Solar, wind power

Published: Monday 15 November 1999

solar and wind power projects will prove to be profitable if governments and oil companies get behind them, speakers told a Greenpeace business conference recently. "To get such a different system to work, it is going to take tremendous levels of investment, major policy changes and a willingness to change," says Christopher Flavin of the us -based environmental consultancy Worldwatch Institute.

"The challenge is a radical one," he said. Emphasising the limits to reserves of oil, natural gas and coal and the pollution those fuels cause, speakers at the environmental group's fourth annual conference said technology for solar and wind power was available or would be soon. But, the development of renewable energy was trapped in a vicious circle of high prices, low demand and small-scale production, they added.

Michael Langman of accountancy firm kpmg 's economic research unit in the Netherlands, said energy from the sun was economically feasible but could not yet compete on cost. "Electricity generated from solar panels costs four to five times as much as the electricity that's taken from the grid," Langman said.

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