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A Solution to the Global Energy Crisis?
A Noted Scientist Says It’s the Sun

Lee Dye, ABC News
There is a potential solution, and possibly only one, to the global energy crisis. It will require a huge investment, several scientific breakthroughs and a little luck. But unless we give it the very highest priority, it will soon be too late.

That’s the message that a highly respected professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology has been delivering for several years now, but it’s not clear whether anyone is listening. Nate Lewis isn’t your typical prophet of doom.

…None of the other sources of energy, including fossil fuels that threaten our planet, or nuclear energy that has never lived up to its potential, can do the job, Lewis maintains. He isn’t arguing in favor of those huge water bladders we are supposed to have atop our houses to capture heat from the sun. Lewis sees an entirely different solution. He sees cheap ways to convert solar energy directly into electricity, which can be used to convert water into fuel, like hydrogen, that can be turned back into electricity on demand.

What we need, he argues, is something as basic as paint that is engineered to capture electrons from the sun and make the electrons march into our utility lines. Go to your local home center, buy a bucket of paint and brush it on your roof to power all those gadgets and heat your domicile and create the fuel to run your scooter. Sounds pretty far out, but Lewis is dead serious.
(14 November 2007)
Nate Lewis has been delivering a presentation that compares the availability of different energy sources: Powering the Planet: Where in the World Will Our Energy Come From?.

More of his ideas are described in The axes of energy.

California fighting global warming with technology, greenbacks

David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle
California is leading the way in the fight against global warming as its investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into green technology companies and its citizens have cut per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases by nearly 10 percent in recent years.

So says a new report that praises the Golden State for making a fast start but warns that much more effort and innovation are needed to truly make a difference in the crisis.

The California Green Innovation Index, due to be released Wednesday by a local public-policy group and an economic consulting firm, shows progress on a number of fronts.

The amount of greenhouse gases emitted per capita in California has dropped 9.8 percent since 1990, although total emissions continue to rise along with the state’s population. California has become the nation’s biggest hub for green tech companies, which are developing new fuels and smarter ways to use energy. Those companies employ 22,000 Californians and are soaking up more venture capital money than similar businesses in other states, about $884 million in 2006.

Perhaps most important, the report’s authors found that California has the right political environment for more progress.

The state’s government says it is committed to fighting global warming and has passed laws to cut emissions and increase the use of renewable energy. Many Californians support the effort and have shown willingness to change their habits as a result, according to the report. They are buying energy-efficient appliances and are driving less – a stunning change in a state known for its car-centric culture.
(14 November 2007)

China Powers Ahead on Renewable Energy

Ali Rahman,
China is well on its way to acquiring fully 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2020, while the United States is dragging its feet on transitioning away from fossil fuels, according to a pair of reports released here this week.1116 07

Nations across the globe invested over $50 billion collectively into renewable energy conversion last year, and in 2007 China alone is expected to account for some $10 billion of investment, explains “Powering China’s Development: The Role of Renewable Energy,” released Wednesday by the Worldwatch Institute, an independent Washington, DC research group.

With this large financial commitment, China looks poised to pass solar and wind energy leaders in Europe and North America and become a leader in renewables manufacturing, the report notes, adding that, at this pace, China will draw 30 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050.

“The future of the global climate may rest in large measure on China’s ability to lead the world into the age of renewable energy, much as the United States led the world into the age of oil roughly a century ago,” said Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin.
(16 November 2007)
Also at Common Dreams. Related:
China on target to meet renewable energy goal