Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wall Street Journal Status Update on New Energy Technologies

Ten, twenty, thirty years ago you could hope farsighted folks would start investing substantial funds to more rapidly advance the economic viability of renewables, particularly solar. But it wasn't going to happen. You could have hoped (if you were that kind of person) that government would invest big bucks to find energy research. But you would have been disappointed.

Well, these are the new days, and while some fresh minds are working on building the next new iPhone app, thousands more at MIT and elsewhere have the pedal to the metal on nanotech solar and modified genetic biofuels and a million other things that could change the world.

This Wall Street Journal article gives you a snappy late 2009 update on five of them complete with nice illustrations, tells you where they stand today, describes the capabilities they might bring tomorrow, and states plainly that all of them have serious challenges they've yet to overcome. My favorite line from the article balances the good with the hard: "Scientists are attacking the problem from a host of angles—all of which are still problematic."

Here are the five, all of which could make a big difference in DOD, not to mention the rest of the nation:
  • Space based solar
  • Advanced car batteries
  • Utility storage
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Next generation biofuels
There is no question some or all of these technologies will be part of our future energy portfolio. The only questions are when, how much, and what else?

Illustration Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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