Thursday, March 06, 2008



Thanks for sharing this, Michael. Indeed, it's going to be a bumpy road for all renewables, but the two solar plays to watch are thermal and thin film. As for subsidies,the oil and gas industry in the US receives subsidies estimated at $15-35 billion/year, depending upon who is counting (and whether you include things like highway construction/maintenance, which I don't think is fair), and the coal industry is propped up by $60 billion in tax breaks since 1932, including $8 billion included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. By contrast, the Production Tax Credit, which is supported by the Senate Finance Committee's own Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), amounts to A whopping $5.5Billion. Woot! Sure, alternative energy needs to compete on a level playing field with fossil fuels. But that means either clean tech alternatives should be given equal access to subsidies or subsidies should be removed for all and let 'em duke it out. Are subsidies generally considered pro-business? Bring on the New Green Economy!

Alex Tolley

We need to stop thinking about simple cost comparisons for renewables vs fossil fuels. It is almost irrelevant what carbon taxes we pile on to carbon emissions if we continue to increase the CO2 concn of the atmosphere and warm the planet. Finite resources like coal and oil will inevitably lead to competition for those resources, including potential hot wars. The minor war in Iraq should indicate what those costs are going to be like.

As mentioned by greenskeptic above, thin film solar looks like the most promising PV technology. We'll see how scale economies work out. Thermal systems like the nytimes article is only suitable for relatively cloudless sunny areas - fine for SW USA, but not for the EU. We're going to need to think a lot more about energy efficiency, much as we did back in the 1970s, but largely forgot about subsequently.

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