A decade ago, ancient technology - using natural water to perform work - was the green goal. Today, dams are bad but now wind is back in fashion.

Solar energy wants to become an alternative source to fossil fuels but no one wants to incur the much higher cost required by continued subsidies. Rather than  trying to create large solar farms, which are invariably blocked by environmental lawsuits, the move is on to go small and avoid regulations - that means on buildings, clothes, consumer electronics and wearables. This necessitates ultra-thin film, low-cost and ideally flexible solar cells without compromising the environment during production, use, or disposal.

With generous government subsidies and a 'green' halo, wind power is enjoying a lot of financial windfalls. Meanwhile, since being gutted by the Clinton administration in 1993, nuclear energy has been blocked so that it is increasingly less viable.

For that reason, activists thought Sweden would be a good target for their efforts, because they love to tout their lack of emissions. Yet the Swedes would end up with more emissions if they added wind, according to a new paper. 

Activists believe that sustained high ($110-120 per barrel) prices will lead to  lower carbon emissions because it will make solar and wind seem viable by comparison, but a new study finds that is not true. Why abandon something where the same margin on an expensive product would lead to incredible profit?

Controlling supply leads to people paying thousands of dollars for diamonds, as an example.

Hellisheidi power plant in Iceland is the world's largest geothermal facility and now it has one other distinction. Engineers there have shown that carbon dioxide emissions can be pumped into the earth and changed chemically to stone within months, far faster than believed.

Installing a microgrid, such as a cooperative of power generators and power consumers operating in a coordinated system, within a regulated electricity market, will not work any better than the type of regulated de-regulation that led to California having utility rates 50 percent higher than other states.

It can work, it just depends on how heavily things are regulated. Microgrids are touted as hybrid alternatives to smooth out kinks in existing electricity networks. Wealthy elites with electric cars, for example, believe they are using no fossil fuels, without factoring in that each charger is equivalent in load to a whole new house on the grid, with power draws from nuclear or coal or natural gas just the same.

Though wind energy is not viable everywhere, there are places it can work. The Galapagos Islands, a fragile ecosystem, is touted as one example, because it otherwise has to import diesel fuel. 

A performance summary and recommendations for the expansion are contained in a new report by the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), which led and financed the $10 million project. The project's three 51-meter-tall wind turbines and two sets of solar panels have supplied, on average, 30% of the electricity consumed on San Cristóbal, the archipelago's second-largest island in size and population, since it went into operation in October 2007.

Renewable energy may offer the imagery of a 'greener alternative' to traditional energy sources, but that hasn't really survived in the wild. The moment subsidies dry up, so do corporations reliant on government funding. And mounting evidence suggests that renewable energy infrastructure and the power transmission lines needed to serve them may impact avian populations, according to lead editor Jennifer Smith, a post-doctoral research associate at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute&State University writing in The Condor: Ornithological Applications.

I am a big fan of solar power. In Science Left Behind I argued we should be doing basic research to improve our capabilities in the technology so that it can be a viable end game for when fossil fuels no longer make sense.

Methane, the abundant and inexpensive natural gas, is often burnt off around the world at oil fields and refineries but it's a great energy source and base material for the chemical industry, if only there was a viable way to put it in liquid form, which is easier to transport and more reactive.