Creating Fossil Fuel Free, Renewable Energy Infrastructure
A major challenge in production of solar and other renewable energies [search] with the optimal environmental benefit is manufacture of equipment without using fossil fuels. Indeed, there is some question whether there exists enough material and energy to construct a global renewable energy infrastructure. Scientific American reports on a new method [ark] to produce solar photovoltaics without petroleum [search] using cotton and castor beans. It is noted most cotton has been genetically modified and depends upon petroleum based fertilizers. If solar cells and wind turbines are created using large amounts of polluting energy, the entire life cycle carbon benefits of these “renewable energies” is significantly reduced. It is important that the full lifetime costs of renewable energy infrastructure are getting more attention — other examples will include recycling of components and allowing for modular design.