Search Login or Get an Account!
x
or
Get the Facts Do Your Part

Where we've been

This page is where you can learn about the history of the various emerging technologies we are currently focusing on as well as information about the emerging technologies that used to be on this page and why they were ultimately removed.
Geothermal energy has been used for thousands of years

Tidal and Wave Power

We have known for a long time that the movement of water as a result of waves and tides could be valuable. There have been tide mills discovered from as far back as Roman times and as long ago as the 1890s, there have been experiments in trying to produce electricity from waves. Using dams to hold high tide waters and then releasing it at low tide is a method that has been in use since the 1960, although only a few major projects have been installed around the world, and these have been tiny compared to most other utility scale power plants. As far as systems that sit on top of the waves and take advantage of that movement, there has only ever been one commercial installation.
First geothermal power plant, 1904, Lardarello, Italy.Credit: US Dept. of Energy - EERE

Geothermal

Geothermal energy has been used for thousands of years as native populations tended to gravitate towards hot springs for cooking and bathing. As areas around hot springs became more developed, the waters from them were pumped into houses and there were even successful attempts to use geothermal energy to produce electricity in the early 20th century. The technology has evolved from using the steam directly to using the heat from geothermal wells for turning water into steam. More recently, a new type of geothermal plant has started being used, called Binary Cycle power plants, that require much lower temperatures.

Biomass

Biomass has been used for tens of thousands of years in the form of wood, other plant fibers, or animal waste. Historically, we have burned these biomass sources for heat or for cooking purposes. There are still billions all around the world who rely on biomass for their primary energy source. It has become more of a problem recently though as populations have grown to the point where the resources are not being used sustainably. Biomass has also recently grown to include biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which can have their own sustainability issues, usually relating to land use changes. Check out the Biodiesel section to learn more about the history of biofuels and the current difficulties we are trying to overcome.

Clean Coal

Clean coal specifically and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies in general are pretty new ideas. These have arisen in response to recognition of CO2 as a greenhouse gas contributing to Climate Change. The oldest project was completed in 1996, with the majority of projects being started within the last few years. These have been a direct response to climate change and the calls to reduce CO2 emissions. They are seen by some as a chance to continue to use a fuel that is very abundant in some areas of the world, including the United State and Australia, while still reducing emissions.

Even more: News and the FAQ
Absolute Astronomy - Tide Mill
Description and history of tide mills.
Click now to view
Wikipedia - Wave Power
Wikipedia article on wave power.
Click now to view
Wikipedia - Tidal Power
Wikipedia article on tidal power.
Click now to view
Wikipedia - Wave Power
Wikipedia article on wave power.
Click now to view
DOE - Geothermal History
US Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website's history of geothermal energy usage.
Click now to view
DOE - Geothermal History
US Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website's history of geothermal energy usage.
Click now to view
Wikipedia - Geothermal Electricity
Wikipedia article on geothermal electricity.
Click now to view
Wikipedia - Carbon Capture and Storage
Wikipedia article on carbon capture and storage
Click now to view
Tomo Says:SixLinks has changed a lot over its life. As good parents, the guys keep around the icons they couldn't use anymore in the icon pasture. (Actually, Jeff just agreed to this to keep Steve sane.)