What is “alternative” energy anyway?
May , 2009
So we all talk about electric cars and electric motorcycles and electric scooters as “green” technologies. But does the simple fact that they’re electric guarantee that they’re green? Not necessarily. I recently watched an episode of “30 Days” on Hulu that was about coal mining. Fifty percent of our electricity currently comes from burning coal! So half of the electricity we’re using to power these alternative vehicles also comes from coal. And it’s true that we have cleaner ways of burning coal than we used to. However it’s still far from what most people would consider “green”.
But besides the pollution that’s caused by burning coal, the “30 Days” show highlights the cost in people’s lives to mine coal underground, and the cost to land to mine coal via strip mining.
It really brings home the idea that, in the engineering world, everything is a trade-off!