Grist reports that Democratic nominee Barack Obama is calling for a "clean energy future" (hopefully he doesn't mean "clean" coal or nuclear power, but maybe I'm being too optimistic).

Not to let Obama steal the show entirely, John McCain also gave a speech tonight in New Orleans, in which he painted himself as "the right change" and Obama as "the wrong change." He talked up his energy policy as one of the ways he'd bring about that change: "No problem is greater than America's dependence on foreign oil," said McCain. The next president "must be willing to break with previous administrations ... and put us on a course to energy independence," he said, proceeding to criticize Obama's record on energy.

But Obama also had fighting words for John McCain on energy: "Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can’t even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he’d understand that we can’t afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators."

Obama continued: "That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future –- an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. That’s the change we need."

Also at Grist, Dave Roberts looks at a revival of plans for space based solar power collectors (echoing Isaac Asimov's long ago call for a "stable world order" providing power to the people using the same mechanism - some ideas never die it seems). Overall it would seem that large scale CSP in the deserts would be much cheaper and easier to implement.
CNN takes a look an energy long shot that could change the game on climate change: space-based solar power. The idea is to launch satellites covered with solar panels up into geosynchronous orbit, where the sun is always shining, and beam the power back down to land-based receivers. A 2007 Pentagon study concluded that "a single kilometer-wide band of geosynchronous Earth orbit experiences enough solar flux in one year to nearly equal the amount of energy contained within all known recoverable conventional oil reserves on Earth today."

The article focuses on the obvious problem: cost. Back in the '70s when the U.S. was looking at this seriously, NASA concluded getting all the infrastructure up into space would run about $1 trillion.

That's a lot. It's only about a third of what we'll end up spending on the Iraq war, though, and if it buys basically limitless clean electricity, it will be a bargain. But NASA has blown it before, and betting $1 trillion is a bit much.

What I want to know is: Are massive microwave beams of power shooting through the atmosphere not cause for worry? Think of the birds!

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1 Opinions

  1. islandchic // 16 July 2008 at 07:07

    Nice one love.