Saturday, July 5, 2008

"Sunshine is free, unless Exxon buys the sun"

Today the focus on energy centers around the price of oil, but the price for electricity is also increasing as worldwide demand surges. Since 1978 the Federal Government has been trying to increase the use of renewable energy sources, but has been slow to act. Only 3% comes from non-hydropower renewables.

Presently wind power is the fastest growing renewable source. Other technologies have lagged behind. But, researchers expect Solar Power will quickly become the largest renewable source within 5 to 10 years. The price for solar power per kilowatt hour is expected to be 8 to 9 cents (about the same prices as natural gas.)

Scientists often tout the advantages of solar compared to wind including:

· Power is less intermittent that wind and more predictable.

· Excess power is easier to store and does not require battery development.

Correspondent Mark Bralley attended a United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources field hearing on July 2, 2008 at the International Programs Building, Sandia Science & Technology Park, in Albuquerque.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, chaired the hearing and was joined by ranking member Pete Domenici and Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders.

Sen. Bingaman told Bralley, in this AUDIO INTERVIEW, that he believes there is a great future for solar power in the Southwest, and agrees with WIPP Scientist James Conca that resistance to nuclear power is lower than it has been, but Bingaman says building a nuclear plant is an expensive proposition.

Bingaman also told Bralley we have to determine how to contain green house gases emitted from coal-fired plants. Bingaman says researchers are trying to separate Carbon Dioxide before it is emitted into the atmosphere, but the carbon capture and storage technologies are unproven.

Responding to increasing gas prices the Energy Chairman tells Bralley the country must figure out a way to increase gas production and decrease market demands.

Bralley also spoke briefly with Senator Bernard Sanders after the hearing. In this AUDIO INTERVIEW the independent politician says he’s learned from leading experts that, “there is enormous potential for solar energy in general and concentrated solar in particular.”

Sanders say’s solar power is a big deal, “I think we’re just at the cusp of exploding a technology which can help us reverse global warming, create millions of good paying jobs with other sustainable energies, and also break our dependence on fossil fuel and foreign oil.”

Earlier Sanders told the audience, of about 150 people, that “sunshine is free, unless Exxon buys the sun.”

Senator Jeff Bingaman believes government should require utility companies to provide a measureable percentage of their power from renewables.

Sen. Pete Domenici says republicans want to work with democrats and develop a bi-partisan solutions to America’s increasing electrical needs.

Complete AUDIO from the hearing is available. here. Note: The audio is intermittent until the hearing starts, about two minutes into the feed.

For more information on The NM Independent published two reports on the hearings here and here.

Audio and Photo Credit: MG Bralley

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nuclear power. Now.