High Tech - Alternative Energy

Wind Power, Geo-thermal, Photo-voltaic, bio-diesel, ethanol......

These energy sources may not be as GREEN as you might first think.

If the production and delivery system for alternative energy tend to negate the gain in energy, it is not so GREEN.

What is the initial investment for the energy system in dollars, resources....?

How much fossil fuel energy is needed to use this alternative source?

How much maintenance is needed to keep the energy flowing?

What is the lifetime of the system?

How recyclable is the equipment?

While using these alternative energy sources is a pretty GREEN idea, many of the ways people use actually cost more fossil fuel production than they replace.

 

Simple systems that pay off quickly and last a long time make sense.

Wind Turbines and Transmission lines have a huge intitial investment and high environmental costs.

Heating air or water with solar energy   -  Simple and cheap
Generating electricity with Photo-voltaic panels - complex and expensive
       new technology is emerging that reportedly will soon double the efficiency of solar electric panels

Geo-thermal systems for homes usually have a very high investment, high maintenance, a short lifetime, and high environmental impact.   Larger industrial facilities need individual assessment.

Ethanol from corn grain is the classic example of the inputs being greater than the energy produced.
    Ethanol from plant waste is somewhat more practical.

Burning Bio-Mass for energy is the original renewable energy.  Plants are very efficient solar energy collectors and burning is a simple way of releasing this energy.  Clean burning systems are in use in many countries around the world on a variety of scales.