Massively Scaling Up Clean Energy: What Would It Take to Make an Impact?

By energy_linguist, July 23, 2009, Energy Efficiency

In a recent blog over at, Joel Makower examines the Gigaton Throwdown, an aggressive study into the possibilities of “scaling up” carbon-free energy over a period of ten years that would net a reduction of 1 billion metric tons in carbon emissions. 1 billion metric tons that for an electricity generation technology is equivalent to an influx of 205 gigawatts of clean energy capacity by 2020.

Gigaton scale, as researcher Sunil Paul calls it, could be achieved for eight out of the nine clean technologies studied. Technologies include biofuels, building efficiency, concentrating solar power, construction material, geothermal, nuclear, plug-in vehicles, solar photovoltaics and wind.

As Mr. Makower admits, “some of my favorite questions begin with the same four words: “What would it take…”  Realities and estimations/hopes in the world of green energy are often as far apart on the spectrum as humanly possible, so this study in particular takes to task one of the most rudimentary if not fundamental questions of the viability of a clean energy industry: What would it take?

The only caveat, and large albeit, is the reality that investing in said technologies and aggressively pursuing said technologies could require a massive investment annually over the ten-year period.

What’s interesting is Paul’s methodology for determining that gigaton was the best direction to take the debate and subsequent research to satisfy lofty environmental goals by 2020, and the investors who would be charged with discovering a pipeline for making the goal a reality.

Don’t take my word for it. Allow Joel Makower’s The ‘Gigaton Throwdown’ and the Big Hairy Audacious Question to peak your eco interests.

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