Clean Technology and Sustainable Development
Technology fixes are often suggested as a solution to global warming. These fixes range from the simple to the fantastic. A BBC news story reports that scientists plan to fertilize the southern ocean with iron sulfate, which they hope will stimulate growth of marine plankton and reduce levels of carbon dioxide. Professor Rick Smalley suggests that the use of solar nanotechnology could help solve the problems of sustainable development and climate change. By harnessing the solar energy from a 10,000 square mile area of west Texas at 10% efficiency, the world could meet its current energy needs. However, the technology is not yet available to do this, but Professor Smalley suggests that nanotechnology to achieve such a result can be developed. His speech contains many interesting and colorful slides which show energy and carbon dioxide trends, though many appear hand drawn. The American Solar Energy Society ("ASES") also believes that solar energy can be part of the solution to global warming, either through photovoltaics or solar thermal energy. ASES notes that concerns about detrimental economic impacts of changing energy sources are likely to be exaggerated by fossil fuel industry lobbying groups. Solar power can be an effective way to reduce GHG emissions because, even considering the emissions required in making photovoltaics, solar power has only 1/100th the emissions of fossil fuels. The Fraunhofer Intitut Solare Energiesyteme is a research institute which conducts advanced research in renewable energy sources, particularly solar power. The web site contains more technical information about current developments in solar technology.
Hydroelectricity has also been advocated as a solution to energy problems. Water Power contains useful introductory information about generating electricity through various sources of hydro power. The site provides good basic information amongst a sea of obnoxious advertisements. The Center of Alternative Technology also provides basic information about hydropower.
The American Wind Energy Association ("AWEA") advocates the use of wind energy as a clean and reliable source of electricity. As wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of energy, AWEA proposes that the aggressive implementation of wind energy is a viable GHG mitigation scheme. The AWEA web site contains information about wind power technology, economics and policy. The Danish Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association web site provides an excellent guided tour of wind power. Topics covered are wind resources, computing wind turbine outputs, how wind turbines work, designing wind turbines, manufacturing and installing wind turbines, research and development in wind energy, wind energy and the environment, wind energy economics, and wind energy history. Many parts of this web site are technical, but a list of nontechnical FAQs is provided.
The American Bioenergy Association advocates the use of biomass for the generation of electricity. Bioenergy utilizes the closed carbon cycle wherein the carbon dioxide released by burning biomass is sequestered by growing plants which are, in turn, used as the next fuel source. The American Bioenergy Association's web site is not well designed and contains very rudimentary information about biomass development and policy. For a much better explanation of biomass technology and projects, see the Department of Energy's Bio Power Program.
The Global Energy Network Institute ("GENI") believes that technology is currently available to promote environmentally and economically sustainable development. GENI asserts that the interconnection of by high voltage transmission of many of the technologies discussed above could prevent climate change. By interconnecting various renewable energy sources such as hydro, tidal, and solar on a world energy grid, the energy needs for sustainable development can be achieved. GENI is working on developing a computer scenario which will demonstrate the cost/benefit analysis of such a scheme compared to other energy scenarios. The GENI web site contains many interesting articles and technical papers on the Institute's proposed solution to the world's energy problems.
The American Council for and Energy-Efficient Economy ("ACEEE") promotes decreasing reliance on coal power, increasing the efficiency of vehicles increasing the efficiency of consumer devices. The ACEEE web site contains several reports related to U.S. carbon emissions and the Kyoto Protocol. Furthermore, the site contains information for consumers, such as listings of energy efficient cars and appliances. Another approach to emissions abatement is the creation of power plants that use cleaner coal burning processes. The Clean Coal Center provides industry news on the use of coal technologies. The web site contains many reports related to decreasing the environmental impacts of power generation through the use of clean coal. The site is constantly updated with new reports on coal production and the environmental impacts of coal use.
In order to test the carbon abatement potential of many new technologies, the government has established the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The lab tests many sources of renewable or clean power and publishes reports. The lab's web site contains comprehensive information about alternative energy technologies and utilities. Of particular interest is the Renewable Electric Plant System which is a database containing information about renewable energy sources connected to the energy grid. While many alternative energy technology sources have been suggested to promote economically and environmentally sustainable development, Henry O’Mad believes that sustainable development can not be achieved through any technological means if the world continues are increases current consumption.
For more general information about alternative energy technologies, The Office of Power Technologies ("OPT") a division of the Department of Energy which is dedicated to developing clean power sources, provides facts on government programs related to photovoltaics, wind power, hydro power, geothermal energy, and biomass power. The site links to excellent tutorials on alternative energy sources and has many links to additional resources. CEERT's Clean Power Journal catalogues the use of clean power technologies in various industries. The topics range from wind farms to the use of renewable energy in the production of wine.