Oh the irony, it burns! Solar power is supposed to open the door on a new era in which humans and their ecosystems exist in harmony, but for now the record is still stuck on fossil energy. Oil, gas, and coal producers continue to dig up carbon from underground and disburse it about the surface, and solar power is becoming an enabler, providing power to operate — and equip — drilling sites and mines.
More Solar Power For Fossil Fuels
The use of solar power in the fossil energy industry should come as no surprise. After all, extractive energy sites need energy to operate, and the expense of building new transmission lines or ferrying fuel to remote locations can be formidable.
Solar power became the solution after the first practical solar cell was introduced in 1954. Oil producers were the solar industry’s leading customer by 1980, with an emphasis on use at offshore drilling sites.
Those early solar devices were limited in scale, but that changed as solar technology improved. Drillers began installing the first large-scale solar arrays for oil and gas operations in the US as early as 2003.
Alongside a sharp drop in the cost of solar cells, the scale of solar activity at drilling sites and mines has picked up significantly in recent years.
Fossil energy stakeholders have begun leaning on solar power and other renewables to fend off critics with new pledges to reduce carbon emissions. However, when fossil energy stakeholders pledge to decarbonize, they mostly mean reducing carbon emissions from operations under their direct control. Once their product reaches the marketplace, it’s a different story.
In effect, renewable energy is giving fossil energy stakeholders license to keep pumping out more product, exploring more sites for extraction, and building new pipelines, leaving energy consumers to hold the carbon emissions bag.
More Solar Power For Sustainable Steel
That brings us to the latest news about solar power and steelmaking. Steel is one of those tough-to-decarbonize industries, and steel is also the material that makes pipelines and other fossil energy infrastructure. Fossil energy stakeholders could give themselves many brownie points for transitioning their infrastructure to steel made with renewable energy.
For example, last year CleanTechnica was among those to welcome plans for a new solar array at the longstanding Rocky Mountain steel mill in Pueblo, Colorado. The mill is currently owned by the North American branch of Russia’s leading steel and coal producer EVRAZ, and the project has been developed by Lightsource bp, a joint venture between bp and the solar firm Lightsource.
Aside from enabling the …….