The race to develop renewable energy technologies

By Mary Beth Gallagher | MIT News | December 18, 2019

In the early 20th century, just as electric grids were starting to transform daily life, an unlikely advocate for renewable energy voiced his concerns about burning fossil fuels. Thomas Edison expressed dismay over using combustion instead of renewable resources in a 1910 interview for Elbert Hubbard’s anthology, “Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great.”

“This scheme of combustion to get power makes me sick to think of — it is so wasteful,” Edison said. “You see, we should utilize natural forces and thus get all of our power. Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy. Do we use them? Oh, no! We burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the front fence for fuel.”

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