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Green Energy: Where are we?

2 February 2012 Leave a comment

With all the hub-hub about green energy, I decided to take a look and see how far we’ve actually come towards becoming a “Green” Economy. Global energy consumption is increasing rapidly, increasing nearly 80% over the last 2 decades. This is driven by the booming electronics industry, especially consumption in the developing world. This pattern is not likely to cease as countries like China and India, which maintain 1/3 of the world’s population, continue to modernize at a breakneck speed.  By some estimates China will have 600 million middle class citizens by 2015. They are going to have a lot of demands for products and energy alike. How we meet those demands has great implications for future CO2 scenarios.

To meet these goals we will need a diverse energy portfolio, requiring fossil, nuclear, and renewable, all mixed together with a heave dose of innovation.  Our current energy portfolio is diverse, in that it uses a variety of fossil fuels.  There have been steady gains made in renewable energy production, but those gains are still being swamped by increases in traditional fuel sources.

“Green” has become the adjective of choice when describing the future of energy.  Green has been the word for decades now, ever since Carter put solar panels on the White House.  Every president since Nixon has decried our dependence on foreign oil, yet no one seems to be moving us in that direction.  With the death of the Waxman-Markey Bill in 2009, the likelihood of this president making a substantial change is becoming less and less.  The Obama administration has placed a great emphasis on energy innovation during the past 3 years, but without much to show for it, it ends up being more political ‘greenwash’.  One thing is for sure, if we want to fuel a future based on high energy consumption, our energy portfolio cannot continue to look like this:

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