3 Feb 2011

Better at reducing carbon emissions? Wind energy outguns natural gas in Economist poll

Written by Jim Pierobon

Some leaders in the natural gas and the renewable energy industries might be thinking of collaborating in a new effort to reduce carbon emissions. But The Economist wanted its its readers to choose between the natural gas and wind energy and did so with a poll that ended Thursday night.

A 2005 Economist cover. Credit: The Economist, via ThreeSources.com

The Economist asked: Will natural gas do more than renewables to limit carbon emissions? The winner? Wind proponents by a 51%-to-49% vote.

Arguing that it would, was Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Center for Energy Policy at the Environment at the Manhattan Institute. Arguing that it would not was Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council.

At the center of this debate is whether an established source of energy whose market share is rising as fuel for electric generators — and has the lowest carbon emissions of all the fossil fuels — would be more effective than emission-free wind energy.

The No’s jumped to an early lead. But once word spread, natural gas proponents turned on the after-burners and tightened the race as Thursday night’s deadline approached.  Meanwhile, wind advocates fought back with appeals on the home page of the Global Wind Energy Council’s web site and this one — below — in a Thursday afternoon email sent by Peter Kelley, VP of Public Affairs at the American Wind Energy Association:

“Time is running out! It’s the final day to speak for renewables, and the fossil-fuel vote has made an 11th-hour comeback!’

The better debate — and answer — is: BOTH natural gas and wind energy, along with other renewable sources of energy, can work alongside of each other toward the more important — and achieveable — goal of a cleaner energy future.

Ever hear of a clean energy standard?

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