Future Power  

Posted by Big Gav

The latest issue of "National Geographic" (who have covered peak oil quite extensively in the past) looks at where we will be getting our energy from in future.

Where on Earth can our energy-hungry society turn to replace oil, coal, and natural gas?

I stand in a cluttered room surrounded by the debris of electrical enthusiasm: wire peelings, snippets of copper, yellow connectors, insulated pliers. For me these are the tools of freedom. I have just installed a dozen solar panels on my roof, and they work. A meter shows that 1,285 watts of power are blasting straight from the sun into my system, charging my batteries, cooling my refrigerator, humming through my computer, liberating my life.

The euphoria of energy freedom is addictive. Don't get me wrong; I love fossil fuels. I live on an island that happens to have no utilities, but otherwise my wife and I have a normal American life. We don't want propane refrigerators, kerosene lamps, or composting toilets. We want a lot of electrical outlets and a cappuccino maker. But when I turn on those panels, wow!

Maybe that's because for me, as for most Americans, one energy crisis or another has shadowed most of the past three decades. From the OPEC crunch of the 1970s to the skyrocketing cost of oil and gasoline today, the world's concern over energy has haunted presidential speeches, congressional campaigns, disaster books, and my own sense of well-being with the same kind of gnawing unease that characterized the Cold War.

3 comments

The resitence to many energy alternatives like solar has been the fact they are not centralized and so are opposed by the energy companies who fear their grids and powerlines will be obsolete and their control of energy will be diminished. Certainly a case where "free enterprise" fails.

Agreed - though its more the centralised generation facilities (plants) that would suffer financially than the grid infrastructure, which would still be needed even if every house had wind and solar generation facilities on it - even I would say that you still need a certain amount of base load capacity in the form of coal / gas / nuke plants to handle the inevitable intermittency of renewable generation.

But we should be moving to as much generation from renewables as possible. the old style stuff has had its day and has had 30 years warning that this would happen...

What time is it over there - isn't it still dark ?

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