Monday, January 09, 2006
A first post
Our Energy Future Must be Renewable
We are today at an energy crossroads; the world is warming and fossil fuels are getting more expensive. We are late in determining which energy future we ultimately want: renewable or nuclear. How will that future be determined? If we are silent, in corporate boardrooms and by lobbyist doing their best to effect national and state policy.
Nuclear is limited by the amount of uranium on the planet. Just like oil and gas, uranium is finite. If the world ran on nuclear power the known uranium supply would last less than 25 years. The only way to extend the life of the nuclear option is by reprocessing spent fuel and extracting plutonium. Plutonium is about the most dangerous substance known on the planet. Regardless, the nuclear option is a very complex solution that results in immensely toxic long-lived waste. The cradle to grave economic subsidies that we the public would pay, would never end.
Renewable energy is simple solution. With wind energy, moving air turns blades, which spin a generator. With solar electric systems, light knocks electrons around making a current of electricity. Renewable energy technologies are very simple and non-toxic solutions (and the fuel is free).
The renewable resource is almost unlimited. For example, a solar energy "farm" using today’s technology of solar panels covering about as much land as our federal highway system would meet all of our nation’s energy needs (all our cars, homes, factories, etc.). And solar electric systems still have huge opportunity for technical innovation, cost reduction and efficiency improvement. So the renewable solution will only be getting better.
Yes, we would need a storage system for times of no wind or sunlight. However with a real research and development effort, for example in creating hydrogen by splitting water and battery technologies, solutions will be found.
Do we leave a renewable powered future or a radioactive future to our children?
The real challenge is to set our Nation’s sight on a renewable energy future. And then begin the long and wonderful journey toward it.