Calling the Brainerd Public Utilities solar installation ‘renewable’ is misleading. The panels, the control electronics, and the batteries are not renewable. To create these devices, we use fossil fuels and toxic chemicals to mine, process, fabricate, manufacture and transport materials. The earth is gouged, rivers polluted, and air sullied. Given the amount and type of energy needed to get the end products, these devices are not renewable or green or clean or environmentally safe or sustainable.
In order to make good energy decision we must look at the total process, not just pretty high tech pictures. To be sustainable, to be renewable it must be able to create all the equipment, manufacturing facilities and transportation that goes into creating these devices from the beginning. These devices simply will not reproduce themselves without fossil fuels.
This installation will take decades to replace the fossil fuel energy expended to create all this equipment. With replacement batteries and potential equipment malfunctions the energy debt may never be repaid. Given the price, environmental costs and geologic limits of fossil fuels, poor decisions take from the next generations.
That so-called ‘renewable’ energy is sustainable, green and clean is an illusion; perpetrated by some who are true believers; many for profit. They range from private sector entrepreneurs to nonprofits living on tax money to subsidy beneficiaries to the simply wishful.
For pictures of mining equipment see: Energy in the Real World with pictures of proof.