Saturday, December 15, 2012

WHY THRUST TOWARDS RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES IS LANGUISHING

Edison-solar-energy
This is what Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor who gave this world electricity and electric bulb thought about the potential of solar, wind and tidal energy way back in 1931. Simultaneously he had a premonition that the human race would commit the folly of waiting for the drying up of all our fossil fuel resources before tackling the scientific and technological problems associated with harnessing of renewable energy.
There are others like George Porter, Ralph Nader and Joseph A. Tainter who gave their own assessment for this delay and how right they have been.


I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun’s energy… If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.
George Porter, an English chemist (1973).

The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.~ Ralph Nader, an American consumer activist and politician (1980).

Any change from the long established practices and technologies are resisted by cartels of nations,industries and even the technocrat lobbies for reasons of self interest and fear of losing on their monopolies and importance. This is why the nuclear nations are strongly touting for nuclear energy in spite of the universally known fact that a nuclear power plant is a ticking catastrophic bomb and has massive problems associated with disposal of wastes, dismantling of old plants, danger of nuclear fuels passing into the hands of terrorists and what not. Joseph A. Tainter, an American anthropologist has very aptly summed this in the following lines.
…a voluntary change to solar energy and green fuels, energy-conserving technologies, and less overall consumption… is a utopian alternative that… will come about only if severe, prolonged hardship in industrial nations makes it attractive, and if economic growth and consumerism can be removed from the realm of ideology.
The two main problems i.e. the requirement of large tracts of land and energy storage when renewable energy sources are to be employed are just excuses by vested interests to avoid them for the time being. 
“Opportunities to install renewable energy systems on vacant properties can be found in every community,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Tapping sun and wind power at brownfield sites, rooftops, parking lots, and abandoned land could provide untapped gigawatts of clean energy.”
Similarly, the requirement and problem of energy storage is not as big as is being made out. First of all, about 50% of power requirements are during day time, similarly large quantities are required in stand alone applications, mini and micro grids. All solutions lie in combining and hybridization of technologies. In fact the developed world is guilty of telling us how renewables cannot be used for providing energy security to  this world  instead of how they can be used. Where there is a will, there is a way.The day politicians, scientists and technologists set their sights on these inexhaustible sources, nothing else will be required for energy security.