Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Open Thread: In Which Clean Technology Would You Invest?

If you could only invest in one clean technology, which would it be? Or, put another way, if you had to bet on one clean technology, which do you think is the most promising? Wind? Nanotechnology? Solar? Efficiency?

9 comments:

Maria Surma Manka said...

Although there's not silver bullet to the energy problem, I'm partial to wind power myself. It's here, it's happening now, it produces energy efficiently with reasonable cost.

Cat's Staff said...

Wind is great, but I don't think it needs much investment. Many energy companies are investing in wind on their own, because it's cost effective for them. At the Nobel Conference one of the speakers mentioned something about nano-solar research. If high efficiency solar panels could be made cheap enough to be made into shingles and siding, houses could be made almost (if not totally) energy independent (assuming increases in efficiency). Hybrid/electric cars could also use the material in the roof, so that the car would charge during the day while the owner was at work. Other than that...cold fusion would be nice.

weee recycling said...

Solar Power gets my vote.
It's an area that's moving quickly - every month the use of silicon becomes more efficient and becomes more readily accessible to manufacturers of solar power.
Generally, it's also an area that technology innovation is flourishing.
Wind is great but appears to generate as much negativity as it does electricity when it's placed near peoples' homes. Having said that small/silent units offering power to homes seem guaranteed to become popular.
Nanotechnology is fascinating but I think we're going to have address the complex health issues that may arise from it's deployment.
In terms of a single move to push green technology forward I think governments around the world should make electrical inverters tax free.

psproefrock said...

You might be interested in my interview over at EcoGeek.org with science-fiction author Karl Schroeder and his response to a similar question.

I'm very interested in the Bussard fusion concept he spoke about.

I also think that more study and development needs to go into grid infrastructure to be able to support more widely distributed energy generation and move lots of power from small generators in a reasonable way.

Laura said...

There is no one answer for a city, state, or even country, because as with stocks, diversification is usually the safest bet. Solar has the most widespread appeal, but if you have the natural resources to use wind or hydro power, then those can easily be more efficient in that location. There are some areas that even tap landfills to obtain "methane power!" So while it's great to have a favorite, combinations of clean technologies probably have the best chance of success.

Maria Surma Manka said...

Good point psproefrock: Grid technology/infrastructure will have to go hand in hand with clean energy system we use.

Thanks for the info on Bussard fusion.

chessiakelley said...

I concur-diversification is going to be necessary in order to completely wean the USA off of oil/coal/and other fossil fuels which are A.) running out B.) cost too much C.) are creating climate change which will have/has had devastating effects. I am working to help pass the energy bill that is currently being debated in the US Congress. If passed in its entirety it would create a fuel standard of 35 mpg my 2020 and a standard that 15% of electricity come from renewable resources by 2020. Yesterday on the Hill there was a youth movement called Power Shift 2007 calling for much higher regulations, which are in fact necessary. However, it is necessary to pass this bill to get the US on the green track. I believe that once the nation realizes the ease of diversifying with renewalbe resources, higher standards will be passed. I urge you to sign the petition at Energy Bill 2007 in order to get this bill passed. It will be the first, and therefore biggest step that the US has ever taken to combat carbon emissions, and is necessary for our health, safety, environment, and pocketbooks.

Tim Hurst said...

1. Wind doesn't necessarily "need" investment, but if you want to park your money somewhere and have it compound interest without compounding guilt, it just might be your safest bet. Vestas has been soaring and they are projected to continue (although that hinges partially on passage of the PTC). Vestas and Gamesa are both foreign-owned companies that can provide a hedge against a slinking dollar. If you want to keep it American, try TowerTech Holdings (TWRT)which focuses on wind towers but has been acquiring various companies in the wind energy supply chain recently and the value of the company has increased dramatically. Also, Zoltek (ZOLT)is in the carbon-fiber industry and has negotiated some major contractors with turbine blade manufacturers.

2. The low hanging fruit is efficiency. This means smartgrid technologies, smart-meters, energy storage, and lots of other stuff a social scientist like me doesn't quite get. Personally, I like Echelon (ELON), Beacon Power (BCON)...

3. Finally, watch out for the greenwashers -- they are springing up everywhere!

lornadoone said...

For some unknown reason, I am just enamored by wind power. My fantasy is to live on a wind farm, so if I had my choice, I'd invest my money in setting that up and providing energy to my community.