The oil shocks of the 1970s produced a flurry of attention to alternative sources of energy, but it faded once prices dropped in the mid-1980s. Now, with oil prices again high and climate change moving up the list of public concerns, interest in alternative energy is once again at fever pitch.
Is history about to repeat itself?
Not likely, according to a leading energy consulting firm. In a report scheduled for release Tuesday, the firm, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, concludes that multiple factors will continue pushing the world toward greater use of alternative energy sources like sun and wind power, regardless of what happens to oil prices.
"The focus today on clean energy is not a bubble or passing phenomenon," the report says. "Unconventional clean energy is now poised to cross the divide and move from the fringes of the energy sector to the mainstream."