A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis
LESSONS LEARNED BY THE AUTHOR (Part 10)
A plan for a sustainable energy future
Energy is the driving force of civilization. No civilization can survive unless it solves the energy question in a sustainable manner. The November 2009 issue of Scientific American presents A Plan for a Sustainable Future: How to get all energy from wind, water and solar power by 2030, by Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, pointing out that:
Wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100% of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels.
Former vice president Al Gore threw down a gauntlet: to repower America with 100% carbon-free electricity within 10 years.
We took on an even larger challenge: to determine how 100% of the world’s energy, for all purposes could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources, by as early as 2030. Our plan is presented here.
A 2009 Stanford University study ranked energy systems according to their impacts on global warming, pollution, water supply, land use, wildlife and other concerns.
The very best options were wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and hydroelectric power – all of which are driven by wind, water or sunlight (referred to as WWS).
Nuclear power, coal with carbon-capture, and ethanol were all poorer options, as were oil and natural gas.
The study found that battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles recharged by WWS options would largely eliminate pollution from the transportation sector.
Our plan calls for millions of wind-turbines, water machines and solar installations.
The numbers are large but society has achieved massive transformations before.
Our plan includes only technologies that work or are close to working today on a large scale.
We consider technologies that have near-zero emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants over their entire life cycle, including construction, operation and decommissioning.
We consider only technologies that do not present significant waste disposal or terrorism risks.
WWS will supply electric power for heating and transportation – industries that will have to revamp if the world has any hope of slowing climate change.
Hydrogen, produced by using WWS electricity to split water (electrolysis), would power fuel cells and be burned in airplanes and by industry.
The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.
Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.
The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted
The November 25, 2014 International New York Times had an article by Diane Cardwell ‘Solar and wind energy in U.S. start to win on price vs. fuels’ in which the following points are made: “The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.” “Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and the Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.” “These prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.” “In Texas, Austin Energy signed a deal this spring for 20 years of output from a solar farm at less than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour.” “According to a study by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents.” “According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the main trade group, the price of electricity sold to utilities under long-term contracts from large-scale solar projects has fallen by more than 70% since 2008, especially in the Southwest.”
We are in a period of very rapid change and a Chapter is devoted to Energy.