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The Renewable Path to Energy Security
WorldWatch and Center for American Progress (CAP)
If there was ever a time when a major shift in the U.S. energy economy was possible, it is now. Three decades of pioneering research and development by both the government and the private sector have yielded a host of promising new technologies that turn abundant domestic energy sources—including solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, and ocean energy—into transportation fuels, electricity, and heat.

Today, renewable resources provide just over 6 percent of total U.S. energy, but that figure could increase rapidly in the years ahead. Many of the new technologies that harness renewables are, or soon will be, economically competitive with the fossil fuels that meet 85 percent of U.S. energy needs.With oil prices soaring, the security risks of petroleum dependence growing, and the environmental costs of today’s fuels becoming more apparent, the country faces compelling reasons to put these technologies to use on a large scale.

Energy transitions take time, and no single technology will solve our energy problems. But renewable energy technologies, combined with substantial improvements in energy efficiency, have the potential to gradually transform the U.S. energy system in ways that will benefit all Americans. The transition is easier to envision if you look at the way the oil age emerged rapidly and unexpectedly in the first two decades of the 20th century, propelled by technologies such as refineries and internal combustion engines and driven by the efforts of entrepreneurs such as John D. Rockefeller.
(Sept 2006)
Only one page of this 40-page report is devoted to Energy Efficiency (p.21) and the word “conservation” apparently does not appear in the text at all. Very strange, since as the report itself says, “Improving energy efficiency represents the most immediate and often the most cost-effective way to reduce oil dependence, improve energy security, and reduce the health and environmental impact of our energy system.” One is reminded of Jared Diamond’s Greenland settlers who ignored the obvious solutions staring them in the face and died out.

Related: Schizophrenic biofuels section in otherwise good renewable-energy report

Schizophrenic biofuels section in otherwise good renewable-energy report

biodiversivist, Gristmill
I read the Worldwatch/CAP Report on Renewable Energy (PDF) last night and agree with Dave that it is a good document. The biofuels section raised my eyebrows more than it should have. I critique it below.

Here is the bottom line on crop-based biofuels, and I am not alone in this assessment (for once) — Monbiot and Brown share my concerns. You have to replace on the world market every grain or bean you stop exporting and instead feed to an American car. Regardless of what others were using that grain for, the only way for other farmers on the planet to fill that hole is to grow more crops and the only way to grow more crops is to clear more land and the only land left to clear are rainforest carbon sinks and other assorted ecosystems.

Growing our own just forces others to grow their own. You cannot put the same bean into both your stomach and gas tank. When a biofuel profit taker tells you that biofuels do not compete for food, they are lying through their teeth. 70% of a corn kernel is lost to the human food chain when you use it to make ethanol.
(28 Sept 2006)

The Pied Piper of Ethanol

Jon S., Peak Energy (Seattle)
…I think Vinod Kosla sincerely appeals to as broad an audience as possibly on basically religious grounds, with a shamanistic frosting of reason and science around his gooey, globalist new- age vision.

He shepards a flock of boomers who need the salve and balm of forgiveness for consuming the world – – but not actual change. Oh no.
(28 Sept 2006)

The Ascent of Wind Power

Keith Bradsher, NY Times
…Wind power may still have an image as something of a plaything of environmentalists more concerned with clean energy than saving money. But it is quickly emerging as a serious alternative not just in affluent areas of the world but in fast-growing countries like India and China that are avidly seeking new energy sources. And leading the charge here in west-central India and elsewhere is an unlikely champion, Suzlon Energy, a homegrown Indian company.

Suzlon already dominates the Indian market and is now expanding rapidly abroad, having erected factories in locations as far away as Pipestone, Minn., and Tianjin, China. Four-fifths of the orders in Suzlon’s packed book now come from outside India.
(28 Sept 2006)