Comparison of Energy Sources
Professor Mark Jacobson - A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables PDF Print E-mail

"If someone told you there was a way you could save 2.5 million to 3 million lives a year and simultaneo
usly hmark jacobsonalt global warming, reduce air and water pollution and develop secure, reliable energy sources – nearly all with existing technology and at costs comparable with what we spend on energy today – why wouldn't you do it?"

In a recent report, Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson and University of California - Davis researcher Mark A. Delucchi analyze what is needed to convert the world's current energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources.  They conclude that this can be done with today's technology to produce energy at comparable costs to what we pay today.  What is most needed is the societal and political will to make it happen.

Read Louis Bergeron's report on the study and watch a 2 minute YouTube of Professor Jacobson.

For more detail, listen to Professor Jacobson's seminar on his analysis of replacing current energy sources with carbon free renewables at Cornell University.  His seminar includes the cost of pollution produced by alternative energy sources.

You can download Part I and Part II of his study that appeared in the Scientific American.

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 August 2011 05:50
The Cost of Renewable, Nuclear, and Fossil Fuel Energy Sources PDF Print E-mail

The following charts from Lazard Investment Bank show the cost of power generation calculated by averaging the total lifetime cost over the total electricity generated (“levelized cost”) for renewable sources of energy and for nuclear and fossil fuel energy.  Federal incentives significantly reduce the cost of renewable energy, in the form of upfront tax credits as well as ongoing production-based tax credits.  The cost of nuclear and fossil fuel energy does not include environmental costs, carbon emission costs, transmission costs, and variations in construction and fuel costs.  The charts show that geothermal, wind, and biomass renewable sources are already cost competitive with nuclear and fossil fuel sources of energy.

cost of renewable energy sources

cost of nuclear and fossil fuel energy

Though solar energy is currently still higher in cost than other sources of energy, Lazard Investment Bank found that there is a significant potential for photovoltaic solar panels to drop in price over time.

solar energy drop in cost

Zhengrong Shi, founder and chief executive of China's Suntech Power Holdings, the world's largest provider of solar panels, expects solar energy to be competitive with conventional sources of energy such as natural gas.  Suntech expects the cost of electricity generated by its solar panels to be below $1 per watt by 2013.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2011 03:23
Water Use in Energy Production PDF Print E-mail

As additional solar photo voltaic and wind generation displaces fossil fuel generation, each megawatt-hour generated could save as much as 600 gallons of water that would otherwise be lost to  fossil plant cooling.  Because wind energy generation uses a negligible amount of water, the 20% Wind Scenario would avoid the consumption of 4 trillion gallons of water through 2030, a cumulative reduction of 8%, with annual reductions through 2030.  The annual savings in 2030 alone would be approximately 450 billion gallons. This savings would reduce the expected annual water consumption for electricity generation in 2030 by 17%. (Department of Energy,

In contrast to the low requirement for water for wind turbine generated electricity, fossil-fuel-fired thermoelectric power plants consume more than 500 billion L of fresh water per day in the United States alone (Virginia Water Resources Research Center, in Blacksburg, Va.).  Nuclear power uses almost triple the amount of water as fossil fuels.   Biodiesal, not so green from the perspective of water use, requires an astronomical 40 times as much water as coal for irrigation and and for turning the legumes into fuel.  See the short article:

How Much Water Does It Take to Make Electricity

John Farrell compared the water consumption of fossil fuel power plants to various solar technologies, noting that wet-cooled concentrating solar thermal power (think big mirrors) uses more water per megawatt-hour (MWh) than any other technology.  The following chart illustrates the amount of water used to produce power from various technologies.

water use by power plants

Minimizing the use of water in energy production is very important, because, unlike for energy sources, there is no replacement for water, and worldwide water supplies are in short supply.  According to United Nations global statistics, 2.6 billion people do not have adequate water for basic sanitation, and 1.1 billion people do not have clean drinking water.  We don't usually think of our Land of 10,000 Lakes as short on water, but corn production for ethanol draws down water tables, and the size of ethanol refineries in Minnesota has had to be limited because the refineries use so much water that they draw down water tables.

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 August 2011 05:50


MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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