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You are here:
PureEnergySystems.com > News > Jan. 1, 2006

Milestones and Trends in Renewable Energy -- 2005 and 2006

Reflecting on major milestones in clean energy technology advancement in 2005, with a look forward to probable developments in 2006.

by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News
Copyright © 2006

Sterling D. Allan

Executive Director, PES Network, Inc.; and founder of New Energy Congress.
This Year in New Energy

(74-min; 11.5 Mb rm | 13 Mb mp3)
- - - - -
James Arthur Jancik of Feet-to-the-Fire radio, Chicago, interviews Sterling D. Allan, live, on Jan. 1, 2005.
Join Slashdot discussion on this article.

Happy New Year Message [with audio]

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, UTAH, USA -- As I write this year-end summary and forecast for the coming year, near midnight of the new year, it is raining -- not snowing -- here in Northern Utah. Such mild weather in the zenith of winter is very unusual in this state famous for its ski resorts.

Indeed, the overwhelming theme and repeating headline story of energy for the past year – and we can safely say of the coming year as well – has been, and will be, climate change. We are ending a record-setting year, highlighted by the unprecedented 2005 hurricane season, with the new out-of season tropical storm Zeta forming on the second-to-last day of the year. (Ref.) We have dished out to “Mother Earth” just about as much as she can take, and her buffers are beginning to strain. (Ref.) As a measure of the increasing rate of change, the sheer number of anomalous-weather reports, and the quantity of scientific evidence reported on our “Global Warming” page, have been stunning. (Ref.)

Climate change forms a backdrop of the thrust for new energy solutions that do not involve the burning of fossil fuels. All other developments in the world of clean-energy technology pale in comparison to the urgent need created by the rate of climate change and Herculean effort incumbent upon us as humankind to do something about slowing, then reversing our present trends. The global political angst in the race for dwindling oil resources is another impetus for pursuing alternative energy technologies with increased zeal. (Ref.)

It is therefore perhaps fitting that our imaginations are stoked the most when we learn of technology innovations flirting with such romantic concepts as harnessing lightning (ref.), or the vortex power of tornadoes (ref.), or the waves of the sea (ref., ref.), or wind power out at sea (ref., ref.) or high up in the air (ref.).

Solid Developments

While some of these concepts have years, if not decades of research and development to go before they become commercially feasible, we saw a remarkable milestone this past year in that large wind power systems came into the same price range as grid power. (Ref., ref.)  This coming year, we will see two different solar companies possibly achieving that same milestone with solar power -- IAUS and Stirling Energy Systems. Both will be constructing utility-scale facilities capable of generating electricity projected to be at or below typical grid prices. And while silicon is in short supply for traditional photovoltaic cells, there are new, more efficient methods of tapping the sun's energy coming forward from a wide array of approaches. (Ref.) Keep an eye also on Konarka and NanoHorizons.

From my perspective as a journalist reporting on cutting-edge clean-energy technologies, I will say that it is obvious to me that a renewable-energy revolution is firmly under way. Clean energy is becoming the vogue, and will become as important – and as “cool” as – computer gadgets, if not more so. David Bowie's playing the role of Nikola Tesla in the upcoming movie, "The Prestige", is likely to create yet more mainstream interest in this energy genius, who is considered by many to be the Father of Free Energy. (Ref.) July 10, 2006 will mark 150 years since Tesla's birth, which may add significant spark toward the international adoption of the anniversary Global Energy Independence Day. (Ref.)

I personally find the tracking of these things fascinating and exciting, and I don't think that is just because it's my specialty.  Nearly every day, from somewhere around the planet, there is at least one story that is about some new way of boosting the efficiency of energy generation, some new way of harnessing the wheelwork of nature in all its vast manifestations: geothermal, solar, hydro, magnets, tide, waves, waste, rivers, electrical microorganisms, betavoltaics, etc.  These manifestations range from the macro scale such as seen in lightning and wind, to the micro scale latent in the atom or even down to the zero point.

Dreaming Outside the Box

Even though there might be large question marks raised by some of the proposals, you have to give the inventors credit for having the courage to dream.  Why not harness the power of atmospheric pressure differences of weather patterns across hundreds of miles, through abandoned pipelines? (Ref.)  Why not float wind turbines out at sea like oil rigs? (Ref., ref.)  Why not use the downed trees from hurricanes for biomass energy? (Ref.) Why not harness the breaking power of vehicles through gadgets in the road at off ramps? (Ref.)

I put a lot of personal attention on Eric Lerner's Focus Fusion technology during the last couple of months.  Imagine a non-polluting power plant, the size of a local gas station, that would quietly and safely power 4,000 homes, for a few tenths of a penny per kilowatt-hour, compared to 3-6 cents/kw-h of coal or natural-gas-powered plants.  One technician could operate two dozen of these stations remotely.  The fuel, widely available, is barely spent in the clean fusion method, and would only need to be changed annually.  Although his projections for development cost (less than $10 million) and time to commercial feasibility (less than five years) might be overly optimistic, in general, the fusion technology (of which his is a subset) gets two thumbs up from highly reputable scientists in the field.

Blacklight Power is another alt energy company that turned the heads of physics this year with its "hydrino", which is a smaller form of the hydrogen atom, and exhibits traits promising for many applications.

Long, Winding Roads to Feasibility

While an abundance of innovative ideas which deserve development resources are being churned out, for each of those, there are probably at least a hundred more that also supposedly break the established rules of physics, but which still lack the crucial ingredient of actually working as claimed. Most of these are put forth by well-meaning individuals. However, these more exotic projects can become a drain on resources. Some require a long-range view, and a lot of legwork is needed to get past both financial and intellectual obstacles to their successful completion.

Yet because some of the greatest advances of mankind have come from outside the box of traditional thinking, we don't want to dismiss something just because it sounds impossible at first view.

Cold Fusion was given a boost this past year with two near synchronous announcements of room-temperature sonofusion: from UCLA (ref.) and also from Purdue (ref.). The fact that MIT allowed a cold fusion colloquium to take place in its buildings also helped lift some of the stigma. (Ref.) However, 2006 will probably continue to see most mentions of "cold fusion" in context of its negative reputation -- as an example of “bad science” -- which it is not.

Perendev Magnetic MotorMark Goldes of Magnet Power Inc. may very well have found the secret to harnessing magnetic energy.  He says his 1 kW unit will be available by the end of 2006.  Will Mike Brady's Perendev Magnet Motor go anywhere this year?

The Bedini SG electromagnetic generator project was also very active this past year, with several people reporting that they achieved more power out than they put in (implying the tapping of some external, unseen energy source). I wouldn't hold my breath for seeing anything in the marketplace in 2006 from systems like this, such as the Lutec or GMCC's "REMAT". There is still a lot of research and development needed to bring the efficiency up and cost down – assuming there really is such a radiant-energy effect in the first place.

Tom Bearden's Motionless Electromagnetic Generator (MEG) might see some serious R&D breakthroughs this year; either that, or it may be clearly disproved.  But it is one exotic technology for which extensive modeling and reproduction effort has been put forth.  A definitive answer is nigh.

Page 2 . . .

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Dec. 31, 2005
Last updated January 04, 2006





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