"Today, solar cells are a tiny niche in the energy business rapidly expanding to be sure, but without the potential for exponential gains in performance and falling costs that are hallmarks of the computer world. ... After years of promise, the market for solar power is finally taking off, with annual [US] demand expected to increase to as much as 2,500 megawatts by the end of 2008, from about 1,000 megawatts now."
Meanwhile, the British Wind Energy Association has announced that they expect to be producing twice as much electricity by 2010 as they'd previously estimated, the 20 largest utilities in Europe plan to invest twice as much in renewable energy generation over the next five years, and a new A$700 million solar chip plant has been announced for Germany's Thalheim "solar valley". Honestly, one could spend all day linking to this stuff.
That's what I do for a living -- I track alternative energy technologies. I will say that in my opinion, there is no doubt that renewable energy technology will be the next big thing, akin to the computer revolution, or the Internet. I've been saying that for a few years, and it is starting to come true.
It is only a matter of time and we will see a huge influx of new techologies such as International Automated Systems solar steam power system and XSUNX with their nano-technology solar cell film for converting windows into a power generating electricity for commercial or residential construction. We are finally seeing true green technologies emerge which are feasable and cost effective.
Well let's hope that with this boom there won't be a bust. Politics, economy, etc. are a sure fire way to ruin such great potential.
If they can figure out how to get solar and wind to work 24/7/365, then I would say go for it. Right now as it stands I wouldn't trust wind and solar technologies any further than I can throw them.
I wonder if the sustainability part of sustainabkle technology might avoid this kind of boom and bust cycle? How do renewable energies go bust, unless there too much clean free energy for the world to consume?
While the dot com boom was often based on fairly illusory companies with projected sales figures, the new green technologies offer something much more tangible and necessary.
>How do renewable energies go bust?
Easy. Just like they did in the '80s. The tax incentives created an almost false security of jobs and then when they were removed, people couldn't afford it. Tax incentives are being created all over the country for RE's (and other sustainable programs including housing, cars, etc). Remove the money incentives then the only reason people would want to install RE would be for social ("Hey my neighbor has some PV. I'd like to show off my wealth and buy some as well"), independence, cost of systems decreased, or non-RE energy increased.
The only difference in the '80s was that energy was pretty damn cheap then... who knows, I was only born in 1984 :P
Creating subsidies for renewalbe tech is only done because the costs of fossil fuels (global warming, air pollution etc) are not reflected in price that buyers pay for them. There are lots of reasons why subsidies are a bad way to help renewalbe tech. one of witch is that they can be withdwawn at the whim of a politician and thus create a bust. Much better to transfer the bulk of general taxation (income and sales taxes) to carbon. And allow consumers to choose the best renewable systems for themselves. This would create an efficient free market in renewalbe tech. Or alternativly people may find other ways to reduce their CO2 output. Assuming of course that cutting carbon dioxide output is the objective