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Energy We Need April 1, 2010

Posted by Saba Rahman in Energy, Green Technologies, Solar, Technology, Wind.
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We  consume energy at a rate much higher than even the other industrialized countries. Here is some interesting data from US DoE about Supply Sources and Demand Sectors.  I think that the datasets for the other industrialized countries will probably be similar.  French possibly an exception because of their much sharper focus on Nuclear Energy. The Industrial and Transportation sectors are the sectors which consume the Petroleum most. AndIThoughT© …….. if that is the case,  our major challenge is to move the transportation and Industrial sectors from Petroleum to Electrical, Renewables and Natural Gas and redistribute the Coal Bucket over to Clean Coal, Renewables, Natural Gas and Nuclear Energy. Most difficult part of the puzzle may turn out to be the displacement of current transportation model. Converting Long and Short distance Trucking  model to long distance freight trains and short distance trucking model is infrastructure intensive and require lot of capital investments.

Energy Secretary Dr Steven Chu recently delivered a speech at Georgetown University regarding the future trends of energy generation and consumption in US and Worldwide.  His articulation  joined the environmental and energy generation issues and emphasized that they go hand in hand. He also emphasized the importance of insulating older homes and offices for energy not consumed is also energy saved.

The distributed power smart grid will allow all the Supply Sources to play their part in the energy mix. The clean coal burning and carbon sequestration technologies are on the verge of becoming  commercially available.  There are multiple companies who have produced Jet Fuel from Coal and are becoming commercially  viable. US Air Force has a goal of   certifying  synthetic blends of fuels by 2011. The solar energy was estimated to become viable at module cost of $1/watt. The long awaited  breakthrough in cost of solar modules is on the horizon. Well actually we are just about there.

The research and manufacturing efforts of the past quarter century have come to  fruition.  The technologies are available.  They needs to be scaled and deployed in appropriate regions of the country. AndIWondeR© …….. if we are closer to the solution, independent of imported oil,  than we think.

Philippe,I agree that a cohesive national plan and vision for the future is required ASAP. I watched an interesting speech by Energy Secretary Steven Chu delivered at Georgetown. He seems to be putting things into that perspective.Taking the environmental issues and relating them to the living conditions,Temperature changes across USA and the rest of the world, and the suggestions to build airports, close to the body of water, few meters higher etc etc etc ….. Here is the URL of that speech at c-span. http://www.c-span.org/Topics/Energy.aspx I particulary found his assertion very interesting that lot of things will happen if we can bring the cost of solar energy in $1/watt range. He earlier showed a slide comparing the cost of operating the refrigerator has come down more than 75%. Here is an article about breakthrough in cost of solar modules might be of interest to you and others. http://www.edn.com/article/CA6640264.html So if we believe in his estimates of what will spur new things and innovations, we are almost there in terms of solar.His thoughts about coal and nuclear power generation, I also found interesting. He visions future nuclear power plants to be smaller and not MegaPlant type and coal to stay part of the energy mix in the indefinite future.All that said, the problem remains, how I pay my mortgage today and put food on the table. We need some quicker fixes to make sure that we donot double dip.

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