Will green mind share lead to green market share?

A couple interesting year-end articles popped up today that speak to the issue of Americans’ acceptance of renewable energy and its prospects for replacing fossil fuels going forward.

First, on Forbes.com, environmental and green tech writer Todd Woody writes on the findings of a Dow Jones-Factiva study of mentions of renewable energy and green technology in major media over the past 10 years. Exactly which major media we are talking about — U.S., global, print, broadcast, online — is not made clear.

Solar energy, for example, went from 3,984 mentions in 2002 to  41,651 mentions this past year, a 950 percent jump.

The rest of the list –

Biomass: 2002 mentions — 4,874; 2012 mentions –39,824, a 720 percent increase

Wind power: 2002 mentions — 8,568; 2012 mentions — 61,554, a 620 percent increase

Geothermal: 2002 mentions — 861; 2012 mentions –4,529, a 420 percent increase

The point, Woody said, is that while renewables may lag in market share, they are making progress in mind share.

At the bottom of the page, you will also find a terrific photo gallery of 30 energy trailblazers all under 30 years old — for example, 20-year-old Eden Full, who is developing a solar tracking and water filtration system for developing countries and is now testing it out in Uganda.

Eden Full, 20

Robert Conrad, 23, turned down Ph.D programs to work on a machine vision system that crunches data to help detect hawks, eagles and other birds near wind turbines.

Russell Conard, 23

Now that’s a young man we need at the Coachella Valley iHub!

 Meanwhile, on Greentech Media, Herman K. Trabish reports on a computer study from the University of Delaware showing that the U.S. could meet 99 percent of its power needs from renewable sources by 2030 at no increased costs.

With storage, according to report co-author Cory Budischak, ‘we can run an electric system that today would meet a need of 72 gigawatts 99.9 percent of the time, using 17 gigawatts of solar, 68 gigawatts of offshore wind, and 115 gigawatts of inland wind.’”

The issue of reliability — keeping the lights on — is covered by a combination of storage, geographic distribution and the sheer abundance of free sun and wind energy. Basically, if you’ve got enough wind and solar installations across the country, the wind will always be blowing and sun shining in enough places to produce the needed power, as Trabish writes:

“So much free fuel from renewables would be available across the geographically dispersed 72 gigawatt . . . grid region that it would not only almost eliminate the need for natural gas reserves, but would also keep the power price low and minimize the need for incurring the cost of battery storage.”

Which is all to say, as we go into the new year, if the mind share is there — including the creativity and passion of our best and brightest young innovators – the market share will follow.