Downsides of Solar Panels, Solarphotovoltaics - Paul Ackerman post

I am among the very few I know who question solar.  My perspective is based on the writing and research in Green Illusions, The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism by Ozzie Zehner.  A blog post by Paul Ackerman indicated that he has spoken to an aeronautical engineer about the downsides of solar.  I would very much appreciate receiving more detailed information, including sources.  Good and well-intended people I know simply are unable (and unwilling) to even consider the facts from the book above:

Solar Panels – Clean?  Green?  Sustainable?

…solar cells…manufacturing process is one of the largest emitters of hexaflourathene (C2F6), nitrogen triflouride (NF2), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).  Used for cleaning plasma production equipment, these three gruesome greenhouse gasses make CO2 seem harmless.  As a greenhouse gas,

  • C2F6 is twelve thousand times more potent than CO2, is one hundred percent manufactured by humans, and survives ten thousand years when released into the atmosphere.[30]
  • NF is seventeen thousand times more virulent than CO2, and
  • SF8, the most treacherous greenhouse gas according to the Governmental Panel on Climate Change, is twenty-five thousand times more threatening.[31]

The solar photovoltaic industry is one of the leading and fastest growing emitters of these gases, which are now measurably accumulating within the earth’s atmosphere.

  • A recent study on NF3 reports that atmospheric concentrations of the gas have been rising at an alarming 11 per cent per year. [32]

p. 18 - Green Illusions –

The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism

by Ozzie Zehner

                                                                                         Reconfigured for emphasis by Deborah W. Andrew

[30]  United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Radiative Forcing of Climate Change (6.2.3 Hydrocarbons),”  in Climate Change 2012: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis (Geneva: GRID-Arundal, 2003); Richard Coniff, “The Greenhouse Gas That Nobody Knew,” Yale Environment, 360,  November 13, 2008.

[31]  Ray F. Weiss, et al, “Nitrogen Triflouride in the Global Atmosphere,” Geophysical Research Letters  35, no.1.208.21 (2008).

[32]  Weiss et al, “Nitrogen Triflouride in the Global Atmosphere.”

About Us


  Who are we?

Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power (CTFWP) is a coalition of citizens from around the state drawn together in the common purpose of advocating for responsible, science based, economically and environmentally sound approaches to Maine’s energy policy.  Wind power on Maine's priceless scenic landscape does not achieve these results.

Statewide wind organization contacts:

Various Wind Groups

Dan Remian - Citizen Initiative to Amend Maine's Wind Law

(207) 354-0714


Richard McDonald - President & Director of Communications, Saving Maine




1.   Wind Power will help Mainers to get off foreign oil.

Electricity generation in Maine uses oil for only 2% of total generation, mostly during the peak demand of summer when the Cousins Island oil fired generator is needed to meet demand for air conditioning in
urban areas.  If air conditioner thermostats were raised 2-3 degrees this demand could disappear.  Conservation and efficiency are the most economical and environmentally responsible ways to reduce energy consumption.

2.      Wind Power in Maine will reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel plants which will help fight global warming and improve air quality. 

  • Maine shares the atmosphere with the entire planet.  While Maine pursues a goal of 2,700 megawatts (1 megawatt = 1 million kilowatts) of wind power by 2020,  China will build 750,000
    MW of new coal fired generation.
  • A 1% increase in Maine’s forest cover would sequester the same amount of carbon as it is alleged that Maine’s wind power will reduce.
  • Because wind is constantly fluctuating and intermittent, turbines operate at about 25% of their nameplate capacity.  So 2700 MW
    of installed turbine capacity will produce, on average,  about 675 MW of electricity,  which is only about  4% of the normal daily demand of the grid which serves Maine.
  • Natural gas generators operate less efficiently when required to follow the erratic output of wind, much like a car driving in city traffic versus on a highway, resulting in an increase in carbon emissions.
  • Maine’s goal of 2700 MW would essentially have no effect on the earth’s climate or on atmospheric pollution from fossil fuel plants.

3.      Fossil fuels are finite and ever more costly,  while the wind is infinite and free.

  • Natural gas provides about 50% of Maine’s electricity.  Hydro and biomass provide most of the balance.  Very little oil or coal is used to generate electricity in Maine.  Natural gas is clean burning with no particulate emissions and half the CO2 of coal.  Domestic reserves are vast and the cost of electricity is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.  Wind is free but wind turbines are very
    expensive and have a short (15-20 year) lifespan.
  • The cost of electricity generated with natural gas is about 5 cents per kW, while the cost of wind generated electricity is about 13 cents per kW.  The difference is made up in subsidies and tax benefits.   While fossil fuels and nuclear power are subsidized at less than $1 per MW,  wind power receives about $80 per megawatt in various subsidies, renewable energy credits and tax benefits.

4.    Wind Power is providing jobs and a much needed boost to Maine’s economy.

  • About 70% of the cost of a wind project is sent overseas where the turbines are built.  Turbines are massive steel structures weighing hundreds of tons.  The steel used to build these enormous machines is produced in countries with cheap labor such as China.   The
    bulk of our tax dollars used to support the wind industry are spent off shore.   Angus King’s project in Roxbury, currently under construction, uses turbines assembled in Denmark and blades made in Viet Nam.
  • Many members of congress have expressed outrage at the use of stimulus funds to create jobs in foreign countries for the benefit of the wind industry.
  • Wind power is about money, not solving our energy problems.

5.      Wind power will heat our homes and charge our electric cars, enabling a transition from heating oil and gasoline. 

  • While this sounds attractive, the reality is that there is sufficient capacity in existing transmission systems to allow nighttime charging of electric storage heaters and plug in vehicles.  Wind power will only raise the cost of electricity due to its higher generation cost and the need to build new transmission lines to allow power from remote wind farms to reach urban population centers.




Towns considering wind projects need to understand industrial wind power's reliance on massive government subsidies (our tax dollars) for its existence. When political support for industrial wind power dries up and the subsidies are removed all of the "tangible benefits" towns believed they would get indefinitely will disappear. The limited liability shell corporations that own the wind turbines will abandon these projects, having received handsome upfront returns on their investments. Lack of funds to remove the turbines and restore the sites, due to the DEP's failure to require set aside of these funds will leave towns with no ability to remove the turbines, or deal with the long term environmental consequences of high mountain clearing and road building.

Following are the key points about industrial wind power that the government and the wind industry are not talking about:

1.   Political - "The goal of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power was to grease the skids for the wind industry and Wall Street, not to find out if wind power was good for Mainers."

  • The “Expedited Permit” wind law was an “emergency” bill from the governor which passed through the legislature in 15 days with very little scrutiny and no debate in April 2008. The bill was the result of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power, whose mandate was to identify and remove obstacles to wind power development in the state, and not to examine the pros and cons or negative impacts of wind power.


2.     Environmental - "The promise of wind power is false, but the damage is guaranteed. The Governor's plan will destroy 50,000 acres of forest land - the size of 39,000 football fields."

  • The wind law established a goal of 2700 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020.
  • 2700 MW requires one thousand, eight hundred GE 1.5 MW turbines spaced approximately 1/5 mile apart = 360 miles of ridge line cleared, blasted and filled for the turbine foundations and interconnecting two lane haul roads.
  • Additionally, hundreds of miles of new access roads and transmission corridors fragmenting deep forest habitats and fragile ecosystems must be constructed to gain access to the top of the ridges and connect the turbines to the grid. As much as 50,000 acres of clear cutting will be required. Compare that to 3,000 acres for the Plum Creek development, recently appealed by NRCM. Ironically, NRCM fully supports industrial wind power on Maine’s mountains, despite the massive destruction to ecosystems that will occur.

3.    Maine’s Economy - "Tourism is Maine's #1 industry. Wind power will kill tourism in Maine’s mountains. How will people make a living when the tourists stop coming?

  • Tourism is Maine’s #1 industry, as important to the mountain region as the coast. The installation of more than one thousand gigantic turbines on Maine’s ridges will change the experience for tourists as well as residents. Access for hiking, snowmobiling, and hunting will be restricted. Every horizon will contain near or distant views of turbines. Night skies will be punctuated with the red strobe lights on the turbines, visible for 40 miles.
  • Maine’s “Quality of Place” has received a great deal of attention recently. The Governor’s Task Force defined Quality of Place as “our majestic mountains, unbroken forests, open fields, wild rivers, pristine lakes, widely-celebrated coast, picturesque downtowns, lively arts and culture, authentic historic buildings, and exceptional recreational opportunities. It is our principal advantage in today’s global economic competition. Quality of place will help us keep and attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs to fill Maine’s declining workforce population.”
  • Maine’s “Quality of Place Investment Strategy”, adopted by executive order in July 2008 contains the following goals:
    • Protect, strengthen, and develop Maine’s Quality of Place assets, both natural and built;
    • Make the State’s several regions more economically competitive and prosperous through increased investment, job opportunities, regional incomes, and public revenues; and
  • Create new jobs and valued products and services in Maine that will succeed in national and global markets for local, regional, and state benefit.
  • These goals are in direct opposition to the goal of 2700 MW of industrial wind power in Maine’s mountains. The preservation of Maine’s Sense of Place and industrial wind power are irreconcilable goals.
  • Expensive wind power will increase the cost of electricity for Maine’s ratepayers and eliminate existing jobs in the renewable energy sector. The grid is required to take wind generation when it is available, which will force other renewable generators such as biomass plants to reduce output. Less production equals fewer jobs.

5.     Human Health Concerns - "Turbines make people sick. The same symptoms are reported all over the world. Why does the wind industry deny this? Remember tobacco and asbestos."

  • Turbines cause sleep disturbance at long distances for some people due to low frequency noise which travels further in the atmosphere than higher frequencies.
  • People living within range of turbine noise around the world report symptoms similar to the complaints of folks living at Mars Hill and Freedom – sleep disturbance, headaches, aggravation, anxiety – caused by the intense sound of the enormous blades ripping through the atmosphere.
  • The wind industry is in denial about these well documented and very serious health concerns, and Maine CDC has exhibited a startling lack of medical ethics by ignoring the complaints of citizens whose lives have been negatively impacted by the very first turbine installations in the state.

6,    Wind Generated Electricity Costs 3 Times More Than the Grid Currently Pays for Electricity - "Wind power will make your electricity more expensive."

  • 2700 MW @ 25% average capacity factor = 675 MW electricity delivered on average to the ISO NE grid.
  • 675 MW divided by average ISO NE grid demand of 16,000 MW = only 4.5% of grid demand will be met by 2700 MW of wind turbines. Very little electricity in the grid is produced with oil so claims of reduced foreign oil use due to wind power are false.

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Comment by Deborah Andrew on November 2, 2016 at 9:35am

My thanks, again, Eric.  I have just read the document.  Makes it very clear to me, at least, that Ozzie Zehner is accurate and we would be wise to be much more cautious before jumping to the conclusion that solar panels are a benign, green, sustainable alternative source of energy production (along with Industrial Wind Turbines).

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on November 1, 2016 at 7:02pm  Most complete information thus far on Nitrogen Triflouride for further reading. 

Comment by Deborah Andrew on November 1, 2016 at 3:00pm

My source was: "Green Illusions, The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy" by Ozzie Zehner (p. 18).  The footnote references are below.  Thanks for following up!

[1]  United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Radiative Forcing of Climate Change (6.2.3 Hydrocarbons),”  in Climate Change 2012: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis (Geneva: GRID-Arundal, 2003); Richard Coniff, “The Greenhouse Gas That Nobody Knew,” Yale Environment, 360,  November 13, 2008.

[1]  Ray F. Weiss, et al, “Nitrogen Triflouride in the Global Atmosphere,” Geophysical Research Letters  35, no.1.208.21 (2008).

[1]  Weiss et al, “Nitrogen Triflouride in the Global Atmosphere.”

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on November 1, 2016 at 12:55pm

@Deborah: I used your data that you quoted on a comment section of a News article, and without a doubt it brought out some comments from the Solar Industry.

With further engagement I left an invitation to contact me with factual evidence to rebut your information and direct it to one of my email accounts.

I received from one person a set of three links, none of which can debunk your info. Some of the links lead directly to a McKibbens ( article, one to Re Energy's involvement in selling or installing, and some of NERL which used outdated 2008 data.

If you could, please send me the link to the source quoted and posted. mail to:

It may help fill in or support the Data Sheet in some way.  Thanks. 

Comment by Deborah Andrew on November 1, 2016 at 12:21pm

Thanks for the link, Eric.  My bias: I ignore the economic factors.  My focus: environmental, community/human impacts.  My wishes: that all policies would be required to fulllfill 2 principles: The Precautionary Principle and the Principle of Do No Harm.  That the country would adopt the sociocratic methods/tools for decision making that are based on consent (and the absence of any paramount/reasoned objection).  My view: this would eliminate even the consideration of such things as hydrofracking and the misguided, if well intended rush to install Industrial Wind Turbines and huge solar arrays.  Ah well...

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on October 26, 2016 at 4:03pm

The more power we seek for the least cost the more harm we do to lives or that which support those lives.

Solar, Static flat panel Electrical, is on a 1-13 scale ranked #12 as the second worst form of energy production followed only by Corn Ethanol at #13. (requires toxic releases & currently fossil fuel)

Solar Thermal, when using material properly or even recycled or re-purposed materials is nearly 98% efficient. 

My Incomplete gathering of data ---- (some links to sources)

Maybe you can muddle through some of this as good data is hard to find. 


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Sign up today and lend your voice and presence to the steadily rising tide that will soon sweep the scourge of useless and wretched turbines from our beloved Maine countryside. For many of us, our little pieces of paradise have been hard won. Did the carpetbaggers think they could simply steal them from us?

We have the facts on our side. We have the truth on our side. All we need now is YOU.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 -- Mahatma Gandhi

"It's not whether you get knocked down: it's whether you get up."
Vince Lombardi 

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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