Category Alternative Energy
With some compromise, we can achieve a much cleaner energy future that includes a diverse portfolio of energy technologies. The first piece of the pie is to focus on plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles to wean the country away from oil. Then coal and natural gas with carbon sequestration could provide a third of our energy use, nuclear power could produce a third, and the renewables could produce the final third.
Pushing renewables much beyond this level of development in the next 20 years is probably not possible in light of reliability limitations. Pushing nuclear beyond this level may not be possible due to political opposition. And one third of our energy use still coming from fossil fuels is probably realistic given our high dependency today.
There are many different ways to r...Read More
The final piece of the puzzle is nuclear energy. Environmental groups are starting to embrace nuclear plants as the only way to achieve large-scale, emission-free power, but there is still some residual opposition to nuclear technologies.
The safety record of nuclear plants speaks for itself. The only major accident in our country, Three Mile Island, led to zero deaths and negligible radiation dose to the surrounding area. Compared to all other large-scale power plants, nuclear plants have the lowest death and injury rate per unit of electricity produced. When we factor in coal mining accidents, natural gas explosions, and hydroelectric dam ruptures, nuclear is in fact the safest. But often statistics mean little in light of fear of that which we may not understand.
Nuclear power does ...Read More
The renewables are certainly a direction we want to move toward in the future, but cost and reliability will initially limit how quickly this sector will grow. A number of startups are around today in areas like solar and wind that could make a big difference in helping to drive down costs.
Solar continues to be one of the most expensive options for producing electricity, and some type of energy storage is needed to ensure a constant supply. Although its use is growing, for the near term significant cost reductions will still be required for
wide-scale use. Even then, solar may only make sense in areas of the Southwest that receive plenty of sun.
Wind energy has the most potential for growth in the nearterm since costs have decreased so much in the past couple of decades...Read More
A number of methods have been proposed to sequester and store carbon dioxide, but it will take strong support to test these technologies so that we may have viable options in 20 years. Carbon sequestration will depend entirely on passing new legislation due to the cost increases involved. Some projections show that a fully – sequestered coal plant would produce electricity for about the price of natural gas (given today’s high gas prices). These plants take a hit on the overall efficiency by as much as 12 percentage points since it takes energy to sequester the carbon, but future designs may reduce that to only a 6 percentage point penalty.
Governments need to be careful enacting carbon legislation...Read More
As our most abundant fuel, coal will continue to be an important part of our energy mix for the next several decades. Probably one of the largest technical challenges of the next 20 years will be to
Natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide as coal per unit of electricity produced, so it is unsure if future regulations will need to target this exhaust as well. Limited supplies of natural gas will limit how much we can depend on this fuel source...Read More
Ben Cipiti is a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories. His work focuses on energy economics, fusion energy, nuclear fuel cells, and nuclear material safeguards. He is the author of The Energy Construct, a book exploring the creation of a clean, domestic, and economical energy future. In the following viewpoint Cipiti states that America’s energy future will include more than one energy source. Cipiti examines the effectiveness of coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and alternative energies such as wind power and solar power. He argues for the development of a national energy plan that uses a mix of traditional and alternative energies to meet America’s future needs.
n the battle between climate change, energy policy, and capitalism the weakest voice at...Read More
nergy continues to be one of the most hotly debated topics in America today. Public discussion often focuses on issues related to Americans’ use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gasoline. With topics like gasoline prices and global warming in the news almost every day, Americans are also talking about alternative sources of energy that could replace fossil fuels. These alternative energies include solar, wind, and water power, and fuel made from trees, plants, and waste products. History tells us that these sources of energy, now viewed as alternatives, were once the primary sources of energy used by people to heat their homes, cook their food, and do their work...Read More