Developing New Energy Resources

Jon Landsbergis wrote into the New York Times regarding the wind farm proposed for the south shore of Long Island. This was a fairly short piece, but there was a paragraph that struck me as being very interesting:

Neither the wind farm nor any other energy source should get a blank check for development, and affluent areas should not be allowed to use their political influence to stop wind farms. But let’s balance the cost of not developing new sources with the cost of war.

– “Wind Power and War“, New York Times, July 16, 2006

Mr. Landsbergis is absolutely correct: no energy source should get a blank check for development. We must spend time exploring those alternatives. Hydrogen, fuel cells, wind power, hydroelectric power, nuclear power, solar power, geothermal power, tidal power, wave power, biomass power – all of these should be explored, but we cannot accept only one. All these sources will have a significant amount of debate encompassing them, and some of them certainly will be dismissed as inviable, but we cannot simply wave our hands and magically make them disappear. We must consider each on their own local merits. Energy sources that work for New Jersey may not work for Colorado or Oregon.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org/ Sean

    When some people say “development” they mean “let’s study the problem and think up creative solutions.” Society has a serious problem taking these “creative solutions” to implementation. It always needs further study, is inconvenient, or costs too much.

    I admit, when I read opinion and your subsequent discussion Peter, I thought this.

    So here is my response: the time to develop new technologies never goes away. However, the time is now to start implementing them. Lets create an expansive E85 network of stations, generate more of our electricity from renewable sources with today’s technologies, and keep thinking for tomorrow. And lets stop thinking about more oil.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org Sean

    When some people say “development” they mean “let’s study the problem and think up creative solutions.” Society has a serious problem taking these “creative solutions” to implementation. It always needs further study, is inconvenient, or costs too much.

    I admit, when I read opinion and your subsequent discussion Peter, I thought this.

    So here is my response: the time to develop new technologies never goes away. However, the time is now to start implementing them. Lets create an expansive E85 network of stations, generate more of our electricity from renewable sources with today’s technologies, and keep thinking for tomorrow. And lets stop thinking about more oil.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org/ Peter

    I’m agreed on the need for implementation; however, the question of whether they are usable when implemented (or enough to deflect the problem of oil dependence) is still important. I’ll take E85 for instance. Let me take a page from the Union of Concerned Scientists FAQ on Ethanol:

    “. . . with the right combination of policies and technological breakthroughs, cellulosic ethanol and other biomass fuels used in combination with a doubling of fuel economy and a cut in the growth in travel demand could conceivably reduce our gasoline demand to near-zero in about 50 years, without sizable interference in food crop production. To do this, we would need to significantly increase fuel economy standards for all vehicles, adopt smart growth policies to reduce travel demand, more than double the amount of usable biomass that can be grown on an acre of land, and more than double the number of gallons of biofuel that can be produced from that biomass. In the long term, biofuels could be a significant part of the solution but, in the near term, much greater reductions in oil demand would be realized through greater fuel economy.”

    There have also been concerns that trying to completely switch to an E85 ethanol mix would require the entire national grain supply. Whether this has any credence or not, I’m unsure – I don’t recall seeing any scientific evidence that supports this. But E85 itself isn’t really enough.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org Peter

    I’m agreed on the need for implementation; however, the question of whether they are usable when implemented (or enough to deflect the problem of oil dependence) is still important. I’ll take E85 for instance. Let me take a page from the Union of Concerned Scientists FAQ on Ethanol:

    “. . . with the right combination of policies and technological breakthroughs, cellulosic ethanol and other biomass fuels used in combination with a doubling of fuel economy and a cut in the growth in travel demand could conceivably reduce our gasoline demand to near-zero in about 50 years, without sizable interference in food crop production. To do this, we would need to significantly increase fuel economy standards for all vehicles, adopt smart growth policies to reduce travel demand, more than double the amount of usable biomass that can be grown on an acre of land, and more than double the number of gallons of biofuel that can be produced from that biomass. In the long term, biofuels could be a significant part of the solution but, in the near term, much greater reductions in oil demand would be realized through greater fuel economy.”

    There have also been concerns that trying to completely switch to an E85 ethanol mix would require the entire national grain supply. Whether this has any credence or not, I’m unsure – I don’t recall seeing any scientific evidence that supports this. But E85 itself isn’t really enough.