Coal? Wind? Solar? Which ACTUALLY Works Better in Winter? (feat. The Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli)

Coal? Wind? Solar? Which ACTUALLY Works Better in Winter? (feat. The Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli)


Warm welcome back
to “Uno Dos of Trace.” Thank you for watching
“Hello Science” last week. I really hope you loved it. I got so excited when
so many of you tuned in. Hello, new people. Welcome to the channel. This is great. OK, let’s kick into it. Wintertime makes people crazy. Now I say that
because no one wants to compete with the snow
and the terrible weather and being trapped inside
away from knowledge, I guess, because that’s the
only explanation I can think of for this. They have this new
green deal or whatever where they want to eliminate
all oil and gas in 10 years. WOMAN: Yeah, 10 years. If you’re in the
polar vortex, how are you going to stay
warm with solar panels? MAN: It’s a bit cold outside
this morning in middle America. Aren’t you glad you
aren’t heating your home with a solar panel like nitwit
socialist AOC is demanding? How well is wind power
going to heat your house when it’s 30 below? Look, I’m not usually one to
give credence to the crazies. Who am I kidding? That’s one of my jams, y’all. I love doing that. So today, on “Uno Dos of Trace,”
does green energy do worse in the winter? I have questions. [MUSIC PLAYING] So after the undereducated
decided to spout off out into the world, my
girl, Emily Calandrelli, had the best clap back ever. So I went to Emily, and I
asked her more about it. Emily, Hi. Hi. Now we’re at Emily’s house. Hi. It’s a house. Welcome. It’s big. You have no idea where we are. Echo. It’s a huge mansion. You have no idea. In the middle of a field. That sounded
like a cathedral– perhaps a cathedral setting. Oh, yeah, my house is
a refurbished cathedral. Wonderful. So what happened with
the solar panel thing? Tell me all about it. OK, so on Twitter– you’ve heard of Twitter– The tweet machine. The tweet machine. There is a viral
tweet from somebody who suggested that you could
not heat your home in the winter with solar panels. So I understand why
people might be confused because we associate
light with warmth, but that’s not how
solar panels work. We use solar panels in space. It’s very cold in space. So solar panels
down here on Earth– they work when it’s sunny out. And so they’re
absorbing light energy and converting it
to electrical energy that you would then presumably
use an electric heating system to heat your damn house. Exactly. And it’s great. And in fact,
they actually work better when it’s cold
outside because the reactions inside solar panels
are more efficient when it’s cold outside. So a solar panel on a
very sunny day in Alaska will give you more power
than an equally sunny day with the same amount
of sunlight hours with a solar panel in the
middle of a very hot desert. Hmm, just because
the solar panel itself is working
more efficiently. Exactly, and then the
other thing to consider is that in the winter,
oftentimes, you have snow. And so as long as the snow is
not covering the solar panels and you have like a blanket
of snow on the ground, then that snow will
act like a mirror to reflect more light
onto your solar panels and make the solar
panels work even better. That sounds awesome. It’s very cool. It’s called the albedo effect. So long story short,
the guy didn’t really know what he was talking
about, and solar panels work great when it’s cold. The only caveat here is that,
obviously, in the winter, you don’t have as much daylight. You don’t have as
much direct daylight. And so if you look
at like the wattage that you’re going to
get throughout the year, it’s going to peak
probably in the summer and go down in the
winter for that reason. But it has nothing
to do with cold. It has to do with the daylight. Like a 24-hour day in Alaska,
amazing for solar panels, a six-hour day in Alaska,
if it’s been snowing, solar panels work real good,
but there’s not a lot of wattage that you’re going to get. Regardless, though,
temperature dunna matter. It doesn’t matter. Well, I guess I should
go back to my studio then. Thanks for having
me at your house. You’re welcome. Oh, she’s awesome. So once the snow
melts– something we didn’t get to talk
about– that actually cleans the solar panels,
which means not only are they better in the
winter, but they’re great in the spring too because
it increases their efficiency. The snow bonds with the
dirt and pulls it right off, so they’re nice and shiny. But that’s not all– other green energies work
well in the winter too. For example, geothermal–
even though the air is cold, the Earth is still warm. And you use that warm
Earth to provide energy. It’s usually associated
with cold places, for example, Iceland. You have hot
springs, and you have all these volcanoes and stuff. So people think
geothermal energy, but they’re actually
number two on the list. Number one on the list of top
geothermal countries is Kenya. 51% of the country’s
energy comes from Mother Earth herself. We’ve got solar. Yeah, the sun that
doesn’t really change and geothermal–
sure, the Earth. That doesn’t really change. But you know what does
change in the winter? Wind– yeah, exactly. Those big blades– oh, my god
in the winter looks flimsy. What if it gets windy? What if a windstorm
comes to the wind power. Wind power generation
is a simple equation to determine output. It’s p equals one half
a little p av cubed. That’s watts of power
equals one half air density times blade area that’s sweeping
through times wind velocity cubed. Now, you can take into account
gearboxes and capacitor efficiencies and stuff. But this is the simple equation. So when you look
at this equation, think about cold weather. Remember elementary science–
cold things– they get denser. So that little p that
makes a big difference. Also think about wintertime
temperature variations. It’s cold one day. It’s a little warmer
the other day. And those temperature
variations are greater in the
winter, which means air is moving around a
lot and that means wind speed increases, on average. In the winter, this has
been studied quite heavily. Windmill power does
better in colder weather. How much better? A study by the Canadian
government found 6% better. Though admittedly,
there are other concerns when you have something
that big in some place that cold, for example,
icing on the blades. They’ve created
tech to solve that. But ice does build up. So they heat the blades,
and that melts the ice. Or they have special textures,
which are reducing ice buildup. They’re still working on it. But generally, wind
power can operate down to negative 30 Celsius– that’s cold. Canada’s wind energy
advocacy organization says that power
increases at almost 60% are possible in winter
if we can figure out these technological hurdles. And according to the NRDC,
The Natural Resources Defense Council, wind power,
even not in Canada, makes the power grid
safer, more stable, and a consistent
source of energy. And this is evidence from cold
winters in Texas, the Midwest, and the mid-Atlantic. Wind power could have
kept the lights on where you live in a bad storm. So non-renewable
sources– dirty energies like coal and natural gas. They actually perform the
same no matter the weather because, if you think about it,
they’re burning in a furnace inside. So if it’s cold outside, it
doesn’t necessarily matter. But that’s not the energy
that is the issue when it comes to dirty energy sources. It’s getting the energy
from where it was mined or pulled out of the ground. Coal plants– maybe you know
this– are not actually built on top of coal mines. Coal is transported by rail and
natural gas, lesser extent rail and truck, mostly pipelines. During severe cold weather, snow
can cause trucks to get halted. It blocks roads. In extreme cold weather, rails– the railroad rails–
they can crack. In Chicago, they actually
lit fires around the rails to keep the metal
from retracting because, just like the
air with wind power, metal retracts too in the cold. On top of that, coal
piles can freeze. They’re just rocks,
and they are commonly kept outside so that the coal
plants have lots of energy available to them. But if it’s frozen,
how do they get to it? So I looked it up. And this coal energy
advocacy organization says, no, no, no, no,
no, they don’t freeze. While outer layers can
freeze in very cold weather, coal piles are constantly
being worked by bulldozers to break up frozen
layers, and deicing agents are used to prevent freezing. So they don’t freeze. They’re burning fossil fuels to
keep fossil fuels from freezing so that we can burn
more fossil fuels. So it makes total sense. They did not say that
the coal doesn’t freeze. They actually said
the coal does. Now if the coal freezes and
they weren’t ready for it. And the natural gas gets halted,
that causes a power outage. So for example, coal
plants burn coal to make the power
for your house. They don’t charge
up giant batteries. They don’t keep reserves
anywhere of power. They actually have to burn
more coal to power your house if you turn on your
light, and they have reserves in case
everybody turns on their lights at the same time. And they can put those
reserves into a furnace within 10 minutes– but if they fail, blackouts. This actually happened
during the 2014 polar vortex. The utility PJM, which services
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and some of the mid-Atlantic,
had rolling blackouts because they couldn’t get
their 10-minute reserves into the furnace fast enough. According to their
report on the failure, they said, one, they didn’t
have any reserves, two, they couldn’t actually generate
enough power for the demand, and they didn’t buy any
from neighboring grids. So rolling blackouts
was their solution during the polar vortex– lovely. But it’s not just coal. Natural gas can have
supply problems too. In my home state of Michigan,
the governor asked people not to turn their natural
gas heating above 68 degrees because it could
run out, and they can’t replace it– during
a polar vortex, not great. I don’t want to leave you with
the idea the blackouts only happen when the power
plant runs out of power. Commonly, its
transmission lines that go down because of
heavy snow or wind. That’s the most major
factor, not more coal or natural gas or whatever. But regardless of
how you slice it, supplying these non-renewable
resources to these plants is an issue. Overall, meeting
any sudden demand is the biggest issue with
all power generation, whether that’s solar and wind
farms or natural gas and coal and oil. Wind farms are creating
models to predict wind speed and variability more accurately. Wind power is working with a
smaller historical data set, but every year, they get better. And it’s not like polar
vortices are going to go away. All a polar vortex
is super cold air that spun off the North Pole
because a warm jet stream kind of pushed it out of the way– kind of like imagine a hot
air balloon in this room. The cold helium balloon
that I have would just get pushed out of the way. And the vortex is just
like that– only not shaped like my initials. Every time someone
says global warming, whatever, who cares– it’s
never going to affect us, we’re going to break 16 hot
records for every cold one we break in the next century,
if we keep warming. So let’s get green
energy going– augment our existing
system, make sure that the grid is stable. We don’t need to shut
down all coal today, but we do need to shut down coal
slowly over time as we perfects its replacement. Dirty energy got us really
far, but it’s had its time. So let’s retire it, and let
these new technologies take us into the future. OK, everybody, green energy– it’s amazing. Let me know what you
think in the comments of this video and all the
other videos on the channel. If you haven’t watched the video
about the taxidermy from last week– although so many
of you have watched– I’m so happy. Thank you. New people– welcome– this is awesome. There’s going to be another
“Hello Science” coming, I promise. I swear it’s going to come out. I’m working on it now. I can’t tell you
anything about it, but you’re going to love it. So I’m Trace. Make sure you come
back next week, and I’ll see you in the future.

65 thoughts on “Coal? Wind? Solar? Which ACTUALLY Works Better in Winter? (feat. The Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli)

  1. Well nuclear works well when it's dark outside because of few daylight hours and too windy for wind turbines. Wind turbines need to be turned off often here in the Nordics.

  2. Trace, do you have any comments on AOC's "Green New Deal"? Would like to hear your thoughts. As always, dropping a like on the video and will share it around. Hope 2019 is treating you well! 🙂

  3. I think we should just go to nuclear the waste might be a issue but we could use the waste for batteries and future nuclear reactors and the rest I don’t know probably do something with it

    And I think we’ve got 10 to 20 years for nuclear fusion

  4. Don't get me wrong, those politicians and political activists are idiots (more on this later), but the argument about "solar panels are more efficient in coldness" is a moot point. Internal combustion engines are more efficient as you increase cylinder size, but you're not going to see a 5.0L engine in a modern cheap commuter car, because the fuel economy will suffer dramatically. There's a big difference between efficiency and economy, and solar panels in colder climates are not economically viable.
    Anyway, as discussed in the video, there are plenty of other viable green options, and it's ridiculous how these politicians just assume solar is the only option.

  5. Why don't they mandate that every new building, have to use solar roof tiles ?

    If it's a question of cost, it's cheaper with less climate change than flooded coastal cities.

  6. Coal in winter is HORRIBLE!!!! It means you're on Santa's naughty list.

    btw It was awesome seeing Emily Calandrelli again. I remember when she hosted Seeker ^_^

  7. Trace was the main reason I watched the other show's he hosted. A slight critique of the show is that it is a little slanted, pairing non-issues against issues. Anyways I think the attitude is needed, I'm not a believer in green energy as it stand's rather as an investment in the future. I work HVAC and the difference between an 80% furnace and a 90% furnace is drastic. The 90% is a higher cost to purchase, install and repair and they don't last as long. Introducing condensation into the flu gas for that extra 10-18% isn't worth it to the average consumer depending on where you live. Cost of ownership is higher on high efficiency furnaces when all thing's are considered. (I live in CO where overall it isn't all that cold for all that long). Bonus fact: Electric furnaces are 100% efficient, the problem being that one BTU of electric heat is substantially more expensive than one BTU of natural gas. Another bonus fact: In warm dry climates an evaporative cooler cost's a fraction of standard central AC unit to run, also the install and maintenance is far cheaper.

  8. The issues around cold boy towns and electrical heating as it is today is the cost compared to gas, in this video you talk about generating electricity but people simply burn the gas to get there heat. If everyone had a power pack in their home like the ones tesla sold it still wouldn't be enough to churn heat out all day without having to use mains (this is in the use case of a power outage). These are the two massive factors i see as to why people actively don't use electric heating in places where it can get insanely cold- i expect these things will improve over time put it doesn't seem like a 1 and done simple solution as is painted ( not saying anything you said he was incorrect i just would like to see what you could gather about these topics as well as this is the general consensus)

  9. Our Governor asked us to set our thermostats DOWN to 65F which in my case would be an increase as my thermostat is set to 62F when I'm awake and home and 55F when I'm asleep or away.

    Do you see now how cold it gets when you're not here?

  10. This video is quite misleading and I believe the point of the question was entirely overlooked in ignorance. "How are you going to stay warm with solar panels?" It is not a question of whether or not solar panels (and wind turbines) will work when cold, although I will give you credit in that it is one factor of many to consider. The point is, electric heating eats up a lot of power very quickly. I can promise you, given the current technology, solar and wind will not heat your house for more than a couple of hours when it is cold. Best case, you can power the blower for your furnace.

    The part that gets me the most, is that you call these people "uneducated" and "the crazies" when you are the one who misunderstood the questions. I don't usually agree with Faux News, but in this case, they have a valid point. Maybe many years down the road technology will catch up to the idea, but it most certainly would not work at this time.

    Take it from some one who experiences -40 temperatures every year and knee deep snow, and has weighed in on every possible form of heating and electricity available on the market. I have taken college courses on green energy; read and written papers on this topic. It just won't work (yet).

  11. My solar system in California had peak production two years in a row on April 15, due to the efficiency losses as temperatures rose meeting the increase in photons hitting the array, kind of a solar Max-Q.

  12. It's why I think we should subsidize home wind and solar (with battery backup) heavily and build large wind, and solar farms also with big battery storage banks and we can stabilize the grid and move away from all that old dead thing power.

    Would also be cool of course if we could kick ITER into high speed, get it going and you know that Star Trek type power (or Iron Man cause that did look like a Tokamak) would be awesome. 8)

  13. Watching this with solar and wind power on my iMac in Germany … BTW: Nuclear power is not very reliable in winter time – ask the French, who desperately need our surplus of renewable power because their nuclear power plants haven't enough water in the rivers for cooling or respectively are only allowed to warm the rivers so much due to environmental reasons. Whereas our offshore wind parks produce so much power that the prices sometimes go negative(!) and we give it to our fellow European countries for free.

  14. any green energy is better. the problem is us humans, we're too lazy (and greedy) to replace what we already have with something better and the people who decide what energy to use are mostly brick walls… yikes…. humanity.

  15. Nice Renewable energy sources are great and more tech advancement would make it more and efficient than ever like super capacitor and conductors , flouride batteries , etc !

  16. Dude, these videos are amazing! I am leaving this comment here as proof that I can look back on in a millions subs time, that I was within your first 20K subscribers. The quality and detail of the videos speaks for themselves. Thank you for the amazing content!

  17. Thanks for the upload! Watched this with my kids. My oldest asked me why we don't have solar panels powering our house. So I told him, right we cannot afford them. So he told me he's going to design cheap and affordable ones.
    Keep the videos coming!

    Also got a book idea from the interview with Emily Calandrelli. Thanks

  18. I like your fair representation of green energy(The representation is better than many). By the way for the last two weeks in Southern Alberta, Canada for 1/2 of the day the temperature has dropped below minus thirty degrees C, so that turbine would have been shut down taking a significant ratio of electricity offline. Green energy is part of the solution, but natural gas is part of our current solution as well.

  19. Great video Trace 🙂 Thanks. So sad that politicians, with more access to scientists to inform them than the average person, are willing to propagate such lies. Don't American's who vote for them realize those politicians (the ones willing to pretend they don't understand climate change) are the laughing stocks of the developed world? [[don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming we're geniuses, here's a sad article about Ontarian/Canadian hypocrisy in regards to coal and dirty energy https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/reevely-how-ontario-is-getting-back-into-the-coal-power-business and now that we've elected a Conservative gov't provincially there's plenty of terrible things going on in our province also]] …

    Anyhow, all that just to emphasize how important videos like this one are, hope everyone who watches will also share it 😀 Thanks for your work/efforts Trace; and to your friend for the knowledge she shared 🙂
    <3

  20. As I type, the UK is using coal to generate 1.36GW (4.03%) out of a total of 33.65GW.
    Even at this time of year, we often get hours without any coal generation. The aim is, of course, to phase it out completely.
    Gas is the biggest generator here. It's still dirty and non renewable, but nowhere near as bad as coal.
    Now we see some Big Oil companies like Shell researching renewable power generation it does seem fossil fuels are on the decline and the sooner the better. There's a long way to go but the stone is finally moving, and picking up momentum.

  21. This is why we need better funding for public education, because explaining the difference between heat and light is something your 4th grade teacher should have done.

  22. I grew up in the heart of coal country in Kentucky, the mountain we lived on, the creek we swam in, and the woods we played in as kids are all now flat land filled with track houses and shopping centers. The people that lived there were displaces because they could not afford to fight the government and the coal companies. They came in use eminent domain to steal the land at $0.10 on the dollar and forced people from land their families had been on for hundreds of years, they brought in blasters and their machines and destroyed everything that was natural to get at the little bits if anthracite. The coal industry is dying from its own greed and soon will be gone forever, oil will soon follow, bet we will be left with the scars of ignorance forever.

  23. Wind and solar are the cheapest new generation in the US, ignoring the many problems caused by extracting and burning fossil fuels. https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-and-levelized-cost-of-storage-2018/

  24. On the seeker podcast you had Julian say the panels release cadmium into the water. How do you suppose we recycle old panels? Love your work by the way!

  25. Is Antartica always sunny? Since it is a desert, what if we placed all of our solar panels there and on Arctic? That way we get continous light and keep them cold

  26. We lived in Eagle River, Alaska. We got 2 hours of sunshine just above the Mountain every day. Go F*** yourself and your solar panels.

  27. Not to be a spoil-sport but most places that experience winter have a lot worse weather and cloud cover in the winter, thus impeding solar panel usefulness. The last place I lived didn't get direct sunlight for over a month straight in the dead of winter. Nuclear for the win.

  28. I am on the 'right', yet I can explain how solar panels work; and photoelectric panels don't work better in cool temperatures (the amount of light is the only real variable), thermoelectric (and also mechanical system) do[es].

  29. no matter whether we phase out 'fossil fuels' and the like, AOC's 'Green New Deal' is a shitshow and ought not be our method.

  30. This is great. So much better than DNews. Found out you had a channel through your talk with Hank Green on HanksChannel. Keep up the awesome work.

  31. Soooo we have to have a waiting backup generator with enough capacity to handle the loss of wind power when the wind stops or the sun is covered in clouds or on the other side of the earth?

  32. I’ve loved your videos for a long since Dnews days keep up the amazing videos. One idea i have for you is you could take suggestions/ideas from everyone (viewers) for a series. I think it’ll help to give you ideas and can get people hooked onto your vids 🙂

  33. It's awesome when people think they are so smart on thoes sceptic people. This is the big problem for diffrent types of energy, crazy activists that think a solarpanel and a wind toy are the ultimate solution to everything. 5:55 "they are working on it" perfect example. As a person being a home gamer of these "they" that are woriking on problems I think it's fantastic with these people that say I'm a crazy person while counting on me being able to slove things. T People who live in and around the equator can benefit from solar but if you have snow it's just a pain. Green energy for the norhern climate might more be in the realm of nuclear power. his is an example of what happens with solar in winter and it's a fair picture. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSMOTBre46w

  34. There should be a theme Parc of London in the 1952, and have people stay there for there vacation…
    PS in a dome with the “great smog of London” condition:)

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