Why renewables can’t save the planet | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxDanubia

Translator: Rubik Cheng Reviewer: Amanda Chu thank you all When i was young My parents often take me to camp in California There are various places such as beaches, forests or deserts Some people say there is no life in the desert But my parents want me to observe the wild animals that surround them: Falcon, eagle or tortoise, etc. Once we were camping A baby scorpion was found showing its sting Right now I thought to myself, it's so cool How could there be such a cute but dangerous thing After graduating from university, I moved to California Embark on some environmental-related activity plans Participated in the rescue of the last redwood forest in the United States And prevent the setting up of storage areas for radioactive waste in the desert Shortly after turning 30 I decided to end my life To solve the problem of climate change I am worried about global warming Will eventually destroy the various natural environments that people are trying to protect To solve this problem, I think it’s very simple technically Installation of solar panels on all roofs, the spread of electric vehicles, etc.

The biggest problem is in policy Therefore, I assisted the nation’s largest labor union and the largest environmental protection group to jointly organize a coalition Our proposal is a $300 billion renewable energy investment plan The idea is not just to prevent climate change And can be in a fast-developing high-tech field Create millions of jobs In 2007, our efforts paid off The then presidential candidate Barack Obama accepted our vision Between 2009 and 2015 The U.S. has invested $150 billion in clean energy technologies such as renewable energy But at the beginning, we encountered some problems First, the electricity cost of rooftop solar panels is twice that of solar power plants.

And solar and wind power plants Both require a huge area of ​​land to install solar panels and wind turbines And build a huge power transmission system In order to send electricity from the village to the city These things are often affected by the local community And the strong resistance of conservation biologists They worry that wild birds and other animals will be persecuted At that time, many people worked hard to solve this problem in terms of technology One big challenge is the intermittent nature of solar and wind power They only generate electricity 10% to 30% of the year But there are still some proposals Like treating the dam as a huge battery It means when the sun is exposed, when the wind is blowing The motor will pump the water to a high place for storage When you need electricity, the water is sent to the turbine generator set When it comes to wildlife issues, it seems less worrying Domestic cats kill billions of birds every year Compared to only hundreds of thousands of birds died due to wind turbines At this moment i was thinking In large-scale solar and wind power generation Most of those problems can be solved with advanced technology in the future But years passed These problems still exist and are getting worse California is very committed to the development of renewable energy But in the plan to transform the dam into a large battery Not many completed Some are just geographical problems The dam must have qualified terrain to be modified Even if it can meet the conditions Still need a lot of funds to realize Not to mention there are other issues like water demand for irrigation etc.

Perhaps the most serious problem is California rivers and reservoirs Because of climate change, it is becoming scarce and unstable In order to prevent stability from affecting the overall power generation system We must stop the electricity produced by the solar power plant from being sent to the city Because there are too many now Or spend money to ask neighboring states such as Arizona to consume our excess solar power Otherwise, the grid will be overloaded and power supply will not be possible Speaking of birds and domestic cats Cats don’t hurt eagles, but eagles kill cats The cat kills the small and common sparrows, jays and robins These birds are unlikely to become extinct Eagles and large birds Such as toothed eagles, owls and bald eagles and other threatened and endangered species The birds killed by wind turbines Fans are one of the biggest threats to these large birds Before installing wind turbines in recent years We have never put so many things in the sky And speaking of solar Building a solar power plant is like building a farm A large area must be freed up to clear away the wild animals This is one of the largest solar power plants in California.

The photo captured is only 1/3 of it ── Ivanpah Solar Power Plant In order to build this power plant They must clean up the desert tortoises from the entire area Drag desert tortoises and baby tortoises directly out of the cave Put it in the truck and transport it to the captivity Many died there It is recently estimated that about 6000 birds are killed every year They caught fire above the solar power plant Fall to the ground and die Over time, I gradually realized Any technological development It’s impossible to keep the sun shining steadily and let the wind blow continuously You can only make solar panels cheaper You can only make the fan bigger And sunlight and wind are so inefficient And in order to produce enough electricity You have to use a large area of ​​land In other words, the main problem of renewable energy is not technical Is in the natural environment To deal with these unstable problems And the huge impact of these environments Obviously, there is a big economic price We have heard too much in recent years News of falling prices of solar panels and wind turbines But to integrate all unstable power generation systems into the grid The cost is still considerable It can be seen from the situation in California At a time when the prices of solar panels and wind turbines have fallen sharply What we are seeing is that the increase in electricity tariffs is 5 times higher than in other parts of the country.

This is not a problem that we only have You can see that the same situation happened in Germany Germany is the world leader in solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies After vigorously promoting renewable energy, their electricity prices have risen by 50% You might think, fight against climate change We have to spend more on energy I used to think so too But look at the French example In terms of clean zero-emission power generation France is twice as large as Germany But the electricity price is almost half that of Germany How is this done? You may have guessed the answer 75% of electricity in France comes from nuclear power Nuclear energy is much more reliable than renewable energy And generating electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 90% of the year in operation We see this phenomenon happening all over the world for example There is a natural experiment method for more than 40 years Compare the use of nuclear energy and solar energy Shows that solar and wind power are slightly more expensive than nuclear power The power generation is only half of nuclear power This means how should we go on? I think the most significant discoveries so far are: If Germany had spent US$580 billion in the development of nuclear energy instead of renewable energy Now they have 100% electricity and all transportation energy Will be clean energy You may ask a very reasonable question: Is nuclear energy safe? How do you deal with nuclear waste? These are very reasonable questions Here is the result of more than 40 years of scientific research The most recent study It was conducted by the authoritative British medical journal "Lancet" They found that nuclear energy is the safest It's not difficult to understand The World Health Organization says Approximately 7 million people die from air pollution a year Nuclear energy does not cause air pollution Climate scientist James Hansen calculated So far, nuclear energy has saved nearly two million lives Even wind power is more deadly than nuclear power In this photo are two maintenance workers in the Netherlands Not long after the photo was taken, one of them fell to his death in order to avoid the fire The other was engulfed by fire What about the environmental impact? I think there is a very simple way to understand Uranium is the source of energy for nuclear power plants Its energy density is very high Uranium the size of this magic cube Can generate all the energy you need in your life The conclusion is that large amounts of electricity do not require such a large area of ​​land You can take the Ivanpah Solar Power Plant I just mentioned Compared with the last nuclear power plant in California, the Diabro Canyon Power Plant In order to produce the same electricity Solar power plants cost 450 times more land area than nuclear power plants You need to add 17 solar power plants like Ivanpah The power generation will be the same as the Deyabro Canyon Nuclear Power Plant In addition, solar energy will reduce the reliability of power generation What if you look at it from the perspective of raw material collection, waste, and material throughput? This has also been fully studied The results are Solar panels require 17 times more materials than nuclear power plants These materials include cement, glass, concrete, metal All fuel needed for nuclear power plants are also included In the end, after the entire power generation process Not much waste produced by nuclear power This room can hold all the waste produced by the Swiss nuclear power project Nuclear waste is the only waste of nuclear power generation It is stored safely without additional social cost Electricity generated by other methods The waste discharged has entered the nature These may be pollutants or solid waste We think solar power is very clean But the truth is that we don’t have any plans To dispose of discarded solar panels 20 or 25 years later Many experts are very worried that solar panels will be combined with electronic product waste Were shipped to poor African or Asian countries for dismantling The staff will be exposed to a large number of hazardous and toxic elements Contains lead, cadmium and chromium Because they are elements, the toxicity will never degrade I think we all know in our hearts Nuclear energy is really a very powerful energy source The sunlight is scattered and weak This is why we need to have such a large area To collect sunlight and wind In the recent new version of "Blade Runner" science fiction film The beginning is a gloomy post-apocalyptic scene California's desert is completely covered by solar panels No one will be surprised by this scene I think all of this makes us want to ask a disturbing question: In order to save the climate, shall we destroy the environment? What’s interesting is that in the past few hundred years Humans are actually trying to eliminate so-called high-density fuels While shifting to high energy density fuel For example, the conversion from wood and animal manure to coal, oil, natural gas, uranium This is a phenomenon since ancient times Some poor countries are now gradually phasing out wood and dry manure fuel Generally speaking, this is a good thing When you stop using wood as a fuel source The forest has the opportunity to re-grow wild animals to return to nature When you stop burning wood at home You don’t need to breathe in these toxic gases When you start to use coal, oil, natural gas and uranium as the main sources of energy The potential opportunity to completely eliminate air pollution will appear There is a problem with nuclear energy Most people readily accept the conversion from polluting energy to clean energy And convert from low energy density to high energy density energy Nuclear energy is very unpopular due to many historical factors As a result, many people and I may have said "In order to solve climate change All kinds of clean energy must come in handy.

" The problem is that this is not correct remember? I mentioned France earlier France uses nuclear energy to get most of its electricity If France increases the scale of solar and wind power They must drastically reduce nuclear power generation The reason is that in order to allow the grid to cope with the variable solar and wind power generation They need to use more natural gas You have to think like this: The power output of nuclear power plants is difficult to control flexibly at any time But the management of the grid is like controlling the size of the gas stove Can switch and adjust at any time Of course the oil and gas companies understand this We have all seen them investing millions of dollars in recent years to promote solar and wind power This brings up another challenging question: Where a lot of nuclear energy is used Nuclear and hydroelectric power generation provides half of the electricity grid If it develops into other renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power, In fact will increase carbon emissions I think the best way is to tell the truth This is what many scientists are doing I mentioned earlier Hundreds of thousands of birds die every year due to wind turbines What I did not mention is that at least a million bats are killed by fans every year Many bat researchers have proposed such results Especially this gray shaggy bat It is a migratory bat Because those wind turbines that are constantly expanding Is facing the crisis of extinction Not only wind power, but also solar power Those scientists who participated in the construction of the Ivanpah Solar Power Plant And the people who performed the initial site preparation stepped forward Some of them wrote: "Everyone knows it’s impossible to find a new home for the desert tortoise When you walk in front of the bulldozer While crying and clearing the animals and cacti It is difficult for you to agree with this plan.

" And now we can see these phenomena all over the world In my hometown california We bury a lot of natural gas on the side of the mountain To compensate for unstable solar and wind power But there was an air leak The leaked natural gas is equivalent to the exhaust gas emitted by 500,000 cars during their lifetime Recently in Germany Some protesters tried to thwart the new coal mining plan This will destroy the ancient forest of Hambach Just to get more coal All this is for the abolition of nuclear power and the expansion of solar and wind power generation The good news is People still care about our natural environment and value these phenomena Last year in South Korea In order to weigh the importance of these different issues, the citizen jury Deliberated for several months They must decide whether to abolish nuclear Still have to continue to use and expand the scale At first, 40% of them supported the expansion of nuclear energy After a few months of consideration and evaluation In the final voting result, supporters accounted for 60% of the votes Just last week, the same phenomenon occurred in Arizona Voters hold a referendum To decide whether to continue using nuclear energy Or replace nuclear energy with natural gas and solar energy As a result, he refused to reject nuclear and won 70 to 30.

And in Europe, we see that the Netherlands is one of the first countries to act They announced last week Start to increase the proportion of nuclear power generation Because they realize that they can’t get enough energy from solar and wind To achieve the promised carbon reduction target When we are more and more concerned about environmental issues such as climate change I want to use renewable energy to make human civilization and the natural environment coexist harmoniously Solving problems in this romantic way is a natural tendency But I think the facts are here Many people began to question past beliefs and changed their minds For me, the problem now is Now that we know that renewable energy can’t save the planet Do we still continue to destroy her like this? Thank you (applause)

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