The next article or two will focus on the end result of the series of articles I have written in the past week. When will a Renewable Energy Economy arrive? What will a Renewable Energy Economy look like?
This depends upon a great deal of whether you are an optimist, pessimist or pragmatist as I try to be or rather have had to behave as an environmental professional working between governments and industry, Are we thinking of a 100 percent Renewable Energy Economy? Or are we thinking of a transitional, diversified energy economy where a variety of both Conventional fossil fuel energy sources and Renewable Energy fuel sources run the world economy?
If you have read me in the past then you know that what I see is a healthy, diversified world Energy Economy with a growing mix f Renewable Energy fuels over time with a rich compliment of very clean Conventional fossil fuel energy sources. I have stated numerous times that I see Fossil fuel in the world economy for the foreseeable future if not several hundred years. This means even coal, nuclear and petroleum. I understand this is not a popular or widely held view among Renewable Energy proponents and Climate Change Control advocates
What I can say is that my experience with Clean Fossil fuel energy and Renewable Energy in my lifetime which is the span of environmental protection is that market penetration of Renewable Energy is disappointing. Even Conventional Natural Gas for transportation that has had government mandates and tax incentives for two decades have met with limited success.
The idea and the goals of a Carbon Zero 100 percent Renewable Energy Economy are widely held and embraced. Until one begins to analyze the current and next generation market place for energy sources, the goal of a Renewable Energy Economy remains praiseworthy.
After looking at the market readiness of wind and solar and tidal and hydro and biomass fuel sources it becomes clear that many of these fuels developed in the past generation are still not ready for wide spread commercial use.
Depending on your region a kilowatt hour of electricity costs about 10 cents. Coal can cost as cheap as 2 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. In Massachusetts where I live electric power from Cape Wind will cost about 22 cents per kilowatt hour. Even if Renewable Energy power sources in cheaper energy markets in the United States are more cost competitive than the Northeast and California there will still be a 2 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour price premium for Renewable Energy power sources.
In deregulated electric power supply states the individual consumer will decide the out come of Renewable Energy power supplies. I do foresee a backlash against expensive Renewable Energy if the Great Recession does ease unemployment levels soon or if prolonged stagnation of the economy continues.
As much as I desire to see a 100 percent Renewable Energy Economy in my lifetime or even in the next 100 years, I know that it is unlikely. What I do think is likely is that Renewable Energy research and development for both power plants and transportation will continue to be perfected. I do see Renewable Energy becoming more wide spread and cost effective in the market place against Traditional Energy in the next 100 years. In the end Renewable Energy will be cheaper to produce and use than Fossil Energy and the market economics will relegate coal and petroleum to the side lines as a Renewable Energy Economy develops in the next several generations.