, an independent power plant constructed in 2003, was built by private developers at a cost of about $500 million and is the state’s eleventh largest plant. Its capital cost is completely paid and, even though it is 14 years into its operating life, its lifespan could last another 30 or 40 years. Unlike regulated utilities, it does not have retail customers and is dependent on contracts from utility companies. It gets its natural gas from a pipeline located nearby.

Between 2014 and 2016, La Paloma’s operating level dropped from about 78 percent of capacity to just 50 percent.

 

What is ironic is that the agency that operates the state’s power grid would rather have a new generating plant built, charging consumers for it rather than allow this merchant plant to operate. As IER’s study shows, operating an existing natural gas power plant is about half the cost of operating a new natural gas power plant.[iii]

La Paloma’s troubles began last year due to low market power prices, the lack of a guaranteed contract for its electricity and a new annual review by the grid operator of local electricity demand in ten state energy regions, including Los Angeles. The review was conducted with the premise that each region should be energy self-sufficient, supplied with electricity primarily from natural gas plants within the region to more reliably respond to sudden drops in electricity supply from solar, wind and other renewable sources. La Paloma fell outside the boundaries of all ten regions. The regional boundaries have been used to justify construction of seven new natural gas projects in Southern California to provide reliable power when renewable energy is not producing.

The California Independent System Operator wants a new power plant, the Puente power plant in Ventura County, to be constructed at a cost of about $250 million, which would be paid for by electricity customers. The Puente power project in Ventura County is being developed by Southern California Edison and will be built and owned by NRG Energy Inc. Edison customers would pay for the plant’s construction, regardless of how much the plant produces.

California regulators continue to approve more plants and increase electricity rates, even though California consumers are using less power. The building of new power plants and transmission lines is costing Californians $40 billion a year for electricity, $6.8 billion more than nine years ago, which is a reason why the state’s residential electricity prices are about 50 percent higher than the national average.

Conclusion

La Paloma is not the only power plant in California facing closure due to its policy promoting renewable energy. Pacific Gas and Electric’s Diablo Canyon plant is in a similar situation despite its solid operating experience. The result of California’s poorly designed energy policy is higher prices for its constituency, but that seems to be of little concern to state leaders.


[i] Los Angeles Times, A Central Valley power plant may close as the state pushes new building at customers’ expense, June 10, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-la-paloma-capacity-20170609-story.html

[ii] Kallanish Energy, California gas power plant La Paloma files for Chapter 11, December 12, 2016, http://www.kallanishenergy.com/2016/12/12/california-gas-power-plant-la-paloma-files-chapter-11/

[iii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

The post California Gas-Fired Power Plant Files for Bankruptcy appeared first on IER.

Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis?

Solar panel waste will become a major issue in the coming decades as old solar panels reach the ends of their useful lifespans and require disposal. Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a warning that the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces each year is likely to increase from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the country has no plan for safely disposing of it.[i] China has more solar power plants than any other country, operating roughly twice as many solar panels as the United States and also has no plan for the disposal of the old panels. In China, there could be 20 million metric tons of solar panel waste, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, by 2050.[ii] California, another world leader in deploying solar panels, likewise has no plan for disposal, despite its boasts of environmental consciousness. Only Europe requires solar panel manufacturers to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their useful lives.[iii]

Environmental Issues with Solar Panels

Solar panels are manufactured using hazardous materials, such as sulfuric acid and phosphine gas, which make them difficult to recycle. They cannot be stored in landfills without protections against contamination. They contain toxic metals like lead, which can damage the nervous system, as well as chromium and cadmium, known carcinogens that can leak out of existing e-waste dumps into drinking water supplies.

A study published last December determined that the net impact of using solar panels actually temporarily increases carbon dioxide emissions, because of the amount of energy needed in the construction process. But, because newer solar panels have a smaller adverse environmental impact than older models and as their time of operation increases to mitigate the construction effects, some scientists believe the solar industry could develop a net positive environmental impact by 2018.[iv]

According to federal data, however, building solar panels significantly increases emissions of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is 17,200 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 100-year time period.[v] NF3 emissions increased by 1,057 percent over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only increased by about 5 percent during that time period.

Regardless, the waste disposal issues regarding solar panels are enormous. According to an analysis by Environmental Progress, solar panels create about 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants. For example, if solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach 52 meters (the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), while the solar waste would reach 16 kilometers (the height of two Mt. Everests).

Further, while nuclear units can easily operate 50 or 60 years, solar panels have relatively short operational lifespans (20 to 30 years), so their disposal will become a problem in the next few decades. While nuclear waste is contained in heavy drums and regularly monitored, very little has been done to deal with solar waste. Solar waste outside of Europe tends to end up in a large stream of electronic waste.

 

A report determined that it would take 19 years to recycle all of the solar waste that Japan is expected to produce by 2020. By 2034, the annual waste production will be 70 to 80 times larger than that of 2020. (See graph below.) The projected annual peak of 810,000 tons of solar waste in Japan is equivalent to 40.5 million panels. To dispose of that amount of solar waste in a year would mean getting rid of over 110,000 panels per day.[vi]

 

Conclusion

Solar photovoltaic energy is not as environmentally conscious as many think it is. Besides being an intermittent source of energy and more expensive than traditional technologies[vii], it has serious waste disposal issues that few countries are tackling. The hazardous materials used in their construction are not easy to recycle and can contaminate drinking water if solely discarded with other electronic waste.


[i] Environmental Progress, Are We Headed For a Solar Waste Crisis?, June 21, 2017, http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/6/21/are-we-headed-for-a-solar-waste-crisis

[ii] Daily Caller, Old Solar Panels Causing An Environmental Crisis In China, August 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/01/old-solar-panels-causing-an-environmental-crisis-in-china/

[iii] Solar Waste/ European WEEE Directive, http://www.solarwaste.eu/faq/

[iv] Daily Caller, Solar Power Actually Made Global Warming Worse, Says New Study, December 7, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/07/solar-power-actually-made-global-warming-worse-says-new-study/

[v] Daily Caller, Solar Panels Increased Emissions Of A Gas 17,200 Times More Potent Than CO2, March 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/01/solar-panels-increased-emissions-of-a-gas-17200-times-more-potent-than-co2/

[vi] Nikkei Asian Review, Japan tries to chip away at mountain of disused solar panels, November 8, 2016, https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japan-tries-to-chip-away-at-mountain-of-disused-solar-panels?page=1

[vii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

 

The post Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis? appeared first on IER.

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/will-solar-power-be-at-fault-for-next.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis?

Solar panel waste will become a major issue in the coming decades as old solar panels reach the ends of their useful lifespans and require disposal. Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a warning that the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces each year is likely to increase from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the country has no plan for safely disposing of it.[i] China has more solar power plants than any other country, operating roughly twice as many solar panels as the United States and also has no plan for the disposal of the old panels. In China, there could be 20 million metric tons of solar panel waste, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, by 2050.[ii] California, another world leader in deploying solar panels, likewise has no plan for disposal, despite its boasts of environmental consciousness. Only Europe requires solar panel manufacturers to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their useful lives.[iii]

Environmental Issues with Solar Panels

Solar panels are manufactured using hazardous materials, such as sulfuric acid and phosphine gas, which make them difficult to recycle. They cannot be stored in landfills without protections against contamination. They contain toxic metals like lead, which can damage the nervous system, as well as chromium and cadmium, known carcinogens that can leak out of existing e-waste dumps into drinking water supplies.

A study published last December determined that the net impact of using solar panels actually temporarily increases carbon dioxide emissions, because of the amount of energy needed in the construction process. But, because newer solar panels have a smaller adverse environmental impact than older models and as their time of operation increases to mitigate the construction effects, some scientists believe the solar industry could develop a net positive environmental impact by 2018.[iv]

According to federal data, however, building solar panels significantly increases emissions of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is 17,200 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 100-year time period.[v] NF3 emissions increased by 1,057 percent over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only increased by about 5 percent during that time period.

Regardless, the waste disposal issues regarding solar panels are enormous. According to an analysis by Environmental Progress, solar panels create about 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants. For example, if solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach 52 meters (the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), while the solar waste would reach 16 kilometers (the height of two Mt. Everests).

Further, while nuclear units can easily operate 50 or 60 years, solar panels have relatively short operational lifespans (20 to 30 years), so their disposal will become a problem in the next few decades. While nuclear waste is contained in heavy drums and regularly monitored, very little has been done to deal with solar waste. Solar waste outside of Europe tends to end up in a large stream of electronic waste.

 

A report determined that it would take 19 years to recycle all of the solar waste that Japan is expected to produce by 2020. By 2034, the annual waste production will be 70 to 80 times larger than that of 2020. (See graph below.) The projected annual peak of 810,000 tons of solar waste in Japan is equivalent to 40.5 million panels. To dispose of that amount of solar waste in a year would mean getting rid of over 110,000 panels per day.[vi]

 

Conclusion

Solar photovoltaic energy is not as environmentally conscious as many think it is. Besides being an intermittent source of energy and more expensive than traditional technologies[vii], it has serious waste disposal issues that few countries are tackling. The hazardous materials used in their construction are not easy to recycle and can contaminate drinking water if solely discarded with other electronic waste.


[i] Environmental Progress, Are We Headed For a Solar Waste Crisis?, June 21, 2017, http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/6/21/are-we-headed-for-a-solar-waste-crisis

[ii] Daily Caller, Old Solar Panels Causing An Environmental Crisis In China, August 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/01/old-solar-panels-causing-an-environmental-crisis-in-china/

[iii] Solar Waste/ European WEEE Directive, http://www.solarwaste.eu/faq/

[iv] Daily Caller, Solar Power Actually Made Global Warming Worse, Says New Study, December 7, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/07/solar-power-actually-made-global-warming-worse-says-new-study/

[v] Daily Caller, Solar Panels Increased Emissions Of A Gas 17,200 Times More Potent Than CO2, March 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/01/solar-panels-increased-emissions-of-a-gas-17200-times-more-potent-than-co2/

[vi] Nikkei Asian Review, Japan tries to chip away at mountain of disused solar panels, November 8, 2016, https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japan-tries-to-chip-away-at-mountain-of-disused-solar-panels?page=1

[vii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

 

The post Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis? appeared first on IER.

Will Solar Power Be at Fault for the Next Environmental Crisis?

Solar panel waste will become a major issue in the coming decades as old solar panels reach the ends of their useful lifespans and require disposal. Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a warning that the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces each year is likely to increase from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the country has no plan for safely disposing of it.[i] China has more solar power plants than any other country, operating roughly twice as many solar panels as the United States and also has no plan for the disposal of the old panels. In China, there could be 20 million metric tons of solar panel waste, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, by 2050.[ii] California, another world leader in deploying solar panels, likewise has no plan for disposal, despite its boasts of environmental consciousness. Only Europe requires solar panel manufacturers to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their useful lives.[iii]

Environmental Issues with Solar Panels

Solar panels are manufactured using hazardous materials, such as sulfuric acid and phosphine gas, which make them difficult to recycle. They cannot be stored in landfills without protections against contamination. They contain toxic metals like lead, which can damage the nervous system, as well as chromium and cadmium, known carcinogens that can leak out of existing e-waste dumps into drinking water supplies.

A study published last December determined that the net impact of using solar panels actually temporarily increases carbon dioxide emissions, because of the amount of energy needed in the construction process. But, because newer solar panels have a smaller adverse environmental impact than older models and as their time of operation increases to mitigate the construction effects, some scientists believe the solar industry could develop a net positive environmental impact by 2018.[iv]

According to federal data, however, building solar panels significantly increases emissions of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is 17,200 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 100-year time period.[v] NF3 emissions increased by 1,057 percent over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only increased by about 5 percent during that time period.

Regardless, the waste disposal issues regarding solar panels are enormous. According to an analysis by Environmental Progress, solar panels create about 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants. For example, if solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach 52 meters (the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), while the solar waste would reach 16 kilometers (the height of two Mt. Everests).

Further, while nuclear units can easily operate 50 or 60 years, solar panels have relatively short operational lifespans (20 to 30 years), so their disposal will become a problem in the next few decades. While nuclear waste is contained in heavy drums and regularly monitored, very little has been done to deal with solar waste. Solar waste outside of Europe tends to end up in a large stream of electronic waste.

 

A report determined that it would take 19 years to recycle all of the solar waste that Japan is expected to produce by 2020. By 2034, the annual waste production will be 70 to 80 times larger than that of 2020. (See graph below.) The projected annual peak of 810,000 tons of solar waste in Japan is equivalent to 40.5 million panels. To dispose of that amount of solar waste in a year would mean getting rid of over 110,000 panels per day.[vi]

 

Conclusion

Solar photovoltaic energy is not as environmentally conscious as many think it is. Besides being an intermittent source of energy and more expensive than traditional technologies[vii], it has serious waste disposal issues that few countries are tackling. The hazardous materials used in their construction are not easy to recycle and can contaminate drinking water if solely discarded with other electronic waste.


[i] Environmental Progress, Are We Headed For a Solar Waste Crisis?, June 21, 2017, http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/6/21/are-we-headed-for-a-solar-waste-crisis

[ii] Daily Caller, Old Solar Panels Causing An Environmental Crisis In China, August 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/01/old-solar-panels-causing-an-environmental-crisis-in-china/

[iii] Solar Waste/ European WEEE Directive, http://www.solarwaste.eu/faq/

[iv] Daily Caller, Solar Power Actually Made Global Warming Worse, Says New Study, December 7, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/07/solar-power-actually-made-global-warming-worse-says-new-study/

[v] Daily Caller, Solar Panels Increased Emissions Of A Gas 17,200 Times More Potent Than CO2, March 1, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/01/solar-panels-increased-emissions-of-a-gas-17200-times-more-potent-than-co2/

[vi] Nikkei Asian Review, Japan tries to chip away at mountain of disused solar panels, November 8, 2016, https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japan-tries-to-chip-away-at-mountain-of-disused-solar-panels?page=1

[vii] Institute for Energy Research, The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources, July 2016, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IER_LCOE_2016-2.pdf

 

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