Monday, 29 September 2008

life after carbon reduction

I have commented before on the difficulty of moving towards more sustainable energy use. The first barriers to overcome are understanding the facts, informing public opinion and overcoming misinformation. But we definitely need solutions to problems like car dependence and alternatives to coal-fired power stations.

So it is pleasing to read in the press two alternatives that seem to have promise.

  • A recent report to "clean-power developer", Carnegie Corporation, estimates that wave energy created around Australia's long coastline is four times the current generation capacity of the nation. An estimated 10% of this, or one third of the current power usage, could be harvested. This energy source, coupled with solar, wind and geothermal, makes it look likely that Australia could meet all its power needs in the future with renewable and carbon-neutral energy.
  • Not long ago, the National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA), released a report from its "Jamison Group", which has been researching the development of alternative motor vehicle fuels, in order to reduce oil dependence. The plan aims at reducing oil-based fuel usage by 50% in 40 years, via compulsory reduction in fuel consumption, changes to incentives and subsidies and development of alternative fuels such as biofuels. But ultimately, the requirement will be further development of electric cars (which hasn't always been enthusiastically supported by existing motor interests) and of the renewable energy resources to power them.

One wonders whether we can depend on 40 years of petrol usage, but electric cars are already viable, and even very competitive.

The seriously interesting Tesla electric roadster (photo from the Tesla website)

It now requires people and governments to support these measures, even though they will cost us in the short term - if any generation can afford to, and should, take a cut in wealth to buy a better future, it is us.

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