Monday, November 14, 2011

Shale Gas and Solar


Thanks, I read both. I like Brooks well enough. Krugman is a hack. His piece on solar vs gas was absurd.
He writes fracking "produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads. " Well fracking CAN produce toxic wastewater and if you dump it into drinking water it will contaminate drinking water, but to say it IS dumped in drinking water as part of the fracking process is simply dishonest, or ignorant. He claims there is reason to believe it contaminates groundwater, when actually, there is zero evidence it does that. The damage to roads? Maybe. But does he seriously think this is an intractable problem?

He claims the Solyndra failure is evidence of the success in the solar industry. Sort of. It's evidence that Solyndra's technology couldn't compete with alternative solar technology. It says nothing about the success of solar versus carbon-based technologies.

He writes there is frequent talk of a Moore's Law in solar, as solar prices are falling 7%/year, adjusted for inflation. This is laughable since Moore's Law posits a doubling in the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit every two years, which, on a compound basis is a growth rate of about 35% per year. But even with a falling panel production cost, for homes/business installation is the cost that is unlikely to fall since labor for panel installation, which has nothing to do with solar panel production, is a big part of the total cost. Relative to large solar plants in the desert,  the economics obviously differ.

Then he leaps to, "we’re just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal," but oddly concludes with, "solar is now cost-effective."

I used to think Krugman was like John Kenneth Galbraith, an entertaining writer that was almost always wrong. Now his writing is filled with bile and half-truths. But he's still almost always wrong.


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