How new is renewable energy? And will there be a green power revolution? In his new book, Powering the Dream, Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic charts the booms and busts of previous green energy efforts like electric cars in the 1890s and solar water heaters in the 1910s. And in her upcoming book, Before the Lights Go Out, Maggie Koerth-Baker of Boing Boing lays out the three big obstacles to green power. These include the ancient electrical grid and the disturbing phenomenon that more efficient power often gets wasted.
Join both authors on this page for a live chat at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, 14 July, to explore the forgotten history of American renewable energy and the barriers that will have to fall for the industry to flourish. You can leave your questions in the comment box below before the chat starts.
Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. He is also a visiting scholar at University of California, Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is a freelance journalist and Science Editor at the award-winning blog BoingBoing.net. She's written for Discover and New Scientist, and for National Geographic News and Scientific American. Her new book, Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us, is about how the American energy system works today, how it needs to work in the future, and why the big switch won't be as simple as you might think.