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13. Energy: Alternative sources of energy
Energy: Alternative sources of energy
Myth: We can meet our energy needs and global-warming targets with wind and solar power.

Reality: Perhaps, but not for a very long time.

While the solar and wind industries have been growing rapidly over the past decade, those two sources of power together account for less than 2% of all the electricity Americans use.

Why the lag? Solar typically is still two to three times more expensive than coal, and while wind in many places can compete with fossil fuel, it isn't a dependable source of power -- when the wind stops blowing, the electricity disappears.

Battery-storage technology may someday alleviate the problem, but even then it will take decades for alternatives to replace the massive capacity of today's $7 trillion worldwide energy market. -- B.D.

NEXT: Energy: Daytime thermostat settings?
Last updated March 26 2010: 6:04 PM ET
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