Biomass and Other Transition Fuels are a False Solution
- by Karen Orr, Energy Justice Network
Clean, truly renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030, according to recent research published by the Journal of Power Sources.
This can be done economically and without government subsidies if a well-designed combination of solar power, wind power and storage in batteries and fuel cells is implemented.
Biomass/incineration, ethanol, nuclear power and other false solutions have been promoted as “transition” fuels or technologies, yet the capital-intensive nature of these technologies make transition impossible.
When public or private financial resources are invested in infrastructure for biomass incineration, biofuels, etc., it takes us further from the goal of meeting our energy needs with conservation, efficiency, energy storage and clean, truly renewable energy.
Investments in polluting, false transition technologies make it harder to reach our clean energy goals because:
The economic resources could be spent by investing in efficiency measures, solar, wind and energy storage. There's no need to wait.
They are an investment dead-end. Building biomass incinerators, cellulosic ethanol plants or other capital-intensive, false solutions takes money that should be spent on real solutions and wastes them on projects that need to be paid off over 10 to 30 years. No project owner is going to run a plant for five to 10 years, tear it down and then build a concentrated solar power facility in its place.
They create new constituencies of investors opposed to the move to clean energy. Those who invest in “transition” projects have an economic incentive to keep their polluting facilities running for decades, seeking subsidies and preventing the transition to conservation, efficiency and clean, truly renewable energy.
As we build the new energy economy, it's better to continue using existing infrastructure to build the new clean one than to build expensive new infrastructure that will take much longer to break away from.
New infrastructure for polluting technologies creates more entities with economic imperatives that will keep their operations going as long as possible, making it even harder to shift reliance to the clean technologies we need.
There's no need for investment in false, polluting “transition” technologies that divert us from clean energy generation. Conservation, efficiency measures and clean, renewable technology is available right now.
Visit http://www.energyjustice.net/solutions for more information.