Wind, water and sun beat biofuels, nuclear and coal for clean energy

December 11th, 2008 - 4:33 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 11 (ANI): The first quantitative, scientific evaluation of the proposed, major, energy-related solutions, has suggested that natural sources like wind, water and the Sun are much better than biofuels, nuclear and coal for clean energy.

The evaluation was done by Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University.

Jacobson assessed not only the potential of major, energy-related for delivering energy for electricity and vehicles, but also their impacts on global warming, human health, energy security, water supply, space requirements, wildlife, water pollution, reliability and sustainability.

His findings indicate that the options that are getting the most attention are between 25 to 1,000 times more polluting than the best available options.

The energy alternatives that are good are not the ones that people have been talking about the most. And some options that have been proposed are just downright awful, Jacobson said.

Ethanol-based biofuels will actually cause more harm to human health, wildlife, water supply and land use than current fossil fuels, he added.

He added that ethanol may also emit more global-warming pollutants than fossil fuels, according to the latest scientific studies.

The raw energy sources that Jacobson found to be the most promising are, in order, wind, concentrated solar (the use of mirrors to heat a fluid), geothermal, tidal, solar photovoltaics (rooftop solar panels), wave and hydroelectric.

Wind was by far the most promising, owing to a better-than 99 percent reduction in carbon and air pollution emissions.

According to Jacobson, while some people are under the impression that wind and wave power are too variable to provide steady amounts of electricity, his research group has already shown in previous research that by properly coordinating the energy output from wind farms in different locations, the potential problem with variability can be overcome and a steady supply of baseline power delivered to users.

Jacobson recommended against nuclear energy, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol, which is made of prairie grass.

In fact, he found cellulosic ethanol was worse than corn ethanol because it results in more air pollution, requires more land to produce and causes more damage to wildlife.

The research is particularly timely in light of the growing push to develop biofuels, which Jacobson calculated to be the worst of the available alternatives.

We should be spending to promote energy technologies that cause significant reductions in carbon emissions and air-pollution mortality, not technologies that have either marginal benefits or no benefits at all, said Jacobson. (ANI)

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