Renewable and Green Energy in 2010

Energy costs change: with new technologies, renewable energy is always getting cheaper. So where are we in February 2010 ? Well, technologically and economically it is all over already: wind turbines in windy locations can be cheaper per unit than electricity from coal plants, and hydroelectric and geothermal have been working efficiently and cheaply for decades. Furthermore, the end of 2009 and the start of 2010 has seen a few additional optimistic announcements which are shown below. There are older and more general renewable energy links here. Of course, if the citizens of the United States of America (why don't they have a name for themselves?) were not so ignorant of the advantages of intelligently directed consumption taxes and so determined to teach China how to ignore the obvious consequences of their own actions, then maybe the USA would already have cars and cities like Europeans and not be sending all their money to (mostly dodgy) oil exporting countries. Ultimately, as Winston Churchill pointedly noted, "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." Wired magazine has their own review of 2010 renewable energy companies that they think could matter.

Renewable Energy Generation and Storage

Steven Chu gave a great talk at the AAAS in 2007 about the background to everything including biofuels and pointed out that maize (corn) productivity per area has increased 8 fold from 1930 to 2006 (slide 36) and is still increasing now. The JGI have a fascintating website with more background and links to the ever improving world of biofuels.

Green Transport

Transport can be environmentally sound too with normal bicycles and electric light rail as the unbeatable champions but alternatives are getting better all the time. Brazil already runs its car fleet on 50% ethanol fuel and full buses are very efficient too.

So, in conclusion, ecological economic solutions exist already or can be built now for energy generation, storage, transmission and mobility and they are still improving. If the pieces of the government of The USA could promise a floor to the price of fossil fuel oil at half the price it reached last year, ie. above $70 per barrel, then all the inventors and investors in the World could empty the USA energy market of coal and oil within two decades. Of course, that would make fossil fuel really cheap again globally and the USA would show its democratic weaknesses and China could exploit them and politics would get tricky and we would all get even more worried about ocean acidification and global warming. So even completely stopping fossil fuel use in the first world will not stop global warming. If the new technologies are going to work, then a little more global cooperation will be needed which is a shame because that almost never happens.

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