Josh Bolinger: Is Alternative Energy Ready?
Is alternative energy ready? Probably not. Not by a long shot.
Let’s face it, for now, fossil fuels are the majority of the energy production in the world, and they will continue to be a part of the equation for the foreseeable future.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be working on the problem. In fact, we should be working on the problem like crazy. For one thing, whatever your opinion on climate change and whether it exists or whether it is man-made, fossil fuels present all kinds of problems that we often don’t even talk about in the larger climate debate. The mining, drilling, and processing of oil and coal produce all kinds of pollution all on their own that has nothing to do with whether or not the world is getting warmer or colder or just crazier.
In all the debates on energy’s impact on the world we live in, I hardly ever hear anyone say a word about all of the water pollution that fossil fuels generate, or the mess they make on land, either. So, okay, let’s just agree that maybe fossil fuels are not ideal, and it would be a good idea to find a better way of doing things.
Sunlight is endless free energy. The sun is not going to go out for several billion years, and 500,000 times as much solar energy comes to the earth as we need to power every single electrical grid on the planet.
What are the barriers?
First, manufacturing solar cells is expensive, and they have durability issues. Second, solar energy is weather dependent (especially if we use the military habit of defining darkness as a weather condition).
So, our biggest technological hurdles are, innovating cheaper manufacturing techniques, improving long-term quality of the product, and delivery. Delivery can be addressed two ways – either global transmission, so places that have sun can power places that don’t, or a revolution in power storage technology; particularly a battery that can be manufactured without creating all kinds of toxic waste in the process, and that isn’t toxic to dispose of when used up.
So, we know where we need to invest, and where we need to direct research and innovation. All we need is the will to take action.
4 thoughts on “Is Alternative Energy Ready?”
I want to see wind powered generators all over the country and the only way to do that is to get local governments involved. If enough people stand together, we can have an infinitely renewable source of energy at a fraction of what we pay now and without doing as much damage to the planet.
Alternative energy is closer to being ready than we are. Alternative energy sources may still be years away, but I think people should start getting ready for it now.
I live near one of the Great Lakes and it is always windy near our shoreline. Why don’t states take the initiative to build wind powered energy fields that could supply a large amount of that state’s power? Is it because the state itself won’t benefit from it as much as it’s people would?
It’s not about will, it’s about profit motive. There is no environmental advance without profit motive. There’s no environmental GROUPS without a profit motive. You see groups protesting nuclear power, and the keystone pipeline, and hydroelectric power, those groups all get their money from someone who has a profit interest in keeping those programs off the ground. The only reason we got wind power is because huge companies found out how much money there is in selling turbines all over the world.
Ask yourself, where are all of the principled people protesting and lobbying over all the water pollution in this country? Nowhere, because there’s no product to sell. But you can bet the saudis don’t want the keystone pipeline built.
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