Environment Forum

Futurist says dollars mean bright future for solar energy

   Solar power may bring us cleaner air and clearer skies. Nice, yes. But it’s money — not saving Mother Earth — that will catapult solar energy past dirty coal-fueled power plants.

That’s the theory of Ray Kurzweil, a futurist and inventor. At a technology conference on Friday, Kurzweil said billions are being invested into solar power and new advances in the technology are driving down the cost of powering by the sun. 
    “As a result, the amount of solar energy is doubling every year two years,” Kurzweil said. “But ultimately it will be very inexpensive. So what’s motivating (its adoption) is economics.
    “It has the side effect that it’s environmentally much friendlier,” Kurzweil said at the Fortune Brainstorm: TECH conference in Pasadena, California.
    The inventor is far from the first to predict the success of solar power. Some may give more weight to his words: Kurzweil has predicted the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of wireless technology.
    He has his critics as well. Kurzweil, who wrote “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” envisions a future where we can download memory and reverse-engineer the brain.
    (Reporting and writing by Laura Isensee)

      (Picture: Inventor Raymond Kurzweil speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm TECH conference in Pasadena, California July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser)

Electric cars to help solve riddle of storing power

Since the days of Thomas Edison, finding a way to effectively store electricity has been one of the “Holy Grails” for power companies.

While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.

Edison International is the parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), which is the biggest utilty in the United States in terms of power delivered to customers.

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