Green Energy: Wind, Solar, Conservation

compact flourescent

  Toyota Prius 


Hybrids run on gas but are extra efficient because their engines run at the perfect speed all the time. This trick is done with batteries and an electric motor. This gives them great gas mileage.  Plug-in Hybrids will be here soon.

Corn ethanol—No.   Cellulose ethanol—Yes.corn-ethanol

Just grow our own oil! In 2006 it cost $8 billion extra for 1.1% energy independence and 0.06% reduction in GHGs. Was that real cost or just excess profits? If you care about climate change, don’t fall for this ADM-Bush-corn-subsidy shenanigan.


Wind—competition for nuclear

Every other year Congress reinstates the 2¢/kWh subsidy and wind power takes off. Every other year Congress lets the subsidy die and wind-power stagnates. But there are a lot of other wind subsidies, and it’s difficult to find the true cost. My best guess is $70 to $100/MWh, and for comparison, the average wholesale cost of power in California is $30/MWh. That means it costs around $80 to $140 per ton of carbon saved. That’s much more than we need to pay, but wind turbines or oh so cool.

BrightSource: 400 MW

Solar—The Best Bet at Present

  Solyndra has just given solar technology a black eye, but unfortunately, it’s well-meaning environmentalist who deserve it. Huge subsidies for half-baked solar production is not what solar needs. BrightSource’s almost-complete, 400 MW Ivanpahproject probably made some sense as a real-world test of stat-of-the-art solar thermal. But what solar really needs is more research. That’s the only way to pull ahead of China, and the only way solar can come of age.


I’m hoping to look into this pretty soon. It just might be better than wind.

3-Mile Island

Nuclear—Ugly but it might work?

Nuclear power generation produces no CO2, but some claim it takes a nuke 30 years to pay back the CO2 from building it. Nonsense. Three months is more like it. But the waste-disposal problem is unsolved and nukes are expensive. Why subsidize them more than wind? Why not a bit less?