If you have set up a Google Blog Search like I have for "Ethanol Iowa", you’ll receive 50-100 pieces of news from around the U.S. covering the topic. Daily, I read headlines that indicate we’re headed in the proper direction. Today, the Domestic Fuel blog reported that a new ethanol plant will be powered by "borrowed steam" from a neighboring power plant. (Originally repoted by Dan Feldner at the Minot Daily News) I’ve also recently read about "Saving wind energy by storing pressure in natural underground tanks" that will be used later to spin turbines when the energy is needed. It’s also been widely reported now that cellulosic ethanol is progressing very quickly (making the booze from anything organic vs. just corn), making the "We’re not going to have enough corn" argument moot.
What’s most important here is that we’re quickly, smartly, and aggressively jumping into this arena with both feet and with full wallets. Anytime you see the world’s most prolific venture capital folks hop in, there’s something economically viable happening. For every 100 ventures funded, there may be 98 failures and 1 moderate success…but 1 will usually be an order of magnitude success (think Yahoo, Google, Youtube, etc.) and that home run will change the way we live forever.
Yesterday, a great piece called "Eco-friendly Iowans thrive off the grid" appeared in the Des Moines Register. The story highlights a community that has been off the grid and totally energy independent for years. The technology exists today to accomplish this feat but costs and small lifestyle adjustments scare most away.
But what I think we’re facing in renewable energy is identical to the switch between 1970’s beater cars where a Monte Carlo produced as much pollution as 10,000 Honda civics, and the current standards that barely emit a whiff of pollutant.
Remember when the government began buying (with your own money of course) cars back from people to get them off the road? Air quality has improved immensely as a result of most 70’s era cars being jettisoned. The same is true for renewable energy powered homes, cars, and lives. We’re in the "switchover" mode. Builders will create more and more communities using renewable energy technologies. First solar and geothermal. Then they’ll add wind and the ability to make one’s own ethanol with trash. We’ll be well on our way to never sending a penny to madmen that wish to relieve us of our heads (oh and Chavez too).
Hopefully my kids will read this post someday and think daddy was pretty cool for understanding this process, seeing through the hype about our impending doom within 10 years, and investing wisely in the products and systems that will revolutionize the way humans live.