Unlimited Power

hywind postcardOne of the core messages I have tried in my writing and my teaching to convey is that the Big Lie from the energy special interests that want to see renewables fail is that wind, solar, geothermal and their cousins can’t get the job done.  Utter piffle!  Here are two examples of what Andrew Leonard called “Exajoules of Hope” several years back in referencing a seminal paper on the Potentials of Renewable Energy.

Offshore wind in deep waters opens up massive power potential is the head for a press release from the European Wind Energy Association this week.  A new report from this highly effective NGO reveals that floating offshore wind turbines, like the Hywind prototype above from Statoil and Siemens, deployed just in the North Sea, could supply all of Europe’s power needs four times over.  Got that?  Given the right public policy and private sector support, the EWEA says that the first full-scale deep water wind farms could be operating as soon as 2017.

Want more?  A massive MIT study for DOE that came out in 2007, “The Future of Geothermal Energy,” estimated that an approach known as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) could, technically, produce “about 2,000 times the annual consumption of primary energy in the United States.”  Primary energy – that’s all the energy from power, transportation, industry, commercial and residential real estate, etc.  Two thousand times what we use today!  Got that too?

An update on geothermal from the always excellent David Biello at Scientific American clues us to the fact that although geothermal remains a pricey option and risky bet, the technology and the commitment to further research and development from the likes of the Ormat, a power developer, a little Mom-and-Pop operation called Google, and the eggheads at ARPA-E, among others, could pilot EGS toward the mainstream in the foreseeable future.

Listen to Biello’s podcast on EGS here and check out this slide show on a pilot project in France.

And don’t ever think, at this late date, that renewables can’t do the heavy lift we need.


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