The staggering renewable power industry

February 22, 2012

One after another, large scale renewable energy firms are declaring bankruptcy – Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, and RangeFuels are among the highest profile casualties.  In December, BP, which had been an industry leader for decades, declared that it was dropping its solar power division, which had once been envisioned as a future profit center.  The fact of the matter is that alternative energy sources are not technologically advanced enough to survive in a marketplace without large government subsidies, and the current global financial climate cannot support such subsidies.  The overall energy profile of fossil fuels remains superior to any alternative, as they hold unsurpassed superiority in what I call the 3 Ps:  Price, Portability, and Potency.  A ton of coal or its equivalent in petroleum or natural gas can bring more energy to bear with more versatility than any existing competitor.  Nuclear can bring more potency, but the regulatory hurdles surrounding nuclear have prevented construction of a new plant in the US in decades.

The demand for energy is only growing, and there is no feasible recourse except fossil fuels to meet that demand.  We can either be serious about finding environmental mitigation for fossil fuel use, or we can freeze in the dark.  You know we aren’t going to choose the latter, so let’s drop the ideological stances (on both sides) and finally get serious about energy.


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