grid. 45 Moreover, it is being used very effectively in Kristianstad, Sweden,
which burns biogas from a landfill, sewage ponds, wood waste, and tree
prunings, heating homes and businesses without relying on other renew-
able energies. 46 This technology burns a bit of biofuel along with the gas
arising from garbage and waste and may thus provide a good alternative
to the more familiar version of biofuel. A municipal biogas plant has
the advantage of potentially being under local control: presumably you
wouldn't have to move heaven and earth to get a local biogas plant up and
running; you'd just have to create the necessary will in your own com-
munity. With enough initiative in cities and towns throughout the world,
this technology could be implemented widely.
An alternative to geothermal energy also has real merit. Without drill-
ing deep into the Earth, we can still use its warmth as a source of energy.
Below five feet or so, the ground has a constant temperature; if you lay a
network of pipes in the ground below that depth and run water through
those pipes, you can draw the heat from the Earth, concentrate it, put it
through a heat exchanger, and use it to warm or cool your house. 47 While
the initial cost is high, this source of energy pays for itself in a few years.
The largest obstacles to its widespread adoption are public ignorance,
the large initial cost, and the lack of trained technicians in many loca-
tions throughout the nation. 48 Governments and utilities, however, pro-
vide incentives for homeowners to install these systems, and with greater
demand, more publicity, and a concerted public effort, people might be
able to use this technology throughout the country effectively.
What about solar and wind energy? These have the merit of being
familiar to us, but it will take a major effort to supply them in the abun-
dance we require. Our use of these energies is rapidly increasing, their
cost continues to fall, and their advantages are becoming clearer to the
public as time goes by. But at current rates of implementation, they
will contribute only a fraction of energy needs even in a decade or two.
Furthermore, since the sun does not shine forever, nor does the wind
blow at all times, we can fully use their energies only when we've learned
how to store and release the power they provide on demand. A large shift
from gasoline-powered to electrical cars would help out in this regard,
since the car bateries would serve as an efective form of electrical stor-
age. But for an effective system, we need to create stations to store the