Livescience.com ran an interesting series on future energy supplies. They take pains to point out the pros and cons of each, but I am a little lost in their logic. Let’s just jump into the list and I’ll explain at the end.
#10 – Solar. I have no issue with this one. As they point out, it is being developed to the point of having some commercial viability. Its startup expense and relatively limited output in regards to expense detract from its appeal.
#9 – Coal: I really don’t consider this a 21st century option. It’s a 18th century option still having use. It can be burned more efficiently and cleaner, but that’s the only difference.
#8 – Wind: This is the most over-hyped alternative presented. Sure, there’s wind everywhere, but it’s unpredictable and the output extremely limited. In comparison to other options, it’s not much to shoot for.
#7 – Petroleum: Once again, I really don’t see this as a 21st century energy supply. It’s a 20th century resource that is being spent rapidly. There are scenarios that expand and prolong the viability of petroleum, but burning fossil fuels won’t sustain human society.
#6 – Biomass: Now we’re talking. My gripe with burning fossil fuels is by the very nature of burning something fossilized, you’re implying its limited supply. Looking at things that are replenishable is where we need to be heading. Biomass ( poop ), will always be with us. Let’s figure a way to use it.
#5 – Hydroelectricty: This sounds good, but is very limited. Man just can’t destroy enough of the Earth’s environment to make hydro viable.
#4 – Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion: The efficiency of these things is mind bogglingly low. I just don’t see this as ever being feasible to generate huge amounts of energy. Ever. I can see them supporting underwater developments, but that’s about it.
#3 – Nuclear: Now we’re talking. However, they quickly dismiss the 21st century possibilities and go flying off on a bizarre tangent of sonoluminescence. Let’s just figure out how fusion works first and put it to use. Nuclear is the only new alternative that carries the potential of generating enough power to drive mankind into the next century.
Now this is where they start getting weird on me.
#2 – Fuel Cells: What provides the energy to make a fuel cell work? Fuel cells in themselves are not an energy source. I don’t get their logic here at all.
And, now, their conclusion as to the #1 energy source of the 21st century: ( Drum roll please )
They then proceed to not list any viable use for antimatter and list quite a few significant barriers such as the fact there is very little of it in the entire universe. You have to create usable antimatter. According to them the fact it’s used in the process of PET scans makes it viable.
I went through the entire list and finished at #1. I just had to go “whew” when I saw that. How in the hell did they come up with that? Why bother with this list? I mean, they cite Star Trek as an example of antimatter, that’s the 24th century! Let’s figure how to make it through the 21st first. OK?