Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is Renewable Energy Affordable?

Wind Energy - A New Kind of Power Generation i...Image by thinkpanama via Flickr

Renewable Energy Affordability Myths Dispelled by Don Obrien

In this myth busting series, we explore the misinformation and disinformation surrounding renewable resources. There are many reasons for the proliferation of these myths, not the least of which is a desire to forward an agenda. Various players have a vested interest in thwarting alternative energy development. Others simply seem to be sharing these myths as fact, unaware of the propaganda value.

As we have stated before, "The mythology of renewable energy has grown as rapidly as the field itself." Alternative energy and its harvesting techniques are not flawless beyond any stretch of the imagination; however failure to develop and perfect these energies is not a solution to our power problems. One of the most common myths promoted as a concern by green energy opponents is the affordability issue.

Renewable energy development is still in the infant stages. The development of alternative energy resources is not cheap, it is not easy, but progress is being made everyday. Renewable energy development is proving to be worth the cost, and performance is driving energy cost reduction. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSUSA) has found that, "The cost for wind and solar electricity has come down by 80-90 percent over the past two decades."

It can be easily argued that despite somewhat higher costs, the competition from renewable energy technologies suppress the costs of traditional fuels. The Electric Power Research Institute projects that the cost of renewable energy will continue fall to levels that are competitive with conventional energy sources over the next 5-15 years. Not to mention the reduction of human and environmental costs associated with fossil fuels.

It is important to remember that with some reliable renewable energy harvesting technologies, the initial set-up is costly and the resulting energy is free in many ways. Free from the higher labor costs associated with toxic fuels. Free from environmental costs associated with remediation of land and air. Free from economic forces that shift with limited fossil supplies.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a small wind-energy system is generally less expensive than its solar-powered counterpart. With few moving parts, wind turbines don't require much maintenance and operate practically automatically, while lowering your electric bill by 50 to 90 percent.

Even still there are emerging renewable harvesting methods that will be less expensive than wind to implement. Much of our electricity is produced by large central plants, and solar and atmospheric energy will not necessarily require ready access to the grid. These technologies can generate electricity nearer to where it is needed. This saves on the cost power transmission and distribution. This should improve efficiency and reliability of power systems.

One of the most commonly heard and unfounded arguments for the continued reliance on fossil fuels, is they are inexpensive. However, the real costs in terms of subsidies, and the effects on the environment and our health are hidden. The potential and actualized costs associated with toxic fuels are virtually unknown. The government services such as military protections of shipping lanes for oil transport and the stringent protection of nuclear energy plants is unaccounted for in the determination of cost efficiency.

In the case of nuclear energy plants, the potential cost of clean-up in case of failure is incalculable and the government must be the "insurer of last resort," as per the Federal Energy Bill of 2005, in which the industry was granted freedom from paying for law suits incurred.

The reason to "go green" should not be the economic costs alone, no matter how compelling. Many would argue that the primary reasons should be a healthier and safer future. As we deplete our fossil fuel supplies the costs will increase. The costs of renewables will decrease due to the increased demand. The sheer economy of scale will force the costs for renewables down as well. The advent of energy harvesting products such as the atmospheric electricity generator and the advancements in solar, wind, and tide resources eliminate one by one the reasons to resist renewables.

Don O'Brien and associates offer insights, insider information and share their knowledge of the renewable energy industry. They have extensive knowledge of power management and efficiency, find them at http://www.gaultpowermgmt.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Don_Obrien


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