Fostering a Renewables Revolution!

panels closeup%20copy high%20res Fostering a Renewables Revolution!

Greenpeace just released a very interesting report on the world’s renewable energy future. Inthe organization’s words, “to successfully combat climate change, weurgently need a revolution in the way we produce, consume and distribute energy.” The report, which was prepared by a team from the GermanInstitute of Technical Thermodynamics and other scientists from aroundthe world, has many interesting and provocative things to say about ourenergy future and renewables in particular. Did you know that computerservers worldwide use more energy than the entire demand from thecountry of France? That as computer use doubles over the next decade the amount of wasted energy (consisting of the difference between bestpractices datacenters vs. the norm) could satisfy all of the needs ofAustralia? Enforcing an energy efficiency standard just for serversreportedly could avoid 48 coal-fired power plants and 140 million tonsof CO2. That is indeed sobering information.

The real revolutionary aspect of the report is the proposition thatour energy future could lead to generation consisting of 95% renewables(vs. oil, coal and other conventional fuels) by 2050. That’s an amazingleap forward from the roughly 2% where we are today. What is required to get there from here are many of the same things Applied Materials hasbeen advocating in the clean tech area for some time now: innovation; policy changes; price signals and other economic tools; and committed, long-term investments in the needed infrastructure to getthe required scale.

Among the innovative concepts proposed in this report for cities ofthe “future” are building integrated solar facades, small-scale combined heat and power plants (CHP) and solar photovoltaic parks (AppliedMaterials uses the term solar “farms”), both distributed across mostbuildings as well in more remote locations. In the report’s estimation,solar PV alone has the theoretical potential to generate 16 times theworld’s energy needs. We will obviously not realize that potentialwithout innovating across every portion of the solar PV and renewablevalue chain: super efficient modules; inexpensive mounting systems;efficient inverters or DC installations; new ways of transmittingenergy; and highly efficient means of manufacturing all of the above inquantities that are hardly imaginable today. There will also be a pricetag for all of the above: “The average annual investment in the powersector under the Energy [R]evolution Scenario between 2007 and 2030would be approximately $782 billion. This is equal to the current amount of subsidies paid for fossil fuels globally in under three years.” Thereport also suggests this scenario has enormous job potential; not justshifting of jobs, but new, additive job creation.

While Greenpeace has been vilified in some circles in thepast for radical tactics, “energy {R}evolution” is a valuablecontribution to the urgent dialog about a sustainable energy future.Applied Materials supports the notion of thinking big in this fashion.

Take a look at the Report for yourself and let us know what youthink.