Saturday, May 24, 2008

Solutions, Part III - Alternative Energy

The true test of our transition from fossil fuels will be the availability and price of alternatives. As I stated in Solutions, Part II, conservation is admirable and necessary, yet limited. When the oil is gone, we are going to need something else...and this post will attempt to compile the majority of current favorites.

Before I begin, I'd like reiterate a point about alternatives. The cost matters. All current alternatives are just that... because of the sticky little fact that they cannot currently compete with fossil fuels. Either they cost more money, have less than desirable performance, cannot be produced in sufficient quantities or a combination of these factors. Being of the mind that you must weigh all the costs, however, they may have less external costs. They may cause less harm to the environment, they may not be controlled by evil people, and they may be virtually infinite. The costs and benefits may also shift as technology progresses. All of these costs and benefits must be weighed...and weighed carefully. Unfortunately, the free market and human nature tend to weigh some costs to the detriment of others. Hence, government steps in...for better or for worse. Anyway, on to the list, sorted by 3 main sectors of need...


  1. Electric Vehicles
  2. Liquid Biofuels (large category)
  3. Wind (sail)
  4. Animal/Human powered
Electricity Production

  1. Wind
  2. Solar
  3. Nuclear
  4. Hydropower
  5. Geothermal
  6. Biomass
  7. Fusion
Space Heating

  1. Alternative Electric
  2. Solar (passive/active)
  3. Biomass
  4. Geothermal
  5. Shared bodily warmth
As always, feel free to amend the list...hopefully there will be new breakthrough technologies that can truly change the game.

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