What is “green” energy?
There are two types. First, there’s photosynthesis.
Green plants sustain themselves through photosynthesis, creating energy for their own growth from the light of the sun. We harvest that energy pretty efficiently, with a reaper after most of the hard work has already been done. The sun is a great partner in this cost-effective form of “green” energy, as are carbon dioxide, water, soil minerals and harvesting equipment.
Then you’ve got your feel-good, ideologically motivated “green” energy, which needn’t be cost-effective at all! No matter how expensive creating this energy might actually be, the only thing that counts is whether participants in the process can declare that they are “saving the environment.” What difference, then, does it make whether far more money, and energy, is lost than gained thereby?
Such seems to be the notion behind the University of North Texas’s decision to install 36 “elliptical” exercise machines to turn the school into what the manufacturer, ReRev, calls “the largest human power plant in the world.”
The machines reportedly cost the school $20,000 and presumably required energy to build, pack, ship. But the machines also convert energy exerted during exercise to electricity at the rate of one kilowatt-hour every two days. A kilowatt-hour costs on average about ten cents in the North Texas area. So the cycling produces less than a penny of energy per hour.
But hey, at least it’s a workout.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.