Alternative Energy

Exploring The Gap Between Business-As-Usual And Utter Doom

Exploring The Gap Between Business-As-Usual And Utter Doom

Predicting the future is a fool’s errand, but everybody does it. As long as we’ve had language—for tens of thousands of years, at last estimate—we’ve been able to formulate the question, “What will tomorrow bring?” The answers have ranged from idyllic to hellish, though the reality has been, more often than not, “a lot like today.” Since the Industrial Revolution,[Read More…]

The Solar Transition

The Solar Transition

Although futurists aren’t supposed to make predictions, the notion that our energy system is switching much more quickly than expected from fossil fuels to renewables, and that solar energy will be at the front of that change, suddenly doesn’t seem so controversial. Of course, the speed of the change still matters, certainly in terms of global warming outcomes. And yet[Read More…]

Clean Energy Revolution In Philadelphia: A Photo Essay

Clean Energy Revolution In Philadelphia: A Photo Essay

On Sunday, July 24, a day before the opening of the Democratic National Convention amid turmoil in Philadelphia, the U.S. climate justice movement seized the moment to convene and march in large numbers for a clean energy revolution. Despite sweltering temperatures exceeding 95 degrees (an uncomfortable irony lost on no one), as many as 10,000 people or more demanded a[Read More…]

Clean Solar Energy, Brings Light To Kenya’s Villages

Clean Solar Energy, Brings Light To Kenya’s Villages

Picture a small village somewhere in rural Kenya. Darkness has fallen and there is no light to even go to the fields to relieve yourself. The only succour are kerosene lanterns, that are proven health hazard for the people living in the home. It was several years ago when UNEP, Nairobi, took us selected journalists from around the world to[Read More…]

 Hooked! The Unyielding Grip Of Fossil Fuels On Global Life

 Hooked! The Unyielding Grip Of Fossil Fuels On Global Life

Here’s the good news: wind power, solar power, and other renewable forms of energy are expanding far more quickly than anyone expected, ensuring that these systems will provide an ever-increasing share of our future energy supply.  According to the most recent projections from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy, global consumption of wind, solar, hydropower,[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy
Lessons Along The Path To 100 Percent Clean Energy

Lessons Along The Path To 100 Percent Clean Energy

In early May of this year, Portugal ran on renewable electricity alone for four consecutive days. And later that same month, on May 15, Germany filled almost all its electricity needs with solar, wind, and hydro power. This is good news: it tells us we’re making progress toward a zero-carbon energy system. But it also helps us see the challenges to a full renewable[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy
Renewable Electricity: Falling Costs, Variability, And Scaling Challenges

Renewable Electricity: Falling Costs, Variability, And Scaling Challenges

Costs to utility companies from the introduction of distributed solar PV are somewhat balanced by the fact that added solar capacity helps reduce the strain on electric grids on summer days when demand soars and utilities must buy additional power at high rates. Nevertheless, as more residential and business customers install their own PV systems, revenues to the utility industry are starting to decline.[72] Industry-sponsored studies warn that the trend could eventually lead to a radical transformation of energy markets, on a scale similar to the restructuring of the telecommunications industry following the advent of the Internet and cell phones.

Photo-Voltaics Is Not An Energy Sink In Switzerland

Photo-Voltaics Is Not An Energy Sink In Switzerland

Energy Policy recently published a study conducted on the EROEI of Photo-Voltaics (PV) technologies installed in Switzerland. The end result is a remarkably low figure of 0.8:1, well below any EROEI assessments ever conducted on this energy technology. Such a figure naturally made the delight of those campaigning against renewable energy, who take at face value any hints of negative[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy
The Real EROI Of Photovoltaic Systems: Professor Charles Hall Weighs In

The Real EROI Of Photovoltaic Systems: Professor Charles Hall Weighs In

Charles Hall is known for his multiple and important contributions in the field of sustainability, and in particular for having introduced the concept of Energy Return on Energy Investment, EROI or EROEI. He is now emeritus and still active in research; among other things as chief editor of the new Springer journal: “Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, BERQ. Here, he[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy
A 100% Renewable World Is Possible? A Poll Among Experts

A 100% Renewable World Is Possible? A Poll Among Experts

I am reporting here the results of a small survey that I carried out last week among the members of a discussion forum; mainly experts in renewable energy (*). It was a very informal poll; not meant to have statistical value. But some 70 people responded out of a total of 167 members; so I think these results have a[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy
Why Joe The Plumber Doesn’t Want Renewable Energy

Why Joe The Plumber Doesn’t Want Renewable Energy

Joe the plumber is a real person, but also an abstraction for the troubled American blue collar worker. In a previous post, I argued that a global transition to 100% renewable energy would be very expensive, but possible and that it could also be fast enough to avoid exceeding the emission targets set by the COP21. This opinion triggered the[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy
Renewable Energy

Our Renewable Future

Ed. note: This is the introduction to Richard Heinberg’s and David Fridley’s new book, Our Renewable Future, now available from Island Press. Post Carbon Institute’s companion website, ourrenewablefuture.org has also just been launched.The book is available to order and also to read on the website as a complete set of online chapters. By Richard Heinberg & David Fridley The next[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy, Counter Solutions
Tiptoeing Through The Renewable Energy Minefield

Tiptoeing Through The Renewable Energy Minefield

I spent the last year working with co-author David Fridley and Post Carbon Institute staff on a just-published book, Our Renewable Future. The process was a pleasure: everyone involved (including the twenty or so experts we interviewed or consulted) was delightful to work with, and I personally learned an enormous amount along the way. But we also encountered a prickly[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy
But What’s The REAL Energy Return Of Photovoltaic Energy?

But What’s The REAL Energy Return Of Photovoltaic Energy?

Some time ago, a colleague of mine told me the story of when he had been in charge of the installation ofone of the first photovoltaic plants in Italy, in 1984 (shown in the figure, on the right). He told me that, shortly after the installation, a high-ranking politician came to visit the plant. As a demonstration, my colleague connected[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Alternative Energy