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The future for alternative energy schemes

Conventional energy sources will continue to make up the lion's share of the world's energy mix for at least the next couple of decades. Natural gas will play a major role as a relatively abundant source of energy. But the technology in some alternative-energy sectors is approaching an inflection point that will put them on a path to becoming viable with little or no aid from government subsidies.

So says the Boston Consulting Group in a report recently released on what the future likely holds for various alternative energy technologies. Among the report's more interesting conclusions:

Advanced biofuels are moving rapidly down the cost curve and could become competitive in the next few years. But structural barriers in the form of a build-up of infrastructure will have to be overcome before you'll find biofuels at your local gas station.

Concentrated solar power is getting progressively cheaper and could start competing with conventional generation sources in lead markets within the next five to ten years. By 2020, this technology could provide power at ten cents per kilowatt-hour or less.

On-shore wind technology also looks promising, but off-shore wind will be purely driven by subsidies to at least 2020. And electric vehicles will begin to be economically attractive by 2020 to point where they could account for 5 to 10% of new vehicle sales. If battery costs decline quickly enough, they could account for 20% of sales in some vehicle segments by then.

The whole 32-page report can be found here:

http://www.bcg.com/documents/file65187.pdf

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