The debate over the validity of electric cars continues to rumble on. We've already discussed the damage which may be done to this fledgling industry by the credit crunch, with the UK coalition government quietly announcing a reduction in the scale of financial incentives for early adopters of these technologies.
Longer-term naysayers continue to question the real-world economic credentials of these cars, and they have a point. As long as the electricity we use to charge these cars is produced in power stations burning fossil fuels, how proud can we really be to buy and drive these cars?
The order in which the pieces will go into place as part of the broader puzzle of how to transport ourselves ecologically will not necessarily be a logical one. We currently have one end of the technology required with manufacturers like Tesla well established and making cars with zero tailpipe emissions.
The other key value in this equation is in clean power production and it seems progress is being made in this area. The key projects at this stage seem so other-worldly as to be artworks rather than engineering solutions to global problems.
The Solucar solar power plant in Sanlucar la Mayor, Spain is one such example. This extraordinary facility, still growing in scope, is set to provide enough power for the entire city of Seville by 2013.
The project uses radical design technology, incorporating tens of giant mirrors to focus intense light onto a forty-storey water tower and drive a steam turbine. These mirrors move as the sun moves, never erring in their focus and resembling sunflowers in their commitment to utilising sunlight most efficiently.
The numbers are also impressive with the plant producing 300MW. To put this into perspective, solar plants in the US produced a combined total of less than 500MW last year.
There are plans to change this however. California as ever are at the vanguard of change here, with the Blythe Solar Power Project getting the go-ahead from the California development agency. When the four-part project is complete the Mojave Desert project will produce in excess of 1000MW of energy, making it the biggest producer in the world.
These sort of renewable energy projects are site and climate-specific of course, which is a polite way of saying we're never going to have these solar innovations working in the UK.
In their place come tidal turbines, with the aggressively-named AK-1000 set to grace the shores of Orkney in the not too distant future.
The 'simple and robust' turbine weighs around 1,300t (!) and is the largest and most powerful tidal power turbine in the world. It will generate up to 1MW of electrical power from a renewable energy source and will provide electricity to more than 1,000 homes.
So we have options, or rather we have the tidal and wind option in the UK, where sensibilities are moving closer to accepting these devices as part of our future energy production framework.