On a day sunny day like today, who would think about solar power not working enough for green energy? However, it was a different story if you think back a few days ago. After Irish-jigging my way through the monsoon-like rain this past weekend I came across another article which explores even further into alternative energy.

Thanks to government subsidies, wind and solar projects are abound. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF) nearly 8,000 megawatts of new wind capacity was installed in the U.S. in 2009. But thanks to further government backing, geothermal and other technologies are being brought to light. The NEF states geothermal power (extracting heat deep inside the earth) will increase more than 40% by 2013. They also expect “power from biomass – organic material such as wood chips, farm waste, and grass clippings that is burned to produce electricity – to jump by nearly a third over the same period.” And according to market researcher Frost & Sullivan, output from systems that harness ocean waves will rise from nearly nothing to more than 3,000 megawatts which is equivalent to four coal power plants by 2020.

I can just imagine the expense in getting these programs off the ground (or in the ground, in the water, etc) but a positive to these emerging technologies is that they are not dependent on the weather like wind and solar. This helps drive negotiations and financing with a steadier guarantee of electricity supply that utilities will pay a premium for. There are still some cons to these upcoming alternative energy technologies. The Business Week article mentions “newer geothermal plants in California and Switzerland that drill deeper than traditional setups are believe to have caused small earthquakes, leading to questions about the technology’s safety and viability.” Not to mention the rules of supply and demand we all learned in Economics class that investment in biomass may slow if prices for wood chips and plant waste rise as demand increases. Regardless of some shaky ground (I couldn’t resist) private capital investors are surfacing as state and government backing increase.

So as you raise your preferred green beverage of choice today let’s toast to the growing green alternative energy abound! Slàinte!
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Tina Lamanna

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