Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Renewable Energy

December 15th, 2004 · No Comments

O’Reilly Network suggests that it is the next opportunity for Silicon Valley:

The basic technology required to translate solar energy into heat and electricity has existed for decades (centuries in the case of wind power). Solar electricity can be produced by means of photovoltaic arrays (based on the photoelectric effect discovered by Albert Einstein) or by using conventional heat engines whereby solar energy is used to power a turbine. Solar heat is simpler still, requiring only a blackbody and a mechanism for storing and transferring heat.

The basic technology has been built and proven, and even without further investment, some forms of renewable energy, such as wind electric, are nearly breaking even with fossil fuels. They are actually cheaper when the real costs of fossil fuels are taken into account.

Global spending on energy represents a significant percentage of gross economic activity, especially when multiplier effects are taken into account because some form of electrical, mechanical, or heat energy is consumed in every stage of the production and delivery of a product or service. Per-capita energy use worldwide will increase as advanced technology and automation spread to developing countries. Gross usage will also increase as a result of population growth. We are already seeing early signs of competition for fossil fuel resources by first- and second-world countries. While timing the market is risky, it is reasonable to predict that demand for energy is not going to decrease in the years ahead, while available supply is not going to increase dramatically.

This may present an opportunity for the Bay Area technology industry as the computing industry matures and becomes a commoditized consumer product business.

Tags: Emerging Technologies

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