Friday, June 3, 2011

but the earth is still going round . . .

(This is part of a ongoing conversation with other green bloggers, hosted by Sara Allen's The Green)

Wind and water harvesting technology are probably at their maturity and won’t be the defining sources of alternative energy for the years to come. Even if we invent new distributed ways of capturing wind power and avoid the unpredictable pattern shift problem, we would still have to overcome the limited supply issue.

Hydro energy also comes with a host of problems and conflict of interests. Its benefits are still to be seen balanced against altering the natural landscapes. Water is also becoming scarce and may one day outpace the cost of energy per unit, making it economically discouraging to pursuit.

But I am hopeful to be wrong about wind and hydro-technology’s future evolutions.

Bio tech is interesting, but I think often we miss the point about bio-driven energy alternatives. We seem to always want to mess with nature instead of helping nature do its thing. Bio-ethics is something I have not yet explored, so I reserve the ranting and optimism for another day.

I have not yet changed my mind about our nuclear energy option. I maintain my defense of responsible nuclear energy because of its necessity and my optimism for the human race; I also defend our nuclear options only if we can reduce our consumption and eventually phase out risky operations. But I wouldn’t be qualified to tell you what “responsible nuclear energy options” may look like. There are much brighter MIT graduates with a basket full of hopes who can help you define those parameters. Some of them will have children that will fly spaceships to the outer reaches of our known Universe. Like I said, I am a Trekkie at heart.

I’d rather bet on fusion than fission and I’d like to go all-in if possible. We have a giant generator just about 93 million miles from us sending about 174 petawatts of energy to us. It’s about as safe as we can hope for and is as predictable as we would like. Poets and philosophers set maxims by its resolute presence. It may just prove to be our greatest potential for shifting our energy dependencies.

Making the bet, the cards are stacked. There are interesting solar capturing technology in development and testing. Solar panels are becoming more flexible, durable, and efficient. People are finding new ways of improving charging time and storage capacities, and I think a combination of investments to combine new durable and flexible panels with new storage capacities will yield significant economic incentives for the consumers to make the switch. This will drive down the investment cost. New venture funds are pouring into its research and developments already; I am hopeful that solar market will be globally linked, harvested, and distributed based on need. A solar net with a cloud based distribution computing may just be the efficiency standard of 3010. I look forward to the day when we as a specie, learn to harvest the power of the sun for the better of all life on earth.

"The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it."  - George Orwell                                                                           

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