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Well, we don’t like to say “I told you so,” but we’re going to go ahead and do it anyway. Like windmills and electric cars, solar panels are also harming the planet, according to shocking new data. Not only that, but China, which is making a fortune producing these death panels, is by far the worst offender.
People say that solar panels produce no carbon emissions, but they do. And now, major new research from Environmental Progress, based on research from @enricomariutti finds that solar panels made in China produce at least 3 times more carbon emissions than the IPCC claims. pic.twitter.com/y4a2dvgyZj
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) July 24, 2023
Last August, in a fusion of “The Green New Deal” meets “Build Back Better,” President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act gifted the renewables industry with billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies.
What few supported the bill was that the biggest beneficiary would likely be China because of its expanding control over the global solar photovoltaic (PV) industry. Worse, it could end up misdirecting the world’s clean energy efforts toward dirtier-than-appreciated energy technologies because of the country’s continued reliance on coal power.
The information uncovered by Environmental Progress, a non-profit research organization, points to an open oversight of how figures influencing government net-zero policy and solar investments around the world are compiled and collected because of the difficulty of gathering accurate information outside of China, particularly for the purification processes used to create silicon wafers.
The key to this blind spot is that a small number of data compilers provide the source material for most assessments. And many, if not all, work in collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA). Industry voluntarily submits data in response to academic surveys. The nature and profile of respondents are never publicly disclosed, so there is a potential for conflicts of interest to develop.
Another puzzle is how this data feeds into an organization called Ecoinvent, a Swiss-based nonprofit founded in 1998 that calls itself “the world’s most consistent and transparent life-cycle inventory database.” Institutions around the world, including the IPCC and the IEA itself, rely on this data to calculate their carbon footprint projections, including the sixth assessment report recently published in March 2023.
Based on these data, the IPCC states that solar photovoltaic is 48 gCO2/kWh. But, as we’ll see below, new research initiated by Italian researcher Enrico Mariutti suggests that the figure 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 about 50 gCO2/kWh with carbon capture and 400 to 500 without.
As with all “science” these days, everything is manipulated to serve a political agenda, and this case is no different. The public substack keep on:
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 renewable energy, does not have China’s data on its PV industry. Meanwhile, the ultimate source of the IEA’s supposedly public data on PV carbon intensity is confidential and therefore the data is not verifiable.
Much of the cradle-to-grave carbon-intensity data that governments rely on to guide solar arrays is based on modeling assumptions that are likely to have greatly underestimated, if not offset, solar carbon emissions because they can’t get information from Chinese manufacturers.
In its most recent report, the IEA predicts that China will continue to dominate solar power production, delivering more than 50 percent of solar PV projects worldwide by 2024. This trajectory is particularly worrying given that China already dominates the majority of solar panel production.
The IEA noted that by 2022 China’s manufacturing capacity for wafers, cells and modules increased by 40 to 50 percent and almost doubled for silicon. In fact, according to market intelligence firm Bernreuter Research, by 2021 China produced more than 80 percent of global solar-grade polysilicon, a critical input to solar arrays. It doesn’t stop there; China manufactures 97 percent of the world’s supply of solar wafers, another essential component.
How China amassed such market concentration remains an inconvenient truth, one that purveyors of net zero policies have all too easily swept aside.
An Italian researcher in Rome didn’t believe the data was moving, so he decided to conduct his own investigation. In doing so, he got to the bottom of this mystery and published his shocking findings, which, as you can imagine, ruffled many feathers. Here you have more things from the Substack:
The China-sized black hole at the heart of the world’s solar data might seem obvious, in the context of the industry.
That didn’t make it easy for Enrico Mariutti, an introspective but compulsive 37-year-old Italian from Rome, to convince others in the camp that there might be a problem. It was Mariutti who first made substantial efforts to flag data discrepancies.
Like Greta Thunberg, Mariutti goes down in history as an environmental obsessive passionate about facilitating the world’s transition from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy. Unlike Greta, Mariutti finished school and knows how to analyze a set of data. He has a degree in geopolitics and global security, which, while unrelated to the field, has equipped him with enough quantitative skills to ensure he can tell the difference between good and bad data.
Mariutti first noticed something was wrong with the PV assessments about two years ago. He was preparing for an online debate on renewables with Nicola Armaroli, director of research at the Italian Research Council. But like a data junkie, he decided to pour over the source material to try and figure out why. What he discovered baffled him. The data was not reconciled.
“They [the data] showed the amount of solar photovoltaic systems used in terms of raw materials: silicon, aluminum, copper, glass, steel and silver. Then I saw the carbon footprint. It looked too small,” he told Environmental Progress.
According to their findings, the carbon intensity of solar panels made in China and installed in European countries such as Italy was reduced by an order of magnitude. An initial back calculation put it at 170-250g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour (kWh), as opposed to the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimate of 20-40g per kWh. Far away.
The extent of the IPCC’s undercounting shocks was once applied to the EU’s “clean” energy plans. Following Mariutti’s math, the esteemed scientific body underestimates emissions from EU solar installations built in 2022 alone by between 5.4 and 7.6 million metric tons, equivalent to adding 3.4 to 4.8 million cars to the road.
Mariska de Wild-Scholten, a Dutch renewables expert and “net-zero” fanatic, basically ignored the actual findings and claimed that when the electricity consumption of silicon purification used to make wafers was determined, she rarely read scientific papers “because of low data quality, outdated data, and non-transparent data.” He mentioned little about his own preferred sources, other than that they are based on surveys. Well, this is worrying…
Alarmed by this lack of attention to real data, Mariutti had some serious questions. The public substack goes on:
Mariutti asked what he thought about 192 countries deciding their long-term energy strategy based on data that at the time reasonably underestimated the average carbon intensity of PV by an order of magnitude (40 vs. 250 gCO2/kWh). His answer invited more questions than answers. “My experience is that no one would like to pay for the data aggregation that is needed to provide free, publicly available updates,” he said, adding that he was working to update public data “but only slowly.” Little or no indication was given of the source of his own data.
But, she said, she was happy to share the data she used to inform the 2020 IEA study, attaching it to the email, because it was now “out of date”. It relied on confidential data from individual companies, he said, but did not specify the regional profile of those companies or any other aspect of their identity. He had kept it private only because he had failed to finance the studies.
In February 2023, Mariutti decided to self-publish his findings on his own website in a piece titled “The Dirty Secret of the Solar Industry.” The piece made a bold claim: scientists were falsely using European data to model the carbon intensity of Chinese solar manufacturing. Was the goal here, he asked, to measure the carbon footprint of solar power or simply to convince us that it’s green?
It’s all about looking “green” and convincing everyone to buy into the scam that we’re “saving the planet,” when in reality, we’re not. All we are really doing is allowing the elites to profit from a whole new and lucrative industry. This way they can line their pockets and buy more politicians to maintain total control and power.