An auspicious year for renewable energy, 2009 will forever be markedby serious, fundamental changes in the world of politics, economics,science, and social consciousness. Not all of it good, mind you, butfor the most part there has been plenty to be excited about.
In the realm of groundbreaking ideas, the industry has seen someinteresting advancements. Here are Energy Boom’s top five picks for2009:
1) Space-based Solar Power- Facing problems of intermittent supply (limited by the earth’sday/night cycles), the idea of harvesting solar energy in space (whereday/night cycles do not exist) and beaming it back down to earth viamicrowaves went from lofty science-fiction to serious discussion thisyear. Japan’s $21 Billion dollar Solar Space Post is a prime example.
2)Algae-based Biofuel -Heavy criticism of the biofuel industry has been well-deserved. Fromimproper land usage to massive water consumption, it became apparentthat this industry was beginning to cause more damage than good. Butalong came algae, an abundant source that required little land-space,water, and best of all next to no emissions during the growth cycles. Apossible saviour for biofuel production, further advancements in efficiency only bolster an already impressive find.
3) Energy from Waste- Our propensity for producing catastrophic amounts of waste has alwaysbeen of great concern. Methane gas from landfills containing municipalwaste contributes heavily to global warming–as does traditionalmethods of burning waste for energy. But waste incineration to createenergy has changed over the years, and whether using biomass fromforests, leftover unusable parts of crops, onion peels, or leftover beer waste, the benefits are obvious.
4) Electric Vehicles- Transportation has evolved. The long-ago dilemma of electric vehicleshaving little to no range, requiring extensive maintenance, and beingtoo expensive has been all but eradicated. Volkswagen, Tesla, Zenn, Nissan, to name a few, have worked over time to create tangible options to the every-day commuter. Many cities around the world have also begun to recognize the value of EV’s, implementing charging stations for their neighborhoods.
5) Wave/Tidal Energy- Renewable being the operative word to our every-day energyconsumption, wave/tidal energy has opened the door to affordablealternatives. Once a wave power station is constructed, the energy isfree, requires no fuel inputs, and produces no waste or pollution. Notto mention the massive potential yet to be tapped in our oceans.
So, while we talk about the pros and cons of Copenhagen, and shakeour heads at how bureaucracy bogs down the gears of change, we can atleast share a few moments of respite at what progress has been made,and how it stands to effect our every day lives for the better.