The Guardian, over there across the pond, has just published a splendid piece that should help put to rest some misconceptions about the ease, expense, and possibility of converting the world to a sustanable/green/you name it energy system. The writer is Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet. He lays it all out succinctly and clearly, and I hope he gets a wide audience.
Among his arguments: Solar electricity is developing very quickly, becoming vastly more efficient and less expensive. Transmission is a big challenge, but Goodall argues that Europe could get nearly all the electricity it needs from solar plants in the Sahara Desert. Wind power is likewise developing rapidly, with northern Germany generating more electricity than it needs from wind. Tidal power is also a promising field in certain places, including the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, and parts of South America.
Nuclear power is still hugely expensive and its costs are unpredictable. He cites a new plant in Finland that was supposed to start operating this year but now won’t get going until 2012 and the final cost will be more than twice what was originally estimated. Electric cars are coming along quickly as well. Batteries need to become cheaper and quicker to charge, but advances in that regard are coming fast.
Bigger is not always (maybe not usually) more efficient when generating electricity. Low-tech solutions have a role to play just as high-tech ones do. Proponents of organic agriculture will find a thing or two to bother them here, but overall this is the most hopeful document I’ve read in a long, long time.
Take a look. Let us know what you think.