We looked at the relative pros and cons of the various renewable energy sources a couple months ago. Now one of our favorite environmental nonprofits has laid out four reasons to get excited about developments in clean tech. In the Ethical Ocean article, Lena Lam espouses on the huge potential of green power:
Biofuel created from algae – yes, pond scum – may soon be fueling motorized vehicles worldwide. Algae uses photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy. Algae cannot only grow almost anywhere, including in contaminated water, it can also generate 15 times more oil per acre than other plants typically used for biofuels. In addition, algae grows faster when it is “fed” more carbon dioxide, meaning that not only is it a promising alternative fuel, it can do double duty cleaning up as well.
Geothermal electricity and heat
Thermal energy from the Earth can be used to generate electricity or used to heat spaces. Heat is extracted using heat pumps. The deeper you go, the hotter the geothermal resource. Though initial set-up costs are high because of the required equipment and installation, geothermal energy is highly scalable, making it possible to recuperate costs within a matter of years. The resource is plentiful, it is clean, and can work in remote locations.
Power generated by wind has been around for a long time. In many areas of the world, huge wind farms exist in remote lands to power nearby towns. Even still, wind power has always had its adversaries who have labeled it costly and an eye sore, as well as adversely affecting real estate value and interfering with the migration path of birds. But new technology could help alleviate some of these challenges, including wind turbines that float in the water and in the sky.
While solar technologies were once heavy, inefficient, and unreliable, devices that harness solar power have come a long way. Scientists are getting closer to solving our solar power problems through the development of solar cells that are able to harness energy from infrared waves, something conventional solar cells were unable to do. To put this into perspective, approximately 40 percent of the solar energy that reaches Earth is in the infrared spectrum. This means that new solar cells have the potential to make use of the entire spectrum of light coming from the sun.
(via Ethical Ocean)
Photo: The 117-megawatt Wayang Windu Unit II Geothermal Power Project in West Java, Indonesia. (via AECOM)