As Monty Python would say ‘and now for something completely different…’ and we delve into the energy future. Our focus tends to be retirement security and how to attain it. Periodically it is impossible to avoid the maelstrom that is DC politics. Energy, however, is an entirely new subject. What, you may ask, prompts this diversion? Today I heard a comment that ‘there is plenty of opportunity in oil & gas because those investors fear $30 oil.’ While you may feel I have some credibility when it comes to retirement, why think the same for a look at energy? Many of you know I spent several years in GE Power Systems, close at hand with both the power generation business and the oil & gas business. Devising strategies, leading businesses and spearheading the quality organization all brought a keen understanding of the marketplace and a sustained interest in its development. What I hope today is to bring you an overview of the technological playing field, particularly with alternatives … to answer the question, why the comment about oil & gas? One thing is certain, oil & gas (and coal) are not going away any time soon. Read on to become a smarter energy consumer.
Energy Future: First, where are we today?
In the perfect world, we would run on ‘clean’ power and ‘renewable’ energy. Imagine zero CO2 emission power sources. We actually have some forms of power like this already, right? Long ago we had hydro power running grain mills (why do you suppose Minneapolis is there?) and wind power doing all sorts of things (Dutch windmills, right?). More recently you have solar and nuclear, even baby steps on tidal power. Yet while there continues to be big emphasis on these technologies, each has distinct drawbacks, too. Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy Technologies
Energy Future: Nuclear
Nuclear Energy Union of Concerned Scientists: Nuclear Power Safety First Can Nuclear Power Rise from the Chaos in Washington? Pros and Cons of Nuclear Power Nuclear Power Safety Concerns
Energy Future: Is there a better way?
The one unconquered field of power generation is fusion power. Quite simply replicating the sun’s approach in an Earthbound plant. Why is this better? Because there are no emissions, no waste, and no risk of a runaway process. Not just that, but no apparent side-effects. Presumably that was said about all the other clean energy, too, but it seems promising. Deceleration of runaway electrons paves the way for fusion power A new twist on fusion power could help bring limitless clean energy Fusion power could be here in less than a decade