A protocol is proposed to put these popular (or obscure) options to the test, to provide clarity and reason in light of the substantial societal risk of betting on the wrong horse. If we choose a suite of technologies which precipitate a string of unintended consequences (nuclear war, global warming, destruction of biodiversity, or depletion of even more vital materials), millions will suffer. If these technologies are insufficient and we discover this only after exhausting our "seed corn" of fossil fuels, civilization may collapse.
Under the protocol, a scoreboard is established by a respected neutral party. A preliminary set of parameters and metrics is defined, and a literature search is conducted to suggest how all pertinent energy technology measure up to each other. Once a scorecard is in place for any given alternative, interested parties may endorse or challenge the scores in a rigorous fashion.
|Net Energy||How much energy does it take to produce the energy? also called EROI, EROEI, Yield per Effort...||
|Renewability||Is it a renewable or an exhaustible resource?||
|Efficiency||How does its efficiency compare with other options?||
|Equity||Who wins? Who loses?||
|Economics||Before and after subsidies, how does it compare with the alternatives?||
|Scalability||Can it ramp up soon enough to matter? What percentage of need can it meet?||
|Climate impact||Does it contribute to greenhouse gases?||
|Environment||Does it preserve or destroy important habitat?||
|Substitution||Will it directly replace an existing technology or does it imply a new paradigm?||
|Addiction||Is it to meet necessity or to indulge gluttony?||
|Reality Check||Is it fact or fiction?||
New Energy Congress, a part of PESWiki.
Mission Statement: The New Energy Congress is an association for the purpose of reviewing the most promising claims to up-and-coming clean, renewable, affordable, reliable energy technologies, in order to come up with a weighted list of recommendations of the best technologies...
[In turn,] PESWiki is a community-built 'free energy' website sponsored by PES Network, Inc. Focusing on alternative, clean, practical, renewable energy solutions." New Energy Congress -- Technology Review Criteria"The following are criteria used by New Energy Congress in reviewing and assessing claims to clean energy technologies.
"These criteria are prioritized and weighed. All qualifying technologies will be considered for review.
"This is an early draft, and is sure to be upgraded over time. The first draft, archived elsewhere, was unanimously approved with one abstention by NEC on Feb. 4, 2006. This page is a working draft for continual modification and improvement. Feel free to modify it as requisite."
Unrelated to the above initiatives, below is a very preliminary scoring for a number of general technologies by the Editor. Some of the metrics may be reasonable, some are very approximate, some are far too vague or just plain wrong. The objective for the moment is to lay out a framework and some examples to inspire a collaborative effort by a group which, as implied above, has credibility and sufficient organizational skills to garner human, financial and technical resources sufficient to the task. Much higher resolution is also necessary. For example, "Solar" below would logically be divided into perhaps a dozen sub-categories, and beyond that, each of many manufacturers might submit individual scorecards.
One person who has done a credible job of ranking various technologies with respect to climate change, air pollution and energy security is Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University. See his Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security (pdf), presentation slides (pdf) and briefing to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (pdf)
|Item||coal||oil||natural gas||nuclear||tar sands||geothermal||biomass||hydro||solar||wind||hydrogen|
|Net Energy||need better data||3-50 & declining||10-30? some declining, some good||4-10 & declining. Need better data||2||10?||<1 - 2 for liquids; up to 50 for firewood||10||10-50||30-80||<<1|
|Renewability||Global Peak 2030?||Global Peak now or soon||Global Peak by 2020?||Uranium in decline. Current fuel from recovered bomb material||~1 T barrels, high carbon||renewable||renewable||renewable||renewable||renewable||renewable|
|Efficiency||30%?||5-30% I.C.E.||low?||50%+ combined cycle||15%?||20%||<1%||50%?||5%-40%||50% theoretical||25%-50%|
|Equity||costly to 3rd world||Major powers determine country eligibility||located in few countries||accessible in all countries|
|Future discounted||highly subsidized||highly subsidized||poor||okay||highly subsidized||okay||subsidies needed now, not later||best||costly|
|Scalability||yes but at what price for the future?||In depletion phase||Yes but at what price for the future?||No. 10,000 needed to meet demand. Insufficient uranium.||Longlasting but limited to small percentage of need||Already exploited, expansion limited||Already exploited, expansion limited||Already exploited, expansion limited||Yes but requires political will to invest for long term||Yes but requires political will to invest for long term||Some limited applications|
|Climate impact||Worst GHG||Second most GHG||GHG but best of fossil fuels||GHG in contruction, fuel extraction||GHG||ok||some GHG||ok||ok||ok||does not exist except from sources; impact depends on source|
|air pollution, acid rain, land degradation||spills||best of fossil fuels; some toxic gases||disasters in the making||land degradation||toxic||biodiversity disaster||depends -- river disruption, silting up||ok||some bird kills||does not exist except from sources; impact depends on source|
(e.g., relative to transportation)
|Coal-to-liquid GHG implications||Depletion||compression or gas to liquid inefficient||Electric grid exists, requires electric fleet||No changes required||Electric grid exists, requires electric fleet||Substitution claimed but at what cost?||Electric grid exists, requires electric fleet||Electric grid exists, requires electric fleet, storage||Electric grid exists, requires electric fleet, storage||Complete infrastructure change required|
|Addiction||yes & dangerous due to GHG||yes & dangerous due to depletion||yes & dangerous due to depletion||yes & dangerous due to depletion||(see oil)||?||biosphere already overtaxed||?||?||?||?|