VARIETY, THE NEW ENERGY SOLUTION
Green Energy: Why We’re Still Not Using It
Stephanie Powers, August 25, 2010 (Investopedia)
"…The country is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Only 7% of energy consumed is from renewable sources. So why haven't we made more progress and what can be done to change the numbers?
"…The total cost to research, build and operate new green energy plants combined with storage and transmission expenses [can be] higher than traditional coal burning plants…The costs are difficult to compare due to the widely disparate nature of individual technologies but the net result is that startup costs are steep…The U.S. government is attempting to jump start green energy projects through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 by allocating $16.8 billion dollars for energy conservation, research and development…Most projects have a long-term horizon, so results are not immediately available."
Comparing costs is complicated. (click to enlarge)
"Eco-investing has been around for a while…[G]reen mutual funds and bonds [are] available to both individual and institutional investors. Private equity dollars fund the green technology industry through venture capital firms…Nonprofit organizations also supply grant money for emerging technology…The local environment determines whether wind, hydro power or solar energy generation is feasible. The availability of fuel, technology and transmission are factors…Also, the local government's willingness to provide tax incentives has a large impact on the costs.
"Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, which use solar panels to directly generate energy are popular…but large scale use is expensive. Solar energy used to heat liquids that power large electric plants is actually less costly. Sunlight can be inconsistent, so solar is often used in conjunction with other power sources…Biofuels…are the least expensive renewable energy source. One of the fastest growing segments was ethanol, aided by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard which requires fossil fuels to be mixed with a minimum amount of bio-fuels…"
The costs of NEW generation is the most relevant comparison. (click to enlarge)
"…Huge wind turbine fields in various parts of the country produced 1.3% of the electricity in the U.S. in 2008. New technology for storage and transmission make wind power cheaper than solar…Hydro power and nuclear power…are more expensive than traditional electric plants and environmental issues plague both. The transportation and long-term disposal of nuclear fuel is remains a concern for nuclear plants. Hydro power poses a threat to wildlife.
"…Increasing global demand for energy is creating a sense of urgency for the United States to produce domestically generated renewable energy. It is not just an economic concern, but a political one, as oil rich countries assess their future…[but] we are still dependent on fossil fuels for energy…[because of a complicated mix of costs, technology and environmental issues…[N]o one source is best. The diverse implementation of energy sources is a positive step toward energy independence and sustainability."