Less than one might think. Here is a graph from 2002 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that lays out the trends in wind, photovoltaic, geothermal, solar thermal and biomass sources. Its old, and I looked until I had to get the post done, but the graph still shows trend lines that are true until the NRELs publication date and obviously will trend down more over time.

NREL Technolgy Cost Graph

When one looks closely you’ll see that the graphing isn’t the same value on the vertical scale. The Cost of Energy-cents/kwh is 0-10 for geothermal, 0-15 for biomass, 0-40 for wind, 0-70 for solar thermal and 0-100 for photovoltaic. I’m sure the designer meant to make a nice clean comparison but the visual appeal distorts the differences somewhat.

What jumps out at a person are the results out in the field. From a low starting point geothermal hasn’t come very far in installations. Wind has just boomed and biomass is just getting into the starting gate. The solar sources have cut costs enormously. Things are going to change.

One hundred dollar oil makes all of this possible.

We can also see where the ball may have been dropped by policy makers. Geothermal hasn’t been fed what it needed to compete. Wind got a huge boost by states requiring renewable resources and Federal supports and made it pay. Biofuels, led by the corn to ethanol business has forged out a path for the other technologies to grow by removing or illuminating the business risks. Solar has enjoyed a huge infusion of capital and research that may offer even better products than promised for this year.

The catch in all of this is that wind, photovoltaic and solar thermal all need a storage component added to gain the status of base load provision. The storage field is the one to watch in 2008. This segment of the delivered is where the unknown dollars to be spent are lurking.

Biofuels is a storage medium. The play here will be to displace fossil fuels and drive down costs. The target is lower than many might think today as fossil fuels are displaced there is a good chance their price will go down. The business can hit a similar wall that corn to ethanol struck when the price of corn got so high as to squeeze the profit from production.

In full view biofuels are stored energy fuels, geothermal can be a source freed of a storage medium and the two solar and wind industries are close, but a storage step away from complete market assessment.

2008 might bring the awareness up that the storage issue is the chasm to be crossed next and is the last step to determine the true long-term viability of intermittent technologies.


8 Comments so far

  1. salvatore forzisi on January 2, 2008 10:58 AM

    Procedure of loading batteries of an electrical vehicle by Aeolic system

    The recharges of batteries, which supplies energy to the electric motor of a vehicle, will be carried out through an Aeolic System composed by the following elements:



    -controller with load


    The vehicle, being left over, will always have some air amount whose speed will be directly propertional to the same speed of the vehicle.

    The air will enter in the autobody by the embrasures placed in the frontal part of the vehicle, and it will canalized towards the rotores.

    The rotores could be one or more and they will be placed inside the auto body in a way not to hinder the advance of the vehicle creating friction.

    The Permanent Magnet Generator (PMG) concurs of extracting the maximum

    power by the rotor.

    The controller with loads serves to prevent the damaging of the batteries.

    The generated current will be “alternating current trifase” (AC) and will be converted from the rectifier in “direct current” (DC).

    The generator, the controllers electronics, the rectifier and the batteries will be placed into the vehicle.

    The direct current, finally, will be canalized, by a power cable , towards the batteries and it will recharge to them.

    It will be also possible to load the batteries when the vehicle is stopped.

    This is possible because the wind, investing the car from several points, will be put towards a rotor that will create described energy.

    Purposes of the plan and advantages:

    * to produce energy to cost 0 and 0 emissions, bringing a remarkable

    economic, ecological and social advantage.

    * the energy produced in march feeds the same march of the vehicle and there is no need to stop for the refueling.

    * development of an innovative system based on rotators and generators placed into the autobody.

    We are looking for patnership

    cav. Salvatore Forzisi

    via bezzecca 2

    40139 Bologna

    tel.(+39) 051 6233600

    mobile(+39) 3465048310


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