The long road ahead

Amer­i­ca’s Best Places For Alter­na­tive Ener­gy — Forbes​.com

The “cubic mile of oil” – a met­ric rough­ly equiv­a­lent to the amount of oil con­sumed world­wide each year – is fre­quent­ly used to explain the chal­lenge fac­ing solar, wind, geot­her­mal and bio­mass pow­er.

So what would it take to replace the amount of ener­gy in a cubic mile of oil? Rough­ly 4.2 bil­lion solar rooftops, 300 mil­lion wind tur­bines, 2,500 nuclear pow­er plants or 200 Three Gorges Dams, accord­ing to Men­lo Park, Calif., non­prof­it research insti­tute SRI Inter­na­tion­al.

In oth­er words, no sin­gle cat­e­go­ry of renew­able ener­gy is grow­ing any­where near the speed it needs to bear the full brunt of dis­plac­ing car­bon-emit­ting fos­sil fuels any­time soon.


While there is no doubt that wind, solar and geot­her­mal [pow­er] have ample ener­gy to pow­er the plan­et – the sun­light that hits Earth in a sin­gle hour con­tains enough ener­gy to fuel the human pop­u­la­tion for a year – they will need years to mature before they reach any­thing approach­ing their poten­tial. Oil has had more than a cen­tu­ry to mature, and its short­com­ings remain painful­ly obvi­ous even now.

Hope­ful­ly this isn’t a sur­prise to most, but it looks like we’ll need a lot of hard work — cer­tain­ly not just a bunch of peo­ple and com­pa­nies “going green” in name — to real­ly effect envi­ron­men­tal change. That’s a glass of cold water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *