Clean Energy Is Not for the Weak Spirited


Recently in the downtown Fresno Radisson Hotel, five of us who make our living in clean energy discussed the state of the industry, the economy and the latest happenings in California’s sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley.

“We’re on the brink,” one of   renewable energy sources    our group said. “About to sail down the other side.”

Like a roller coaster? Maybe. While our mood was optimistic — you have to have a glass-half-full attitude to be in this line of work — the reality of clean energy is that despite whatever technological advances made and the cost reductions in getting the Earth-friendly energy into the grid, there’s always another hurdle, or several.

Modern Times

The latest wrench in the machine (I always think of Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times” when I conjure that cliche) happens to be geopolitical. Continued Middle East unrest is messing with gas prices. Rather than flock to alternatives, the American public collectively hunkers down like the only available car on the road is an H2 Hummer.

A new study by the Pew Research Center says that while Americans still look favorably upon alternative energy, the sentimental surge in support for increased production of oil, coal and natural gas has increased over the past year. “Moreover, support for allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters, which plummeted during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has recovered to pre-spill levels.”

The study found 65 percent favor allowing increased offshore drilling, up from 57 percent a year ago and 44 percent in June 2010, during the Gulf spill.

I mentioned the study’s findings at my little meeting in the Radisson, but it failed to phase anybody. This group has built up thick skin from years in the business. Selling clean energy, energy efficiency and clean air isn’t for the weak-spirited.

Alternatives for energy security

Recently I did a couple of posts on natural gas. It’s a cleaner burning fuel, and what I especially like about it is that the United States has a heck of a lot of it deep underground. I’m personally all for energy independence, and one of the ways to get there is the “all of the above” theory. That means including fossil fuels.

My friend Charles in Texas would beat me over the head with that fact, arguing about the importance of crude oil to super custom choppers, fast cars and jobs — in about that order.

But I also want to be able to see the Sierra Mountains from my house. Currently, the majestic range is only visible after a drenching rain. There’s just too much pollution sequestered in this natural bowl in the center of California.

Some solutions have drawbacks


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