Holy smoke and mirrors: Solar panels THREE TIMES more carbon intensive than natgas?

(AP Photo/ Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

Talk about being sold a bill of duds.

Michael Shellenberger (that wonderful, courageous man) had a serious of tweets this afternoon and I could not believe my eyes.


The report from Environmental Progress points out a fatal flaw in the solar panel data all of this frenzied switch to renewables is based on: it’s either industry sourced, not independantly verified, OR…it just flat out DOESN’T EXIST

…Information unearthed by Environmental Progress points to a gaping oversight in how the figures influencing government net zero policy and investments in solar worldwide are compiled and collated due to the difficulty of collecting accurate information out of China, especially for the purification processes used to create silicon wafers.

Key to this blind spot is that the source material for most of the assessments is provided by a small number of data compilers, many if not all of them working in collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA). The data is voluntarily submitted by the industry in response to academic surveys. The nature and profile of the respondents is never publicy revealed, so that there is the potential for conflicts of interest to develop.

A further puzzle is how that data feeds into an organization called Ecoinvent, a Swiss-based non-profit founded in 1998 that dubs itself “the world’s most consistent and transparent life cycle inventory database”. This data is relied on by institutions worldwide, including the IPCC and IEA itself, to calculate their carbon footprint projections, including the sixth assessment report published as recently as March 2023.

Based on such data, the IPCC claims solar PV is 48 gCO2/kWh. But, as we’ll see below, a new investigation started by Italian researcher, Enrico Mariutti, suggests that the number is closer to between 170 and 250 gCO2/kWh, depending on the energy mix used to power PV production. If this estimate is accurate, solar would not compare favorably with natural gas, which is around 50 gCO2/kWh with carbon capture, and 400 to 500 without.

Over the course of a four-month investigation, Environmental Progress has confirmed that Ecoinvent — perhaps the world’s largest database on the environmental impact of renewables — has no data from China about its photovoltaic industry. Meanwhile, the ultimate source of the IEA’s supposedly public data on PV carbon intensity is confidential and the data, therefore, unverifiable.


So wait a minute here. Chinese manufactured solar panels have taken over the field and we are still told that solar is much cleaner – even with the obvious drawbacks and limitations I’ve gone over here a million times – that any natural gas powered electricity source. AND THERE IS NO CHINESE DATA IN THE SYSTEM

I think we all know how the Chinese came to be at the forefront of solar panel manufacturing – the same way they’ve done everything else. They don’t have an innovative bone in their collective billion bodies, but what they do have is conniving. Plus cheap labor, no environmental strictures, and enterprise once they steal what they need to make something. And that’s exactly what happened with the solar industry. There were once German leaders in solar technology who are long out of business because of the Chinese filching their designs.

The fact that these were all Western technologies worked in the favor of the Chinese, too, as far as general acceptance without question concerning the “green” bono-fides for their products.

…But the majority of experts consulted by Environmental Progress agree that China’s competitive advantage did not lie in an innovative new technological process, but rather in the very same factors the country has always used to outcompete the West: cheap coal-fired energy, mass government subsidies for strategic industries, and human labor operating in poor working conditions.

Basic reasoning suggests the manufacturing shift must have added to solar’s carbon intensity. But as Environmental Progress has learned, nobody in the carbon counting world has seen fit to research by how much. The modelers are estimating the carbon emissions of solar production as if the panels are still made mostly in the West, grossly underestimating their carbon intensity, even as governments rush to draft and implement net zero policy based around the very same flawed data.


That’s gobsmacking, but – then again – no, it isn’t. The climate cultists would be sure not to ask, you can lay money on that. Plausible deniability. They’ve got everyone marching in the parade and the money is flowing like wine – why mess it up asking questions?

…That didn’t make it any easier for Enrico Mariutti, an introspective but compulsive 37-year-old Italian from Rome, to convince others in the field there might be a problem. It was Mariutti who first made substantial efforts to flag the data discrepancies.

…Mariutti first noticed something wasn’t quite right with photovoltaic assessments about two years ago. He was preparing for an online renewables debate with Nicola Armaroli, a research director at the Italian Research Council. But being a data junkie, he decided to pour over the source material to try and figure out why. What he discovered unnerved him. The data didn’t reconcile.

“They [the data] showed how much solar photovoltaic systems used in terms of raw materials: silicon, aluminum, copper, glass, steel, and silver. Then I saw the carbon footprint. It just seemed way too small,” he told Environmental Progress.

His quick calculations came to those initial figures above, where the solar panels are 3 times as carbon intensive as nat gas.

…The scale of the IPCC’s undercount shocks once applied to the EU’s “clean” energy plans. Following Mariutti’s math, the esteemed scientific body underestimates the emissions from the EU’s solar installations built in 2022 alone by 5.4 to 7.6 million metric tons, equivalent to adding 3.4 to 4.8 million cars to the road.

By 2020, Mariutti felt compelled to make his findings public. He managed to publish an op-ed in Italy’s premier financial newspaper Il Sole. The piece argued it was wrong to describe an energy transition that depended on mineral-hungry tech, which “could double the exploitation of the earth’s resources within a few decades,” as a green revolution. It was a hit and went viral across Italian social media.


That op-ed is here, with a selection below. Even allowing for the Google translation, it is so refreshingly straight-forward, it’s awesome. Feast your eyes and recoil in horror at the same time.

…Solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric cars are technological devices made of concrete, plastic, steel, titanium, copper, silver, cobalt, lithium and dozens of other minerals.

A commentary published in Nature Geoscience a few years ago estimates that, just to convert a seventh of world primary energy production (25,000 TWh), it might be necessary to triple the production of concrete (from just over 10 billion tons a year to almost 35), quintuple that of steel (from just under two billion tons to just over 10) and multiply that of glass, aluminum and copper several times. And we are talking about converting not even 15% of the world’s energy needs to renewable energy.

Not only that, a technical aspect must also be considered: the “golden vein” exists only in comics. To give an example, on average copper is present in a copper deposit with a concentration of about 0.6%. This means that to extract a ton of metal, more than 150 tons of rock must be crushed. South Africa’s large gold mines grind 5-6,000 tonnes of rock a day to extract less than 20 tonnes of precious metal a year.

But that’s not enough. How is aluminum produced? Well, with a process that consumes a lot of energy: in fact, about 30,000 kWh (between thermal and electrical energy) are needed to produce a ton of aluminium. And iron and steel is also an energy-intensive activity: the production of one ton of steel requires between 800 and 5,000 kWh equivalent.

So, just to produce the steel needed to build enough panels and wind turbines to generate 25,000 TWh a year of renewable energy, we may need 7,000-40,000 TWh a year more of fossil energy.


Here’s to more scientists in the truest measure of the word stepping forward.

There’s a lot more technical information in the Environmental Progress report – they go into tremendous detail on the mendacity – but you get the drift.

Smoke and expensive mirrors the whole way down.

For this we’re being forced to give up our standard of living on every front.

They are out of their minds. No wonder they want censorship authority.

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