The green-ish bubble

Note: Ken Paulman is off this week. B. Adam Burke, Jeff Kart and Molly Priesmeyer will be guest posting.

My picks for the most promising green energy news items from the past week:

1. Are we fueling ourselves on ethanol? Ethanol tax credits may be dissolved early in a US Senate compromise announced Thursday. Corn ethanol is barely green, many call it unsustainable, and subsidies aren’t needed when high gas prices make biofuels almost profitable.

2. The European Union takes hard look at biodidesel. Reuters published findings from some leaked papers studying biodiesel in the EU. Negative climate impact and land-use effects from growing and manufacturing biodiesel were found to largely cancel out its benefits.

3. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that in the first quarter of 2011 all “renewable” energies provided more BTUs of energy than nuclear. There’s some valid argument over why we’d compare BTUs of nukes when we might compare electricity production but it’s just like when the stock market hits a round number. It’s the idea of it- renewables beats nukes. What’s next? Fossil fuels.

4. EPA rule will cause coal plants to cleanup or close down. As old coal closes up shop, new energy will be needed. While natural gas is the front-runner to replace dirtier coal, it’s a tough sell when its steep climate impact is considered.

5. Investors are officially giddy for green-tech. One investment manager says alt-energies are getting close to an “economic tipping point,” making them competitive with traditional and fossil-fuel technologies.

The green bubble has been discussed for several years before becoming the major plot point of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” which came out (to middling reviews) in 2010.

In his comeback, infamous investor Gordon Gekko tells his protégé Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf), “Green is the new bubble,” and he doesn’t need to do too much convincing. From the start of the movie LaBeouf ‘s character is hyping a hydrogen fusion experiment that his scientist friend has cooked up.

"What are you, some kind of energy freedom fighter?"

While we probably won’t see any hydrogen fusion power plants being proposed anytime soon these promising signs point to greener and cleaner energy in the days ahead.

2 thoughts on “The green-ish bubble

  1. Looking for easy answers for our energy challenges? Outside of the empty rhetoric of some presidential hopefulls, I’m afraid they don’t exist.

    I think we should ask this question of any “green” energy source: is it better than what it replaces?”

    If the answer is “yes,” even slightly, move forward. There are no perfect solutions, but if we keep moving toward the “better,” we are not wasting our time and resources.

  2. @Bob Moffitt: That works, so long as we have a fairly long window of time. I’m certain we don’t. Even if we lay aside climate change out of pure skepticism, there is the growth of global population and the fever-pitch demand for a middle-class lifestyle in high-population countries such as India and China. Population growth and consumerism alone could do us all in within decades. Then add back climate change. “Even slightly” doesn’t look promising.