In the Beginning
On April 22, 1970 millions of Americans participated in the first Earth Day by following United States Senator Gaylor Nelson’s lead. During his life he continued to focus on increasing awareness of the importance of clean air, clean water, and biodiversity; elements that are critical for the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Another major step forward in protecting these things happened in July of 1970 when President Richard Nixon signed a Special Executive Order that created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Other notable initial steps that were taken to protect Earth include the major amendments that were made to the preexisting Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1972. This is now often referred to as the Clean Water Act (CWA). Also, the Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970 had major revisions in 1977 and again in 1990. The CAA has had an impact on human mortality, chronic bronchitis, strokes, lost workdays, and childhood IQ. Click here for extensive information on the impact of the CAA.
The Current State
Since the 1970s, we’ve really focused in on renewable energy. At this point, most location utility‐scale solar installations can be completed at lower costs than traditional fossil fuel generation. This graph provides an overview of the latest Solar PV costs.
Weighted-average LCOE of newly commissioned utility-scale solar PV projects by country,
Utility‐scale solar installations being completed at lower costs than traditional fossil fuel generation is an important milestone, but there is still the issue of solar and wind generated power producing intermittent electricity. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear power are considered baseload power sources because they often make electricity day or night with or without wind or sun. Of course, most factories, homes, and hospitals would like, or need, a reliable electricity source.
The Next Frontier
To make it easier for renewable energy to be used even more in the future, some current research and development priorities include improving existing capabilities, dramatically lowering the cost of electricity storage, and using baseload technologies to replace fossil fuel generation. With more intermittent sources of generation added to the electric grid, reliable baseload geothermal power will become even more important. Innovative and disruptive companies like Eavor Technologies are seeking to make clean baseload geothermal energy more widely available. The company is still in its early phases but estimates that in the next decade its technologies might identify attractive investment opportunities of one hundred billion dollars. Click here to explore this technology with an interactive tour.
It’s always important to consider how we can preserve our planet and to take any actions we can. Although a lot of damage has been done since the first Earth Day, we have also seen a lot of innovative technology present us with possible solutions. We can be optimistic about the opportunities of today, and of the future.
Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wairakei_Power_Station