The great expectations for alternative energy

Written by Ed Dolan Monday, 17 December 2012 14:43
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E Dolan is the author of There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, version 40.0 was published in 2011.


Ozzie Zehner’s book Green Illusions calls our attention to the sometimes exaggerated claims that are made for alternative energy.


Zehner sees these unrealistic ideas as widely shared in the mainstream environmental community.


He maintains that they lead to the illusion that if we only muster the will to invest more in solar panels, windmills, and biofuel, we can produce our way to a future of clean, cheap energy. Not so, says Zehner. Alternative energy has a role to play, but it will never live up to the hype from its boosters.


Then, last week, just two days after I posted my own review of Zehner’s book, the New York Times published a perfect case in point of green illusions.


It came in the form of an op-ed entitled “Solar Panels for Every Home,” by David Crane, President of NRG, an energy company involved in both conventional and renewable energy, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,  a senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council and president of Waterkeeper Alliance.


Their article pushes for more home photovoltaic (PV) systems as a way of avoiding disruptions of electric service like those recently caused by superstorm Sandy.


Unfortunately, many of the claims the authors make are, at best, highly misleading.


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