01.18.2012 Electric Energy Demand
PBS had an interesting documentary on tonight about the fallining support for nuclear energy and the issue of supplying our energy demand. The problem is, that we are demaning more energy each year and there is no reliable way to store energy during off peak periods. Solar power is only works when the sun is shining and wind generation is eratic (unpredicctable and does not match our demand).
Fuel cells has been seen as a savior but it has faced a host of problems that may never be completely fixed. Batteries wear out. Super capacitors are interesting but have not caught up to batteries.
This leads to the problem that we are all facing, coal power. It could be burned at any time to line up with our demand, its cheap and we have a lot of it. The problem is coal is almost pure carbon, leading to climate change and lower air quality (scrubbers are only used on some plants). This leads to the argument of carbon sequesturing, but has the potential to leak or delay the inevitable of climate change.
Another solution, is biofuels but the majority is linked to our food supply and requires more energy inputs than it outputs. The most logical solution is algae fuel, it can be created from waste, grows quickly, its carbon neutral (actually lowers co2 levels in the atm), and is an energy surplus. All our oil comes from algae that died over millions of year. Therefore, it can be replace fossil fuel without requiring any conversions or modifications to vehicles.
The easy and cheapes solution is not to use the energy in the first place. Way to much of the time, conservation is overlooked or ostracized.