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  (Source: Slice of MIT)
America continues pushing toward cleaner energy today

The UN-supported organization, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), conducted a study that shows half of new power generated in the United States in 2009 was renewable energy.

The U.S. has taken great strides toward mass use of renewable energy. Just last year, 10 gigawatts of wind power capacity was installed in the United States, which can power 2.4 million homes. Other advancements in clean energy were made last year as well, such as the $7 million grant for Argonne National Laboratory from the U.S. Department of Energy to further solar power research.

More recently, the Obama Administration has continued contributing funds to keep renewable energy research rolling along. In April, the U.S. government approved the country's first off-shore wind farm, despite those who protested the idea, and just this month, Obama gave a hefty sum of $1.85 billion for new solar energy plants to be built around the U.S.  In addition, a promising 73 percent of Americans want to cut fossil fuel dependency in favor of cleaner methods. 

While the U.S. is moving along in regards to green technology, other countries around the world have been joining the revolution for a cleaner planet too by implementing new ideas in green technology. 

In Europe, 60 percent of new power generation in 2009 was in the form of renewable energy. But China has made the most progress when it comes to green technology by manufacturing more solar panels and wind turbines than any other country, as well as adding of 37 gigawatts of renewable energy to China's overall power generation capacity. Worldwide, renewable energy accounts for 25 percent of total power generation and provided 18 percent of the Earth's electricity in 2009. 

Despite these strides in the growing use of renewable energy, the U.S. has a long way to go before they accomplish the U.S. Department of Energy's goal of having 20 percent of America's power derived from wind by 2030.



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RE: Cart before the horse
By Zavijava on 7/16/2010 3:46:13 PM , Rating: 5
It is this kind of short sighted ignorance that will keep this country steadily losing its place in the world. Fundamental research isn't done to find out what we know, but what we don't. It has sparked entire industries and tremendous improvements in the quality of our lives.

Fundamental physics research wasn't done to invent the TV, or the computer, or the myriad other advancements that is spawned -- but we wouldn't have these without it. History would suggest that fundamental research is money well spent. I wouldn't be so quick to politicize it. The percentage of the budget dedicated to this, compared to other expenditures, is laughable given the potential returns.

Not all "progressive" thinking is political, particularly compared to the entrenched interests competing for potential scientific research dollars. Is it really crazy, liberal thinking to want to improve solar cell efficiency, to remove this nations dependency on the finite resources of backwards countries, or work towards the general advancement of the human race and its understanding of the world we find ourselves in?


RE: Cart before the horse
By theArchMichael on 7/16/2010 5:20:22 PM , Rating: 5
Well said...

Also I think it should be noted that even if the desired or even expected results aren't achieved through direct research there are many ancillary benefits. Like supporting processes, techniques and procedures that may be useful in other ways than they were initially intended but which wouldn't have been procured except for conducting a particular experiment.

HIV researchers developed a way to keep extracted tissue samples alive for long periods of time, so that they can view virus activity in various stages in the same sample. This technique is also being used in other labs doing non-HIV research.

Also, whatever happened to the process of elimination. Even with results that one can't publish there is documentation that may prove useful in what 'doesn't work and perhaps why', in that particular subject.

So I also have to agree with Zavijava, more often than not, I consider it money well spent.


RE: Cart before the horse
By shin0bi272 on 7/17/2010 12:13:44 AM , Rating: 2
Both of the replies to the OP miss the point. The point is that the politicians are spending our money to develop products that have proven to be less effective than the ones that those same politicians despise. With the invention of the television there wasnt a huge government grant or an Xprise or whatever for the people working on it to claim so they can continue work. The companies developing them did so with their own money (sort of like Intel and apple) and sold the fruits of their labor at a price that made them a profit so they could make more of said device.

Now we have scientists claiming to be making breakthroughs but we never see them hit shelves... how many new solar panel breakthrough articles have we seen on DT in the past 2 years? 20? 50? How many new solar panels are there on the market? 1? 2? And those solar panels are no where near as energy dense as even natural gas let alone petroleum or coal. Yet there has been millions maybe billions of OUR money spent on a technology that's less effective than the one we already have. That's like spending billions of dollars right now to make a better candle that will burn out 400% faster than the current ones burn and using tax payer money to do it. But of course if you believe the fallacy that "green" energy can save our economy etc and that global warming is our fault then of course you'll allow the government sink billions of tax dollars into a failing technology.

Think of putting a butt load of your parent's money right now into making a kick ass apple IIe computer... no matter how much money you sink into it it's still going to suck compared to an ipad. But you dont care because it's not your money so you can spend it however you want. That's the issue the OP is taking with this article. If you put billions of dollars into a second rate technology but refuse to even allow any construction of the current technology's resources to ease the burden on our electric grid of course half of the new power generated will be "green" technology.


RE: Cart before the horse
By knutjb on 7/17/2010 1:59:25 AM , Rating: 2
So Edison, Westinghouse, Bell, Ford, and Firestone needed the government to make something new and better. Do some history and see how creative we were before government decided what should be invented.

Sure government has sponsored some good things but private industry and individuals have to make money from the investment. Without the ability to profit from an idea the wrong idea is picked by people, bureaucrats, who have never produced anything. The companies taking these hand outs are no better for it. That IS corporate welfare.

Its the ignorant belief that only government is capable of solving problems. Government is far superior at creating problems.

quote:
Not all "progressive" thinking is political, particularly compared to the entrenched interests competing for potential scientific research dollars. Is it really crazy, liberal thinking to want to improve solar cell efficiency, to remove this nations dependency on the finite resources of backwards countries, or work towards the general advancement of the human race and its understanding of the world we find ourselves in?
Competition for government research dollars isn't real competition its contracting to the government to attempt to create what some politician or bureaucrat thinks we should have. Is the solar cell the best choice? Maybe not but with the government controlling research and its direction a better idea will get overlooked. They are distorting the cash flow, both government and private, to ideas. Can the market place be wrong, yeah that is how we learn; Ford failed in his first car company. Government not only picks favorites but winners and losers to. Remember Congress had to approve all mergers that made up those to big to fail.

Our dependency on other nations is self induced. If we used our own resources, kept the money inside the country, we would have far more money for companies, universities, etc... to use for research. I don't think we can run off oil forever but its not going away in your lifetime and the capitalist market place is a far superior machine to create the solution that will work.


RE: Cart before the horse
By Hare on 7/17/2010 7:38:48 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
So Edison, Westinghouse, Bell, Ford, and Firestone needed the government to make something new and better. Do some history and see how creative we were before government decided what should be invented.


The law of diminishing returns. It didn't cost one cent to invent fire. It didn't cost a lot to develop a light bulb or the battery... But it costs a lot of money to develop high efficiency solar panels, genetic engineering, microbiological solutions, nanotech etc. Just the equipment and testing costs fortunes. Being creative and brilliant is not enough if you can't apply those skills and that requires funding!

You can't go to a formula 1 team and tell them that they can add 50 horse power to their car with just a pencil and an eraser because it was done that way 40 years ago...


RE: Cart before the horse
By knutjb on 7/17/2010 4:36:28 PM , Rating: 3
Don't oversimplify their efforts, it took Edison 3000 attempts to get the light bulb to work, not to mention all the others that created the light bulb at the same time.

Just because electricity and light are common place doesn't mean they were easy back then. They had to invent the engineering, power source, wiring, insulation, circuit topology, regulators, fuses, sockets and switches. Not to mention that many people thought electricity would leak out of the sockets and shock them.

You are the perfect example of misunderstanding history. It did cost a lot of money at that time to do that work they did have large staff of researchers and workers creating and manufacturing projects, up to 10,000 at Edison's Menlo Park during its peak. The phonograph, movie projector, power grid, etc... The profits from selling these products supported further research.

Those guys did it without the government deciding what they should do or funding it. They were the bleeding edge of technology in their day and made it possible for modern research.

quote:
It didn't cost a lot to develop a light bulb or the battery... But it costs a lot of money to develop high efficiency solar panels, genetic engineering, microbiological solutions, nanotech etc. Just the equipment and testing costs fortunes.
If the government would get out of the way and let those who know how to run profitable companies take care of business it will happen faster and cheaper than ANYTHING government can do. Many private companies have partnerships with Universities. If any invention cannot sustain itself in the open market then its not likely the best or most efficient way to do it and is nothing more than a Rube Goldberg device.

Everywhere government decides what should be done the costs go up due to the bureaucratic systems inherent inefficiencies.
quote:
You can't go to a formula 1 team and tell them that they can add 50 horse power to their car with just a pencil and an eraser because it was done that way 40 years ago...
No they did use pencils and paper, but they used their brains to figure it out. Its the individuals ideas that create, not piles of money from the government. An F1 Team receives government money? I thought it was private sponsors...

Don't get suckered into thinking only the Government can get us out of the hole we allowed them to put us in.


RE: Cart before the horse
By Zingam on 7/19/2010 7:20:33 AM , Rating: 3
Things were easy back then but things are much more difficult right now.

It takes basic physics knowledge to develop a light bulb but it takes not so trivial physics to develop a light diode and to manufacture it. So with time things get more complicated the researchers must know more and study longer to be able to invent new stuff because the easier things were already discovered because they were easy.

People are not getting more stupid than before as some like to claim. Science is getting more complex. Once upon a time 5 years in school were all the education anyone needed. Now you need about 20 years of schooling to get a capable specialist.


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