Renewable energy is produced cleanly from natural sources. It
will not disappear like fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) and is
There are negative qualities to many of these technologies. As
we see it, the desirable aspects far overcome the negative qualities.
We presently have investments in these areas.
The latest turbine technologies have resulted
in wind-produced energy becoming more cost efficient, and more
widespread. New wind energy development is often cost-competitive
with conventional energy technologies. The old smaller wind turbines
did kill some birds. The new larger turbines turn more slowly and
are more likely to be placed out of the birds' migration paths,
alleviating this problem.
Solar cells produce electricity from the sun.
You see them in pocket calculators, garden lights and Coast Guard
buoys. They are on roofs of housing and commercial establishments.
Cost is falling. Efficiency is increasing. Conversion
efficiency of silicon cells has increased from 4% in 1982 (the
starting date of the Fund) to over 20% for the latest technologies.
The cells create no pollution when they generate electricity.
They are presently not as cost effective as utility produced electricity.
They are not suitable to produce industrial amounts of electricity
where they would require huge amounts of space. The areas
in which they are practical are growing. Cost keeps declining and
efficiency is increasing.
Our advisors expect that wave action, current,
tidal movement and temperature differential will become a new and
outstanding form of clean energy. A unit in a French River has
turbine apparatus which has been productive for several years.
Many new trials are being made in Scotland and now in the US. In
the past there have been problems with the deterioration of metals
in salt water, marine growth such as barnacles and storms. For
the most part these problems appear to be solved with the use of
different materials. Ocean energy has a big advantage
because the timing of currents and waves are understood and reliable.
This technology is clean but limited by geography.
This is already an important source of renewable electricity. The
large older dams have had problems with marine life. Much improvement
has been made on those dams to provide for marine life.
More attention is going to low-impact and "run-of-the-river" hydropower,
which does not have these ecological problems.
Geothermal Energy is produced by heat
from sources below the Earth's surface. For electricity generation,
steam created by these underground heat sources is used to spin
turbines. However in some cases sulfur is released, which has an
This is a broad category encompassing a
variety of fuels produced from biological sources.
|Waste gas (methane),
emitted from landfills, breweries, waste water, animal sewage
and coal mines, provides almost free fuel for stationary fuel cells
and conventional gas generators. It is more environmentally
beneficial to collect and burn this gas than to let it release
into the atmosphere.
produced from agricultural products, such as corn, wheat,
fruit, wine, and various kinds of cellulose including stalks
and wood chips. The techniques are steadily improving.
be created from used or virgin plant oil. Commercial tests
and production have been with rapeseed oil, soybeans, sunflower
oil. It is mostly produced by individual experimenters.
There is current interest in commercializing this product.
Bio-diesel works well and is cleaner
than petroleum-based diesel fuel. It is not yet certain that
it will become a mainstream technology.